Perry Glasser Returns to Read at SSU

PerryGlasser

By:  Mia Vitale

I never knew Perry Glasser, never took his classes or found myself needing his help in any particular situation and to be quite honest didn’t know what he looked like until I found myself in the Professional Writing offices last year.

At any point in my Salem State career when it came time to look for my classes I gravitated towards the website ratemyprofessor.com, a website that allowed a teacher’s previous students an outlet to let the next group of students know the ups and downs that come with taking their class.  As I scrolled through in an effort to get a better understanding of this man I knew nothing about there didn’t seem to be room for any negative comments.  Individuals seemed to reflect on their time with him as something the cherished and valued, that beyond being an amazing professor he in almost all instances was an even better person.  He was “tagged” being both a caring and hilarious by individuals, respected by all, noted as someone you need to take if you yourself want to be a “real writer”.

So on this particular Tuesday night, April 12, 2017, I find myself waiting to see if the strongly recognized person was as good a writer and reader as they seemed to lead on.  Lined up in 123CC were collections of black and red chairs, in meticulous rows, one arm next to another listeners began to gather, they came in singles and doubles and seemed to sit as such.  There came teachers and students and others in which I had never seen before, though seemed to either know or have known this man, or like me only knew him from a singular passing a year ago.

As he walked into the room, he began to put down his things and keeping on a hat with the word “facts” written in large bold letters.  What an odd hat I thought to myself, what an odd hat to wear to this reading, what types of “facts” was he trying to bring attention to especially in the form of a hat.

Professor J.D. Scrimgeour, introduced Glasser listing his many works and at the same time his recognition in the concentration of Professional Writing, a program he worked to improve in the Salem State English Department.  Scrimgeour reminded us that in the back of the room contained a few stacks of Glasser’s works that were available to purchase, thinking to myself, maybe if I like his reading,  I’ll buy one of his books.  As Scrimgeour wrapped up his opening remarks, he introduced Michael DeFiore, a former student, who spoke about Glasser not as a professor, but as a friend.

As we clapped, DeFiore stepped away from the podium, leaving Glasser to
rise.  He thanked both Scrimgeour and DeFiore for the kind words.  Glasser then asked the question, “Are you offended by four letter words?”.  This left me sitting in the back row questioning not if I was offended, but instead how many offensive four letter words there were in the English language.

He had planned to read to us from a piece he had been working on since his retirement, a section he had “not yet annointed done” but realized he had other less completed pieces to work on.  The story was about prostitutes and sailors and New Orleans, Louisiana, a time in which he said he knew nothing about, although he found creating the story to be much more beneficial because as he has grown older he knows next to nothing of the time he is now living in.  “The older I get the less I understand”, and he began to read.

“Dramatic and scary instead of funny”, that was the tone of the piece he told the audience he would be reading from.  So he spoke, he went on speaking and reading from this piece, leaving me to count the offensive four letter words as they flew out of his mouth.

In 1967 Perry Glasser was nineteen, which is when the excerpt that he read took place.  He was  enough to be able to tell a story from this time understanding what was going on in the U.S.  As he read his final words he began to look up, letting out a large sigh, “Well, nobody left.”

As the time seemed to closely be coming to an end he took a few questions, mainly about his process when writing or the time frame it takes him to complete a work.  He told us that there is no true time frame in which he allows himself to finish within.  This also has to do with how he makes up the story, while he can have a true idea of what point A and point B are, the process from how a character gets through a particular scene or chanpter can be unknown and even change drastically as the story progresses.

One of the final questions  had to do with the hat.  This hat had left me with questions so it was only fitting that it made someone else feel the same way. He told us that he worked in a field that required him to understand the “facts”, and unlike other writers, Glasser is an individual who believes that there are no alternate facts, or fake news.  What facts are has to do with being “verifiable” and “unarguable”.  Fiction on the other hand isn’t shaped by the same rules of factual journalism as fiction contains its own set of alternate facts and can be shaped based on the author itself.  Though just when he made you think a little deeper about this hat that was placed upon his head he mentioned with a small smile that it is also there “to keep my head warm”.

When the reading was done and he thanked us for attending it left me with an uncertain feeling, almost of disappointment knowing that he was never my teacher and never would be.  I never knew Perry Glasser, and still don’t, although from this evening’s reading, I think I might now know him a little better.

Gordon Center Set to Open April 20th

Sophia Gordon Center

By:  Jessica Walters

After nearly three years of construction, Salem State University’s new theater, the Sophia Gordon Center, is finally set to open at this week. On April 20th, the Gordon Center will open with their performance of “The Drowsy Chaperone: A Musical Within a Comedy.” Shortly following the big premier, the theater will have its ribbon cutting on April 22nd.

