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Their feet stomp the ground in rhythmic rhapsody, the clomp of each girl’s boot-clad foot sharpened in mesmerizing unison. Their hands clap, slap and twist about their bodies in a fine-tuned pattern — sometimes the motions mirror the movements of their feet and sometimes their hands work alone. Their bodies whirl and jump across the stage in precise and authoritative choreography that demands undivided attention. Suddenly, their fists punch the air and their voices call out in harmony: “Who are we? L.L.O.B.”
By any measure, the Duke Coffeehouse isn’t one of the more popular spots for students on campus. Tucked away in the farther reaches of Duke’s East Campus (it’s located in the back of Crowell), the Coffeehouse has a reputation for “doing things differently,” perhaps a bit more eccentrically. If you’re looking to stop in for a quick latte or find a study space in between classes, you should probably head to Trinity Café or Vondy—the Coffeehouse, which opens at 6 p.m., is all at once a venue for live music, a space for Duke students and Durham residents alike and a spot to intimately experience art. Rarely do Coffeehouse-goers actually drink coffee or stress over work.
I made the realization as sweat beaded across the back of my neck and flimsy baby hairs stuck to my temples, an unfortunate byproduct of North Carolina’s beloved humidity and the swelling summer heat. It was orientation week, of course—no one could forget the way the sun beat down so angrily on us last August—and I was at a frat party with my roommate, who I had luckily known prior to my arrival at Duke. I made the realization again as I stood in the common room of an SLG, chatting with a stranger self-consciously about my hometown, my prospective major and my sparse extracurriculars, my end-goal to stand out and impress. And again as I hovered on the fringes of a house party, the tight-knit group of people both mesmerizing and alienating.
For a television show in its 12th season, “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” has made a particularly concerted effort to walk the balancing beam between innovation and authenticity. Perhaps it’s due to a desire to fight the banality that plagues long-running TV shows or the understanding that reinvention is crucial to successful comedies. Regardless, there’s been a clear attempt at taking risks in the newest season of “It’s Always Sunny,” but there’s a semblance of restraint present, too–as if the show’s creators aren’t quite comfortable with breaking the confines of its established structure just yet.
Dusk has fallen over an affluent neighborhood and the manicured lawns and pristine architecture are barely visible in the dim illumination of a few street lights. A young black man walks along the suburban sidewalk in supposed solitude, mumbling house numbers and street names in an attempt to discern his surroundings. Nimble camerawork and the innate tension of such a scene alert us that the figure is not truly alone, and our fears are quickly confirmed as a suspicious car slinks alongside the man like a predator deftly hunting its prey.
The 89th annual Academy Awards were held last Sunday and, in typical award show fashion, it was an indulgent and lackluster Hollywood affair that prompted more eye-rolls than elated outbursts–excluding, of course, the Best Picture fiasco, which was both wildly entertaining and mortifying. And while the ceremony ushered in many positive changes following the #OscarsSoWhite vilification over the last two years, the Academy irrevocably proved that it has ways to go in terms of championing genuine diversity and its perceived liberal ideals.
The crowd at the Nasher Museum of Art last Thursday was bustling and spirited, a diverse commingling of students and residents from the farthest reaches of the Triangle area. Exhausted parents chased restless children through the lobby, snippets of conversations about art and politics floated freely above the fringe and people milled about the hallways of art, stopping frequently to snap pictures and ponder them silently. The droves of people were there to partake in the opening party for “Royal Flush,” an exhibition of artist Nina Chanel Abney’s work over the last ten years.
I grew up on a cul-de-sac—a street that stretches into a spoon shape, the end rounded like the mouth of a river—and for that, I consider myself lucky. The dead-end was designed to limit residential traffic and children-at-play casualties, but for my corner of the neighborhood, it was the anointed (and preferred) rendezvous spot.
The corridors of the East Duke building were alive Saturday evening. Students lay sprawled across the floor in what loosely resembled a line and loud chatter hung in the air, jumbled and indistinct. It was the second night of programming for Me Too Monologues, an annual show centered around identity that is written, performed and produced by members of the Duke community. The students had been waiting in line for nearly an hour to secure an enviable seat in the Nelson Music Room, which would surely be packed by the end of the night.
