REVIEW: Hijabi Monologues

Twenty minutes before the event started, the 4th floor Rackham Auditorium was already packed. Students, friends, family, and curious people filled the seats, the stairs, the walls, and the walkways. Organizers had to repeatedly clear the overflowing doorways, and we we were repeatedly warned that if any more audience members came, it would be a fire hazard and Rackham would have to shut the event down. Both sophomore event organizers, Alyiah and Fatima, introduced Halfway Hijabi as an event for Muslim women who wore hijabs (headscarves) to “reclaim our voices and our space rather than having others speak on our behalf.”

To create a safe space, photographs and video recording by audience members was not allowed. All that really mattered, however, were the words that flowed out of these powerful, well-spoken women.

The first of many female performers read an essay speaking of themes that would become a common thread throughout the night. Anger and humiliation at being forcibly strip searched at an airport because she had a metal leg brace. Comments like “you look like you came out of Iraq” and “This is America sweetheart–you can take that [the hijab] off now.” She ended with the words “I do not allow the hijab to limit me, so why do you?”

Another performer talked of women reclaiming the American flag from a symbol of oppression to a symbol of pride by wearing the design on headscarves.

Most of the performers were students, and they pointed out how often they walk into a room and find that they are the only hijabi, and having to represent the entire Muslim population.

Although many of the performances were raw and heartbreaking, a few of the women lightened the mood. One international student from Malaysia read a short speech regarding her reasons for wearing her hijab, and comparing what it was like to wear one in Malaysia versus the US. She concluded that “I was told that God wants me to wear hijab and actually I’m okay with that” and then hilariously quoted Miley Cyrus when she said “only God can judge us.”

The one musical piece of the night was naturally one of the saddest songs ever created: a rendition of Leonard Cohen/Jeff Buckley’s Hallelujah. It was not only beautifully sung, but also refreshing to hear it sung in this context.

My only regret about the event is that it wasn’t in Rackham’s larger auditorium. The Hijabi Monologues is the kind of event that should be shown to as many students as possible, because much of the hate and rudeness that these women experienced comes from ignorance.


PREVIEW: Hijabi Monologues

By now many of you have heard of or even experienced the surge in hate crimes against Muslims–especially Muslim women that wear headscarves (Hijabs).

This event will begin with a teach-in, followed by student monologues about their experiences wearing hijabs.

Here you will learn about the history of the hijab, poems, stories, and who knows what else!

Even better, the event will have a FREE DESSERT BAR

Date: February 3rd

Time: 7 – 9 PM

Place: Amphitheater Auditorium, Rackham

Here is the link to the Facebook event


REVIEW: Stamps Speaker Series- Joe Sacco

I had heard rumblings that the night’s guest would draw a larger crowd than usual but I wasn’t prepared for how large the crowd might be.  As we filed into the theater from the packed lobby area, it was difficult to find an ideal seating spot. This presentation was co-presented with the University of Michigan International Institute’s Conflict and Peace initiative, and the official Stamps website contains a full list of the sponsors for the night.

Tonight’s event was not a formal speech, but more of an open discussion between the guest Joe Sacco and a host from the International Institute’s Conflict and Peace Initiative.  As the discussion proceeded different images of Sacco’s work were projected onto the screen behind them, and while switching from photo to photo could be highly distracting it was a nice visual supplement to the presentation, and often was used as a conversation point.

Joe Sacco, as we gradually came to know throughout the course of the talk, had originally received a degree in journalism at the University of Oregon, before finding that creating comics was both a way to indulge in his passion for art and to reach a wider audience that are put off by long history books and dense articles.  He approaches his subject matter in the same way a war correspondent might.  He traveled the world, and his very first comic, Palestine, was directly based off of his personal travels through Israel and the West Bank.  Some of his award-winning works include Footnotes in Gaza, Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt and Safe Area Gorazde.  He is highly regarded by comic lovers and news junkies alike for his careful research and thoughtful approach to delicate and politically charged subjects.

