About Chris DiBari

Chris is a student at Brooklyn College and Macaulay Honors College at CUNY. Born in Illiniois, Chris has lived in a number of different places including: Newport, RI, Key West, FL, Chesapeake, VA, Pittsburgh, PA, Warren, NJ, and currently lives in Brooklyn. He is living in the dorms, but soon hopes to leave and move to a different part of Brooklyn. Chris is undecided in his major, but has passions in the social sciences, and next semester hopes to take a few more history classes. Chris is currently pursuing his goal of becoming a United States Marine Corps officer through the Platoon Leader's Class option and applying to the United States Naval Academy.

Where is the conflict?

I just re-watched the first half of Do the Right Thing on Netflix to get it fresh in my head again. What I noticed was a number of differences from other more recent films on Brooklyn. Compared to a film like Brooklyn’s Finest Do the Right Thing employs much less use of “the n word.” This is an interesting shift in the use of this word in pop culture. In today’s rap music and culture, artists make liberal use of “the n word,” however, Spike Lee, despite his Brooklyn upbringing, makes less use of this word in his film.

Additionally, Lee creates a culture of racial divide not necessarily through violent actions between the neighborhood and the employees of Sal’s pizzeria. This tension builds up through discreet conversations between neighborhood residents. Sal’s oldest son seems to be the most volatile towards the African-American community in Bed-Stuy.

What I find to be the most bizzarre part of this film so far is the consistent buildup of tension, but a lack of real conflict to be had. So far, Radio Rakeem appears to be just a big guy with a radio. However, his haunting presence screams conflict. Additionally, Sal appears to be a reasonable person with a large presence in the community, and any actions against him would appear unfounded given the current circumstances.

I am interested to see how the plot unfolds; it’s a very interesting film.


Chris DiBari

Richard II: Re-Acclimating to Shakespeare

After reading Richard II, I forgot about how hard it was for me to understand Shakespeare sometimes. Thus far, I find the story pretty interesting. It seems bizarre that these two lords can fight over something so intangible as honor is something that I don’t think we see today in the world. While that’s not to say honor is dead, but rather, people tend to identify with a personal insult as grounds to fight and possibly kill someone you know.

Additionally, I think it is an important point in King Richard’s character that he stopped the dual from occurring. Instead of allowing petty squabbles to tear apart his kingdom, instead he fought to ensure the prosperity of his rule. However, this prosperity soon comes to be challenged by the dying Gaunt. I also find it interesting that Gaunt can so blatantly disrespect the king with no subsequent outburst. This may be a result of his coming death. However, Richard does not seem to assert his importance over Gaunt, nor over York when he is challenged later in that very same scene. I think this may be an important thing to keep an eye on throughout the development of the play.

Don Juan and Sganarelle: Equally as Toxic to Society

In Moliére’s masterpiece, it is easy to notice the overbearing presence of religious satire and chauvinistic tendencies of the drama’s protagonist.

However, the relationship between Don Juan and his valet, Sganarelle, is what interested me most as I read this play. Despite the obvious moralizing tendencies of his thought, Sganarelle puts himself at the mercy of his master again and again. Don Juan addresses such cowardice when Sganarelle dresses as a doctor to avoid harm in the woods.

Obviously, it is not easy for a servant to leave his master, especially one as rich as Don Juan. Sganarelle’s reaction to his master’s death indicates the primary conviction he has to Don Juan and his family. Payment is central to the relationship between the two characters. Sganarelle cares not for the death of his master, or the moral judgement, which many think might lead to his satisfaction. However, Don Juan’s death leads only to the complaint:  “I am the only unlucky one. My wages, my wages, my wages!” Sganarelle’s concern is base, caring only for his money and not for the satisfaction of the destruction of a wicked man.

It is with this action that I can say Sganarelle is equally as immoral and unjust as Don Juan. His hypocrisy is blatant, as he parades around saying “Oh what a man,” and pontificating about what a horrible master he serves, he does nothing to modify his situation. When given the opportunity to stand down his master, he quivers beneath his shadow. Additionally, Sganarelle owes his debtors just as Don Juan does.

Therefore, it is through the character Sganarelle, which Moliére portrays the equal ungodliness of lord and common man. The satire of those who disregard religion against those who would use it as a blanket to cover their own sins (i.e. Sganarelle).

