The Bates Student

The Voice of Bates College since 1873

Author: Anah Witt

Student Bands Grace VCS with Lively Performances

On Thursday, March 1, several student bands had the opportunity to perform on the VCS stage as a result of a cancellation on behalf of the originally scheduled performer. Suffice it to say, they did not disappoint. Each group brought with them a certain type of energy and enthusiasm that is often absent from professional performers. This infectious vibe that radiated off of the performers was present in audience members as well. As music filled the space, both bands’ and observers’ faces were lit with amusement as their feet began to move with the music, creating an atmosphere of collective happiness and community.

The Crosstones started off the night with their tight harmonies and superb balance. The group sang, “Fix You” and “Elastic Heart,” and each song had an astounding soloist that was supported by the smooth voices of the group. Not only did the Crosstones nail their melodic composition, but their implementation of dynamics added a dramatic flair to their near-perfect performance. Though technically impeccable, the Crosstones’ visible passion for their music brought their performance to the next level.

In addition to established groups, first-year students shared their musical talents with VCS attendees. Nicole Recto ’21 and Will Crate ’21 conveyed a sort of quiet determination with their expressive rendition of James Arthur’s “Say You Won’t Let Go.” Their smooth voices and developed harmonies made for a pleasing sound in all ranges. Crate also lent his vocals and guitar to a performance with Billy Lahart ’21. The dynamic duo used their musical talents to bring good-natured humor to the evening in their interpretation of “Send me on my Way” from the movie Ice Age. Not only did Lahart and Crate deliver a lively performance, but also their interactions with the audience made the experience fun. Aggressive guitar playing and singing resulted in a boisterous style all their own, but with some rock influences. The pair’s willingness to employ humor and clear excitement made for an amazing experiential performance.

If passion is what makes a band successful, Alisa Amador ’18 brought this and more to her incredible performance of original music. With Ian Clarkson ’18, Owen Schmidt ’21, and Matt Marcus ’18 as her support, her band delivered instrumentals that highlighted the creativity and devotion that laced each song. Amador has a clearly established tone that shone through in each of her songs. Reminiscent of 1920s jazz, her soulful voice and driving rhythms enable Amador to captivate a room.

After the performance, I had the opportunity to speak with Amador about her music. Born into a musical family, Amador started performing as a backup singer with her family as soon as she could walk, and later learned the guitar at age 10. She began composing her own music at age 15, “when sh** hit the fan” and she witnessed a loved one going through a deep depression. According to Amador, music brings people together with “a power that goes beyond words. It is so rare for people to just be together.” Drawing inspiration from jazz greats such as Ella Fitzgerald, in addition to various Latino artists, Amador noted that she prefers to play in intimate settings because “you can see everyone’s faces and hear their reactions.” On performing for peers, she stated: “I get the most nervous before shows at VCS, but they are my favorite because everyone is listening, and the soundman is brilliant; he makes us sound so good.”

Similarly, members of The Remedy Patrick Nelson ’18 and Matt Marcus ’18 emphasized their enjoyment for playing in an intimate setting for peers. “Crowd reactions give us so much energy,” Nelson stated, “It’s really cyclical. They’re putting it in and we’re putting it out. Here we play and people are so respectful.” Members of The Remedy met on the first day of their freshman orientation and have been playing together for four years; the band’s name is even borrowed from the title of the book the class of 2018 read as incoming first-years. The group displays an incredible dynamic between members, and their zealous performance energized the crowd despite being the final act. On performing at VCS as opposed to bar settings, Nelson noted that the band “can play whatever [they] want,” opting for coffeehouse style music instead of exclusively “sing-alongs and energetic music” played at bars. The band added intensity and gusto to songs like “Ophelia” and “I Will Wait” that had the crowd energized and enthralled.

In the absence of the scheduled artists, student musicians stepped up to the challenge and built an incredible evening, amounting to one of the best VCS concerts of the year.

Billy Lahart ’21 and Will Crate ’21 fill the Benjamin E. Mays Center with music.
JAMES MACDONALD/THE BATES STUDENT

 

Noah Hawley’s Before the Fall Disappoints

 

When searching for a new book to read, one often refers to the reviews printed on the back (and sometimes the front, if the author is feeling a little smug) cover. If a particular novel is smattered with positive reviews from big-name institutions, accomplished authors, or simply a multitude of sources, one can almost always safely assume that the read will be worth their time. Naturally, as one does when browsing at a bookstore for four hours, a person comes across many such novels, bejeweled with praise, and must decide which of these adventures to embark upon. Noah Hawley’s novel, Before the Fall, certainly has no shortage of positive reviews; both the front and back cover display a myriad of accolades. Even the first five pages are utilized in an attempt to inform potential readers that this writer is fantastic, albeit a bit cocky, as they, too, are filled with acclaim for the work.

