Without new advisor, OPIA faces crunch

BY YONI ROSENZWEIG

The Office of Public Interest Advising is both desperate for a hire and not going to settle. Though authorized last spring, the search for a second full-time OPIA adviser still continues. And unless someone is hired after the coming rounds of interviews, students are likely to experience advising delays akin to last year’s record levels.

In an OPIA survey from last year, students made clear that the squeaky wheel needs the grease. Many complained that the wait time to meet a public interest adviser in the fall delayed their public interest career planning for up to five weeks.

Those delays “often mean students miss opportunities,” according to 3L David Arkush. Last year, some frustrated students left the OPIA process, opting instead for the quicker turnaround times at the better-staffed Office of Career Services.

To avoid a repeat of those circumstances, OPIA hopes to have its second full-time adviser in place soon. Adviser and coordinator Benna Kushlefsky predicted that, “if we don’t hire an Assistant Director by November, it will be insane here and the quality of service will suffer.”

Student demand for counseling typically floods OPIA by November, when 1Ls are permitted to contact advisers and upperclassmen are eager to solidify future plans. According to OPIA administrators, last year’s annual survey was the first time students expressed mass disappointment, mostly because of wait times.

According to OPIA Director Alexa Shabecoff, the staffing shortage is especially serious at HLS because, in addition to advising a large student body, OPIA publishes a seminal guide to legal public interest work and takes a leadership role nationally among public interest offices.

The increasing responsibilities for staff members, coupled with increases in demand, put a strain on the staff, according to OPIA staffer Jennie Williamson. Along with Shabecoff, Williamson is OPIA’s only other full-time employee.

After years of formal requests for another full time staff member, relief seemed on the horizon when Dean Robert Clark authorized the hiring of a full-time Assistant Director last April. When filled, the position will be OPIA’s first new full-time position since its inception in 1990.

Many students and staff members regarded the hiring of another full-time adviser as overdue, pointing out that some peer institutions have six public interest advisers, and most have at least three.

The Perfect Candidate

While OPIA currently has eight part-time advisors — more than most schools — Shabecoff said that such advisers can’t gain a general knowledge of the field or of campus resources as easily as a full-time counterpart.

“I can’t delegate administrative responsibilities to part time advisers,” Shabecoff said. Part time advisers typically advise for five hours per week and have specialized areas of knowledge. Instead of specialized advisers, Shabecoff claimed, “we need a generalist career counselor.”

While the office hoped for a hire by July, the search has dragged on. Qualified applicants, Shabecoff claims, must have an unusual mix of legal public interest experience, willingness to perform mundane administrative and technical tasks, a diverse background and an openness to the many fields of student interest.

Openness to the variety of student interests has especially been a problem. “Some people turn pale in interviews when I bring up the kinds of public interest placements that OPIA makes,” Shabecoff said, adding that she refuses to hire anyone who does not share her “big tent” view of public interest work.

Regarding diversity of background, Shabecoff said that, “having worked in legal services, I am reluctant to hire someone with the same background. We are very interested in someone with diverse or international experience.”

OPIA’s selection process is also strict. After being selected from among hundreds of applicants to interview for the position, a prospective hire must also meet with a student and a faculty committee. Until a “perfect candidate” emerges, some are put on hold, awaiting the results of other rounds.

Shabecoff said that an applicant might be accepted following the round of interviews taking place next week. But as the office continues its search, Shabecoff said that she hopes students will spend more time in the office and less time “staring at my closed door.”

Dershowitz, Catholic Law Dean debate pledge of allegiance

BY CLINTON DICK

The battle over the pledge of allegiance finally made its way to HLS last Thursday, as Professor Alan Dershowitz took on Dean Douglas Kmiec of the Catholic University School of Law.

The debate centered around the Ninth Circuit’s decision in Newdow v. U.S. Congress, in which it was held that the phrase “under God” in the pledge of allegiance was unconstitutional. For over an hour, Dershowitz and Kmiec dueled about the case, as well as the broader and more complicated issue of religion in government.

Kmiec argued that the invocation of God in the pledge is recognition of both the imperfect nature of human institutions and of a higher law that should guide human affairs in their ordering of society and government. Dershowitz contended that the pledge, as it is currently worded, unfairly excludes both atheists and those who do not feel that “under God” encompasses their understanding of a higher being. It was, in the words of 1L Hugo Torres, a “thought-provoking discussion that raised several interesting questions that we will continue to grapple with now, and in the future.”

Kmiec began his defense of “under God” by saying, “I do not believe in any factual sense of the term that the pledge is a prayer.” Instead, he argued, the pledge is a promise of loyalty or fidelity to the nation and thus, the phrase “under God” is a way to communicate the ideals that were present at the nation’s founding. The founders, Kmiec continued, recognized that because of the imperfection of the human mind, human rights had to be grounded in a law higher than human law. Jefferson recognized this connection between rights and God when he wrote the Declaration of Independence, Kmiec said, and that is why “you cannot have the Constitution without the Declaration.”

Using the example of slavery, Kmiec attempted to demonstrate how in that instance, human law had been construed to justify a wrong that the law of nature and nature’s God always held to be wrong. “A reminder that there is a higher power limits the state from assuming God-like powers,” Kmiec said. Otherwise, he said, “the state would be God.”

Dershowitz responded initially to Kmiec’s arguments not with an attack, but with a concession on two points the Dean had made: The pledge was not a prayer, and Newdow would be overturned either by the Ninth Circuit or the United States Supreme Court.

But that marked the end of the two men’s agreement. “I have never said the pledge since ‘under God’ was inserted,” Dershowitz said. He reminded those gathered that not every child feels comfortable saying those two words. “I think when it comes to issues about God, elementary schools and high schools are dangerous places to have these debates,” he argued. He told of his own personal confrontation with the issue when his rabbi told him the God in the pledge was not his God.

Dershowitz distinguished the pledge from other governmental religious references, such as the “In God We Trust” inscription on coins and prayers before sessions of Congress, which he said have no real impact on people’s lives. But things are different, Dershowitz reasoned, when dealing with children.

Dershowitz concluded with a passionate attack on the justness of natural law. “Natural law is an invitation to lawlessness,” he said. He went on to argue that for too long, humans have looked to God to create a just society, with the consequence that we, as humans, have neglected to shape the world that we live in. Our own Constitution is an embodiment of this effort to shape government, and that is why, he argued, “natural law should not be something we feel comfortable resting our Constitution on.”

Notwithstanding a few light moments in the debate (including Kmiec’s comment that he would have to go to confession because he thanked Dershowitz for correcting a comment he made), many students said the debate led them to question their own views on the issue. One student in particular, who chose not to be named, said he went into the debates believing the phrase should remain in the pledge, but left agreeing with Dershowitz.

