Fluffy Sounds in NYC

Josh Lutton ‘14 - Today was a pretty awesome day. Woke up, ate breakfast, and started to go to Christopher St. for our first activity, which was a workshop with Constance Zaytoun. Basically, this workshop starts out the same as the one on Tuesday – we had our introductions and we changed into our workout gear, but then we were given a towel and rag. I was confused. What are we going to be doing?

It was actually very interesting: the workshop was based on a breathing method used by many actors to centralize focus and reduce tension. The first part of the exercise was simply that – an exercise; practicing the technique of stretching, finding our breathing, and vocalizing our breathes into audible sounds – what Constance called “fluffy sounds.” After doing this for about an hour, we focused on using this technique to help us with the Shakespeare monologues we were supposed to memorize for the trip. The purpose was to find different areas of breathing to determine the mood and pace for how we presented the lines. It was actually pretty interesting – something I had never really thought of before while acting. Following that, we went to the East Village for some pizza and then we went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. It was pretty cool. My areas were the Greek and Roman art and the textiles area. And then the night began…

We went to dinner at this fancy restaurant called Gallagher’s, which is this really nice steakhouse. Kids, if you think your idea of a fancy sit-down meal is a table for two at Garfield’s where you can color on the tables with crayons, then you’re in for a surprise. We first have our coats checked at the front door and make our way to this long table in the back where the waiters, plural, were pouring out water into our cups out of nice glass bottles. I had to use the restroom really bad, so I went to the bathroom – there was ice in the urinals, a lot of ice. I later found out that the ice is an old fashioned form of keeping the smell dulled, interesting fact. My dinner consisted of a delicious salad followed by the best steak I have and will ever eat in my life, and chocolate mousse cake sent from the gods. We ate six hours ago, and I’m still full. After the meal we made our way to see The Mystery of Edwin Drood at Studio 54.

The show was phenomenal! It always kept me laughing, the singing was great, and the acting was superb. My favorite part was when the cast interacted with the audience by either going out into the house or acknowledging the fact that this was a play. Afterwards we went on a backstage tour of the set given by one of the actresses in the show. This was a really unique experience for me because as I was passing by the wardrobe room, I mentioned to the actress that I am interested in doing costumes professionally, and she let me walk into the room to talk with the wardrobe for the show. It was absolutely incredible, and such an incredible opportunity that I was blessed with. I am extremely tired, we’ve been walking around all day, so its nice to finally relax after a long day.

Tres Dia en Nueva York

Corey Egler ‘15 - So far on this trip I’ve been the photographer and the social media guy, and now I have the opportunity to reflect on what I have seen, felt and done so far in New York City on this third day.

Today was a big day for me. I felt accomplished as I successfully, for the first time ever, tied my tie all by myself!  A great start to the day.  I then did some social media work and then went on to have a magnificent bagel with cream cheese at Murray’s Bagels in Chelsea, the neighborhood where we are staying.  We spoke with Marvin Denton, the creator of nytheatre.com at the New Ohio Theater, who gave us some insight at the multitude of possibilities that are available in the theater industry in New York City.

My day then became even more exciting.  As we were leaving the theater, I happen to tear a small strip of seam on my pants from the end of my left pocket. But no fear! Junior Josh Lutton carries emergency needle and thread with him at all times, so he performed surgery on my rip. What’s even better is that he did it while on a moving NYC subway!  It was successful and my pants are now better than ever!  Although, we may have received some weird looks from others on the subway, I bet it was not the first time such a thing has happened.

We arrived in Times Square where we split up for a little bit to check out the area and grab lunch.  I went with Senior “Papa Raynor” Mendoza and we checked out some stores and then had lunch in a nice little pub called the “Playwrights Pub” which had great food and pictures of numerous famous New York City playwrights.

