Eye of the Beholder

A writer goes more than skin deep into beauty pageant culture.

Photo Courtesy of Ernest Hendersen “Contestant number 19.” The announcer’s amplified voice reverberates through the auditorium. I look down at the number pinned to my dress. My legs snap into position, and I begin my walk into the bright light: one and a half large circles around the stage, just as I practiced this morning. I try to smile at the three female judges seated at a table below me and at the audience in rows of school cafeteria chairs beyond, but it’s the mechanical. . . Read more
Arielle Stambler
Vital Signs

A group of activist nurses rethink health care.

“I’ve always had an uncomfortable relationship with institutions,” Peggy Chinn, a professor of nursing, declares from the podium. The audience laughs in agreement. They don’t tend to get along with authority, either. They’ve gathered at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Nursing on a September weekend to find others like themselves at the first Rebellious Nursing! conference. For these nurses, who bring a far-left perspective that’s uncommon in their profession, the weekend promises to be part homecoming, part summit; part protest, part celebration. These “rebellious. . . Read more
Julia Calagiovanni
Brothers’ Keepers

The other side of Project Longevity, New Haven’s much-touted gangs initiative.

On November 26, 2012, twenty-five alleged members of two of the most violent gangs in New Haven filed into the Hall of Records, an imposing stone building with wide white columns on Orange Street. At the door, Reverend William Mathis greeted the young people, all of whom were on probation or parole. Those twenty-five were about to attend the first “call-in” of Project Longevity, a new police initiative that has come to exemplify the practical challenges even the most progressive anti-violence programs face. New Haven. . . Read more
Zoe Greenberg
Top of His Glass

A journey to glassblowing at Yale.

Photo by Caroline Lester Four thin blue flames lick the underbelly of a glass flask as Daryl Smith steadies his blowtorch. With sweat dripping from his forehead, he directs the heat at one of three stumpy tubes attached to the spherical flask. The glass glows white-hot and starts to melt. Just as the tube begins to droop, Smith snatches it away with a pair of tweezers. The tube stretches until all that connects it to the flask is a long, thin thread. When the thread. . . Read more
Ike Swetlitz
Brave New World

Yale ventures into the digital humanities.

Illustration by Jin Ai Jap The moment I walked into the stacks of Yale’s Sterling Memorial Library, I knew it was love at first smell. The scent of yellowing paper reminded me of the library in the small town where I grew up. I had nearly exhausted the collections of that library by the time I got to high school, whereas I haven’t even managed to set foot on each of Sterling’s sixteen floors. What to do with all these centuries of words, endlessly piling. . . Read more
Sonja Peterson
Re-Growing Oak Street

Fifty years later, will New Haven finally get urban development right?

Photo by A. Grace Steig Just six blocks south of the New Haven Green, the strongest signs of life are the distant roar of traffic on the Route 34 Connector and the less-regular stream of cars here on Church Street South. A schoolbus drops off a girl carrying a backpack with a cartoon design whose mother waits to walk her home. I watch two boys behind them bike back and forth on the sidewalk. They are the only pedestrians on this boulevard. Though I’ve been. . . Read more
A. Grace Steig
A Room With a View

A painter reflects on a beloved space.

Illustration by Jin Ai Yap The card reader glows a prohibitive red. It is barely September, and Yale’s campus is poised on the brink of the new semester. The clusters of graduate students who will soon clog the front steps of the building, smoking their menthols or scraping at Styrofoam pad thai containers with plastic forks, are nowhere to be seen. Green Hall is still waiting for its occupants. Coming in from the hard light of Chapel Street at noon, I pass through double glass. . . Read more
Olivia Schwob
No Mirrors in My Nana’s House

A dancer reflects.

Illustration by Devon Geyelin I’ve been thinking about mirrors. Mainly, I’ve been remembering that, for some months not too long ago, I took it upon myself to have a strange daily encounter with a mirror, every day except Sunday. Often I’d spend several hours in front of the mirror in the morning, and then again in the evening. I’d go home and eat alone in my bedroom, and I’d fall asleep soon after. I’d wake up and do it again. Because most days looked alike,. . . Read more
Navy Encinias
Step by Step

Folk dancing spins connections.

Bill Buford plays music and calls dances at Bethany Music and Dance. Photo by Cuchulain Kelly. Four years after I hold Bill Fischer’s hand for the first time, he learns my name. “Dana? Diane?” He asks. Bill’s hand grips a microphone. He is calling a contra dance—a style of group folk dance—in the barn attached to his house. It is one of his monthly parties, which require no invitation, called “Bethany Music and Dance”—BMAD for short. His fuzzy blond dreadlocks, dotted and decorated with beads. . . Read more
Diana Saverin
Derby Dreams

A fringe sport goes mainstream, and now the boys come out to play.

Photo by Sean Hale/Hale Yeah “Call me H.G. Welts,” he said, extending a hand. “That’s my skater name.” I was in a strip mall parking lot to catch a ride to Sunday night practice with the Death Quads, the men’s roller derby team from the suburbs of Connecticut. I had learned of them from a flyer at a vegetarian restaurant in New Haven. “Join the roller derby revolution,” it said in golden characters. The team’s logo was a goateed man, attired like a soldier in. . . Read more
Christopher Peak