Get into Versace and ‘Le Club’ without breaking the bank


You don’t have to twist my arm to get me to go shopping – especially now that I’ve discovered Boomerang’s. All it takes is five minutes in my closet before the little fashion-devil on my shoulder starts chanting, “Your clothes are hein; you know you’re vain; go to Jamaica Plain; for clothes that are off the chain!”

I used to try to resist this little impulse, but now that I’ve discovered guilt-free shopping, there’s no need. Boomerang’s, a thrift store in Jamaica Plain, combines the best of all possible worlds: designers donate shoes and clothing, and all the proceeds go to charities that assist people living with AIDS. OK, it is a thrift store (and kind of smells like one), but there are truly some fantastic finds. Amidst the old T-shirts and sweatshirts, I also found Miu Miu pumps, brand new Dolce & Gabbana and Max Mara blouses with the original tags on them, and various other designer clothes ranging from DKNY to Versace to ABS. My friend even found a brand new pair of Armani pants. The best part is that everything is marked way down, so that you’ll usually pay less than $30 for a brand new designer shirt or skirt! Some of the clothes are gently worn, but when I checked the seams of an $8 Michael Kors skirt, I was amazed at the condition it was in – I just needed to dry clean it (and gain 20 pounds to fit into that size, something I’m already well on my way to doing, so it’s nice to know I’ll be fashionable when I get there). Finds like these are definitely an incentive to keep digging.

The second-tier brand names are also far above what one would expect to find in a thrift store: Banana Republic, Old Navy, the Limited, etc. Boomerang’s also has lots of cute housewares, furniture, books, and accessories. Some of the stuff, admittedly, is garage-sale-quality junk, but dig a little and you might find cool margarita glasses or a fondue set for less than $10, or countless other things you can salvage that you didn’t even know you needed. You could conceivably spend an hour rummaging around, spend $50 and walk away with hundreds of dollars worth of new and gently used designer clothes and unique decorations.

Now that you’re fashionable and you’ve donated to charity and even saved some money, reward yourself by heading to the chic Mantra for dinner, drinks and people-watching. People differ in what they think of Mantra, a place where dinner for two easily runs $200 and where the wines are no less than $50 per bottle, but one thing that everyone seems to agree on is that when they go there, they feel like they’re in New York City. Maybe it’s the small portions juxtaposed with the super-sized bill and the unpredictable service. Still, it’s worth it to have a nightcap here for the atmosphere. The décor and the ambiance is certainly not what you’d expect to find in a snowy New England town: There are high ceilings and large chainmail curtains hanging on the wall. This is a place where the lighting is dim, the women’s heels are high and the men’s cologne is strong. The tables and chairs are interestingly shaped, and the slow chanting music (it was a Thursday night) lent a sultry appeal to the place. The most interesting part of the whole place is the ladies’ room. The doors of the stalls are full length, one-way mirrors, so that as you take care of business behind the door, you can watch a leggy blonde adjust her skirt or apply yet another layer of mascara. And as for the crowd, it’s a stylish early- to mid-thirties set, and I won’t come right out and say how I’d categorize them, but here’s a hint: The word I’m thinking of is four letters, it starts with an “E” and ends in an “o” and rhymes with “Thoreau.”

Dispersed among this trendy crowd are a few sketchy types. One man who was old enough to be my grandfather began to circle our table, and before long, he moved in for the kill. He leaned in and handed my friend a business card imprinted with the words “Le Club,” and explained the concept behind his business: We’re invited to parties at his house, he photographs us and puts our pictures on the web. “Any takers?” he wanted to know. As if!!! After he left, we had a little chuckle and forgot about it. Then, about 15 minutes later, a young man approached our table. He was sporting a striped Gaultier T-shirt with mesh shoulders and sleeves that were painted to look like tattoos; his hair was a medley of colors and his eyeliner was perfectly applied, better than I could ever hope for mine to look. He leaned in and started telling us how fantastic the parties at “Le Club” are, and he put another one of those business cards on our table and invited us to join this seemingly exclusive “cloob.” This “Le Club” thing was less amusing the second time around. Obviously annoyed, my friend reached in over, picked up the card, crumpled it in her hands, threw it on the table, and asked the guy exactly when he planned on leaving us alone. Maybe that’s the kind of assertiveness that comes from saving $200 on a Dolce & Gabbana shirt at Boomerang’s, or maybe she was feeling the effects of her third Galliano. Whatever it was, she was able to break up the cloud of turpitude that had surrounded our table so that we could enjoy ourselves.

It was after dinner, so we ordered from the bar menu. I snacked on a selection of cheeses, and my friends ordered tiger prawns and other assorted tapas. The cuisine is French, with a twist. The chef describes the food as ” a seamless blend of the familiar with the exotic, the delicate with the robust … a harmonious marriage of classic French cuisine with exotic Indian nuances.” The food we had was delicious, and I’m sure the dinner would have been fantastic, if we could have afforded it.

So, if you’re looking to add a little spice to your wardrobe and then to your social life, hit Boomerang’s and then (after dry-cleaning your new clothes) take a first date to Mantra. Your partner will be incredibly impressed with you, as long as you can keep from getting sucked into the “Le Club” vortex.



“I’m just saying that sometimes it’s justified,” said Professor Dershowitz. Fenno attempted to look deeply into Dersh’s eyes through the Zeiss lenses. He couldn’t be sure if the man was serious or if this was the longest-running bad joke since “Police Academy.”

“You would really torture Tribe simply for getting more airtime than you in any given month?” asked Fenno.

“I’m not saying that it has to happen, but if we know that I am going to torture him, let’s write it into the Constitution.”

“A constitutional amendment allowing you to tar and feather Tribe?”

“Yes,” said Dersh. Fenno looked around Dersh’s office. He had never noticed the rack in the corner or the noticeably out-of-season pumpkin peelers on Dersh’s desk. Fenno met Dersh’s glance for a moment. All was not right with Dersh. It was time to employ the best defense. Fenno jumped out of his seat and sprinted into the night. It was unseasonably warm, but still cold. The full moon illuminated the campus. Fenno stopped as he heard braying near Austin Hall. Garbled yelling echoed through the night.

“Damned equine bastards …” It was Brian Hooper standing beneath the “Ve Ri Tas” engraving on Austin. An American flag with the shadow of the World Trade Center on it had been pinned just beneath the engraving. He was handling a team of Clydesdale horses and appeared to be in the midst of a failed attempt to manipulate their action.

“Bow, damn it!” yelled Hooper. The horses didn’t seem to understand the beautiful gesture he was trying to coax them into. Fenno turned away just as he caught a glance of one of the horses biting Hooper. The door to Austin’s basement was nearby, so Fenno slipped inside to avoid potential association with the abomination unfolding. He heard yelling upstairs. Fenno walked up the stairway to see what was going on. The members of the Harvard Law Review were engaged in their accelerated Officer selection process.

Garrett Moritz sat across the table from Sasha Volokh. On the table was a .38 caliber revolver. Volokh put the gun to his head and winced as he squeezed the trigger. All of the editors jumped but the gun simply clicked. The chamber was empty. Moritz reached for the gun. Fenno’s shock and disgust propelled him towards the center of the game.

“Whoa, whoa, whoa!” yelled Fenno, grabbing the weapon from Moritz. “I really hope you’re running for president because otherwise this isn’t worth it.”

“It’s for managing editor, actually Fenno,” said Moritz. Fenno couldn’t believe it.

“Why! Why would you guys risk your lives for this?” asked Fenno. “Was this your idea, Volokh?” Everyone was laughing around Fenno. Bert Huang walked over to allay Fenno’s fears.

“Nobody’s risking their lives, Fenno,” said Huang. He was wearing a crimson sash with the word “President” printed on it. “There are no bullets in the gun. We call it Gannett Roulette.”

“But I don’t get it,” said Fenno. “Nobody wins. Why would you go through all that if nobody wins?”

“Ahh, Fenno, the point is that no one loses. We are all blessed with academic credentials that assure us places in the various Valhallas of the Legal Universe. Those who seek officer status are simply in pursuit of more pleasure-pain than is common. Once you understand that, you comprehend our true power,” said Huang.

“So you’re basically saying that these elections, these ‘games,’ are just symbolic gestures that you use to emphasize the extent to which the secret rules of the legal world will always allow you all to win and force me to lose.”

“In a manner of speaking.”

“I still don’t get it. How do you ever decide who wins!” said Fenno. He felt frustrated and stupid.

“Perhaps a simple demonstration will help, Fenno. I would like to offer you an opportunity to challenge me for my role as leader of our clan,” said Huang.

“Me? President of the Law Review? How? What do I have to do?”

“Have you ever engaged in pugilism?”

“I’ve been in a fight.”

“Simply go into the next room and prepare to do battle with your fists.” Fenno didn’t understand exactly how this would work.

“OK,” said Fenno. He walked into a small room in Austin and put on the pair of boxing gloves that lay on the desk. Fenno began shadow boxing to prepare himself when he heard a distinctive high-pitched voice that clearly was not Huang’s.

