Bringing You Stories That Are Cool, Cultural and Timely

We’re excited about our Spring issue every which way, but one aspect that’s been exhilarating and just plain fun is how current it feels. Being timely in a traditional news sense is one of the built-in challenges of publishing a quarterly magazine. But all of our features this spring have a pulse on what’s happening in culture right now.

Alexis Boncy SOA'11

As I write this message, we are less than three months from the opening of the 2019 Whitney Biennial, co-curated by our cover star, Rujeko Hockley ’05. I had the pleasure of speaking with Rujeko and getting a behind-the-scenes primer on what it takes to produce one of the most ambitious and highly anticipated contemporary art shows in the country. The scope is boggling, and the pace from start to finish seems breathless. But what resonated most was the depth of her investment in the artists, and her commitment to championing their place in society. There’s no doubt that the show will be widely discussed and give cause for head scratching, arguments and swoons. But whatever our individual views on individual works, Rujeko reminds us that they all offer the gift of perspective, as well as the opportunity “to use a different part of our brain and a different part of our heart, a different part of our being, to think about things.”

While we’re on the subject of big openings, we were thrilled to catch up with Anna Boden ’02, director of the surefire blockbuster Captain Marvel, not long before it hit theaters on March 8. For the uninitiated, the movie is the latest installment in the epic and interconnected Marvel Cinematic Universe that has ruled the box office over the last decade. It’s also the first in the series to be directed by a woman. What better way, then, to pay tribute to this barrier breaker than by giving her a starring “superhero” role? Associate Editor Anne-Ryan Sirju JRN’09, herself an avid Marvel fan, pitched the idea for a graphic feature when we first learned that Anna was on board, and then collaborated with talented artist Steve Mardo. It’s been a joy to watch Annie marshal this passion project from conception to completion, and its approach marks a first for the pages of CCT — kapow!

Shifting gears, former CCT editor Jamie Katz ’72, BUS’80 sat down with the two talents behind the landmark eight-part PBS series New York: A Documentary Film. The pair — filmmaker Ric Burns ’78 and architect and author James Sanders ’76, GSAPP ’82 — are in the midst of developing a ninth episode that considers the future of cities. Their fascinating conversation previewed this new chapter, an exploration of New York’s explosive growth, transforming culture and the challenges brought on by affordability, gentrification and climate change.

Finally, “Columbia Forum” brings you an excerpt of a book just published at the end of February, Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland, by investigative journalist Patrick Radden Keefe ’99. This stunning work of narrative nonfiction has already picked up critical accolades for its reporting, craftsmanship and all-around gripping storyline. It’s also a reminder to be on the lookout for Radden Keefe’s byline in The New Yorker, where he has been a staff writer since 2006. His recent look at how reality TV producer Mark Burnett turned Donald Trump into a paragon of American business success is illuminating, and his article about the Sackler family’s culpability in the opioid crisis remains chilling and relevant more than a year and a half after its original publication. Go back and read them.

Beto O'Rourke '95
But really, I hope this entire issue inspires you to go, read, see and do. (Bonus: Check out CCT’s website where, in mid-February, we published a feature exclusive about Beto O’Rourke ’95, the Texas Democratic Party candidate who nearly upset Sen. Ted Cruz in the November elections.) We’ll be here waiting to hear from you, and keeping our fingers on the pulse.

(signed) Alexis Boncy
Alexis Boncy SOA’11