Author Archives: Carrie Hintz

Carrie’s Song Choice for Feed

My song choice is Timbuk 3’s “The Future’s So Bright I Gotta Wear Shades” (1986).

https://youtu.be/8qrriKcwvlY

This seemingly fun and optimistic song is actually quite disturbing in its message, which reminds me of the cheerful tone of the feed in Anderson’s book, and how it occludes the apocalyptic and frightening situation in the book (environmental crisis, political instability, deteriorated human relationships).

“The Future’s So Bright I Gotta Wear Shades” was often used as a graduation song in the 80s–and I heard it played at many, many parties–but the songwriter Pat Macdonald wrote the song as an indictment of nuclear technology and culture.  Here, from Wikipedia, is an explanation:

“Pat somewhat clarified the meaning by stating that it was, contrary to popular belief, a “grim” outlook. While not saying so directly, he hinted at the idea that the bright future was in fact due to impending nuclear holocaust. The “job waiting” after graduation signified the demand for nuclear scientists to facilitate such events. Pat drew upon the multitude of past predictions which transcend several cultures that foreshadow the world ending in the 1980s, along with the nuclear tension at the height of the Cold War to compile the song.”

So the “bright future” is a nuclear explosion, ultimately, which reminds me of the ambiguous ending of feed (“everything must go”), where you get a real sense of everything ending or unravelling.

When Violet’s father says to Titus, dismissively: “Go…enjoy being young….” it reminds me of this song.  And the reference in the song to the budding nuclear scientist being “A peeping tom techie/ with X-Ray eyes” reminds me of the novel’s dystopian vision of sexuality and relationships: shallow and opportunistic for the most part.

Lyrics
I study nuclear scienceI love my classesI got a crazy teacherHe wears dark glassesThings are going great, and they’re only getting betterI’m doing alright, getting good gradesThe future’s so bright, I gotta wear shadesI gotta wear shades
I’ve got a job waiting for my graduationFifty thou a year’ll buy a lot of beerThings are going great, and they’re only getting betterI’m doing alright, getting good gradesThe future’s so bright, I gotta wear shadesI gotta wear shades
Well I’m heavenly blessed and worldly wiseI’m a peeping-tom techie with x-ray eyesThings are going great, and they’re only getting betterI’m doing alright, getting good gradesThe future’s so bright, I gotta wear shadesI gotta wear shades
I study nuclear scienceI love my classesI got a crazy teacherHe wears dark glassesThings are going great, and they’re only getting betterI’m doing alright, getting good gradesThe future’s so bright, I gotta wear shadesI gotta wear shades, I gotta wear shades

 

I am also a fan of the video that the cast from “Head of the Class” (the original series from the 80s) made, even though it ignores the true (depressing and disturbing) meaning of the song:

https://youtu.be/7H9it5hp05Q

 

 

 

Carrie’s song choice for The Realm of Possibility

I was torn between multiple song possibilities for this book….perhaps in keeping with the text’s title. I was considering Roxy Music’s transcendent meditation on lost love –“More Than This”–to capture the melancholy quality of some of the poems in the book, especially ones about unrequited love or breakups.

I was also thinking of Meryn Cadell’s wry ode to adolescent crushes–“The Sweater”–but decided that the narrators of Levithan’s book have a sincerity that Cadell can’t capture:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JFfy0dMKIi8

(I still love “More Than This” and “The Sweater”).

Today, then, I am going with “We’re All in This Together” from High School Musical, to capture the energy of Levithan’s collective narration in The Realm of Possibility. Of course I think that High School Musical is infinitely more upbeat and optimistic than The Realm of Possibility. This is, I think, partly because of its era (it represents a certain Obama-era hope and vision of unity) and partly because it comes from a musical.