“You’re finished, Fenno, you writer.” Fenno turned to see former heavyweight champion Mike Tyson lacing up his gloves. Fenno summoned the spirit of the first Olympian as he sprinted out of the room. In the distance behind him he heard Tyson yelling out taunts. As one of them reached his ears, Fenno felt that he finally understood the game.

“I’ll #*@! you ’till you love me, Fenno!”

Fearing Tyson respected him less than a sports reporter at pre-fight press conference, Fenno jetted back into Austin and quickly scurried into the tunnel system.

At the Ritz, eating on the brighter side of blu


From the moment you step into the lobby, it’s clear that almost everything about blu is exceptional.

Unlike most of Boston’s über-fine dining installations, blu does not boast a trés-chic streetside storefront. Instead, it’s far from the public view, sharing the other end of a floor of the Ritz-Carlton with the new Sports Club L.A. But make no mistake – this is no place for MetRx bars and creatine drinks.

Blu is helmed by former Federalist chef Dante de Magistris, who has also seen action at local hot spots like Pignoli and spent several years refining his craft in Italy. De Magistris aims for a personal touch, occasionally strolling the dining room to speak to customers, as well as serving up occasional treats from the back (one morsel of his escargot will make you wish it was on the menu).

Blu infuses what can often be a flashy but over-starched fine dining experience with a verve and style that acknowledge – and even celebrate – its youth on the scene. Its location is slick and ultra-modern, with high glass walls separated by large steel cylinders bathed in a soft blue light. Even the place settings look like artwork, with large angular or teardrop-shaped flatware mated with curvy 21st century silverware and salt-and-pepper shakers that look like standing orange slices. The service is uniformly punctual and cordial without seeming stuffy, and shows a decent, though not exceptional knowledge of the cuisine and the wine list.

But there’s no need to be seduced by the service and the silverware. Even in its heavily stylized environment, blu’s food is the real star, and is as exciting as its atmosphere. The clear winner among the appetizers is the onion tarte tatin, a creamy, soft disc of pleasure coated with a thick layer of goat cheese that venerates the subtle sweetness of the onions. For the title alone, it’s hard to resist “Out of the Blu,” a raw seafood sampler of tuna sashimi, halibut carpaccio, scallop ceviche and salmon tartar. Adventurous (and less thrifty) patrons might also want to opt for blu’s extensive raw bar. You can savor a sampler (“The Blu Plate”) for $18, or relish the raw oysters, clams and other shellfish by the piece. It’s even hard to resist the temptation of filling up on the bread offerings (a sourdough roll, focaccia or Indian flatbread on one evening). Instead, pore over the pricey (the cheapest red is $38) but uniformly successful wine list, or sample one of the bar’s creative drinks like the peach martini or (drum roll please) “blu martini,” both made with Grey Goose vodka.

But it is blu’s entrée selection that perhaps best demonstrates de Magistris’ commitment to consistent, playful New American cuisine. “Three Fishes” ($27) offers three tasting-sized portions of seafood mated with a rice and sauce – scallop with arugula pesto, grilled calamari with tomato sauce and swordfish with a pungent bl-ack bean sauce. The portions won’t ma-ke you feel stuffed, but likely won’t lea-ve you hungry, eit-her.

Still, heartier eat-ers ought to consider the Delmonico steak ($32), perhaps the gem of the ent-ire menu. Covered with a tangy wine reduction sauce and paired with a Gorg-onzola-stuffed pear and “bowl” made of fried on-ions and greens, the cut, wh-en served medium-rare, was tender enough to be cut with a fork (literally) and absolutely void of excess fat. Another, richer choice is the venison with a maple sauce ($30), which cuts the potentially gamey taste of the venison with a divine hint of sweetness. The accompanying yam purée, though not as innovative as the Gorgonzola pear, was every bit as satisfying.

Vegetarians are also not out of luck; though the menu is heavy on seafood, a diner would be a fool to ignore the gnocchi with truffles and a mushroom sauce ($22), that shows off de Magistris’ Italian experience nicely.

And when it’s time for dessert, pastry chef Amber Renberg does not disappoint, offering such rich treats as a “white hot” cake with a melted chocolate-hazelnut center and topped with a dusting of cinnamon and delectable scoop of chicory ice cream that could easily be eaten by two. And though this writer tends to be a sucker for bread pudding’s spongy texture anyway, Renberg’s toasted chestnut bread pudding with mascarpone ice cream managed to offer something new and keep the aforementioned spongy texture light enough that it didn’t turn the end of the meal into a painful overindulgence.

Of Boston’s many “funky” upscale restaurants, blu does the best job of keeping the quality of its cuisine in line with its atmosphere. And at least for now, the place is new enough that it’s not impossible to get a table – and it’s still possible to impress your friends by knowing about it. In the end, it may be a good thing that blu is so near a private gym: The place could inspire enough return trips to make a few extra workouts necessary.

Austen, Christie and a dull walk in the Park


Combine Jane Austen and Agatha Christie, and you don’t exactly get a nail-biter.

Sir William McCordle (Michael Gambon) is throwing a pheasant shooting party for his boring, rich friends at his English country mansion in 1932. These boring, listless rich people sit around gossiping about and with other boring, rich people, occasionally taking breaks for meals and the hunting expedition, at which they do the same. Their servants toil in the nether parts of the house, slaving away to be sure their masters get their breakfasts at precisely 8:53 a.m., have the right shirts to wear, and are never thirsty, hungry or uncomfortable. The servants also spend most of their time gossiping about the rich, listless, boring people.

But then – an actual event occurs! In the midst of all the eating, drinking and gossiping, McCordle gets stabbed. A brief whodunit ensues, punctuated by everybody’s utter indifference to the man’s death. The culprits are discovered, but nothing happens to them, and in the end, nobody really gives a damn.

That’s writer/director Robert Altman’s Gosford Park, in a nutshell. And if that description doesn’t sound appealing, the film likely won’t be, either.

Stories about the mundane inanities of the life of the wealthy have a long, rich history – the critical apex of which was reached by Jane Austen, who somehow made “novels of manners” into adorable love stories and compelling commentary on the gender politics and lifestyle of the times in which she lived.

The majority of Gosford Park, with all its laborious but lovingly rendered scenes of tedious conversation, seems to try and update the Austen concept, offering an honest portrayal of the mores and machinations of British aristocrats living between the World Wars. Rarely if ever condescending to modern linguistic or comedic conceits, its subjects are convincing reproductions, right down to the men’s anxieties about their respective war records and the Brits’ stuffy reaction to flamboyant Hollywood director Morris Weissman (a vegetarian, by God!) and his puckish young “Scottish” servant Henry Denton (Ryan Phillippe, proving that AntiTrust and Cruel Intentions were cruel underestimations of his actual talent). The dialogue, even if most of it is pithy complaining and gossip, is sharp and witty, especially that of Constance, Countess of Trentham, played by Maggie Smith, who manages to turn the delightfully dour old crone into one of the film’s most likable characters.

Still, the problem with Altman’s execution is twofold. First, Austen and some of her contemporaries made novels of manners successful via exquisitely detailed characters. Altman is hardly Austen, and working with a medium that is unforgiving to character development. What we’re left with, then, are a few characters, like head housemaid Elsie (Emily Watson) and Constance, who propel the film’s emotional core, getting lost amid a sea of flat, similarly-named folks that make it nearly impossible to keep track of who said and did what. The already longish film (137 minutes) doesn’t have time to develop its enormous cast of characters, and thus, leaves most of them as mindless cardboard cutouts.

Second, and more problematic, is Altman’s anemic Agatha Christie-style murder mystery, which (other than foreshadowing shots of the poison bottles all over the place) doesn’t begin in earnest till over halfway through the film. The characters’ indifferent reactions to McCordle’s death could have been interesting – most of them, clearly, were after his money and patronage and not his company – but there has been too little character development up to that point to make the characters’ lack of sympathy convincing. Bumbling Inspector Thompson (Stephen Fry) adds a little levity to the proceedings, but otherwise the plot’s final resolution falls totally flat. It’s obvious from the outset who at least one of the killers is, and the mere fact of the other one takes one too many coincidences to be believed.

The most successful element of Gosford Park is its portrayal of the lives of the servants and their interaction with their masters. When Elsie unwittingly and reveals her affair with Sir William when she defends him during an argument with Lady McCordle, we see a sharp comment on the confusion of love and sex as applied to a master-servant relationship. The curious fact about many of the servants is that they do care so much about their masters and their work, as if their lives only matter if their sullen, ungrateful charges’ happiness does. They have a sort of resigned doggedness about them, a near-heroic level of dedication that suggests that there are shards of hope and achievement in their strictly regimented, vicariously-lived lives. Such is the case with their petty rebellion against Denton, who turns out to be an actor “playing” a servant in an upcoming film trying to get into the role. Their disdain for him is telling, not so much because he tricked them, but because, it seems, he dared try and imitate their craft. In the end, the servants, whose faults and feelings aren’t shrouded in social conceit, are the only “real” people in the story, and as such, the easiest to identify and keep track of.

