Tiger of the Week: Rick Hamlin ’77 Commemorates a Milestone with Songs

A screen shot from one of Rick Hamlin ’77’s #60SongsIn60Days videos. (Courtesy Rick Hamlin)

A screen shot from one of Rick Hamlin ’77’s #60SongsIn60Days videos. (Courtesy Rick Hamlin)

Rick Hamlin ’77 turned 60 this year and is celebrating the occasion with a creative twist: Since May 22, Hamlin has recorded himself singing one song each day on his phone and has been posting the videos on social media. Now on day 41, Hamlin plans to continue until he reaches day 60, and even came up with his own hashtag for the project – #60SongsIn60Days.

“I’ve always had lots of songs spinning around in my head, and often a song is linked to a place,” said Hamlin, who began singing when he was a child and was a member of the Glee Club, the Footnotes, and Triangle Club while at Princeton.

Each of Hamlin’s videos is unique because he sings each song in a different location. Most of them are recorded in Manhattan, where he lives and works, and backdrops range from the George Washington Bridge to Times Square to Wall Street. His dedication to the project is unfaltering — Hamlin continued to post songs regularly when his family took a trip to Hungary and Austria mid-June, where he sang “lots of Sound of Music.”

Despite the vast distances he has traveled to record his videos, Hamlin doesn’t necessarily know what song he’ll be singing or where he’ll be performing when he wakes up each morning. “I’ll check the lyrics beforehand, but that’s all the planning I do,” he said.

Hamlin said he often chooses the song based on geographical cues, depending on where he happens to be during the day, but he also has sung special songs relating to holidays or weather conditions. He did a rendition of “Mad Dogs and Englishmen” by Noël Coward during a heat wave in New York last week.

Surprisingly, Hamlin said his favorite place to sing was not in front of any of the churches or castles he visited in Europe, but is instead in a location much closer to home.

“The subway tunnels — I love the acoustics,” he said. “But I have to time [the recording] before a train comes, because once it pulls in, its too much noise. But it’s worth it, you get really nice acoustics.”

Before the 60 days are up, Hamlin plans to tap into his Princeton roots by singing “East of the Sun (and West of the Moon)” by Brooks Bowman ’36 and “Goin’ Back to Nassau Hall.”

“But I’m still taking requests!” he said.

 WATCH: A video from Hamlin’s #60SongsIn60Days (Cole Porter’s “At Long Last Love”)
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Service Abroad: O’Connell ’14 Volunteers in Ukraine

During Princeton’s graduation events last year, Mark O’Connell ’14 noticed a common theme delivered by the speakers: the importance of giving back, with the corollary idea that service “can take many shapes and forms.”

Mark O’Connell ’14, second from left, with friends and fellow volunteers at Ukraine’s Military Medical Clinical Center of the Western Region. (Courtesy Mark O’Connell)

Mark O’Connell ’14, second from left, with friends and fellow volunteers at Ukraine’s Military Medical Clinical Center of the Western Region. (Courtesy Mark O’Connell)

Earlier this month, O’Connell found his service niche in Lviv, a city in western Ukraine, where he and a group of friends volunteered at three local hospitals. The recent college grads rewrapped bedsores, shadowed surgeons, and assisted injured veterans.

O’Connell, who is half Ukrainian, grew up in Connecticut and studied Ukranian history, culture, and grammar at weekend classes in New York City. He majored in sociology at Princeton and began working at a tech startup in January. But he also has an interest in health care and public health, which made the volunteer trip an ideal opportunity.

The last year and half has been particularly difficult for the people of Ukraine, and though Lviv is geographically removed from the country’s conflict with Russian separatists, the fighting remains on the minds of its residents. “The entire country is under duress — politically, economically, and socially,” O’Connell said. Continue reading

Kruse Examines How America Became ‘One Nation Under God’

Kruse, Kevin (Etta Recke)

History professor Kevin Kruse

It is a widely held notion that the United States is and always has been a Christian country. Most Americans assume we have been a deeply religious nation since the days of the Founding Fathers. But in his new book, Princeton history professor Kevin Kruse argues that is not the case.

