Vino & Veritas: Cheap wine, pasta, and pizza


Here’s the situation: It’s mid-week. You finished class and three job interviews. You have an hour to make and eat dinner before a 7:30 meeting back on campus. Your options are the classic pasta with red sauce or pizza. You’d like a glass of wine too. What do you pour?

To give credit where credit’s due, it was my friend and fellow 3L Louis Tompros who suggested this situation for a column. But also to give abuse where abuse is due, Louis said something else deserving of a digression. Pasta and red sauce was one of the common mid-week meals for which he needed a wine to match. Macaroni and cheese was another. He said he tended to eat the latter with White Zinfandel. White Zinfandel, that horrible, cloyingly sweet pink stuff from California, not to be confused with good rosé, is wine for people who don’t really like wine. It should not be had with macaroni and cheese. In fact, it should not be had. Ever.

Back to the point. In figuring out which wines work well with simple pasta or pizza, I came up with a few guiding principles.

Get something cheap. There is a school of thought that claims it is not worth spending $30 for a bottle of wine when there are plenty of decent $10 bottles out there. I don’t go to that school. There certainly are plenty of decent $10 bottles, and even an occasional great one. But there are many more great $30 bottles that are worth every penny. That said, you don’t always need one. Such is the case when you are eating a rushed meal and quaffing down a glass of wine (although do keep the quaffing to a minimum, as you will miss so much of what the wine has to offer). When you lack the time to savor the wine, you probably want to avoid paying too much for it. Moreover, I often share my mid-week bottles with the kitchen drain, as I never seem to finish them before they go bad. When that is inevitable, you want the dollar-per-ounce-dumped to be as low as possible.

You probably want to avoid wines that are too complex and powerful. Assuming we are talking about jarred Ragu and Pizza Ring, the meal will be pretty bland. A meaty, complex cabernet or merlot, or a heavily fruited zinfandel, will overwhelm the food, emphasizing its blandness. Of course, the more savory the meal — moving, say, from Ragu to a homemade bolognese — the more powerful a wine it can handle. Sticking to the whip-it-up-quickly motif, however, you probably want to avoid going too hearty with the wine.

Finally, you want a rather acidic wine. This sounds more technical than it actually is; you don’t actually need to have a Ph strip handy. Higher-acid wines are those that have a refreshing, mouth-cleansing feel — like sucking on a lemon. They dry out your mouth, but quickly cause saliva to follow. Because tomato sauce is relatively acidic, your wine may seem bland, even tasteless, if it lacks acid in comparison.

So how does this translate into particular wines? Certain southern European reds are a good bet. Chianti, which comes from Tuscany and is usually made entirely from sangiovese grapes, fits the bill. The same is true of wines from barbera grapes, a specialty of the Piedmont region in northwest Italy. Both comprise a substantial share of Italy’s vino da tavola — everyday drinking wines. Both are fairly light-bodied, low in tannin, and high in acid. Other options include wines from tempranillo grapes, the chief ingredient in wines from Spain’s famous Rioja region. Less well known, but equally suitable, are red wines from periquita grapes, grown in southern Portugal.

I chose three of these to taste, restricting myself to under $10 per bottle. Apropos of the theme here, I paired them with a Domino’s Pizza.

2000 Melini Borhi D’Elsa Chianti ($9.99). This wine from the well-known Chianti-maker Melini had an almost glowing light purple color, with a grapey, flowery aroma. In the mouth, it was light, very dry, acidic and somewhat bitter. While it fit the pasta/pizza model well, I can’t say I enjoyed it much.

1997 José Maria de Fonsecca Successores Periquita ($9.99). This Portuguese periquita had an earthy, petrol nose. Its taste was fruity (berries) and sour, with refreshing acidity. It was fuller, wilder, and more interesting than the others — easily my favorite of the three.

2000 Marchesi Di Barolo Maràia Barbera Monferrato ($8.99). Black cherries, on both the nose and palate, dominated this barbera. It was far softer than the other two, with a surprising sweetness. I liked it, but thought it not particularly interesting. I got the sense that with a little time in the bottle, the cherry flavor would tone down and it would grow more interesting.

The History of Hannibal


Think Indiana Jones.

Yes, I know that isn’t the first thought that comes to mind in conjunction with Red Dragon — but stay with me.

Consider a trilogy that’s become more of a character franchise. A franchise built off a genuinely original blockbuster that had audiences riveted in their seats, with a character that has since become ensconced in pop culture lore. And after a misstep with a gaudy, grotesquely over-the-top second episode, a canny return to form — or formula — in the third installment, which closely tracks many of the elements that made the first a hit.

Sound familiar?

Those who loved Silence of the Lambs but hated Hannibal can take heart: Because Red Dragon follows the pattern just described, it will no doubt prove more palatable than its immediate predecessor. The movie gets down to business quickly, aiming for genuine scares rather than shock value; the suspense is competently sustained, and there is some very good acting in patches, though less than might be expected from an absolutely stellar cast. What it lacks is the kind of hit-you-in-the-gut impact that the original had.

For the uninitiated, Red Dragon is the prequel to Silence of the Lambs. It begins by showing how Hannibal Lecter (Anthony Hopkins), a.k.a. the “Cannibal,” was caught, and by whom. The FBI agent who bags him, Will Graham (Ed Norton), almost dies in the process, and subsequently takes an early semi-retirement in Florida with his wife and son. Some years later, his old boss Crawford (played here by Harvey Keitel), solicits his assistance in a case involving a serial killer (Ralph Fiennes) dubbed the “Tooth Fairy.” At Crawford’s urging, Graham picks the brain of his old nemesis, Dr. Lecter, now locked away in the same maximum-security cell where we saw him in Lambs (complete with the same personnel and the same smarmy prison psychiatrist to torment him). But Lecter, wily as ever, ends up playing a nasty double game with Graham and the killer, who regards the good doctor as his role model.

If you think more murders are in store, you’re right. If you think the movie milks the prequel factor for all that it’s worth, you’re right about that, too — down to the last, totally shameless line of the movie.

Lecter is at once the main draw and the main problem of the film, and it shows in Hopkins’ performance. He’s practically patented the character, and at times he rides the fine line of self-parody. The whiff of ham may not be entirely his fault: What made him so effective in Lambs was the fact that we didn’t know then what he was capable of, except by oblique references. (How chilling was Jodie Foster’s simple response “No, you ate them,” when he pointed out that he, unlike other killers, didn’t keep mementos of his victims?) The menace was more sheathed — so when he finally did strike, it was all the more terrifying. By now, even if you haven’t seen Lambs, you know where the demon lurks. You can hear it in his voice. It sounds flatter, more sibilant, more decayed and repulsive than in Lambs, even though that film is supposed to come later. It’s especially jarring by contrast with the brief pre-imprisonment sequence at the beginning, when we hear him discourse in perfectly normal, non-Hannibal Anthony Hopkins diction.

That sequence, incidentally, underscores the difference between the two films. Those polished cadences, and the impeccable table he lays for his guests, pose a darkly humorous contrast to the macabre amuse-bouche he’s serving them… but in a way, the zap is gone. As in Indiana’s Last Crusade, we know the game. We get sly humor in place of that indefinable sense of unease, of not knowing what to expect, that haunted us in the first episode.

This is not necessarily always a net loss. There are witty touches, particularly in the opening scenes, that add a welcome sparkle to Red Dragon. But the rest of the film tries too hard both to recreate the psychological probing of Lambs and to dish up a conventional Hollywood recipe for suspense thrillers. After some colorful detours, it falls into the all-too-familiar rhythm of the standard cat-and-mouse plot involving a serial killer and the cop trying to catch him, partly livened by crisp direction and a clever nod to Hitchcock’s Psycho.