One-L Peter Leröe-Munoz focused on the argumentative style of Kmiec and Dershowitz: “It was a fanciful political and theological debate, with each side vehemently presupposing the correctness of his case,” he said.

Resurrecting the star chamber

BY CLIFFORD GINN

The Supreme Court recently decided to all but abolish Fifth Amendment rights for prisoners, apparently believing that false confessions are fine, as long as they come from inmates. In McKune v. Lile, the Court upheld a Kansas prison regulation that required sex offenders to participate in a rehabilitation program or else suffer transfer to a maximum security prison facility, with severe limitations on virtually all of their freedoms. This is the same sanction prisoners receive for such infractions as rape, assault and arson. As part of the program, prisoners must confess their crimes and provide written sexual histories, including uncharged criminal offenses. A lie detector confirms the accuracy and completeness of the confessions. Kansas provides no immunity for the statements, and prison officials must report to law enforcement any disclosed sex offenses against minors.

The rationale goes something like this: Rehabilitation is a legitimate penalogical interest. Honesty with therapists and acceptance of responsibility for crimes are crucial for successful rehabilitation. While prisoners have some rights, they are less than those of other citizens, and must yield to legitimate state interests. There are cases that do not find compulsion when an inmate or defendant faces an increased possibility of receiving the death penalty, so this isn’t so bad. Therefore, unless the punishment “constitute[s] atypical and significant hardships in relation to the ordinary incidents of prison life,” it will be deemed insufficiently coercive to compel self-incrimination. It should be noted that the Supreme Court does not consider 30 days in punitive segregation — a brutal, dehumanizing punishment uniformly condemned by every human rights organization I know of — to be “atypical.”

Justice O’Connor’s concurrence provided the fifth vote. She said it would take less than the plurality’s standard to compel self-incrimination, but she didn’t consider the punishment in this case sufficiently coercive, given the record before her.

As Justice O’Connor and the dissent note, the plurality (you know who they are) gets the precedents all wrong. There are four lines of relevant cases. Under the “choice cases,” in a criminal trial, the government may reward testimony, but it cannot punish or give evidentiary weight to silence. In a non-criminal proceeding, the government may command testimony, but only if it provides immunity against prosecution based on that testimony. The government may also give appropriate evidentiary weight to silence in such a proceeding. If the government equates silence with guilt, and automatically imposes punishment, then the case becomes a “penalty case,” and the question is whether the penalty was such that it would compel a reasonable person to incriminate herself.

The plurality treats this as a “choice case,” even though the automatic punishment makes it a “penalty case.” The cases they reference, where an individual’s silence increased his likelihood of receiving the death penalty, were choice cases, making the comparison of the death penalty with the punishment opposed in this case inapposite. Furthermore, both O’Connor and the plurality refuse to acknowledge both the extraordinarily coercive nature of the imposed restrictions on freedom, restrictions calculated to compel inmates to abstain from committing the most egregious offenses, and the coercion that arises from the increased danger to an inmate’s bodily integrity that a transfer to maximum security entails.

A nationwide survey of prisons reveals that prisoners face substantial threats to life and bodily integrity. One federal court found a “culture of sadistic and malicious violence” prevailed in Texas prisons. In 1998, 59 inmates were killed by other inmates, and 6,750 inmates required medical attention as a result of prison violence. As many as 70 percent of all inmates are assaulted every year. Extrapolation from studies suggests that 140,000 male inmates have been raped, and numbers are higher for female inmates. Violent gangs exist in every prison system, and both the unwillingness of prison officials to entertain inmate complaints and of prosecutors to prosecute prison crimes leads to dramatic underreporting of this violence. It seems certain that most of these horrors occur in maximum security prisons, where inmates are more violent, more inmates share a cell, inmates have less money, and more inmates are part of gangs.

If an indigent inmate wants to prove that a threat to place him in such an inferno is coercive, Justice O’Connor apparently expects him to compile data that even well-funded social scientists find difficult to obtain (the plurality would not even change their minds on such a record). This is not unlike the Supreme Court’s conditioning Miranda rights on the requirement that indigent criminal defendants have sufficient familiarity with the U.S. Reports to know the precise words to intone when they ask for a lawyer. This makes a mockery of our criminal justice system, and as is so often the case with this Court’s decisions, the burdens will fall most heavily on those with the least power in our society.

Selling out: In defense of corporate law

By Adam White

For law students eager to enter the world of big firm law, autumn of 2L year brings a refreshing change: For a few weeks, the most oft-uttered phrase on campus ceases to be, “Isn’t there a public policy justification?” Unfortunately, it is replaced by an only slightly less disconcerting phrase: “I’m selling out.”

This too-common description of students’ foray into firm life reflects the Law School’s disappointing failure to instill in students a powerful truth: that the contributions of “Big Firm” lawyers and of corporate legal education at institutions such as Harvard Law are invaluable to the effective leadership of tomorrow’s legal community.

The Law School has never hesitated to cast its mission in lofty terms. According to the 2002-03 Catalog, “[HLS’s] goal is to provide comprehensive training…. The School … seeks to make substantial contributions toward solving society’s complex problems.” But leadership is needed in a variety of arenas, and if the lessons of the past year have taught anything, it is that corporate regulation and deregulation merit a more searching, intellectually honest inquiry than they have received in the recent past. While many have called for more ethical leadership on corporate boards, fewer have publicly demanded knowledgeable leadership on the part of those anointed to govern and regulate these corporations.

Congress demonstrated the ramifications of financial illiteracy in the legal community at its WorldCom hearings last summer. In a moment indicative of an alarming trend, Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) asked a former Andersen partner, “How did you not see some red flags when the taxes [of WorldCom]… were so different from what they reported as their earnings?… Would that have helped you possibly uncover the fraud?” [Rep. Maloney, guardian of the Republic, should know that tax accounting and financial accounting are different by law — it’s like the difference between asking how many dependents you have and how many kids you have.]

The questions of Maloney and her peers (GOP and Democrat alike) would be funny were they not depressingly absurd. While such a leadership vacuum has many causes, the search for such causes cannot ignore altogether the derision of corporate law and the big firms that practice it as being qualitatively inferior to the “nobler” academic pursuits of our “future leaders.” Such an atmosphere can inappropriately dissuade America’s bright legal minds from pursuing careers in corporate legal America — perpetuating a leadership vacuum in a field that needs competency now more than ever.

HLS does take steps to promote corporate law — including the recommendation of the “bundled” courses. But for every promotion of corporate law, the Law School provides as many disparaging characterizations of life in corporate law, either explicitly or by implication.

