Book Marks: King Lear would be a Freegan

By Talia Kuhel

This column will discuss how various books have influenced other mediums of entertainment.

via the Guardian

via the Guardian

Freegan: “Somebody who abstains from contributing to the economy and salvages society’s wasted food and resources rather than purchase more themselves.” (Urban Dictionary)

If Freegans couldn’t care less about anything, it’d probably be the mantra that “you are what you eat.” So they scrap up the leftovers in this hyper-consumptive American universe and we, the flagrant spenders on food, are left to feel crazy – crazy for dropping cash on food that Freegans are getting for free.

But then again, Freegans could totally be the crazy ones. They eat out of dumpsters by choice!

At this point, we are left to overthink everything. Am I being taken advantage of whenever I buy anything? Or, am I being taken advantage of by thinking that I am being taken advantage of by ever buying anything?

Don’t blame me for bringing up the hard hitting questions. Four hundred years ago, Shakespeare essentially dropped the same load on his audiences in his iconic tragedy, “King Lear.”

Enter the King in a palace and all of the glitz and glamour that comes with king life. Lear wants to preserve his power, so he maps out a plan for dividing his territory amongst his daughters and begins this weird ritual of trading huge chunks of his kingdom for his daughter’s declarations of love:

“Tell me my daughters –
Since now we will divest us both of rule,
Interest of territory, cause of state –
Which of you shall we say doth love us most?
That we our largest bounty may extend” (1.1. 46-50)

The first daughter, Goneril, blurts out this overdone statement of love and devotion to her father:“Sir, I love you more then words can wield,” to which Lear slices a huge chunk of land and gives it to her (1.1. 53).

The next daughter, Regan, attempts to top that, saying, “Only she [Goneril] comes too short, that I profess / myself an enemy to all other joys /…And I find I am alone felicitate in your dear highness’ love” (1.1. 71-74). And Lear slices another huge chunk of his kingdom.

The last daughter, who has been talking aside to herself throughout about how to measure up to this phony lovey dovey exercise, just destroys the whole ritual with one word: “Nothing, my lord.”(1.1. 86)

The king is outraged! He says, “How, how, Cordelia! mend your speech a little , / Lest it may mar your fortunes!”(1.1. 93-94) In other words, Lear tells his daughter to drop the angsty teenager bit and play the aristocratic game he made up.

By saying the word, “nothing,” Cordelia uses the shell of speech to fill a void that could be silence. She does respond to the King’s request for phony affirmation, but she won’t act in this show. Essentially, she chooses not to trade fake love for fake love, or words of affirmation for an endowment of wealth from his bank. She argues that a true father daughter bond has a natural balance of love and respect, saying, “I love your majesty according to my bond” and that talking about love is as superficial as thinking that a legacy is all about the wealth and land (1.1. 91). Cordelia chooses authentic relationships over the theater of aristocratic relationships that come with a lot of money.

(This is where Lear’s life trickles into a “Gossip Girl” sort of plot. Big money, family business, down to earth child runs away from home and superficiality of it all. Pretty familiar story.)

But, as the play goes on, Lear spirals into a kind of madness and self-reflectiveness that could turn you onto freeganism. By the second act, Lear realizes his two eldest daughters, the ones who were so quick to dish out fake love, are trying to take over his kingdom because his age is a liability. So, Lear bursts out of the castle and into the stormy natural world. No kingdom to protect him. Just man vs. wild.

In nature, Lear embraces the wild. He even embraces nudity, which is an excellent metaphor for stripping away the superficial garb of authority that he held. What does it even mean to be King? It is just a social contract, and without that contract a King is merely a guy with fancy robes? In doing so, Lear increasingly appears mad. He gargles his words and frolics around with a crown of flowers. But perhaps, the whole idea of being a king, inside the palace or inside the bounds of aristocratic society and all of the rituals that come with it – like the love show in act 1.

So we are left with the ultimate question: Are we just buying food because it feels good to be a consumptive member of civilized society? Is being civilized really mad? Or is freeganism really mad?

Thanks Shakespeare for calling capitalism out 400 years before froyo was a thing!

Talia Kuhel is a staff writer. Email her at

Posted in Columns | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Time Warp comes to the U.S. for the first time

By E.R. Pulgar


Time Warp, one of the biggest underground music festivals in the world, has been held mostly outside of the United States for the past twenty years, usually in Germany. This year the festival came to Argentina and, for the first time, will be coming to Brooklyn. This marks the first installment of Time Warp in the United States, a development that is far from being underscored.

