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The String Cheese Incident Serves Up Hearty “Just One Story” Sandwich On Night 2 At The Capitol Theatre

first_imgOn Sunday, The String Cheese Incident returned to The Capitol Theatre in Port Chester, NY for the second show of their three-night Memorial Day Weekend run.The six-piece powerhouse opened up their first set with “Vertigo”, a more recent tune penned by guitarist Bill Nershi and his wife, Jillian, out of the band’s SCI Sound Lab. The crowd’s energy was impossible to ignore from the opening notes of the show, giving Michael Kang to amp them up even more with an explosive solo. Kyle Hollingsworth led the band into “Black and White” with a tenacious intro on the keys, followed by some impressive interplay between Kang and Nershi moving out of the song’s main theme. “Black and White” smoothly segued into the Hollingsworth-led “Cant Wait Another Day”, highlighted by some improvisational wizardry out of Kyle’s corner. Cheese kept things rolling with a tender take on Peter Rowan‘s “Midnight Moonlight”, followed by a bouncy take on “Valley Of The Jig”. The band closed out their first set with a massive pairing of “Sirens” into “Restless Wind”, with Nershi getting his chance to show off his impeccable acoustic picking skills on the latter.Following a brief setbreak, the band returned to open their second set with “Just One Story”, as Michael Travis and Jason Hann got things fired up behind their kits. Cheese ultimately ended up leaving “Just One Story” open-ended and dove back into the fan-favorite to close out their set. The band moved forward with solid takes on “Rosie” and “Song In My Head” before charging into a cover of Jerry Garcia Band‘s “Tore Up Over You”, delighting the crowd in a venue that’s hosted countless Grateful Dead shows over the years. A lengthy run through “45th of November” smoothly segued into a cover of Talking Heads‘ “Burning Down The House”, last played in 2016 at Hulaween. Cheese took The Cap deep into bluegrass territory, as the band sandwiched “Wheel Hoss” in between a tasty “Birdland” before coasting back into “Just One Story”, properly ending the set-opener. The band offered up a lone encore of “Barstool”.Tonight, Monday, The String Cheese Incident returns to The Capitol Theatre to close out their three-night holiday weekend run.For tickets and a full list of The String Cheese Incident’s ongoing 25th-anniversary tour dates, head to the band’s website.Setlist: The String Cheese Incident | The Capitol Theatre | Port Chester, NY | 5/26/2019Set One: Vertigo, Black and White > Can’t Wait Another Day > Midnight Moonlight, Valley Of The Jig, Sirens > Restless WindSet Two: Just One Story > Rosie, Song In My Head, Tore Up Over You, 45th of November > Burning Down The House > Birdland > Wheel Hoss > Birdland > Just One StoryEncore: Barstoollast_img read more

Slash Shares Update On New Guns N’ Roses Album, Fall Tour Plans

first_imgMembers of Guns N’ Roses continue to provide subtle hints on the famous rock band’s first new studio album featuring guitarist Slash and bassist Duff McKagan since 1993’s “The Spaghetti Incident?”. The latest update related to the band’s progress on writing and recording new music comes from Slash, who shared some vague but encouraging details on what he and the GnR fellas have planned.Related: Axl Rose Teams With ‘Looney Tunes’ For First New Single In Years, ‘Rock The Rock’ Earlier this week, the lauded guitarist appeared on the “Meltdown” podcast operated by Detroit radio station WRIF, where he briefly addressed the status of the new material.“We hadn’t really done anything yet,” Slash said on the program. “I don’t like to say anything. You know how people use it to promote shit and lie through their teeth? So I just wanted to be honest about it, and so there was really no telling what we were gonna do at that point …. I do know that we are gonna do this run [of fall shows], and we’ve already started working on stuff. So, there you go.”Rumors of new material featuring 3/5 of the band’s beloved Appetite For Destruction-era lineup have been circulating amongst the rock community since Slash, Axl Rose, and Duff put their bad history behind them for their hugely successful Not In This Lifetime… Tour beginning back in spring 2016.More recently, Slash released his latest solo album with Living The Dream, featuring his backing band Myles Kennedy & The Conspirators. Slash and the band will be on tour throughout the summer beginning on July 15th in San Francisco and continuing until August 13th. Guns N’ Roses also began sharing their 2019 tour plans with scheduled appearances at festivals including both weekends of this year’s ACL Fest, Louder Than Life Festival, and Exit 111 Fest.Head to the band’s website for tour dates and ticket info.[H/T Consequence of Sound]last_img read more