As we finished lunch, I waited to get my change back and go use the restroom and “Papa Raynor” decided he would go ahead and check out a shop across the street and then I would meet him there when I was finished.  Well, “Papa Raynor” who has been trying to teach many of us to be “REAL NEW YORKERS”  seemed to have decided to teach me a lesson the hard way and make me fend for myself.  For as I arrived at this shop, which was a small Army surplus store that was owned and operated by a Jewish man who had been running that shop for 30 years, I was unable to locate “Papa Raynor” and was now in a hurry to get to the theater we had to be at very soon.  I attempted to call Papa but he did not pick up, so I decided to hurry to the theater, but then my poor sense of direction and memory kicked in and instead of coming off of 45th street and taking the easy left and going to 46th where the theater was, I instead made it all the way to 41st street where I was unable to find the theater when dear “Papa Raynor” called me and turned me around.  I hurried at a pace almost faster than the typical New Yorker and I did make it to the theater in time for the show!

And boy I am glad I made it on time, because we saw on Broadway Cat On A Hot Tin Roof that starred Scarrlett Johannson and Benjamin Walker (“Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter).   And as expected, it was top notch!  During intermission, being the social person that I am, I met an older lady who was an usher at the theater, who was the sweetest thing. Her name was Fran, she was a huge theater admirer and she was retired and wanted to do something she loved and that would keep her busy, and as well to talk to sweet people such as myself.

We then, thanks to the wonderful Jessica Phillips (daughter of our very own Dean Phillips) had the opportunity to go backstage and see how things work, as well as to walk on the stage and see how real everything actually is.  The stage is even raised, and you would not be able to tell that from the audience, but it sure makes viewing so much better.  We even met Ms. Phillips’s (and Tom Hanks’s) personal dresser, Sara, who took us back stage.  Sara’s daughter, Tori, played one of the five children in the play, and she even gave us a tour as well and told us about her busy life of being so young, going to school, and being in a Broadway play.  This girl gets home at midnight every night and is up at 6 a.m.

We enjoyed Dim Sum at the oldest Dim Sum restaurant in NYC, Dim Sum is Chinese food that consists of primarily dumplings.   We enjoyed the busy and crazy shop life of Chinatown, and ended the evening by going to HERE and watching two one-act plays, that were very interesting and took artistic to a new level.

As this trip continues I am continuing to learn, immerse, try new things and meet new people, experiences that not everyone gets although they should do at least once in their lives.   In the words of Robert Frost “I took the road less traveled and that made all the difference in the end”  although the roads in NYC are very often traveled.

Change in Plans Can Be Good

Matt Paul ’13 – Riley and I were all set to make our presentation; we had known for some weeks that we would have to present over the Inns of Court, one of the most historically enduring features of the English legal system. We had done preparation before the trip and the night before; we knew that there were four inns, what each one was called, where they were, what their function was, even the types of people that were likely to join them. Riley was especially ready to present their role within the English legal system as whole, and how the inns provided specially trained advocate barristers with training and a legal community. I had focused more on the history of each of the inns and how that continued to manifest itself today.

We should have known that our grand plans to lead our group would have to be adjusted. We had already had two guided visits in England, both of which had been different than expected. On Sunday we had made the train ride to near the coast of England to visit the battlefield of Hastings. We had a wonderful visit, but ironically, we were provided with a guide who was doing his first tour of the battlefield, while having with us one of the worlds leading historians on the battle (Professor Morillo) and two students (Rob and Jake) who had been researching the issue on their own for the past several weeks. As our guide said, “This will probably be the easiest guided tour that I ever give.”

Subsequently, at Monday morning’s tour of the Tower of London, after being provided with a virtually silent guide at Hastings, Patrick and Michael found themselves silenced by a guiding monopoly that put an end to their tour with a force that befitted the harsh history of the Tower. As soon as they were hitting their stride, telling us about the central tower building that gives the castle its name, a beefeater briskly informed us that guided tours were only allowed to be given by sanctioned tour guides.