The new theater got its name from donors, Bernard and Sophia Gordon, who have donated over $5 million to the theater and arts programs at Salem State over the past twenty years.

The Sophia Gordon Center will have a more intimate and advanced setting than the old Mainstage Theater, which shut down in the summer of 2014. To achieve a closer, more personal experience, the new theater has about half as many seats as the old. Furthermore, the new theater benefits from an orchestra platform on the front of the stage that also acts as an elevator to the basement for faster set and equipment set up. There is also an outdoor space that actors can utilize once the weather warms up.

The new theater will also have an exact replica of the main stage and several conference rooms for rehearsals. Salem State’s 180 theater student, along with the Salem community, are sure to benefit from the opening of this marvelous new addition to the University.

Trump’s Travels: What is it really costing us?

Mar-a-largo

By: Megan Grossi

If you’ve been paying attention recently, you may have heard the outrage over Trump’s spending – particularly for trips to Mar-a-Lago on weekends and for protection over Melania and Barron while they remain in New York. And if you are one of many who can’t believe that this is real, you are in good company! Really, if he wanted to cut costs from anything, he could have done so from him travel budget and not from the EPA, the CPB, the Department of Education, the Office of Violence against Women, or the National Endowment for the Arts. But instead of getting mad at Trump for turning Florida into the new D.C., let’s think about what his spending actually means.

First of all, let’s see what we’re working with. The number being tossed around is $3 million per trip to Mar-a-Lago. That number comes from the cost of maintenance to Air Force One, salaries to the people running the plane and to Secret Service who have to accompany the president on his trips, and amenities on the plane. Each hour in the air costs $206,337. To put that in perspective, the online magazine Fortune compares that cost of flight to the average, round-trip, commercial airline ticket, which checks in at $361. At that average price, just about 575 commercial tickets could be paid for with what one hour costs Air Force One. Considering it is a two-our flight to get from Washington D.C. to Florida that brings the bill up to $412,674 just to get down there (the necessary round-trip ticket then brings us up to $825,348. Chipping that off of our $3 million estimate, where does the other $2,174,652 go then?

Philip Bump of The Washington Post tells us in his article “How Much is Donald Trump’s Travel and Protection Costing, Anyway?” that it goes to Secret Service and other costs of maintenance, as we mentioned earlier. The 89th Airlift Wing, a supporting aircraft that follows Air Force One, costs $1.3 million. Amenities of each Air Force craft runs at $380 million each. On top of that, Fortune tells us that a United States Secret Service member earns an annual salary of $96,838.29, and that pilots earn an annual salary of $102,520. That means that each weekend Trump heads down to Mar-a-Lago, every Secret Service member is paid about $1,862.27, and each pilot about $1,971.54. It is unclear how many men Trump travels with, but if we are generous and say that two pilots and 25 agents accompany him, that is still a total of $50,499.83 in wages for just one week.

Bump also tells us that “if Melania and Barron never move to Washington and if Trump heads to Mar-a-Lago for four out of every nine weekends, our estimates put the total cost at something like $526 million over the course of Trump’s presidency.” New York City estimates the cost per day of the Trumps (not including any visits that the president may make to see them) to be $200,000. If she and the youngest Trump never move to Washington, by the next election cycle protecting the First Family from this distance will cost $292,000,000. However, there has been speculation of Melania joining her husband at the end of the school year so she doesn’t have to take Barron out of regular classes in the middle of the school year. In addition to that, Trump has been redefining Mar-a-Lago as strictly his “winter White House.” If that is the case, then costs will definitely drop, but to about $130,000 annually. Or, as Bump calls it, “only enough to fund the homelessness agency until 10-year-old Barron Trump is 42.”