The weird rapport between Lecter and Graham is potentially as thought-provoking as that between Lecter and Clarice, but here it’s less subtle because of the way the plot is structured. Ed Norton is merely adequate as Hannibal’s pre-Clarice protégé. He does have one moment at the film’s climax where he shows a glimmer of the talent that’s made him a star — a moment that would otherwise be rather hokey, but which he makes work. As for the rest of the cast, Fiennes is a surprisingly compelling psycho, and brings dramatic heft to even his most absurd bouts of (literal) scenery-chewing. Keitel is merely rote (Crawford here is far less interesting a character than in Lambs), and the ubiquitous Philip Seymour Hoffmann pops up as a sleazy tabloid journalist — amusing in a cheap-laughs sort of way, though he, too, has a fine moment where he bursts into brilliance.

It’s the women who are wasted in this movie (posing another unfavorable contrast to Lambs), with the gifted Emily Watson trapped in a stunt casting as a blind woman who falls for the Tooth Fairy, while the equally gifted Mary-Louise Parker fills the stock role of Graham’s long-suffering wife.

In the end, Red Dragon succeeds on its own terms. It is scary and suspenseful, in a flashier, less enigmatic way than Silence of the Lambs. (The difference in the titles is telling.) It painstakingly reminds us of why Hopkins’ Lecter has left such an indelible mark on the popular imagination. But it also suggests that it may be high time for Hannibal to leave the building. Three courses is enough.

When it comes to corporate scandal, place blame where it’s due


“Boss, that suit looks great on you.” CEOs used to smile when hearing that; lately, though, the CEOs aren’t grinning — especially when they hear it from New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer (HLS ‘84) and the boys at the S.E.C.

Last week, Wall Street’s worst nightmares filed some of their most deeply-impacting lawsuits in recent months. But while some of them — the S.E.C.’s criminal and civil actions against Enron Chief Financial Officer Andrew Fastow — threaten to bring to justice a man who spearheaded an effort to defraud market players of ludicrous sums of money, one of them — Spitzer’s suit against a number of tech CEOs — at least threatens to crash down upon parties without a showing of actual moral culpability.

The documents uncovered throughout the various Enron and Arthur Andersen investigations detailed a near-Gordian Knot of managerial ignorance — intentional and unintentional alike. The knot, once unraveled, displayed a board of directors that looked past a staggering list of off-balance sheet entities and ineffective managers, management more effective in lining its own pockets than creating value sufficient to justify the stock price, and auditors who approved off-the-books ventures that were questionable in light of accounting standards (let alone any standard of “ethics”), that reveled in its ignorance then as much as it does in finger-pointing now. The one party who is utterly unable to claim ignorance in these matters is Fastow, who, in the words of the criminal complaint, “took advantage of [his] simultaneous influence over Enron’s business operations and the SPEs as a means secretly and unlawfully to generate millions of dollars for [himself] and others.”

Whether or not the Fastow prosecution leads to subsequent prosecutions of CEOs Lay, Skilling, or any other related parties, champions of market accountability can cheer the indictment of Fastow, which stands as a reminder that the S.E.C., under the watch of the oft-maligned Harvey Pitt, is not finished in its quest to bring corporate malefactors to justice.

The Fastow indictment stands in stark contrast to the recent lawsuit filed by Spitzer against the executives of five major telecoms. All five defendants are charged with “misstat[ing] or omi[tting] material facts regarding the sale of securities to the public.” In each case, the executives received shares of “hot IPO stocks” from Salomon Smith Barney, implicitly (though never explicitly) in return for subsequent work with SSB’s investment banking arm. Moreover, SSB researcher Jack Grubman supplied the market with inflated evaluations of the defendants’ respective firms in this quid pro quo. Because investors were misinformed by the defendants’ failure to disclose their relationship with the investment bank researchers, Spitzer seeks, among other damages, restitution in the amount of $28 million in profits from the IPO stocks and $1.5 billion in profits from the executives’ sale of stock in their own companies.

Sixteen pages of the 29-page complaint detail the relationship between SSB’s research and I-bank divisions as well as the inappropriately high ratings awarded by Grubman to the companies in question. All in all, it would be a marvelous indictment of the seemingly indefensible Grubman … except that it’s not an indictment of Grubman. Despite pages and pages of detailed explanations of Grubman and SSB’s fraudulent acts, Spitzer fails to offer a single explicit example of conscious fraud perpetrated by the defendants.

Spitzer is not light on implication of such. Throwing about assertions that “[T]he executives who received the hot IPO shares were in a position to determine or influence their company’s [other contractual engagements with SSB],” or that, for example “Ebbers’ (and the other defendants) receipt of IPO shares predated (the companies’) retention of SSB for banking services,” the implication is clear: The IPO distributions caused the subsequent business.

But, in sharp contrast to his depiction of Grubman, Spitzer does not explicitly charge the defendants with malicious acts (although he assured 60 Minutes this Sunday that the complaint is not exhaustive). Indeed, under New York’s Martin Act, one of the statutes under which the defendants are charged, the proving of actual intent to defraud is not necessary. Spitzer need only prove by a preponderance of evidence that the defendants withheld the information and that the information was material to market perception of the value of the stocks.

That’s the essential difference between last week’s lawsuits: While the S.E.C. suits bring to justice someone who appears to have consciously robbed shareholders, the Spitzer suit, while viable under New York law, may extract over $1.5 billion from defendants even if it is shown that they did not act out of malice against the shareholders. That does not render the prosecution inappropriate under the law, but it does leave the public to ask: Will we be satisfied when we have punished those who declared war on our 401(k)s and mutual funds, or will we send the weight of the state crashing down upon those who might have acted wrongly — despite a lack of hard evidence to prove it? The law may empower the public to extract the gains from these CEOs, but at what point do we lose the moral high ground?

Letters from Berkeley: Finding a personal revolution


I sometimes find myself in situations that make me wonder what I would have done if I’d lived in a Soviet-bloc country in the Communist era. I’d like to think I would have been a dissident, reading and writing banned material, helping to work toward nonviolent revolution and freedom from a monstrous system that amazes me still with how it perpetuated itself even though nobody liked it.

It seems more likely, though, that I’d have been passive, acceding to the game without making any waves, breaking rules only in my imagination. Maybe I’d even have joined the Young Communists, or been an informer, or a rude shopkeeper. See, when I look at the dichotomy of autonomy-belonging, I like to say I’m the autonomous type. But then I look at situations like this:

I was sitting in one of my seminar classes last week and, having a moment of utter boredom, let my eyes wander around the table and to the professor in the front. He was standing pressed back against the chalkboard, both arms crossed over his solar plexus. His tie was crooked, and his face gleamed with a faint sheen of sweat.

I looked around the room and discovered that every single person in the room was “matching” the professor. Every person except the woman with the laptop and myself had their arms crossed, their shoulders hunched. The woman with the laptop crouched behind her screen as if it were a shield.

Experimenting, I opened my body — arms and legs uncrossed, feet planted on the floor, spine straight, shoulders back. And my third chakra — the energy center smack in the middle of the solar plexus — felt hard as a rock. I wanted to hunch my body over again, cross my limbs, and protect myself. From what? Probably the vibration of pain everyone was in.

Bodily discomfort, I have learned, is a communication indicating that a change is desirable. The change I wanted was to pick up and go do any of a number of things I was fantasizing about during class — mostly running along the lines of sleep, food and masturbation. Looking at everyone in the class, it seemed no one wanted to be there, not even the professor. So what kept us going? Some strange Communist-type game told us we had to keep plugging away, without making any waves.

I read something once about how the split between one’s authentic being and one’s social self is the basis for alienation — the root of the feeling that one cannot do anything. That disjunction in the relationship between facets of one’s own self is reflected in an individual’s inability to break free of the lies she is trapped in and perpetuated through social agreement.

The third chakra is sometimes described as a person’s center of power in relation to the physical world. I’ve seen it as my self-esteem, how I feel about myself in social relation to the world. This is in contrast to the fourth chakra, the heart center, which is the source of self-affinity — how I love myself. When I become my social self by orienting my perspective through the third chakra, I identify myself with whatever social game I’m involved in — law school, legal career, citizen, whatever. The lie is that if I keep grounding through my social self, I’ll stay in the game, and maybe even win it. The problem arises when the esteem society has for me by playing the game doesn’t match up to my affinity for myself. When the game loves me but I don’t, that’s when the pain comes in, as validation must come entirely from the outside.

