Saturday, June 25, 2011

Thoughts from a recent graduate: On education, the economy and big business

I went to an event called "Rebuilding the Dream" a couple of nights ago. The dream in reference was none other than the "American Dream". One quote from the evening resonated with me and fueled my inner turmoil:

"We are graduating our students off the side of a cliff"

The three year old recession, which some say (erroneously) is over, is still looming and looks bleak as ever for recent graduates, especially those in the arts. Students are graduating with Bachelor's, Master's and Ph.D's to find an economy that doesn't need them or want them.

We've been told our whole lives that if one just works hard, goes to a good school, then one can succeed in life and do anything one wants.

Unfortunately, this simply is not true.

The sad truth of it is that the unemployment rate has only gotten higher. The sad truth of it is that the national student loan debt has only gotten higher, creating astronomical debt which many of us will never be able to pay back, or will struggle immensely to do so. It is not out of laziness or incapability that our generation of graduates are not getting calls left and right for employment. It is simply because there are not enough jobs. Students kill time by spending more money on school, spending more money on "great" schools until something changes.

I think it is high time that we have a student loan bailout. Wall street got bailed out and is more successful than ever. When did education become BIG BUSINESS? I am a huge advocate for education and believe in the power of it, but I am starting to get down on it. We no longer live in a society that makes education a viable or even desirable option. Education is just a business like anything else. A machine to create more workers. The education system that is currently in place is not sustainable. Soon the majority of the nation will be educated, and the jobs still won't exist.

I just hope that for my sake and others that student loan and education reform comes sooner rather than later.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Observations from a train

8:20am. The F train is running on time. I enter the train and the one half empty seat is occupied by a much older man who is sleeping and taking up most of the seat. I decide to stand. I can't quite tell if he is homeless, drunk or just down on his luck. With each passing stop, more people come on the train than leave. I watch with close eyes, everyone who enters eyeing that one empty seat. Nobody takes it. The old man adjusts himself and is leaning forward, holding his stomach, sleeping as if he was in pain or sick. The seat next to him was now free. I was tempted to sit, but kept standing.

More people entered the train, the fullness of the train manifested by a cornicopia of bodies. Bodies touching, breathing, feeling. Energies exchanged and glances taken in and given out. The women in high heels and the bored kids all eye the empty seat, but quickly look away definitively and decidely. I wonder why no one will sit next to him. I was so tempted to sit down just to prove something to myself, but then I thought he might be sick and I didn't want him to throw up on me. Everyone is standing, looking for a seat. No one moves. No one gets off in Brooklyn. People glance over to the seat, as if they are considering if they should take it. The answer is always no.

The old man sleeps in peace. His long, white beard frames his long wrinkly face. I want to see if he is ok. New Yorkers are accustomed to acting like they don't care. Nothing phases anyone anymore. I'm standing in front of Korean girl. She takes out a piece of gum. She starts chewing as if she has something to get out of her system. Her angry, rhythmic chewing alarms me. It is lound, unnatractive and pointed. Her jaw opens and closes rapidly and with each succession becomes slightly louder, until it becomes a monotonous crescendo.

I'm at my stop. I leave the old man and the gum chewing to everyone else. I'm walking up the stairs and there is a guy laying on his back at the base of the stairs. He looks like he could be dead, but I'm pretty sure he is just sleeping. At least that is what I tell myself. His shirt inches up to his chest, exposing parts of his stomach. I can't imagine such exhaustion. We all pass by as if nothing happens. I was more inclined to ask if he was ok, but if he was sleeping I didn't want to bother him. The trains take people from one place to another, but it is clear some people are stuck. Stuck in a moment, and we are all passing by with rapid motion, blurring any sense of calm.

But then again, it's just another day in New York City.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

'Roof Piece' by Trisha Brown

A little over a week ago, I went to the Highline to see Trisha Brown's recreation of her 1971 work, 'Roof Piece'. I am not a dancer (sad to say) and was only introduced to her work a year ago in an experimental dance class I took at NYU. Knowing that she was/is a huge part of dance history, especially in the downtown New York art scene, I was excited to finally witness her work. I decided to do little research on her 1971 piece and go see the current recreation of it as is. The title gives away the location, but not much more.

(What's in a title?)

My friend and I arrived at the Highline approximately 5 minutes before the expected showtime. It was pouring and I was curious to see how the dancers would incorporate the rain into the piece or if the piece would be cancelled altogether. Just then, as in an almost divine intervention, the rain stopped. 10 dancers were placed on various roofs in the Chelsea neighborhood. The dancers all wore red, which was an interesting color choice, but also very utilitarian in that it aided the audience in increased visibility in the darkening sunlight. Most of the dancers were visible from anywhere on the Highline, but some of them needed to be found, hidden away like obscure objects. The dance commenced and my eyes couldn't focus on one dancer. The improvisations bounced off each dancer, informing the other. The dancers similar movement was interesting in that the movements reminded me of labor- the mechanization of movements in capitalism. An odd reading, I must admit, but with all the bodies doing the same thing, and doing it in such a way where movement, rather than emotion was at the forefront of the piece, this is what entered my mind. The piece was only 30 minutes, a perfect amount of time for such an improvisation. The bodies flowing movement, against the landscape of the hard, concrete city and beautiful New York skyline created a wondrous moment of beauty. Freedom. To be dancing on the rooftops of Manhattan!

Body v. Concrete
A molding of
an added
of living, breathing

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Time for transition

Changes come as quickly as they go. Things that take a lifetime get accomplished in a minute, by adding two letters to the end of your name. Thoughts get reproduced by the body in a daily activity called routine. A desire to stop this routine. Ru-teen. Time is made important by the labor of work.

Found objects provide nostalgic memories of places not yet been, but ubiquitous in dreams.

Longing and desire seep through the river of blood coiling at each nerve ending until organs are on fire.

to be
I want to be
a body
a body without

how free we could all be
without this judgement

to wander free and mercilessly into the forrest of heaven, wherever that may be in our place of solitude, the imagination.