Essentially we are working with some hefty numbers just so the president can go on vacation within his first 100 days of office and the First Lady can stay in New York. But for the most part these numbers are so unrealistic to us that we need to put them into every-day perspective: The cost of one round-trip ticket on Air Force One would pay for an average apartment in Boston for approximately 336 residents. If you are a new undergraduate student at Salem State, you’d be looking at the application cost of $40, the one-time matriculation fee of $250, a full year’s worth of classes at $9736, an un-waived health insurance fee of $2511, a Mass PIRG fee of $10, the cheapest housing (in Peabody or Bowditch) at $8160, and the cheapest meal plan (according to your housing) at $3280. Altogether, with no financial aid, you are paying $23,987 out of pocket; this number does not include an online course fee of $35/credit, lab fees that range from $25-$300/course, program fees is you are a Nursing, Biology, Education, or Social Work major, which cost per year $1,000, $500, $250, or $250 respectively, or a $400 full-year parking pass. Multiply that total of $23,987 by four years and you are paying $95,948 out of pocket, not including interest from any loans taken out. An hour on Air Force One could pay for two and a half students paying out of pocket in total to go to Salem State. A day of protecting the First Family in New York could pay for, at an average of $1.16 per meal, 172,414 meals at a soup kitchen. The annual salary of one pilot on Air Force One could pay for the operation of about 14 months’ worth of veteran housing. The annual salary of one Secret Service agent could pay for almost 10 students to attend public school. That roughly $295,000,000 it would cost to pay for Trump’s trips to Mar-a-Lago and four whole years of protecting the First Family in New York could pay for about 49,166,666 meals on wheels.

These are only a few of the things we could be spending our money on. And let’s be honest, who hasn’t spent their money on frivolous things before, things that we didn’t actually need? Wasting money has happened to the best of us, but just as wasting too much money too fast drains your bank account, wasting more of a whole country’s money drains its citizens, drives up taxes, and cuts funding where it is necessary.

Housing Selection — What You Need to Know

Marsh Hall

By:  Megan Grossi

Housing selection is this week and if you submitted a housing deposit then it’s time to perk up your ears. Or those who submitted their deposits on time, by March 1st, you will go through selection on your appropriate days. For those who did not, make sure to iron out your situation with Res Life to insure that you’ll have housing next year. If you plan on living in gender-inclusive housing and you ALL did not submit your deposits on time, then go to Res Life right away. Their office can be found in Atlantic Hall. Walk straight down and on the side of the parking lot there will be a door leading to the office.

Res Life is doing things a little differently this year. In the past students have been given lottery numbers and chosen where they want to live online. If you wanted to live in a suit but had no roommates, filling the room was a complicated process that look longer. This year, to lessen complications for students and proactively reduce roommate disagreements, students living in apartment-style suits, like Viking, Atlantic, or Bates, will be registering first on April 11th. On the 12th, juniors and senior will be picking their housing, on the 13th sophomores will register and the 14th will finally be the freshmen’s turn. Freshmen can pick from Peabody, Bowditch, or Marsh for housing, and sophomores can pick from Marsh or Viking. Juniors and seniors are not allowed to dorm with sophomores or freshmen, unless there are specific circumstances. If you have such a case, you will have to go to the Res Life office and speak with Zach Gholston – you should email him first, ASAP, as a lot of students have been coming forward with special requests like this.

Keep in mind that you are registering as the year you will be in the fall – so freshmen, you will register on the day of sophomores, sophomores will register on the day of juniors, and so on. For this reason is it very important that you are aware of your credits! You may be entering your second year of college, but if you do not have enough credits to be considered a sophomore, junior, or senior, then you will have to register a day later. This is why there is a designated day for freshmen selection – if you have not completed the appropriate amount of credits to move up in your class then you will still, in the eyes of the school, be considered a freshman. Make sure to double check your credits and find roommates if you can before next week. If you have any confusions about what to do for housing selection, ask your RD or ARD as soon as possible! With the deadline right around the corner, you don’t want to be caught unawares.

Big Sur

big-sur

By:  Andrew Ahern

This portion of a larger essay was extracted for Red Skies publication

When we finally entered Highway 1 going into Big Sur, the drive along the coast was nothing less than heavenly. This was the place where God spent 6 days creating and the rest of the planet seemed like he was taking a snooze. I was surrounded by the best topography the earth could offer. Lofty mountain sides to my left and the azure Pacific to my right, each smiling back at each other as I passed through them. The car felt like a submarine over the paved road, simply floating on the earth rather than actually being there. It was a complete reverie. I felt lost in the world for the first time and more at Home than ever. Big Sur was surreal.