Why do I not high-tail it out of unpleasant situations like boring classes I learn nothing from? There’s that oft-heard saying that the point is to be in the game but not of it — in other words, not to match the vibration of pain felt by the vast majority playing the game. The way to unmatch is to make sure that space of self-love equates self-esteem. As usual, balance and holism is key — not thinking about how to compromise between facets of self, but looking at how they are part of the same body, each a reflection of the whole.

I haven’t figured out how to do it yet. But there’s a revolution in the making somewhere in me, and it seems part of the key to allowing it to happen is self-love no matter what, even if my more romantic side calls most of what I’m doing in school a sellout. It doesn’t have to be — the peace comes from being comfortable wherever I am in present time.

Spinning Into Butter


Spinning Into Butter, now playing at the Theatre Cooperative, dredged up really unpleasant memories for me, and I had to call the police after the show. Yet I highly recommend it. Sound crazy? Well, I’ll try to explain, but you should really just come see it.

Spinning stars Korinne T. Hertz as Sarah Daniels, a young white woman working as Dean of Students at secluded (fictional) Belmont College in Vermont. Early scenes depict Sarah’s struggles to keep the students and her administrative superiors in equilibrium. Then word arrives that an African-American freshman has received a nasty racist note. More notes ensue. The college must address the problem, and Sarah’s balancing act becomes much more challenging.

Playwright Rebecca Gilman’s masterful script weaves one-line zingers into a tapestry of realistic scenes showing the interplay of academic and personal politics with the dean’s professional actions. The character who seems closest to understanding Sarah’s perspective is a campus police officer (Anthony Dangerfield). Professor Collins (David Rabinow), Sarah’s patronizing former lover, along with status-conscious Dean Kenney (Lida McGirr), and tweedily pompous Dean Strauss (Fred Robbins) show a credible disregard for the needs and wants of students as they hasten to put on a “campus forum thingy” and preserve the school’s reputation.

Meanwhile, Greg Sullivan (Ron Rittinger) effuses eagerness to start a group called Students for Tolerance, especially if he can include it on his resumé for law school. Sophomore Patrick Chibas (Carlos Folgar) resents Sarah’s recommendation that he represent himself to the scholarship committee as “Hispanic” rather than “Nuyorican.” The already high dramatic tension rises another notch in the second act, when the racial slurs’ perpetrator gets caught, and Sarah finally speaks out about her own feelings on race and racism.

Gilman avoids the common earnest-young-playwright trap of trying to answer the questions she brings up. The characters constantly force themselves, one another and the audience to question when liberalism is really a mask for intolerance.

Watching this powerful fictional account, I found myself recalling long-buried wounds and making new mental connections among the bigotries I’ve seen, felt and tried to address. I graduated from a tensely divided Virginia high school, made a hobby of staffing the gay table at college diversity fairs and spent two years Teaching for America, so bridging cultural divides is clearly a priority for me, but I think this show also reaches out to those who have addressed such issues less directly, perhaps over years of half-listening to the political correctness debate. Spinning Into Butter (the title refers to the story of Little Black Sambo, told by Dean Strauss as an attempted metaphor for Belmont’s plight) shows how talking about racial differences is sometimes a laudable end result, sometimes a beginning, and sometimes, if done badly, worse than nothing at all.

The Cooperative’s actors are well-cast and highly competent. Sarah broods at her desk very well, though her intensity of reaction to both friends and foes seemed a little lacking in the first third of the play. Professor Collins speaks so quickly when agitated that I missed bits of Gilman’s powerful dialogue. Greg Sullivan could be many of my 1L classmates. Perhaps the strongest performance came from Folgar as the angry young man of color. However, since all the other characters (and actors) in this show are white, I was troubled by the sensation that Carlos was speaking for all non-whites at Belmont, and that distinctions of perspective among African-Americans, Latinos, and other ethnic groups were being eluded.

The play premiered in 1999, but has already been performed at Lincoln Center, at London’s Royal Court Theatre and several other American venues. Gilman received the Roger L. Stevens Award from the Kennedy Center Fund for New American Plays for Spinning Into Butter, which she wrote with a grant from the Goodman Theatre in Chicago.

The multitalented director of Spinning Into Butter, Lesley Chapman, also serves as artistic director for the company, answers the phone and sometimes works the concession stand at intermission. The set, comprising Sarah’s sparse office and decorated by Alicia Gregoire, remains constant throughout the thirteen scenes of the play. Three small risers place the audience closely around the stage. This intimacy, however, was disturbed several times by music and sirens from outside. I had been excited about venturing into the swath of north Somerville previously seen only during the cab ride from the airport, but this faded after urban bustle disrupted my dramatic experience — and especially after I realized my bike had been stolen off a signpost during the show.

Despite the anguish it caused me, I was really glad I saw Spinning Into Butter. I recommend it to anyone for whom talking about race has ever led to guilt or shame or sorrow, to anyone wondering what the life of university deans is really like, and to anyone seeking an impetus to serious thought with a few laughs along the way.

Fenno: A cold day in hell

It was a cold day in hell. There were a lot of signs pointing in that direction, but Fenno was absolutely sure of it once he saw James stroll in ten minutes late to Liz Warren’s bankruptcy class, take off his parka and gloves, and mutter something about having to put chains on his tires. Also, the icicles on his pitchfork rendered it too heavy to use to stab the laptop screens of classmates who had souls and therefore dared to play solitaire or Snood during class. Everyone got high scores!

Fenno decided to figure out what was going on. The easiest thing would have been to ask James directly, but that would have been risking a conversation. Instead, Fenno trudged off in the direction of Areeda. But Stephen said that Arthur Miller had been completely snowed in. Fenno declined the offer of iced coffee.

Off to Griswold. Professor Hanson was crying, and the last day of Torts was still months away. “My Corporations class has ruined Cardozo! I love Cardozo,” he blubbered. Fenno offered him one of the Diversity Cookies he’d picked up in the Lehmann Lounge. Unable to choose only one, Hanson shoved all ten of them in his mouth at the same time, just to be fair. Greatly relieved to have someone to talk to at last, he continued: “Mmmph mmph mmchhk, mmffchk.”

“Yes, you are much too tall to cry,” Fenno replied. Hanson swallowed, slouched a bit, and explained, “They mocked the ‘punctilio of an honor’ speech. They were all laughing at Cardozo. I knew I shouldn’t have let Joe Nuccio read it aloud.” Fenno reached up and gave Hanson a hug. And since he’d attended an ’80s retro anti-war rally in the Square that morning, Fenno knew he was in a perfect position to help out. As he left, Fenno casually dropped a couple “No Nootch” stickers on his chair.

Still not satisfied that all was right with Harvard Law, Fenno sprinted back through Areeda and out the front doors of Langdell. He caught Brent Bickley, Dave Axelrod, Justin Tichauer and Mike Gottlieb taking a study break on the steps. Fenno hailed them: “What’s up fellas?”

“Me and the crew is just chillin’,” said Dave. “We were thinking about maybe going wilding later. Want in?” Fenno paused. He’d heard of this before. Wilding involved sitting outside Pound Hall drinking forties during a seriously in-your-face discussion about the ideal incentive structure for maximum deterrence against insider trading. There was also a lot of shoulder-punching.

Fenno politely declined: “No, too extreme for me, dudes.” Fenno also thought he might not have enough hair product to hang. Brent turned to Justin. “Dude, have any hair product? I just ran out.” Tichauer responded by putting his cigarette out on Brent’s arm. End of conversation.