Altman may have partially succeeded in filming a modern novel of manners, and his cast deserves credit for giving what animation it can to their underdeveloped characters. But a talented cast and capable camera work do not a worthy period piece make, and the end result is a shortened sort of PBS special that still feels overlong. Rent “Pride and Prejudice” and “Endless Night” instead.

Utah’s winter clash of civilizations


A few months ago, I wrote that the danger we all faced during the Cold War was more substantial than the significant danger we now face from catastrophic terrorism. Even in its final years, the Cold War cast a dark and ominous shadow over our lives. Without withdrawing from that characterization, I will tell you now that in many ways and at many times, I miss the Cold War. At no time is my nostalgia for Cold War more prominent than during the Olympics. At Lake Placid, Sarajevo, Calgary and Seoul, national competition meant something in a world divided by global ideological conflict.

Perhaps my first memory of a sporting event was the 1980 Miracle on Ice, when a group of American amateur hockey players shocked the favorite Soviet team and went on to win the gold. The Miracle came at a time when not only our hockey team was an underdog, but our whole country looked like an underdog. The tragedy of Vietnam, the embarrassment of Watergate, two oil crises and Stagflation left the nation no longer confident in its tradition, its ideological course or its future. The heroics on the Lake Placid ice were a shot in the arm for a country that sorely needed it.

I understand that it was not quite fair to root against individual athletes who through little fault of their own happen to represent regimes with repugnant ideologies. After all, the whole Olympic idea rests on finding a peaceful forum for individuals to compete and forget about nationality. But, that argument held little sway for me when I was growing up. You see, in the faces of those smug, angry-looking, doped-up, automaton East Germans who kept winning golds in swimming and speed-skating, one could imagine the horror that totalitarian communism was imposing on the lives of millions of people the world over. Ronald Reagan was right. It was an evil empire. Soviet communism was an ideological contagion and moral cancer that was threatening much of the world. In large measure because the United States had an ideological enemy to root against, we also had a better sense of what we were rooting for. In opposing the wall around East Berlin and the gulags of Siberia, we crafted a stronger commitment to popular self-determination and individual liberty at home. In fact, the great gains in domestic politics of the 1950s and 1960s are better understood in the context of Cold War conflict. The American civil rights revolution and the massive increase in social safety nets came in part because of the challenge of Soviet communism. The United States was saying to the world, “We are not the hypocritical ultra-capitalists that the Soviets say we are.” The Cold War drove us to add real content to our rhetorical promise of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

The absence of bi-polar global ideological conflict has made it harder to figure out who and what to root against in the world, and who and what to root for. When we defined ourselves against the Soviets, it gave rise to a civic nationalism – a national identity based on shared fundamental ideas. Today, some see a world moving away from ideological conflict and towards a clash of civilizations – cultural conflict that defies ideological categorization and state boundaries. So, if there happens to be a hapless Iranian ski jumper at Salt Lake City, he will be harder to root against. Yes, President Bush has identified Iran as part of a new axis of evil, but that characterization does not seem adequate. In fact, our conflict may not be with the entire Iranian state, but restricted the wing of religious zealots who still chant “Death to America” at their weekly prayers. More troubling about our new world is the danger that many Americans will define themselves ethnically in response to a perceived ethno-cultural threat. America’s greatness lies in a national idea that defies a single ethno-cultural categorization. In the Cold War, when I was rooting against the Terminator-like East Germans, it wasn’t really because of how they looked but because of the ideology they represented.

At Salt Lake City, the athletes may be more identifiable by their corporate sponsors than the nations they are representing. I think that is somewhat unfortunate. In the Olympics and in the world, I also worry about the rise of American Dream Teams. Pummeling the rest of the world in certain arenas has made us cocky, and the world resentful. Further, watching our Dream Team take the court, there is little joy in the almost guaranteed victory, only the possibility of shocking and humiliating defeat. I long a bit for Lake Placid.

Gore Vidal wrote that for America it is not enough to win, others must lose. We do need an enemy. September 11 showed us that there is certainly an enemy out there. But, we must be very careful how we define this enemy, and even more careful when we define ourselves against it. So, in the next few weeks, I won’t be hoping for hapless Iranian ski-jumpers to fall on their faces, but I will be hoping for the American athletes to win all the gold they can. Also, I’ll be watching for the Skeleton – it’s like the luge, but head-first. Very exciting.

Bureau students say rewards are well worth the work


A great-grandmother who is raising her grandchildren because their mother is a drug addict is being evicted from public housing. A victim of domestic violence is seeking custody of her children in a divorce action. A man suffering from liver cancer, coronary artery disease and depression is being denied Social Security benefits. These are a just some of the types of housing, family law and government benefits cases on which students at the Harvard Legal Aid Bureau work.

“Our clients have compelling stories and the law is often on their side, but they need someone to help their voices be heard,” remarks Kristy Tillman, the Bureau’s vice president for membership.

Jonathon Masur says: “Our clients get thrown around in the system, and when we step in and say, ‘Hey, we’re going to fight this,’ we are like a wrench in the system.”

Harvard Legal Aid Bureau, which was founded in 1913 and is the oldest student-run legal services organization in the country, recruits 1Ls through a competitive application process in the spring.

The Bureau is looking for all types of people, whether “they are interested in public service, litigation, skills development or meaningful client interaction,” Tillman says. “We hope to recruit new members who want to be part of this community that helps poor people in the Greater Boston community.”

The Committee does not have the application dates finalized yet, but last year applications were distributed the week before Spring Break and due just after the break.

One of the overwhelming reasons students say they become involved in the Legal Aid Bureau is dedication to public service. Kim Arigbede says she wanted “to help people”; the skills she has learned are just an “added bonus.” For Tom Brown, the Bureau offered the most intensive public service opportunity at the law school. While some Bureau members are interested in doing public interest work after graduation, many go on to work for law firms and see the Bureau as a unique opportunity to help the poor.

Bureau members say they have found the opportunity to develop legal skills and do “hands-on” work invaluable. As student-attorneys under the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Rule 3:03, they are responsible for their own cases, but meet frequently with supervising Clinical Instructors to discuss their cases. Students handle all aspects of their cases, from interviewing clients, talking to opposing counsel, writing motions and briefs, to arguing in court and at administrative hearings. Melissa Marrus says she has enjoyed the chance to “actually engage in the practice” because she has found that law school classes only offer a “philosophical take on the law that is removed from the real world.” Sharon Jones says that the Bureau has been “by far the best part of being at Harvard Law School because you actually get to practice the law.”

The flip side of having so much responsibility is that students must devote a lot of time to Bureau work; the average is about 20 hours per week. Juggling cases along with schoolwork, family obligations and social activities can be challenging and stressful. In addition, the clients generally lead troubled lives, and it can be difficult for students to cope with problems such as mental illness, homelessness, domestic violence and drug addiction. To deal with such stressful situations, students often turn to other students as a support network. Sarah Johnson has found it to be really important “to have a community of people in the law school who are concerned about and want to work on the same issues that you do.”

Three-L Bureau members say they have found that their second year in the organization has enabled them to develop their skills more thoroughly.

“As a 2L, there is a such a huge learning curve,” Lisa DellAquila says. “You come back 3L year and know how to navigate the system.”

Barry Roe says he has found that his 3L year has provided him with many opportunities to get into court and to argue before a judge, which has fueled his interest in litigation. Sarah Altschuller, who is working on cases that she started last year as a 2L, says she has enjoyed developing long-term relationships with clients and also that this year she is “more comfortable interacting with opposing counsel.”

The past year has witnessed a series of improvements and changes to the Legal Aid Bureau, which are largely the result of a study conducted in 2000. The Bureau has had 3L retention problems and many of these changes are designed to encourage 3L retention and ensure that the entire two-year experience is meaningful. Although governed by a student-run board, the Bureau now has an academic director, Professor Peter Murray, and a managing attorney, Richard Glassman, who help to oversee the Bureau’s work. The Bureau has also strengthened its academic component by introducing an ITA class and evening seminar for 2L Bureau members (which fulfills the professional responsibility requirement) and spring clinical credit. As Glassman notes, these changes signal a “recognition by the law school to provide more resources to the Bureau to help strengthen it as an institution.”

Bureau President Dan Gluck said that the current Board is “excited about the year ahead because there are so many opportunities to make the Bureau a better place for our clients and our student attorneys.”

Dance wins LSC race with handful of votes


Squeaking out a win by a slim margin, 2L Bill Dance was elected Wednesday to succeed 3L Mike French as president of the Law School Council [LSC].

“As I understand it, the top three [candidates] were separated by just ten votes,” Dance said. “I only won by four or five votes.”

Outgoing LSC president Mike French said he was “very excited to see four candidates for president …, especially since all four of those are students who have been very involved in the LSC.”

In the same election, the Class of 2003 selected Rick Coe as its Class Speaker and Head Class Marshal. Katie Lachter, Joi Chaney and Rachel Masory were elected as Coe’s fellow Class Marshals.

“There were some great candidates, and I definitely did not expect to get elected,” Coe said. “As you could see from the [campaign] posters, most of them have a great sense of humor. Better than mine, at any rate. Most of them were also much more attractive.”

