Author Archives: Vicky Gan

New eats in old spaces: A pre-Reunions look at Nassau Street eateries

Princeton’s culinary scene has changed quite a bit over the past few years, and alumni returning for Reunions may find that some of their old favorites have closed their doors. But with the current crop of dining options, visitors are sure to start new traditions at restaurants on Nassau Street and beyond. 

The days of the Balt, which closed in 1963, are long gone. Click here to read more about famous former restaurants in the PAW archives. (Photo: Historical Society of Princeton)

The town’s newest fine-dining establishment is Agricola, which took over the venerable Lahiere’s space on Witherspoon Street. Agricola is a farm-to-table restaurant showcasing local and seasonal ingredients. The “community eatery” has a cozy, rustic interior with communal tables and a kitchen visible to the street.

Efes Mediterranean Grill, at the corner of Nassau and Olden, serves the only Turkish cuisine for miles. The menu includes cold appetizers like hummus and baba ganush as well as charcoal-grilled kebab, lamb chops, and dorado. Across the street from Efes, the owners of Hoagie Haven have opened a new brick oven pizzeria, Slice Between, in the former location of Old World Pizza. One of Slice Between’s most popular menu items is the Sanchez Pizza, a crossover concoction topped with chicken, mozzarella, and Sanchez sauce, just like the gut-busting hoagie next door.

Nassau Street has also added a few chain restaurants. Qdoba Mexican Grill, located in the old Ricky’s candy store space, offers fast-casual tacos and burritos. East of Washington Road, Naked Pizza serves health-conscious pizza made with all-natural, whole food ingredients, and Cheeburger Cheeburger serves burgers, fries, and milkshakes in a classic diner setting. Finish Cheeburger’s famous “Pounder” burger, and you’ll earn a spot on the restaurant’s Wall of Fame.

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Alumni combine bamboo and aluminum for a new kind of bicycle

Nick Frey ’09, left, and Drew Haugen *12. (Photos: Courtesy Drew Haugen)

Aluminum and bamboo might seem like an odd mix of materials for a bike frame. But entrepreneurs Nick Frey ’09, Drew Haugen *12, and James Wolf believe it may be the next big thing in cycling.

Frey, Haugen, and Wolf are cofounders of Aluboo, a startup that builds on earlier work by Frey, a professional cyclist and mechanical engineer, and Wolf, a craftsman and industrial designer. The two created Boo Bicycles, handcrafting frames from tam vong (“iron bamboo”) rods and carbon fiber joints in a workshop in Vietnam. Boo bikes have competed successfully in a number of cycling and cyclocross races, and Frey contends that “you could race the Boo in the Tour de France.”

Bamboo is actually an ideal material for bikes: The plant’s strong, fibrous structure dampens road vibrations and provides for an exceptionally smooth ride, and it is more sustainable than other popular bike materials, such as steel.

The major drawback is the price tag. Each Boo bike is custom-made and priced between $5,000 and $14,000 — not a bike for the weekend warrior. That’s where Haugen comes in.

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Koblic ’04’s work combines business background with study of wine

Rachel Koblic ’04 (Photo: Courtesy American Sommelier)
This is a corrected version of a story posted Dec. 6, 2012. Click here to read the correction.
For Rachel Koblic ’04, every day at American Sommelier presents a new challenge. The organization, founded in 1998, offers wine classes and sommelier training and hosts a biennial competition to crown the “Best Sommelier in America,” and as the director of operations, Koblic handles a variety of day-to-day tasks, from accounting and payroll to sponsorship and web design, as well as long-term business and curriculum development.
Though the job often calls for 12-hour work days and learning on the fly, Koblic wouldn’t have it any other way. She graduated from Princeton with her heart set on living in France and immediately took a job shelving books at the American Library in Paris. A year later she was a children’s librarian there, coordinating theater and dance programs for kids. After that, Koblic returned to her native Canada to work at a consulting firm in Vancouver; but her goal was always to get to New York City. In 2006, she began working at a New York hedge fund as an on-campus recruiter.
It was during her stint at the hedge fund that Koblic took her first wine class with American Sommelier. She said she was attracted to wine as a liberal art in which disciplines like history, art, geology, and climatology converge. She compared the study of wine to an “archaeological dig” uncovering more and more knowledge and complexity. “I love doing some of everything,” she said. “With every different vintage, there’s something new to know.”