Fenno took his leave and sloughed back through Langdell. He heard a loud screech overhead. Looking up, he saw the library hawk. It had a crow in its mouth. The crow had a piece of cheese in its mouth. Fenno asked the hawk if he knew anything about the source of the troubles at the Law School. But the hawk wasn’t falling for that old trick. He flew off south, in the direction of the yard. Fenno watched him go, and noticed a strange mist wafting from the roof of Austin Hall. Ever suspicious and handsome, Fenno ran as fast as he could to Austin. It was very dark inside. The front doors creaked open of their own accord. Fenno stepped inside and felt a chill run down his spine. He heard organ music. He turned off his walkman. He heard live organ music. Oh, and some wailing coming from upstairs. He grabbed a torch from off the wall and quietly started up the staircase.

He peered into Ames Courtroom. It was strangely lit, and quiet as the grave. This made perfect sense as soon as Fenno saw Professor Murray reading a blank PowerPoint slide to his ITA class. Fenno felt a tug on his sleeve. Still intent on the rather surreal scene in the courtroom, Fenno drew his arm away. Then he felt something biting into his ankle. It was Allison Caplis. She took his hand and dragged him away from the door. “Fenno! Oh thank God you’re here,” she whispered, somewhat out of breath. “Something terrible is happening in the attic.”

“There’s an attic?” Fenno asked, incredulous.

“Of course there’s an attic. What did you think the ‘70-Foot High Club’ meant?”

“There’s a 70-Foot High Club? At the Law School?! Do we go to the same law school?” Fenno thought this might be a trick.

“Well it only happens once every 15 years or so, but it gets a lot of press,” Allison explained. “But never mind that. Come with me.” Fenno followed Allison up the next flight of stairs, past the Morgan Courtroom. He heard something like tapping on the wall as they went past. “Don’t worry,” Allison said, “it’s just the Tenant Advocacy Project advocating tenancy.” Fenno shook his head. It can’t be as easy as that, he thought.

They arrived at the door to the attic. Fenno put Allison on his shoulders so she could pull the doorknob from the ceiling. They lowered the stairs and walked up. The organ music was very loud, and Fenno could barely see from the clouds of mist pouring down. At the top of the stairs it was almost freezing, but the air had cleared, though it was still dark. In the middle of the room was a 10-foot high cage, and inside was the figure of a man, suspended in the air, shackled, the lower part of his face covered with a muzzle.

A voice came from inside the cage: “Greetings Fenno. I knew you might find me on your own, but I thought I’d give you a little help.” Fenno looked around for Allison, but all he saw was a little white mouse. It wrinkled its nose, then ran into the cage and sat on the man’s foot. “I’m just doing a little research for my latest controversial stand,” he continued. “Funny how easy it is to get research assistants at Harvard Law School. They don’t even ask what they’re researching.” As Fenno’s eyes adjusted to the dim, he saw human shapes hanging from the walls, and he began to make out faces. He didn’t recognize any of them, but that was probably only because they were 2Ls. Each of them wore a dark-colored XXL sweatshirt, with “Property of Alan Dershowitz” on the chest.

“Professor Dershowitz, what are you doing?” Fenno cried.

“I’m just getting a little . . . information,” he cackled. “Surely you’ve heard of academic freedom.”

Fenno was stunned. He scanned the room again. There was a face he recognized. “Clifford Ginn. C’mon, Professor. You’ll never get anything out of him. Didn’t you read his almost poetic attack on the Supreme Court’s disregard for the Fifth Amendment in last week’s RECORD?”

Dershowitz’s eyes opened, and he looked towards the budding Con Law scholar writhing on his wall. “Oh yeah,” he sniffed. “Him I’m just plain torturing. I figure anyone who can’t tell the difference between an editorial in The RECORD and an article in the Law Review deserves it.”

Fenno gave him a thumbs up.

Vino & Veritas: Too drunk to review



Here is a great piece of wine advice for novices: Join a wine club. Both of the wines this week came from my membership in’s “Wines of the World” club, which delivers two bottles of wine from a different region monthly. I recommend this club for several reasons. First, it is cheap (only $40 per month). Second, you get to sample decent wines from a variety of regions. And third, wine clubs provide a tasting cheat-sheet for each wine which contains invaluable information about the region, winery and wine attributes. A broad range of such clubs ship to Massachusetts.

A quick diversion. We had a marvelous tasting session this week, in the august company of our fellow columnist and AWP (again, Accomplished Wine Person) Josh Solomon; the food and wine editor, Justin Osofsky; and Noam Chomsky fan and progressive guy, Cliff Ginn (who saw no irony in commenting upon someone else’s “revisionist history” — we all got a chuckle).

Now for the wines, both from Sonoma County, California. One was a zinfandel, the other a chardonnay. A quick warning to wine novices: Zinfandel is NOT the same thing as white zinfandel. White zinfandel is an abomination. Real zinfandel is a beautiful thing: robust, peppery and sassy, much like Selma Hayek (a nod to Mike).

Rancho Zabaco 1999 Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel — We love Rancho Zabaco. In the under $20 range, they are nearly impossible to beat. While I recommend and prefer their 1999 Heritage Vine Zinfandel (also of Sonoma), this too is a nice zin. It is plenty peppery and full-bodied, with nice tannins but medium astringency. Though it has a little more oak than I like in a zin, the blackberry and boysenberry make up for it.

Kunde 2000 Chardonnay — Ugh. Josh noted a chemical taste as the wine first hit the palette, followed by a bitterness that lingered. I found it had a metallic taste — aluminum, I think. It also had some pleasant apricot and light oak, but on the whole, a chardonnay to avoid.


Here’s another great piece of advice: Take notes when tasting wines for a wine column. Whenever you settle into yuppiedom and take your trips to wineries in Napa and Sonoma, they will provide buckets or spittoons because you are NOT supposed to become drunk during a wine tasting. Unless of course, you meant “for karaoke night” when you invited your friends over “for drinks.”

Since I don’t remember how the wine tasted, let’s talk about a pet peeve of mine: the “quarter of” expression to tell time. A purely hypothetical example of this expression is when a summer associate with a last name no one can pronounce at a large New York law firm finishes a research assignment on bankruptcy law, walks up to the partner’s office on the 29th floor to convey his work, and the busy partner asks the summer associate to return at “a quarter of noon.” Why do people use this expression!? When I, err … the summer associate, showed up at the partner’s office at 12:15 instead of 11:45, the partner was gone for the day and I had to explain how amazingly, I have gone through twenty-three years of existence without ever encountering this expression.

Think this through. Am I wrong in suggesting that the natural understanding of the expression is the “quarter” of the hour being mentioned!? And, if you have to denote time by the relation to an hour, what is wrong with “quarter to” instead?

Rancho Zabaco 1999 Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel — I can actually comment on Rancho Zabaco meaningfully as I have enjoyed it on several different occasions. Borrow a page from the Coates groupies (you know who you are) who are taking three classes with the same professor. Rancho Zabaco does zin very well and puts out three different ones – all worthwhile.

Kunde 2000 Chardonnay — At this point, all I remember is agreeing to marry my friend if we were still single at a certain age. I offered 24. She counteroffered 45. I accepted. Hopefully, Leigh Steinberg can also renegotiate this one.

Don’t call it “Rock”tober


While I can’t take myself seriously using the word “Rocktober,” it should suffice to say that this particular month is one of the key periods in the touring calendar for most bands and that this year is no exception. Yes, you may have “interviews” (none of which, I assume, take place on Saturday nights) and yes you may have “memos to write,” but here are a month full of reasons to take off the suits and drop the books for at least one night on the town:

October 4: Bruce Springsteen & the E. Street Band (Fleet Center) — Hard to know how to bill one of the foremost musical voices in America. Aside from the fact that his latest album The Rising probably represents the nation’s best artistic attempt to come to grips with the tragedy of 9/11, Bruce has always been rock’s foremost big-tent revivalist, with his three-hour shows taking the most painful ambiguities of American life and politics and making you want to dance to them. In this time when so much healing is needed, one can be forgiven for thinking that Bruce is part of the answer.

