LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
Thanks for your excellent essay, “The Tie That Binds” (March/April 2007). I have always felt the kinship we developed in the College. In fact, our common experience in the Core Curriculum has meant that when I talk to a fellow alumnus, I need not refrain from mentioning some bit of literature or history that may be meaningful or edifying, knowing he or she shares my acquaintance with a large body of cultural history.
Sol Fisher ’36, ’38L
Pleasant Hill, Calif.
John E. Mulligan III [’72]’s article, “Masters of the Harlem River” (March/April 2007), was most enjoyable; however, I am perplexed. His 1971 varsity lightweight crew reunited in 2006 and is shown rowing on the Charles River in what I understand to be the traditional order — bow rowing on the starboard side, staggering regularly to stroke on the port side. In both photos taken in 1971 on the Thames, bow through 4 are as usual; then 5 rows on the same port side as 4, alternating to stroke now rowing starboard. Was this configuration a quirk of some physical or technical circumstance, or was it that crew’s secret of success?
Dr. Charles R. Feuer ’58
The author responds:
Feuer is correct. Standard rigging for an eight-oared shell has a port oar at stroke, in the stern, with the rest of the rowers on alternate sides. It’s not uncommon to have a starboard oar stroke such a straight-rigged boat, generally in cases where the coach prefers in this crucial seat a rower who pulls better (or only) from the starboard side.
Our 1971 varsity lightweight boat was stroked from the starboard side and was “German-rigged” to have two men (Paul DeMartini ’72 in the 4 seat and John O’Connor ’73 in the 5 seat) rowing in tandem from the port side. Our stroke, Al Medioli ’73, explains that German rigging lets a coach fine-tune his eight — to compensate for a strength imbalance between the sides, for example, or to pair crewmates who perform best behind each other.
Coaches want a technically skilled rower in bow because that seat has the most immediate leverage on “set,” the horizontal balance of the boat. On our Henley crew, that was Henry Herfindahl ’72, who rowed starboard side only. Hence, coach John Abele’s solution to the puzzle of boating his best crew with Medioli at stroke, Herfindahl in bow and maximum flexibility in the middle: starboard-stroked and German-rigged.
Young and …
I’m flattered by Monica Villavicencio ’02’s generous profile in the last issue (especially since I can think of several people in my class more deserving than I). Let me just clarify that I didn’t begin the Columbia Political Review myself so much as reinvent it as a reported opinion magazine after its extremely able creators, Jaime Sneider ’02 and Yoni Appelbaum ’03, struggled to build a niche for it among campus publications. Also, this seems as a good a place as any to profess my utmost humiliation by the two long pieces Villavicencio notes that I wrote as an undergrad — one “on the mislabeling of Hezbollah as a terrorist organization” (oops!) and one “on the need to act against Saddam Hussein” (major oops!). If I may channel our intrepid president: “When I was young and stupid, I was young and stupid.”
Adam B. Kushner ’03
Re: “Everyman in Times Square” (March/ April 2007): in Eisenstaedt on Eisenstaedt (Abbeville Press, 1985), the photographer comments on his picture: “In Times Square on V.J. Day, I saw a sailor running along the street grabbing any and every girl in sight. Whether she was a grandmother, stout, thin, old, didn’t make any difference. I was running ahead of him with my Leica looking back over my shoulder. But none of the pictures that were possible pleased me. Then suddenly, in a flash, I saw something white being grabbed. I turned around and clicked the moment the sailor kissed the nurse. If she had been dressed in a dark dress I would never have taken the picture. If the sailor had worn a white uniform, the same. I took exactly four pictures. It was done within a few seconds.”
At Leica Gallery, we have always noticed that people make up their own stories about the exhibited pictures. From looking at the print and the other three images on the contact sheet (all are displayed in Eisenstaedt on Eisenstaedt), our eyes are drawn to the nurse who clutches her small bag or purse with her right hand and, perhaps, makes sure with her left hand that her skirt is not indecently rising up. The famous image is the third of the four pictures. In the first, she appears to embrace the sailor’s neck with her left hand; in the second and third, the left hand holds on to her skirt; and in the fourth, she appears to be moving her left hand between him and her as to end the encounter. In all of them, the right hand continues to tightly clutch the bag to her chest. We see her as Everywoman emerging from World War II: a woman with a profession and uniform/ identity of her own and a willingness to participate in a random and spontaneous erotic event as no big deal as long as it is on her terms — perhaps a forerunner to the recent Chase Bank television advertisement where the young lady, after receiving her first paycheck, breaks off a kiss to validate on her cell phone that her deposit has been recorded, and when she sees that it has, grabbing the man by his tie to continue the encounter.
Rose and Jay Deutsch ’66
Directors, Leica Gallery,
New York City