So after this history (or might one in the spirit of our law class call it precedent?) Riley and I should have known that a wrinkle might be thrown in the plans of our guiding plans. That wrinkle was named Joanne Lee, the British guide of our tour of “Legal and Illegal London.” While there were initial worries about the potential cheesiness of a tour with this name, these worries were soon put to rest by this small but knowledgable woman who had in fact used to practice English law as a solicitor. Like most of the English we met she was full of jokes, but this in no way compromised her expertise. And, while this knowledge was very interesting, especially combined with her personal experience as a solicitor, Riley and I spent much of the tour mentally or physically checking off information from our list of information. By the end of the tour every one of our points of research had already been covered by that incredible woman! And yet it was impossible to be upset, despite the destruction of our dreams to be tour guides. The tour was beyond fantastic, from the information, to the sites, to the anecdotes. The weather was a bit cold, but beautiful (and rare for London) afternoon sunlight created big shadows with the magnificent, historical buildings that highlighted our tour. By the end we were all ready for a warm room and comfortable chair, but no one would have argued that it hadn’t been a wonderful afternoon led by a fantastic woman who it would be impossible to begrudge for stealing our thunder. As I have heard so many times of the past few days, cheers!

Thanks to the Rogge Fund

Scott - What does the European Council do? How do the nations overcome their language and cultural barriers?

This is what we learned today at the European Council. The Council is not far from our hotel, but we still took the metro. It was a good time, and we were able to sit in the actual rooms where policy decisions are made daily in the European Union. I sat in Italy’s chair, as they are my “country of interest” so far through this course.

The most interesting part of the Council was hearing our presenter talk about the issues in a non-official way. We have had some great presenters so far, but all have been in official positions. This was just a reporter from the Netherlands, who’s favorite memory of working for the Council was when George W. Bush came to speak. His opinions and stances were genuine, and that was neat to experience from a true “European”.

Today we also visited Waterloo. The students had to plan the trip, so that made it fun. But I am writing this blog soaked because apparently we aren’t very good planners! It was raining the whole time, and then it started pouring. We had a five minute walk to the bus stop, and everyone got drenched. It was neat to see the Lion and the battlefield though so it was worth it.

This has been a great trip. I have learned a lot, but not just about the European Union. I have learned a new way of life, experienced another part of the world. For that I am and will be eternally grateful. In the words of Dr. Mikek: “thank you Rogge Fund”!

I am finishing up this blog at a Congo restaurant. It was great food and the people were a treat to meet.

Tune in tomorrow to find about our day at the European Commission!


DeVan - As I know these little charms add to this amazing experience. Today began like any other day: early. We were off first thing to visit the European Council and in the bustle of the daily happenings of the European Union bureaucrats, journalists, etc. we had the honor of meeting with an organizer of the news conferences that happen after the Summit meetings of the EU Member State Heads. Sit here drying out after a long afternoon navigating through Belgium in pouring rain to Waterloo, I can’t help but think about that we sat in the meeting room of the European Council and listened as he explained how a normal meeting would be orchestrated and updated our group on some of the recent meetings that have happened in the last week and will happen in the next few weeks as well. I sat where the Portuguese Prime Minister would sat while Dr. Mikek represented his native Slovenia to my right. I was blown away by how informed he was of American politics past and present and while we continue to be challenged by the complicated integration of the European Union’s institutions, his personal insights added more context on where some view the European Union is headed in the future.

After our visit we had some time before our adventure to Waterloo in the afternoon. Surprisingly, Waterloo is not as marketed as you might expect. You’d think that the battle brought peace to Europe in the 19th century would be a hub of tourist attraction and vibrant area. While it was busy with people, it was very clear how infrequently “foreigners” visit these parts. After we left the museum and trekked up 226 steps to the top of the hill constructed about a decade after the war in honor of those that fought and died on the battlefield, we began the walk back from Waterloo getting drenched in none other than good old fashioned Belgian rain. Took no more than 500 meters for us all to be soaked and trying to figure out when the bus would come to head back to the train and then Brussels. The bus came and an air band composed of myself, Carter, Connor, and Sky were in the back of the bus jamming to Journey and at least the people in the back of the bus found it entertaining. A girl about our age found us so interesting that she followed us for a while and asked what Americans were doing Brussels. She also recommended that we might find better work than a traveling air band.