Class act

first_imgCall it a class act.Three renovated classrooms in Larsen Hall have received the highest sustainability rating there is — Platinum — from the U.S. Green Building Council.The rating, awarded earlier this month (July), makes these Harvard Graduate School of Education (HGSE) classrooms the first LEED-CI Platinum classrooms in the world.After six months of design work and planning, the renovations were started last summer and completed in October. What was once a two-floor warren of small offices is now space for three classrooms that are muted and serene.“A lot of planning went into this,” said Jason Carlson, director of operations at HGSE, who also directs the School’s 15-member volunteer Green Team.LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, a certification system for green buildings used in more than 30 countries. The Platinum rating is the highest, and the hardest to attain.In the case of the Larsen renovations, “CI” stands for “commercial interior,” a rating system that focuses on interior improvements of new or existing space. Other LEED ratings are for new buildings.The Platinum LEED certification required a complete makeover of lighting, electrical, heating, cooling, and ventilation systems on Larsen’s first and second floors — all with an eye to reducing energy use, water use, and construction waste.The materials used were vetted according to recycled content, origin, and environmental health considerations. About 80 percent of the wood for trim and desks, for instance, is ash from forests that are certified to be sustainable.Of all the materials used, 25 percent (by cost) came from no more than 500 miles away, reducing the energy needed to transport them. Another 23 percent — including furniture, carpet, and acoustic surfaces — contain recycled content. In the hallways, all surfaces are made of PaperStone, the 100-percent recycled product called the “countertop with a conscience.”All paints and adhesives in the classroom spaces are “low VOC” — that is, low in the volatile organic compounds associated with degraded indoor air quality.And all three rooms — with capacity for 50, 60, and 80 students — are fitted with occupancy and CO2 sensors that adjust heating, cooling, lighting, and ventilation. Reduced wattage requirements for lighting alone means the Larsen space is 28 percent more efficient than code.Energy efficiency measures at Larsen will reduce the greenhouse gas footprint of the building by an estimated 5 percent.All these steps “really breathed new life into this building,” said Carlson. He called the Platinum designation “a tremendous honor and a result of the collaborative effort of the entire project team.”Working with Carlson on the Larsen project was Andrea Ruedy Trimble, manager of green building services for Harvard’s Office for Sustainability (OFS).“The Larsen project set very ambitious sustainability goals around lighting efficiency and quality,” said OFS assistant director Nathan Gauthier. “This project is a model for lighting design in a classroom building and will be influential in the design of all future classrooms.”The Larsen classroom renovation project required tearing the first two floors of Larsen right back to the walls.The new ground-floor classroom has 80 seats in tiered rows. Shades move up and down to harvest daylight. On the next floor up is one classroom of 50 tiered seats, and another classroom —“breakout space” — that can accommodate up to 60 students in six groups.“The faculty are thrilled,” said Carlson, who is also a veteran of LEED renovations at Harvard Business School. “This is a much-needed space on campus. It enhances the learning experience.”The LEED-certified classrooms are also a learning experience for facilities managers at Harvard, he added, where cross-School lessons in sustainability are already “iterative and constant.”Meanwhile, said Carlson, the new classroom spaces “support the learning experience of future educators, researchers, and policymakers.”Larsen Hall, a handsome red brick building constructed in 1965, is used for classrooms, offices, and research space. It was named after education reformer Roy E. Larsen ’21, a founder and chairman of Time magazine and other publications.— Includes reporting by the Harvard Graduate School of Educationlast_img read more

Are we rocking out yet?

first_imgMaybe you’ve seen it at a party or a family gathering: groups of people crowded around a TV screen—some wielding various toy instruments, vamping, jumping around. Players follow along with prerecorded songs, trying to match their respective parts as perfectly as possible, perhaps injecting a bit of style into the proceedings. They do it for points and the roar of a virtual crowd.These video games—two competing ones, Guitar Hero and Rock Band—offer players a chance to experience musicianship without ever having to practice an instrument. Or even leave their living rooms. Is this creative? Is it cheating? What does it mean for real-world musicianship? Why don’t these players just pick up a real guitar already?Ethnomusicologist Kiri Miller, R.I. ’11, a Bunting Fellow at the Radcliffe Institute and an assistant professor of music at Brown University, tackles these and other related issues in her current research; she’s writing a book about it, Playing Along: Digital Games, YouTube, and Virtual Performance (forthcoming, Oxford University Press). On Wednesday, Oct. 6, as part of the Radcliffe Fellows’ Presentation Series, she presented some of her research in a lecture titled, “How Musical Is Guitar Hero?”The musicality of Guitar Hero has been hotly contested since the game’s introduction. Clearly, the players aren’t really making the music—but they’re not just listening, either. “We don’t really have a big working vocabulary to account for forms of musicality that fall between musicianship and listenership, between production and reception,” Miller points out.Is a player just an automaton, or does he or she bring creativity to the game play? With a video excerpt, Miller introduced her audience to Freddie Wong, a video game virtuoso (he played Guitar Hero and Rock Band professionally for a stint) whose YouTube performances have garnered millions of hits. Whatever one thinks of his musicianship, the performative aspect of his game can’t be denied.Miller conducted ethnographic research—including interviews with players and game designers and a Web-based survey—to explore how virtual performance is changing what players think about creativity, musicality, and performance.Only time will tell whether Miller’s “virtual virtuosity” will prove to be what James Parker of the Atlantic called “another coup for the forces of unreality.” In the meantime, though, what 36 million players agree on is how very fun these games are: They continue to pick up their plastic guitars in the name of rock.Some of them may even learn to play a “realtar.”Read more about Kiri Miller’s work on her research blog, Playing Along.last_img read more