Nowhere is this more obvious than at OPIA, whose mission to open the door to public law often piggybacks upon derision of law firm life. In an excerpt from a book sold and quoted triumphantly on the OPIA website, one author boasts, “I became convinced that neutrality was for the Swiss and determined that, when I grew up, I would not follow the sheep to a big law firm but would instead work to advance truth and justice….” The implication is clear — law firm life is qualitatively inferior to “service” life, and only lemmings pursue private law.

Similarly, the qualitative delineation between “firm work” and “pro bono” is equally harmful and inaccurate. To anoint the ACLU et al. as those working for the “public good,” to the exclusion of corporate law firms is to ignore the incomprehensible importance of the American economy and those who motor it. Lawyers who advocate on behalf of corporate America may be accused of “selling out,” but their contributions to the economic infrastructure have grown the economy, and their legal services protect American entrepreneurs from legislators whose forays into economic regulation would otherwise go unchecked. That’s a whole lot of bono, OPIA’s pronouncements notwithstanding.

Where students are not actively reminded of the importance of corporate legal expertise, extracurricular avenues for their study fail to materialize. Thus, HLS lacks student-edited journals or clinical programs devoted to technical corporate law. In a feedback loop, this is both a symptom and a source of the problem: Students cannot engage corporate law in a practical academic environment, which lends to the impression that corporate law is intellectually inferior to legal historicism, politicking and “legal aid” endeavors, which further dissuades students from pursuing the corporate environment.

HLS has produced leaders who take on corporate malfeasance, such as New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, HLS ’84 (who honed his skills in private practice). Just as importantly, the school has produced lawyers who defend America’s productive companies from the creeping tendencies of an increasingly burdensome regulatory Leviathan. But one must hope that the brilliant corporate minds of tomorrow will be produced by HLS, not in spite of it.

Letters from Berkeley: The simplicity of senselessness

BY COLLEEN CHEN

In the course of my summer living and working in Belgium, I came across a small monastic community in the Ardennes, led by a Dutch shaman with an eclectic past — a former United Nations employee in the Middle East, who then became a Sufi master for a dozen years before beginning his own teachings.

I had gone to Belgium almost randomly — following a course powered by what I call “intuitive decisionmaking.” Basically, this just means that I have no rational goals in mind when faced with a choice, except that something just “feels right.” And it means also that it’s impossible to make a wrong choice.

Of course, this form of decisionmaking has its drawbacks. When it came to my summer job, it had me going to a small human rights nongovermental organization in a yuppie city, where I was getting little money and no legal training and where the most prestigious contact I made was with the Belgian leader of the largest UFO-related religious movement in Europe.

But, that’s beside the point. Belgium was where my intuition took me, and by my first weekend there I’d already discovered this shamanic ashram, where the basic philosophy was that the only thing we can really know is that there is something greater that we’re a part of. The nature of this is beyond our comprehension, so we might as well vibrate at love.

What made the whole experience at this ashram so unique was how devoid it was of an intellectual, analytical, rational grounding. Being in this vibration — basically, being surrounded by people who shared this perspective — allowed me to open up and enjoy the panoply of strange experiences to be had. I participated in daily meditations where we shook rattles and made low humming noises, meant to integrate the right and left brains. I went on Alice-in-Wonderland-like shamanic dream journeys led by the sexy head monk, meant to expand my “causal vision,” that deeply intuitive sight that’s freed of the emotionally charged filters that normally control the way we see the world. I entered “deep states of annihilation” in a longer ritual featuring the shaman ringing bells. They drummed and rattled in what appeared to my incense-drugged consciousness to be some strange parody of a Salvation Army Santa, accompanied by images of Hello Kitty and other “power animals” dancing across my brain, and a sensation that the borders of my body were dissolving.

The simplicity of the senselessness worked. The total lack of judgment from those around me was amazing — an example of this was that one woman I made friends with told me that she didn’t even notice I was Asian for a week! The open-hearted philosophy, the idea of compassion with detachment, allowed transcendence of judgments.

Being one of those people with a world savior complex, I asked the shaman at one point how one person could most effectively change society. And why, I asked, were the great “realized” people of all spiritual traditions unable to end conflicts, since supposedly they’d evolved to a state where their will could move mountains?

“If you think of yourself as a drop in the ocean, it’s impossible to change the ocean,” he told me. “If you think of yourself as the ocean, then whatever you do, you’re changing the ocean.”

Implicit in his response was the answer to my other question. Thinking of conflicts or disasters impending or realized as separate from the whole “ocean” of human experience, as problems to be solved like cancers to be removed from a body, was an attitude that could only have limited success. Addressing only one problematic piece of the totality in isolation from the rest doesn’t get to the source of the problem, merely perpetuating a state of disequilibrium. That source lies in the imbalance of the whole, and therefore can only ever be solved by looking at the whole.

This perspective is what I got from my summer. So I’ve begun my third year now as an exchange student at Boalt, trying to maintain this attitude — of being the ocean, not getting caught up in the worries of what on earth I’ll be qualified to do or what I’ll even want to do after this year is over. The idea is that as the ocean, my lifeforce flows out to balance where balance is needed, and I don’t have to control anything. Opportunities will appear, and the universe will provide the means to take my next steps.

It’s a wonderful idea — to let go and stop fighting, as a drop, for footholds in water. Intellectually the idea doesn’t seem too compatible with a legal career, but with a little shift in perspective it makes all the sense in the world.

1L Experience: Join my organization!

BY JEREMY BLACHMAN

“I’m having pizza at the Prison Legal Assistance Program meeting, dessert at the Society for Law, Life and Lemon Meringue, and cocktails at the Target Shooting Club’s practice round.” Sound like your life? Anyone who’s been worried about cooking dinner anytime over the last couple of weeks simply hasn’t joined enough organizations. There’s no excuse for it.

My biggest worry coming here was that, outside of schoolwork, there’d be nothing to do. I’m realizing that’s an unfounded concern. Clearly, if we’re looking to fill time, we’ve got lots of choices, ranging from the Interdenominational Alliance for Israel to Justice for Palestine. And most of them come with food. (Although probably not a barbecue at the Student Animal Defense Fund meeting.)

I’ve definitely taken advantage. I went to the Federalist Society’s barbecue last weekend. I have nothing against Federalists – I think Madison was a fine President – but I can’t honestly say I self-identify as one. But it was lunchtime, I was hungry… my only slip-up was when I mentioned I spent a summer in Washington interning for… uh… Senator Schumer (D-NY). He ain’t no Federalist. Oops. But the food was good.

