Nobles Parents' E-Newsletter

January 2012

Nobles Parents' E-Newsletter January 2012

Cleaning out the Drawer by Bill Bussey, Provost

I’ll spare you the details, but over the summer, and to my soul-searching horror, I found out that my youngest daughter was watching World Wrestling Entertainment on the sly. So I trumped her, and against all reason, took her to a packed Garden to see it live and up close. While I will never get those three and a half hours back, here’s something that floored me and, given my preconceived notions, left me more than a little contrite: The folks cheering on the body slams and choke holds were far more thoughtful and well-behaved than any crowd that I have encountered at any professional sporting event. No foul language, no drunks, no leering, no aggression. We might as well have been among the Disney On Ice fans.

Despite the lack of acrobats, the next four long Assemblies show some dexterity just the same:

Jan. 11: E.O. Wilson, the legendary “father of social biology” and theorist, not to mention a two-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize for non-fiction. Click here to check out last November’s Atlantic Monthly article about him.

Jan. 25: Musician and activist Chad Stokes. Stokes' band, Dispatch, made independent music history on two occasions: in 2004, the band attracted well over a 100,000 fans at the Boston Hatch Shell and in 2007, Stokes and his band reunited for one show at Madison Square Garden that turned into three sold-out shows.

Feb. 8: Isabel Wilkerson. Wilkerson is the first African American woman to win a Pulitzer Prize for journalism and the first African American to win for individual reporting. Her widely celebrated book, The Warmth of Other Suns, won the 2011 National Book Critics Circle Award. Click here to read more about Wilkerson. 

Feb. 22: New Orleans returns (we kicked off the year with Zeitoun ) to Nobles with music legend Buckwheat Zydeco—just in time to kick off Mardi Gras. If you want to catch what the New York Times calls “one of the best bands in America,” Buckwheat and his band will be performing at the Regattabar, located in the Charles Hotel, Cambridge, the night before (Tue., Feb. 21).

A few other things on my mind:

  • “Five Lessons Learned from Living in Paris” was written by an American exchange student. In this brief article, the author passes on some interesting cultural observations that are worth consideration. Click here to read the article.
  • A panel of writers at the New Yorker Festival—Jhumpi Lahiri, Jeffrey Eugenidas and Nicole Krauss—were asked to select their “writer’s writer.” Lahiri chose Mavis Gallant and Gina Berriault, among others. Kruass centered on Polish writer Bruno Schulz. All of them agreed with Eugenidas that the reclusive Denis (“Tree of Smoke”) Johnson was among the very best of all living authors.
  • If you are looking for a great coffee table book, may I recommend Henry Louis Gates’ just released Life Upon These Shores: Looking at African American History 1513-2008. The book, a wonderfully accessible work and a labor of love for Professor Gates, is dedicated to his father who recently passed away.
  • Two movies that I enjoyed as much as any last year made nobody’s “top ten” list: 1. Project Nim. This documentary chronicles Colombia University’s early 1970s experiment “which aimed to show that a chimpanzee could learn to communicate with language if raised and nurtured like a human child.” Tough to watch, but a very important film.2. The Guard. Made and set in Ireland, starring the great Don Cheedle and Brendan Gleeson. Dark, but smart, nuanced, funny and surprisingly poignant.
  • Just got to say it: Chris Collins-Pisano '12 and Belle Tuttle’s '13 rendition of Baby, It’s Cold Outside during the final 2011 Assembly was, like many of this year’s student Assembly performances, something special and sent us off in great spirits.

Knock on wood: Hate to jinx things but…if this past fall semester at Nobles is any indication of the months to follow, we are all in for a real treat.

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