New Yorker writer Rachel Aviv ’04 speaks at Brown

rachel aviv

Last night, journalist Rachel Aviv ’04 returned to Brown to deliver a lecture about her approach to nonfiction writing and the challenges she faces throughout her work. Her talk, which took place at Brown/RISD Hillel, was sponsored by the English Department as part of this year’s Great Brown Nonfiction Writers’ Lecture Series. Aviv, who became a staff writer for The New Yorker in 2013 (you can check out some of her work here), focuses primarily on investigating marginalized and often-stigmatized people. Her work has received an immense amount of praise, evidenced by a long list of awards and accolades. And, according to the lecture’s host, her phenomenal work was equally present on College Hill; Aviv was described as “a star in the [nonfiction writing] program” and one of the first students within the program to write a thesis and earn departmental honors.

Aviv opened her speech by sharing that what she finds to be the most difficult aspect of her writing process is actually figuring out what to investigate. The hours of seemingly-wasted time that she spends aimlessly browsing the web can become incredibly frustrating for a journalist — especially, in Aviv’s case, in the face of a 33,000-word annual writing quota from The New Yorker.

From there, she continued describing the manner in which she writes, describing “two intersecting strands” she deemed essential to the success of her stories. According to Aviv, a successful story would combine an issue of particular relevance or significance with a character that would serve as a guide, allowing for readers to become emotionally invested in the chosen issue. Especially within the context of the highly marginalized and stigmatized topics that Aviv explores, a compelling character is integral to her ability to create protagonists within the antagonistic parameters of her subject matter. Continue Reading


Drunk, Sober, High: Senior Night at Ale House

Drunk/Sober/High is a series started at New York University’s blog NYULocal. It sends a drunk person, a sober person, and a high person to all go enjoy (and endure) the same experience together. We love it, so we thought we’d give it a try. 

This is the story of three people, one drunk, one sober, and one high, and their quest to Senior Night at Ale House. One of them isn’t even an f***ing senior, but shut up, that’s not the point.

Why were they going to Ale House? For the free food that there certainly wouldn’t be enough of, or the existential crisis they were bound to have anyway this week? The exact answers to these questions are unknown, but perhaps you can determine it yourself, from the gripping account below.

DrunkSoberHigh

Sober: Drunk and High weren’t ready to meet up until 10:15… They told me 9:45. I knew I shouldn’t offer to be sober – Sober is always the person who gets irritable the quickest. At least I can wear my cat-eye make up without immediately smudging it off in a drunken or drug induced stupor.

Drunk: Hey Sober, I like your lipstick. Where’d you get it, Hot Topic?

High: I’m afraid I’m not high enough.

 One minute later

High: Shit, I think I am too high I might have to go home.

Drunk: You are home – we haven’t left your dorm yet.

High: You’re right, you’re right I’m fine. Drunk should drink more though.

Sober: Agreed, but let’s go.

High: Actually, I don’t want to leave yet. Can we wait ten minutes?

Drunk: Well the event ends in thirty-five minutes

Sober: Oh shit. Guys let’s go.

En route to Ale house, they witness the largest gathering of the biker gang that any of them have seen. One of them does a wheelie while ripping down Thayer Street. Sober and Drunk want to blog about the motorcycle crew, but don’t know how to approach them for an interview. A decision is reached to write a blog post hypothesizing how one would communicate with the bikers. Keyword: Traffic cones.

High: Drunk, do you realize that Sober is writing down everything we say.

Drunk: Hey High, don’t censor yourself.

Sober: So Drunk claims that he drank peppermint schnapps, but High insists she saw him drink cranberry juice and vodka

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A Cool Thing You Shouldn’t Miss: Charles M. Blow speaks at Brown

charles blow

If you’ve taken advantage of Brown’s free subscription to the New York Times, you’ve probably become familiar with columnist Charles M. Blow. The writer is perhaps best known for his op-ed pieces about politics and various social justice issues, as well as his contributions to and appearances on CNN and MSNBC.