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Humanities Colloquium looks at film studies in a digital world

The sixth annual Humanities Colloquium on Sept. 12 included a panel on "The State of Film Studies – at Princeton and in General." (Photo: ©é)
Princeton’s sixth annual Humanities Colloquium on Sept. 12 concluded with a lively discussion of the state of film studies at the University and at large. On the panel were four professors from the departments of German, visual arts, English, and comparative literature – a mix of academic fields that reflects Princeton’s multidisciplinary approach to film studies, in the absence of a dedicated program or department. An undergraduate certificate in film is offered by the visual arts program.
In P. Adams Sitney’s view, the deficiency in film studies is especially grim. A renowned scholar of avant-garde cinema, Sitney has taught film at Princeton for 32 years and fought tirelessly both for the recognition of film studies as an autonomous discipline and for the creation of a University film archive on par with those at peer institutions Harvard and Yale. Now Sitney admits that the “fight to maintain film has been lost” — derailed in no small measure by a generation “bred to think they had seen a film when they had looked at their furniture instead.”
His comment alluded to a cause celebre within the film community: the ongoing transition from photochemical to digital filmmaking. Today’s films are, almost without exception, produced and projected digitally, stripped of the rich color and grain of traditional celluloid stock. But perhaps more dire than the loss in image quality is the loss in cinematic experience, as films are increasingly seen on the small screen of a computer or smartphone. While digital technology has made filmmaking cheaper and more accessible, empowering the next generation of artists, it has also made filmgoing private and banal.
For those reasons, Keith Sanborn called the present “the best of times and the worst of times” for film. Sanborn is a filmmaker and video artist who teaches filmmaking at Princeton. He describes his pedagogical approach as “reinventing the wheel” — that is, “reinventing [students’] consciousness of their position as a historical subject.”

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Schlosser ’49 helps to provide museum space for converging media

Herbert Schlosser ’49 (Photo: Courtesy of the Museum of the Moving Image)

Herbert Schlosser ’49 knows show business. In a media career that spanned three decades, Schlosser had a hand in some of television’s greatest successes. As the president and CEO of NBC, he launched Saturday Night Live, secured broadcast rights for the Olympics, and helped create the A&E Network. He also played a crucial role in the early development of made-for-TV movies, satellite broadcasting, and home video.

But at age 86 — and only recently retired from a consulting post at Citigroup — Schlosser still finds that it’s “fun being part of something new.”
Schlosser currently is working on behalf of the Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria, Queens, which completed a major expansion and renovation in 2011 and has more changes on the horizon. The site of the museum has undergone continual reinvention, from its origins as the East Coast home of Paramount Pictures, to its World War II appointment as the Army’s Signal Corps Photographic Center, to its 1970s rehabilitation and addition to the National Register of Historic Places. The museum opened in 1988, and today it maintains more than 130,000 artifacts of moving-image history and screens more than 400 films a year in its three theaters.
Schlosser has served as chairman of the board of trustees for most of the museum’s history. “I’ve seen it develop at the same time that the visual media have changed,” he said. “Who would have thought 20 years ago that you’d be able to watch a film on a telephone? A moving image now comprises a lot of things.” Schlosser said that what sets the museum apart from other arts institutions is that “so many of these separate media converge.” The Museum of the Moving Image exhibits new media, including video games and interactive art, alongside more traditional relics of film and television history.