The real meat and potatoes of it all seems to be the Journals. I went to the Journals Fair, and I listened really carefully, but I’m still having trouble telling the difference between the dozen of ’em.

The speeches all sounded kind of like this:

“Good evening. I’m Law McLawyer, this year’s assistant managing associate editor for the Journal on Cheese. I know you’ve been sitting through a lot of speeches this evening, but I think you’ll find this one is different because of the unique opportunities afforded by joining the Journal on Cheese – opportunities that are identical to those offered by all of the other journals.

“The Journal on Cheese is a relatively small journal, with roughly the same amount of people as all of the other journals. We publish a series of articles in each of our issues, which come out a number of times throughout the year and are, if I may be so bold as to say, the longest journal issues on campus, approximately the same length as the issues of all the other journals.

“Last year, we published a fascinating article about the dried-up cheese on the outside of a bowl of French Onion soup written by a third-year student. We have copies outside at our table if you’re interested, along with some candy – the same candy, in fact, as all of the other journals have at their tables.

“The Journal on Cheese is really a fun organization to be a part of. We’re committed to being not just a sweatshop for first-year students desperate to pad their resumes, but we also host a number of social events each year. That number is one. And the event is next week, when we will be hosting an open house to get you to sign up.

“We’re unique in that 1Ls play an integral role at the Journal on Cheese. That role is helping us say that we have first-years on our journal without having to lie. In addition, from your work at the journal and your attendance at our meetings, there’s the possibility of making one or two – and even in a few rare cases, three – friends. Some of the best people I’ve met at Harvard, I’ve met because of the Journal on Cheese.

“In closing, I think it’s quite clear why the Journal on Cheese provides the best and most unique opportunities on campus, opportunities that are exactly the same as all of the other journals. I hope you’ll visit us at our table outside the lecture hall and sign up to receive reams of information about cheese of all kinds. Thank you for listening, and I hope to see you all at our open house, which we’ve conveniently scheduled at exactly the same time as all of the other journals’ open houses.”

I’m going to start my own student organization: the Free Food Society. No pretense about any actual events, any broader purpose, or any way to impress future employers. You come to a meeting, you get free food, and you leave. Well, you don’t have to leave. You can stay. I’ve got some subciting you can work on.

A gag order hits the (almost) all-male Review

BY GREG LIPPER

Of the 88 members of the Harvard Law Review, only 28 are women. This year’s incoming class of 43 contained only 11 women. So how is the Review addressing the situation?

Well, I’d tell you, but then I’d be violating the Review’s Rule of Confidentiality: Anything that happens at any meeting, any statistics or other data that are generated relevant to this or any other problem, cannot be shared with anyone outside of the Law Review community. Among most members, this “rule” is accepted as gospel like the common law itself. You won’t find it written down anywhere — as far as anyone can tell, this rule has never been voted on or enacted pursuant to any procedure. But it’s a presence nonetheless — the straitjacket of silence is wrapped around Gannett House.

So guess what, 1L women: The Law Review is holding a party to figure out how many of you will join our ranks next year. Not only aren’t you invited, but we’re not even going to tell you what kind of cake is being served. In both its maleness and its secrecy, the Law School’s bedrock of legal scholarship is beginning to look more and more like the Catholic Church. Perhaps we should be called the Cardinal Law Review.

In most cases, secrecy on the Law Review makes sense. For instance, candid debate about the selection of articles requires that students speak openly without fear of retaliation by professors who might get wind of their comments. But when the subject of the debate shifts from the ivory tower to the glass ceiling, this silence is deafening.

The Review may be a nominally independent organization. I’ll even overlook its free rental of Gannett House from HLS, the Dean’s ex officio seat on its Board, and its prominent link on the HLS website. But whatever its technical status, the Review is a central symbol of HLS merit, and a critical rung on the ladder to legal power. Granted, the Law Review is certainly not the end-all, be-all of legal success (Laurence Tribe didn’t make law review, after all). But all things being equal, those lucky enough to make Law Review will be teaching the next generation of law students and making the next generation of laws. The Harvard Law Review is not the bridge club; it’s a bridge to the legal elite.

If Arthur Miller were to walk into the first day of Civil Procedure and inform his students that their exams would be graded only by their classmates, protests would erupt. And yet policy decisions that are often just as important to students’ futures are reserved for the 85 or so 2Ls and 3Ls who can’t help but be more concerned with their position in the rat race than with those who are still shackled to the starting line. Indeed, Law Review gender affirmative action has traditionally been most strongly opposed by many of its women, who fear that enactment of an affirmative action policy will lead others to question their “merit.” There may be something to this position. But the fact remains: those who have already climbed up the ladder always have an easier time kicking it down. Those who got kicked off the ladder are rarely considered and are almost never consulted.

When racial tension plagued the Law School last year, students couldn’t go ten minutes without receiving an e-mail from some Dean assuring us that the law school was going to take action. Though the problem emanated from a single 1L section, it was viewed as a significant problem affecting the entire campus, and there was no shortage of open discussion. Yet when the subject is a chronic problem of equal representation on the Law Review, the discussion never leaves Gannett House. Even The RECORD’s recent article about the issue quoted exclusively Law Review members. Was the rest of the school’s line busy?

Many students on the Law Review have taken a legitimate interest in remedying its gender imbalance, and many of them are working hard to devise what they believe will be workable solutions. For the most part, the Law Review’s membership cares a great deal about its gender problem. But the reality remains: A group of 85 2Ls and 3Ls, an overwhelming majority of whom are male, are assuming complete responsibility for solving a social problem with implications for women in the entire Law School as well as the legal profession. And they refuse to tell people what they are thinking until they have already made up their mind.

Letters: The coy tactics of JAG opponents and Palmer-Dodge corrects the RECORD

BY

Gays not of one mind on ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’

Lindsay Harrison and Matthew DelNero may have good reasons to oppose the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, but to call it “irrational,” as both do, is false and not a little disingenuous. Homosexual activists and theorists are in fact of two minds concerning mainstream “hetero-normative” institutions such as the military. For every Andrew Sullivan urging homosexuals to assimilate into bourgeois society as noiselessly as possible, there is a Richard Goldstein, who in a recent The Nation piece castigates Sullivan’s “homoconservatism” for impeding the project of political and moral emancipation. Goldstein and his ilk view assimilation as either impossible or undesirable, and advocate joining mainstream institutions only in order to subvert them.

Thus, while they stipulate, as the radical queer group Outrage! put it, that “[e]verything about the military is inimical to queer freedom: hierarchy, domination, prejudice, aggression, conformity, and authoritarianism,” they applaud the work of Steve Zeeland, who has published several books (all The Advocate bestsellers) of homosexual erotica involving the military.

