CUNY Macaulay Honors College at Baruch College/Professor Bernstein
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I had been to the MoMa once before, I remember, vaguely. I must have been young because I could hardly recognize it. When I walked through the exhibits, it all seemed so enchanting. Granted, some were a little too abstract for my taste. But others seemed so inventive and thought provoking, so I wrote a few down.

One specific artist written on the top of my list was Barnett Newman. Newman’s work stirred up conversations. Most around me were unappreciative, and just saw a line. At first, I did too. But lines are not just lines when they are exhibited at the MoMa, so I decided to take a look. Apparently, the idea behind Mr. Newman’s collection was to convey a sense of separateness, while being completely connected. It is a message of the human race, and how disconnected we all feel but in reality, we are all together. After reading that, it was much more than just a straight line. Modern art, I believe, is really just the manifestation of a concept. Instead of creating an aesthetic, it focuses more on an idea than the final product. A line isn’t exactly a work of art, unless the line represents an idea.

I see where some people may lose appreciation here. But there is something to say about the concepts behind some of the pieces I saw at the museum.

Robert Frank’s exhibit interested me as well. Frank was a photographer in the 1930s whose work in black and white film “stood out” to say the least. I shuffled through a book of his prints, some of which were enlarged on the adjacent wall. They were beautiful, and caught real people doing mundane things. One that struck me hard, and pained me to see, was Dead Horse.

I have seen war photography, and I have seen pictures of crime and death, but never of a horse. Maybe I have a soft spot for the animals, but this was something I never wanted to see. But maybe that is art – bringing to light what no one would intend on showing you. It evoked emotions, alright.

But the one piece that struck me the most, was Big Red by Sam Francis. I do not really know why, but I must have stood by myself staring for a good five minutes. The intricate layerings and the colors just brought about a lot in me. It must be the pure size of it – it’s huge – and the solemness of the painting. I almost wanted to cry.

So, I went home and made it my laptop background. It’s the most I can do to pay personal homage.

December 9, 2010   No Comments

Krulwich – Cool, Calm and Collected

Sara Krulwich walked into that classroom with an almost majestic presence. Her face is warm and familiar, and her eyes seemed to earnestly seek out everyone in the room. As she introduced herself, I was excited.

I did not know much about her, but had seen some of her work in the New York Times unknowingly. I read the Theater section for my weekly fix. After she came in, I’ve been noticing her name in a lot of the articles I read – and now I appreciate them so much more.

Her story was inspiring, to say the least; she took a hit for all the female photographers before her (all few of them). She had no reason to believe that she could make it as a photographer, as she wasn’t even allowed on her college football field. Sara’s do-it-yourself attitude led her to do great things, and be the first to do them.

Hearing her story come from her mouth so matter-of-factly and with a slight undertone of pride was so very impressive. She could have easily puffed out her chest and said, “Yeah, I am great.” But she did not. Instead, she left me with hope. Hope that I could do the same, but I would not have to. I would not have to because she paved the way for other women to follow in her difficult footsteps.

When she explained her first interactions with her camera, I could imagine her in a room fiddling around with a DIY film developing kit – because I’ve been through the same thing. For hours on end I would dabble with buttons and settings, experimenting. When I started with film I would sit in a dark room with no experience and just go for it.

She gives me hope that if I keep up with it, maybe my photography could blossom into more than just experiments. Sara did not go out on crazy trips around the world to follow poverty and crime in third world countries, and she did not spend her time taking avant-garde pictures of malnourished models. She takes pictures of what she knows and loves, and provides another medium for fellow theater-lovers to appreciate it more. And on top of that, she did it FIRST.

December 9, 2010   1 Comment


Going to the ICP by myself was an interesting experience. I walked through the doors and was instantly confused; I hadn’t known anything of the sort existed. I had seen photography exhibits in famous museums but nothing like the ICP.

I walked around by myself, and said virtually nothing to those around me. I was able to take my time and not have to worry about keeping pace or getting back in time for club hours.

And so I dilly-dallied and took my time looking at the pictures. The two exhibitions, “The Mexican Suitcase” and the “Cuba in Revolution” were not in my favorite genre of photography, but they were impressive just the same. I have seen tons of war photography, but some in particular were fascinating.

My favorite exhibit was the “Cuba in Revolution.” It showed a people in a time of rebellion in the most unorthodox way. It showed celebration, and misery, and victory. It was dirty and extraordinary. It did not show vicious wounds, but those who were fighting for something and a sense of camaraderie in some.