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Led by Wilentz, students explore the many phases of Bob Dylan

Exactly one week before Bob Dylan’s 71st birthday, students in AMS 332: Bob Dylan celebrated the end of the semester with a field trip to Greenwich Village. Professor Sean Wilentz led the tour, making stops at the Kettle of Fish bar, Cafe Wha?, and the Washington Square Hotel, among other famous Dylan haunts. The last stop on the tour was the site of the Eighth Street Bookshop, once owned by Wilentz’s father. “I still get the spooks when I come here,” said Wilentz. “New York changes, but it never changes all that much.”
Professor Sean Wilentz (Photo: Denise Applewhite/Office of Communications)
For Wilentz, the class was a return not only to his personal roots but also to the subject of his bestselling book, Bob Dylan in America. Wilentz saw the book as an “exploration,” which renewed his interest in the singer and inspired him to create the seminar through Princeton’s Program in American Studies. The program’s multidisciplinary approach lent itself particularly well to a study of the musical magpie. “It allows people to come together who speak in different idioms,” said Wilentz.
The seminar embraced a variety of genres and periods in Dylan’s career. Each week consisted of extensive listening in addition to biographical, historical, and literary studies. The class “started off with a bang” — the electric controversy of 1965 — then progressed chronologically from Dylan’s formative folk years, through his dabblings in rock, country, gospel, and other styles, to the present. Wilentz made a conscious effort to transcend the conventional image of Dylan as a protest singer — “the young man with the guitar and harmonica singing ‘Blowin’ in the Wind.’” The syllabus encompassed some of Dylan’s more recent work, including tracks from his so-called Christian period in the 1980s, his 2003 film, Masked and Anonymous, and his latest album, Christmas in the Heart.

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Student Latin speakers bring dead language to life

This is a corrected version of a post published on April 10, 2012. It was changed to clarify a quotation in the sixth paragraph.
The Mathey College spoken Latin table is an exercise in anachronism. Like the other language tables held in the residential college dining halls, it meets weekly to provide active language practice and something of the immersion of living in a foreign country. But the Latin table does more than transport students to a different place; it takes them back in time. Every Thursday night, students are bringing a dead language back to life.
Graduate student Jason Pedicone leads the spoken Latin table at Mathey College, held during dinner on Thursday nights. (Photo: Courtesy Jason Pedicone)
The Latin table is led by Jason Pedicone, a Ph.D. student in the classics department. Pedicone attributes his passion for spoken Latin to the charismatic tutelage of Reginald Foster, former Vatican Latinist. For 23 years, Foster taught aestiva Romae latinitas, or Summer Latin in Rome, and inspired a generation of Latin scholars to speak the language of Cicero and Virgil.
This “living Latin” method flies in the face of traditional Latin pedagogy, which stresses translation, memorization, and recitation. Joseph Conlon, a classics graduate student and Latin table regular, criticized the traditional model as “exclusive” and overly pedantic. As a result, “people are scared of Latin,” he said.
The Latin table aims to change that by fostering fluency in speaking in addition to reading and writing. Conlon encourages students to view Latin as a “normal language, just another mode of human communication.” Students talk about a range of topics at the table — de die (about their day), de professoribus (about professors), de cibo (about food), and of course de lingua latina (about Latin).
A dead language poses unique problems for modern speakers. How do you translate a word for something that didn’t exist a thousand years ago? Pedicone’s answer: “By the seat of your pants.” Consider the modern word “computer.” One approach calls for “back-forming” the Latin translation from the English word to computatrum. Circumlocution is another strategy: “computer” could be described alternatively as machinamentum quod putat, or “machine that thinks.”

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Student film screening spans styles and genres

An image from Jessica Welsh ’14’s "The Dark Lord’s Wife," based on a story by Welsh’s 10-year-old sister. (Courtesy Jessica Welsh ’14)
The final project for VIS 261 comes with only one guideline: a five-minute time limit. This fall, eight students in Introductory Video and Film Production wrote and directed their own short films, under the guidance of professor Keith Sanborn. A screening of the students’ work was held at the Lewis Center for the Arts on Tuesday night.