When asked what inspired his work and the topics he chooses to work on, Joe Sacco responded quite succinctly that anger above all else was the driving force behind his comics.  He looked for topics that created a sense of frustration or injustice in him, and just as importantly ones that he would maintain a passion for the many years that it takes to finish a single piece.  He also discussed his dislike of the word “graphic novels,” because of how his works are not novels despite fitting under that subcategory.  He admits, however, that the word is here to stay and will use it himself when describing his occupation to others.

One of the very first panels from “The Great Wall”

One piece that was discussed quite thoroughly was Sacco’s 24-foot-long graphic tableau “The Great War.”  Sacco spoke briefly about how fascinated he was with World War I while growing up in Australia, where that war takes up a large part of their cultural identity.  His inspiration for this specific piece was The Bayeux Tapestry, and he wanted to create a similar narrative scroll that told a story when read from left to right.

middle segment of “The Great War”

As an artist, I also found the discussion of the artistic styles to be quite interesting.  Sacco talked briefly about his upcoming project and how he will be turning traditional comic styles on their head in order to better convey the meaning and message that he wants to.  He’s working on a project about the indigenous peoples of Canada, and as such is experimenting with creating comics with no borders and an aesthetic style that focuses heavily on nature and natural forms.  He believes this will better fit the ideology and tone of the work itself, as the groups he will be focusing on have a specific way of thinking about nature.

Panel from his book “Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt”

As the crowds streamed out of the theater and into the brisk night air, we were once again greeted with live music.  A long line of people waiting for autographs trailed up the staircase to the second balcony, further proving the popularity of tonight’s speaker.

If you would like to check out more of Joe Sacco’s work you can purchase many of his books from amazon here.  The STAMPS speaker series is free to the public and is free to the public and is offered every Thursday at 5:10 at the Michigan Theater.  You can find a full list of the upcoming speakers here.


pictures from- 1, 2, 3 


Review: University Symphony Orchestra Concert

It was a wonderful concert. It goes without saying that the University Symphony Orchestra performed beautifully last night, and I loved both sets of music. They began with Mozart’s “Jupiter” symphony, and the first thing I noticed was that when they began playing, the bows of the violin section all moved in unison. I don’t think I’ve often seen movements so crisp, which is a symbol of the orchestra’s caliber. I heard the same thing when in the same movement there occurred a series of grace notes, which due to their rapidity can be easy to miss or blur. Instead, the unity I heard was stellar. I’ve heard much of Mozart’s work, but “Jupiter” was something entirely different. In most of his other work I find a certain delicacy in his melodies, even in his more intense pieces. While that’s still true here, the balance in “Jupiter” is definitely tipped towards grandeur and not daintiness.

After the intermission, they played Holst’s “The Planets”. It was a fantastic performance. I’ve never heard such overwhelmingly powerful music before. Nor have I seen such instrumentation (this was the first time, I think, that I recall seeing an alto flute played in concert, and that wasn’t the only unusual instrument there). This was the highlight of the programme, as the entire suite has been set to a visual accompaniment by José Francisco Salgado, a UM alum, who came onstage to introduce the piece. The visuals were a montage of photographs, renderings, and videos, set to move as one with the music. I was not quite sure what to think of the film. Sometimes it seemed like just a montage of images, which I realize is a result of our limited capability to document these planets. I thought Mars was the most polished piece, and I believe that’s because there was more of a thread to follow there. We’ve also done the most research on Mars and therefore have plenty of videos and time-lapse imagery, which Salgado was able to time wonderfully with the music. On the other hand, the other movements were mostly photographs and artists’ renderings. The “Neptune” movement contained, I thought, less footage of Neptune than it did of the stars, which, while intentional and beautiful, eclipsed Neptune.

I also had some difficulty identifying the scientific concepts that Salgado intended to convey through the film. I wish I had been able to attend the panel discussion beforehand, because I think they would have discussed the science present in the footage and given me some things to look for. However, the programme made a close substitute, because for both “Jupiter” and “The Planets” there were detailed musical descriptions of each movement. I really appreciated the historical and musical context they provided. That said, I’m glad the film was there as an accompaniment. The film added color, which was valuable because, thanks to photography and digital renderings, we’ve always seen astronomical pictures in bright colors. Furthermore, the timing was done very well, which, in a musical piece, is an essential element. This combined with the forceful nature of Holst’s music made the entire thing simply awe-inspiring.

REVIEW: Patriot’s Day

I was sitting at my dining room table doing homework when I heard. I had taken a break to check Facebook when I saw that 2 explosions had gone off near the finish line of the Boston Marathon. At the time I was very saddened and scared as I watched the television coverage of the bombing, the injured, and the dead. However, unlike most people, who slowly forgot as time passed, this particular bombing stayed with me and affected me more as time went on.

At the time of the bombing I had recently received my 3rd knee surgery and the doctors had told me I would never run again. Fast forward to today, and I have run 2 marathons and am very passionate about running. One of the things that effects me the most is that the Boston Marathon is the only public marathon that you have to qualify for. I would consider myself a fast marathon runner, but the Boston Marathon is a race that I may only be able to dream about racing. That is what I think is lost on some of the general public. The runners on this day are elite runners for their age group. The bomb wasn’t set off at a regular marathon, which still would have been catastrophic, but it was set off at the Boston Marathon, targeting not only the innocent bystanders but also runners who had spent months training not only to run this race but also months of hard training for the race where they qualified. For someone who is a runner, Boston is a dream, and on that day many dreams were shattered for families, spectators, and racers.


Patriot’s Day is about the 2013 bombing at the Boston Marathon. We see much of the tragic event through the eyes of Tommy Saunders, a fictional policeman created specifically for the film. Specifically we see the events of that infamous day as well as the long manhunt and investigation of the bombers.


This movie does an excellent job with pace. From the time of the bombing till the last bomber is caught, a span of 3 days is covered. In those three days a lot happens strictly with research and the processing of information within an office; yet, Patriot’s Day does an excellent job at keeping these times suspenseful and full of emotion. Furthermore, the cinematography plays well into the events being shown. The portrayal of the bombing is permeated with shaky shots including a shot where the camera falls to the ground. The chaos is visually apparent as the camera is jolted around and splattered with blood. This same style is apparent again in the shootout later in the movie. The camera work brilliantly and unapologetically shows the fear and the gore associated with the event.

Even for someone who was very familiar with the events that happened back in 2013, I was still surprised multiple times while watching the movie. So much is shown from behind the scenes of the investigation that I had no idea was going on. Patriots Day will undoubtedly give you a new important perspective on the bombings, no matter your previous knowledge of the event.


Even while cringing and letting tears fill your eyes you will not want to look away from the dramatic investigation. Patriots Day works so well as an intense, climactic piece that you will forget you are watching true events unfold. The mixture of real and recreated footage serves as tough reminder that real people lived through this horror. Overall the strong acting and unique camera work makes this movie an important must-see.

Preview: University Symphony Orchestra Concert

The University Symphony Orchestra, UM’s most selective orchestra, is playing Holst’s “The Planets” and Mozart’s “Jupiter” tonight. I’m a fan of both Holst and Mozart, so I’m excited to go hear their work live in concert for what I think is the first time. I am also intrigued by the fact that this performance will be accompanied by a film made by José Francisco Salgado, an Emmy-nominated artist who explores the connections between art and science in his work. I have never attended a concert with a visual accompaniment before, so I can’t wait to see how the two parts complement each other. I also like the intersection of art and science myself, so I’ll be interested to see what scientific connections and principles make their way into the performance.

The concert is tonight (January 25, 2017), in Hill Auditorium at 8pm. Attendance is free. There will also be a panel discussion with Salgado at 7pm in the lower lobby.