Author: Abraham Alex

Irish Memorial

“The quality of the rich is determined not the quality of their riches but by the quality of the food given to the poor.” –Pope (paraphrased version)


I read this quote when I visited the Irish memorial on Thursday with Mark, Katherine, Adam, Sandy and Melissa.  Although this wasn’t the ideal destination of our trip, it was very informative.  The Irish Hunger memorial is dedicated to all those who suffered those harsh times during the potato famine.  The memorial was situated in an inconspicuous part of Manhattan, overlooking a large body of water.  When I read this quote, I was astonished and I decided to do some research.  It turns out that although the majority of Irish were Catholics at that time period, most of them were poor.  Most of the upper class members of society were English protestants, which explains the subsequent tension between the Irish and English.  The pope said this quote to convince those upper class Englishmen to provide for the Catholics living in Ireland at the time.

Overall, the memorial seemed somewhat drab and gloomy.  The location and the dark night sky seemed to enhance that effect.  Surprisingly, however, couples came there for the solitude and other small groups also came to see the memorial.  It seemed that some parts of the memorial need more renovation and merited greater attention from the public.  Even though I am not Irish, I believe that it is extremely important to rejuvenate this memorial for the sake of history.

Snapshot Experience

Truth be told, I was expecting a greater turnout for the Snapshot day.  But it seemed like only a fraction of the Macaulay class showed up.  But it was immediately clear that those that didn’t show up to the Snapshot event missed out on the grandness of the event.  Despite being located in, what I believed, a drab neighborhood, the museum was gargantuan when viewed from the inside.  The building was so big, that to see the ceiling, one would hurt his/her neck!  Complimenting this architecture, I noticed the pictures that were displayed to the students.  It was immediately clear that the five or six curators had invested abundant time and energy to organize and assign a time to those pictures.  Each picture was neatly categorized into a time based on the position of the sun, the length of shadows, the intensity of lighting etc.  The amount of work that the curators put in must have been unfathomable!  Even though my picture was categorized into the wrong time, I was greatly impressed by their hard work to the task.  Uploading the pictures to a social media was fun but challenging because I had to find the “perfect” picture to do so.  The batmobile was also eye-catching, even though it wasn’t the new batmobile (the one from the movie not the comics).  The experience was, overall, very humbling.

Jazz Band Reflection

After sitting through three hours of the jazz performance, I realized that Vaughan was right: it was difficult to fall asleep during the performance.  The music was too lively and vibrant! Everyone, especially Vaughan, performed exceptionally.  However, the one saxophone player in the corner that played some disturbing, yet oddly alluring, music was eye-catching (or should I say ear-catching?).  My favorite part of the play was when the musicians emulated the sound of a crying baby, which succeeded in eliciting laughter and astonishment from the audience.  The play was also loud.  Really loud.  This intensity was one of the factors that made the music likable.  I also liked the great amalgam of sounds that were presented to the audience.  When I closed my eyes, I tried to separate the sounds that I heard.  I heard a little bit of the piano and some other instruments that I have difficulty naming.  Overall, however, the wind instruments (particularly the trumpet) and the drums were the loudest.


I noticed that the relationship between the musicians in the band seemed more informal than I thought it would be.  For instance, the composer picked out his friend from the audience and asked him to direct the show!  This was fascinating because it reminded me that the musicians were very relaxed and truly enjoyed what they were doing.  Unlike a professional setting, like the Opera, the musicians seemed more connected with the audience members, who sat in relatively close proximity to the musicians.  This physical closeness to the musicians also intensified the effect of the music that was made.  The musicians were also allowed their own solo during the performance, further contributing not only to the informality of the play but also to the audience’s enjoyment of the play.


Shakespeare Play Reaction

The play was interesting and whimsical, albeit for the first hour or so.  The actresses managed to capture my attention and kept me entertained as the prisoners brought in the toys and other equipment, giving the atmosphere an air of whimsy.  Furthermore, some of the witty, comical comments exchanged by the not so slender Falstaff character elicited a response from the audience and I was able to understand the comedic value in those assertions.  However, it was extremely difficult to understand the dialogue between the characters.  To fully understand the characters, I had to muster all of my concentration, which was only exacerbated by the fact that there was no intermission, for the three hours of the play.  This experience was, nevertheless, priceless because it was a learning experience.  Although I like reading Shakespeare because I can take my time to comprehend the dialogue, I realized that watching Shakespearean plays is an active process, meaning that the members of the audience must listen to every single word meticulously to capture the meaning of what was said.  Once the dialogue is spoken it is gone. Vanished.  It is impossible to replay or go back to what was said.  This made it very hard for me to understand what was going on in the play.  On the plus side, however, my favorite character was Falstaff because he (she) lightened the mood of the play with humor.  All in all, the experience was “okay” with some parts being phenomenal, namely Falstaff’s humor, and other parts being barely understandable.

Tosca Review

          Tosca had all the elements of a Shakespearean play – drama, a dark seriousness diffused by brief periods of humor, and, most importantly, a tragic ending that no one could have foreseen.  The drama and the seriousness of the play stems from the fact that the play takes place in a post-Napoleonic France deeply wounded by the tyranny of Napoleon and threatened by the fear of the dangerous populace.  On top of that, Cavaradossi attempts to escape from the secret police while maintaining a relationship with Tosca.  Although the humor was mostly found in the fact that Tosca got incredibly envious after thinking that Cavaradossi loved another woman, the play featured little comedy.