One candidate expressed concern about low voter turnout for the election, noting that only 140 students from the Class of 2003 voted.

Dance said that one of his goals will be building the sense of community at HLS.

“I think people crave it,” he said. “I’d like to focus my energy on that.”

Dance said he plans three major strategies to meet that goal.

“One thing would be to be more aware of the non-J.D. students at this school,” he said. “There’s a concern that everybody [on LSC] had that LL.M.s are here for just a year — they’re an incredibly interesting and diverse group of people from all over the world who are kind of isolated from the Law School.”

Dance said the sense of community at HLS could also be improved by helping students “talk about the very difficult things that don’t get talked about in class, such as racial and gender issues.”

“Everybody knows they’re there, and the teachers acknowledge that they’re there, but they don’t really feel able to lead a dialogue about them because they would overpower the subject matter they’re teaching,” he said.

Dance said he would be like to set up ways for students to have that dialogue among themselves.

“There’s a 1L group doing this kind of thing,” he said. “They have a discussion group about race and gender. It seems like a reall good model for something that we could do on a wider scale.”

Finally, Dance said, HLS’ sense of community could be increased by facilitating social mixing between the 1L sections and the different classes.

“What I’d really like to do is have a wine and cheese thing every couple of weeks, and invite the entire school to it so that people get a chance to meet each other outside of their classes and their particular activities,” he said.

Dance said he would like to work to build the 1L law colleges.

“The 1L students on the Law Student Council right now say that they really have a lot of interest in building the section concept, that they want to be able to assist the new 1Ls in the fall in getting their feet on the group in sort of a structured way, not the way BSA does it, as friends,” he said.

Expressing skepticism at his chances for success, Dance said he would also like to continue outgoing president Mike French’s advocacy for physical improvements on campus.

“I don’t know how willing anyone is going to be to do anything that can’t be moved to Allston if that ends up being the decision,” he said. “That seems short-sighted to me, since we can’t move for 10 or 15 years anyway, but that seems to be the attitude right now.”

Reviewing his year in office, French said his biggest goals had been implementing the law colleges concept for 1Ls, changing the way registration is conducted and working for structural improvements to the Harkness Comm-ons and HLS classrooms.

“Maybe 2.2 of the three [goals] were accomplished,” French said, noting that the law colleges have been well-received.

One of the biggest changes that has been implemented with regards to registration is that this spring the lottery for legal professions classes will be held separately from the regular lottery. That way, French said, students can use their top lottery picks on other classes. In addition, French said, registration and priority wait-listing will be finished by May, so students won’t need to return to school early to activate their wait-list numbers.

As for renovations to the Hark, French said, “I don’t think substantial change will happen this year.” Still, he said, “it’s on the table much more so than before.”

Newly elected Class Speaker Rick Coe said that he was “very excited” about working with fellow Class Marshals Lachter, Chaney and Masory.

“They are all great people, and I expect that we will work well as a team,” he said. “I wanted to be a class marshal because I want next year to be fun.”

Coe said he has “two goals in mind” for his term: improving class unity and planning events “that are different and interesting.”

“There are a number of people in the class that I don’t know, and I hope to meet many of them next year,” he said.

Stating that he hoped to get “a lot of good input from members of the class,” Coe said, “I would like to think that one of my talents is turning good ideas into reality, but I need help coming up with the good ideas.”

Masory said she hopes her “class will really come together over the course of next year.”

“What I enjoyed most this year was planning social events as president of SAC [Student Activities Council] and an executive board member of JLSA [Jewish Law Students Association],” she said. “I ran for class marshal so that I could do the same for my class next year.”

Lachter said she shared Masory’s goals, and added: “I’m really happy to have the support of my classmates. It’s nice to know that they’re behind me.”

Chaney could not be reached for comment.

Mike Wiser and Meredith McKee contributed to this article.

Prof’s plan arouses protestors


Carrying signs and handing out fliers, about 20 students from the HLS student group Justice for Palestine gathered outside Professor Alan Dershowitz’s Professional Responsibilities class Thursday, March 14, to protest a recent article on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict authored by Dershowitz that recently ran in the Jerusalem Post. Monday students from the same group joined an undergraduate student-led protest outside Dersho-witz’s Thinking About Thinking class.

In the Post article (reprinted on page 4 of this issue), Dershowitz suggests that Israel could declare a four- or five-day unilateral “moratorium on reprisals.” Then Israel should “announce with precision exactly what it will do in response to the next act of terrorism,” Dershowitz writes. If attacks from Palestinian supporters continue after the moratorium is over, Dershowitz says, Israel should automatically destroy a pre-announced physical target, such as a “small village which has been used as a base for terrorist operations” after giving residents 24 hours to leave. This strategy, he writes, will put responsibility for damage to Palestinian areas on those who attack Israel and its citizens.

Najeeb Khoury, president of Justice for Palestine [JFP], said students who read the article (which circulated by email) decided to protest for several reasons.

“We felt that we should show [Dershowitz] and the larger university that by no means did we agree with what we view as an extreme proposal,” Khoury said. “We were thinking about it and on one level, but perhaps a less important level, we wanted to show Prof. Dershowitz that people were listening to what he was saying. But more importantly, we wanted to raise these issues of Israel and the occupation in general to the larger community.”

Dershowitz said the protest began as a silent demonstration about 10 or 20 minutes before his class started, and he approached the protestors to engage them in conversation.

Although Dershowitz said he was only a little surprised that students mounted a demonstration, he said he disagreed with the protestors’ message and described himself as “a moderate on these issues.”

“I would think that when civilians are being murdered deliberately, with 87 percent approval of the Palestinian people, they ought to get their priorities straight and worry more about innocent people being killed rather than houses being destroyed,” he said.

Noting that his policy proposal arose as a small offshoot of a book he is writing on terrorism in general, Dershowitz said that he challenged the protestors to a public debate on the merits of his proposal. Instead of accepting his proposal, Dershowitz said, the protestors had instead scheduled a presentation on Thursday to “present their side in a one-sided fashion.”

He added: “I’m sure eventually they’ll be forced into a debate, because I don’t think they’ll be able to maintain their position that they won’t debate. If they’re confident about their views, they should be able to submit them to the court of public opinion.”

Khoury said that JFP has not yet made a decision on whether or not its members will accept Dershowitz’s invitation to debate the proposal. However, he said the group has some reservations about such a debate.

“We believe that Dershowitz is giving us a false choice,” Khoury said. “Destroying property isn’t going to save any lives. Palestinian anger arises from the oppressive nature of occupation. Dershowitz’s proposal would increase the level of oppression and perpetuate the cycle.”

Khoury also said the members of JFP “don’t believe [Dershowitz] is an expert on the Israel-Palestine conflict, and neither are we as law students.” But he emphasized that no decision on a debate had yet been made and that “everybody [in JFP] seems to be in agreement that if Prof. Dershowitz wants to talk to students individually about his proposal, we would be more than happy to engage him in such a conversation. But we’re not sure what that would contribute to the larger community.”

Most students in Dershowitz’s Professional Responsibilities class arrived in the middle of the protest. On the classroom’s chalkboard, someone had left fliers and written “something to the effect of ‘Your legal ethics professor advocates war crimes,'” said Ben Hatch, a student in Dershowitz’s class.

Ellen Hochberg, also a student in Dershowitz’s class, said that when she arrived at the scene, protestors “seemed agitated and were kind of vehemently challenging him, but [Dershowitz] was pretty calmly responding to them.”

Hatch described a similar scene.

“I didn’t really hang out at the place of argument,” he said. “But my impression was that Prof. Dershowitz was addressing the group in a level tone and seemed to be responding to those who were yelling at him.”

Dershowitz said “[t]here was no disruption at all, and they acted completely within the rules of the university,” Dershowitz said. “They should be commended for doing that.”

Most observers arrived well into the protest, Khoury said, after Dershowitz had addressed the group for “a decent amount of time without any interruption at all.” Then, Khoury said, “a whole bunch of people were trying to make points and he was trying to respond.”

Student reaction to the protest was mixed.

Guy Goldberg, who arrived after the protest ended and students dispersed, said he found the statement written on the chalkboard “obnoxious.”

“Showing up full-force with lots of people, it was clearly to intimidate with a show of force,” Goldberg said. “If they really wanted to have a discussion, they could have had a rational, sit-down conversation. This is a law school – it should be more rational.”

Hatch said his feelings about the protest were mixed.

“I was pretty impressed that so many people came out to support a cause, even if it’s not one with which I necessarily agree,” he said. “At the same time, I felt like it wasn’t appropriate to demonstrate in front of a classroom because it naturally disrupted our class and ate into our class time.”