In 1968, writer James Baldwin appeared on “The Dick Cavett Show” and offered an explanation of a racial paradox which he understood to pervade American society: “When any white man in the world says, ‘Give me liberty or give me death,’ the entire white world applauds. When a black man says exactly the same thing, word for word, he is judged a criminal and treated like one.”
Protests, which are the unequivocal cornerstones to American democracy, have been swelling across the United States since the inauguration of President Donald Trump. Two weeks ago, hundreds of thousands of women poured into Washington D.C. to participate in the historic Women’s March, their rallying cries for equality echoing throughout the U.S. in demonstrations that stretched from Los Angeles to New York. Even throughout this week, airports across the country have been engulfed with protesters demonstrating against the recent executive order which seeks to halt immigration from seven predominantly Muslim countries and displace hundreds of refugees currently living in America. Indeed, it seems we are in the throes of a civil rights movement comparable to that of the 1960s.
Martin Scorsese isn’t the kind of director whose repertoire of films beckons the label ‘religious.’ Considering his most popular works are character studies of morally bankrupted and deeply flawed men (“Taxi Driver,” “Goodfellas” and “The Wolf of Wall Street” come to mind), it must strike the casual film-watcher as odd that “Silence,” Scorsese’s most recent film, is a veneration of Christianity and its practices. But Scorsese, a lapsed Roman Catholic who aspired to priesthood in his adolescence, has always held a deep affinity for religion, and “Silence” is his homage to the predecessors of his faith.
Nina Chanel Abney: Royal Flush (Feb. 16-July 16)
Spring semester’s presence has been looming closer, surveying the student body on its silent haunches, waiting for the perfect moment to unload its burdens as winter break draws to a close. Perhaps it was a professor’s email, dispatching required textbooks and banal syllabi, or the multiple Duke Alerts about the debilitating inch of snow received by the Triangle Area that forewarned the new semester’s commencement. But for most, there has been one telltale, inescapable indicator—Greek and SLG rush.
There’s no pronounced shortage of comedy on Duke’s campus. Duke University Improv holds live shows throughout the semester, Department Of publishes its satirical pieces monthly and the Chronicle even has its humorous Monday Monday column which runs biweekly. Add this to the innumerable fledgling comedic projects that sprout up throughout the year (often via Facebook), and one is left wondering if there’s any room for another joke to be made.
As a person who loves movie theaters and the atmosphere that they can cultivate, I find myself griping about the lack of engaging cinemas within the Triangle Area often. The Rialto Theatre in Raleigh and the Carolina Theatre in Durham each offer distinctive arthouse theater-going experiences, but I can’t help but notice a dearth in the number of cinemas that offer immersive viewings of movies.
“Moonlight,” the sophomore film of director Barry Jenkins, is quiet. Like its main character Chiron, the movie doesn’t say much in terms of dialogue — searing and vibrant visuals do all of the talking instead, powerful gazes and pointed body language communicating what the characters’ words do not. But in its silence “Moonlight” speaks volumes, wielding its tersely poetic features to stir the viewer in a deeply personal manner.
When filmmakers François Truffaut and Jean-Luc Godard burst onto the French cinematic scene in the 1950s, they brought more than the French New Wave with them; they gave birth to a theory known as auteurism. Translated into English as ‘authorship,’ the theory stipulates that a director can create a style that is uniquely his or her own, lending to an array of films that undoubtedly belong to a single artist.
Using comedy as a mechanism for political commentary is not a new concept by any means. In fact, its history can be traced back to 427 BCE, when an Athenian playwright and comedian named Aristophanes planted the first, fledgling seeds of political satire. Caricaturing a Greek political figure as a warmongering demagogue, his provocatively funny take on the political state of his country elicited both admiration and outrage amongst his audiences.
“Nostalgia – it’s delicate, but potent,” said Don Draper in an episode of the television show “Mad Men.” “It’s a twinge in your heart far more powerful than memory alone.”