Sadly, despite all of the recognition Hawley has received by critics for his novel, it was disappointing. The novel begins with painter Scott Burroughs boarding the private airplane of David Bateman, a media mogul, his wife Maggie, and their two children, JJ (age four) and Rachel (age nine), as well as the family’s bodyguard, ex-military man Gil Baruch. Also on the plane are Ben Kipling, a powerful CEO, and his wife Sarah, in addition to the flight crew composed of pilot James Melody, co-pilot Charlie Busch, and flight attendant Emma Lightner. The plane’s scheduled journey, a quick hop from Martha’s Vineyard to mainland New York, is interrupted when it nosedives into the ocean, the force of the fall pulling apart the plane’s structure and throwing Scott and JJ into the water, while dragging the remaining passengers into the murky depths. Scott then locates JJ and manages to swim the 15 miles back to shore with a four-year-old clinging to his neck. The two arrive on a beach and must make sense of the tragedy that they were a part of, all while battling the media’s attempts to twist the story into one of sabotage, of which the prime suspect is Scott.

As the novel unfolds, Hawley alternates chapters between Scott’s present and the past of each character killed during the crash. Soon it is evident that David Bateman’s empire has resulted in many enemies, all of which would benefit if David were to be erased. Likewise, illegal activity propelled Ben Kipling’s success, so much so that he was scheduled to meet with the CIA soon after his return to New York. The executives’ wives are mere accessories to their husbands. Throughout the rest of the novel, Hawley accomplishes little if no character development as Scott, FBI agent O’Brien, and flight specialist Gus Franklin attempt to piece together the lives of the deceased in an attempt to pinpoint the cause of the crash, all whilst government teams scour the ocean floor in search of the downed aircraft. Scott, a recovering alcoholic whose chance at successful painting has long passed by, begins painting again, relying on friends for housing and shelter from the accusatory press.

Hawley attempts unsuccessfully to breathe new life into tired, old character tropes: the has-been painter, the powerful big-wigs with much-younger trophy wives who are irrelevant to the plot. What he lacks in character depth, Hawley fails to make up in drive. Before the Fall drags on with no clear intent. In highlighting the lives of the deceased before the crash, Hawley narrates with so little charisma that it forces readers to question whether or not he believes in his own work, whether he is invested his own characters. Everything about this novel is surface-level; it is dismally lacking in the depth necessary for a plot-driven suspense, while also displaying a scarcity in character complexity required for a character-driven thriller. The only aspect of the novel that propels one to finish it is the obligatory feeling of needing to find out why the plane went down.

The novel does finish with what many critics refer to as a twist-ending, and it is true that the finale is nearly impossible to preemptively determine, but for all the wrong reasons. Having laid the foundation for a possible complicated espionage or money-driven takedown scheme, Hawley chooses to ignore the potential for a finish worthy of wow, instead opting for a trivial conclusion that offers no real resolution. Overall, Hawley’s Before the Fall employs burned-out archetypes to create a dragging, unenthusiastic quasi-thriller whose dramatic finish could not be more unrelated to the thinly executed plot.

 

Captain Fantastic is Truly Fantastic

In the current political climate, many of the governmental actions have left a majority of the population in the United States despondent over the state of our nation. A blanket of corrupt capitalism, greed, and an overall lack of professionalism on Capitol Hill continues to smother the hope and choke the optimism from parents, caregivers, and children; it knows no class, age, gender, or race. At times, it seems as though this toxic environment that our government has become will lead to the inevitable downfall of not only the ideas on which the United States was established, but also on those we have come to endorse over generations: empathy, acceptance, love, and understanding. In an ideal world, an escape from politics would prove a saving grace for humanity.

In Matt Ross’s 2014 film, Captain Fantastic, Ben Cash and his six children do just this.

Cash, played by actor Viggo Mortensen, and his wife Leslie decide to move their family of eight into a self-sustained homestead in the Washington Mountains. The children are homeschooled, live without technology, and rely completely on each other for survival. Having refused the bureaucratic capitalism that dominated mainstream society, the pair raised their children in values of liberal philosophers and humanitarians. Having sought escape from the oppressive society in which they previously perpetuated, Cash and Leslie have created a kind of paradise all their own, deep within the untamed wild of Washington. Everything is perfect for the Cash family in their own bubble of learning and support. Then, the unthinkable happens.