Camera Lost-ida

I don’t know how many of you guys saw me with my disposable camera since the beginning of the semester taking pictures whenever something caught my eye. Essentially, this camera was the documentation of my first two months of college. Unfortunately, on a recent trip, I brought my camera with me to Block Island, RI…where it remains. I took a few pictures there, and as I was packing, I left the camera, and the undeveloped photographs on it, behind. Therefore, unfortunately, I am left with the photos I had to scramble to put together at the last minute. I want to apologize for tomorrow, because I don’t think my photographs will be as great as I originally intended, but I still hope you guys find them interesting.

-Chris DiBari

Wrong Era

Wrong Era
A lone trumpet player sits beneath the overpass along the Highline. He traveled there alone, and he will travel home alone. He creates for the sole purpose of his own enjoyment; no instrument case lies in front of him. He’s not begging for money, but rather for redemption of the artistic community in which he resides. The loss of such great musicians and talent, the closing of the Chelsea Hotel, and the increasing digitization of music haunt his mind.
This man yearns to be part of the past, to be remembered as a great musician. His improvisation goes unnoticed by many. They take it in stride, his music, like a permanent installment in a museum to a time long gone. Those that do notice listen without observing. There is no one standing in front of him, and it is difficult for him to discern those listening from those simply walking through. This interaction truly represents the community of the neighborhood of Chelsea. Creation and improvisation for the sake of itself is abundant. Therefore, this musician can feel validated in himself despite not ever discovering who is experiencing his music.

Highline Creative Response (Video)

McDonald’s: The Juxtaposition of Violence and Service

Employees of this building painted this sign years ago when the location first opened in hopes of portraying a future for the neighborhood founded on respect. The location fostered a great deal of economic success, and brought jobs to the area in a time of great prosperity. However, as things began to take a turn for the worse, this restaurant became the centerpiece of a neighborhood in need of revival.
McDonald’s, a restaurant associated with quick, barely edible, cheap food, lies nestled between the Brooklyn College campus and the Flatbush Avenue, Nostrand Avenue Junction. In this photograph, we see the famous golden arches, which are synonymous with McDonald’s across the country. We see barbed wire, hanging over a sign with the words: “Cleanliness, Service, and Quality.” These words, while not descriptive with the McDonald’s many people experience, apply even less to the establishment on Hillel Place.
The brutal reality of this image lies in the contrast between the violence and service at McDonald’s restaurants in Brooklyn. Just three weeks ago at this McDonald’s, a young man, 18 years old, was gunned down in broad daylight. Two other locations in East Flatbush have had similar instances in the past three months. These shootings have been motivated by police violence or gang activity, and only demoralize members of the community who have been fighting for change. Snapshot NYC forces to look at not only the beauty of New York City, but also the problems, which it will be our responsibility to address.
These acts of violence bring attention to the rampant negligence that occurs in certain lower income neighborhoods. Residents are forced to resort to fast food restaurants due to little or no access or means to purchase healthier food. These concerns lead to epidemics such as obesity, malnutrition, and fast food addiction. This photograph does not reveal the struggle of many of the employees of McDonald’s restaurant. Their struggle to feed themselves and a family on a wage of $7.25 an hour embodies the very essence of the lower class struggle. Therefore, when choosing a place to eat, families ask themselves, “Why pay more than $1 for a sandwich at a grocery store.” This epidemic of malnutrition is propagated by venues like McDonald’s and other standard fare at the Junction, such as Popeye’s, or Burger King.
This photograph does not portray the homeless man that holds the door open for you every night in hopes of getting a few spare nickels. Instead, this portrays symbols of an epidemic of violence. The gang tags, which lie beneath the mural, paint a picture of a group marking its territory. A seemingly useless strand of barbed wire guards the words emblazoned on the side of the building. However, this projects a powerful correlation between the violence of the neighborhood, contrasted against the ideas of cleanliness, service, and quality. Perhaps this symbolizes the future of America as a whole. While originally founded on an ideal of high aspirations, some have lost sight of what makes this country great. There are those protesting in Wall Street now trying to overcome the barriers they feel have been placed upon them. Just as there is great turmoil and contrast in this photograph, this same idea is reflected in the social climate of today’s America. There have been many great things accomplished, however, there are still many more to come.

The Roots of “Hip”

As I read for the first time ever about the Chelsea Hotel, I began to think about how many other places have had so much artistic history. From the years 1884 to 2011, Hotel Chelsea has housed many of the greatest artistic minds of different eras. To think of the fact that Twain, Ginsberg, Hopper, Dylan, and Kiedis had all stayed under the same roof is truly amazing.

I like to think that at the Chelsea, even the walls ooze creativity. To be in such a historic location amongst such legacy would truly be an honor. Even when Patti Smith stayed there and wrote the song she performs in the interview, there was already a great deal of creativity, which had already occurred at the Chelsea.