The pictures showed every day people and the excitement in their eyes at the idea of changing something. The shocking part of the exhibit was seeing the iconic “Heroic Guerrilla” picture of Che Guevara that has become a pop culture image. I was used to seeing the polarized, cultured version of the famous rebel’s portrait, but got a chance to see the vintage print.

After checking out the exhibits, I learned that ICP offers photography classes (at a large price). They offer dozens of them, for beginners and experts. It seemed like something worth looking into. Maybe when Santa Claus comes to town, he’ll have ICP in mind.

December 9, 2010   No Comments

Chicken Coops and Cooped Up Dreams: Brian Rhinehart


In a damp, cramped chicken coop in the middle of nowhere in Ohio years and years ago, a baby was born. The chicken coop was gutted out, and the baby was given room to grow. From this chicken coop came the kind-hearted soul I met a few months ago.

Brian Rhinehart has been acting since the age of five, when he appeared as a young, bright-eyed David in his Vacation Bible School’s production of David and Goliath. Ever since then he blossomed a love for the theater; later on, he became President of his high school’s Drama Club. It was his main passion, but Brian balked at the opportunity to pursue it as a career. He decided at the ripe age of 18 that it was too risky a choice to chase his dreams in theater. Instead, he studied English and obtained Bachelors and Masters degrees in English at the University of Florida. He was studying to become an English professor, and even did his courseload for a phD in English. But during the years he was working towards his phD, he began to dabble again in sketch and comedy pieces in various theater productions. Slowly, he grew back into his old love for theater. He began doing tours and directing.

For five years he taught an array of English classes at University of Florida; it was there, in Gainesville, that he met his wife. For five years, he directed and wrote many plays in the Gainesville theater scene with a writing partner and best friend. He visited New York during this time, and, as he put it, “became intoxicated.”

The nauseating monotony of American Literature, British Literature, Argumentative Literature classes started to eat at his dreams. English just wasn’t enough anymore.

One day, he left his life behind and packed his bags. Friends, family, and shelter were left in the dust as he waved his old life farewell. Brian, his wife and his writing partner were headed for bigger dreams. He decided to go for his far-fetched dreams, and shipped up to New York. He changed his life in an instant, and the gears of fate started churning as soon as he made his decision. Brian and his writing partner had a show in the works, and decided to bring it to the Big Apple. He had graded his share of papers. They wanted to become “little fish in a big pond.” The move was inspired by their “highfalutin ideas about changing the world,” Brian described with a self-mocking fake cry.

Shortly after moving to New York, he obtained an MFA at the Actors Studio. After finishing his MFA, he decided to finish his dissertation to complete his phD in English – pulling upon five comedic shows he directed (including Boy’s Life, the just recently passed Baruch production). He is currently writing a book on the art of Comedy Acting with a friend of his, a fellow director.

After finishing his dissertation, he focused his energy on teaching Acting and Directing in various colleges and theater groups – including Baruch College. Brian is more interested in form-breaking, innovative realism in the theater. He has worked on many forward-thinking workshops primarily based in Germany.

He has also worked on dozens of productions that break boundaries, and is continuing to do so with his new project “The Mistakes Madeline Made.” Among his most popular endeavors was directing the Broadway tour of The Wedding Singer in 2007; since then, he has accomplished a virtually unimaginable amount of successful performances.

That life-changing decision was indeed the right one. He is never seen without a smile and a jovial pat on the back; his laid-back and happy aura eminates and infects all those around him. He loves what he does, and he does what he loves on his own terms. Despite initial hesitations, he uprooted his whole life and started anew. That takes some guts.

December 7, 2010   5 Comments

Scottsboro Boys

As the curtains closed, I sat awestruck with my mouth agape. This happens a lot at Broadway plays for me, but at Scottsboro Boys it was for a different reason. In this new age of Broadway shows ripped straight off from movies or television (Elf, Legally Blonde, Shrek, Spiderman) ‘Scottsboro’ holds something special in its story.

It was the first historically controversial Broadway play I have ever seen, and it gave justice to the plight of the nine young men in post-WWII Alabama. The story follows nine African-American males and their fight against an erroneous claim of raping two southern white belles. Unfortunately, these poor boys are fighting against the law and society – while also fighting against their surroundings. The play is in the form of a minstrel show, a cruel reminder of the way African Americans were treated in entertainment. The boys are stuck in the distorted, almost scary and completely irrelevant world of minstrel tradition. The irrationality of all those around them is heightened by the rough insincerity of minstrel acting.