After receiving a phone call, Cash leaves his family’s sanctuary and ventures into urban New Mexico in order to visit his wife, who has been staying in a mental hospital while dealing with suicidal ideation associated with bipolar disorder. Although viewers never meet Leslie

Cash, it is implied that while she initiated her family’s move to the mountains, she has spent several months struggling with her mental health in a treatment facility prior to the beginning of the film. Upon his return to his children in Washington, Cash announces that Leslie has taken her own life, and that their maternal grandparents do not wish for Cash and his children to attend her funeral. However, as Cash notes, Leslie was a Buddhist and wished to be cremated upon her death; as Leslie’s parents are strict Christians, they intend to host a traditional service with a burial. Feeling compelled to honor her request, Cash and his children embark to New Mexico on “Operation: Rescue Mom.”

Much of the film chronicles the Cash family’s journey into mainstream society in their efforts to fulfill Leslie’s last wishes. During this time, the family must rely on their intense bonds with each other as they struggle to navigate a foreign world of virtual violence and materialism.

Over the course of the film, several of Cash’s children question his teachings and their way of life in comparing it to that of their grandparents and cousins. Ultimately, Cash must reconcile with his decisions to raise his family sans technology.

Captain Fantastic is not only a touching story of human loss and redemption, but also one of the power of family and its many facets. Viggo Mortensen portrays the subtle complexities associated with regret, caring, hopelessness, and family so artfully; his acting is not overbearing so much as it creates a multilayered character with an idealistic worldview who must face reality, and with it anguish, doubt, and grief. Writer Matt Ross excellently highlights the intricacies in the unique family dynamic shared by the Cashes, while also injecting bits of realism that allow viewers to sympathize with the many challenges that Ben and his children face throughout the film. Additionally, the portrayal of a family completely separated from the technology that isolates us forces viewers to question their lives. Can a family living in such isolation be more in touch with human emotion than those who are caught in society’s web? This question prompts a critical analysis of our modern lifestyle; inventions intended to bring us together often erect invisible walls between us.

Captain Fantastic is an incredibly well produced story of the bonds that hold families together, and the hope and strength that emanate from them in times of strife. As visually striking as it is thought provoking, Captain Fantastic is a modern film that forces us to question our motives in this age of technology, capitalism, corruption, and overall hopelessness, while also providing shining rays of faith for humanity throughout.

 

Stephen King’s The Green Mile is a Must Read

As summer fades away, familiar signs of autumn announce the new season’s arrival. Cooler weather shakes a myriad of colorful leaves onto the ground as the trees prepare for winter. They crunch underfoot as people hustle across the quad between classes. Apples, pumpkins, and cider find their way into many different foods, offering a host of festive dining options. Warm afternoons sandwiched between cold mornings and nights remind us that this little slice of a season between summer and winter is fleeting, and therefore to be treasured.

The nostalgic air about autumn also brings in thoughts of Halloween: horror movies, Stephen King novels, and an unusually strong desire to listen to the entire Nightmare Before Christmas soundtrack on repeat. For those who do not particularly enjoy, or simply cannot stand lying awake at night, sure that Cujo or the Babadook is hiding in the corner, cloaked in shadow, this can be a difficult time to navigate. When practically everyone is reading The Shining and watching The Conjuring I and II, it can get a little difficult to maintain a Halloween spirit while tearing up over The Notebook and laughing at the jokes in 50 First Dates.

Published over several months in 1996, Stephen King’s serial novel The Green Mile offers an atmosphere of suspense without going so far as to terrify its readers. Now available as a compilation of all six pieces of the novel, The Green Mile follows Paul Edgecomb’s adventures as a guard on the Green Mile, a nickname given to the stretch of cells on death row at Cold Mountain Penitentiary, as he interacts with a variety of well developed heroes and villains. One inmate, however, impacts Edgecomb’s life significantly. John Coffey, accused of the murder of two young girls, arrives at Cold Mountain sobbing and confused, which gives Edgecomb and his colleagues, Brutus, Dean, and Harry, reason to question his guilt. It soon becomes apparent that Coffey is unlike any other prisoner that has spent time on the Mile, leading Paul and the other guards to deliberate over the morality of their occupation.

Throughout the novel, King’s natural, driving dialogue perpetuates the plot while simultaneously establishing the complexity of his characters. Via their actions and their interactions with the prisoners, King creates lovable heroes and absolutely despicable villains that play off of each other, creating a classic atmosphere of good and evil in a completely new environment – death row during the Great Depression. Besides offering an incredibly engrossing plot, The Green Mile forces readers to examine their own humanity in context with mortality of both themselves and others. In conjunction with its fast-paced storyline, an overarching awareness of death creates a forlorn aura that hovers over the characters and events. King writes with startling sensitivity that adds a unique dynamic to the terse conflicts that weave their way through the pages of The Green Mile.