In One Nation Under God: How Corporate America Invented Christian America, Kruse says that the notion of a Christian America is mainly an invention of the modern era. Kruse traces the birth of this idea to the 1930s, when corporate businessmen enlisted conservative clergymen to help fight President Roosevelt’s New Deal. They encouraged Christians of all denominations to view FDR’s expansive policies as a desecration of the holiness and salvation of the individual, Kruse writes. Their campaign for “freedom under God” ultimately resulted in the election of their ally Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1952. Continue reading

Tiger of the Week: Journalist Ben Taub ’14

Ben Taub ’14 (Brad Catleugh)

Ben Taub ’14 (Brad Catleugh)

Earlier this month, Ben Taub ’14 published what for many journalists would be considered a crowning jewel in their careers: a 9,000-word investigation into the European jihadi pipeline that ran as a cover story in the June 1 issue of The New Yorker.

In a sense, Taub had already begun working on the piece two years ago, when he first spent a summer on the Turkish-Syrian border in 2013, supported by a grant from Princeton’s Council of the Humanities. He returned to that dusty town of Kilis, Turkey, in the summer of 2014, where he met two middle-aged Belgian fathers.

“One of them, Dimitri Bontinck, was trying to help the other, Pol Van Hessche, plan a trip into parts of Syria controlled by ISIS, to search for Pol’s runaway jihadi son,” Taub wrote in a blog post for the Overseas Press Club of America. “Dimitri had previously undertaken a similar hunt. In early 2013, his own son, Jejoen, a teen-age Muslim convert, traveled to Syria to fight against Assad’s army, expecting to ‘fall martyr within a short time.’ ” Continue reading

Singer ’97 Conjures World War III in the Novel Ghost Fleet

P.W. Singer ’97

P.W. Singer ’97

As a consultant for both the Pentagon and the best-selling video game Call of Duty, P.W. Singer ’97 runs simulations that imagine some of the most threatening situations that could face the American military. Now, he has written about an especially harrowing scenario in Ghost Fleet: A Novel of the Next World War.

Written with journalist August Cole, the novel imagines World War III as a battle in which Russia and China are fighting against the United States. When China launches a devastating round of cyber-attacks against the U.S. military, the Americans are forced to fall back on a low-tech option known as the “ghost fleet:” older Navy ships that are less susceptible to hacking. Jamie Simmons, who takes command of one such ship, must work to defend the United States while encountering technological challenges that present strategic and ethical dilemmas. World War III involves Silicon Valley billionaires mobilizing for a cyberwar while fighter pilots duel with stealth drones. Continue reading

Names in the News: Berlin ’07 on Lunch Ladies and Admissions; Berlind ’52’s Tony Winners; More

Lev Berlin ’07 (Courtesy Lev Berlin)

Lev Berlin ’07 (Courtesy Lev Berlin)

Can a high-school lunch lady help you get into Princeton? Maybe, LEV BERLIN ’07 wrote in an essay for Time.com — or maybe not. It’s not clear whether a phone call from his lunch lady to a prominent alumnus helped his application, but in any case, Berlin advises, “Be nice to your lunch ladies, people.”

Broadway producer ROGER BERLIND ’52’s string of hits continues. Berlind co-produced two of the 2015 Tony Award winners: Best Play honoree The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time and Skylight, which won in the Best Revival of a Play category.

Author and professor RUTH BEHAR *83 has joined with poet and fellow Cuban-American Richard Blanco to launch a new writing project called “Bridges to/from Cuba,” which aims to give Cubans a forum for sharing their hopes for the future of U.S.-Cuba relations. Behar, who moved from Cuba to New York City at age 5, is the author of Traveling Heavy: A Memoir in Between Journeys. Continue reading