1L Experience: Join my organization!

BY JEREMY BLACHMAN

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

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

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

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

The speeches all sounded kind of like this:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BY GREG LIPPER

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BY

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

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

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

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

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

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

– Austin W. Bramwell, 3L

Law firm contests rollback allegations

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

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

– Daryl J. Lapp
Hiring Partner
Palmer & Dodge LLP

RECORD Editorial: Students should demand more of OCS and OPIA

BY

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bang-Up Sisters

BY TRACY CONN

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

Attack of the invisible insects!

BY AMANDA GOAD

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Boston Playwrights’ Theater

949 Commonwealth Ave.

Boston, MA 02215

617-358-PLAY

http://www.bu.edu/bpt

The new ‘queens’ of metal

BY JEFF LEVEN

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bistro of bliss

BY ALEX SUNDSTROM

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[Photos by Erin Bernstein/RECORD.]

Vino & Veritas: Champagne!

BY JOSH SOLOMON

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Perrier Jou

Fenno

BY

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

HLS allows military to use OCI

BY MIKE WISER

Responding to a threat by the federal government to withhold $328 million in funds from Harvard University, Dean Robert Clark decided in late August to allow military recruiters to participate in the on campus recruiting process. Clark’s decision reversed a policy that had prevented JAG recruiters from using the Office of Career Services (OCS), because the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, which prohibits individuals who are openly gay from joining the military, prevented the military from signing the Law School’s non-discrimination pledge.

U-Turn

Dean Clark’s reversal came after a letter from the Air Force in late May said that the Air Force believed the Law School was violating the provisions of the 1996 Solomon Amendment by not allowing military recruiters to participate in on campus interviewing. Under the provisions of the Amendment, all federal funding to a university could be withheld unless “the degree of access by military recruiters is at least equal in quality and scope to that afforded to other employers.” For Harvard University, almost 16 percent of its annual operating budget could be withheld.

While allowing the military to visit the school to recruit at the invitation of the student HLS Veterans Association (HLSVA) had satisfied military recruiters in the past, an Air Force inquiry that began in December of 2001 determined that the Law School was not in compliance with the Solomon Amendment.

With hundreds of millions of dollars in the balance, Clark decided to allow recruiters to use OCS resources and to recruit through its interview process.

“I think the difference is more symbolic than anything else, because the reality was they were recruiting here and recruiting effectively on campus for the last several years,” Assistant Dean for Career Services Mark Weber told the RECORD.

Jason Watkins, president of the HLSVA, also agreed that the change probably would not make much difference for military recruiters. Watkins, who said he was “a results oriented person,” told the RECORD, “I’m not sure how much there is to be gained from official or publicized changes in policy.”

A Difficult Decision

Whether or not the change will make it easier for military recruiters, Weber said that the school’s decision came only after months of agonizing about how to respond. During that process administrators consulted members of Lambda (the gay and lesbian student group) as well as students on the placement committee for input. In the end, the administration finally decided that they would not win in a battle with the Air Force.

“I think we made a judgment that it would not be successful, given the current climate of support for the military. Also we had a sense that maybe that wasn’t the important thing to do. The more important goal is to try and bring about real change,” Clark said.

In an e-mail to students on August 26, Clark explained that, “Our decision to permit military recruiters access to the facilities and services of OCS does not reduce the Law School’s commitment to the goal of nondiscrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.”
“Dean Clark really had his back against the wall,” 2L Adam Teicholz, president of Lambda, told the RECORD. Teicholz said that Clark’s letter to the community showed that the school does not accept the military’s recruiting policy.

“The situation must be especially galling to [the] administration regardless of their moral stance, because the military is coming in and using money to force the school to change its rules, violating their prerogative to set HLS’s internal policies,” he said, “Their job now is to see how we can put those values back as part of school policy.”

What now?

Weber said the challenge now is to balance disapproval of the military policy against the danger that they will be perceived as discouraging students from joining the military.
“We all want the best and the brightest serving in the military,” Weber said. “And I can’t think of a better place to recruit them than at Harvard. I think that a good way to implement change is by getting people in the military who have different points of view who can effectuate change from the inside.”