IOP announces fall fellows

first_imgThe Institute of Politics, located at the Harvard Kennedy School, announced the selection of an experienced group of individuals for resident and visiting fellowships this fall.Over the course of an academic semester, resident fellows interact with students, participate in the intellectual life of the Harvard community, and lead weekly study groups on a wide variety of issue areas. Visiting fellows join the institute for a shorter period and maximize their time meeting with students, faculty, and Harvard research center staff.“We are excited to welcome our fall fellows to Harvard,” said Trey Grayson, IOP director. “This accomplished group of practitioners with strong experience in governing, government relations, campaign strategy, journalism, and White House policy and political affairs is sure to captivate and inspire students and the University community.”The following resident fellows will join the institute for the fall semester:Christina Bellantoni, associate politics editor, Roll CallRon Christie, author and former special assistant to President George W. Bush and deputy assistant to Vice President Dick Cheney for domestic policy (2001-04)Tad Devine, Democratic political and media strategistLinda Moore Forbes, deputy assistant to President Bill Clinton and deputy political director, the White House (1993–2001); senior adviser to U.S. Sen. Evan Bayh (2001-11)Steve Grand, Republican political and media strategistDiane Casey-Landry, former chief operating officer and senior executive vice president, American Bankers Association; president and CEO of America’s Community Bankers (2000-07)In addition, Ed Rendell, a two-term Pennsylvania governor (2003-11), former Democratic National Committee general chairman (1999-2001­), and mayor of the city of Philadelphia (1992-99), will join the institute as a visiting fellow in early October.For more information.last_img read more

Getting a leg up, through Year Up

first_imgIt was standing room only in the Barker Center’s Thompson Room as a group of Harvard managers and their age-20-something interns listened to a man whose vision, developed as a student at Harvard Business School (HBS), is to get thousands of inner-city young adults into the job market.“We want to change perceptions of urban young adults from deficits to assets. They are a critical component of the U.S. economic engine,” said Gerald Chertavian, founder and CEO of Year Up, a national program that trains urban young adults and places them in internships that prepare them for careers or college.Chertavian was on campus to congratulate seven Year Up participants who had just completed their six-month work assignments. “What Harvard is doing with these young adults is enlightened leadership. The University is doing well by doing good,” he said.Leslie Kirwan, dean for administration and finance of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS), added, “It’s the right thing to do, and it’s smart. It provides excellent work experience and networking opportunities. It provides talented prescreened individuals for positions in the University. We are also fortunate in FAS to have Dean Mike Smith provide financial support for departments interested in hiring interns. In addition to the hardworking managers, I must recognize senior HR consultant Etaine Smith for overseeing Year Up at Harvard.”Year Up participants range from 18 to 24 years old and have high school or GED diplomas. They are put through a rigorous six-month training program at Year Up’s center in Boston. Each is then placed in a similarly long internship at an area company or organization.With locations sprinkled across the country, Year Up has served more than 4,000 students since its founding in 2000. All qualified students have been placed in internships, 95 percent of interns meet or exceed their managers’ expectations, and 84 percent of graduates are employed or attend college full time within four months of completing the program.The program works with talented urban young people who for various reasons have not been able to transcend their environments. With some 3 million job vacancies in the United States, Chertavian said, “We think there is great opportunity to identify, prepare, and place some of the more than 5 million young, inner-city adults who are looking for jobs. We want to close the opportunity gap.”Harvard has hosted 41 interns since 2009, with 16 at FAS, 14 at HBS, three at Harvard Management Company, three in the School of Public Health, two in the Graduate School of Design and the Law School, and one in executive education. Chertavian said Harvard has played an important role in helping Year Up reach its goals. In addition to being a renowned university, Harvard has a great group of supervisors, he said.Year Up also brings diversity to the workforce. Most interns are underrepresented minorities. So the program creates a pipeline of minorities who can eventually take on management roles. “Diversity is crucial. It helps companies make better decisions,” Chertavian said. “Great companies of the future will create an environment that trains all our talented young people, no matter where they come from.”Chris Ciotti, FAS associate dean for human resources, pointed out that, “in addition to bringing more diversity to FAS, the program provides managers with people who have been trained and selected to come to Harvard. We certainly see value in working with Year Up.”Gerald Chertavian will discuss his book, “A Year Up,” at the Boston Public Library, 700 Bolyston St., at 6 p.m. on July 24.last_img read more

