Week in Review: Serious Business Edition (June 26-July 3)

Today’s Week in Review is a bit more serious, so let’s jump into it.

[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="256" caption="via Facebook"]via Facebook[/caption]

Henry Velandia, husband of Princeton grad student Josh Vandiver, will officially not be deported. Velandia, who because of the Defense of Marriage Act was unable to be sponsored for a green card by his spouse, had been facing deportation proceedings because of an expired visa. Last Friday, Immigration and Customs Enforcement decided that the case was no longer a priority, and essentially dropped it.

It’s not a total victory for opponents of the federal DOMA, but the couple’s lawyer, Lavi Soloway says it’s the first time the government has decided to drop deportation proceedings on the basis of an LGBT couple’s marriage.

From the Star-Ledger:

Though the decision does not set a legal precedent, it establishes that the government has the power and the inclination to “do the right thing,” Soloway said.

“Frankly, the only obstacle between that individual and a green card is this one law (the Defense of Marriage Act) that the president and the attorney general have said is unconstitutional and that they won’t defend,” he said.

While Soloway acknowledged that the Defense of Marriage Act won’t be repealed or struck down by the Supreme Court overnight, he said the couple’s victory ultimately will contribute to its demise.

Over at the Christian Science Monitor, Tina deVaron ’78 wrote a compelling article on June 28 about date rape on college campuses, sharing her own experience with rape at Princeton, in 1973. The article was sparked by a joint Tigerlilies/Nassoons performance for the university’s She Roars conference in April, which deVaron attended.

We haven’t seen video of the performance, but we hear that part of the Nassoons choreography includes a hip thrust. In her article, deVaron described the choreography as pantomiming “what is essentially gang rape in front of an audience of middle-aged women, many of them moms.”

On the conference’s opening night, a female a cappella group, the Princeton Tigerlilies, gave a concert. The girls sang prettily, dressed in short black frocks and high pumps.

Then the group’s all male a cappella counterpart, the Nassoons, performed. For the song “ShamaLama,” they serenaded one of the Tigerlilies onstage, with choreography: In rhythm, they pantomimed unzipping their flies, and bluntly thrust their pelvises forward at the lone young woman on stage. Sixteen guys, one girl. The guys smirked, the girl smiled meekly.

Accounts from people who saw the performance suggest that the two a capella groups weren’t intending to promote any sexual violence with their choreography, and it appears no complaints were voiced after the performance in April. Still, the article has sparked a new discussion about college culture.

Weigh in with your thoughts in the comments.

Flashmob: Singing Alumni Edition

File under Reason No. 654 I love this school:

Impromptu arch sings!

At around 11 p.m. last night, a group of distinguished looking men clustered in Blair Arch and began doling out classics like “Tigertone Blues,” “Danny Boy,” and “I Get By With a Little Help From My Friends.” They sang to no one, save themselves. Eventually, one student stopped, then two, then a crowd. Whispering ensued: What was going on? Just who were these men?

Answer: The Nassoons, circa 1975-81.

They had flown in from around the world, including Minnesota, Tokyo, and Moscow, to reunite with some of their closet friends from college.

“That guy — see, over there,” Bob Peskin ’78 pointed, “he was kind of a space cadet in college. We joke that he’s from Mars.”

Peskin and his friends had gathered as part of the larger Nassoons reunion taking place this weekend. Founded in 1941, the Nassoons host shows on campus every five years, and this year, over 200 alums are expected for the huge (and free!) 70th anniversary show scheduled for Saturday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m., in Taplin Auditorium.

“You should come! If you stay the whole time, you  can see how the songs have changed from generation to generation,” Peskin said. Many of the alums no longer sing nor dance, he added, so while all groups meet up to rehearse their scales and jazz squares on Friday, the best part of the show is watching which groups have their act together, and which ones don’t.

So how is his class doing? Take a look yourself:

Thanks to Lauren Zumbach ’13 for the video.