According to Sanborn, the class is not so much about technical skills as it is about “learning how to see.” “I want students to get in touch with their own imaginations,” he said. They practice the nuts and bolts of the filmmaking process, including lighting, camerawork, and sound editing, but they are encouraged to “take what they need” and “find their way.”

Judging by the diverse showing, Sanborn’s students took that message to heart. Their short films encompassed a wide range of styles, from photo montage to documentary to point-of-view cinematography.

Rivka Cohen ’12 offered a heartfelt paean to home and friendship with her film, “This Is NOT a House,” set in her West Virginia backyard. Agisae Kim ’15 tackled everyday “insincerity” in “This Is You,” which featured subtitles revealing the inner thoughts of characters as they spoke.

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Journalist-turned-filmmaker David ’00 connects with South Carolina roots

Grainger David ’00 (Photo: Courtesy Grainger David ’00)
Growing up in Wadmalaw Island, S.C., Grainger David ’00 saw film as something “giant and impossible.” Today, he is debunking that childhood belief as an independent filmmaker.
David came to film by way of writing. He was an English major at Princeton and took several creative writing classes, including John McPhee ’53’s famous nonfiction seminar. He credits McPhee with introducing him to journalism, a path he pursued immediately after graduation. At Fortune magazine, David covered such disparate subjects as caloric restriction, a Mongolian gold rush, and New Line Cinemas.
David’s reporting on the movie business encouraged his growing passion for a new medium. Like so many filmmakers before him, he was drawn to the vibrant cinematic culture of New York City. He started watching independent films, “small movies that seemed somehow achievable.” He read screenplays and wrote his own. “Fiction writing is all about taking you into the mind of the character,” David explains, “and the mind of the character is exactly what’s not available to you in film.” He found the challenge exhilarating.
In 2005, David enrolled in New York University’s film school, where he wrote and directed three shorts: “George & Karl,” named Best American Short Film at the 2008 Avignon Film Festival; “Sissypants”; and his thesis film, “The Chair,” which took David back to his roots in South Carolina. “The Chair” will have its world premiere at the 2012 SXSW Film Festival.
David’s next project, “The Edge of the Woods,” was also shot in South Carolina. The film is supported by a grant from the South Carolina Film Commission and by individual donors on Kickstarter, a crowdsourced fundraising website.

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Kim ’00 fosters creativity as education director at 826NYC

Joan Kim ’00 directs programs at 826NYC, a writing lab and tutoring center tucked behind the Brooklyn Superhero Supply Co. (Courtesy Joan Kim ’00)
The Brooklyn Superhero Supply Co. is a serious business. Sandwiched between a florist and a farm-to-table restaurant, the unassuming Park Slope retailer is a one-stop shop for all your crime-fighting needs. You can find lamé capes, sonic blasters, and half-gallon jugs of invisibility. For the unbeatable price of $16.50, you can even take home an Evil Blob Containment Unit. But behind this gadget emporium, past the sliding bookcase, is where the real magic happens.
The secret lair of the Superhero Supply is 826NYC, a nonprofit writing lab and tutoring center for youth ages 6 to 18. Like its sister chapters across the country, it offers after-school homework help, creative writing workshops, and interactive field trips — all free of charge.
“The goal is to engage students,” says Joan Kim ’00, education director and co-founder of 826NYC. After graduating with a degree in English and a certificate in teacher prep, she worked at a small publishing house in Manhattan. A friend invited her to an 826 event, and the experience inspired Kim to join the organization fulltime. As education director, Kim has a variety of responsibilities that include teaching workshops, writing grants, planning fundraisers, and meeting with community partners. “No two days are the same,” she says. “You’re constantly on the move.”
There are eight chapters of 826 National, the brainchild of McSweeney’s editor Dave Eggers, and each offers hands-on workshops in a wide range of topics, including cartooning, journalism, and filmmaking. The chapters also operate their own storefronts, each with a unique theme; Valencia, in San Francisco, runs a pirate store, while Chicago’s sells spy equipment. The store serves as a “gateway” to the organization, attracting students, funders, and volunteers.

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