One World is All We Got: SLC students attend the Peoples Climate March

On Sunday a group of Sarah Lawrence students gathered in front of the science building to attend the Peoples Climate March in New York City. Over 400,000 people participated (over double what was expected) to emphasize to the UN leaders that meet this week the urgency of the climate change crisis.

Kiana Michaan '18, with the help of Hillary Bernhardt '15 and the Warren Green house, led the Sarah Lawrence group that participated in the march. SLC's Community Partnerships granted the students 35 roundtrip Metro North tickets for students who attended the protest.

“It was wonderful to see the Sarah Lawrence student community coming together behind this cause. When we left the Science Center Sunday morning to head to the march, we had over forty Sarah Lawrence students gathered. All of us walking to the train station was a pretty powerful sight” said Sarah Fiordaliso '16.

“I had a fantastic time at the march. There were so many powerful moments. It felt really good to be there representing the school” said Michaan of her experience at the march.

College students came from far and wide to support; Dartmouth, Smith and Oberlin were among the many schools represented. The crowd marched with a wide variety of homemade signs and tee-shirts that read: “Youth Choose Climate Justice”, “I want my grandchildren to walk down this street, not swim” and “There is no Planet B.” As the march proceeded down Central Park West towards Avenue of the Americas, Woody Guthrie’s This Land Is Your Land as well as well as chants of, “One world is all we got! One world is all we got!” could be heard.

At 12:58 p.m. silence fell over the crowd of protesters, an eerie yet powerful experience in such a bustling city. After the moment of silence was over a wave of cheerful shouts traveled down the line as protesters lifted their hands in solidarity to such a universal problem.

Michaan commented on marching through Times Square, “It is such the epitome of corporate dominance and wasteful electricity and I think such a clear picture of how the values in our society and the whole system are just so in the wrong place.”

Clara Greenfield '17 reflected on her participation, “Looking at the pictures afterwards of the crowds of people lining up I was like, ‘oh wow, that was big and I was in the middle of it and it was awesome.'”

Michaan went on to talk about her vision for the future of the movement, saying, “There are so many differences and ways of life but there is only one planet and we are all interconnected. It’s just one march and one day but my hope moving forward is that a lot of the groups that organized, beyond just our campus, stay together and continue to do good work.”

As far as continued awareness of the climate crisis on Sarah Lawrence’s campus, Bernhardt said, “I am excited to use the energy from this march to drum up support for future sustainability actions on this campus.”  

by Mary-Katherine Michiels-Kibler '17
Features Editor
mmichiels@gm.slc.edu

 

SLC Phoenix

The Phoenix is a non-profit, student-run publication representing the voices and opinions of Sarah Lawrence College community members. Our print edition publishes bi-weekly on Tuesdays, and our online edition is updated multiple times per week. Anyone may attend our open meetings at 9:00 PM on Wednesday nights in the North Room of the Pub.

Lorenzo Laroc: struggle and success as a world-class busker

photo courtesy Lorenzo Laroc

photo courtesy Lorenzo Laroc

The weeping echoes of Misu (left) and Brianna (right) have been haunting the bustling tunnels of New York's subway system for almost thirty years. The two priceless, 5-string electric violins have become a staple of the world of New York street performance. Their wielder: a relentlessly animated, tan-skinned man in leather pants named Lorenzo Laroc (center). Through his black tank top, one can often catch a glimpse of a tattoo of Misu he has on his left shoulder, "I got it when I was 40. I thought, y'know…this violin pays my rent, it feeds me, so to honor her I gave her a tattoo. I saw that violin in a window in 1982 and I just fell in love…" 

The first time I ever saw Lorenzo Laroc was in 2002, "busking" (a slang term for the act of performing for money at a train station) in the Union Square train station. Passersby stopped to listen and dance along with him, moved by his energy and enthusiasm. The second time I saw him was a few months later, as he was winning a $25,000 cash prize on the long-forgotten television talent competition, 30 Seconds to Fame. The audience was thoroughly won over, not only by his unorthodox technique or unusual instrument, but also by his intense stage presence and ebullience. "When I was studying classically, you are trained to stand completely still. There's not supposed to be movement from the waist down. I don't know if it’s the Dominican in me, but I always had the desire to move when I played. It would drive my teachers crazy. It’s just me…and I give a hundred and ten percent no matter if I'm at Grand Central or Trump's golf course." 