Food, gender, culture

first_imgHarvard Summer School is old, since it opened in 1871 as the first university summer studies program in the nation. But it’s also young, since nearly a quarter of its 6,000 students this summer were teenagers in its Secondary School Program.The Summer School also extends well beyond Harvard Yard. There were 28 overseas programs, including in China, France, Israel, and Kenya. (One recent student summed up international study by saying: “We had to take off our American goggles.”)And the seven-week summer program is big, with more than 300 courses. From late June to early August, students studied the Vietnam War, fairy tales, the anthropology of childhood, utopia, Bob Dylan (a seminar), the odes of Horace, astrobiology, video editing, the Harlem Renaissance, environmental crises, the early plays of Shakespeare, and digital storytelling. Students also did writing involving journalism, novels, short stories, travel, and food.Food was the star of one course, SWGS S-1155, better known as “Gender, Food and Culture in American History.” The professor was Marilyn Morgan, a manuscripts cataloger at the Schlesinger Library who has a Ph.D. in American history. The course’s guiding idea is that food isn’t just something to eat. It’s a shared cultural experience that on close examination reveals a lot about gender, race, and class.By the end, it taught a sobering lesson, at least regarding gender in advertising. “Not much has changed,” said Morgan. Food roles are as gendered now as they were in the America of nearly 200 years ago. “I still am astonished over how clueless people are to these sexist ads and norms in society,” wrote student Elizabeth Greif in an email, adding italics to the next sentence: “This stuff is still happening today!”When the students read snippets of food writing from 1841, 1898, and the present, Morgan said not one could identify the era of a single text. Women are still largely perceived as the ones responsible for buying, preparing, and serving food, she said — as well as the ones to blame if things go wrong.Grinding, gritty, rewardingThe 13 students in the class covered a lot of demographic ground, typical of Harvard Summer School. Four were from high school (including Greif, a rising senior from desert-bound Quartz Hill, Calif.); two came from overseas; and many of the others were Southerners. They joined to study print and television ads, 19th-century treatises on domestic skills, vintage cookbooks, and decades of scholarship on the intersection of what we eat and who we are.The coursework offered a lesson in what the Summer School means: seven weeks of grinding, gritty — but rarified and rewarding — work. “Admittedly there was a lot of reading,” Alabaman Mia Tankersley ’14 said in an email. “But honestly, having to reflect on the evolution of macaroni in the United States or soul food didn’t feel like work.”Another student, Nadine Mannering, who arrived this summer with a master’s degree from her native Australia, said the workload was “fairly intense,” but it was the first time she had been in college without having to work at a paying job, too. “I relished the opportunity to actually focus on my studies first.”Morgan’s students averaged 150 pages of reading per class, 300 pages a week. Using new software, they illustrated timelines that could eat up half a day. And their weekly writing assignments, brightened and honed, appeared on a class blog that remains open and active. “They learned,” said Morgan, that “the real challenge was how to write effectively in that short a space.”The writing is tight, and the timelines enlightening. (In the one on canned food, we learn that the billionth can of Spam was produced in 1959. In another, we get this sweet bit: 400 million M&Ms are made every day in the United States.) The texts also use vintage ads as points of argument. A 1950s TV pitch for instant coffee contains a minute of husband-wife food dynamics that today would make anyone queasy. (Instant coffee got its first popularity bump with men during World War II, said Greif, who studied it for her final project. But advertisements often “included women serving a cup to men,” she said, “despite how easy it would have been for the man to make the coffee himself.”)Using primary sourcesThe students’ final research papers required primary sources, in this case, mostly from Schlesinger. The library, part of the Radcliffe Institute of Advanced Study, houses the richest American women’s history collections, including the papers of chef Julia Child and early feminist Charlotte Perkins Gilman.Gilman, whose “Women and Economics” (1898) was on the course reading list, wanted women to change their house-centric identities. “A house does not need a wife any more than it needs a husband,” she wrote, a sentiment that put her at odds with her anti-suffragist aunt, Catharine Beecher, whose 1845 “Treatise on Domestic Economy” was also required reading. Aunt and niece were opposing bookends in the 19th-century debate over the role of women, an uneasy tension that still exists today. “I’m a feminist who loves to bake,” said Tankersley, “and I constantly think about what that means and why I’m conflicted about it.”By the end of class, most of the final papers used foods — rather than personalities — as a cultural lens. Many were previewed in the student timelines, including looks at food preservation, M&Ms, peanut butter, wedding cake, pineapple (marketed as “glam” and exotic in the 1950s), artificial sweeteners, and Cream of Wheat. The last product was part of a leitmotif in