The set list, in honor of the festival’s twentieth anniversary, has held nothing back. Enlisting the likes of established underground artists such as Richie Hawtin, Sven Väth, The Martinez Brothers and tINI, the festival shows itself to be a formidable celebration of Europe’s famous underground scene, and the perfect introduction for American fans that wants to dig further than mainstream electronic dance music. In addition to the aforementioned veterans, Time Warp will also feature newer deep house acts such as Lauren Ritter and Orazio Rispo. Whether you have been a long-time fan of the scene or are just starting to get into deep house, this festival has artists that span every taste.

Typically held in an immense, arena-like dome, the U.S. crew working on the festival is recreating the venue in the form of “The Cave.” This cavernous, enormous nightclub will house a floor that is just as large. Full of walls and pillars that are apt for the prominent bass deep house is known for, and allow the pounding drone to echo across the large space.

Time Warp coming to Brooklyn is more than just a momentous occasion in the history of deep house.  The public in the United States is at last receptive enough to this kind of music to be able to experience it on the scale that club goers from across the pond in Ibiza, Berlin, and Mannheim have for decades.

Time Warp will be held over two days from Nov. 28 to 29 at the 39th Street Pier on 81 39th Street in Brooklyn.

E.R. Pulgar is a staff writer. Email him at


Posted in Music | Leave a comment

The Dear Jack Foundation brings benefit concert to the east coast

By Mary Ann Odete

Via Alt Press

Nov. 11 marked the Dear Jack Foundation’s first official benefit on the east coast. The foundation was celebrating its fifth annual benefit concert with openers Junior Prom and Hunter Hunted, along with headliner Andrew McMahon.

The Brooklyn-natives Junior Prom came on first and felt very much in their element. The rock duo gave a solid performance, but they were upstaged by the other two performances. What really distinguished Junior Prom was their excitement present during their performance. It was hard not to be as pumped up as they were, even though they are composed of only two members.

Next, Hunter Hunted came on and they performed songs off their EP, along with giving a preview of music to come early next year. They were a much mellower band than Junior Prom, but this in no way diminished their performance.

For those who came early, both Junior Prom and Hunter Hunted were definitely a treat.

Next, Andrew McMahon came on stage and started the audience off with something nice and soft — just singing “Rainy Girl” and accompanying himself on the piano.

After, the band came on, to join McMahon, and everyone let loose. In between songs, McMahon would tell the audience stories about how he had come to be a part of Dear Jack as well as the current path his career’s taken. To calm the audience down so he could be heard, he occasionally said, “It’s story-time, baby girl.”  McMahon sang songs off his new album “Andrew McMahon Into the Wilderness” as well as songs from earlier in his career.

For the encore, Hunter Hunted joined McMahon and his band on stage. Special guest Bobby “Raw” Anderson, guitarist for Jack’s Mannequin, also joined McMahon. With everyone on stage, McMahon started everyone off, but the audience was singing along so loudly that McMahon requested they quiet down, as they had just practiced it for the first time that day and it was rather complex. As McMahon said, “The nature of what they were about to attempt… means that there was no way you could sing that loud and this is going to work.”

The acoustic version of “Holiday from Real” was downright amazing, with on-point harmonies. The performance was a great start to Dear Jack branching out on the East Coast.

Mary Ann Odete is a contributing writer. Email her at

Posted in Music | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Binge TV: “Sherlock”

By Mary Ann Odete

via Flavorwire

via Flavorwire

2010-present. Three seasons, renewed for a fourth.

Based on the stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, this adaptation by the BBC places the consulting detective in contemporary London. Each season is comprised of three hour-and-a-half episodes. Each season is broadcast far apart: the first season ran  between July 25, 2010 and August 3, 2010, while the second season didn’t start until January 1, 2012. Many non-Sherlockians make fun of fans for liking a show that keeps them waiting for so long. While there is a long wait, it is so worth it.

Sherlock Holmes is a genius with no social skills. While he’s an invaluable source of information for the police, he doesn’t have any friends. This is a problem at the beginning of season one, as he is in serious need of a roommate. Through chance, he meets John Waston who becomes his flatmate. Sherlock also manages to involve him in his soon-to-be expanding detective agency.


Sherlock Holmes: The only consulting detective and a pain in the rear end. Before meeting Watson, Sherlock is every bit the loner. With Watson’s guidance, he is able to appreciate some of the things outside of himself – although Sherlock still is perplexed by simple human customs.

Dr. John Watson: A former army doctor, Watson moves in with Sherlock after getting honorably discharged. He is reluctant to join in Sherlock’s escapades, but they later become one of TV’s greatest odd couples.