Lambda’s Teicholz agreed with Weber, saying that they encouraged students interested in joining the JAG corps to go through the alternative interview process. “This is not about JAG; it’s about the Bush administration’s wielding its control of students’ educational opportunities to force Harvard to compromise its principles,” he said.

During an e-mail interview, Teicholz added, “Go enlist! Just do it in a way that doesn’t tell the Department of Defense that they can push us around to enforce their homophobia.”
Off campus, opinion makers have both praised and blasted the decision. “A public untutored in the nuances of the university’s thinking might get the impression that while Harvard’s elite graduates should make policy for the military, they just shouldn’t serve in it,” one Memphis paper wrote.

On campus, it is not yet clear how supporters and opponents of the military’s policy will react to the decision. Some students (including a columnist in today’s RECORD) have called for gay and lesbian students to try to book all JAG interview slots, while others have argued that doing so would only hurt students who are legitimately interested in joining the military. Teicholz said that Lambda had not yet decided how it would react.

Letters: Gun debates, Nesson, and divesting in Israel

BY

Target shooting club founder urges more gun debates

In a RECORD story last year, Daniel Swanson said he would like to have “a public discussion with the HLS Target Shooting Club.” I would like to have a public discussion with Daniel. That’s what the club is all about. In our first year, we’ve only had one speaker — John Lott, discussing his paper on multiple-victimpublic shootings — but more speakers and debates is always better. We are in full agreement. Daniel wants to discuss accidental shootings — sounds great. I look forward to having that debate, and would enjoy co-sponsoring firearms-related events with interested organizations of any political stripe (especially if they have a bigger budget than we do).But I part company with Daniel when he suggests that “publicly advancing the beliefs” that guns can be used as a “force for good,” as I did in a recent Economist article, is at odds with making a “balanced and constructive contribution” to the gun debate. One can advance the gun debate without everything having to be a debate.

Neither Daniel, nor I, nor the Target Shooting Club, need be neutral, apolitical observers. We’re lawyers. We work within an adversarial system.

Nor does advancing the debate require that we all embrace cost-benefit analysis and compromise. In fact, I suspect that Daniel himself isn’t a compromiser. He starts out calling for “balanced and constructive contribution[s]” to the gun debate and “balancing benefits against risks” — but then calls it “incontrovertible” that child shootings are“unacceptable” and that we should “ensure that those shootings cease.” This is not cost-benefit language — benefits of gun ownership are now noticeably absent. Nor do I demand that language of him. The best debate involves details and listening to the other side, but it also involves passionate commitments and principled positions, which I hope we both have. My rule of thumb: Argue what you believe, whether it’s moderate or hard-line.

Another rule of thumb: Have fun whenever possible, whether it’s “counter-cultural rebellion” or screening movies featuring “regular people using guns as a force for good.” Please attend our debates, but also come to our screening of Red Dawn. And, regardless of your views on gun control, come shooting with us. All are welcome.

— Sasha Volokh, 3L

Alum laments this semester’s lack of Nesson

I was distressed to read in the Washington Post that students at the Law School were to be denied the benefits of Professor Charles Nesson’s pedagogy for this semester. The reports did not make clear why that was so. My experience was that Professor Nesson’s courses were among the most stimulating and thought provoking, and therefore most valuable. I remember well his Constitutional Litigation Workshop seminar, which combined sound academics and real world practice considerations. I have carried what I learned there with me since, as a litigator and law teacher. I hope this hiatus is temporary.

— Mark Kreitman ‘75

Harvard should not divest its Israel investments

I was a member of Harvard’s Investment Advisory Committee and helped to draft Harvard’s policy on investments in South Africa. As you may recall, Harvard did not follow the path of other universities by divesting from South Africa. Instead, we decided to invest in companies that promoted equality of the races in South Africa, and I think that history has vindicated the approach that Harvard adopted.I recently received word that 39 Harvard professors have signed a petition for Harvard to divest from Israel. As with South Africa, I believe that boycotting investments would hurt the situation more than help it. I also believe that it would send the wrong message to the world about Harvard’s stance on terrorism.