Indeed, The Realm of Possibility isn’t as relentlessly upbeat as High School Musical. Far from it. I don’t think the speakers in The Realm of Possibility ever connect together in the way that this song embodies. The kinds of links and connections between the characters in Levithan’s book are often fraught with pain and tension. But–in some way that is hard to define–they are all in this together in a single place and time–a single high school. And crucially, Levithan mingles the stories of gay and lesbian couples with straight couples in a matter-of-fact way that is meant to show the full “range of possibility.”

Troy and Gabriela’s duet from High School Musical–“Breaking Free”–could also work for this book, especially the Pete and Mary plot: two people from different worlds who come together despite the disapproval of their peers. And a sports star who needs to combat toxic masculinity to pursue a relationship.

Lyrics:

Lyrics

Together, together, together everyone
Together, together, come on let’s have some fun
Together, we’re there for each other every time
Together together come on let’s do this right

Here and now its time for celebration
I finally figured it out (yeah yeah)
That all our dreams have no limitations
That’s what its all about

Everyone is special in their own way
We make each other strong (each other strong)
Were not the same
Were different in a good way
Together’s where we belong

We’re all in this together
Once we know
That we are
We’re all stars
And we see that
We’re all in this together
And it shows
When we stand
Hand in hand
Make our dreams come true

Together, together, together everyone
Together, together, come on let’s have some fun
Together, we’re there for each other every time
Together together come on let’s do this right

We’re all here
And speaking out with one voice
We’re going to rock the house (rock the house)
The party’s on now everybody make some noise
Come on scream and shout

We’ve arrived because we stuck together
Champions one and all

We’re all in this together
Once we know
That we are
We’re all stars
And we see that
We’re all in this together
And it shows
When we stand
Hand in hand
Make our dreams come

We’re all in this together
When we reach
We can fly
Know inside
We can make it
We’re all in this together
Once we see
There’s a chance
That we have
And we take it

Wild cats sing along
Yeah, you really got it goin’ on
Wild cats in the house
Everybody say it now
Wild cats everywhere
Wave your hands up in the air
That’s the way we do it
Lets get to it
Time to show the world

We’re all in this together
Once we know
That we are
We’re all stars
And we see that
We’re all in this together
And it shows
When we stand
Hand in hand
Make our dreams come

We’re all in this together
When we reach
We can fly
Know inside
We can make it
We’re all in this together
Once we see
There’s a chance
That we have
And we take it

Wild cats everywhere
Wave your hands up in the air
That’s the way we do it
Let’s get to it
Come on everyone!

Carrie’s song choice for The Poet X

My song choice for The Poet X is Leslie Grace’s bachata (and bilingual) version of the 1961 Shirelles hit “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?” Leslie Grace was born in the Bronx and is of Dominican descent, linking her to Xiomara, the protagonist of the book.  “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?” is written from the point of view of a woman who wonders whether the man she’s sleeping with will care about her in an enduring way.  It captures some of the anxiety that Xiomara has about Aman’s intentions towards her: the mixture of her desire and uncertainty about their relationship.  

Here is a link to a video of the song:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=USrflLJfZBE

Lyrics

Tonight you’re mine completely
You give your love so sweetly
Quizás no sé si deba preguntar
Will you still love me, tomorrow?

Si esto es amor, del bueno
O es solo un sueño, pasajero
O si es real el fuego en tu mirada
Will you still love me, tomorrow?

Ven dímelo, y ya no preguntaré
Si me amarás mañana

Tonight with words, unspoken
You say that I’m the only one, the only one
Mi corazón no responde
Si lo engañas y le causas dolor

I’d like to know that your love
Is love I can be sure of
Ven dímelo y ya no preguntaré
Si me amarás mañana

Will you still love me, tomorrow?
Si me amarás, mañana

Your grace
Will you still love me, tomorrow?

Carrie’s song choice for Challenger Deep

My song choice for Challenger Deep is Sting’s “Fortress Around Your Heart” from his 1985 album The Dream of the Blue Turtles.  Sting must seem impossibly old-fashioned to you—solidly in the “easy listening” category–but in the 1980s he was one of the coolest singers going.  

