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by Sachyn Mital

6 Nov 2009


Courtesy of Kevin Quinlan, University of Delaware

Colin Powell may have graduated from the City College of New York with a 2.0 GPA in 1958 and he may not be savvy with computers, especially Facebook or Twitter.  But he worked his way up to four-star general, head of the NSA, Chairman on the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Secretary of State under George W. Bush.  And he likes hot dogs.

In his speech at the University of Delaware on November 3rd (Election Day), Former Secretary of State Colin Powell came to address “Diplomacy: Persuasion, Trust and Values” as the second guest in the prestigious UD Speaks series (2008’s guest was CNN news anchor, Anderson Cooper.)  While his speech was candid, humorous, and patriotic, it did not carry any substantive weight and deliberately avoided many major criticisms.

Entertaining and engaging the audience from in front of the podium, Gen. Powell never directly addressed any major topics from the previous administration, only making light of some of the policies put in place.  A couple of days after his entitled use of the company 757 passed on to Condoleezza Rice, Powell hurriedly entered Reagan National Airport, paid cash for a plane ticket before checking into his flight without any luggage.  You might guess where this is going: he was justly subjected to a very thorough TSA security screening.  After the screener acknowledged the General, he replied “If you know I’m Colin Powell, why aren’t you over there looking for Osama?”

Though he touched on other light topics including his grandson setting up a Facebook page for him, Powell gave a few words of wisdom to President Obama to “not be pushed by the left” and “don’t not decide” because of the right about increasing troop presence in Afghanistan.  Discouraged by the sight of 6 million children without health care, he also urged reform for universal health care to all Americans.

Gen. Powell’s advice came in the form of “4 E’s.”  Economics and its creation of wealth is the first most powerful political force he said. The second most important, energy combined with economics, generates emissions and leads to the third E, environment.  He urged people to confront global warming while reprimanding skeptics.  The final E, education, demonstrated his desire to educate children.

He also corroborated his faith in America’s positive image, sharing two stories.  The first was of a Japanese billionaire who picked New York City as his favorite city in the world in an interview.  When asked why, the billionaire replied, it was “the only city in the world where people came up to him and asked him directions.”  In the second story, a NYC hot dog vendor on Park Ave did not let Gen. Powell pay for a hot dog and instead thanked him because “America has already paid me.”

And its not just the hot dog vendor who knows that America is still the “land of hope” and opportunity, Powell noted.  There are lines at American embassies around the world were people say “I want to go to America.”

Courtesy of Kevin Quinlan, University of Delaware

Courtesy of Kevin Quinlan, University of Delaware

Courtesy of Kevin Quinlan, University of Delaware

Courtesy of Kevin Quinlan, University of Delaware

Courtesy of Kevin Quinlan, University of Delaware

Courtesy of Kevin Quinlan, University of Delaware

Courtesy of Kevin Quinlan, University of Delaware

Courtesy of Kevin Quinlan, University of Delaware

by Thomas Hauner

5 Nov 2009


Not even tickets to game six of the World Series could dissuade some fans from settling down to two-and-a-half hours with Lyle Lovett and his large band—though several Yankee ticket scalpers still paced outside the Beacon Theatre, miles from the big game in the Bronx.  It was pretty fulfilling to see so many eschewing the conspicuous pomposity of yet another pinstriped championship for the antithetic Lovett.  At times self-deprecating, but always dapper, demure, and humbling, Lovett led his 14-piece ensemble through a broad setlist of sounds old and new, big and small.  Though supporting his most recent release, Natural Forces, and its decidedly country sound was the tour’s ostensible objective, Lovett indulged the crowd using his entire repertoire and array of styles (“My Baby Don’t Tolerate,”  “Cute as a Bug,” “L.A. County,” and “I’ve Been to Memphis.”)  His masterful band, brilliantly agile and polished, was up to the task: condensing into a bluegrass quartet with mandolin player Keith Sewell sidling up with Lovett for perfectly symmetrical harmonies (“Up in Indiana”); or expanding into a riotous blues band, guitars firing on all cylinders (“It’s Rock and Roll.”)  One of Lovett’s most endearing attributes is his refusal to take himself seriously, and songs like “Pantry” (about food adultery) and “Farmer Brown/Chicken Reel” (chorus:  “Choke my chicken till the sun goes down”) exuded that.  At the same time he takes his craft and blessings seriously.  Intimate numbers like “Nobody Know Me,” “Natural Forces,” and “Fat Babies,” all laced with tangential stories and quips, made the night seem like our very own Vh1 Storytellers—in a good way.  Lovett, astute showman that he is, didn’t shy from pulling out “If I Had a Boat” when the moment called for it, and, always the modest gentleman, deflected the crowd’s praise at his band until the end.

by Mehan Jayasuriya

5 Nov 2009


Last night, two of the most buzzed-about new bands of the moment rolled through Washington: San Francisco’s Girls and New Jersey’s Real Estate.  Though both bands mine similar sonic territory (lo-fi indie-pop,) and have impossible names to google, in a live setting, their approaches clearly diverge.  Real Estate ably demonstrated that beneath all the haze hides a tight ensemble.  Belying their beach bum reputation, there was nary a stray note to be found in the band’s set, though they certainly made it look effortless.  What’s more, the band imbued their sunny, midtempo compositions with a palpable sense of warmth, rendering tracks off of their self-titled full-length even more inviting than they are on record.  Girls, by way of contrast, felt sluggish, though the slower tempos of their songs could be partially to blame.  Still, they seemed to lean too heavily on frontman Christopher Owens’ unhinged personality, relying on his delivery to carry most of the songs’ weight.  When this approach worked—most notably on the skuzzy shoegaze of “Morning Light” and the bouncy breakup pop of “Laura”—the results were stunning.  When it didn’t, the set tended to drag.  While Girls show a great deal of promise, they clearly still have a ways to go as a live act.  They might want to start by learning a thing or two from their tourmates.

by Allison Taich

5 Nov 2009


It truly was a family affair for the Yonder Mountain String Band (YMSB) in Chicago last week as the newgrass quartet kicked off their annual two day run at the House of Blues.  Opening the show was banjoist Danny Barnes, accompanied by YMSB mandolin player Jeff Austin.

by Mehan Jayasuriya

4 Nov 2009


Every time I attempt to see the Boss, disaster strikes.  In May, Bruce Springsteen and company rolled through town and, needless to say, I was looking forward to the show.  But on the eve of the concert, upon returning home from a trip, I discovered that my apartment had been flooded, no thanks to a busted water pipe.  Out of desperation, I asked my colleague Wilson McBee if he would attend and review the show in my place while I mopped.  (He kindly obliged and did one better by writing a more thoughtful review than I ever could have.)  Luck was on my side, however, because just six months later Springsteen and the E Street Band were back at the Verizon Center, somehow managing to sell out the 20,000 seat Verizon Center yet again.

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