Now, it is one thing to want gays in the military so that they may improve it, but quite another to want it only to the extent that they may destroy it. To speak to a predominantly heterosexual audience as if the latter school of thought does not exist – and to insinuate that no heterosexual can say otherwise without countenancing bigotry – is no more than a rhetorical ruse, if not, shall we say, a technique of domination designed to silence dissenters.

In the meantime, the armed forces – to say nothing of the public – are perfectly justified in waiting to see what homosexuals’ intentions are before consenting to become a laboratory for social experimentation.

Coy tactics such as taking up all the JAG corps’ time slots for interviews, I might add, can only increase their suspicion. Dean Clark’s politic but pusillanimous letter to the contrary, I cannot see how inviting Eros into the barracks will make our soldiers more efficient killers any more than inviting him into the seminaries has made Catholic priests more caring pastors. I, for one, should be glad if the custodians of our establishment institutions continue to place the burden of proof on homosexuals, and not the other way around.

– Austin W. Bramwell, 3L

Law firm contests rollback allegations

On September 19, 2002 The RECORD published a Career Guide which listed Palmer & Dodge as among the firms that have “rolled back salaries.” (See page 12 of the guide.) This is not correct. Palmer & Dodge increased its starting base salary for first-year associates to $110,000 in 2001, and it has remained at that level since that time. (This is in addition to substantial bonus compensation which is available to all associates, including first-years, who work in excess of 1800 hours of billable time, including pro bono time.) Nor has there been any roll-back in salaries for other associates. I also am pleased to note that we welcomed all of our new fall associates to the firm earlier this week, without any deferral of their start dates, and that we enthusiastically made offers of full-time employment at the end of this summer to all 14 of our 2L summer associates.

Harvard students are bright and savvy consumers. Gathering accurate information is essential at the start of any job search. I appreciate this opportunity to set the record straight.

– Daryl J. Lapp
Hiring Partner
Palmer & Dodge LLP

RECORD Editorial: Students should demand more of OCS and OPIA

BY

We are scarcely a month away from November, and the Office of Public Interest Advising’s hiring process is standing still. Meanwhile, students trying to use the Office of Career Services’ snazzy new web site have been met with constant frustration, as the site has crashed repeatedly, and at the most inopportune times. It is no secret that students have a habit of doing things at the last minute, but the system should have been designed to handle the expected capacity.

OCS seems to have done the best it can, testing the system during the much-smaller 1L OCI last year, extending deadlines and generally working to help students who get burned by glitches in the system.

With regard to OPIA, the situation is a bit more tricky. When Dean Robert Clark announced the long-overdue hiring of another full-time adviser, students applauded. The move should have been made a long time ago — most of our peer schools had larger public-interest advising staffs, or at least more full-time personnel. (It should also be noted that several peer institutions have larger offices of career services as well.)

But as 2L hiring season approaches, and 1Ls gear up for their own first shot at the job market, OPIA is still without the staffing resources it needs to do the job.

Without a second full-time adviser, 2Ls will likely face long waits for advising appointments. Given the desirability of HLS 2Ls in the law firm job market, any additional barriers to public interest hiring are likely to drive them toward the OCI process, which already enjoys considerable comparative advantages in attracting HLS students (computer problems notwithstanding). Given that such a massive percentage of 2Ls and graduating 3Ls start their careers in law firms (over 90 percent, not including students entering clerkships), a move that causes those numbers to go up even more is an unfortunate mistake.

The difference between this and previous years is that this year, it seems that OPIA is understaffed by choice. According to Director Alexa Shabecoff, literally hundreds have sought the position. While her and the administration’s search for the absolute most qualified candidate is laudable, this situation does not lend itself to further dallying.

With the job market still relatively poor, this year is likely to see record numbers of 1Ls seeking public interest jobs. Ideally, one would hope the new full-time adviser would have time to get acclimated to his or her work before having to deal with the difficult process of finding public interest jobs for 1Ls. The longer that Shabecoff and the administration wait, the more difficult the new adviser’s job is likely to be. And 1Ls — already the group in the worst position job-wise — will be the ones who suffer.

OCS and OPIA’s travails both should serve as a lesson for future years. Both the computer and hiring problems could have been alleviated with better planning and more attention to students’ needs.

Bang-Up Sisters

BY TRACY CONN

Starring Goldie Hawn as Suzette and Susan Sarandon as Vin (short for Lavinia), The Banger Sisters is a feel-good story about two women forced to reconcile their shared wild past with the lives they have chosen to live 20 years later. Nicknamed “the banger sisters” in their youth for their propensity to sleep with the musicians whose bands they followed, the women have grown up to live separate and different lives.
After being fired from her bartending job at L.A.’s famous Whiskey A Go-Go, Suzette, shocked that her presence is not indispensable to the club’s party scene, decides to drive to Phoenix to surprise Vin. Along the way, Suzette picks up Harry (Geoffrey Rush), an obsessive-compulsive writer looking for a ride to Phoenix so that he can carry out a secret mission.
Despite Suzette’s expectations, Vini’s plans for her life do not include a reunion with her wild and crazy former cohort. Vin has dropped the nickname and married a lawyer/politician, with an expensive house in the suburbs, two daughters and a golden retriever to boot. Suzette, still the party girl and Vin struggle to relate and find a middle ground where they can reconnect.
Comfortably ensconced in suburbia, Vin fears that her past will come back to haunt her — and until Suzette’s back in town, her groupie status has stayed buried firmly in her past. Vin’s daughters, played by Traffic’s Erika Christensen and Sarandon’s real-life daughter Eva Amurri, find Suzette’s presence confusing at first, but ultimately enlightening and liberating.
Eventually, Suzette’s influence causes both Vin and Harry to loosen up and rediscover their true selves. Most of the movie’s characters learn, through her example, to put others’ expectations and their own self-imposed pressures in perspective. Suzette brings out the best in everyone around her, whether by being a muse, a reliable but demanding friend or an inspirer of romance.
The ever-lovable Hawn, elegant yet playful Sarandon, and adorable Rush poignantly demonstrate their characters’ fears of both losing their connections to the past as well as hanging on to them too strongly — of letting go of the people they once were and surrendering to the people they’ve become.
A special highlight of the film is Amurri’s performance as Vin’s youngest daughter Ginger, who struggles to pass her road test, feeling that the whole world is out to prevent her from doing so.
The Banger Sisters, despite being fairly predictable, is nonetheless funny and enjoyable. The characters’ relationships are complex and believable and their transformations were well-earned and fun to watch.