Israelis believe that they are fighting for their survival and that their only tentative ally is the U.S. If the U.S. or U.S. companies withdraw their support from Israel, this will only increase Israel’s sense of isolation and desperation. The end result will be that Israelis will have less reason to hope for a peaceful settlement and more reason to turn to military solutions.

As for terrorism, Israel has lost more people on a proportional basis through terrorist bombings than the U.S. lost on 9/11. After the 9/11 attacks, the U.S. took the commendable position that terrorism was unacceptable under any circumstances and that anyone who supported terrorism was a terrorist. If Harvard now boycotts Israel for its response to terrorist attacks, it will be rewarding terrorists at the expense of their victims.
I, like many Americans and like many Jews, have mixed feelings about Ariel Sharon’s approach in the Middle East. However, I leave for work every morning without any fear that myself or loved ones will fall victim to a suicide bomber during the course of the day. If a neighbor of the U.S. were regularly sending suicide bombers into our country, I have no doubt that U.S. citizens would demand military action until they felt safe to walk the streets. Is it unfair for Israeli families to demand the same?

I, for one, do not know the best course of action to resolve the death spiral that we are experiencing in the Middle East. However, I do know that boycotting investments is the wrong choice for both pragmatic and ethical reasons. During difficult times in South Africa, Harvard demonstrated leadership by adopting a pragmatic and ethical investment strategy. Harvard once again has the opportunity to take a leadership position by not boycotting Israel. Please stand firm against terrorism and denounce the boycott of investments in Israel.

— Ethan Cohen, M.B.A. ‘91

Jag must go: Time for civil disobedience

BY LINDSAY HARRISON

The U.S. military ought to change its slogan. What it really means is: “Be all that you can be, unless you’re being gay.” After the military threatened the withdrawal of hundreds of millions of dollars in federal funding unless Harvard Law School permitted the military to interview through OCS, Dean Clark was forced to allow the employer on campus despite its formal policy of discrimination against gays and lesbians. Dean Clark did his part, writing a strongly worded letter in support of gay students and opposed to military discrimination. Students should now protest the military’s assault on Harvard Law School’s policy of non-discrimination by launching an assault of our own.

The military needs to learn that it cannot force our law school to act as a conveyer belt for the military’s own homophobia. The best way we can teach the military this lesson is by filling every interview slot with gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered students. This strategy can best accomplish the twin goals of protesting the miltiary’s policy of discrimination and persuading the military not to engage in strong-arm tactics to advance discriminatory ends.

First, by filling each slot with individuals that are qualified but for their sexual orientation, we can demonstrate to the military that discrimination against gay and lesbian students is only causing the military harm. Imagine the interviewer’s response to the plethora of otherwise qualified candidates: “Well, you have great grades and you’re on the law review, but I see here that you are a homosexual.” While the exclusion of gay men and lesbians from combat is, in my opinion, irrational, the exclusion of gay men and lesbians from JAG is plain absurd. By marching in intelligent, capable, gay individuals, one after another, we can demonstrate to the military that they are losing out by engaging in discrimination.

Second, by filling each interview slot with gay and lesbian students, we can persuade the military to go away. Imagine hours and hours of wasted time spent interviewing otherwise qualified candidates. The recruiters sent to interview on campus will quickly realize that doing interviewing through OCS will not help fill their quotas for new recruits, and they will leave.

Opponents of this strategy argue that filling up all the interview slots with gay and lesbian students is unfair to students who really wish to become part of JAG. First, this argument ignores the possibility that gay and lesbian students really wish to sign up. Unfortunately, joining the armed forces is not an option for these students, but that does not mean that they should be deprived the opportunity to interview. Second, this argument ignores the ease with which anyone in this country may contact a military recruiter. Army JAG, Navy JAG, and Air Force JAG each has a website with detailed instructions on how to sign up. In the same way that students wishing to work in other public interest fields must take the initiative to obtain interviews on their own, students wishing to join the military may contact JAG and obtain an interview. The Veterans Association has already indicated a willingness to assist the military in conducting informal recruiting on campus, just as they have done in years past.