We stopped to take photos and view the ocean from the closest point we could. Both my sister and I were silent as the climate seemed to stifle our ability to speak. Before we drove more than 5 miles down the coast I told her: “I want to move here”. She giggled and we kept on. As we kept going we saw some houses built incumbent to the Pacific coast. Glass houses, locked gates, “Keep Out”, that type of thing. I thought “how many men must have died building these homes? Only someone with enough money to buy a slave could live here.” It amazed me both out of envy and anger that the richest assholes got to come here first and make the property value that much more egregious. Henry Miller was right about the beauty of Big Sur but I wondered if he encountered the same thoughts upon the glass houses like I saw? We seemed to be on what I call the same “emotional wavelength”; that is people who seemed to have a natural affinity and hatred towards certain things. “Romantics” we might be called. Guys who hold a strong sense of sentimentality and artistic reverence for the world of peace and tranquility and idealize the world we live in. Reality as is isn’t what it ought to be. We both enjoy ping-pong too so maybe that will convince you. As we drove past the solitary houses and into the winding mountains the climate only grew more and more immanent. Wild flowers brushed the pavement as the mountains began to alter their hue into shades of dark, mineral green coupled with heavy violet, almost resembling certain shades of broccoli. And how healthy it was. Big Sur in no way disappoints.

But where were the advertisements? The retail signs? The gift shops, arcades, strip malls and all  the other 21st-Century Roadway inanities? They seemed to have sunk. It was a Christmas miracle! The place was left practically untouched by the swift hand of business and advertisement! Through Sausalito until our resort “The Fernwood” the whole drive was virtually mountains, ocean and forest; kept almost like a secret for those wishing to escape the everyday reality of work, whine and worry (the motto of Big Sur is “Do Nothing”). Except for the occasional gas station, restaurant, motel, or marketplace we were left with a gift that embodied everything I was looking for: necessity, nature, nurture, and peace. Nothing flashy, sensationalized, excessive, superfluous, malicious, or degrading. The place was an utter reverie and I felt lost in rapture. I felt like some weight was lifted off my shoulders, that there was a place in America that valued necessity and nature.

Everywhere you go there`s an excess of everything. Five Dunkin Donuts within eyesight; three Chinese restaurants within a mile; four bars, six gift shops, and a couple of high-end boutiques incase one feels the need to “treat” themselves. We live in a country that’s equally part unnecessary as is insatiable. We’re taught to  fill our time by wasting money and wasting time, making believe that these material items will give us a better sense of worth and happiness in our lives. I, as you may guess, feel that our consumption problem in America is a real issue. By throwing down a few beers, buying more clothes than you can wear and eating too a state of comatose, advertisers try to convince us that these things, these items, their products! will make us happy. Recollect any commercial you see- I personally like commercials selling alcohol due to the pathetic approach they take (this could also be said about other drink products). Predominantly most alcohol advertisements will try to convince you that you`re night is not complete without their product, and due to their product your night is only made that much better. You`ll probably meet some woman and be so drunk that she`s bound to go home with you. If not that you and your friends will accomplish some idiotic thing you`ll remember forever, painting a picture like you were the best of friends and blah blah blah.

These advertised scenarios are all an illusion that gets a lot of unnecessary products sold and the consumer convinced that “yes, that product will help me, that will make me happier”. It`s a scam. No amount of material goods can satiate a person to the point of happiness. Happiness is no relative emotion but an apex for a person that is fought with throughout their life. We reach points of joy and elation, but happiness is more abstract than that. Happiness will only be attained by working at it, (or in some cases not working at it but letting it happen organically) but on one`s own terms; that is by deciding for oneself not dogmatically by businesses and advertisers who only care for you to buy their product. As Krishnamurti states:” if the individual is at peace, has happiness, has great tolerance, and an intense desire to help, then the world as such ceases to exist… peace and understanding will only come when there is understanding, certainty and strength in yourselves” (261).

Rather than working on ourselves it seems Americans tend to try to work from the outside in, letting products and the belief that others will make us happy rather than ascribing to the notion that we can only be pleased with ourselves when we come to understand ourselves more fully. No outside force can equip us with the patience and tenacity and the will that`s needed to leave a life of suffering into something more grandiose; something that awakens the soul into it`s brightest light, dulling out all evil, hate, and doubt from our minds. We’re plagued by society in many ways and a constant burden is thrust upon us without ever accepting the task. We watch our lives slip away into a shameful abyss filled with regret and anxiety, telling ourselves to act but never acting upon the wish. We’re approaching an age where apathy is cool and hard work is shamed. Laziness is accepted and opinion is synonymous with having a negative judgement. We’re wilting our will away sooner than later the more video games we play, social media we digest, and inane conversations we vomit out. It’s easier to not care for the state of the world, the state of our mental health, too have philosophies on how to live and argue them; to be so overwhelmed by oppression, wealth gaps, and the conviction that pleasure is the way to happiness, that it seems useless to care about anything. It makes me sad seeing people throw their life away into some passionless, faithless existence. Religion may have its flaws but at least it makes people believe in something.