October 6: Nelly (Tweeter Center) — Okay, so “Hot in Here” is on the radio approximately every 18 seconds, but the thought of shaking your booty to it at a place other than the Kong may be reason enough to take the trek to the Tweeter. Those less interested in persistent booty-shaking with the high school crowd should check out the classic Britpop of the Chameleons UK at the Middle East.

October 7: Tribute to Timothy White featuring Sting, Don Henley, James Taylor, Sheryl Crow, Billy Joel, John Mellencamp and Roger Waters (Fleet Center) — Yes, you are reading this right, and don’t ask me why you haven’t heard about this yet. A celebrity tribute to one of rock’s most important journalists, with benefits going to his family, this concert may be the biggest assemblage of talent Boston has seen in some time. Raw baby-boomer-oriented adult contemporary?

Undoubtedly, but when was the last time you saw members of the Eagles, the Police, and Pink Floyd on the same stage? Oh, and James Taylor and Billy Joel aren’t so bad, either….

October 8: Ryan Adams (Orpheum) — An oft-talked about up-and-comer (in these pages and others), Adams has kept a lower profile of late — his newest album of outtakes, Demolition, came out last week to muffled fanfare. This tour promises to be a more intimate and less bombastic affair than his previous rock revues.

October 9: Gov’t Mule (Orpheum) — Probably the best jam band still in existence, Gov’t Mule is now more than just a vehicle for Warren Haynes’ dazzling Southern guitar workouts — it’s a virtual institution. With Widespread Panic in mourning for Michael Houser and the Allman Brothers aging fast, expect Haynes and company to carry the flag for those for whom tie-dye and cowboy hats were never a contradiction.

October 10: Joshua Redman/John Scofield (Orpheum) — Two of modern jazz’s premier artists pair up for an all-too-rare night of top-flight jazz. A tenor saxophone player in the mold of Gene Ammons, former Harvard undergrad (and almost Yale law student) Joshua Redman is now more likely to haunt the legendary jazz clubs of downtown NYC. Scofield, meanwhile, is one of the foremost modern jazz guitarists, and also has a connection with Boston, having studied at Berklee. A triumphant homecoming, indeed.

October 14: Sleater-Kinney (the Roxy) — Okay, so I guess I’m supposed to call them “riot grrrls” and make some sort of limp “girl power” comment. Frankly, though, I’ve always thought Sleater-Kinney deserved a little more dimension than that label could ever provide. You see, unlike Bikini Kill, Huggy Bear, or others of similar political stripe, Sleater-Kinney’s anger always seems to result in a wash of beautiful ambient guitar din and complex vocal harmonies in a way that is more reminiscent of Sonic Youth than Bratmobile. Their new release One Beat is a case in point, and undoubtedly their show at the Roxy will provide the uninitiated (even guys) a chance to hear them at the top of their craft.

October 15: Stone Temple Pilots, Staind, Static-X, Linkin Park et. al (Orpheum) — With Weiland apparently sober at the moment and back on the road for the first time in quite a while, STP sits curiously atop a bill of faceless MTV fashion-rock drones, the best of which is Linkin Park. Aside from pondering to reflect why the top grossing rock band of 2000 (no joke — Linkin Park was the biggest album seller of 2000) is midway in the midst of a bill of also-rans, it is also interesting to note that drug-addled chaos and all, STP remains a defiant survivor of rock’s last big revolution long after many of the bands that it followed, and occasionally copied, have burnt out or faded away.

October 17: Apples in Stereo/Clinic (Roxy) or Supersuckers (Middle East) or Kim Richey (House of Blues) — Variety night on the Boston club scene. People who like their indie rock smart and poppy would do well to check out the Apples in Stereo, replete with the scrub-garbed Clinic in tow. Those looking for more of a scummy Guns N’ Roses-meets-Lynyrd Skynyrd sound should check out Seattle’s Supersuckers. Closer to home, Kim Richey brings her acoustic guitar, angelic voice, and pathos-laden ballads to the House of Blues.

October 18: Billy Bragg (Somerville Theater) — Perhaps best known in the States for his Mermaid Avenue albums with Wilco (and Natalie Merchant), Bragg is, like Paul Weller, known to English music fans as the poetic rebel voice of a generation. Usually armed only with an electric guitar and a lot of European leftie idealism, Bragg’s music has documented the social ills and discontents of English society and the wears and tears of boyish love with equal depth and fervor. Love, politics, poetry, humor and a huge Cockney accent to round out the bill — not a bad night, if you ask me.

October 19: Wilco (Orpheum) — Still touring on the glorious collage that is Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, and fresh in the wake of their silver screen debut in I Am Trying to Break Your Heart — a film about their trials and tribulations in making said album — Wilco returns to Boston with nothing in particular to prove and a nice big room to fill with the faithful.

October 20: Mooney Suzuki, Sahara Hotnights, Apollo Sunshine (Middle East) — Mooney Suzuki are one of the New York garage band scene’s most incendiary acts. Sahara Hotnights are four punky Swedish girls who play blistering rock (Donnas anyone?), and Apollo Sunshine are poppy local rockers. Bring earplugs.

October 21: Elvis Costello/NRBQ (Orpheum) — Still on the road with his recent return-to-classic-form rocker When I Was Cruel, these days Elvis and the Imposters are winning converts, playing rarities, and taking names. And they’re all out of bubblegum…. Perennial and somewhat ancient good time rockers NRBQ open.

October 22: Badly Drawn Boy (Avalon) — Like Beck, Badly Drawn Boy had the experience of having the critical press in the UK fall all over themselves naming him the next big thing and, like Beck, he has thus far weathered the praise with amazing aplomb. His most recent work, the soundtrack to the Nick Hornby-adaptation About A Boy, was, excusing the obvious pun, a self-effacing affair, elegant in its subtlety. Expect something of the same mix of taste and genius in this rare Stateside appearance.

October 25: Violent Femmes (Avalon) — When I’m-a-walkin’-I-strut-my-stuff….do-do-do-do-do-do-do-do
-do-do-do-do-dododo-do (bang bang, bang bang)…. ‘Nuff said.

October 28: Beck, Flaming Lips (Orpheum) or Rush (FleetCenter) — With Beck’s brilliant new album challenging listeners everywhere, and the Flaming Lips quickly rising into their status as rock’s favorite surrealists, this gig at the Orpheum promises to be one of the true treats of the year. Those less interested in acoustic musings proceeded by a symphony of bleeps, blurps and tape-delayed whines, however, might prefer to see the mighty Rush back on tour at the FleetCenter for a night of drums, power anthems, drums, and high-pitched Geddy Lee whines.

October 29: Calexico/Black Heart Procession (Paradise) — If you’re into atmospheric, eclectic, consistently rich indie rock, it’s hard not to like Calexico. When they’re on a bill in a small room with the dirgy, panoramic, ethereal Black Heart Procession, that should pretty much seal the deal. Find a friend who did college radio or something and give it a shot.

October 31: Wow…Halloween has become such a huge concert night, and this year in Boston you have a variety of choices. You could throw on your scariest black pants and make the pilgrimage to see one of the world’s best trance DJ’s Paul Van Dyk at the Avalon. You could also go local, dress as Nomar, and check out Lou Barlow (of Sebadoh and later Folk Implosion) at the Middle East Upstairs. Or, of course, you could also dress as a rhinestone-encrusted Elvis imitator and go see rockabilly’s own high priest the Reverend Horton Heat at the Middle East Downstairs. My pick, though? Alice Cooper. Hands down. It’s Halloween. It’s Alice Cooper. Put on Kiss makeup or something and give in.

RECORD Editorial: Keeping perspective during OCI


Like the Red Sox choking at the end of a season, the early October reappearance of HLS students in suits is one of those regular events that nonetheless always merits some comment.

Brand-new 2Ls, fresh off a 1L year that, as the previous year’s 2Ls told them, wasn’t as bad as they thought it would be, find themselves attacking the OCI process with the same agitated, often misguided fervor they threw into their first 1L semesters.