I’ve been around the world a bit, and every time I am more appreciative of these opportunities. These experiences will stay with me and we have a great group of guys and two great professors who have continued to open our minds and challenge us in and outside of the classroom. By the end of today several of us were ready to work for the European Union and the prospect of going home, at least for me, is bittersweet. Going back after living this life and immersing myself at every opportunity will be difficult, but being able to afford this opportunity to students in the future once I graduate this year will also be just as cool. If you ever, and I mean ever…ever, get the opportunity to go anywhere in the world, take it. Whether it be Germany, Kenya, anywhere; because the beauty of experiencing a new world, a new way of thinking, and always meeting new people never gets old and affects you in ways that can’t be articulated.

I would like to give a special thanks to Drs. Hollander and Mikek for taking on this amazing journey and to the Rogge Fund for donating the capital to continue this tradition of European immersion. Au-revoir!

Real People, Just Like You and Me

Mike Witczak ‘14 - So you guys, you totally should have taken Theatre 303. I am currently writing this blog post in a tiny Hostel room consisting of two beds that are literally touching. I am sitting on my bed facing the wall, which I can touch with my big toe if I lean back and extend my leg out. My window is slightly cracked and sounds of people yelling, laughing and sirens rushing around fill my room like I am in the movie Taxi Driver.

So why should you have taken this class? Let me tell you what I did today (as if the whole Taxi Driver argument wasn’t enough). I woke up and had a bagel that was the best bagel I have ever had. You underestimate how good a bagel can be before you have one like the one I had. I then met a man who runs and started his own theatre website. He told me that he would love to help me out if I was ever in the city trying to write about theatre myself. I then saw this play called Cat on a Hot Tin Roof by Tennessee Williams. It was on Broadway, which is kind of a big deal. Oh, did I mention that it starred Scarlett Johansen? Believe it or not the whole play she is married to a guy who can hardly look at her let alone kiss her (only in New York right?). Anyway, other then me not being able to relate to denying the love of a woman like Scarlett, the play was really good. I am a total sucker for the classics and they definitely did this one justice.

I should also mention that we got to go back stage after this Broadway play. I didn’t realize that there was no room back there. You imagine glamorous changing rooms with plenty of space to move around, but people forget that many of these buildings are around a hundred years old. There really just isn’t much space.

In all honesty this class is a perfect example of why immersion trips are a vital part of the Wabash experience. I have seen some of the most talented actors in the world, worked through acting workshops with professionals and eaten dinner with an actual Broadway actress. I know what its like to be backstage of a major production and I have walked across the Brooklyn Bridge. My point is, that no matter how much you read about something, actually experiencing it will add true perspective. You watch movies and you read about actors, but to actually meet them and watch them perform live makes it feel so much more authentic. No longer is the dream of being involved in New York City theatre something stuck in my head, it is more tangible now. The people we read about are real, just like you and me.

Gaining a Clearer Understanding

Ben – Today we went to Bruges, Belgium for our first full day in this country. We visited the College of Europe, which was founded after World War II, much as the European Union was, to create cooperation and a sense of European Citizenship between the once factious countries. We listened to a lecture by Professor Chang at the college that was entitled “Reconstructing Economic and Monetary Union”. The focus of the lecture was the European Union does not have a political union which hurts the credibility of states, such as Greece, that are involved in the EU. If they were more integrated than many of the problems of the Euro Crises could have been solved a lot sooner. Her conclusion was interesting because the representative from the European Central Bank that we talked to early this week said that credibility is its greatest asset. But why is integration so hard for members of the European Union? This is hard to accomplish because of their sense of nationality and the fact that each of the members are their own sovereign countries. We have also heard this textbook answer in class, but until I walked around Bruges after the lecture I finally began to understand why there are so many problems with integration in the European Union.

The architecture of the city is breathtaking and everything is historic. I walked in a church that was located downtown that has been serving parishioners since the 1500s. We took a boat tour through the canals in the city, and the tour guide explained the city takes great pride in preserving its history. Satellites are prohibited on the rooftops and all of the basic services, such as electricity and cable, are buried underground to preserve the medieval feel of the city. We ducked under bridges that are currently still functioning. but are over six hundred years old. Everything from Chocolatiers on every corner, to the metal boot scrapers that are embedded in the walls outside of each house next to the thresholds is still original. We could never be able to discover the emphasis that Europeans have on these customs and traditions without actually witnessing it first-hand. Learning the “European Culture” in this way has had an extraordinary effect on my understanding on the problems that are facing the European Union today. This immersion trip has opened my eyes to so many things that I thought were completely normal to me before I was able to experience from a different viewpoint. I sincerely thank that Rogge Fund for continuing to fund this trip and I hope that students are still able to be exposed to these vital realizations for years to come.