FENNO: Flying above Harvard


Fenno was quietly enjoying a Venti Nonfat Tazo Chai at Starbucks one afternoon. She was minding her own business, not looking at anyone for too long, sitting in an overstuffed chair next to an undergrad chemistry major playing with his molecule erector set. She was just starting a new chapter of Richard Hofstadter’s Anti-Intellectualism in American Life when she felt it: her ears were burning. She looked up quickly at Chemistry Boy. He looked at his molecules. Her ears really hurt, like they were thawing out after a long walk in February. She glanced around to see if anyone had recognized her, but being anonymous, fictional, and almost invisible, she knew that was impossible. Something was up, but not in here, she decided. Fenno put down Hofstadter without bookmarking the page (Who cares? she thought, only dorks bookmark pages in books), took a longish sip from her cup of chai, gathered her things into her bag, and walked through the door onto Massachusetts Avenue.

There was a decent wind blowing. Fenno snuck into 1600 Mass. Ave. on the heels of another student and rode the elevator to the roof. With a leap and a shout and a flick of the wrist, she was airborne, high above campus beneath a technicolor umbrella. Soaring over the Everett Street garage, she saw several faculty members loitering in the backs of pickup trucks, drinking beer and smoking cigarettes. That explains faculty resistance to renovating the campus, Fenno thought to herself. In one corner of the lot, Professors David Rosenberg and Terry Fisher were kicking the bejesus out of Professors Zittrain and Kaplow. In another, Professors Barron, Jolls and Coates were playing hopscotch while Viscusi kept score. From his movements, Professor Herwitz appeared to be kibitzing behind Viscusi about his score-keeping, although all Fenno could hear was intermittent ejaculations of “earned surplus” and “capital hop, that one!”

Fenno’s spying on faculty recess was to be short-lived, however. She wasn’t the only one floating through the clouds today. “Hello Fenno,” called an airy voice from all around her. Fenno, startled by the interruption, looked about. She saw no one. “Up here, Fenno dear,” the hypnotic voice advised. Fenno tilted her umbrella just enough to see Colleen Chen perched atop an enormous curly ash blonde wig. Fenno’s face must have betrayed a degree of skepticism at what Colleen was wearing, because the latter cast her eyes down rapidly, spread her arms out at shoulder height in a “ta-da!” pose and announced, “Fun-lovin’ socialite.”

“Oh, yes, of course,” said Fenno, “what else could it have been?”

“Anything to make my ass look juicy,” Colleen added. “What are you doing up here?”

“I should ask you the same thing,” Fenno answered.

“Well, I’m on a short break from Berkeley, and you know there’s nothing like a transcontinental astral tour to open up the causal vision. My third chakra was just screaming at me to make the trip. Besides, my cat urged me to go in no uncertain terms.”

“By hitting you in the nose?” Fenno guessed.

“No, he told me to go.”

“You speak cat?” Fenno replied, incredulous.

“Yes,” said Colleen, “so do you.” Fenno tried to return her attention to the garage. “Remember, Fenno, you’re not just a drop in the ocean if you’re skinny-dipping in that ocean with a Belgian monk. Want a Skittle?”

“No thanks,” said Fenno, “I have sort of a headache.”

“Oh, sorry Fenno. You know, all you have to do is let your life force flow out to balance where balance is needed.”

“That reminds me, I also have to go to the bathroom,” Fenno responded.

“A spoonful of sugar,” began Colleen.

“Um, I think that’s my line,” Fenno said, cutting her off.

“Ah yes, well, then just grow your soul,” Colleen encouraged. Fenno replied by making the quite revolutionary gesture of smiling for no reason.

Fenno waved goodbye and blew over to Gropius. She began her descent through an air duct in Ames. Her ears grew hotter as she lost altitude. On reaching The RECORD’s office in the basement, she saw Jonathan Skrmetti half asleep over a computer. He was finishing his column about reverence to deceased politicians while listening to the Dead Kennedys. Fenno looked over his shoulder to read, “Aristotle recognized that the end of politics is to allow human beings to flourish. I won’t dwell on this (for fear of being Fennoed) . . .” Oh no, thought Fenno, he’s drummed out the Greeks. And they’re all dead.

Fenno decided to make her presence known. “Ahem,” Fenno declared as she drew her umbrella closed.

“Hi Fenno,” Jonathan answered, half turning around.

“You hurt my ears,” said Fenno.

“I didn’t mean to,” Jonathan apologized. “I just thought that since you hate big words and intellectual stuff, you’d be sure to get upset with me, so I wanted to cover myself in advance.”

“Jonathan, Jonathan, Jonathan” Fenno clucked, disapprovingly. “It’s not that you used a big word. In this case, the word’s not big enough. You should have used‘supercalifragilistic-Aristotledocious.’”

“But that’s not a word,” Jonathan objected.

“I beg your pardon,” Fenno reproved. “Even just the sound of it can make you seem precocious.” Jonathan stared at Fenno in dismay as she affixed a “Fenno Wuz Here” sticker to his head. “Now give me one of your teeth,” Fenno demanded.

Fenno left Jonathan a tad confused and her umbrella in the office (she’d have to come back here next Wednesday morning anyway) and ran up the stairs to Jarvis Field. Pulling out her cell phone, she made the call she’d been putting off to accept her post-graduation offer. Just as she closed the phone, she ran into Aaron Lamb and Lena Salaymeh.

“Calling your life partner, Fenno?” asked Lena.

“Oh hey,” Fenno said. “No, I was just calling my firm to accept my job offer.”

“Where are you working?” Aaron asked.

“Ducktail, Campbell, Chrysanthemu-men & Dogz,” Fenno answered.

“But they’re the staunchest defenders of the racist, patriarchal, homophobic status quo,” said Lena. “How can you abandon your identity as a member of an oppressed group just like that?”

“Well, they’re actually not that bad, and it’s not all that fun being oppressed,” Fenno replied. “Anyway, they tell me I’ll get to work on a lot of pro bono cases advancing the rights of pseudonymous, fictional, nearly-invisible, transgendered satirical columnists of major law school weeklies,” Fenno continued. “Who are capable of flight,” she added upon a second’s reflection.

“But Fenno,” Lena interjected, “think of the ontological torment of your friends and colleagues once you start working there.”

“Right,” said Fenno. “I understood everything up to ‘the’.”

Losing Kurt, playing on


I never met Kurt Cobain. I’m guessing that we wouldn’t have liked each other very much, anyway — me the uptight law student who throws on a suit to interview with law firms, votes Republican occasionally, and has an all-too-studied critic’s eye love of rock n’ roll. And Kurt, well, Kurt was Kurt. As pop-icon-martyrs go, Kurt was in some ways embarrassingly mundane. Kurt wasn’t some fragile outerspaceman who turned into a swirling fog of sensual exuberance when you put a guitar in his hands the way Hendrix was, nor was he a self-fascinated, faux poetic, badly drunken, mesmerizing thug like Jim Morrison.

Kurt was, one suspects, something more like the kid in the big public high school who grew his hair long, smoked pot in the bathroom, scribbled drawings, slogans and maybe some angsty poetry in a dog-eared notebook, and toted a perpetually sullen glare as either a weapon or a security blanket. Cobain was blunt and real and had all the hang-ups and fears and mediocracies that the rest of us have. Reading bits and pieces of his now-released journals, the voyeuristic public gets to see fragments of just how human Kurt was — little scraps of poetry of varying quality, the occasional wry humorous observation (the same Kurt who had the simple cheek to wear a “corporate magazines still suck” t-shirt to a Rolling Stone photo shoot), and perhaps most ironically, a desire for privacy and personal space in the midst of a degree of fame he had clearly never before contemplated. And in that respect, the whole thing tends to leave a bad taste in my mouth — a combination of cynical puzzlement at Courtney’s willingness to unleash and sell Kurt’s innermost thoughts and an exasperation with what is sure to be reams of paper spent psychoanalyzing him. No, if anything, the revelation of Kurt’s journals is that the Kurt worth singling out for historical memory is the one found in his music. For all of Kurt’s unexceptional humanity, at the helm of Nirvana he was a bristling avatar — an elegant explosion of angst and rage and righteous outrage at all that is painful, cruel and confusing in a world that got under his skin. Kurt’s music was beautiful, brutal, dense and truly exceptional.

Nirvana’s recent would-be greatest hits collection, Nirvana, presents a modest reminder of the depth and complexity of Kurt’s musical legacy. Take it as granted, of course, that this is precisely the type of thing that will piss off the purists. It is debatable but probably unlikely that Kurt would have sanctioned this type of thing during his career, and regardless most hardcore fans will probably enjoy complaining more about what was left off the disc than enjoying what was actually included. In the end, though, it is a point worth whining about — spanning fourteen tracks, Nirvana still feels strangely elliptical. “Been A Son” and “Sliver” present a tantalizing taste of the band’s grindy pop side, while two samplings from the MTV Unplugged album (“All Apologies,” “The Man Who Sold the World”) serve to document the disarmingly spartan musicianship of what was, in the context of their career, an unusual swan song. In between, the disc is dominated by the four main singles off of Nevermind (the one disc most casual buyers are almost guaranteed to have). Even with the addition of a previously unreleased gem, “You Know You’re Right,” the whole affair feels like a fairly thin attempt to assess a surprisingly deep catalogue. If anything, Nirvana portrays a band with far more evolutionary potential than even their most ardent fans might have recognized. As the fury of Bleach and Nevermind gave way to the haunting complexity of In Utero, Nirvana was in the process of joining the legion of bands whose initial punk roar mellowed into thoughtful artistry of the highest caliber (think, for example, Wire).