Detective Inspector Greg Lestrade: One of Sherlock’s few friends; Lestrade is Sherlock’s connection in the police department. Lestrade, like Watson, tries to keep Sherlock grounded (albeit not as intensely as Watson). He keeps the peace between Sherlock and the other officers when Sherlock inevitably insults them all. He has complete faith in Sherlock, which is proven various times throughout the series.

Jim Moriarity: Sherlock’s arch enemy. He’s the one everyone loves and hates at the same time.

Mycroft Holmes: Sherlock’s older brother with whom he has a contentious relationship. Mycroft is arguably more intelligent than Sherlock. He works for the government and often finds himself cleaning up his brother’s messes.

Molly Hooper: A pathologist who has a huge crush on Sherlock. He constantly exploits her in order to gain access to the lab she works in.

Mrs. Martha Hudson: Sherlock’s landlady. She is more than what meets the eye. As the series goes on, Mrs. Hudson has a few tricks up her sleeve.

Sherlock is one of the greatest shows on TV right now. Not only does it have mystery, it also functions partially as a comedy. The characters manage to worm their ways into your heart and the cast is so aptly picked. The pandemonium following the show is not without reason.

Sherlock has grown so much in the past few years. The dynamic duo that is Holmes and Watson are so perfectly portrayed by Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman. It’s funny, suspenseful and engaging. Everything a TV show should be and much more.

Mary Ann Odete is a contributing writer. Email her at


Posted in Columns | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

You Haven’t Seen It? : “Spinal Tap”

By Kendall Levison

via Roger Ebert

via Roger Ebert

I have a confession to make: I have a possibly unhealthy love for the movie “The Princess Bride.”

That movie is not the subject of this column (although if you haven’t see it, you obviously need to).

I mention it because my affection for “The Princess Bride” doesn’t translate to unabashed embrace of everything director Rob Reiner touches. Despite hits likes “When Harry Met Sally,” Reiner can be inconsistent and has had more than a few recent flops. So this is the perfect time to go back to 1984 and one of his most beloved films, “This is Spinal Tap,” the story of “one of England’s loudest bands” and their tour across America to promote their latest albums.

“This is Spinal Tap” manages to combine two genres that are not always successful: band films and mockumentaries. The fake documentary is the perfect choice right from the outset, as it allows director Rob Reiner to act as the film’s narrator in the character of slightly desperate commercial-director-turned-documentarian, Marty DiBergi. Reiner’s core cast is excellent as usual, with Michael McKean as the titular band’s leader and Christopher Guest and Harry Shearer as his bandmates. There are also some excellent cameos, including Billy Crystal in one his first film roles as a mime/waiter and Fred Willard as an Air Force officer who misguidedly hires the band.

The movie fits so perfectly with its mockumentary format that it fooled some people into thinking it was the story of a real band when it first came out. In fact, musicians like Jimmy Page and Lars Ulrich have commented that the film is an eerily actuate depiction of the life of a touring musician. “This is Spinal Tap” achieves this behind-the-scenes tone through a heavy use of improvisation. The film is at its best when Reiner simply puts the camera on his actors and lets them go at it. Some of the movie’s funniest lines are actually in the credit sequence, where Reiner’s character is just asking members of the band inane questions like, “So when you’re playing you feel like a preserved moose on stage?”

First and foremost, “This is Spinal Tap” is a movie about a band. Although Spinal Tap is a parody of heavy metal bands, the film does flesh out the band’s history enough that it feel like Spinal Tap could have actually existed. In one scene, a song from an old TV clip featuring Spinal Tap’s early days as an R&B group with Beatles haircuts is resurrected as a rock anthem by the current band. The movie never claims to be anything but silly; however, it does have conflicts – from shifting band members to falling sales – that plague real musical groups.

“This is Spinal Tap” manages to do a lot in less than two hours. It makes fun of musicians, the music industry, and all of documentary filmmaking. The fact that it manages to be a great comedy at the same time proves that while it is no “Princess Bride,” “This is Spinal Tap” has a magic all it’s own.

Kendall Levison is a contributing writer. Email her at


Posted in Columns | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Gracepoint, Season 1: “Episode Eight”

By Jena Keahon

via A.V. Club

via A.V. Club

With only two episodes left, “Gracepoint” continues to diverge from “Broadchurch.” However, episode eight leaves much to be desired, with the only real highlight being Beth’s big scene with a fellow grieving mother.