The Dream of the Blue Turtles means a lot to me; when I was out of High School for a couple of months due to a prolonged illness, it was my main entertainment.

The lyrics to “Fortress Around Your Heart” really speak to the interpersonal situation of Challenger Deep: the guilt of hurting someone you love.  

This song captures the mental and psychological chaos of Challenger Deep in an almost eerie way when Sting sings: “Then I went off to fight some battle/ that I’d invented inside my head/ Away so long for years and years….”  I can imagine Caden expressing the same sentiment: his desire to repair broken relationships when he is well and the impossibility of repairing them while he is still ill.  It is also interesting that Sting uses the metaphor of a prison that encircles his loved one.  While Caden is literally trapped for a while in an institution, his family and friends are also, in some way, trapped in the situation along with him.

Here is a video of “Fortress Around Your Heart”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S_P0xltLyCY

Lyrics

Under the ruins of a walled city
Crumbling towers and beams of yellow lights
No flags of truce, no cries of pity
The siege guns have been pounding through the nights
It took a day to build the city
We walked through its streets in the afternoon
As I returned across the field’s I’d known
I recognized the walls that I’d once laid
Had to stop in my tracks for fear
Of walking on the mines I’d laid

And if I built this fortress around your heart
Encircled you in trenches and barbed wire
Then let me build a bridge
For I cannot fill the chasm
And let me set the battlements on fire

Then I went off to fight some battle
That I’d invented inside my head
Away so long for years and years
You probably thought or even wished that I was dead
While the armies are all sleeping
Beneath the tattered flag we’d made
I had to stop my tracks for fear
Of walking on the mines I’d laid

And if I built this fortress around your heart
Encircled you in trenches and barbed wire
Then let me build a bridge
For I cannot fill the chasm
And let me set the battlements on fire

This prison has now become your home
A sentence you seem prepared to pay
It took a day to build the city
We walked through its streets in the afternoon
As I returned across the lands I’d known
I recognized the fields where I’d once played
Had to stop in my tracks for fear
Of walking on the mines I’d laid

And if I built this fortress around your heart
Encircled you in trenches and barbed wire
Then let me build a bridge
For I cannot fill the chasm
And let me set the battlements on fire

Preregistration Announcement


Save the Date
 Preregistration for the Winter, Spring, and Summer 2023 semesters will take place on October 24-26. During this week, English majors and minors can enroll in English courses before general registration begins across the college on October 31.  All English majors and minors are eligible to preregister for up to three Spring ’23 courses, one Winter ’23 course, and two Summer ’23 courses.  

Advisement appointments with Prof. Drury and Prof. Silyn Roberts are now available through QCNavigate. We will be holding extended advisement hours during the weeks of Oct 17 and Oct 24. Advisement appointments are not required to preregister but are highly recommended! Course schedules and descriptions for the Winter, Spring, and Summer semesters will be available on the English department website by Oct 17, and instructions for how to preregister online will be sent to students on October 21. Students will be able to review the full schedule on October 17 in CUNYFirst. 

Carrie’s song choice for Yaqui Delgado

Whenever I read Yaqui Delgado, I am reminded of “Soy Yo” (“I Am Me”)  [2015] by Bomba Estéreo, and especially the video, featuring Sarai Isaura Gonzalez, who is of Peruvian and Costa Rican descent. As a recent NPR story puts it, “the video has drawn attention — and plaudits — across the world. It’s been called an ode to little brown girls everywhere. A swaggier Little Miss Sunshine. An empowerment anthem.”   The song advises its listeners to ignore the criticisms of others and to simply affirm: “I’m me.”