While Kurt’s untimely death no doubt contributed to the popular appreciation of the band, Nirvana suggests that they had plenty more to accomplish had he survived. Aside from developing as a songwriter, Kurt’s messages were getting bolder (witness the controversial “Rape Me”) and his earnestness was unquestionable. One suspects that rather than making thinly-disguised biopics (I’m talking to you, Mathers) or appointing himself spokesperson for the Third World (Bono et al.), Cobain would have continued to push the envelope of expression and caustic self-searching. Nor was the whole thing all about Kurt — stacked in a row, Nirvana’s prominent singles testify to the oft-neglected primacy of Krist Novoselic’s basslines, and while Grohl is most noticeable in the punch of the Steve Albini-produced later material, the band as a whole sounds much tighter in retrospect than they did along the way. Simply put, they weren’t just loud, they weren’t just fashionable, they were really, amazingly good. Most people didn’t need a one-disc compilation to remind them that Nirvana was a great band, though. What this collection ultimately proves is that it is their entire catalogue that is essential.

Left with a legacy such as this, it was undoubtedly hard for the rest of Nirvana to know just how to pick up the pieces. Novoselic has generally shirked the mainstream musical limelight, focusing instead on political efforts (including the anti-WTO protest concert) and an experimental fusion of styles in the short-lived band Sweet 75. Grohl, on the other hand, dove straight back into it, from behind the drum-kit to front the Foo Fighters, in some ways the perfect rejoinder to those who would hound him with his oh-so-seminal past. Poppy, joyful, humorous, smooth and gleefully straightforward, the Foos have ascended to the status of one of rock’s most consistently agreeable acts, blending richly textured epics like “Everlong” with bubblegum delights like “Big Me.” If Nirvana was big and gritty and challenging, the Foos are quaint, familiar, and embraceable.

The Foo Fighters’ fourth and newest album, One by One, serves primarily to consolidate what they’ve done thus far by mining the crunchier side of their pop sensibilities while retaining the increasing atmospheric gravity that has developed over their last two albums.

Grohl, for his part, seems a bit charged up by his recent foray with the Queens of the Stone Age: One by One’s first three songs lurch forward in pure QOTSA fashion before settling back into a classic rock vein on “Times Like These.” Speaking of Queen(s) and classic rock, perhaps one of the album’s more puzzling moments is the appearance of former Queen guitarist Brian May on “Tired” — rather than bust out with a trademark searing quintuple-tracked solo, May seems content to smolder strangely in the background in synthesizer-like fashion now and then. Things open up a bit on the catchy big sky number “Halo,” the riffy “Overdrive,” and what is probably instrumentally the album’s strongest number “Burn Away,” but by the time the dense closer “Come Back” (which again smacks of QOTSA) comes around the whole affair starts to feel a bit flat. For the first time in four albums, the Foo Fighters seem unable to come up with a spectacular hook on any song in particular. One by One instead showcases the Foos’ technical talent while neglecting some of their atmospheric virtues — Grohl’s guitar is clearly accomplished (leaps and bounds more fluid than when he started) and drummer Taylor Hawkins’ busy stickwork is inspiring as ever, but it’s just not as much fun as a Foo Fighers album should be. Whether One by One’s comparatively stiff personality demotes the Foos on the charts remains to be seen,
but either way it manages to mark a career plateau of a band whose greatest challenge from this day forward will be to either chart new terrain or recapture the thrill of their well-loved formula.

But what is formula, anyway? History is starting to demonstrate, I think, that the “Seattle” or “grunge” sound supposedly mapped out by Nirvana was itself never the formula everyone wanted it to be. Indeed, perhaps the only band more constrained by the labels and expectations of the “grunge” movement than Nirvana was Pearl Jam. While rather surprisingly and viciously bashed in Kurt’s journals, presumably because of their relative lack of punky street cred (not helped by Vedder’s occasional self-important posturing), Pearl Jam has always been a retro-rock band in a grunge band’s clothing, owing more to Hendrix, the Stones, the Who and ’70s arena rock than the Melvins or Black Flag.

After gradually thwarting Top 40 expectations with such dense albums as No Code and Yield, Pearl Jam has emerged in the twenty-first century as a jam band of the highest order, releasing no less than 72 live recordings from their European and American tours in 2000 and 2001. Boasting classic rock covers, constantly retooled songs, and in their best moments, a riveting intensity they did much to transform their gestalt from supposed Gen-X spokesmen to road warrior tunesmiths.

Pearl Jam’s new and much-anticipated album, Riot Act, seems to complete the transition. More than anything else in their catalogue, Riot Act sounds like a collection of songs designed as much for live interpretation later as they are for the album itself. Plangent guitar moments on songs like “Love Boat Captain,” and “Cropduster” promise extended workouts in some open air amphitheater, while the quirky Eastern-flavored opener “Can’t Keep” begs for nightly reinvention.

The album occasionally seems a bit hesitant in its energy — McCready’s solos on the Ament-penned “Ghost” have the setup to shred just as hard as, say, “State of Love and Trust” (a gem from the Singles soundtrack) but somehow he sounds as if he’s pulling up just a little short. It’s the rehearsal quality of Riot Act that makes it both intriguing and confounding. While in one moment the album glows with the humble beauty of the sparse “Thumbing My Way,” the leaden and almost smothered funk of “You Are,” counterpoints it with inconsistency. Later on, the droning, haunting “Arc” comes out of nowhere, setting up the rootsy, slowly-unfolding guitar buildup on “All or None.” Part of this phenomenon can undoubtedly be attributed to the collaborative nature of the project — more than any of their earlier albums, Riot Act features songs written by Ament, Cameron and Gossard in addition to those penned by Vedder, and throughout it they manage to prevent the type of authorial typecasting that often happens in such situations. While, yes, Vedder tends to write some of the slow ones, his jangly “Green Disease” has every bit as much drive as Ament’s bluesy “1/2 Full.” Lyrically, Cameron’s work is among the most arresting as he imbues the rocker “Wanted to Get Right” with a simple honesty that even Vedder doesn’t completely capture with his warbly vocals.

Lyrically, the only real flop is the anti-George W. Bush tirade, “Bushleaguer,” that rides the obvious wordplay on the Prez’s baseball past with more smug pride than it probably deserves — a weak effort when compared with Neil Young’s far more gripping attack on Bush’s father in “Rockin’ In the Free World,” or even Rage’s election rant in “Guerrilla Radio.” Stuck in the middle of an abstract and often deeply personal album, it’s an odd number indeed, and emblematic of the ups and downs of the album as a whole.

While in the end it’s unclear what exactly Pearl Jam was going for on Riot Act, they manage to come up with something interesting. While it may lack the fire of Ten or the pure craftsmanship of Vs., it remains an interesting collection of songs and a worthwhile addition to the catalog. Ranging from gorgeous to curious, the 15 performances here show just how much terrain Pearl Jam can cover, and how well they generally, if haphazardly, pull it off. The true promise of the songs it contains, however, will be best harnessed when Pearl Jam takes this Riot Act on the road.

8 MILE: The hip-hop Rocky


Eminem can act. Granted, the rapper’s role as Jimmy in 8 Mile is substantially based on his own life. But even so, Eminem shows sides of himself as Jimmy that fans of his often-angry rap music have not yet seen.

8 Mile takes place in Detroit, Michigan (Eminem’s home town), and is named after 8 Mile Road, a highway that divides a predominantly black neighborhood from a predominantly white one. Jimmy Smith Jr. has a dream of becoming a well-known rapper, but he faces even more obstacles than the average would-be rapper. The black community is skeptical that a white boy can rap, especially after Jimmy chokes when given an opportunity to perform early in the movie (this scene being the inspiration for the triumphal “Lose Yourself” song from the soundtrack). Although he seems to be one of the few characters in the movie who is employed, Jimmy doesn’t have enough money to move out of his mother’s trailer, where she lives with a man Jimmy went to high school with. Jimmy also worries about his little sister Lily’s upbringing, and the violence to which she is exposed.

The film’s conclusion is completely predictable, especially since every viewer knows that Eminem does, of course, have skills, and that he probably wouldn’t be in this movie if he weren’t going to demonstrate them. However, most viewers are probably at least unsure about, if not doubtful of, Eminem’s acting ability. Those people will be pleasantly surprised that the Oscar buzz isn’t all hype.

8 Mile can be a bit myopic: There is no substantial independent development of any character other than Jimmy, with the other characters mostly serving as props to service the exposition of Jimmy’s personality. Jimmy can be angry with his mother (expertly played by Kim Basinger), protective of his little sister, supportive of a friend who worships him and flirty with Brittany Murphy’s character, Alex.

The scenes involving the interaction between Jimmy and his sister Lily are the most touching in the movie. Despite the many forces pulling Jimmy in different directions, including his friends, his job, his music, and his motivation to move out of his mother’s trailer, Jimmy does his best to protect his sister from the violence that occurs in her home and in the community. Although he is sometimes ineffectual in this protection since he starts many fights himself, he is consistently more concerned about Lily’s upbringing than Lily and Jimmy’s mother, played by Kim Basinger.