The minstrel acting, although coarse and diverse (as it should be), was phenomenal. The actors played an array of characters, from racist deputies, corrupt lawyers to blubbering, air-headed southern women. Each character was distinguishable, real, and completely different from the next. This is not to take away from the other actors – the nine Scottsboro Boys.

All nine young men showed brilliant talent and hard work, but one character in particular was extremely well-crafted. Brandon Victor Dixen, the man behind Haywood Patterson performed excellently in his role. His voice was capable of a perfect blend of deep, soulful southern comfort and the pain and exhaustion of fighting an impossible battle. His torture seemed to be the solid foundation for the surrounding chaos.

This chaos was not due to the set design – it was minimal, but innovative. The set design comprised of a set of chairs, about ten or so; they made for quick and clean transitions, while leaving the audience in awe of the complicated combinations in which they were positioned. The transitions were extremely fluent and enjoyable to watch.

As was the dancing! The songs were contagious, while some were tear-jerkers. At times, their placement seemed irrelevant to the theme of the play, taking away from the true plot. The choice of minstrelsy as a background to the play was essential to the play’s sarcasm, but at times it felt like the minstrelsy was being forced into conforming to Broadway standards. Certain songs were to be sung at certain times, to evoke certain feelings, which works for most Broadway plays. However, Scottsboro’s sinister story seemed somewhat masked by the forcefulness of the placement of songs. The songs where unnecessary at times, but were well performed and very clever.

Overall, the production of ‘Scottsboro Boys’ was well cast and well executed. It had the daunting task of putting an extremely controversial historical scene onto the bright lights of Broadway, and I believe it succeeded as much as it could. It brings a refreshing new taste to the stale choices of today’s Broadway plays, but is easily misunderstood. It was sarcastic and funny, while still tugging on the heartstrings. The boys’ story was told in an unorthodox manner, but in a way that points a cold, glaring finger at the audience and the audience of the early 1900s – of those watching this all take place, in real time, and paying no mind. Complete with black face, southern hospitality and ignorance – ‘Scottsboro’ was a beautifully bittersweet take on a tough subject.

December 1, 2010   No Comments

Wacky Holidays

I checked my phone as I busted out of the front doors of Baruch. 1:50. Class had gotten out early, and I had my whole day ahead of me. As I looked up at the sky and felt the familiar chilled breeze of November, I reckoned it was a beautiful day. Time for a stroll.

I took an unorthodox trail to the train station that day. I walked around twenty-fifth street, up the avenues and through parks, past skyscrapers and hole-in-the-wall stores that I never passed. It was simply beautiful.

The station was in sight, and I took in my last few glances as I crossed sprawling Sixth Avenue. But as I walked, I saw yet another wonder. A huge pick-up truck, dusty to an almost disgusting degree – an odd sight to see in New York – with writing on the exterior. Someone had thumbed “Happy Holidays” in the gathering dust of this car. It brought a smile to my face as I passed, and on to the train. But then I paused, ran back, whipped out my phone and took a picture. The marvels of technology.

I’ve been looking forward to Christmas in the city for a while now. It’s my favorite time of year. Christmas songs have been blasting in my room weeks before Thanksgiving, and I covered my room in Christmas lights ages ago. Christmas just brings such a warm, jovial feeling to me and who knows, hopefully those around me. And in New York City no less! The magic of the city goes unnoticed to us sometimes, but Christmas brings New York to life like I have never seen. At night, with everyone bundled and skating in Bryant Park, it seems like a black and white film full of joy and wonder.

This odd little reminder just goes to show the change of pace New York goes through during the Holidays. Everything slows down for you, everyone seems to be happier. Some sadder. But mostly people seem to be more jovial – and if you don’t believe in the Christmas spirit, here in NYC, that is just fine by me. But it’s never fun being the Grinch.

November 29, 2010   No Comments

A Lot Can Happen in Ten Floors

On contemplating Cultural Encounters, several reluctantly came to mind. Mind – where was my mind? It is always scattered, like the walls of my room. My room is a scant little cubicle of a place to rest my head. My room screams of clutter, of personality, of sarcasm, of home. But as soon as I walk out my door (the strenuous three foot walk), I am met with a busy avenue of other scatterbrains: the Tenth Floor.