In the video, a defiantly nerdy young girl navigates through her neighborhood with great confidence, standing up to scorn and condescension from kids her own age and slightly older (including some affluent white girls).  Bullying is the core issue of Yaqui, and “Soy Yo” asserts the value of individuality in the face of social friction and local power struggles.  It is a celebration of eccentricity and staying true to one’s vision:

https://youtu.be/bxWxXncl53U

The director of the video, Torben Kjelstrup, notes that he wanted to emphasize the freedom and individuality of the young girl.  The song has been used in anti-bullying campaigns: “For example, in Colombia, we were making this whole campaign around the song. We were having big issues in the schools around bullying; recently a small kid was gay, and he was having so much bullying in the school that he committed suicide. So we’re trying to empower people to feel that it doesn’t matter if you’re different or if you’re from one country or the other or you’re black or you’re white or you’re gay. What’s important is what’s inside of you, and you have to fight for that. I think the video brings this message along.”

Lyrics

Me caí, me paré, caminé, me subí 
Me fui contra la corriente y también me perdí 
Fracasé, me encontré, lo viví y aprendí 
Cuando te pegas fuerte más profundo es el beat 

Sigo bailando y escribiendo mis letras 
Sigo cantando con las puertas abiertas 
Atravesando todas estas tierras 
Y no hay que viajar tanto pa’ encontrar la respuesta 

Y no te preocupes si no te aprueban 
Cuando te critiquen, tú solo di 
Soy yo 
Soy yo
Soy yo (soy, soy, soy, soy, soy, soy, soy)
Soy yo (yo, yo, yo, yo, yo, yo, yo)

Sigo caminando y sigo riendo 
Hago lo que quiero y muero en el intento 
A nadie le importa lo que estoy haciendo 
Lo único que importa es lo que está por dentro 
A mí me gusta estar en la arena
Bañarme en el mar sin razón, sin problema 
Estar sentada sin hacer nada 
Mirando de lejos y estar relajada 

Y no te preocupes si no te aprueban 
Cuando te critiquen, tú solo di 
Soy yo 
Soy yo
Soy yo (soy, soy, soy, soy, soy, soy, soy)
Soy yo (yo, yo, yo, yo, yo, yo, yo)

Soy así, soy así, soy así (Relaja)
Y tú ni me conoces a mí (Bien relaja)
Soy así, soy así, soy así (Relaja)
Y tú ni me conoces a mí (Bien relaja)
You know what I mean? You know what I mean?

Sí, papá

Y no te preocupes si no te aprueban 
Cuando te critiquen, tú solo di 
Soy yo 
Soy yo
Soy yo (soy, soy, soy, soy, soy, soy, soy)
Soy yo (yo, yo, yo, yo, yo, yo, yo)

En la cama
Relajá
Con mi encanto
Con pijama, soy yo

Así soy yo

Here is an English translation of the song from the “Genius Lyrics” site:

I fell, I stopped, I walked, I got up
I went against the current and I also got lost
I failed, I found myself, I lived it and I learned from it
The harder you hit yourself the deeper is the beat, yes
I keep dancing and writing my lyrics
I keep singing with the doors open
Crossing all these lands
And you don’t have to travel so much to find the answer

[Chorus]
And don’t worry if they don’t approve of you
When they criticize you, just say:
It’s me
It’s me
It’s me (It’s, it’s, it’s)
It’s me (Me, me, me)

[Verse 2]
I keep walking and I keep laughing
I do what I want or die in the attempt
Nobody cares what I’m doing
The only thing that matters is what’s inside (Hey)
I like being in the sand
To bathe in the sea for no reason no problem
Sitting around doing nothing
Looking away and being relaxed

[Chorus]
And don’t worry if they don’t approve of you
When they criticize you, just say:
It’s me
It’s me
It’s me (It’s, it’s, it’s)
It’s me (Me, me, me)

[Bridge]
I’m like this, I’m like this, I’m like this (Relaxed)
And you don’t even know me (So relaxed)
I’m like this, I’m like this, I’m like this, ha! (Relaxed)
And you don’t even know me (So relaxed)
You know what I mean, you know what I mean
(Relaxed, so relaxed)
(Relaxed, so relaxed) Yes, daddy!

[Chorus]
And don’t worry if they don’t approve of you
When they criticize you, just say:
It’s me
It’s me
It’s me (It’s, it’s, it’s)
It’s me (Me, me, me)

[Outro]
Me! (In bed, relaxed, with my body, in pajamas, it’s me)
Like this, this is how I am!