This incredible novel will surely fill any void that horror-haters may feel during this time of year. Fast-paced, suspenseful, and mysterious, The Green Mile allows readers to immerse themselves in a haunting atmosphere without leaving them terror-stricken. The raw emotionality lacing the story adds another dimension to this multifaceted novel, further building on its intrigue. The Green Mile is a well-developed, human, and engaging novel that everyone should read at some point in their lifetime. A word of warning, though: one should read the last fifty pages or so alone because, in the words of John Coffey, “You can’t hide what’s in your heart.”

 

Art Walk Brings L/A Community Together

_DSC3519

A performer at Art Walk L/A. JAMES MACDONALD/THE BATES STUDENT

_DSC3515

A community member contemplating work at Art Walk L/A. JAMES MACDONALD/THE BATES STUDENT

_DSC3512

Bates students perform at Art Walk L/A. JAMES MACDONALD/THE BATES STUDENT

Music floats on the warm summer wind at the monthly Lewiston Auburn Art Walk. Tin Panic Steel Band, dressed in festive Hawaiian shirts and leis, plays percussive renditions of a wide range of music, from big band jazz to Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean.” Young children dance and run through a crowd of people who have gathered to listen to the music. Autumn leaves fall gently to the ground, promising cooler weather, as the festival goers soak in the last moments of summer.

Nearby, a man recreates the festive scene on canvas. Kenneth Harvey, a watercolor artist, has been putting his art on display at the Art Walk for people to see for four years. Not only has Harvey shared his art with the community in this aspect, but the accomplished painter has had his art displayed in the Central Maine Medical Center’s rotating art exhibit.

Art Walk is not merely about showing off his work. “[The Art Walk] is an opportunity for local artists to get out in the community,” he stated, saying that his favorite aspect of the event was “meeting people.”

For Harvey, however, the Art Walk is not merely about showing off his work. “[The Art Walk] is an opportunity for local artists to get out in the community,” he stated, saying that his favorite aspect of the event was “meeting people.”

Further down Lisbon Street, George Ramos displays his traditional Native American beadwork and clothing as well as various acrylic pieces. Fern Stearns, an acrylic artist, exhibits nearly thirty incredibly detailed tree conk memory paintings. Each individual scene is painted carefully onto a cross section of a tree, and each depicts a different snapshot of everyday life. In the same building as Ramos and Stearns, photography by Daniel Ramos highlights the beauty in day to day occurrences, such as how, when blurred, a car’s red tail lights can make for a mesmerizing, almost futuristic picture.

What stands out the most, however, is a series of surrealist paintings by Matthew Peinado. On each canvas, a squished face is surrounded by colors and shapes, each face expressing a varied level of anguish. One painting, titled “Ooze,” combines Peinado’s primary mediums, acrylic and airbrush, into a surrealist work depicting a human head with various forms of slime running down the face. This recent work is Peinado’s current favorite, as it allowed him to practice fitting airbrush and acrylic mediums together and to experiment with how they best mesh with each other. Much like Harvey, Peinado expressed that he enjoys the Art Walk largely because of the community. “I love the Art Walks. It brings the art to the local community, and people can come in and out [with] no pressure,” he stated.

For many of the local artists who display work in the Lewiston Auburn Art Walks, the people make the experience. Not only are the artists able to display their work, but they also interact with people from the community. One such artist is five year old Azilee Hollenbeck. This year is Hollenbeck’s fifth year coming to the Art Walk, as her mother is a photographer who displays artwork in The Hive, an artist collective. Besides excitedly showing her paintings to the public, Hollenbeck also said that she “like[s] drawing art because it’s really fun.” In addition to art, Hollenbeck offers songs that she wrote, excitedly singing them for whoever is in the vicinity. In The Hive, with Hollebeck singing original songs about friendship and people conversing, holding hands, and simply being together, the vibrancy of the Lewiston Auburn area is evident in the warm atmosphere that emanates from the room.

Both Harvey and Peinado reflected on how the most valuable aspects of the Art Walk involve the community, and that sentiment was largely present throughout the entirety of the event. The Art Walk not only gives local artists a chance to get out in the community, but it also gives community members a venue to socialize and interact with each other. The overall sense of togetherness and enjoyment are overwhelmingly present, as everyone wears smiles as they mill about, talking and taking in the art.

Lewiston proudly displays its creativity and vibrancy in its Art Walks through eclectic music, a menagerie of art types, and most prominently in its sense of community.

 

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén