Staff Editorial: We Are Thankful…

In light of the approaching holiday season and upcoming Thanksgiving Break, we thought we would express the things for which we are most thankful this year.

First and foremost, we’d like to thank Mother Nature for further narrowing our list of possible future children’s names yet again. We didn’t care for Irene all that much, but taking away Sandy just hurts.

Speaking of that, we’re also very thankful and hopeful for the lack of mold on campus this time around. As much as we loved hearing “I’m On A Boat” ten times a day and for some of us, waking up to Sea Voyager crew drills, the stability is nice.

We are thankful for sweater weather, and warm fuzzy jackets that we can rub our faces against in public no matter who’s looking, because they’re just that fuzzy. Oh, and the hot apple cider with caramel from the Grind that fulfills our fall hopes and dreams.

We are thankful for Thanksgiving break, where we can switch gears and sulk in the amount of work we have to do before the semester ends in front of our parents and siblings rather than our roommates and friends. Also, we can gladfully stuff our faces while doing so.

And yes, we are thankful for the projected amount of carbs we can expect to consume between now and next semester in the duration of both Thanksgiving and Winter break…while laying on the couch…and cuddling with our dogs.

We are also thankful for our right to vote, especially on issues that are so important to our campus community, states, and country as a whole. There’s no greater feeling of yelling “DEMOCRACY!” after casting your ballot. Thanks, America.

We are thankful for sloths. They’re not really relevant to campus; actually, we’ve never seen them outside of the zoo and those adorable youtube videos, but we think we can say with all certainty that without sloths, the world would be a darker place. So, thanks, everyone, for giving us one of the cutest animals and having them star in multiple youtube videos, which, incidentally are both a great stress-reliever and procrastination tool right around finals time.

Did someone say procrastinating? That reminds us, we are thankful for the people who produce those Tumblr pages like Camp SMCM and #Whatshouldwecallme, for truly understanding our lives, and yes, also helping us procrastinate at award-winning measures.

But on a more serious note, we are thankful for our faculty and staff members of the College, without whom the school could not operate. We are thankful for housekeeping, grounds, and Bon App workers for putting in countless hours of hard work and always smiling to students while doing it.

We are thankful for St. Mary’s, which without, we wouldn’t have met some of our greatest friends, made some of our favorite memories, or be able to go on kayaking study breaks on Sunday afternoons.

Finally, we are very thankful for all of our subscribers, readers, sources, (both on-the-record and off), students, faculty, staff, and everyone who puts up with us when we bug you for a quote after a lecture.

We hope everyone has a very happy, and very thankful, Thanksgiving and holiday season!

TFMS Department Debuts Kyogen Comedies

On Nov.  8, the Theater Film and Media Studies Department debuted the first showing of “Laughing at Life: A Performance of Kyôgen Plays” in the Bruce Davis Theater.

The Kyôgen Performance, which consisted of four miniature plays, was based on popular Japanese Kyôgen comedies.  The comedies followed the style and slow vocalization of traditional Japanese theater. The specific and drawn out pronunciations and the movements of the actors mirrored the Kyôgen style while adding to the humor of the plays.

Professor of Theater and Film Studies and Asian Specialist Holly Blumner, who directed the play, explained “some of the themes of the plays include servants outwitting their master, compassion, and uprooting social order.” Two of the plays, Busu (Delicious Poison) and Bôshibari (Tied to a Pole), involved the servants Taro and Jiro getting into mischief while their master was away.   Utzubozaru (The Monkey Bow Quiver) was a more dramatic piece that involved a feudal lord’s attempt to retrieve fur from a monkey trainer’s star monkey. “This play was used to introduce the young actress (Emily Muskgrove) and the story is really compelling,” said Blumner.  According to the TFMS website “The daimyô learns a lesson, compassion, and the potentially tragic turns to celebration.” The performance of Iroha centered on the relationship of a parent and child as the child prepares for educational instruction.

While the Kyôgen Comedies were a new experience for many in attendance, the audience did not hesitate to laugh and applaud the humorous circumstances of the play.