class, what Morgan called an “archetype of using subservient Others” to sell a product in the 20th century.For Cream of Wheat, at first, that “Other” was Rastus, a black man in a chef’s hat and white coat. For other products, it was Aunt Jemima or Uncle Ben. “There were too many surprises to count,” said Tankersley of the course, including the true story of Aunt Jemima. She was Nancy Green, a former slave hired in 1893 to promote pancake mix at the Chicago World’s Fair.The female hand in the universe of preparing food gets more subtle as advertising enters the era of second-wave feminism. Gone are the women in dresses pouring coffee or fussing over cakes in the daytime. But women are still in the kitchen, as in the TV ad Mannering used in her study of Tupperware parties — marketing artifacts of the 1950s that today still limit the hostess-saleswoman to commissions only. “Though we always think we’ve come so far, there (are) always, always things that need to be worked on,” Mannering said. “We should never (assume) everyone’s being treated equally and fairly.”Meanwhile, men remain just as stuck in their food roles of 50 years ago, mostly as guilt-free consumers of high-calorie snacks. The final flowering of that role might be the “Get Some Nuts” TV ads for Snickers, a “man candy” chock full of protein and energy. In food ads, women aspire to low calories, satisfaction, and even female agency — from yogurt, say, a product still largely pitched to one gender. The marketing subtext often even co-opts a standard second-wave feminist joke: Who needs men? (When you have yogurt, at least.)Summer demographicsThe same joke, in its own way, was repeated in the course. Of 13 students, only one was a man, a fact that Morgan attributed to having “gender” in the course title.But the demographics in this class were in other ways typical of the Summer School. The four high school students made up about a quarter of the class, the same proportion as in the whole program. There were two foreign students in the class, from Taiwan and Australia. In the School at large, the percentage of international students is higher, 37 percent last year. Mannering, who works for a bank in Melbourne, took three months off to tour the United States, but started her visit with the course. “I was flattered,” said Morgan.“I wanted a base in the States,” said Mannering, “so I chose summer school. Harvard was an obvious choice as it’s — in my mind — the best university in the world. Doing summer school allowed me to get to know Cambridge and Boston, and have a temporary ‘home’ in America.”The undergraduates in the course were also expressive of a geographical range — New York, Virginia, Alabama — that that is typical for Harvard year-round.Something else about Morgan’s students was likely true of everyone at the Summer School. “Most were exploring something about themselves,” she said. That included a native Southerner (now a Boston-area lawyer) who did a final paper on North Carolina barbeque, and was shocked to discover that most such operations are run by men. (That matched Morgan’s general take on food prep: Women cook, men grill.)There’s yet another way that the course was like a lot of others at the Summer School: There was fun, too. Students could join the gym, play in a pops band or orchestra, row on the Charles River, volunteer at nonprofits, take sponsored tours around Boston, or venture out to Cape Cod or Tanglewood or even as far as Rhode Island or Maine.“Boston is just a T stop away,” said Greif, the Californian teenager. “History and more history await to be explored, and I want to explore everything.”Morgan’s students took time on a July Saturday to visit the outdoor market at Haymarket and the food-intensive Feast of St. Joseph street festival in Boston’s North End. The trip included a look at the site of the landmark Boston Cooking School (1879-1902), where Fannie Farmer, of cookbook fame, studied and taught.What inspired the course? For one, Morgan read the Works Progress Administration slave narratives as a graduate student, with an eye to how former slaves would “use food as a means of exerting power in a situation in which they were powerless.” It was slavery, and the legacy of African foods and spices, that made Southern cooking what it is, she said. Food historian Frederick Douglass Opie, author of “Hog and Hominy: Soul Food from Africa to America” (2008) was a guest lecturer. He was a 2012-2013 fellow at the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute.Morgan was also inspired by her work at Schlesinger, which last year included cataloging the papers of Jean Wade Rindlaub, a New York advertising executive who, among other things, created ads for cake mixes and other convenience foods. Her secret involved direct emotional appeals to women. Her papers are a window into the machinery of marketing food.Mannering was struck by how different advertising is in Australia. “There is a lot of ‘mother-guilt’ in American advertising,” she said, “brands telling women that their product is healthy and best for their child in an attempt to create insecurities and secure the demographic.”More than one student came away from Morgan’s class with a critical eye on sugar, which Tankersley said food companies are increasingly adding to make up for using less fat. “I could go on and on about how dangerous it is for us, but let’s just say that after that class I was prepared to swear off all sugar (aside from fruit),” she wrote. “Then I made a beeline for a cup of coffee Oreo ice cream. So it’s a work in progress.”last_img read more