Also moving were the relationships between Jimmy and his circle of friends, collectively known as Three One Third, after the area code for Detroit. Jimmy, most often called Rabbit by the group, often seemed to provide a voice of reason or at least motivation to his friends. The friends are fiercely loyal, especially in their on- and off-stage struggles against their rivals, Leaders of the Free World.

Throughout the movie, there are several rap battles, emceed by Future (Mekhi Phifer), in which members of Free World compete against Jimmy. Eminem fans will definitely enjoy these scenes, and the rapper’s wit and intelligence may just draw in a few new fans. Xzibit and Proof also make cameos in some of the battle scenes.

The one definite problem with the movie is Brittany Murphy’s character, Alex. Alex becomes Jimmy’s love interest after they see each other at Jimmy’s job, and then at a party later that night. Not only does Murphy fail to bring anything unique to the role, but her character is completely inconsistent as well. The viewer feels that she clearly understands Alex’s motivations and feelings, only to then find Alex acting completely contrary to her stated goals for no understandable reason. This aspect of the movie was particularly frustrating in that there is no particular reason why Alex’s character needed this added complexity.

In the end, the message of 8 Mile (Take risks! Follow your dreams!), like Rocky and other tales before it, was cheesy and predictable. But who really wants to see this movie for its message? Fans of Eminem will enjoy seeing Eminem’s intensity applied to a new medium. Eminem will almost certainly gain some new fans, at least of his mic skill, if not his acting ability and personality.

Whatcha lookin’ at Jackass?


I am not ashamed. I saw Jackass: The Movie… and I loved it. But, unless you know what you are in for, you may want to think twice about this vehicle for Johnny Knoxville and his brotherhood of misfits to take their shenanigans, stunts and stupidity to the silver screen. Aptly named, this conglomeration of wacky on-location pieces features the stars of the controversial (and recently defunct) MTV show putting themselves at risk of losing life, limb and their lunches. Jackass pulls no punches… literally.

Jackass is not for the squeamish nor the easily-offended. The movie is full of self-induced violence, bathroom humor and unnecessary nudity — lowbrow comedy at its absolute lowest. That being said, if you can handle the sight of grown men giving themselves paper cuts between their toes, attempting a “bungee-wedgie” and snorting lines of wasabi, you just might make it to the credits.

Jackass has no plot, nor does it need one. Fans of the television show will be glad to learn that Knoxville & Co. did not try to work their antics into a script that has them battling an evil genius or trying to save Christmas. Instead, they merely use the 90-minute format to show all of the things that couldn’t get past the TV censors. The stunts in Jackass are generally clever, despite their occasional repulsiveness. Certain segments are devised as practical jokes while others seem more like a game of “Truth or Dare” gone terribly, terribly wrong.

Some of the highlights include Stephen Glover (aka Steve-O) walking a tightrope over a pit of alligators, Chris Pontius as “Party Boy” doing an unexpected striptease in a Tokyo electronics store, and Spike Jonze (creator of Jackass and Being John Malkovich) dressed as an old man who barrels into a crowded intersection on a motorized cart screaming “my brakes are broken!” But perhaps the defining moment of the movie is when Johnny Knoxville voluntarily gets shot in the stomach at close range with a small sack of plastic balls normally used by police in a riot. The anguish on Knoxville’s face as he paces around the lobby of the shooting range in anticipation of the stunt is a telling sign of the mentality behind the show and the movie. He is obviously afraid of the imminent harm. But what’s more, he also knows that he has no choice but to submit to the pain so that he can have bragging rights over the rest of his crew. In the world of the Jackasses, scars and bruises become the signs of victory and success is judged by the number of broken bones.

Ordinarily, this seems like the kind of movie that would appeal only to those who own the entire Best of Backyard Wrestling and Faces of Death collections. But, Jackass: The Movie approaches each “stunt” with the self-effacing acknowledgement that what is about to happen is moronic, immature, dangerous and embarrassingly appealing. Jackass puts together 90 minutes worth of moments that appeal to the 13-year-old boy that lives inside all of us. This movie is for all those times you have been completely grossed out or embarrassed by your friends, and yet, while covering your eyes, think “this is the funniest thing I have ever seen.”

However, this is by no means a date movie… unless you are hoping that your date will barf in your lap by the end of the evening. There are certain “stunts” which many viewers will find extremely hard to stomach, most including some sort of bodily expulsion. But, despite their crudeness, these stunts are like a train wreck or an ugly baby; you don’t want to see it, but you can’t stop staring.

This is why the Jackass franchise is so popular. It embarrasses viewers for enjoying themselves and then laughs right along with them. You have to accept Jackass: The Movie for what it is. It’s not a film, but merely a bunch of morons doing dumb stuff. If this premise alone appeals to you, Jackass may just be the funniest film this year. If not, consider this a warning.

VINO & VERITAS: Beyond Dershowitz


“Do you have a chardonnay?” The diner’s question to the waiter is somewhat rhetorical, of course, as the answer is almost never no. Chardonnay is ubiquitous. Chardonnay is safe. Based on the typical wine list at your average restaurant and what fills much of the shelf space at wine shops, most Americans drinking white wine drink chardonnay most of the time. Add in a few other favorites — say, sauvignon blanc, pinot grigio (or pinot gris if you’re feeling French or Oregonian), and maybe riesling — and you have the white wine repertoire of most casual American wine drinkers.

There is, to be sure, much exploring to do among these four grapes. Nevertheless, there are an endless number of other white varieties worth experiencing. If you occasionally pass over the tried-and-true Dershowitzes in favor of a Bagenstos or a Steiker, you might end up pleasantly surprised. In the hopes that you will opt for something different next time the waiter asks for your drink order, I’d like you to meet three white varieties that you may not have tried or even heard of before. My criteria were that the varietal be readily available — most decent wine shops should have several versions of each — and that the grape appear frequently in its unblended form — so you know when you’re drinking a wine of that type. As an added bonus, the three off-the-beaten-path varietals I chose often come without the significant tolls that their super-highway counterparts bring.

The first is the Loire valley specialty chenin blanc (shen-uhn blanc). This grape tends to make crisp and refreshing (i.e. acidic) wines with earthy, citrussy, or otherwise fruity flavors. You may not find many bottles labeled “chenin blanc,” as your most likely encounter will be with certain central Loire valley wines (remember, French wines tend to be named for locations, not grapes). If you look for Vouvray, however, a major Loire wine area, you will get 100 percent chenin blanc. Chenin is also common in the New World (a wine term meaning “not Europe”), including South Africa, New Zealand, Australia, Argentina, and California, but outside the central Loire it is usually blended and plays second fiddle to other grapes.

Staying with Loire for the moment, you may also want to give muscadet a try. Not to be confused with muscat or moscato, muscadet (moose-ka-day) is both a region in the western Loire valley and the grape that grows there (the grape has taken the name of the region, but is more formally called melon de bourgogne). Muscadet is usually quite dry, and like chenin blanc, its crisp acidity defines it. Here in the States, the muscadet you find will most likely be labeled Muscadet de Sèvre-et-Maine, a sub-district of Muscadet. Much of this wine will also carry the designation sur lie (sir lee), which means that the dead yeast cells from the fermentation process were left in the wine as it aged, giving it an additional yeasty flavor (think Champagne). Muscadet has one other defining characteristic worth noting: It’s cheap!

The gewürztraminer (ga-vertz-tra-mean-er) grape tends to make rich, aromatic wines with lively complex flavors and a softness that comes from a lack of acidity. Gewürztraminer wines are a specialty of Alsace (I know, too much France—but they are just so good at this). Alsatian gewürztraminer will require less effort to identify than most French varietals, for unlike their countrymen in other regions, many Alsatian producers actually put the grape on their labels. In addition to dry white wines, gewürztraminer can also make full-bodied, late-harvest dessert wines. Outside of Alsace, gewürztraminer plays only a minor role in Europe. You are far more likely to find New World versions, particularly from New Zealand, Washington, and Oregon.

I chose a bottle of each of these to taste, all purchased at the Wine & Cheese Cask. Here’s what I found:

2000 Les Capitaine, Les Aumones Vouvray ($8.99) — This wine was surprising in its almost complete lack of any aroma — it took a few sniffs before I could identify the slight grapefruit and wet leaves smell. Its taste offered little more. Not particularly interesting, it was acidic and tart (typical for chenin) with hints of flowers and green apple. Chenin blanc can be much better than this. Indeed, this wine offered yet further proof that it is just very difficult to find good wine for under $10. If you want to try chenin blanc, spend just two or three dollars more and look for Marc Bredif’s Vouvray, which is consistently very good.