The diversity of talent is worth commenting upon as well. To think that Twain, such an amazing writer could have shared a room with Alice Cooper or Jimi Hendrix, both musical greats. Perhaps the Chelsea is such a landmark, because when you stay there, you can hear the work of the artists before you in your head.

During the 1960s, it is obvious, from Patti Smith’s interview that drug abuse and other taboos were abundant. Smith even forgets the reason she wrote one of her songs. I assume this to be a result of the rampant drug use, which occurred not only at the Chelsea,  but in many 1960’s art hubs.

We see the legacy of this time period when we walk through Chelsea into the Village, and now even further into Williamsburg. The “hipster” scene can trace its roots back to Patti Smith and other influential punk rockers and beats. Those artists living in the Chelsea have shaped the culture of the United States for the past 100 years.

Chris DiBari

A Student of Literature, History, and New York City

While reading Tan’s novel, I began to develop the idea that this work could be viewed through a number of different lenses. The primary one of course, being literature, as the work is a “graphic novel.” In this sense, Tan acts as other innovating novelists, such as Foer have. The novel includes no words, forcing the reader to understand the elements of literature through the graphics included within the work. In this medium, Tan reveals the basic plot, an immigrant leaving his family to start a new life in some sort of metropolis. It is never explicitly stated to be New York, but the “Ellis Island” like scene implies that the protagonist has left for New York City.

However, more importantly than plot, Tan uses many of the graphics to convey powerful messages about not only the great change that occurs as a person moves, but also the motivation behind immigration. As an immigrant himself, (http://www.shauntan.net/about.html) Tan provides a unique perspective on this experience. The image of the dragon struck me particularly strongly, because, many times the motivation for leaving one’s home country comes from plague, lack of work, or in order to escape an oppressive regime. In the protagonist’s journey, he comes to meet many individuals who have faced these issues. The dragon’s constant overshadowing within the country could be something as literal as looming danger, or financial woes facing the family. Either way, its size implies that this danger is something that the protagonist must escape. The symbol of the dragon, along with many others, allows the work to be analyzed as a literary work, however, this remains yet one sphere through which the work can be viewed.

In the case of history, this book has a number of references to historical events, real or partially fictionalized. The protagonist’s encounters with individuals who have experienced similar strife indicate significant world events leading to immigration. For example, the experience of the protagonist’s fellow factory worker demonstrate some form of Eastern European military operation forcing him to leave his home. A historian could take this same work and analyze it according to the historical events which it represents.

Furthermore, and most relevant to this class is the novel’s application to New York City. One of the most interesting parts of this work is the use of language, but a foreign or invented language. Many times, it is easy to look upon signs in Brighton Beach or Chinatown written in foreign languages and be confused. This “multicultural experience” as many people like to call it can also be seen as a singular experience. Despite being in a location where so many cultures converge, we still only view the world through our own eyes. Exposure does not always come with understanding. This novel embraces that idea in the foreign language, which New York City appears in. To be surrounded by a completely foreign language and group of people is unfathomable to many of us. This work forces the reader to confront their own view on the city around. This portion of the novel’s construction is of the most interest to me, and I hope we will discuss this in class.


John Adam’s Music Piece

As I listened to Adams’ composition I found myself lost in the music and my thoughts, while other times, I felt completely aware of every compositional choice he made. While I am not näive enough to think that I knew what was running through Adams’ head when he composed his piece I just wanted to share a few thoughts.

First, I noticed a few major changes in style. While the piece initially starts out as spoken, and street noises, perhaps to indicate the initial shock of the events of 9/11. The basic human sentence structure and communication used by newscasters is symbolized in the simple words used to communicate early in the piece.

Next, the piece moves into a dirge, like a march, symbolizing the constant reminder that exists in the smoldering ruins following the September 11 attacks. This march-like composition leads into a requiem truly “In Memoriam” of the victims of the attacks.

Later on, the piece transitions to include sounds that resemble cutlasses, which reference the quick, seemingly unfounded battles we entered into following 9/11.

Although these points stood out to me in my notes, there were so many other things which could be interpreted from this piece. As I previously stated, there were times I found myself lost in the piece, just as sometimes we lose sight or memory of the attacks on September 11. Then, just as in my daily life, there is a point in the composition which strikes me to remember the events that took place on 9/11.

Finally, the great thing about handling a composition of this size, is the ability of every person to draw something different from it. I look forward to hearing what parts of the piece spoke to which people.