Early in the episode, Priest Paul finds Tom in the woods, on his way back from the backpacker’s house, with a broken knee. When Carver questions him at the hospital, Tom admits that he wanted to find the person who killed Danny in order to “make him feel bad.” And in a rather touching moment, he admits that he wanted to solve the case so that he can have his mother back.

No matter how sweet Tom’s intentions seem to be, our suspicions about him only increase during this episode. Later on, he calls Owen in order to find out if information deleted from a hard drive is recoverable, and then Priest Paul finds him destroying his computer during the middle of the night. While it’s not probable that Tom was directly involved in the murder, I think that it’s probable that he knows more about what happened than he’s been letting on.

Mark Solano’s suspicions about the Priest are further raised, as he finds it hard to believe that Paul finding both Tom’s bike and then Tom is purely coincidental. He raises the same suspicions I’ve had since early on, citing Paul’s infatuation with Beth, and his readiness to use Danny’s death to bring attention to the church. When Carver and Ellie look into Paul, they find out that he also regularly attends Narcotics Anonymous meetings, and moved back to Gracepoint after getting into a bar fight. After some probing from the detectives, Priest Paul shuts them down and scolds them for “belittling” his faith.

While the majority of the episode dragged, the part that really stood out was Beth’s meeting with the mother of a girl who was murdered in Rosemont. Virginia Kull really shines in this scene, proving herself as one of the strongest actors on the show. It is truly heartbreaking to watch Beth try to hold back her tears as she watches this woman admit that she has essentially given up on life. When she leaves, we know that Beth makes the decision to not to end up like this woman, and to stay strong for her family, including the baby she decides to keep.

At the very end of the episode, the detectives receive a tip that there has been movement in the crime scene house. The scene escalates as they chase a man in a hoodie through the woods. The man gets away when Ellie stops to help Carver who collapses, telling her, “I’m dying.” Hopefully in the final two episodes, we’ll finally get some answers, rather than the show following the same formula it has been following in the last few episodes.

Jena Keahon is a contributing writer.  Email her at

Posted in Television | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Ivory Tower” shows tuition problem is nationwide

By Marcus Jones

via CNN

via CNN

Everyone knows that New York University is a very expensive school to attend, but it’s important to note that our problem is just one part of a nationwide epidemic. As government spending on education is cut more and more, the tuition of higher education institutions increases exponentially.

“Ivory Tower,” which was picked up by CNN Films from the Sundance Film Festival, gives us a better understanding of this tuition and student debt crisis as well as highlights ways some institutions have broke from the norm such as Deep Springs College in the Death Valley, which supplements education with manual labor, or our neighbor Cooper Union which was created for students pursuing practical arts. Both of these schools were made to be free to attend and the film explores the consequences of that in our economic downturn.

The film also explores Silicon Valley’s reaction to the increased price of college showcasing programs like the Thiel Fellowship, the Uncollege Movement, and massive open online course or MOOC companies like Udacity and EdX. Portions of the film also follow a low income Harvard student and touches on how rankings are playing a big part in skyrocketing tuition.

Because exorbitant tuitions are such a common problem, it’s hard to say if this film will be as damaging to the higher education industry as CNN Films’ last major Sundance acquisition, “Blackfish,” was to Sea World. It is a little more objective in the sense that it showcases different schools like Harvard, Arizona State, San Jose State, Deep Springs, etc. and dives into what each is doing right and wrong. It all feels very fly on the wall, like the filmmakers wanted to observe as much as possible so they could capture the positive and negative effects of each university system.  It’s definitely interesting to think about how your college experience would be different had you gone to these other schools.

Unfortunately, Cooper Union revealed itself to be filled with conflict and problems. In what is probably the most compelling storyline of the documentary, the audience learns the history of Cooper Union and how it has always remained free, but was operating on a deficit. What did they do to fix this? Take out a loan to spend more money building that odd shaped silver building on Bowery many of our students walk by every day, and invest in hedge funds – disastrous to say the least, especially since it was before the 2008 financial crisis. Now they are hoping to collect tuition from the students who entered the school promised a free ride as precedent for over 100 years.

“Ivory Tower” makes the audience feel sorry for one school, envy another, and reconfirm why students may not have made the choice to go to these schools or even to college in general. Did I walk away after the film regretting college?  No. In fact, this film is confirmation for NYU students that we are not the only ones in this mess. All schools have debt and tuition problems from state schools to Stanford and the reason why we are labeled as entitled is because we are fighting to have the same rights to education our parents had, where a summer job could cover a semester’s worth of tuition.

Marcus Jones is a staff writer.  Email him at

Posted in Film, Television | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment