Talk Derby To Me

My favorite spring sporting event has to be the Kentucky Derby.  What stands out most during this historic horse race is difficult to decide…the sleek and athletic thoroughbreds, the diminutive yet wiry jockeys in their colorful silks, the thrill of the race itself or the chance for a long-shot filly to come from behind and win the garland of roses.

Honestly, I love the pageantry of the entire event, but who am I trying to fool?  For me it’s all about two things—the hat and the mint julep.  They call it the “fastest two minutes in sports.”  So much eye candy stimuli and so little time!  Fortunately for us the pageantry and parties last all day and into the night.  The Derby is as much about fashion as it is about horse racing.  Tune in and you’ll see.  Dresses rule—from fancy to frilly to floral to neutral—as do high heels and seersucker suits.   According to the official Kentucky Derby website, attendees spend as much time and money on their race-day threads as they do at the betting window—maybe even more!

Derby Hostess Michele King & KTDining Divas Derby Party

Whether you’re headed to Churchill Downs or just down the street for a neighborhood soiree, I’ve got a few ideas to share.  Remember that hat I told you to dust off for the royal wedding?  Well here’s your chance to add some fresh flowers or trendy feathers and break it out yet again.  Guys, got any seersucker in the closet?  (Every man who lives in the south should.)  Too much of a stretch?  How about a Vineyard Vines tie, bowtie or belt?  Break it out.  (Vineyard Vines is the official style of the Derby according to the Kentucky Derby website.)

Kings Derby Party PatioKings Derby Party Foyer

Want to be the hostess with the mostest or the guest who always gets asked back to the annual Derby Party?  Serve or bring some warm country ham and biscuits laced with brown sugar and butter—definite crowd pleaser.  Here’s a fancy themed appetizer idea.  Create a Derby Cheese Hat with a large brie round on a serving platter topped with a round of garlic and herb Boursin cheese (fancy cheese section at Harris Teeter).  Wrap a ribbon at the base of the Boursin and garnish with an herb bouquet of fresh lavender, thyme sprigs or mint.  (Serve with crackers and precut veggies.)  Fast and easy.  Now for my all-time favorite drink.  First make a simple syrup.  It’s easy.  If you can boil water you can make simple syrup.  Bring two cups sugar (I use Splenda in the big bag to cut calories) and two cups water to a boil in a small saucepan and stir until sugar dissolves.  Remove from heat.  Add a package (1-oz.) of fresh torn mint and let stand for 10 minutes.  Pour liquid through a wire-mesh strainer into a bowl or jar.  Now you’ve got your mint simple syrup.  Fill a julep cup or rocks glass with crushed ice and pour equal parts mint simple syrup and your favorite bourbon.  (Splash of club soda is optional.) Garnishing with mint is a must.  Enjoy!

Let the “Run for the Roses” begin, and don’t forget—it’s all about the hat!

Those are my Derby thoughts.  What are yours?  Talk Derby to me with your comments.

Parenting Page: It Takes a Village – Of Perspectives

This is a parenting page, about parenting Page. I am a child psychologist and a mother. So I specialize in children, yet I am human, thus I am full of knowledge and yet as full of emotions as any other parent. So I decided to write this Parenting Page since it might be informative and funny for others to take an insider look at a child specialist raising her child. I also wanted to create a way to show Page when she grows up, if she chooses to have children, a real-life view of the experience.


One year, Page broke her arm in two places a few days before Thanksgiving. One break was pretty bad, the other minor; she was in a lot of pain for over 24 hours until the pain medication was stabilized. At Thanksgiving dinner my sister asked me how Page had broken her arm, and I told her I didn’t know yet. I had asked Page but she refused to tell me. I explained I was pretty sure she was just too traumatized by the experience to talk about it yet. My sister, a school teacher, laughed at me. She said, “She isn’t too traumatized to talk! She was using those monkey bars in a way they shouldn’t be used and doesn’t want to tell you!”

Psychologist perspective… trauma.

Teacher perspective… behavior.

I asked Page into the room and asked her again how she fell off the monkey bars, and told her she wouldn’t be in any trouble if she had been doing something she wasn’t supposed to. (I figured even if she was misbehaving, breaking her arm was a pretty severe natural consequence of her behavior, hence she didn’t need any additional consequence from me.)

She explained she was doing the ‘bird’s nest’ … don’t Google it, we tried, apparently it’s a local phenomenon that never made it from elementary school to Internet fame. As you might have guessed it involved being on top of the monkey bars to start and not using them in the manner in which they were intended. I was later told by the other children it’s a move that requires skill and bravery, and had I seen her complete it as she had before without breaking her arm, I would have been quite impressed. I’m fairly sure it impresses kids and that I would have told her to get her butt down before she falls and breaks something.

Kid perspective… super-cool fun activity.

Mom perspective… dangerous activity.

I find paying attention to a village of perspectives helps me understand my child (and probably everyone) better. It helped me see Page was doing something she shouldn‘t have been doing… but only because it was super-cool.

Dr. Tina Lepage is the owner of Lepage Associates Solution-Based Psychological & Psychiatric Services, a group practice in S. Durham/RTP. She lives in Chapel Hill with her husband, daughter, and two dogs. You can find her on Twitter at @LepageAssoc or at

Cabaret at PlayMakers

“In here, life is beautiful,” says our host, or “Emcee,” for the evening as he ushers us away from our troubles and into a glitzy, lascivious place where politics are a trifle—a bore—and the party, it seems, need never end. “Yes, it’s going to be that kind of show,” he adds. The crowd laughs, but it turns out it is that kind of show—in more ways than one. It’s a bawdy burlesque featuring sex, sequins, song, and intrigue. It’s also the kind of show where the message, the solemnity, and the nuance are never far from the surface. The party is, it turns out, constantly crashing in on us, whether we notice or not.

“Cabaret” is the final show of Playmakers Repertory Company’s Mainstage Season. The musical opened April 3rd and will run through the 21st at the Center for Dramatic Art on the UNC campus. The show is directed by Joseph Haj, who directed Playmakers’ 2011 show “Big River.” Haj is also the theater’s producing artistic director.

The play’s premise, plotline, and writing are daring and clever—challenging the audience to remain constantly engaged and critical. Playmakers’ version of the Tony-Award winning musical does not shy away from the play’s weightiness and intricacy. Haj and his team have created something that is deeply ambitious—something that asks quite a lot of the audience and is complexly rendered.

There is not always complete success, and some aspects of the performance fail to cohere absolutely or achieve their potential impact. Playmakers’ “Cabaret” does not feel effortless. There are signs of straining—of backbends performed to pull it all together without showing (too much) sweat. However, the show is very enjoyable, and there are moments of brilliance—of reward.

The play, based on a book by Christopher Isherwood, originally premiered on Broadway in 1966. The show was greeted warmly and engendered a 1972 film version starring Liza Minnelli as the flighty, self consciously footloose Sally Bowles.

“Cabaret” thrusts us into a very specific moment and climate. The time is 1931—the place Berlin, Germany. The audience is invited into the salacious world of the Kit Kat Klub, a Berlin dance hall and bohemian night club. As the sun sets on the Weimar Republic and the furor and prominence of the Nazi party grows, the revelers of “Cabaret” hold tighter than ever to their partying and to their willful disengagement from politics. The ever-escalating power of the Nazis tinges the play, at all times, with something sinister.

The Nazi’s rise, even when it is not being explicitly asserted, undercuts and aggressively belies the insular, trivial, and self-interested spheres of the nightclub revelers. The spirit at play in the foreground of “Cabaret” interacts interestingly with the darker undercurrent, and this crucial dynamic comes to a head as the show progresses.

The ostensible clash between the mood of revelry and the brewing storm of Nazi Germany distorts the scenes of untrammeled fun—lending a dark, twisted quality to the partying. The willful disengagement from politics and embrace of the moment, placed against and alongside the empowerment of the Nazis, makes the revelers seem complicit. In fact, the two tenors of the play start to feel less like they clash and more like they are inherently connected.

The whole thing reads like a carnival ride gone awry—a perverse merry-go-round whose operator has long since departed and whose riders refuse to hop off. The partiers who sleep-walk through life morph seamlessly into the Germans upon or behind whose backs the Nazis’ rise to power was undertaken.

The Emcee is our guide through this distorted, circus-like world. He is mocking and irreverent and seems to embody the apotheosis of the play’s nightmarish spirit. His demeanor is always a bit knowing and satirical while also slightly nutty—slightly off.

Much of the play’s energy comes from the Emcee. He epitomizes and parodies the chaos, disjuncture and mad, insular selfishness that signals imminent breakdown and the rise of something dangerous. He also serves to highlight the close connection between the revelry of the Kit Kat Klub and the emergence of Nazi Germany.