Attack of the invisible insects!

BY AMANDA GOAD

Ever feel like your life is being ruined by extraterrestrials? Invisible insects? The Orkin man? Payne Ratner’s new play Infestation, at the Boston Playwrights’ Theatre through this Sunday, depicts the intersection of three personal crises in black comedic fashion.

Elwin (John Kuntz) has just moved back home after what he describes as, well, abduction by aliens. His mother (Karen MacDonald) wants him to become a doctor, or at least to finish high school. She’s preoccupied, though, with the unseen bugs she believes to be taking over their house, and by a budding courtship with Leon the exterminator (Michael Walker). Leon, in turn, thinks his professional rivals are closing in on him. The characters’ attempts to deal with their own demons, while doubting the existence of each others’, drive this wacky and unpredictable show.

Sexual tensions among the three are also important. Elwin has a severe Oedipal crush on his mother. She is desperately lonely, clinging to both male characters while peering out the window for signs of Elwin’s father, twelve years departed. Leon’s intentions become unclear as Elwin unearths clues to the exterminator’s past. Grossly extended sexual metaphors involving Leon’s pump sprayer and mother’s onion dip hold the audience’s attention against its will.

All three actors give solid performances, despite some thin spots in the dialogue in the first act and the increasing bizarreness of the second. Kuntz convincingly portrays a young man suffering from some combination of alien abduction, mental illness, adolescent angst, and a steady diet of KFC and Nesquik. The chemistry between troubled mother and troubled son is excellent, a credit to director Wesley Savick. Kuntz even pulls off a breathless soliloquy as a blind priest, a figment of mother’s imagination.

The Boston Playwrights’ Theatre is almost a story in itself. Founded by Derek Walcott in 1981, before he won the Nobel Prize for Literature, it serves today as a testing ground for new dramatic works. BPT is affiliated with Boston University’s Creative Writing Department and located at the margin of BU’s campus, but remains artistically and financially independent.

The arrangement neatly brings together professional actors and directors, innovative writers and adventurous playgoers, but it does have its drawbacks. The theater staff came begging for additional contributions before the start of last Friday’s show, but after its conclusion, the T platform in front of BPT was packed with oblivious BU undergrads en route to the clubs.

“Playwrights are the albino alligators of the theater community,” explained Jacob Strautmann, managing director of the Theatre, in his pre-show pitch for more money. He means that they require special care to stay alive, but also merit extra attention. The analogy seems quite apt for the disturbing yet sometimes transfixing Infestation.


Boston Playwrights’ Theater

949 Commonwealth Ave.

Boston, MA 02215

617-358-PLAY

http://www.bu.edu/bpt

The new ‘queens’ of metal

BY JEFF LEVEN

Dear Lord. I was all set to file the Queens of the Stone Age’s third and latest offering Songs for the Deaf as some sort of triumphant comeback that reinvigorated the meaning of “alternative rock” — that now vaguely cynical catch-all category that appears to include the vast insufferable legions of Nicklebacks, Creeds and Puddles of Mudd. But I was going to go the grunge route. I was going to set it up with some big sweeping statement about how the musical output of the early ’90s was actually, in retrospect, pretty remarkable before Kurt pulled the trigger and brought the big flannel machine back down to Earth. I wanted to wax nostalgic about the era of Mother Love Bone and Mudhoney, and put in a plug for the Screaming Trees’ under-appreciated masterwork Dust.

I thought this was the perfect set-up. I mean, the Queens of the Stone Age are, in their current incarnation, pretty much the post-grunge supergroup. You’ve got Josh Homme, singer/guitarist from the amazing but forgotten Kyuss, Nick Oliveri, whose career included stops with porn-punkers the Dwarves, Mark Lanegan of Screaming Trees fame, a visit from Dean Ween, and of course, behind the kit, none other than Dave Grohl himself, fresh from the Top-40 airwaves for another stab at mayhem.

But then I listened to the album. The first few tracks played along with my scheme just fine. The opening moments of “You Think I Ain’t Worth a Dollar, But I Feel Like a Millionaire” take a healthy blast at today’s flaccid radio playlists before Grohl rips into the drums, the big sludgy guitars take off and we’re flying. Things get a little artier and catchier on the hellhammer polka of “No One Knows,” and “Song for the Dead” is a bizarre little harrumphing dirge that leaves me waiting for the mooing guitar fill at the end of each verse. I pause and scratch my head a little at the flamenco guitar moment in “The Sky Is Fallin’,” grit my teeth and endure Homme’s little tantrum on “Six Shooter,” (the album’s only real brain fart), and by the time we hit “Go With the Flow,” and “Gonna Leave You,” we’re in pop territory. But then, just when I had this whole grunge story wrapped up, comes “Another Love Song,” and it hits me. Dear Lord. This isn’t a grunge album from the 1990s — this is a grunge album from the 1960s!

It’s not just that “Another Love Song” has the frenetic orchestration and vaguely Transylvanian beat of those classic American garage anthems that populate the legendary Nuggets collections (featuring bands like the Thirteenth Floor Elevators, the Sonics, the Chocolate Watchband and many, many more). More than that, this is the song that calls into focus just how sprawling, weird, arty and compelling Songs for the Deaf really is. This is more than just the maybe-we-can-market-our-teenage-anger energy of the Seattle scene of the 1990s. No, this is the energy of an earlier and headier musical vintage — hearkening back to the dawn of psychedelic rock when the pitch and sprawl of musical experimentation was at an early zenith, where unknown bands toiled away in unknown garages making strange weird music that, for the most part, are still only the ambrosia of the most obsessed record collectors. In other words, this is an experimental garage rock album like those made in a time when rock n’ roll was still something new, weird, dangerous and beautiful.

Perhaps the greatest thing about Songs for the Deaf is the fact that it is a burst of nice, complicated blessedly heavy noise to a time when rock n’ roll is rarely so unabashedly extravagant, thoughtful, intense, or original. While most bands paper over their lack of musical prowess with an appeal to hackneyed emotivism, QOTSA are, like the Screaming Trees before them, coy and chameleonic in their perspective. The songs don’t ever sound particularly heartbroken or horny or self-assured: Instead, they warble out of the sides of Homme and Lanegan’s mouths with no particular posture to fall on. The effect is arresting — vocally, the album sounds like the chanting of twisted monks rather than the navel-gazings of yet another carefully-primped pretty boy trying to sound like Eddie Vedder or Layne Staley. Where their chants are directed is at times unclear, but if, as they say “God Is In the Radio,” perhaps QOTSA has come to finally save us from the demons of monotony.