Arriving in Brussels

Jim - Today we went to the College of Europe in Brugge (Bruges). It is a grad school that focuses on the European Union and European integration. The program lasts 10 months which is faster than any grad school in America. We got a presentation from one of the professors at the University, Michele Chang. She is a friend of Dr. Hollander’s, so we were lucky to receive a presentation from her. She offered more in depth analysis of the Economic Monetary Union happening in Europe currently. One area of note is that the EMU had a saying, “If everyone obeys the rules there will be no problems”. This turned out to be false because Spain and Italy followed the rules of the Maastricht Treaty and still ended up in bad shape.

After the presentation we were allowed to visit the city of Bruges. When we arrived off the train I felt I had left a time machine because of its architecture. The city is so beautiful with old churches and cobble stone streets. To say it is scenic would be an understatement. I feel Bruges is the perfect blend of modern times with renaissance buildings.  The only time I had ever heard of Bruges was from the movie In Bruges starring Colin Ferrell. The best part of the city was an outdoor market. The carts sold meats and cheeses, some I have never heard of until today. Bruges is not as big as Frankfurt is, but it has a lot of twists and turns. Another European factor I discovered today was the idea of space. Many of the buildings were cramped together. In the US it seems the buildings are more spread apart. I wish I could spend more time in Bruges for its wonderful shops and exciting atmosphere.

I am excited to walk around Brussels tonight for two items: Fries and Waffles. The fries are served in cone shaped paper and what seems to be 30 different sauces and toppings. Last night I did not have the chance to get either of these items, so I have lost time to make up.

I would like to thank the Rogge Fund for allowing me to take a trip like this. The only times I have been out of the country I visited Matamoros, Mexico and Toronto, Canada. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity that I was lucky to be a part of because I get to discover new lands, people and language. I finally started to understand German, and now I am in French speaking Belgium. Tonight I am going to find my surroundings here in Brussels and rest up. Tomorrow we are going to the European Commission which should be awesome.

Visiting the College of Europe

Rashid – We left at 6:25pm on Tuesday for Brussels via the high speed Inter-city express (the German version of the Bullet train) The ride lasted for three hours, but the breathtaking scenery along the way ensured that it was far from mundane. There were lush green meadows and farmhouses, and each city married modern, cutting edge architecture with stately, historical architecture that showed national pride. For example, Cologne had glass and steel buildings on one side of the track and had the gigantic gothic Cathedral of Cologne that was built over a hundred years ago.

We would be in Brussels for three days, courtesy of the Rogge foundation, and will be going to the European commission and European council buildings during our stay here. However, our first event in Belgium happened to be in Brugge at the College of Europe where we would be lectured about the EMU (European Monetary Union).

The college of europe is a graduate school which is designed to help educate people about the policies and structures that exist within the EU. The school is not only open to EU citizens and openly welcomes students from other regions in the world. We arrived at the institution about an hour and thirty minutes before the scheduled time. This gave us a few minutes to familiarize ourselves with the town, enjoy the city briefly and make sure that we do not get lost on the way out!

The City of Brugge is very culturally rich and beautiful settlement. There was a waterway that swept through the town’s medieval looking brick houses, horses drawing carriages through the city’s brick-tiled streets and, of course, chocolate and waffle shops at every corner. There were boat tours on the waterways that started from one end and ran down to the other end of the town. The college was right in the middle of the town, overlooking the waterway.

Our event started with a brief history of the European college and is objectives, and then moved on to a lecture on the EMU. We had discussed the EMU in class and the lecture summarized (and confirmed) all what Dr. Mikek and Dr. Hollander had been teaching in class. The lecture also spoke about Europe’s current sovereign debt crisis and how further European integration would go long way to help solve the issue.