CDY and Jonathan Schwartz ’10 are on the Amazing Race

Guess someone took our advice!  CBS’s globe-trotting reality show The Amazing Race kicked off the filming of its 17th season on May 26.  Among the 11 pairs of two vying for the show’s million-dollar prize is Team NassoonFormer Student Body President – and Pyne Prize winner – Connor Diemand-Yauman ’10 and Fantasticks star Jonathan Schwartz ’10 (check out our linked interviews with the two Racers).

Filming began in the Boston area on the morning of the 26th.  First came an introductory segment filmed in Gloucester Harbor (Connor and Jonathan are the “Green Team” — you can catch a glimpse of them at around 4:15 in this video).  Then the teams made their way to Logan Airport, where they were photographed by bystanders not affiliated with the show.  Here’s Connor and Jonathan at the airport en route to the first leg in England (more details after the jump):


Continue reading…

Nassoons featured on new Ben Folds compilation; Schwartz a popular guy

Folds, listen, youre doing it wrong.

Folds, listen, you're doing it wrong.

Remember when Ben Folds came and played Richardson McCarter a while back? Remember getting there all excited, finding an a cappella group, and wondering exactly why?

Well, those were the Nassoons and they joined Folds on stage because they’re featured on his new compilation album, Ben Folds Presents: University A Cappella!, released on Tuesday. The album’s a collection of sixteen Ben Folds tracks re-recorded by university a cappella groups from across the country (with Princeton being the only Ivy featured on the album; yeah, that’s right, eat it Whiffenpoofs).

Paste Magazine recently interviewed some of the contributing acts, including our very own (and recently Ink-featured) Jonathan Schwartz ’10. This guy’s on fire right now: off-broadway star, a cappella record release… What’s next? Lawnparties ’10?

Excerpts from the interview and a kind of awkward submission video after the jump.

Continue reading…

21 Questions with… Jonathan Schwartz ’10


Name: Jonathan Schwartz ’10
Age: 20
Major: Sociology
Hometown: Cranford, N.J.
Eating club/residential college/affiliation:
Independent Wilsonite
Activities on campus:
Nassoons, PUP musicals, making short narcissistic films with friends.

Who’s your favorite Princetonian, living or dead, real or fictional?
Jimmy Stewart. When I was first thinking about Princeton, I visited LA, and when I saw his handprints (at Grauman’s Chinese Theater), I put mine on top and they fit perfectly. I took it as a sign and that’s partially why I’m here right now (I’m a very indecisive person…)

What’s the best meal you’ve eaten in Princeton?
Filet Mignon at Elements (opened earlier this year).  Filet Mignon is usually my measuring stick of how good a restaurant is. But Carousel is pretty up there as well.

In one sentence, what do you actually do all day?
Do just enough work to pass my classes, watch ‘The Wire’, and then sing, sing, sing.

Continue reading…

“Let Me Tell Y’all What It’s Like…”


Ben Folds

Singer-songwriter Ben Folds kicked off his winter tour here at Princeton tonight to a packed McCarter Theatre. The audience appeared to be a mix of Princeton students and area residents, including a fair number of middle-aged people (this is Princeton, after all).

Folds played a raucous two-hour set list that had the audience often singing along with him. Though he is officially promoting his last album “Way to Normal” that was released in September, Folds played nearly all of his best known songs from over the years like “Army” and “Rockin’ the Suburbs” (the latter of which is the source of the lyrics in this post’s title).

One of the two opening acts was the Nassoons, who will be featured in an upcoming compilation album of Ben Folds covers by a capella groups. The Nassoons performed three songs tonight, including Folds’ “Time,” which is the song slated to be on the CD.

The Nassoons were chosen by Folds after he announced a national contest, and were one of 18 a capella groups chosen from about 250 submissions, according to the Daily Princetonian. You can see the Nassoons’ winning Youtube submission to Folds after the jump:

Continue reading…