Despite all the advice to the contrary, students still schedule scores of interviews they do not need. For the typical HLS student, getting a big law firm job seems to require little more than the ability to groom oneself, stand up straight and speak in complete sentences. A typical interview — consisting of little more than open-ended questions about what type of work one likes or softball questions about one’s summer job — should hardly be the source of much stress. If anything, students should be comforted knowing that, despite the extremely soft job market, their chances of getting any job they want stand near 100 percent. Indeed, an HLS student complaining about her job woes ought to remind herself that she is one of the most privileged individuals in the world. The Office of Career Services has simplified the job search to essentially ordering from a menu, and the Law School’s reputation continues to attract as many employers as are able to afford the trip.

This year, 2Ls can take comfort in the fact that they do not face the challenge of applying for clerkships and law firm jobs at the same time. The judges responsible for getting the clerkship crush pushed back deserve students’ collective thanks.

The more difficult challenge of the OCI process, of course, is asking tougher, more fundamental questions about personal goals, expected lifestyles, ego and achievement.

Putting the hyperbole of both camps aside, the truth is that law firm careers are a fine choice for some people. Students whose personalities and goals are suited to law firm work should not be disparaged for choosing it, just as students who choose what they consider nobler routes also deserve respect for their decisions.

What is unfortunate, however, is that some students end up choosing the law firm life because it is easy to do so. OPIA, clerkships and other choices do not have the luxury of offering an OCI-like process. But students claiming that the ease of OCI lures them away from other kinds of work do not deserve sympathy for their laziness. Getting public interest jobs is certainly not impossible, and is made easier by a dedicated (but overworked) staff, and LIPP can compensate for some financial difficulties.

What is more difficult for many students to resist, it seems, is the lure of wanting what others want. Students arrive here with myriad goals, dreams and ideas, yet by the end of 1L year, find themselves reciting the names of law firms as if they were sports teams. Part of the problem is the competitive nature of law school in general. Part of it, no doubt, is the general lure of materialism. And though some would argue that HLS is at fault for making OCI the powerful force it is, few would argue that OCI should be eliminated. Rather, HLS should continue to try to find ways to encourage students to pursue their dreams irrespective of the OCI process.

And for their part, students should try to look back to the beginning of 1L year, before $125,000 salaries and hours spent with aggressive classmates clouded their vision, and remember why they’re here.

So instead of whining about the difficulty of very easy OCI interviews, or lamenting a lack of options, students should remember that they are among the luckiest people alive, with the most options possible. If that look back reminds you that you never planned to spend your life in a pinstripe suit, remember that your history is short, life long, and your opportunities limitless. It is your job to make the most of them.

Letters: Defending OPIA, clarifying torture, and HLS parents


OPIA Director defends Associate Director hiring process

I am writing to address a major error in your article and related editorial about OPIA’s staffing. The article makes it sound as though 1Ls will face waits as bad as or worse than last year. This is not true.

As I told the author of the article, I had already taken steps to try to avoid the waits of last year. We have hired additional part time staff to ensure that 1Ls will have quick access to public interest advising appointments. It is true that our hiring process for the Assistant Director has taken a long time because we want to be sure we select the right candidate; but it should not mean 1Ls will have trouble getting advising appointments with our office.

This past summer, I hired two new part-time attorney advisers for our “peak” season which starts after November 1. In fact, the eight attorney advisers your author refers to in the article include these two additional attorney advisers. Just yesterday, after learning that there would be additional office space available to OPIA so that I would have space to accommodate new people, I hired a third new part-time adviser. I have taken these steps even though it means more management and oversight for me and more logistical considerations for the rest of our staff (since everyone part-time must share offices, calendars, etc.), just so that first year students will be able to have as easy access as possible to public interest advising. We are even arranging for some of the advising to be done in the evenings to provide a broader array of options.

Because of the boom nature of career advising for 1Ls (there tends to be a mad rush after November 1st), additional part-time advisers would have been necessary even if we had hired an Assistant Director already. One new person – especially one who would have to devote some time to the other work of our office such as running events – would not be able to provide enough advising slots to accommodate the increased demand for public interest advising. Therefore, I staffed up for this period, even if we are able to bring an Assistant Director on board by November 1. While I cannot predict the amount of student demand this year, I think you do a great disservice to 1L anxiety by not accurately noting the steps we have taken this year to provide increased advising opportunities to 1Ls.

I do want to also note that even last year, despite some resource constraints, we added advising and events to meet the increased demand for public interest advising. I had already added one more part time adviser last year. We had additional group job search strategy sessions. For the first time, we even held one job search session in the Spring for to reach those who wanted but did not get a law firm job. One-Ls and 2Ls were very successful in landing public interest jobs – over 300 HLS students worked a full summer of public interest work this past year, an HLS record.

Finally, I want to assure you that we are not “dallying”. No one could possibly want this new hire as much as me. We’ve moved as fast as we could with the hiring process while simultaneously trying to run programs, publish books and advise 2Ls, 3Ls and alums with the existing staff. We hope to have the Assistant Director in place soon but – as everyone has advised me – we do not want to compromise just to have a live body in place. I am trying hard to balance the immediate needs of this year’s class against the long term need of the school to have the right person in the Assistant Director position.

I hope that you will correct The RECORD and tell the 1Ls that they do not have to worry: I have worked to make sure that we have sufficient advisers in place for 1L advising season.

– Alexa ShabecoffDirector, OPIA

Students defend OPIA director

Last week’s paper unfairly criticized the Office of Public Interest Advising. The language of the article detailing OPIA’s search for an Associate Director, the tone of the editorial and the inclusion of an ill-informed op-ed piece on OPIA’s attitude about corporate culture reveal a perplexing hostility towards one of the most beloved administrative offices on campus.

Anyone who has had contact with OPIA knows how deeply Director Alexa Shabecoff and her staff care about students. Despite cramped quarters and limited resources, the OPIA staff bends over backwards to offer unparalleled advising services. On a consistent basis, the staff members of OPIA have demonstrated commitment and dedication to students on not only a professional but also a highly personal level. OPIA staff members stay late, sacrificing time with their families, to hold special advising sessions and host public interest events and panels. They open their homes to students for public interest potlucks.

To characterize Alexa’s actions in searching for an Associate Director as “dallying” is counterintuitive. Why, after fighting so hard to get the funding for this much-needed position, would she simply drag her feet to be picky at the expense of the students to whom she is so dedicated? The difficulty in finding an Associate Director who can best serve students’ needs should not be so flippantly dismissed. Most students would gladly wait for the right candidate to come along rather than have a warm, barely-adequate body filling the position.

In addition, Adam White’s op-ed characterizing OPIA’s attitude toward firms is as antagonistic as it is inaccurate. OPIA gives candid and supportive advice to students interested in trying out a firm and has a nuanced understanding of how to integrate private sector and public interest work. It helps coordinate the Pro Bono Panel, and has authored a leading Pro Bono Guide. The staff at OPIA knows that career choices are difficult and personal. To suggest that the office’s ethos simply polarizes careers into public good and private evil is absurd.

We hope that in the future, the Record will strive to more accurately characterize this invaluable and vital resource at Harvard Law School.

– Adam Stofsky, 2L

Justice for janitors


On Monday evening, janitors from the Service Employees International Union’s Local 254 went on strike, in what may ultimately be the largest labor strike in Boston’s history. The janitors are asking for full-time work, health insurance, and what would essentially be a living wage. Currently, only three out of four Boston janitors have health insurance and most are only given part-time jobs, making $39 in a four-hour shift. These janitors must work two or three jobs to survive, and cannot spend meaningful time with their families. Because a doctor’s visit costs $79 — two days’ pay — workers often must choose between food and medical care.