The lecture ended at 1 pm and we had about two hours to explore the city. We got to Brussels at 6pm and we are now preparing for our trips to EU commission and the EU council.

Learning from Barristers and Solicitors in England

Michael Carper ’13 - Our course of study this semester has straddled between history and law. We may discuss current legal issues or case law in class, but it’s to conclude historical and legal development, and then project issues for the future. For instance, our last unit focused on equity’s takeover of common law in civil cases–that is, how the more flexible procedures of equity replaced the rigid writs of the common law. We would then look at a “current” application of this trend. Today and yesterday’s meetings with current legal professionals in London provided an incredibly timely issue with historical bearings. But first, a parallel example from our course work, which demonstrates the broader theme this current example falls under.

One odd theme that I’ve noticed in class, as we’ve studied these trends of legal development, is the unplanned accumulation of structure, and then resistance to it. Indeed, the replacement of writs with equity’s discovery of evidence is a perfect example of this. Discovery was intended as a more discretionary way to determine the merits of a case before starting, much more so than writs, which couldn’t help but bring on a full trial. Based on the potential benefits awarded to the winner, the costs paid by the loser, and the actual existence of evidence, the judge may decide to grant summary judgment, that is, stop the case, or let it go  through.

And yet, the mere method of discovery is subject to structure. We looked at the Supreme Court case Bell Atlantic v. Twombly (2007) which dealt with how much “evidence” the plaintiff is required to present in order to stop a summary judgment–that is, to make the trial process go through. Despite the fact that the charge at hand, anti-competitive activity, isn’t easily discernible without the discovery process, the Court ruled that the evidence the plaintiffs could present before discovery as evidence wasn’t sufficient. Discovery, like much of equity, was supposed to avoid rigid, impractical adherence to rules. But as it progresses, it begins to resemble what it was supposed to replace. It seems the Western legal system will always be destined for rigidity.

What does this have to do with London? Yesterday, we took a tour from a solicitor-turned-tour guide. Solicitors in the English legal system counsel clients. They do everything except argue in front of a judge or jury–which barristers do. We met a barrister yesterday as well, who elaborated on the divide between barristers and solicitors. Barristers only answer to the court, and are hired by solicitors to advocate in it. They’re self-employed and have no contact with the clients. There’s greater risk, and thus greater reward. Chris admitted a certain sense of superiority over solicitors.

Today, we met some solicitors who are partners in Prof. Himsel’s international law firm, Faegre Baker Daniels. John and Stephen attributed most typical “lawyer” work, like giving counsel, collecting evidence, and drafting documents to solicitors. However, when they prepare for trial, solicitors have to work with barristers to prepare the case–since the solicitors have knowledge about the specific case and client, while barristers know the law and how it will affect the case and client.

They remarked that the divide between barristers and solicitors is beginning to crumble. Solicitors can be trained to argue in court, while barristers can be hired in a solicitor-type role. A large client might want both in-house, in order to avoid outside counsel and secure the most expansive representation. The tasks relegated to each are no longer unique. Both Chris and John and Stephen foresaw greater fusion of the roles

I see this is as yet another example of resistance to structure. The divide between solicitors and barristers is result of the long struggle between law and fact. In the English Common Law, the jury was supposed to find only fact, not law. The instructing judge was supposed to explain the law. Yet this division of personnel overlooks the complicated relationship between law and fact, and the flexibility required to apply the law to new facts. Equity tried to solve this procedural by granting the power to decide both to the sitting judge, albeit at separate levels. However, the personnel problem, in the U.K., resides. Nowadays, barristers are supposed to explain the law, while solicitors know the facts. Yet if they have to work together, why make a hard distinction between them–and why hire two lawyers?

It may be that in 20 or 30 years, the historical divide between counsel and advocate will be further eroded. And though it’s a current event in law, it’s one rich with historical development and parallels. This particular intersection of law and history was only apparent upon our visit here. It came straight from the horse’s mouth, from lawyers who are actively intertwined with these developing legal trends. It wouldn’t have been possible without a trip here.