The Bonds That Tie

The gay leather community crowns its newest ambassador.

“It’s not just about sex,” J.R. Ramos tells me. J.R. is a bald man with a full, dark beard. His bare, tanned potbelly protrudes from under his black leather vest, which matches his chaps and boots. Most of the other patrons here at 168 York Street Café on the night of September 5 share Ramos’s affinity toward leather outfits that expose a lot of skin. In fact, their common dress code has brought them all together for a weekend-long convention for gay men who have. . . Read more
Aaron Mak
Up for Debate

Yale coaches bring New Haven teenagers into the privileged world of high school debate.

  Zariah Altman prepares for debate. Photos by Jennifer Lu. “Opposition? Partner? Speaker?” Matt asks as he stands before the judge, taking stock of the room before he starts his speech. His partner is seated to his right, and his opponents, Zariah Altman and Xavier Sottile, are waiting on the left. He places his cell phone timer on the conference table. “All right, I’ll begin.” The room is quiet. “From Russia, to China, to Iran, to Syria, to ISIS, far too long the U.S. has. . . Read more
Caroline Durlacher
The Miniature Holy Land

Waterbury’s Christian amusement park opens its doors for the first time in thirty years.

The grounds of Holy Land, USA, in Waterbury, CT have been closed since 1984. Photos by Libbie Katsev. “WARNING: Travel at your own risk. Holy Land U.S.A. under construction.” A headless statue of Jesus watches over a path of broken asphalt. The path winds past the sign, through the entrance arches and around the hill, which is ringed by a low wall. People break off from the crowd. Even the girls in flats and skirts climb the wall and begin picking their way through the. . . Read more
Libbie Katsev
When A Cop Calls

An activist in blue bridges the gap between communities and police.

Shafiq Abdussabur with his grandmother after being sworn in as president of the National Association of Black Law Enforcement Officers. Photo by Allan Appel. On a Tuesday afternoon in September, Shafiq Abdussabur stands transfixed by one image on the wall of his office. It’s a hazy photograph of six boys playing tug-of-war, their smiles wide, their eyes focused on victory. “We lost him,” Abdussabur says, pointing to the boy leading the pack. “He was killed two years after this photo was taken. And him, too,”. . . Read more
Alexandra Golden
Scarlet Letters

What can a single grade say about a school?

An earlier version of this article mistakenly stated that ConnCAN computes “School Performance Index” data for Connecticut schools. The index is generated by the Connecticut Department of Education. The New Journal appreciates this correction in our online records. — Julia Calagiovanni and Eric Boodman, editors-in-chief, January 2015   “I never, in a million years, in my right mind, wanted to set foot in this school. Then I got here,” wrote Kiana M. Hernandez in the Proclamation, Wilbur Cross High School’s student newspaper. Hernandez, who is now a freshman. . . Read more
Olivia Klevorn
The Prophets’ Network

A social organization helps ease the transition from the working world to Yale Divinity School.

Win Bassett transition from a career in law to the Yale Divinity School. Photo by Jennifer Lu. Win Bassett caught Father Tony Jarvis just as he was leaving his office at the Yale Divinity School last April. Jarvis was in a hurry, and Bassett asked for a second of his time. They went inside and sat down. After years of working in law, Bassett had been accepted into the Yale Divinity School, and he was visiting for the admitted students’ weekend. But he still didn’t. . . Read more
Arizona Greene
Cinderblock Manor

New Haven’s alternative to inner-city projects falls into dangerous disrepair.

Photo by Jennifer Lu. “I was born there,” said Damien Mabry, jabbing a finger at a plain cinderblock house. “And now I live there.” This time, he pointed at another residence nearby, nearly identical to the first. Mabry and I were standing in the neighborhood of Westville Manor, a public housing complex in the northwest corner of New Haven. It is only a fifteen-minute drive from downtown, but it feels much farther away. It is surrounded on three sides by the dense foliage of West. . . Read more
Nate Steinberg
Classical Counterpoint

Yale School of Music’s only female composition professor shares an unconventional voice.

Hannah Lash is an award-winning composer and professor at the Yale School of Music. Photo by Jennifer Lu. Hannah Lash’s first love was Bach. She remembers the first time she heard his music: “I wanted to create it. I wanted to figure out how it worked,” she says. It didn’t matter that she was only 4 years old and that she hadn’t yet learned proper music notation in her Suzuki violin lessons. “I had this little system of X’s, dots, and dashes and things, and. . . Read more
Eric Lin
Squeak, Don’t Eat Me!

A furry rodent crosses cultural boundaries.

Illustration by Ivy Sanders Schneider. My first week as a foreign college student was filled with embarrassing confessions about my home country. I told my friends that in Peru we’d had seventeen presidential candidates in our last election, one of whom declared himself a direct descendant of the warrior Inca Pachacutec. In return, they vowed to never again complain to me about Obamacare. But I knew I had crossed a line when I told them that, back in Peru, I ate guinea pigs. The reaction. . . Read more
Micaela Bullard