“This was my first time seeing a Kyôgen play but I thought all of them were really witty,” said senior Caroline Posner.  Blumner added that, “Kyogen is really fun and it’s also great training for the actors.”

Blumner presented “Laughing at Life” after a four-year break from directing Kyôgen comedies at SMCM. “It takes a great amount of time and order to arrange this and I think audiences might appreciate it more if it isn’t shown every year,” said Blumner. “I try really hard to introduce Japanese culture to the student body and I’m hoping the audience will see the humor of the performance.”

The theater was nearly to full capacity on the opening night.

The Bruce Davis Theater will continue showing the play from Nov. 15-18.

Piscataway Nation Dancers Perform in St. Mary's Hall

On Wednesday, Nov. 7 in St. Mary’s Hall, the Piscataway Nation visited SMCM as a part of National Native American Heritage Month. The cultural event, which included traditional dances and songs that have been performed for thousands of years, was hosted by Mark Tayac, the son of the current chief of the Piscataway Nation. The performing group included only four  of the 20 Native American performers who have traveled all over the world for 30 years of cultural celebration.

The Piscataway are an Indian nation indigenous to Maryland, but their original territory once spread into Delaware, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and the Ohio Valley. This territory was defined by how far their native language, now called Eastern Woodland Algonquin Dialect, was spoken. Mark Tayac, the future 29th generation hereditary chief of the Piscataway Nation, said that Maryland “has been our home and is our home today.” The Piscataway presence in this area has been estimated by anthropologists to 15,000 years of occupation.

The purpose of the event is to “share the beauty of native traditions, dances, and songs, and to celebrate who we were yesterday and are today,” said Tayac. “[The media] has not always portrayed Native American people and culture in a positive or accurate way.” He then took a visual poll, asking audience members to raise their hands if they had heard the stereotypical drum beat associated with Native Americans. To the nation, as long as the drum continues, the beauty of the Piscataway culture continues. “The drum represents the heartbeat of life…if you’re heart sounds like that, you need to pick up a phone and call 911 because you need a doctor,” said Tayac with a laugh.

Many of the dances from the event have been performed at pow-wows, or a gathering of Native American people, for thousands of years and are evidence that there is still a living culture that is kept alive by the Piscataway. The group danced the “grand entry dance” that shows “the grand beauty of our people and culture,” according to Tayac. One of the favorite dances of the night was the war dance, which represents the old days and old ways of preparing for battle. Disputes were usually settled through a game called stick ball, which has now become lacrosse.

The dancers picked people out of the audience to stand in a circle on the stage to participate in “counting coup.”

“Don’t worry, you don’t have to dance,” said Tayac, “but you must be brave.” One of the dancers performed the dance in the center, which involved touching the dancer’s opponent to show his courage. After scaring several people in the circle, Tayac picked out one girl from the circle and joked, “Young lady, do you know what you’re getting yourself into? Well, I don’t either so you must be brave!” She had to prove her own bravery by dancing up to the original dancer and touching him, a method of war developed by Native Americans because they believed that they didn’t have the right to take another’s spirit.

The other performances of the evening included the Men’s Grass Dance, which demonstrates harmony and balance; the Crow Dance; the Men’s Fancy War Dance; the Eagle Dance, which is a four part dance that shows a eagle’s journey through life; the Hoop Dance, which is a technically difficult dance and involved six hoops that the dancer used to create images; and the Rabbit Dance. The Rabbit Dance, two-step, or Sweetheart’s Dance is a partner dance that is accompanied by love songs. The dancers picked volunteers and danced with them in a simple dance which was similar to following the leader. “If anyone falls in love, it’s not my fault,” said Tayac.

The culture and traditions of the Piscataway people are very much alive today. Tayac said, “We are the original people of the land and we are still here today.” The Native American people, he explained, have a special connection to the land and have a long-lasting oral tradition that continues to celebrate the Piscataway way of life. The dancers ended the evening with closing dance of the pow-wow and were available for pictures and questions afterward.

The event was very popular with the audience, and many stayed to talk to the tribesmen and buy the handmade goods that were for sale. Sarah Duff, a sophomore who attended, said, “It was great. it was cool to see traditions come alive at St. Mary’s.” The Piscataway Nation recently became a state-recognized tribe in January of this year, according to a press release on Governor O’Malley’s website.

 

SMC Recognized with Grand Award by the Professional Grounds Management Society

In an email to the campus on Nov. 5, President Urgo informed the community that St. Mary’s had been recognized by the Professional Grounds Management Society (PGMS) with the Grand Award indicating that the campus has “one of the best maintained landscapes in the colleges and universities category.”

According to Superintendent of Grounds Kevin Mercer, St. Mary’s award-winning landscaping began with the students’ concerns for our effect on the environment. “The way we were doing our normal day-to-day operation from a textbook grounds maintenance program back in 2005 had to be adjusted,” Mercer said. In doing so, they reduced both our stormwater pollutants and greenhouse gas emissions.

Under the direction of Associate Vice President of Planning and Facilities Chip Jackson, Mercer explained that the goal became to value function and practical maintenance over aesthetics, which could require pesticides and fertilizers to maintain.

Mercer explained that the College won the award for two reasons: the students made him aware of the important issues the grounds facilities face today, “and the grounds staff working through all kinds of challenges to make the grounds look impressionable.”

Mercer also gave credit to Lesley Urgo, founding member of the arboretum. “All her work goes on unnoticed at times, but she has made [significant] changes to our landscape in regards to trees, rain gardens and green spaces.”

Winning the Grand Award places St. Mary’s in the company of other past award-winners including the Disneyland Resort, the Smithsonian Gardens, the National Zoo and Penn State University. This year, St. Mary’s was up against other universities and programs with large endowments and much larger grounds budgets with which we can’t compare. “So for us to win the Grand Award not only says a lot for the College grounds staff,” Mercer said, “but for everyone at our college in general for making the grounds what they are,” noting that students, staff, and faculty often volunteer to help beautify the campus by planting trees and flowers or picking up trash.

Urgo also praised the grounds crew and College staff, explaining that he considers the grounds crew to be “landscape faculty,” in that they “[demonstrate] in the laboratory of our natural setting how one cares for and enhances the natural beauty of the found world around us.

“The award is significant and important because it provides external validation for a core value at St. Mary’s College,” Urgo said. “We are stewards of this beautiful landscape, and as an educational institution we are [committed] to imparting the value of stewardship to our students.”

Mercer is pleased with winning the award, noting what an achievement it is for a small college like St. Mary’s and how it demonstrates that the College is somewhat ahead of the times. “Right now [winning this award] means we are leading the way in our grounds maintenance program,” Mercer said, “and showcasing it every day.”

New Mr. SMC Awarded his Crown

On Sunday, Nov. 11, first-year Patrick Striefel was crowned the 2012-2013 Mr. SMC, as the annual competition took place in the Raley Great Room during brunch.

Students gathered to watch their classmates compete in the pageant that consisted of five competition categories: Formal wear, Celebrity Impersonation, Swimwear, Talent, and Question and Answer portion. The three contestants were Striefel, junior Patrick Meade, and sophomore Darrell Jackson.

All three contestants were nominated by friends and classmates in the week prior to the competition by paying a quarter for each vote. The pageant was judged by SGA president senior Andrew Reighart, Class of 2015 President Kate Brennan, Class of 2016 President Andrew Wilhelm, and 2011-2012 Mr. SMC senior Josh Olexa. Senior Michael Bargamian and junior Anuli Duru were the event’s masters of ceremonies (MCs).

The competition started off as Bargamian and Duru introduced each contestant to the crowd as they showed off their formal wear to the audience.

Next came the celebrity impersonation and talent portions. Meade played water glasses as his talent, which were really red solo cups, in his own comical impersonation of Gracie Lou Freebush’s talent from the film Miss Congeniality. Jackson explained to the crowd what really happened between Britney Spears, Ryan Gosling, and Justin Timberlake, and Streifel sang his own rendition of Frank Sinatra’s “Fly Me to the Moon.”

After the men showed off their swimwear, the Question and Answer portion followed. Contestants were asked each two different questions ranging from “what does your perfect date looked like?” and “Who most inspires you the most?” to the more comical questions like “What is your most embarrassing moment to date?” and “Boxers or briefs?” After the Q&A was over, the judges put in their final votes and decided the winner.

As the three contestant gathered on stage, Bargamian and Duru announced Jackson as the second runner-up, Meade and the first runner-up, and Streifel as the winner. Olexa officially crowned Streifel with a paper crown and plastic chain as Streifel assumed his new title for the remainder of the school year.

The competition is a fundraiser for the Class of 2014, who plans and hosts the event each year. All money raised by contestants and donated by voters and audience members will be donated to the class. While the Class of 2014 executive board was not yet sure of the total funds raised by the competition, Streifel alone raised $60.

Streifel, a member of the SMC Men A Capella group, mentioned that most of his funds and votes came from his fellow singers in the group. “It was a lot of fun,” he said. “When I got nominated, I was totally up for it, and I’m glad I did it.”

“At first I was pretty resistant,” said first runner-up Meade, about competing in the pageant. “But then my friends convinced me that it would be a great fundraiser for my class so I decided to do it. And it was fun, I don’t think I embarrassed myself too horribly.”

Don't Trust Your Gut: Drug Laws

When dealing with issues of public policy, there are solutions that are right and solutions that will work.

Solutions that are right are based upon our natural senses of justice and fairness.  Solutions that will work are not necessarily so. Experts build these solutions through careful experimentation and scientific examination of the problem at hand. The solutions they come up with are then not based on common sense nor are they guaranteed to appeal to our sense of justice. However, they are also incredibly effective.

Drug regulation is a shining example of the conflict between the right solutions and effective solutions. Drug use and abuse is widely recognized as a destructive problem in the nations where it exists, which is to say: all of them. As a result, nearly every functional government runs some sort of effort to try and reduce drug use amongst its citizens.

In the United States, our effort is widely referred to as the “War on Drugs.” The War on Drugs is so named because it is defined by a very hardline military and legal effort against both the drug business and drug users. The logic is simple, if you make the penalties for doing drugs harsh enough, not as many people will do them. In addition, the policy plays into our sense of a righteous government. If we don’t like something, we don’t tolerate it.

However, it has been widely shown that the War on Drugs is all but a failure. Not only does the aggressive stance do very little to reduce usage but it has also put hundreds of thousands of people in prison. The problem here is that our prison system is geared more towards punishment rather than rehabilitation.  Thus, released prisoners rarely re-enter society more stable than they were when they left it.

According to a study published in a 2012 issue of Addiction Science and Clinical Practice, inmates who serve time for drug related crimes have a fairly high incidence of drug use after release. The study determined that released inmates who return to economically and socially poor areas, are surrounded by drug culture, or suffer from stress or depression have high risks of relapsing into drug use. The Urban Institute reports that approximately 15 percent of convicted drug offenders are reincarcerated within one year of their release from prison.

Furthermore, the percentage of Americans who use illegal drugs has been steadily rising over the past decade. Even as use of harder drugs such as cocaine and heroin has declined, surges in marijuana and psychotherapeutic use have more than made up the difference. These increases in drug use have brought a corresponding increase in incarceration rates. Nearly a fourth of all current inmates in the U.S. were convicted on drug charges and our prisons have become grossly overpopulated.

The cost of these measures is not insignificant. The War on Drugs costs an estimated 20 to 25 billion dollars each year, according to the New York Times. This figure does not include the costs of incarceration nor does it include the cost of the manpower we lose when a person is jailed. Furthermore, with states passing conflicting drug laws, as Colorado just did, comes huge discrepancies between federal and state laws. These conflicts induce all sorts of legal fees and trial expenses as the judicial branch tries to grapple with the ensuing quagmire.

So, to run down the status of the War on Drugs: expenses are huge and rising, confusion is rampant, rehabilitation is failing and drug use is increasing. This is not a successful program, especially when you compare it to the alternatives being used in other countries.

The first step towards more effective drug reduction is decriminalization. Note that decriminalization is not the same as legalization. Decriminalized drugs are still illegal but you’ll receive punishments other than prison time for getting caught with them. This distinction means that drug use is treated as a medical issue before it becomes a criminal issue.

It is my opinion that nearly all drugs should be decriminalized. The only exception is marijuana, but more on that later. We need to get away from the idea that most drug addicts are criminals who need to be punished for their actions. Rather, they need to be treated as potentially functional people who can contribute to society if given proper care.

The second step is a reallocation of the money and resources that are currently committed to drug enforcement. Instead of busting down doors and arresting teenagers, drug enforcement should be far more passive. 20 billion dollars could pay for a lot of psychiatrists and rehab centers. We need to offer drug abusers adequate recourse to get them back into functional society. Now, all of this may sound fairly simple and perhaps even morally palatable. However, we need a way to force drug addicts to get help. Most people don’t like this next part.

The best way to get drug addicts into the rehabilitation system is to lure them with a supply of drugs. A number of countries have begun running programs referred to as “heroin-assisted treatment” (HAT). A HAT program goes like this: heroin is made available at certain clinics. The drug is totally or almost completely free but you must have a doctor’s prescription to get it. When someone receives a prescription, the doctor reports them to the HAT infrastructure and all of their known information is logged into a government database. Drug enforcement and treatment officials now know all the important information about the addict, this includes physical data such as their places of work and residence but also any medical information that the doctor has on file. The program lurches into action once the user actually obtains the heroin. Because the addict is in the system, the professionals who need to help them have little to no trouble tracking them down. Furthermore, since the clinic has become the addict’s supplier, the addict can be extorted into beginning and then continuing rehabilitation under the threat of voiding their prescriptions. This program is not a cure all and should be accompanied by other, less extreme measures but one fact remains clear: the key to curing drug use is treatment and care, not incarceration.

This system has been fully implemented in Switzerland and has been very successful. Not only did it reduce heroin use by about 18 percent in just 13 years, but it is also cheaper and possesses a number of side benefits. First, in the case of heroin, the clinics ensure the safety and sterility of needles and thus reduce the spread of blood-borne pathogens. Second, the clinics pull business away from criminal drug organizations. Finally, it actually helps the addicts. The end result isn’t just a reduction in drug use but also the effective rehabilitation of individuals. Those individuals are then available to contribute to society rather than eating through budgets whilst languishing in prison.

Though there have been a few trials already, I would like to see an expansion of HAT programs in the United States. Even more, I’d like to see other addictive drugs added to the program. If this system works for heroin, why shouldn’t it work for cocaine and crystal meth? Similar to the issue of needles, meth would be a lot less dangerous if it was produced in safe, laboratory environments instead of barns and basements.  Some of you may be bothered by the principle of government sponsored drug production and delivery. My one request is that you consider the possibility that results are more important than principles.

Don’t worry, I didn’t forget about marijuana. Considering that it is about as impairing as alcohol and much less likely to put you in the hospital, marijuana should really be completely legalized. Maybe we’d put age and usage restrictions on it, kind of like tobacco products. Otherwise, I see no reason for marijuana to be illegal so long as tobacco and alcohol are not. In addition, I’m allured by the  prospective oodles of money that our government could make from taxing marijuana sales and production. Perhaps we could funnel such income into our HAT programs.

Hip-Hop Weekend Hits St. Mary's

The second-annual Battle for Best Rapper and Beat Boxer on campus began at 8p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 8 at the Grind. The battle started off Hip-Hop weekend: a four-day celebration of all things related to Hip-Hop culture and the music of the genre.

The Grind was packed with hip-hop enthusiasts, as the stage was set up the performances. Junior Anuli Duru and Sophomore Katina Burley hosted the event. In first-year Alia Abadir’s opinion, the show “was really good, much better than I thought it was going to be.”

The rules were that each person or group would perform once and then whoever wanted to battle another performer could call them out. After each performer presented their pieces, the audience decided the champions of the rapping and beat boxing portions by the loudness of their clapping and cheering when each performer was reintroduced in front. The beat boxing champion, Junior Josh Stine, said, “I thought it was most excellent and that we should keep it up every year.” Performers included around ten students who showed us how to lay down a serious beat and showcased the various styles in rap.

On Friday, there was a graffiti workshop led by Duru around the early afternoon. She showed the participants how to express themselves artistically with spray paint. Their work was then displayed over the weekend on the Campus Center Patio.

One of two main events during Hip-Hop week was the concert in the Upper Deck by rapper Le1f. Although he was delayed in arriving, it didn’t deter the crowd of people that showed up for a good time. When Le1f finally arrived, he immediately began the show and was met with an enthusiastic cheering. At first, Le1f and his two dancers wore camouflage veils over the faces but as the concert progressed they discarded them. One of most memorable parts of the night was when Le1f’s dancers went out into the audience and doused them with a spray of water. The concert lasted for about an hour and a half, much to the disappointment of Le1f’s fans but the crowd of rap fans enjoyed it overall.

The closing event of Hip-Hop week was a VOGUE workshop with Ninja Jonii Thomas of the House of Ninja/Revlon in Daugherty-Palmer Commons. Voguing is a dance method that began in the 1960s and gained momentum through the 1980s-2000s. It is a modern house dance that evolved from the ballroom scene and is popular in clubs in big cities across America. The workshop taught  how to do this iconic dance to end another successful Hip-Hop Weekend.

“Hip-Hop weekend was a success. Josh Santangelo and I worked very hard to create this event and we wanted it to be big,” said Duru. “I am still amazed at the great response from the students and how much they loved it and wanted to parcipate. I am even more amazed by the talents that our students possess.”

SGA Passes Smoking Resolution in Support of MD Law

This month the St. Mary’s Student Government Association (SGA) passed a resolution enforcing no smoking on both the campus center patio and balcony. The resolution does not change any existing rules but simply reiterates the SGA’s support of the existing Maryland public smoking law. This law states that no person may smoke within 25 feet of any public building.

The resolution was brought forward by the Class of 2016 President, Andrew Wilhelm. Wilhelm mentioned that his motivation for bringing forth the resolution was derived from comments and complaints he received from students. Over time, students and faculty had, he said, become less and less respectful of the legal smoking distance.

The SGA resolution was intended to remind smokers of the minimum distance in order to restore the smoke free environment to the upper deck and campus center patio.

Although all of the voting members of the SGA supported the resolution at some level, there was some significant debate over how far the resolution should go. Since St. Mary’s is a public college, all buildings on campus are considered public buildings and are thus subject to the law.

SGA President Andrew Reighart said that the biggest questions in the debate were “how much of the campus did we want to include and did we want to try and enforce the resolution?” A few senators wanted to expand the resolution to include buildings other than just the campus center; others suggested involving public safety.

In the end, the resolution was restrained to the campus center, did not include any mention of enforcement and was passed unanimously.

“We just wanted to reinforce the rights of non-smokers as they are established by Maryland state law,” said Wilhelm. In addition, he was adamant that the resolution has absolutely no ulterior motive to harm smokers or try and influence their lifestyle.

So far, the resolution seems to have been fairly successful. Many students report having seen less smoking in and around the campus center upper deck and patio. In addition, there has been no formal outcry from smokers. That said, there has been some informal discontent.

One regular smoker said that “neither the SGA nor the State of Maryand should tell people where to smoke.” Still, the measure has been more popular with some.

Sophomore Alice Mutter said that she finds smoking “very unpleasant around the campus center but less so around the dorms and class buildings.”

Although it seems likely that these issues will eventually come up again, both Wilhelm and Reighart agree that this particular resolution is not a precursor to any larger SGA movement on or against smoking.

 

St. Mary's Hosts Oyster Fest

On Saturday, Nov. 10, St. Mary’s College hosted an Oyster Fest on the back lawn of the River Center. The event started at noon and ended at three o’clock, with a groundbreaking ceremony beginning promptly at one o’clock. Most of the attendees of the event were community members and their families, particularly from Lexington Park, though there were a few staff members who attended and a small scattering of students. The event included the serving of fried oysters and hot dogs, as well as drinks and other refreshments.