For now, the strike is targeting UNICCO, which employs roughly 5,000 area janitors and holds contracts to clean 27 percent of all office space cleaned in Boston. UNICCO did propose increasing wages to roughly $12 an hour over the next four years (safely under a living wage), but refused to expand full-time employment opportunities or health-care coverage. UNICCO argues that the wage increase constitutes a substantial improvement over what exists. However, even with this increase, Boston will lag far behind many of the nation’s cities, despite being one of the most expensive cities in which to live. Furthermore, the janitors’ current pay rate hardly constitutes a reasonable baseline — UNICCO kept wages low by capitalizing on union corruption. Local 254 was actually taken into receivership recently because its leadership had deliberately failed to represent its members’ interests.

The Boston community is rallying to the janitors’ cause. Senators Kennedy and Kerry have spoken out in support of the workers’ demands, as have gubernatorial candidates Jill Stein and Shannon O’Brien, Boston’s City Council and Mayor Menino, religious organizations, immigration advocates, progressive groups and thousands of citizens who are contributing to a fund to support the janitors. Boston-area workers will honor the strike, and the employee pension funds in New York and California have agreed to support the janitors.

The affected building owners are also calling on UNICCO to make a better offer, although they have not yet offered to cut their own profits (the Boston real estate industry pulls in $4.8 billion in rents annually) in order to fund such an offer.

As is so often the case in union struggles, UNICCO is resorting to illegal tactics to strengthen its position. Workers have been sent home or even fired for wearing union buttons. In the months leading up to the strike, active union members were singled out for harassment and intimidation, a violation of both federal and international law.

However, UNICCO certainly has grounds for believing that the federal government will look the other way. Non-enforcement of the nation’s labor laws has been the norm in both Republican and Democratic administrations, and during the Reagan administration, the rate of unlawful firings in representation elections rose from eight percent to 33 percent. Employers have always closed factories after successful organizing drives, but the rate at which they do so tripled in the wake of the North American Free Trade Agreement’s passage. The February 1997 Economic Report of the President, which touted the Clinton administration’s economic achievements, noted that “the changes in labor market institutions and practices” contributed to the “significant wage restraint” that played such an important role in the economic growth that took place in the 1990s. Since 1985, U.S. labor costs have fallen to the lowest in the industrial world, after the U.K.

At the national and international level, leaders are doing everything they can to load the dice against the working poor. It is clear that these leaders care little about creating a free market, if such a thing could even exist. Free trade rules are applied selectively: What can a poor nation do when U.S. farm subsidies destroy its agricultural industry? How a market operates, and who wins and loses, are dictated by background rules that are neither natural nor fair. It is easy to see how a confrontation between a multinational behemoth with freedom to move operations and capital where it wishes and a worker with few alternatives is likely to end.

However, Local 254 and their community supporters are demonstrating that Americans retain their basic values. There are still people who believe that all human beings are entitled to live with dignity, and that workers should be able to earn enough to feed, clothe, house and educate their children, and provide them with essential medical care. Even if the rules governing our market were neutral or fair, Americans understand that there still would be no logical relationship between the price the market is willing to pay for a janitor’s services and the amount a janitor needs to live with dignity.

Missing dessert: Women at HLS


Last Friday, my female housemates commandeered my apartment and cast me into the streets. I was not permitted to attend the women’s dessert party they were hosting. At first I wanted to stay, but eventually they convinced me that the party would in fact not include a bevy of young ladies in skimpy negligees engaged in a pillow fight, so I agreed to make myself scarce.

I have come to agree with their reasoning. Women need time to bond away from the influence of men. This holds especially true at Harvard Law School, where femininity seems under constant assault.

Women are no longer bound by the close confines of traditional gender roles. For several decades, a woman has been able to pursue a career, to choose to enter any field and aim for the top. This is a good thing. Arbitrary restrictions on thought and opportunity based on gender are the hallmark of repressive regimes. Women are not bound by strict rules anymore, and are free to be as like or unlike traditional ideals of femininity as they want to be. This means, incidentally, that those who believe that womanhood is defined as much by a commitment to abortion and Democrats as by biology are just as odious as the barefoot and pregnant sect.

Despite the freedom to act however they want, many women choose to remain feminine. If you look at the average woman’s dorm room, for instance, you’ll find more frills, more stuffed animals, different DVDs and CDs than you’d find in the average man’s room. Nobody forces women to like romantic comedies, but a lot of women do.

The problem is that the Law School does not appreciate a good John Hughes movie. There is a lot of pressure here on women, and it comes in two flavors. The first is a pressure for women to act like men; the second is an institutional reluctance to embrace (not literally) women at the law school.

Women in law are expected to embrace the core idiocies of masculinity, things like working too hard and not caring about the kids. I know there was a protracted struggle for the right to work at top jobs, but just because you have the opportunity to work 100 hours a week doesn’t mean you should. If your one burning passion is corporate law, then go for it, but a lot of people here are herded by a system of incentives along the path of least resistance to end up at certain jobs without considering whether that’s what they want. The big firm culture is not one that appreciates maternalism. Many women are inclined to be maternal and less inclined to be ruthless; the conflict between their assumed identity as vicious litigators (or tax lawyers, or appellate lawyers, or whatever) and their inclination to be decent people creates a lot of stress.

Kids add to that stress. In most cultures it’s been mandatory for women to undertake primary responsibility for childrearing. Today we do not force such duties on anybody — not having children has become an acceptable life choice, as has contracting out care. However, around HLS, things have moved beyond having a choice. Any woman here willing to sacrifice career advancement to spend time with her family seems to be treated like a sellout to the patriarchy. Women should not be forced to stay at home, but if a woman wants to, her choice should be respected. We ought to wholeheartedly support parents taking more time for the kids: Real commitment to children (in practice, not just policy) is something elite America is sorely lacking.

As if women here don’t have enough problems trying to lead a normal life against the pressure to be a super-masculine corporate gunner, they get treated like second-class students around the Law School. There are plenty of professors complicit in this who subtly patronize women in the classroom. This behavior is almost certainly not intentional, but it’s there nevertheless. The recent Law Review competition results should also give us pause — graded blindly, exams written by women tended to fare poorly. Does this mean that scholarship from a feminine point of view is not taken seriously? Do the subtle differences between male and female thinking doom female analysis to second place? The outcome of the competition is troubling at an already troubled law school.

Given all the pressures on women at the law school, the existence of an occasional safe haven where women can stop being measured and simply be themselves is a good thing. Next time my roommates want to have a women’s dessert party at my place, I won’t even think about it. I’ll just say, “Let them eat cake.”

Entertainment law journal nixed


The dark basement of Hastings is home to many journals, but a journal on entertainment won´t be one of them.

Students’ hopes to bring the Law School a journal focused on sports and entertainment law were dashed last week. In a September 24 e-mail, the Journals Committee informed the petitioners for the new journal that the resources required to house and staff another publication are not available. The administration also claimed to be bound by a 1981 moratorium on adding new journals, though several journals have been added since then.

The Committee for Sports and Entertainment Law launched the initiative for the Harvard Journal of Sports and Entertainment Law early last year with the support of Prof. Paul Weiler. CSEL submitted its proposal to the Journals Committee last Spring and hoped to get approval in time to publish the inaugural issue next Fall. It now appears they will have to wait much longer.

In its rejection letter, the Journals Committee wrote that it did not review the substance of the proposal, but rather based its decision on the already-limited resources available for existing publications. The Journals Committee cited a lack of space, not enough full-time publications staff and a “responsibility to see that the journals published at the School reflect well on Harvard.” The letter also explained that in the past, editors-in-chief of smaller, existing journals have worried about the effect the addition of another journal to the Harvard roster would have on student recruitment efforts.

Students involved in the petitioning process expressed concern about the current journal certification process. “It’s something the students want, and it seems unfair that they would reject it without even considering its substance,” said 2L Marina Bonanni, who chairs the CSEL Journals Committee and helped write the petition. “They claim they don’t have the staff or room, but we’re not asking for any of that.”