He will take the stage in Salomon this evening to speak in a lecture entitled “A New Civil Rights Movement,” which will also be streamed via simulcast to Salomon 001. The speech will be preceded by an introduction from Tricia Rose, director of the Center for the Study of Race and Ethnicity in America at Brown. Blow’s talk is the latest installment in the Taubman Center for American Politics and Policy’s John Hazen White, Sr. Lecture series.

“A New Civil Rights Movement” is an absolute must-see, so grab your tickets here and head over to Salomon this evening! The lecture is at 5:30 p.m. and tickets are free, so you should definitely check it out. If you can’t make it, look out for a recap of the talk here on Blog.

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Audition Roundup: Upcoming Dates and Deadlines You Won’t Want to Miss

hectic schedule

For many, the first few weeks on campus can be a whirlwind of names and faces coupled with a barrage of dates and deadlines. As a student of any grade it can be hard to keep track of audition times and locations, and it can be extremely disappointing to realize that a deadline has come and gone for an organization that recruits only once a semester/year. The chaotic nature of these first weeks often gets exacerbated by the disparate locations of audition information, resulting in deadline whiplash. For this reason, Blog presents a (hopefully comprehensive, but in no way exhaustive) roundup of fast-approaching audition/deadline dates.

NOTE: many organizations are not featured on this list. There are literally hundreds of awesome groups on Brown’s campus, many of which have yet to release audition deets or have more rolling acceptance policies. Additionally, for the sake of space and sanity, we were unable to include extensive info for each audition/application process–this is just a list of names, dates and locations. If you’re looking for more info (or any info at all) regarding a club not on this list, you should reach out to it directly, search online for a Facebook event, or actually read consult Morning Mail!

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Sarah Koenig lecture discusses story-telling and Serial

Sarah-Koeinig

This afternoon, Sarah Koenig spoke in Salomon about her career in radio and journalism, and on the power of storytelling. The lecture was presented by the Sarah Doyle Women’s Center, as one of the final events celebrating Women’s History Month. Koenig, a journalist and radio producer, has worked at The East Hampton Star, ABC News, The New York Times, and This American Life. Perhaps most notably, she hosted and produced Serial, a spin-off to This American Life. Serial  debuted in October 2014 at No. 1 on the iTunes charts, and was the fastest podcast to reach 5 million downloads.

Serial, a 12-part weekly non-fiction podcast re-investigated the murder of Hae Min Lee, a teenage girl who disappeared in Baltimore, Maryland, on January 13, 1999, and whose body was found a month later in Leakin Park. Lee’s ex-boyfriend, Adnan Syed, was arrested and convicted of her murder. The podcast closely reexamined the details of Lee’s disappearance and Syed’s subsequent trial through interviews with many of the relevant persons to the crime, including Syed, and painstaking review of relevant phone records and court documents.

Although Koenig originally expected a modest 300,000 listeners, Serial erupted into a cultural sensation. It gained an ardent fan base, prompting a popular subreddit of listeners debating possible theories, as well as a December Saturday Night Live parody of the podcast, starring Cecily Strong and Amy Adams. To date, Serial has amassed 6.5 million listeners, a number completely unprecedented in audio storytelling and podcast industries.

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What we’re reading

In the Internet age, it’s often difficult to filter through the inordinate amount of content to find the best there is. Between the barrage of clickbait present on your Facebook newsfeed (can ANYONE tell me why Answers.com exists?) and the sheer massive amount of reporting available online, sometimes it’s easier to read no news than to find the news you want. 

Fear no more! Introducing: “What we’re reading,” a weekly column designed to streamline the sifting process by providing you with some of Blog’s favorite web content of the week. 

First off, “Rising the Juggernaut,” a piece in the Economist asking (and attempting to answer!) the question: “Has the Islamic State baited America into a campaign to wipe it out?”

Politico’s “Is It Time to Ditch the Star-Spangled Banner?” is not only pretty self-explanatory but also fascinating!

Quartz’s “Here’s how ‘disruptive innovation’ works in nature: a killing-machine fish has colonized reefs from Venezuela to Rhode Island,” is also extremely self-explanatory, given the Upworthy-length title.

ESPN anchor Hannah Storm said what everyone was thinking following the Ray Rice scandal.

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