Family ties with a Disney twist

first_imgIn 1993, every parent’s nightmare became a reality for Ron Suskind and his wife, Cornelia, when their 3-year-old son vanished. But the Suskinds’ youngest child had disappeared right in front of them.One day Owen was a rambunctious toddler with a ready smile and a budding vocabulary. The next day he was withdrawn, bereft of words, inconsolable. After a stream of doctor visits, Owen was diagnosed with regressive autism, a developmental disorder that typically appears between a child’s first and third years.The condition turned Owen inward and upended the way he engaged with the world, including his parents and brother. Suskind’s new book, “Life, Animated: A Story of Sidekicks, Heroes, and Autism,” is an affecting account of how the family gradually reconnected — through Disney movies.‘A world was growing inside of him, in that silent place.’“It was always a question we asked: What is it about his affinity with Disney?” Suskind, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and currently a fellow at the Safra Center for Ethics, said in a recent interview. “We felt our way along here for almost two decades. We know a lot now through this kind of search and find that we discover along the way. Mostly, we just said, ‘There’s something about these films that speaks to him.’”The first insight came about a year after Owen’s diagnosis. As he watched “The Little Mermaid,” Owen wasn’t simply babbling, his father realized — he was repeating part of a song lyric from the film.“That’s was the beginning of the process of starting to see the movies as he sees them,” said Suskind. “That was the key.”Owen had always been a fan of the films, but at the onset of autism, his interest in grew into an obsession, Suskind said. He would watch and rewatch the movies scores of times. When he was 6½, his parents came to understand that the activity signaled far more than the compulsive behavior of an autistic child. They realized, in one astonishing moment, that their son was using the Disney canon to navigate the world.“Owen says: ‘Walter doesn’t want to grow up, like Mowgli or Peter Pan,’” Suskind recalled. He was describing his older son’s ninth birthday in 1997, and his younger son’s comment, seemingly out of nowhere, after seeing his brother in tears as the party wound down.“That was a huge moment for us. That was complex interpretation, speech. He had never done that before. … He had been largely silent for so many years, and he then said something that startling. It gave us a glimpse into what was happening inside — that a world was growing inside of him, in that silent place.”With help from specialists, the Suskinds learned in time to negotiate Owen’s private domain. By day they followed their regular routines, but at night the family would inhabit an undersea world, an enchanted castle, or a lush jungle, connecting through a musical crab, a French candlestick, or a benevolent bear.“The more we gently moved into his world and brought fun to it, playing the characters, the more he said, ‘Come on in.’”Role-playing was key. Suskind would recite lines from, say, “Aladdin,” and his previously withdrawn son would become voluble, quoting at length from the film. But it wasn’t merely echoing Owen was engaged in — he was enriching his emotional life. Disney, it turns out, was an ethical and social education. In addition, writes Suskind in “Life, Animated”: “We discovered that he learned to read using the slowly scrolling credits at the ends of movies.”Suskind discussed his most personal work on a cloudy afternoon in a small fifth-floor office at the edge of Harvard Square. A recent flurry of book-related interviews and speaking engagements hadn’t quelled his energy. He was quick to laugh, and offered dead-on impressions of Sebastian, the Jamaican crab from “The Little Mermaid,” and Merlin from “The Sword in the Stone” — voices that have so often brought him closer to his son.In 1995, Suskind won the Pulitzer Prize for feature writing for articles profiling high school honors students in Washington, D.C. His 1998 book, “A Hope in the Unseen,” was based on those pieces. His more recent works, which he called “big, noisy books,” have explored aspects of presidential power.Suskind sees a common thread running through much of his writing.“In some ways, I searched the whole world for almost 30 years for people who are left behind, and it dawned on us … that the most dramatically left-behind person that I had met, by this twist of neurology, was living in the bedroom.”When Owen was about 11, Suskind saw him feverishly copying images of Disney characters in a sketchbook — images of sidekicks, those characters who in Owen’s words “help the hero fulfill his destiny.” Scrawled on the last two pages of the notebook were the lines “I am the Protekcter of Sidekicks” and “No Sidekick Gets Left Behind.”“He is responding to us and the wider world he is now beginning to see,” Suskind writes. “Other kids are racing forward, with their dreams of heroism. He’s caught in the starting blocks, a sidekick. And he becomes protector of the sidekicks, the supporting cast, demanding that none of them be left behind. That’s all. Not asking for the world, here — just don’t leave us behind.”Deconstructing the films’ hold on his son, Suskind pointed to the genius of Walt Disney, a businessman with no shortage of creative flair, who thought that moving cartoons should be works of art and “carry all of the real emotions, the big ones.”Affinity therapy, Suskind noted, runs counter to much expert advice over the years. Instead of trying to curb a passion for things like trains, or maps, or the films of Walt Disney, as some specialists have advised, it’s possible, with a careful approach, to exploit those interests and tap into something deeper.“Once you get into the affinity what you will find in that underground cavern is that there are things to work with, there are tools, there’s maps, there’s navigational equipment … [and they] will help you, because they will want to tell you this is the thing that they love. And they want to connect.”Disney has helped to enhance Owen’s speech, his social appropriateness, his contact with others, said Suskind. “Then he was able to build a vehicle, with us, that he eventually drove out into the world of sunlight and human interactions, which is where he has lived for many of the past — certainly the past few — years.”The book, excerpted last month in The New York Times Magazine, has already struck a chord. One young woman, struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder, wrote to tell Suskind she pasted the words “Remember Owen” on her wall.The research community also taken note. “Scientists have been calling by the minute,” said Suskind.And the author has been reaching out himself, speaking at MIT’s Simons Center for the Social Brain and, as part of World Autism Awareness Day, the U.N. Later this month, he will give a speech at the National Institute of Mental Health.Owen, living at a residential school on Cape Cod, has started a Disney Club with several other students, many of whom have “modest expressive speech.” The students watch a film and then pause to discuss how they relate to aspects of the plot and characters. Suskind, an occasional guest, recalled an encounter with a young club member who “doesn’t speak very often.”“He says, ‘You know Pinocchio’s my guy, because I feel like a wooden boy, and I’ve always dreamed of feeling what real boys feel, and I was born with wooden eyes, and it’s so hard to see out of them.’“That kind of expression coming out of a teenager …” Suskind said, shaking his head. “That is a very powerful message of an inversion of assumptions, a recasting of yardsticks that we use to measure worth. And that is, I think, progress.”last_img read more

Talking tragedy

first_img Read Full Story Just a few days after the Boston Marathon bombing last year, lecturer Betsy McAlister Groves was asked to meet with a group of residents who lived on the same street as Martin Richards, the 8-year-old who had been killed by one of the bombs. The parents wanted Groves, a licensed clinical social worker and founding director of the Child Witness to Violence Project at Boston Medical Center, to help them figure out how to help their own children cope in the aftermath. “It was a very hard conversation,” she says.Last week, in light of the anniversary of the bombing, Groves spoke again, this time to the Ed School community. Her talk, “Helping Children with Scary and Stressful Events,” included her experience after the tragedy, both as a social worker and a parent, as well as her advice for the mostly student audience — some who had direct connections to the marathon tragedy.last_img read more