CSEL’s petition says the journal’s finances were to be modeled on the Journal of Law and Technology – designed to be self-supporting, with funding to come from law firms, practitioners and alumni/ae involved in sports and entertainment. The petition asks the Law School, however, to provide JSEL with space to operate as well as basic office furniture and technology. Since submitting the petition, students involved in the effort to bring the journal to campus have said all they really want from the school is Harvard’s name.

When asked whether a firm policy exists as to whether new journals could be added to those already publishing under the HLS name, head of the Journals Committee Prof. Harry Martin explained that a moratorium was placed on additional journals in 1981, but added that, “we have added three or four journals since then.” According to Martin, the Committee approved those journals because they were “unsupported,” meaning that they did not receive funding or operating space from the Law School. They were, however, allowed to use the Harvard name and recruit law students to staff them. The committee later decided to end the practice of “unsupported” journals, and funding was offered to all existing journals – although some declined to accept.

Martin says conditions will have to change before any new journals can be approved, at which time the Journals Committee would decide exactly how many journals HLS can handle. The subject still seems open for debate, however, if a journal more to the Journals Committee’s liking is proposed.

When elaborating on whether or not a firm policy against new journals exists, Martin said: “If somebody were to propose something like Duke’s Journal of Law and Contemporary Problems, that might be something the committee is interested in. Specialty journals don’t offer the same appeal.”

With or without Allston, HLS plans construction


The Everett Street parking lot could be the next HLS building to fall in the name of improvement.

Whether the Law School is headed to Allston or not, it is about to solidify plans for new building projects at the campus here in Cambridge. According to Director of Communications Michael Armini, the Law School is looking to build in the North Yard area as a short-term solution to serve multiple purposes, even if the planned move to Allston goes through relatively soon.

During the Law School’s Strategic Planning Process, which commenced in the fall of 1998 and concluded with a report in December of 2000, the faculty and administration “identified a number of space needs for the school,” according to Prof. Daniel Meltzer, a member of the committee overseeing the possibilities for development in the North Yard.

With the help of Polshek Partners, a professional planning firm that studied the Law School operations and facilities, it was concluded that the Law School would need “over 100,000 additional square feet just to do what it does today adequately,” Armini said.

In addition, some of the new programs adopted under the Strategic Planning Process added further space needs to the existing ones. For example, the Law School’s goal of hiring between ten to fifteen more professors over the next few years will require more office space, as will an increased number of foreign scholars and the new Pro Bono program. Meltzer also described the need for more classrooms, staff offices, space for student organizations and athletic facilities.

In response to the question of why such a project would be undertaken if the Law School is planning an eventual move to Allston anyway, Armini conceded that the Allston move is “at least a decade off and probably more than that.”

In addition, the final decision about the Allston move has not yet been made, nor will it be for at least a year. “This is really independent of all that,” Armini said. “We’ve got to figure out what our options are right away.”

Furthermore, even if the Law School does end up vacating its Cambridge location, Armini noted, “anything the Law School developed could be used by the rest of the University if needed.”

“The Cambridge side of Harvard University is pressed for space,” he added. “Cambridge is not a particularly hospitable environment for new building projects.”

Meltzer added that the Law School would be “unwise to put everything on hold” or waste time “treading water” while there are important issues to be addressed now.

Dean for Administration Julie Englund heads the new committee, which will focus on the feasibility of development in the North Yard area of the campus. “We’re involved in an iterative process to give some more precise estimates as to the square footage needed,” Meltzer said.

An important element of the process entails discussing community concerns about the project with the Law School’s neighbors. Meltzer said the range of sites under consideration for development include the Everett Street garage, Wyeth Dormitory, the frame house at 23 Everett Street, the surface parking space at North Hall, and the building that currently houses Three Aces Pizza.

Meltzer underlined that in the event that the Three Aces building were to be used, “we would work with neighbors to preserve retail businesses,” speculating that the space in front of North could eventually become store fronts.

“These are ongoing discussions,” Meltzer said. “The garage is an eyesore. Wyeth is an eyesore…. They wall off the Law School campus.”

He suggested that the committee envisions “an academic quadrangle of much more attractive buildings,” which would meet the space requirements raised in the Strategic Plan. The dormitory space lost from Wyeth would be compensated for in the new buildings. Meltzer added that such a quadrangle, similar to those of Harvard College, would be more inviting for neighboring residents to walk through.

The committee is currently in the process of interviewing architects, and a decision should be made some time in November. According to Meltzer, the financial resources for the project will be raised through a broader Law School fund drive, although at this point the committee does not have a clear idea of what amount will be budgeted.

Although Meltzer said the committee is trying to move as quickly as it can, factors such as building and engineering requirements, as well as the process for community approval, prevent them from setting a fixed date for breaking ground.

Armini reiterated that this process will take some time, although he hopes the development will be able to address the short term needs of the Law School over the next five to 10 years.

1L Experience: Thanks for the advice!


A room full of 1Ls, and the conversation is fairly predictable. Six basic questions. “What’s your name?” “What section are you in?” “Where are you from?” “Where’d you go to school?” “How long ago did you graduate?” and “Which of the twenty-five pre-approved corporate law firms do you one day hope to work for?”

Okay, maybe not the last question. But it’s probably coming soon. Put a 2L or a 3L in the room, however, and the conversation changes. Invariably, within forty-five seconds, the upperclassman is holding court, being pelted with questions about which brand of highlighter lasts the longest, and urged to share his or her infinite wisdom with us eager first-years.

And, really, the advice is quite helpful:

“Brief the cases. Don’t brief the cases. Go to class. If you want. Your grades are very important. Your grades are completely random and unpredictable. Gilbert’s, Emanuel’s, nutshells, hornbooks, restatements, treatises, outlines, flash cards, review tapes, Bar-Bri classes, private tutors, rent-a-2L, bribe professors, crimes of passion, transfer to Thomas Cooley Law School and Tackle Shop, the answer is always ‘C,’ read Glannon’s book for civil procedure.”

Maybe the most confusing advice I’ve gotten is regarding study groups. I’ve heard everything from, “I had a study group first-year, and we met every day of the semester from midnight until 4 a.m. going over the day’s reading and taking sample exams. Except we took one day off for Thanksgiving. And did a conference call instead,” to, “At about 11:00 the night before my first exam, I ran into this guy at the 7-11 in Harvard Square. He looked familiar, but I’m not sure if he was in my section or just a panhandler. I asked him if he understood section 2-718 of the Uniform Commercial Code and he shook his head. That was pretty much my only time trying a study group.”

I think I was most disturbed by a piece of advice I got from a particularly hard-core upperclassman. “Just remember,” he said. “You’re not here to make friends. You’re here to get a job.” I have two issues with that statement. The first is that I’m not “here to get a job.” Just the reverse: I’m here NOT to get a job! If I really wanted to get a job, I wouldn’t be here. I’d have a job. I’m here to hide from that, at least for three more years.

My second concern is about the not-making-friends part. Unless the job you’re here to get is kicking babies and tripping the elderly (and since it’s not corporate, that counts as public interest work, right?) I don’t see why you can’t be here to make friends, too. I can’t think of a more dismal outcome from three years here than to leave and not have made a corporate jet-load of friends. Actually, that’s not totally true. I can think of three more dismal outcomes: flunking out, felony-murder, and interest rates on student loans rising to 400 percent compounded daily. But not having any friends is certainly close to the top of the list.

Worst of all about getting advice from 2Ls and 3Ls is that they never tell you how well their strategies worked. You never hear, “Don’t brief your cases. I didn’t! And now I work at Au Bon Pain.” Or, “You don’t need to make your own outlines. I used ones I found on the ground in front of CVS. I’m gonna be a summer associate at the Hark.”

I gave myself some advice the other day about listening to other people’s advice. I’ll nod, and smile, and occasionally say “uh huh,” or “sure,” or “replevin,” but I’m not really listening. Instead, I’m collecting cans for the five-cent deposit so I can earn enough money to buy every hornbook in the Coop. Because the guy in 7-11 said that was a good idea.