2001 Domaine de la Pépière, Muscadet Sèvre et Maine ($7.99) — A better wine than the Vouvray, despite the fact that I generally prefer Vouvray to Muscadet. Due to the sur lie style, there was a strong yeasty smell. The wine was bone dry, acidic, and quite bitter (particularly on the finish). The main problem was that beyond those characteristics, there was not much flavor. Concentration finally revealed grapefruit, but on the whole it was rather bland. This makes it sound worse than it was, however, as it was nevertheless a refreshing, easy-drinking wine. So long as you are not in the mood for something particularly enchanting, this was not bad.

2001 Chateau Ste. Michelle, Gewurztraminer ($7.99) — So as not to anger my British friends, I chose a non-French wine this time (no, they don’t make wine, they just hate the French). Chateau Ste. Michelle is a significant Washingtonian producer that tends to make reliable rieslings and, apparently, pretty decent gewürztraminer. This wine more than made up for the lack of aroma in the other two — the nose was huge. The predominant smells were fresh mint and gingerbread. While sweeter than the other two, it was not overly so. It was big (i.e. high in alcohol) with tropical fruit flavors that I couldn’t quite pin down (kiwi? mango?), but that lingered for several minutes after swallowing. A surprisingly good wine for the very low price.

Ames Teams: It’s All About the Glory


Team Gunther
Team White

The Gunther Team

It depends on who you ask, but some say 3L Greg Lipper will lose Ames.

Ask his teammates, however, and you’ll get a different story.

“Either we’ll have won, or we got robbed,” said 3L Mark Freeman of his team’s chances. The Gerald Gunther Memorial Team is named after famed liberal constitutional law scholar Gerald Gunther, whose textbook is one of the best known on the subject. Gunther died this July at age 75.

The Gunther Team consists of 3Ls Lipper, Freeman, Beth Mellen Harrison, Josh Solomon, Norina Edelman and Louis Tompros.

Team members said the choice of Gunther’s name was appropriate, as five of the six members are liberals. In this year’s case, Morales v. Gallows, the Gunther Team represents the more left-wing side as well. The case pits a tenant against a Christian landlord who seeks to exclude non-married cohabiting couples from her building. The petitioner’s name, Christina Morales, is meant to be a clever pun invented by the Board of Student Advisers, which administers the competition.

The Gunther Team prides itself on a tough work ethic. “We pulled all-nighters the night before our briefs were due,” Lipper said. Freeman added that, in total, the team has used all but 40 minutes of the total time available before brief deadlines, turning in their work at the absolute last minute.

Late nights and hard work are all part of the fabled Ames Competition, an annual event which has become both a social and legal spectacle of sorts for the Law School community. The competition mimics the appellate process, with teams filing briefs and making oral arguments before actual judges. Teams compete in three rounds: quarterfinals in the fall, semifinals in the spring and the finals the following fall. To make it this far in the competition, would-be litigators have to be among the best in their classes.

By this point, Gunther members say, there’s still a lot left to do.

Such as? “Learn the law,” jokes Tompros. Freeman, who serves as one of the team’s two oralists along with Lipper, added that, “Greg and I will have to learn not to say stupid things.” But the team’s self-effacing humor belies what is no doubt rigorous and carefully-honed preparation — as soon as they’re done interviewing, they will be rehearsing in front of a video camera to catch every possible nuance of their performance.

Asked to comment on the dire predictions of his chances — immortalized both in the name of an IM flag football team and The RECORD’s own Fenno column, Lipper sought to set the record straight.

“[The flag football team] is a bunch of people I lived with 1L year,” he said. “Last year they were ‘The Fighting Greg Lippers.’ So this year, I harassed them to name the team after me again.”

So what does the Gunther squad think of their opponents?

“The other team speaks for themselves,” Lipper said.

The White Team

“The other team calls us ‘the lifestyle team’” said 3L Mary Catherine Martin of the Byron White Memorial Team. The team is named after the recently deceased Supreme Court Justice and football Hall of Famer who turned down a position on the Yale Law Journal to play professional football with the NFL.

“I don’t think we’ve even pulled an all-nighter” added 3L Carlos Lazatin.

In contrast to their hard-charging opponents, the White Team — featuring 3Ls Martin, Lazatin, Jeffrey Lerner, Rita Lin, Nathaniel Reinsma, and Matthew Stephenson — takes their Ames practicing slow and steady.

“We’ve been having to do a little bit each day rather than a few bursts,” said Stephenson, one of the team’s oralists, for whom “a little a day” means about three or four hours.

By now, Stephenson says the team is focusing solely on refining its oral arguments. “We just need a little more practice,” he said. “These guys [the non-oralists] just throw questions at us. They hit us with everything they can think of. It’s like batting practice.”

It’s been a long but entertaining journey for the White Team, which, like their opponents, is made up almost entirely of Law Review or Section II members (and several who are both). All agree that one of the most important factors in choosing an Ames team is getting along with each other.

“Fit was a big factor for us,” said Lazatin. “We knew we were going to spend large amounts of time with each other.”

The White Team also prides itself on its diversity. Representing the conservative side petitioner in this final round — as the team says it has had to in every round — is a group of two liberals, two moderates and two conservatives. The team is similarly split along religious and regional lines, with two Protestants, two Catholics and two Jews. Two members each also come from the West, Midwest and East.

If the White Team wins, they will take home $750 along with the glory of being this year’s Ames champions.

“We’re not in it for the money,” said Lazatin. “I don’t think we’re getting a living wage if you work it out by the hour.” He added that the losing team takes home $650, making the entire Ames competition essentially a battle for $100.

Does Stephenson (who seems prone to sports similes) have anything to say about the Gunther opponents? “It’s like being a pitcher facing another famous pitcher,” he said. “I’m not worrying about the pitchers, I’m worrying about the hitters.”

Still, when asked, White Team members made the boast: Greg Lipper will lose Ames.

The (almost) perfect pizza joint


Every pizza joint makes their own crust, and the better ones cook their tomato sauce rather than spoon it out of a can. But every morning, the workers at Real Pizza even make fresh mozzarella cheese from scratch. This sort of passion for ingredients is tough to find within walking distance of Harvard, where most pizza makes me weep bitter tears and yearn for Domino’s. At its best moments Real Pizza is comparable to my favorite Neapolitan pizza place in Rome. Given that the restaurant is the brainchild of Rene Becker, who owns the nearby Hi-Rise Café and is responsible for its delicious range of breads, this is not a big surprise, but nonetheless a pleasant one.

Becker will never be accused of pandering to the masses. At Real Pizza, all pizzas are 12″, the only soft drink available is a “Real Coke,” ($2), a made-to-order combination of Coca-Cola syrup and carbonated water that is warm, syrupy and verges on flat, and the few uncomfortable tables in the small storefront feel like a begrudging concession to would-be diners. The staff is brusque and curt, acting like priests at a pizza temple. Fortunately for the customers streaming in and out of the place all day, Real Pizza really is a temple, treating the authenticity and quality of its ingredients with a respect normally reserved for minor deities. Because all the pizzas are the same size, Real Pizza can employ a loud timer to make sure the pizzas come out just right each time.

The eponymous Real Pizza ($10) is the best showcase of these ingredients by far. The piquant, acidic tomato sauce has soft chunks of fresh tomato and the perfect amount of oregano, basil and sage. Even given Becker’s extensive background in baking, the quality of the crust is astonishing. The thin crust is a paradox: blackened and crisp on the bottom, it leaves trails of flour rather than grease on your fingers, yet it is moist, chewy and slightly sweet in the middle. The air bubbles and loft of the crust are quite surprising given the electric ovens Real Pizza uses. The mozzarella rounds the pizza out perfectly: Bubbling in pools on the pizza, it has a clean, buttery flavor with just a hint of sourness, and perfectly rounds out the flavor of the pie.

Adding a topping or two to the flagship pie can’t hurt, but the more exotic offerings at Real Pizza, while they retain the extremely high standard of the ingredients, combine them in ill-advised ways. The “Wolf 359,” one of many astronomy-themed pizzas on the menu, replaces the mozzarella and tomato sauce with Red Bliss potatoes, Reggiano parmesan and chives. It doesn’t’ work. The potatoes are soft, too similar texturally to the crust, and the whole result is too bland. It comes off like scalloped potatoes with an infusion of extra carbohydrates.

The white clam pizza ($17), with fresh clams, more parmesan, garlic and parsley is frustrating – the clams are tender and moist, despite being fired in the oven, if you pick them off the pizza, but the Reggiano parmesan totally overwhelms them if you eat the pie straight. This is not something you want if you’re paying close to $20 for what is essentially a small pizza. The Sicilian-style deep-dish pizza that is sold by the slice ($2 for cheese, $2.50 for pepperoni), dries out too much when reheated, and in any case has a skewed crust-to-topping ratio. The pepperoni is nothing special, leaking oil all over the fresh mozzarella and spoiling its flavor.

Italian cooking traditionally focuses on letting a small number of high-quality ingredients speak for themselves, and Real Pizza is certainly strongest when it does this rather than wandering off into pretentious complexity. Stick to the simple stuff, though, and your Real Pizza experience will be just that.

Getting There

Real Pizza

359 Huron Ave. Cambridge


Hours: Mon-Thurs 9-9, Fri 9-10, Sat. 5-9