Harvard Campaign has early impact

first_imgAs the University’s faculty and students return for the start of the spring semester, the early impact of The Harvard Campaign can be seen and felt across the campus and beyond.“Our alumni and friends have been extraordinarily generous with their time and resources from the moment The Harvard Campaign began,” said Tamara Elliott Rogers ’74, vice president for alumni affairs and development. “Their volunteerism and support will make a difference for generations to come.”The first such effort inclusive of all Harvard’s Schools, the Campaign seeks to shape the future of education with a focus on University aspirations, including: advancing new approaches to teaching and learning, attracting and supporting the best students and faculty, creating a campus for the 21st century, and supporting multidisciplinary research. Since the Campaign publicly launched in September 2013 with a $6.5 billion goal, the University has reported $4.8 billion from more than 274,000 gifts.Here are just a few examples of the impact The Harvard Campaign is already having on our community.TEACHING AND LEARNINGWith more than 2 million people having registered for HarvardX courses, it can be easy to forget that the endeavor is less than three years old. The support of many alumni and friends has allowed for the production of 45 open courses, with 37 more in the works.This past year, Hartley Rogers ’81, M.B.A. ’85, and Amy Falls, M.P.P. ’89, established the Leading in Learning Fund to support fellows through the College’s Derek Bok Center for Teaching and Learning. The Bok Center, now 40 years old, helps instructors evaluate and improve their undergraduate teaching, and offers a variety of teacher-training programs for graduate and undergraduate students. Blending insights from online and on-campus learning, the fellows will serve as expert resources to faculty as they design or enhance their on-campus or HarvardX courses.An anonymous $10 million lead gift, along with support from Richard Menschel, M.B.A. ’59, and Ronay Menschel and President Drew Faust, helped the Harvard Graduate School of Education (HGSE) launch the Harvard Teacher Fellows program to prepare undergraduates at Harvard College for careers in teaching. The program will be available to a limited number of College seniors, with the inaugural round of applications opening in fall 2015. The seniors begin eight months of intensive training in the spring semester before graduating, then will teach in schools across the country at reduced teaching loads while taking additional courses at HGSE over distance. To complete the program and earn initial teaching licenses, they will return to HGSE for a second summer. Those interested in continuing their education can apply program credits toward a master’s degree at HGSE.The Leading in Learning Fund supports fellows through the College’s Derek Bok Center for Teaching and Learning. Graduate student Marrikka Trotter (left) worked with mentor Kevin Lau. Trotter was part of a two-week boot camp in 2013 sponsored by the Harvard Initiative for Teaching and Learning and HarvardX. File photo by Jon Chase/Harvard Staff PhotographerSUPPORT FOR FACULTYA $17 million gift to the Foundations of Human Behavior Initiative from The Pershing Square Foundation, founded by Bill Ackman’88, M.B.A. ’92, and Karen Ackman, M.L.A. ’93, included funding for three faculty chairs along with a research venture fund. Last spring, Matthew Rabin, a leader in the field of behavioral economics as well as a John Bates Clark medalist and a MacArthur fellow, came to Harvard as the first Pershing Square Professor of Behavioral Economics, with appointments in the Department of Economics in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS) and at Harvard Business School (HBS).Rabin’s work explores the ways in which psychological research can be used to improve economic models that fail to adequately consider the effects of such variables as inclinations toward fairness, expressed preferences, self-image, limited attention, and more.In addition to recruiting leading scholars, funding has also been used to support the work of accomplished Harvard faculty members. Renowned stem cell researcher Douglas Melton began his teaching career at Harvard in 1981. Recently, his efforts have led to groundbreaking discoveries in the treatment of type 1 diabetes. As part of his Campaign gift, Siddharth Yog, M.B.A. ’04, created the Xander University Professorship, now held by Melton, for a faculty member whose research crosses scientific disciplines.In total, more than $1.5 billion has been raised for faculty support, teaching, and research since the start of The Harvard Campaign.The Graduate School of Design last year opened the Center for Green Buildings and Cities. The center is a cutting-edge initiative with worldwide reach for the cities of the future. File photo by Stephanie Mitchell/Harvard Staff PhotographerFOSTERING DISCOVERYWith support from the Evergrande Group, the Graduate School of Design (GSD) last year opened the Center for Green Buildings and Cities, which seeks to transform the building industry by connecting architectural research with real-world development processes and production. In November the center hosted its first “Challenge Conference,” convening leaders in fields related to green building. This annual gathering will help refine the center’s agenda through discussions on climate change and strategies for sustainable building and planning.The NeuroDiscovery Center at Harvard Medical School (HMS) has long benefited from the generosity of Richard Moskovitz ’69, M.D. ’73, and his wife, Nancy. Their funding of research on Alzheimer’s — a disease that affects 10 percent of Americans over 65 years old — continued with their recent support of the center’s biomarker discovery program. This research seeks to better diagnose, monitor, and treat the disease for the growing number of patients suffering from this terrible disease.Declining federal funding makes it more difficult for researchers to advance high-risk, high-impact projects across the natural and social