My favorite part was the unforeseen plot twist that characterized the last act of the play.  Tosca, after proclaiming that both lovers will live happily ever after, is driven to suicide after the death of Cavaradossi.  As Tosca jumped to her death, she proclaimed that she will meet her love again in heaven, thus ending the show with a bang.  The lights turned off just as she was about to make contact with the ground, making the audience believe that she died.  Tosca’s acting was phenomenal in these scenes in that she was not only the main character in the play but also invested all her emotions into her character.

All in all, the play was not what I expected.  For one thing, I initially believed that the opera would be in Shakespearean English, making comprehension very difficult.  However, I was able to understand every line of the play because of the subtitles in the screens.  I also learned that opera is watched mostly by “high class” people, seeing as how everyone came in fancy dresses and drank champagne (I think it was champagne).  I am hoping to go to the opera during either my winter break or summer because I enjoyed this play.

Ballet Performance

When we went to the ballet on Thursday, all the eyes were on stage as the dancers elegantly moved across the stage.  However, I focused more on the message that the dancers were attempting to convey.  It seemed like a novel concept to deliver a story without any words!  Using expressive body language, color of the clothing, and the gender of the dancer, the dancers were able to narrate a story, appealing to even the youngest of audience. I found entertainment in the fact that death and life were recurring concepts in the last part of the dance.  Although I didn’t understand why the contrast was made, I understood the basic plot of the ballet.  I found it funny when the old looking dancers arranged themselves around the table.  The meaning that I derived from this was that the dancers were enjoying the afterlife.

An awkward silence filled the air several times throughout the ballet as the music came to a halt.  In those moments, all that could be heard were the feet of the dancers tapping on the stage.  Simply put, the music was the integral part of the performance, even though the orchestra wasn’t on stage.  I would even go so far as to say that the orchestra was more important than the ballet itself!  The orchestra is autonomous but the ballet is completely dependent on the orchestra.  Looking through the binoculars, I saw the violin players change the tone of the music by simply changing the direction of the bow.  In my opinion, the orchestra was more important than the ballet.

Favorite Highline Art -Abraham Alex


What are those?! This is the first thought that entered my mind as I stood in front of this artwork.  My theory is that works of graffiti, like the one above, is a message, encoded so that only a select few people can comprehend the message.  When I looked closely, I believed that it was a fancy form of cursive writing.  This is the main reason that I liked this work of art: it seemed to have a definitive purpose unlike the other works of art in the highline.  Many people say that art conveys something, something that is different for anyone who views it.  But not this art.  This art had ONE purpose.  According to my theory, which may or may not be credible, the artist was trying to convey a cryptic, written message to someone.  The next logical question is: who is the message intended for?  Is it the common people, members of an inconspicuous organization or someone else entirely?  As I stood in west Manhattan, I began to think about the writing.  The work of art probably wasn’t meant for the upper class society since they would have other means necessary to disperse their messages.  I theorized that this art belonged to a young to middle aged strata of society as corroborated by the style of writing, the use of spray paint etc.  Although I could neither establish the intended audience of the art or its meaning, I liked this work because it was thought provoking.

My Museum Experience

Truth be told, I didn’t anticipate such grandeur and elegance when Prof. Ugoretz mentioned the museum at the Macaulay orientation.  I thought that we were simply going to view art and write an analytical essay about our observations.

My expectations and preconceived thoughts of the were debunked the moment I stepped outside the subway station.  After seeing the Western civilization’s greatest philosophers standing atop the museum, after seeing the museum’s enormous structure dominate the urban surrounding, after seeing security guards denying access to everyone except the Macaulay students, I thought to myself: “Wow.”

Some pictures were relatively complicated, for instance, a girl sitting on a bench surrounded by a marred sky.  Looking at this picture, I had no idea why the artist would mar the girl’s face and environment using the paintbrush.  An otherwise beautiful girl was ruined by multiple “scratches” on her face with the paintbrush.

Other pictures were easier to decipher but still incomprehensible: in the “Web of Life”, a mother holds a child at the center of the canvas while nature engulfs the rest of the canvas.  The meaning of this painting is subject to interpretation.  I, however, saw this as the artist’s way of saying that “it takes and entire village to raise a child,” suggesting that the child’s existence was dependent on the mother’s nourishment, the farmer’s seeds and nature’s fruit of life.  This piece of art was my favorite, though it didn’t evoke any emotion in me.  I simply liked it because of its uniqueness amid other paintings.

Some pictures demanded ample attention: the “Fallen Bierstadt” featured an image of a beautiful landscape which represented the beauty of American nature.  The picture was, however, torn asunder…on purpose.  The artist, apparently, used such an image to show that nature was cruel, an idea that sharply contrasts with the beauty of the landscape.

The museum was filled with other artifacts to delineate other time periods.  Although the sneaker exhibit may have seemed appealing to some people, I thought it was boring since sneakers are a relatively recent invention.  I prefer art that can take me to a different time and keep me there long enough for me to learn something about the artist’s intentions in making a piece of art.

All in all, the museum experience was an unforgettable one, mostly, because it was my first time visiting an art museum with my friends and having fun discussing with each other what the paintings and sculptures were.  However, I wouldn’t go to the museum alone because part of what made the museum fun was talking to someone else about the art and that is what made the trip worthwhile.20150909_184143 20150909_194948 20150909_200420 20150909_201210 20150909_205814