I never dreamt of being this close to a group of people, but I am (like it or not). Day in and day out, my family runs around the halls doing goodness knows what. Madness ensues on the tenth floor at all hours of the week – and boy, are we proud. Our little melting pot of floor-mates does a lot together: share bathrooms, and breakup stories, and food outings, and stories of home. Every day is a cultural encounter for us. I live next door to an Asian boy, across the hall from an African American and a Venezuelan. On my other side is a girl from Michigan who can never say the word “fire” correctly. Next door to her is a Russian guy from Brighton Beach, who shares a bathroom with a musician from Westchester. My closest friends are Mexican, Puerto Rican, Italian, and who knows what else.

We eat together; we scream together, we pretend to do homework together. We sit in the halls together. Every time I open the door, another adventure awaits me. I decided to document some of the strange happenings that occur right outside my door, with the emblem of our floor in view at all times: a sign that reads, “A Lot Can Happen On Ten Floors.” Home made, of course. It’s our equivalent of a “Home Sweet Home” welcome mat.

Our sign greets us as we get off the elevator, and salutes us as we leave for school in the morning. It overlooks some nerf-gun fights and some other kinds of fights. It hears our juicy stories and our incessant whines about homework.

Much like my lonely tree, I stuck around to see what our welcome mat could see. I’ve seen people help others with homework, teach others to dance, learn Chinese phrases while eating Mexican food, sign up for classes together, cry about classes together, procrastinate for classes together. With this many people in such a tiny space, you’re bound to rub elbows with every different kind of person eventually.

In the dorms, I have met art interns from France with dreamy eyes, walking-dead studiers with even dreamier eyes, and sports players with dreams in their eyes. The halls of 101 Ludlow directly reflect the fleeting city outside its walls. The Lower East Side has become our playground, and it is interesting how each one of us plays differently.

In my collage, I’ve documented some of our playtime for the world to see. I hope you enjoy our nonsense of the Tenth Floor. We’re kind of a big deal.

November 23, 2010   No Comments

Cait McCarthy / The Forgotten Heroes of Broadway


It’s easy to mindlessly walk through the city without looking a single person in the eye. It’s easy to glide through the streets as they blur by you in a monotonous gray tone. It’s easy to not care a single drop where you are as long as you get where you’re going. But lately, I have found it all so difficult. The weather has gotten reasonably colder, the breeze a little brisker, the sun weaker by the second. And the leaves on the trees have been changing. Yes, I said trees – in New York, too.

For the past month, I have spent everyday passing by a beautiful park that screams of a photo-op on my way to rehearsals at Baruch. One day, I brought my camera along with me so the scenery would finally stop yelling at me. Ever since, I’ve found beautiful scenery in the strangest of places.

When people think of New York, they don’t think of maple trees and grass. They think of the cement scenery, the brick backdrop of grim, overbearing buildings. It’s not easy to stop and smell the roses, especially if you can’t even find them behind the skyscrapers.

But if you keep an eye out, they are everywhere. Pots of flowers litter the pedestrian plaza on Broadway; scant little trees brave their way onto every street, squished between No Parking signs and bus stops; and before you know it, you’re not in the concrete jungle anymore. You’re in an urban forest.

The pictures taken were many and far between, but it is hard to catch the melancholy attached to these beautiful, lonely trees. First, I dabbled with the idea of documenting the life of one simple tree on Lexington Avenue. He quietly looked on as countless passersby and taxis whizzed past him, not giving him a second glance. I situated myself in a doorway of the building directly across, and stood by as I watched what he got to watch every day.

But then I took another look around, and realized that there were more trees that wanted their limelight as well, and it would be selfish to not give them their fifteen minutes of fame.

Each one felt like a ghost of The Giving Tree, saddened by its uselessness as it stayed put while the surroundings paid no notice. But each tree was different, and had a different view of the city, and its own painfully lonely story to tell. But in their misery blossoms a tragic beauty all in its own. Although they long for attention, they still have a regal presence that cannot be denied.

The misplacement of all these creatures brings an interesting light to the contrast of their environment, and how they adapt. Or rather, how they cannot adapt. On none of these city streets I roam do I see a fully-bloomed, growing, healthy tree. More often than not, I see twiggy, lanky, poor little trees that are fighting their best to grow.