Opponents of this strategy also argue that filling up all the interview slots with gay and lesbian students is unpatriotic and disrespectful of the men and women who honor us with their military service. First, this argument contains a flawed understanding of the meaning of patriotism. Patriotism does not involve blind devotion to the military and support of every military act and policy. True patriotism involves love of our country and of the principles we hold dear — namely, equality and liberty. Attempting to demonstrate to the military that it should not discriminate is not unpatriotic. Second, the argument that filling the slots with gay students is unpatriotic is itself unpatriotic. It essentially tells gay and lesbian students that they should not attempt to sign up to serve. Again, this argument ignores the fact that many patriotic gay and lesbian students are denied the opportunity to enlist. Gay men and lesbians are thankful that we have a military and are thankful to those who serve. We only wish that we too could join their ranks. By filling up all the interview slots with gay men and lesbians, we can show the military the error of its ways and attempt to create a world where gay people can be patriots too.

JAG policy calls for meaningful action and discussion

BY MATTHEW DELNERO

Like many gay and lesbian students, I was saddened to hear of the law school’s decision to permit the use of OCS services by military recruiters, despite the military’s noncompliance with the HLS sexual orientation anti-discrimination policy. Partisan bureaucrats in Washington forced HLS to abandon the practice of denying military access to OCS facilities, despite the fact that military recruiters have been able to visit the campus through other channels, such as the HLS Veterans Association.

Although the Clinton administration never challenged Harvard’s policy regarding military recruitment through OCS, the Bush administration has taken a heavy-handed approach to interpreting the Solomon Amendment, a 1996 law making federal research funding contingent on the military’s ability to recruit on-campus.

The challenge now is to formulate a community response that is meaningful, sincere, and, of course, effective. I believe it is important to respond vigorously to the Defense Department’s behavior; students and faculty should be outraged that the Bush administration has forced the Law School to abandon its principled stance against discrimination. But I urge that members of the HLS community not partake in actions directly obstructing the presence of military recruiters on campus.

Throughout the summer, members and allies of HLS Lambda have engaged in meaningful dialogue regarding an appropriate response to the Bush administration’s actions against HLS. We all aspire to the same goal: to let partisan bureaucrats in Washington know that while we respect and honor those students pursuing the noble calling of military service, we reject the Defense Department’s strong-arm tactics and irrational discrimination against its gay and lesbian service members. As to how to best reach that goal, there is a fortunate diversity of opinion here.

The approach that has been most publicized, however, is that of subverting the military presence by occupying every military interview slot with gay students who are not actually interested in military service. While I share the frustration of those who advocate that tactic, I am convinced that such an approach would not serve our intended goal and may inadvertently show disregard for those students (whether gay or straight) who are genuinely interested in JAG Corps service.

Prior HLS policy on military recruitment provided the perfect balance between idealism and pragmatism: Those students wishing to interview with the JAG Corps could do so through the Veterans Association, while the school maintained its principled stance against the military’s irrational discrimination towards its gay and lesbian service members.

Under the new HLS policy, however, military recruiters will participate in the On-Campus Interviewing (OCI) process and presumably will not opt to use the Veterans Association’s services. If, however, all interview slots are filled with students not actually interested in a position with the JAG Corps, then those students genuinely hoping to interview with the military may be disadvantaged.

While it is possible that the military will add more interview slots in response to the seeming surge in demand, there is no guarantee that they will. Rather, aware that they are caught in a dispute between Harvard students and the senior leadership in Washington whose orders they must follow, JAG Corps recruiters may simply opt to abandon their efforts at HLS. While the departure of the recruiters may initially seem to be a victory, such a position ignores the need to support and honor the men and women of our military while we express our opposition to the Defense Department’s harmful and unproductive discrimination against its gay and lesbian soldiers. Signing-up for JAG Corps interview slots in protest fails to serve that delicate balance.