The event was held not only so attendees could enjoy refreshments and food; it was also to raise awareness about the oysters living in the area. St. Mary’s County has been working on a project to repopulate the oysters in the St. Mary’s River and build up the reefs, which would result in clearer water because an oyster’s job is to filter water. Once the oysters have finished repopulating in one area, the baby oysters will be moved to another area of the river to repopulate again and filter more water. Each time they reproduce, the baby oysters will be moved. The Lexington Park Club provided a $3,000 check that would contribute to the continuation of this project.

The groundbreaking ceremony began with a short speech given by President Urgo. He said, “The establishment of the oyster reef is an inspiring example of the type of community partnership St. Mary’s College enthusiastically supports. It is an environmental effort that supports not only the health of the St. Mary’s River, but that of the Chesapeake Bay as well.” Urgo’s main role in this project was to “make sure the College participates,” and participate they did. He said, “This has been a group effort involving over 50 St. Mary’s College students over the past year, as well as over 175 local volunteers who love this magnificent river.”

Regarding the benefits of this project, as well as the effect on the Chesapeake Bay, Biology Professor Chris Tanner concurred in his own speech, saying, “Even though the reef here is not huge, we should see an increase in oysters in this area and this should lead to clearer water. We’re hoping that this serves as a model for building reefs elsewhere in the Chesapeake Bay.” He also pointed out that the goal of this project is to “bring back oysters overall.”

At the conclusion of the speeches, the crowd looked over to the river, where there was a boat preparing to drop a small ball full of spats, or baby oysters, into the river. The intention was that the oysters would repopulate in that area, and then their offspring would be moved later.

A resident of Lexington Park, who wished to remain anonymous, said, “I think this is an extremely important thing for people to do, not just the project, but also this event. It helps raise awareness for people who didn’t really know what was going on, especially if they came to the [groundbreaking] ceremony.”

The Amphibian Man: Soviet Science Fiction and Love Story

The scene opens into a tropical undersea world where a star-studded man-fish is doing aqua somersaults. Immediately the audience is introduced to this sea devil, a silver, glittery, spandex-wearing young man who has a matching helmet that makes him look like an overgrown plastic shark.

This 1962 Russian masterpiece is both a venture into science fiction, a commentary on post-cold war Russian society, and a great sojourn into a campy mad scientist in a tropical island environment story. The film centers on a brilliant but disgruntled doctor, Professor Salvatore, and his surgery-enhanced son Icthander. To save his lung-disease riddled son, the good doctor decides to use his godly gifts to transplant shark gills in place of Icthander’s lungs. After successfully making a man-fish, Salvatore gets the idea to create a perfect underwater utopia by giving poor people gills and moving them to his underwater republic.

The musical soundtrack to this schlock fest is heavy on psychedelic trance and upbeat but abstract rhythms on indistinguishable percussion instruments. It fits perfectly with the mad scientist theme that carries through the entire film. While “The Amphibian Man” has the backdrop of an idealistic utopian civilization reminiscent of communist theory (not really a surprise since this is post-cold war Russia) but the main plotline is all about the forbidden love between the shark boy Icthander and a pearl diver’s daughter Guitere.

The love story serves to show the generation gap between parents and children in 1960’s Russia since Guitere is torn between her duty and her love for Icthander. Her father is a poor pearl diver in debt to his employer, who just happens to have his sights locked onto Guitere. In order to get out of debt, Guitere’s father wants her to marry his sleazy boss and become rich. Of course, she does not want to and the trouble begins when the star-crossed youths discover love at first sight.

One thing is interesting to not is that every time Icthander went underwater he donned his silver spandex suit with matching flippers and Buck Rogers-esque helmet. Indeed almost every moment when he swam in that suit the audience laughed hysterically.

There was a good turnout for this last showing in the Comrades in the Cosmos: Soviet Science Fiction Film Series. Professor of History Thomas Barrett introduced the film before the showing, saying that “critics hated it for the same reason the public loved it” and that when it first came to Russian theaters it sold 66 million tickets. What Professor Barrett was referring to was the glamorous Western style that it was filmed in, making it popular amongst a new generation of youth who were a different breed from their traditionalist parents while alienating the staunch film critics of the era. Dasha Vaseneva, a first-year in Professor Barrett’s core class said that watching the film “reminded her of her childhood.”