For more on the song, see:

https://www.npr.org/2016/09/18/494382862/in-soy-yo-video-bomba-est-reo-pays-tribute-to-whats-inside-of-you

Here is a very good New York Times article:  “Declaring ‘That’s Me’ and Empowering Latinas”:

https://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/21/arts/music/soy-yo-sarai-gonzalez-empowering-latinas.html

An event of interest to fans of The Poet X

Please join us at the Nuyorican Poets Cafe on Saturday, October 8th at 3pm for the launch of Memorias de Miguel: The Hard Work of Love, an anthology dedicated to the remembrance of Nuyorican Poets Cafe founder, Miguel Algarín.  

Miguel passed away on November 30, 2020, and this anthology, which I helped curate and edit with the last surviving founder of the Nuyorican Poets Cafe, Lois Elaine Griffith, and scholar and poet, Karen Jaime, is a celebration of Miguel’s life, words, and work. This event is also a celebration of the upcoming 50th anniversary of the Cafe’s opening—when, in 1973, the Cafe existed in Miguel’s Lower East Side apartment and artists would gather in that cramped space, excited and hungry for the opportunity to share their work.  

This event will feature performances by Nuyorican Poets Cafe executive director, poet, Caridad “La Bruja” De La Luz, Willie Perdomo, Ammiel Alcalay, family members, and Nuyorican artists who were close to and inspired by Miguel. Archival footage of the Cafe, from NYU’s Hemispheric Institute, will also be shown. And, in the spirit of the Cafe, there will be an Open Room/ Open Mic session for anyone who wants to share words! 

This is event is hybrid and will be live streamed by the Cafe. So, for those interested in attending but cannot make it, check out the Nuyorican Poets Cafe’s website for more information: https://www.nuyorican.org/.  

The Nuyorican Poets Cafe is located at 236 East 3rd Street, between Avenues B & C. (Flyer attached for more information.) 

For those interested in purchasing and/or accessing the anthology (it is being published by NYU’s Hemispheric Institute and will exist virtually, as a physical book, and as an e-pub on October 8th) please click on the following link: https://memorias-de-miguel.hemispheric.org/.  

If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to me. 

Abrazos, 

Joseph A. Cáceres (he/him/his) 

PhD Candidate 

CUNY/The Graduate Center 

English Department 

365 Fifth Avenue 

New York, NY 10016 

www.josephacaceres.com 

Lily’s Questions

Questions for Blog #1:

1) As future educators, how might Bishop’s “Mirrors, Windows, and Sliding Glass” affect your selection of books for your students/children? How will you choose your book? What qualities does it need to have?

2) How might the purpose and plot of a book as a mirror, window, or door differ for young adults in comparison to children?

3) How was your reading experience as a child? Where you able to be exposed to books of different culture/race/world?4) In her article, Bishop focused more on the importance of books as a mirror, window, or door for children. How will you apply her ideas to young adult literature? What is similar, and how might it be different?

Quotes for Blog #1:

1) “When children cannot find themselves reflected in the books they read, or when the images they see are distorted, negative, or laughable, they learn powerful lesson about how they are devalued in the society of which they are a part”.