Since his success on 30 Seconds to Fame, Lorenzo has performed in nearly every music venue in New York, Carnegie Hall and Barclay's Center among them. However, despite his success as a venue performer, his primary source of income is street performance. Subway commuters will recognize his signature style much more easily than seasoned classical music venue goers. "The leather pants and the black cutoffs– it’s kind of an expression of freedom. Most violinists playing at the Met, or wherever, are in tuxedos,” notes Lorenzo. “But I decided to break that mold. As for the intensity…I realized the more intensely I played, the more [the] crowd would be drawn in, and the more excited they get, the more I stomp around. It’s a symbiotic thing. The subway is a great stage to get that exchange of energy.” This freedom, this raw connection, is what makes street performance so special to Laroc and artists like him.

Though busking has always been a part of New York's culture, it is often looked down upon, regarded as little more than panhandling. For Lorenzo, busking has afforded him the most exciting opportunities in his fruitful musical career. "Playing in the trains got me into the Knicks' game, playing the halftime show at the garden. Its great exposure." Apart from the profit motive, Lorenzo is proud to contribute his art to the city he grew up in: "I get a lot of people ask me why I do it, I tell 'em, ‘I'm out here for you.' I'm like Robin Hood. I play shows for the filthy rich so I can play for the regular Joe."

Despite its deep roots in urbanity, busking has always also been at least partly at odds with New York’s law enforcement. Street performance in subways was not officially legalized in NYC until 1987, with the foundation of the Metropolitan Transit Authority's Music Under New York (MUNY) program. Though Lorenzo was one of the first on board the program, he has remained a persistent nuisance to transit police. "I used to play in the subways when it was illegal and I got $10,000 worth of fines. I was a pirate! And I would still go to jail for playing my violin, man." Though MUNY provides organized schedules and legal protection for street performers, Lorenzo claims there are still many loopholes that make life difficult for them, and harassment from police officers is all too common. "It’s the easiest way for them to make their quota– just go ticket the guy playing on the street for being too loud. Its humiliating," the artist laments. 

After sets as long as 6 hours, Lorenzo packs up over $10,000 worth of equipment and rides the uptown train to his dingy West Harlem apartment where his true muses wait for him—his four and eight year old daughters. "I play with inspiration and desperation, and I do it all for them,” he proclaims. “The arts are a gamble. I'm all in. I don't have no pension, not retiring on a 401k. But I believe I'm gonna win a Grammy one day. I have to believe that in my bones. Otherwise…I'm dead in the water, man."

by Martin Blondet '16

Martin Blondet spends a regular night at Webster Hall

Photo courtesy Tom Keelan '14

Photo courtesy Tom Keelan '14

“Yo, hurry the f--k up, son, my hands freezing out here," said the gargantuan bouncer as I fumbled anxiously through my wallet looking for my ID. After a quick look to verify I was over 19, he sharpied two sloppy "X"'s on my hands and dismissively directed me to the ticket booth. As I walked in the building, I overheard the scantily-neon-clad females behind me get a much warmer welcome, "Oh what up girl, how y'all doin' tonight? Bouta turn up?" said the bouncer. I could hardly believe these tiny sparkly girls did not need "X"'s on their hands as well. 

I purchased a $20 ticket and was patted down very thoroughly by another no-nonsense venue staff member before finally being ushered into one of New York's best-known clubs: the 3-story party promised land that is Webster Hall. 

It was expectedly loud, but surprisingly empty. The ground level dancehall was pretty much entirely vacant, except for a couple groups of fellow early-bird partygoers jamming to a terrible unfamiliar remix of "We Can't Stop". I decided to wander downstairs to check in my coat; the lower level dancehall felt like deja-vu (except it was a terrible remix of "Dark Horse"). 

I walked up to the upper level where an anonymous DJ was spinning some serious mediocrity. There is nothing sadder than asking "New York f--king City, how you feeling tonight?!" into a mic and getting crickets. I bought a bottle of water for six dollars and posted up by what seemed to be the designated single-guys-that-got-here-too-early wall. Hearing bad trap remix after bad trap remix while playing Fruit Ninja, I concluded that tonight was a dud. 

Finally, DJ Nobody peaced-out and blessed me with a moment of silence while he introduced the next act: Gents and Jawns. I had heard some of their stuff, a couple decent remixes here and there, nothing special. Suddenly, I heard (could it be?) the buzzing synth lines that introduce Howls' "001", on a loop, building tension. This was not your average turn up club song, certainly not something a second act opens with. This was taste. I looked up from my phone and saw the dance floor flooded with colorful, sweaty youths. How this sea of ravers materialized so quickly, I had no clue. I took a few steps toward the crowd and was suddenly propelled forward by the collective movement of a hundred bodies. How did I get to right in front of the stage? How did my hands get above my head? Then the bass dropped…

I felt the ground shaking– I thought we might break through the floor and crush those 6 people still dancing to Miley Cyrus on the ground level. The intense and invasive 808, together with the unceasing push and pull of the people around me, practically coerced me into dancing. Dodging elbows can look an awful lot like dancing. 