Despite my disagreement with the tactic of signing up for JAG Corps interview slots in protest, I look forward to participating in other expressions of dissatisfaction with the Defense Department’s violation of HLS anti-discrimination rules. My colleagues in Lambda, as well as many other students and faculty members, are considering a variety of promising actions. We all agree on the necessity of a visible presence that expresses opposition to the Defense Department’s irrational discriminatory policies.

The Dean’s open letter to the HLS community, in which he demonstrated sensitivity and thoughtfulness in explaining the unfortunate change in OCS policy, was a laudable first step. Going forward, the law school could host a forum regarding the discrimination against gay and lesbian soldiers in the military. HLS may also wish to initiate or participate in future legal challenges to the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy and/or the Solomon Amendment.

Through these and other actions, we will hopefully accomplish what the Defense Department has sadly failed to do: the honoring of all the men and women, both straight and gay, who have valiantly served the United States in its armed forces.

Orientation and the Fleet Bank Man

BY JEREMY BLACHMAN

If there was one phrase that kept getting repeated over and over again during the week of 1L orientation — aside from “it’s really nothing like One-L or The Paper Chase, we swear!!” — it was “here’s another very, very important piece of paper for you to read very, very carefully.”

This year’s registration seemed to require a wheelbarrow to take home all the brochures, flyers, handbooks, guides, maps, floor plans, and encyclopedic volumes about Ethernet.

We got stuff like the helpful “Playing it Safe: A Guide for Students, Faculty, and Staff,” which introduced the handy R.A.C.E. acronym for fire safety: Rescue. Alarm. Confine. Extinguish. As opposed to my initial guess, Run Away Carrying Everything.

Plus we got goodies from our new friends at Lexis and Westlaw. It took me a minute to figure out why Lexis had a sweepstakes where you can win a Lexus. And then, after way too many minutes thinking about it, I got it. Lexis, Lexus! Those legal research tools sure are funny.

I don’t understand their competition yet. But from what I’ve heard, I’m surprised their tables at orientation were allowed to be right next to each other.

Westlaw’s coffee mug probably edges out Lexis’s notepad for best bribe of the day, although I don’t really understand the fake velvet case. Kind of matches the Fleet Bank sunglass case. They’ll go great together in my trash can.

Along with my new Fleet Bank ATM card, which I really only signed up for because I felt bad for The Fleet Bank Man. All alone at his table, surrounded only by Fleet Bank paraphernalia and forms with really small print.

The first time I passed by the “please, please, please sign up for an account” table, The Fleet Bank Man was polite. “Have you signed up for your free Fleet Bank account yet?”

By the fifteenth time I passed him, I felt pangs of guilt as I saw other students mocking him. So I finally stopped, if only just to listen.

“Get a free mouse pad, keychain, and white board.”

Wait a minute. Did he say mouse pad, keychain, AND white board? Not “…OR white board?” How could anyone be passing this up?

“But I don’t know my mailing address,” I said. “Leave it blank — just put your name and we’ll find it,” the Fleet Bank Man said. “Or not even your name. Just your mother’s maiden name and the last 3 digits of your favorite number. We’ll figure it out.” Sounded a little desperate to me.

But I didn’t know the half of it. The next student who passed may have been the straw that broke the Fleet Bank Man’s back. He tried to walk by, but The Fleet Bank Man notices everyone. I overheard the other day:

“Have you signed up for your free Fleet Bank account yet?”

“I’ve already got a bank account.”

“What bank?”

“Bank One.”

“But we’ve got an ATM right there on campus.”

“That’s okay. I’m happy with Bank One.”

“Did I mention we’ve even got an ATM right on campus?”

“I’m happy with my current bank account.”

“Happy? How can you be happy when we’re the only ones with an ATM right on campus? Do you even know what “happy” is? You don’t until you’ve signed up for your free Fleet Bank account.”

“Sorry, I’m really not interested.”

“Wait! Bank One gives children tainted candy on Halloween! And pushes elderly people out of their wheelchairs! And we’ve got an ATM right on campus….”

I think the Fleet Bank Man may need to take advantage of the Office of Student Life Counseling. Which, incidentally, has a lovely brochure.