Of course Songs for the Deaf is not perfect. As much as most critics love to love QOTSA, and as good a reception as this album has been getting, it’s not exactly the world’s best party disc. Like its predecessor, Rated R, Songs for the Deaf is a concept album in a metal album’s clothing. Sure, there are tons of heavy, gritty, mid-rangey guitars and Grohl, while slightly thin sounding, tends to drum at alarming speed. But the bizarre vocal chants that riddle the songs and the somewhat unsettling keys that the band tends to fall into hurtle the band towards the type of abstraction that fellow sludge-merchants Fu Manchu or Monster Magnet would never contemplate. Even the sonorous acoustic balladry of the hidden track “Mosquito Song” is left with a slightly strange aftertaste by virtue of its juxtaposition with the rest of the album’s sonic onslaught.

Then again, most great bands over time earn the right to put out a “thinking album” — an album where the heat and bristle gives way somewhat to exploration and ambition in the way that Led Zeppelin IV, for instance, fed into Houses of the Holy. While comparisons to Zep may as of now be hyperbolic, I suspect that time will prove Rated R to be QOTSA’s fun, loud, smart album and Songs for the Deaf to be QOTSA’s arty, loud, slightly smarter album — at moments misguided and probably slightly inferior overall, but a victory nonetheless.

Bistro of bliss

BY ALEX SUNDSTROM

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If you go to the Craigie Street Bistrot, be sure to ask the pony-tailed waiter about his trip to Niman Ranch, where the restaurant buys its pork. He will imitate the drawl of the farmers there: “We keep the fences curved, so the pigs never crowd each other… They have a totally stress-free life.” Bite into the moist, buttery pork, perfectly crispy from pan-frying and balanced with a fresh peach compote, and you’ll feel as content as any farm animal ever did.

Every element of the Craigie Street Bistro seems designed to make its customers feel that contentment. The restaurant is nestled in a quiet neighborhood west of campus, appointed with plush seats and soft lighting that make it seem like a retrofitted living room. Former Clio sous chef Tony Maws woos the neighborhood crowd seriously: Nearby residents can drop by in the morning for coffee, or use the restaurant as a meeting space when it’s not serving dinner.

Maws even offers a $29 prix fixe menu that lets his guests assemble three-course meals from about half of the menu on a given night. The house wine is also inexpensive ($13 for two thirds of a bottle), and decent for the money, although its flavor flattens out as it breathes. Whether these efforts will be enough remains to be seen: Butterfish and Café Celador have both failed in this location in the past 3 years, and both presented themselves as neighborhood restaurants.

The best way to get a local following, of course, is to serve delicious food, and Maws puts forth a promising effort. The terrine of duck appetizer ($10) is exactly as it would be at a good bistro in France: rich with duck meat, perfectly set off by sweet pickled onions and fresh pepper, and coated with an impossibly creamy layer of duck. The celery soup ($7) has a wonderfully smooth feel on the tongue, made as it is with a base of crème fraiche, but the celery flavor is too muted and it drowns in its own creaminess.

The scrumptious pork chop ($18) is a standout, among the best pork I have eaten, although the bitter greens and barely-cooked mushroom sides are not entirely complementary. The chile-marinated skirt steak and grilled bone marrow ($20) is nearly excellent; the bone marrow is rich and smooth, and has a subtle flavor that hints at browned butter without being oily.

The perfectly-cooked skirt steak it accompanies takes its chile marinade well, delivering a smoky flavor with bacon overtones. As with the pork, however, the sides are not a perfect balance — roasted carrots, crisp watercress and barely-mashed potatoes with a bit of butter are good counterparts to the steak as far as flavor goes. However, it would be easier to appreciate the variations in texture within the sides — the contrast of creamy and rough within the potatoes, the crisp watercress — if a more tender cut than skirt steak had been used.

The meal finishes on an extremely high note with an amazing peach poached in muscat ($8) and served with fresh berries and homemade ice cream. The inclusion of apricot nuts — the heart of the apricot pit used in making almond extract — in the poaching liquid tempers the sweetness of the muscat and lets the flavors of the fruit shine through.

The cheese course (market price) is dazzling. The Cervelle de Canut, a Lyonnaise cheese spread made with French white cheese and various finely-minced spices, is tangy but mild, well-paired with the bread and figs included on the plate. The Liening, an aged raw milk Italian goat cheese, starts with a nutty and almost sour flavor, then fades into creamy perfection.

Bistros in France are commonly found in residential areas, comforting the locals with traditional food prepared with passion and skill. If you tire of the loud bustle of many Harvard Square establishments, and want to pretend for a couple of hours that nothing exists in the world but your fellow diners and some well-prepared food, the Craigie Street Bistro is an excellent escape.

[Photos by Erin Bernstein/RECORD.]

Vino & Veritas: Champagne!

BY JOSH SOLOMON

At a recent dinner with some friends, I found myself droning on about the wine I had ordered for the table — the grapes, the region, of what I was reminded by its tastes and smells. One friend finally stopped me by simply asking, “Who cares?” He elaborated: “I like most wine I drink, so why bother to learn all those other details? Why not just drink and not think about it?”

That question is fair enough. If you were to slip an honesty pill into their glasses, and then ask a bunch of people who know something about wine why it’s worth knowing something about it, you might get some answers like the following: I feel like I might need to know that kind of “stuff” to be part of the society I intend to inhabit; when I go on a date/business dinner/insert-your-important-outing, I want to be able to read a wine list; I’m pretentious, and it makes me appear sophisticated (beware, particularly, these people, as they often know less than they want you to think they know and when they don’t know something, are usually unwilling to ask for assistance).

My answer was a bit different. It’s kind of like baseball. Almost anyone can go to Fenway Park and have a good time. Whether it’s the two-outs-two-strikes-bases-loaded situations in a close game, long home runs that disappear beyond the range of the lights, gorging oneself on peanuts and hotdogs, or some combination of such things, everyone can find something that will make them say, paraphrasing my friend, “I like most games I attend.” But there’s the potential for much more. When you have more knowledge about the game, you will, without question, get more out of it. It’s one thing to know that three strikes is an out, that four balls is a walk, and that the team with the most runs at the end of the game wins. It’s something else to know some history of the sport and the team you follow, why the manager might bring in a lefty for one batter, and a team’s standing in a pennant race. The more “stuff” you know, the more you enjoy watching the game.

While I was playing to my audience at the time, you could insert just about anything in the place of baseball to illustrate the point. It might be the trees you see on a hike, the history of a country you visit, or even the background of the Justice whose opinion you study. Wine is the same way.