It was sensory overload. A plethora of colorful blinding lights leaked through the jungle of limbs, all moving in sync with the dynamics of the song. The overwhelming heat was abruptly abated when somebody spilled beer all over me. 

Once the initial turn-up whiplash wore off, I traced the elbows and legs that had been directing my "dancing" back to their owners. All the archetypal Webster heads were present: The overdressed, over-gelled-up guys holding overpriced cocktails; the "dudes' night out" posses rocking out in neon green tank tops and shutter shades, scoping out girls to dance with; the Street-goth hype beasts that are too cool to dance (or just do not want to mess up their Yeezy's); and my favorite: the veteran ravers. Equipped with everything from finger-light gloves, bead masks and bracelets, camel-backs, and glow sticks, these creatures of the night are more about that life than any of the other Webster regulars. 

As soon as a Major Lazer song dropped, the twerk team sprung up on top of the giant speakers to do their thing; all the lumbering, drugged-out "really feeling it right now" guys gawked at them with mouths and eyes half-open. The DJ duo was throwing down a steady stream of bangers. The crowd responded to each build up and drop with orgasmic hypersensitivity. By the end of the set it was a full-blown bacchanalia. Bodies entwined in a whirlwind of day-glow colors and body fluids. From the frenzied collage of debauchery, a nimble hand tapped my shoulder and asked me “Have you seen my friend Molly?”

by Martin Blondet '16
mblondet@gm.slc.edu

photo appears courtesy of Tom Keelan '14
tkeelan@gm.slc.edu

tomexists.tumblr.com / cargocollective.com/tomkeelan
 

Bryan Cranston plays Lyndon Johnson in new Broadway show

Lights dim down as silence drowns the audience anticipating Bryan Cranston’s appearance. At the center of the stage, seated on the chair, is the actor: grey-haired, large nose, ears and chin. The silence is broken by the sound of a thick southern accent. President Lyndon Johnson smoothly comes to life. All the Way began previewing performances on February 10th and officially opened on March 6th in the Neil Simon Theatre. The play portrays President Lyndon Johnson, wheeling and bargaining to pass the Civil Right Act of 1964, a powerful role that fits Cranston’s love for outsized characters of substance. 

The play covers the first twelve months of Johnson’s presidency. It starts with John F. Kennedy’s assassination and ends with his own victory in the next election. All the Way has all the ingredients for success: a star, drama, murder and humor. With players ranging from Martin Luther King Jr. to F.B.I tyrant Edgar Hoover, the play shines a light on a variety of significant characters, all with intricate personalities. The audience witnesses the weaving and un-weaving of complex relationships of power. Unveiling that the hero -bully would do whatever it takes, and play his ponds as he saw fit, in order to win. “It’s not personal. It’s just politics.”

Many fans and critiques wonder how Cranston was able to shift from playing a chemistry teacher turned drug lord to performing as the 36th President of the United States Of America. Throughout the play, striking parallels are drawn between the two characters. Both share a love for power, are strong willed and determined to succeed. To prepare for his role, Cranston studied LBJ in great depths. He visited the LBJ Presidential library in Texas, listened to Johnson’s voice on White House tapes to get his accent right. Thanks to his in-depth studies, Cranston successfully captured the President’s neediness, insecurities, lack of confidence and strange humor. 

The actor’s passion for his role as LBJ grows from his own political convictions. Born in 1956, Cranston has vivid memories of the racial conflict dating as far back as the Watts riots in 1965, which took place only an hour from his home. You can sense in his voice and body language, the passion of a man who was directly exposed to injustice and who wants to fight for change.

Bill Rauch, who directs the play, put together a cast of quality to fill all the forty roles. Because of the abundance of characters, few had the time to be explored in much depth. Betsy Aidem, portraying Lady Bird Johnson, crisply captured the first lady’s role as her husband’s motivator despite the small amount of time dedicated to her. On the other hand, Brandon J. Dirden, delivered a meek portrayal of Martin Luther King, Jr although he was on stage for a greater part of the play. His performance lacked personality. The actor depicted King as a tepid leader and a passive listener. Stokely Carmichael, the activist, played by William Jackson Harper, had more charisma and stage presence than King, who was underwhelming in contrast to King’s real-life persona.

The historical drama by Robert Schenkkan was a bold choice for a Broadway show but Bryan Cranston’s performance brings a compelling energy to the street of New York.  Whether you know a lot about Lyndon Johnson or not, we recommend you go see it. You can buy tickets on www.allthewaybroadway.com

By Julia Schur '15
jschur@gm.slc.edu