So, I believe it is their time to shine. These lost souls have been ignored long enough, and have long paid their dues. They have seen more of the city than anyone ever will.

I have split the collection in two parts: the first, of many trees and scenes of foliage found across the city; and second, of the loneliest tree of them all.

November 16, 2010   3 Comments

Boisterous Bubbles

I swear, it had to be four degrees. My hands shook like a volcano, my nose as red as molten lava – but I didn’t care. I sat on the steps of Central Park on the cusp of a wide open space around the famous fountain. All types of people passed, or stayed, or skated, or ran by. What caught some of our attention on this brisk day (to say the least) was a man and his bucket.

Standing between me and the fountain was a man in his mid thirties, equipped with two sticks, some rope attached, and buckets of soap. He routinely dipped the sticks, which he held like wands, at arms length and dipped them into the buckets. As he lifted and separated the sticks, he brought with him the most entrancing things – bubbles. Huge bubbles. Bubbles bigger than you and I put together.

Watching the bubbles form and float seamlessly in the wind, only to pop and dissolve, was beautiful. The bitter air was no longer fearful as long as I watched those bubbles. They seemed to have every color of the rainbow trapped inside, swirling and twirling and molding into each other.

I wasn’t the only one who noticed. People started to gather to watch this man make his bubbles. He gently lifted his sticks, and almost genuflected to the wind as he gracefully swept his arms in his magical bubble-making motions. Children started running around, chasing these huge mystical things. They would scream, and giggle, and skip, and just enjoy. And they weren’t alone: passersby would be pleasantly surprised to turn around to find an abnormally sized bubble ready to pop in their faces.

Soon, the fountain started to become more crowded. Children joined in with extra sticks, dipping them in and trying for themselves. Parents watched, laughed, took pictures. Friends smiled and pointed, waiting for their turn. Dogs chased and barked at them. Skaters slid around them, and some unfortunate runners ran right into them.

It was just so funny to see something so mundane bring so much joy to so many different sets of people. For a moment, we were all together. All us fountain-goers shared something once-in-a-lifetime, and I think some of us knew it. The beauty of the bubbles (that’s right, just bubbles), brought together people that never would have even look at the other in the street. I shared smiles and knowing glances with grandmothers, preteen Justin Bieber wannabes and even toddlers.

For a moment there was no sorrow in the world. Just beauty. There was no war, or sadness, but just social togetherness. Maybe Obama should send some bubbles in to the Middle East, and not soldiers. The world might be a better place.

November 9, 2010   No Comments

The WB(o)MB

So, a quick recap of my last few weeks: days blending together to create an odd, chaotic smoothie – one part class and homework, two parts play rehearsal, one part facebook and hanging out, and three parts radio station. Doesn’t sound too appetizing, huh?

Well, it’s been tasting good to me. I joined the radio station the first month coming to Baruch. I’d known a few of the people there from high school, who had a show I’ve continually tuned in to. Sure, WBMB – The Biz! reaches three blocks. Sure, the world has graduated to iTunes and Youtube. But there is something to be said about a recording studio, turn tables and walls covered in band posters. There’s culture, there’s opinion, there’s rebellion. There’s spirit.

I’m planning my own show now, but what has been on the forefront is my behind-the-scenes work. I am station photographer, and the title’s treated me great so far. I have set up a few social networking sites for the station, and that has taken up more of my time, energy and interest than my classwork all week combined.

The world of social networking is so infectious and almost vital to our generation. Lately, we’ve been surrounded by the threats of these sites: we give too much information, we don’t know where it ends up, etc. But there is an absolute positive to this exposure that cannot be denied.

I would put money on the fact that no one in our blog even knows Baruch has a radio station. But after making a Twitter, a Facebook, and a Tumblr, they will soon. It’s amazing what these sites can do, exposure wise. Overnight the station’s Tumblr has gained 12 followers (Tumblr is a site where users upload pictures, thoughts, quotes, videos into an RSS feed-type site to share with friends in a very open, “nonjudgemental” environment. It’s Facebook’s hipster cousin). The twitter has gained almost 10 followers as well. A majority of these new listeners and supporters are from different boroughs and most of them don’t even go to Baruch.

I’ve realized that there is some point to Facebook besides creeping and procrastinating. It’s sort of funny that it has taken me this long.

October 28, 2010   1 Comment