2) ”We are realistic enough to know that literature, no matter how powerful, has its limits. It won’t take the homeless off our streets; it won’t feed the starving of the word; it won’t stop people from attacking each other because of our racial differences; it won’t stamp out the scourge of drugs. It could, however, help us to understand each other better by helping to change our attitudes towards difference”.In the first quote, Bishop brought up the importance of books for children, and more importantly, how the children are depicted in the book, if they are even depicted. I thought it was important because I think it is the core to choosing books that serve as mirrors, windows, and doors. A book can really build up one’s knowledge and how they value themselves, especially when they are able to build connections with the characters in the book. A book can build up a child’s knowledge of the world and of themselves, so it is important for the book to have the “right” value that is beneficial for the children. Diversity is necessary, but not at the cost of ridicule that devalues one individual or community through scandalization. Therefore, as a future teacher, I would want to pay close attention to what the children are exposed to from the book to see if it can build the correct value for them. In addition, I really like the second quote because it was an answer to a question I was often asked and would ask myself many times. Why do you need books? How is reading books beneficial for your future? It is like Bishop said—a book is powerful, but it is also limited. The effect of the book is long-term; you might not see any immediate changes, but it allows us to understand; it slowly changes our attitudes, which I believe is the most basic cause that brings about the effect of racial and economic difference. In conclusion, I chose these two quotes because I think both are very inspiring and are core meanings of books, explaining why this society needs books and why we need the correct books.

Danielle’s Questions

  1. In the book, we see Chris mature and eventually become an ally for black causes. Do you think he would’ve achieved this progress if Star wasn’t his girlfriend? Why or why not?
  2. If Star still attended Garden Heights and maintained that close relationship with Khalil, do you think she would’ve been so hesitant with speaking out and letting others know she was a witness to his murder? 
  3. When the kids are sneaking DeVante out of King’s house, Iesha distracts King so they can all get away without any trouble. Did you view this as her last act of motherhood to her kids or the start of Iesha turning over a new leaf?
  4. The book closes out with Starr saying “Khalil, I’ll never forget. I’ll never give up. I’ll never be quiet. I promise”. Do you think this was also meant to serve as a message to readers to never be quiet when it comes to injustice?

1. “What’s next? You want me to apologize because my ancestors were slave masters or something stupid?”

“Bitch—” I take a deep breath. Way too many people are watching. I cannot go angry black girl on her. “Your joke was hurtful,” I say, as calmly as I can”.

 I picked this quote because it’s so relatable and really speaks to me as a black woman. I can tell you right now that I’ve been in this exact situation, from the ridiculous comment from a white person to mumbling “Bitch-“ to taking a deep breath and speaking calmly so I can beat the “angry black girl” allegations; it’s all too real to me.

2. “We just got off the phone with Ms. Ofrah, who said the grand jury will announce their decision in a few hours. She claims only the grand jurors know the decision, but I’ve got a sinking feeling I know it. It’s always the decision.”

I picked this quote specifically because of the last two sentences where Starr thinks “…but I’ve got a sinking feeling I know it. It’s always the decision”. This quote was, for lack of a better word, so real to me because it’s quite literally our reality today and has been our reality for centuries. It was the same feeling I had while watching George Floyd’s trial, but I was pleasantly surprised when the officer was convicted and sentenced to prison. That situation was an anomaly in which a white person got held accountable for their actions in this country but besides that, when a situation like this happens, we always know the decision because “It’s always the decision”. 

In response to some questions

Question #1: I was asked whether you can use the “I” (first person) in your Opening Response, as in “I believed this and now I believe….” Yes, you certainly can, and you can use the “I” in your formal essay as well.

Question #2: For the second blog assignment, what are the due dates and requirements for each post?

You are only required to write three posts for Blog Assignment #2. We are reading seven books but you only need to do music posts for three of them.

If you choose to write on The Hate U Give, the due date is Sept 26th. I will not be too strict in enforcing the deadlines for Blog Assignment #2, but I recommend getting them done while we are discussing the book. Here are all of the deadlines (remember you only need to do THREE of the books):

The Hate U Give: Sept 26th
Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass: Oct 17th
Challenger Deep: Oct 26th
The Poet X:  Nov 2nd
The Realm of Possibility: Nov 9th
Feed: Nov 21st
Bomb: Nov 28th

Here is a sample post:
https://yafall2022.commons.gc.cuny.edu/the-hate-u-give-marvin-gayes-whats-going-on/

In every post for this exercise, you should include:

  • the basic information about the song
  • why you associate the song with the individual YA book, ie why you chose it
  • a link to a recording of the song or video for the song
  • lyrics of the song