Writers’ Series: John D’Agata

John_D'Agata

By:  Tucker Worrall

John D’Agata spoke at Salem State on March 28th, reading from his nonfiction book About a Mountain and his translation of a consolation letter written by Plutarch in the 6th century BCE. It was an emotionally impactful reading, that dealt with difficult content. However, the pair of writings could be seen as objectionable to some.

The excerpt from About a Mountain concerned a teenager that committed suicide in Las Vegas. D’Agata was working on a suicide hotline the night that it happened, and wondered if he had spoken to the young man, he sought out information about a suicide that had happened in public. Levi Presley jumped from the top of the Stratosphere Hotel in Las Vegas. He didn’t leave behind a note, and his parents were left searching for answers. Upon learning that the police had a spliced together surveillance video of Presley’s last hour, they tried to get the authorities to show it to them. They were refused. In the reading, there is a long painstaking account of everything Levi did before he ended his life. His drive to the hotel, his walk through the busy hotel, his elevator ride up to the observation deck. D’AGata then described the moment that Presley jumped:

“It was a Saturday and early evening and an alarm was ringing in the hotel’s security office. Levi sat on the ledge for forty-eight seconds before anyone on the deck walked by. Now the sun was gone. Saturday was night. And the valley in which Levy had grown up became bright and it stayed bright, all the way to the invisible black mountains around it, the wall that would keep the city forever the shape it now was. Security officer Frank then approached Levi from the left, the east, and said, “Hey,” or he said, “Hey, kid,” or he said, “Kid, no,” or he said nothing, and it was his presence alone that caused Levi to turn his head t0 the left, stand up on the ledge, wave to the security officer, who does not appear on the screen of the video on which Levi is waving, and jumped.”

 

This is the end of the book, and during the reading D’Agata paused for a long moment here, letting the moment sink in. It was extremely effective. It forced the audience to reflect on what they had just heard. After it was over, the author explained that he had read one a consolation letter that was written by Plutarch. He had liked it so much, that he had made his own translation of it. The letter is addressed to Plutarch’s wife, and is about the death of their two year old daughter. Before he started D’Agata warned that some found the letter’s contents to be offensive. During the reading of the letter it was clear why.  In the letter Plutarch was arguing against overly histrionic shows of grief. To some, including some in the room who I spoke to, this suggests that they should not mourn their children. The letter, popularly titled Consolatio ad Uxorem, actually begins with a plea for his wife not to be overly mournful. “Only, my dear wife, in your emotion keep me as well as yourself within bounds. For I know and can set a measure to the magnitude of our loss, taken by itself; but if I find any extravagance of distress in you, this will be more grievous to me than what has happened.”

It seems a strange thing to say to a wife, who has just lost a child, from a husband who is just a day’s journey away, but who you refuse to return to. Furthermore, it was a strange piece to put after a reading where an underage teenager died, and after D’AGata had explained how difficult Levi’s death had been on his parents. Why then, would he couple that emotionally charged reading, with another that seemed to be saying the mourning children amounted to vanity? I don’t know. Though his translation of Plutarch was beautiful, in my mind it clashed with the emotions that the piece from About a Mountain was trying to invoke. Though the reading presented some amazing writing, and John D’AGata read wonderfully, I was left confused. D’Agata himself was seemingly uncomfortable discussing the topic, and didn’t answer questions about how he collected his information for the book, and didn’t talk about how the pieces were connected other than that they both concerned the death of a child. I enjoyed the reading, but was left with the question: what was the point?

 

Surviving April

Bunny and Flowers

By: The Happy that It Is Springtime — Red Skies Staffers

1. Get yourself some rain boots or at the least an umbrella!  Tucker, we’re talking about you.

2. Hug a tree — Arbor Day is April 28th or send money to the EPA.

3. Write a poem and send it to Red Skies for A Poem a Day.

4. Make someone an Easter basket.

5. Finish up those end of the year projects, or start them.

6. Seniors stay focused, you’re almost there.

7. Register for classes.

8. Know housing dates.

9. Visit the new Sophia Gordon Theater!

10. There are still tickets to John Legend on May 2nd.

11. Don’t skip class if it nice out – there will be time for that after Mary 3rd – stay strong.

12. Land those summer jobs – beat the high school crowd.

13. Go for a walk (be aware of ticks).

14. Cheer on runners at the Marathon

Fun Facts about April?

April 3rd, 1860 – First Pony Express – from St. Joseph, Missouri to Sacramento California

Robert E. Lee surrendered to Ulysses S. Grant on April 9th, 1865

President Abraham Lincoln died of a gunshot wound on April 15th,  1865

The Titanic sank on April 15th, 1912