I could serve a glass of most wines to someone who doesn’t know anything about wine, and he would probably enjoy it (particularly if it’s a young, buttery Chardonnay). But joy comes in degrees. If I served the same glass to someone who was familiar with the region, could evaluate the wine within its vintage, and had developed the ability to discern a variety of smells and tastes, that person would be bound to enjoy it far more than would the first. It is then that wine becomes fun.

If fun seems a little strong, give it a try. I think you’ll find, even with just a little bit of knowledge, that wine really is fun. And even if I’m wrong, it will at least come in handy on the date/business dinner/insert-your-important-outing.

And speaking of fun…. At the end of each column, I will try to offer my thoughts on some wines I tried out for you. Usually, they will tie in with the column’s theme. This week, alas, I forgot to get some wine before Sunday, when this wonderful state refuses to let me buy any. Since my column was due on Monday, and since there really was no theme here, you get one of the bottles I happened to have on hand (consider it a preview of my future piece on Champagne):

Perrier Jou

Fenno

BY

Fenno instinctively trusted Mark Weber’s comforting words about the U.S. economic downturn not affecting Harvard nearly as badly as it would, say, other law schools, or, say, Iraq. Little did he know at the time that in a secret ceremony just before last Wednesday’s introduction to On-Campus Interviewing in a packed Ames Courtroom, Weber had laid off 10 percent of his staff in a gruesome decimation requiring biohazard suits and high-pressure hoses to clean the carpet on the third floor of Pound. On learning that corporate fat-trimming had reached the very womb of all things job-related, Fenno felt about as secure as a Columbia summer associate at Weil Gotshal & Manges. So he resolved to carefully navigate this maiden column in a bland attempt to save his own skin. (Fenno did consider the fact that anonymity could make service of a pink slip a bit problematic, but couldn’t think of a suitable pseudonym, or at least one that made any sense.)

Aside from the minor distraction occasioned by pondering such trivia as employment, “the future,” and “oil,” Fenno thought the start of the 2002-03 school year a rather bittersweet experience. On the one hand, T.J. Duane was gone. Fenno wasn’t sure he’d be able to have fun anymore without someone to tell him what fun is. After all, it was very unlikely that Fenno would be able, all on his own, to stand in a boat and take in the views of the warehouse district of Boston Harbor for three hours, be turned down by scantily-clad Eurogirls at Mantra on a Thursday night, or order appetizers at Cambridge Common. On the other hand, T.J. had been replaced by supermodel Naomi Wolf. Fenno was pretty sure that was a good sign. Then Fenno was informed that Naomi Wolf was a Freudian slip for Naomi Klein, who, while still cute and presumably a better organizer than her covergirl namesake, was not as into boneless buffalo wings as Fenno would like. Fenno again felt about as secure as a Columbia summer associate at Weil Gotshal & Manges.

Then Fenno was reminded that the military could recruit on campus now because of the Solomon Amendment, which apparently had been lying dormant for years but promised to freeze the job-search process with Herculaneum-like political fallout for at least a couple of weeks. With his bloodhound’s nose for political scandal, Fenno immediately recognized this as a hot-button issue. Characteristically eager to join the fray, he wanted to start by commending the Law School Administration on matching the wisdom of the Solomon Amendment with that of saving the entire University 16 percent of its operating budget. Some kind of medal from the President (Bush, Summers, Heston, whomever) was surely in order.

Next, given the slim pickings awaiting him in private-sector interviews, Fenno thought it would be similarly wise to burnish his physical fitness credentials for military recruitment. To that end, he wanted to ask the Administration if any part of the 1.7 percent of the University’s endowment saved annually by complying with the Amendment could at least help the Law School get its own gym or something. (Maybe HLS could give it a defiant name like “Hemengay” or “HLS’ Gay Thumb-in-Your-Eye Gym.”) Or maybe flight lessons, so we could be just like the lawyers on the TV show. But Fenno realized that with the Fed rate at 4.75 percent, a 1.7 percent return on any investment was nothing short of a frothing pipe dream. And he’d heard they screen for pipe dreams during the application. He doesn’t know what their policy on froth is.

He also thought it might be a good idea to mention here and there how excited he is about female supermodels.

Leaving his job concerns aside for a few moments, Fenno paused to gaze with a twinge of nostalgia upon the brand-new 1Ls flitting about campus with their heads full of actual, real-life ideas. Of course, these would soon be replaced by “doctrine,” “theory,” and Shockingly Dorky Conversations in the Hark (SDCH). Ah, the new corn from the old wheat. It seemed like just yesterday that Fenno pulled the futon off the roof of his parents’ minivan, only to realize that it wouldn’t fit through the halls of Story, much less into one of its rooms. But six years is actually a pretty long time.

Based on all his experience here, Fenno could safely predict that this new corn would very quickly grow quite pale, overcaffeinated, confused and generally pissed off. The Arthur Miller section would this year become twice as pissed off in half the time. Eventually seemingly far-away strains of “New York, New York” would emanate from somewhere under a bench in the back of Pound 101. This would start happening even before Erie, which will have moved from class number 18 to a computer-aided video lesson to be completed in Holmes Hall by the end of this week. Fenno made a note to drop in sometime to watch Miller zooming around the room like a videotape on fast-forward and talking like Alvin and the Chipmunks.

Sometime in late October, much of the corn will have grown kind of mealy and thoroughly inedible. [Consider using different metaphor, or ending this one earlier, or just quitting now and playing Sega for the rest of the day.] Two-Ls will roll their eyes in incredulous condescension upon hearing their third SDCH of the week, pretending not to remember that they’d vigorously advocated the affirmative of the same question just one year ago. One of these eye-rollers will then rue the day he ever decided to eat spaghetti with marinara sauce while wearing a white shirt right before his afternoon callback at Hale and Dorr.

Another old standby Fenno knew he could rely on to keep his mind off life was class. Academics: the heart of the HLS experience. But since he considered himself more of a digit than a major organ of the student body, Fenno was glad he had a few classmates still left on campus to take notes, and that he knew how to use e-mail. He had used this device to capture the outline for Professor Ring’s tax class. He figured if he read the liturgy on his own for two hours every Monday and Tuesday, it would be just as fulfilling as reading it during class, which he’d heard was all she did anyway. What matter if he performed the service at vespers instead of nones? Does Wong really care when you pray to him, as long as you’re sincere and don’t try to look directly into his face, or try to print the whole thing out on an ink-jet printer? If a 2L on Law Review writes a case note, but no one ever reads it, did it really happen? These were just a sampling of the riddles Fenno knew he had to answer before the year was through.

And so, furnished with all the tools he needed to start yet another semester, Fenno was content to carry on in his naïve belief that Harvard Law School is something that only happens to other people.