sciences. James Star ’83, decided to help provide seed funding for cutting-edge work in FAS through the Star Family Challenge for Promising Scientific Research. Last year, the Challenge’s first, four grants ranging from $20,000 to $200,000 were made to projects, including one conducted by Charles Lieber, the Mark Hyman Jr. Professor of Chemistry, examining the potential for injectable nanotechnology that would assist in the detection, monitoring, and treatment of diseases.The Harvard NeuroDiscovery Center at Harvard Medical School includes core facilities that foster collaboration. The center’s research on Alzheimer’s disease has benefited from the generosity of Richard Moskovitz ’69, M.D. ’73, and his wife, Nancy. Photo by Kevin Jiang/Harvard Medical SchoolOPENING HARVARD’S GATES MORE WIDELYMore than $570 million has been committed to student financial aid across the University. Most notably, Ken Griffin ’89, made the largest gift in Harvard College history with $150 million, primarily in support of undergraduate financial aid. In the coming years, 200 Harvard students will benefit directly from the Griffin Scholarships. To encourage others to help ensure that a Harvard education remains accessible to all admitted students, the Griffin Leadership Challenge Fund has the potential to add an additional 600 College scholarships.Fellowships have also provided support to graduate students throughout the University. In fact, as part of the Johnson-Kulukundis family’s gift to the arts at Harvard — which included generous donations to the President’s Fund and toward the transformation of the Radcliffe Institute’s gallery in Byerly Hall — an endowed fellowship was established to fund a doctoral student in the arts during the early years of advanced study.At Harvard Kennedy School (HKS), the first cohort of Sheila C. Johnson Leadership Fellows arrived in the fall. Johnson’s gift to the School will support up to 10 students each year for the next five years. The recipients have shown both leadership potential and dedication to African-American and other underserved communities across the nation.Design concepts for Harvard’s Richard A. and Susan F. Smith Campus Center were recently unveiled. Construction is set to begin in 2016. Courtesy of Hopkins ArchitectsCAMPUS OF THE FUTUREPerhaps the most visible (and audible) effect of the Campaign is seen through the construction and renewal of buildings across campus. To date, nearly $600 million has been committed toward physical space.With construction scheduled to begin in 2016, the transformed Richard A. and Susan F. Smith Campus Center (formerly Holyoke Center) will become a central meeting place for all members of the Harvard community. Recently released design concepts — the result of an extensive community input process — reveal a mix of flexible meeting spaces, event spaces, landscaped gardens, and more centralized University resources.Another significant landmark on campus, the Harvard Art Museums, reopened this fall after a six-year construction project that combined the University’s three art museums: the Fogg Museum, the Busch-Reisinger Museum, and the Arthur M. Sackler Museum. Thousands of students, faculty, and visitors have strolled through the new facility, which boasts 40 percent more gallery space, to view a vast array of the University’s collection of approximately 250,000 objects, as well as a variety of research centers, curatorial divisions, and teaching venues.The House Renewal initiative, which began with Quincy House’s Stone Hall (formerly Old Quincy) in 2012, has also transformed Leverett House’s McKinlock Hall, with the first full House to undergo renewal, Dunster House, slated to reopen this fall. Winthrop House will follow, continuing the process of updating and improving the residential experience for undergraduates.GLOBAL HARVARDThe family of the late T.H. Chan, including his son Gerald Chan, S.M. ’75, S.D. ’79, joined President Faust and Dean Julio Frenk on the campus of Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) this past September to celebrate the largest gift in the University’s history. Signaling what President Faust called a worldwide “public health moment,” the Chan family’s endowment gift will strengthen the School in perpetuity and dramatically enhance its work against four global threats: pandemics old and new, harmful physical and social environments, poverty and humanitarian crises, and failing health care systems around the world. In recognition of this historic gift, the School has been renamed the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in honor of Mr. Chan. <a href=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lTgiGO8wvIw” rel=”nofollow” target=”_blank”> <img src=”https://img.youtube.com/vi/lTgiGO8wvIw/0.jpg” alt=”0″ title=”How To Choose The Correct Channel Type For Your Video Content ” /> </a> Beyond campus, the Campaign has also brought together Harvard communities around the world. The “Your Harvard” series has visited New York, Los Angeles, and Dallas, and traveled abroad to London and Mexico City. Thousands of alumni and friends have joined President Faust to hear her vision for the future of the University and learn about the fascinating fields that faculty are exploring. This year’s stops will include Seattle, Beijing, and Chicago, with many more to come as the Campaign continues in the years ahead.Harvard President Drew Faust traveled to Mexico City as part of the “Your Harvard” series. It included a special event at Antiguo Colegio de San Ildefonso. File photo by Stephanie Mitchell/Harvard Staff PhotographerAs Faust explained at the Campaign’s launch, “Creating new knowledge, reimagining teaching and learning, engaging globally, reinventing the spaces where we learn and live, attracting and inspiring the best students and faculty: These are essential to our enduring strength. But the future requires something more … Harvard also must shine a light on why universities matter — and why the higher purposes of higher education must continue to claim a central place in our national life and its educational agenda.”last_img read more