Taylor Mac shows off his prodigious ability in his role as the Emcee. An Obie Award winner, Mac plays a difficult part with incredible energy. He is deeply invested in this complex character and does not simplify his strangeness or multi-dimensionality.

As the show’s resident voyeur and guide, the Emcee engages the audience—pulling them, sometimes physically, into the characters’ world. Mac is both charming and off-putting in his role—beguiling and amusing the viewers one second and alienating or disgusting them the next. The job seems exhausting and incredibly daunting. Mac, however, makes it all look fairly easeful.

Lisa Brescia’s performance is similarly inspired, intelligently considered, and indefatigably energetic. She brings Sally Bowles to life—helping to anchor the show and engage the audience. Her voice is beautiful (she toured for five years with The Mamas and The Papas), and her stage presence is arresting.

Sally Bowles becomes romantically entangled with Cliff Bradshaw (played by John Dreher), and the two are an intended focal point of the story. Bradshaw is an American who has come to Germany, typewriter in tow, to find inspiration and undertake serious work on his novel. Bowles is the lead Kit Kat Klub performer until she is fired by her boss and lover. Flighty, shallow and proud of her bohemian lack of direction, engagement, or responsibility, she is a difficult character to like.

Bradshaw is also vexing. Upon arriving in Germany, he is immediately pulled into the world of the Kit Kat Klub and continual partying. He doesn’t bother to investigate Germany beyond this insular atmosphere. He is disengaged from German politics and allows himself to be distracted by a shallow relationship with Bowles, abandoning work on his novel.

Interested in making money and not caring enough to ask questions, Bradshaw runs errands for people who turn out to be Nazis. When he finds out, he is partially awakened from his passivity. He takes a stand against the Nazis—eventually deciding to leave Germany.

John Dreher seems over-focused upon depicting Bradshaw as a total sleepwalker. Though this passivity is crucial, Dreher takes the strategy too far—making his character so zombie-like that he becomes unbelievable and two-dimensional.

When Dreher does infuse his character with more life—attempting to convey passion or anger—the display comes off as too abrupt a shift, and, again, the character loses believability.

Dreher and Brescia also lack chemistry. At times they seem to be acting alongside—rather than with and against—one another.

The storyline between Fraulein Schneider, played by Julie Fishell, and Herr Schultz, played by Jeffrey Blair Cornell, is more engaging and feelingly rendered. Part of this discrepancy can be explained away by the fact that Dreher and Brescias’ characters are not supposed to be nearly as sympathetic and emotionally connected to each other as their older counterparts. However, even aside from these intentional differences and the greater passivity of Dreher and Brescias’ characters, there is something more successful about Fishell and Cornells’ portrayals.

Fraulein Schneider and Herr Schultz’s relationship provides a much-needed emotional entrance point in the play. They are both compelling characters, and their story is immensely engaging.

Fishell does a remarkable job portraying Fraulein Schneider as a world-weary woman—a survivor—who has grown a bit obdurate from life’s travails. A number entitled “So What” is particularly illustrative of this fatigue—this focus on journeying on and accepting life as it comes. The song is brilliantly performed by Fisher and is a great, important moment in the play. However, as it turns out, Fraulein Schneider is still able to open up and let herself feel—to focus less on merely surviving and more on living, connecting, and participating.

Fraulein Schneider and Herr Schultz’s relationship is funny, and it is beautiful. Though it too has its obstacles—its sad realities—it offers, at least in the beginning, a spot of hope and engagement in a dark, difficult play.

The set design of Playmakers’ “Cabaret” is truly terrific. The overall structure is ingeniously versatile and wonderfully eye catching. Elaborate and at times appropriately scandalous, the costumes are also a treat.

Despite some faults, the play is quite impactful. Playmakers’ “Cabaret” takes the audience on a journey through confusion, chaos, and distraction and then awakens us, in the end, to the fully-formed monster of the Holocaust and Nazi rule. Though we glimpse the darkness that is the play’s constant undercurrent, like the shows’ characters, somehow we miss the moment at which it all slips past the point of no return.

Ticket prices range from fifteen to fifty dollars. April 16th will be an all-access performance (featuring sign language interpretation and audio description) for attendees with special needs. The April 20th and 21st performances will be followed by a free “Mindplay” discussion sponsored by the North Carolina Psychoanalytic Society.

Political Power Grabs in 1875 and 2013

“We could use your help in the Republican Party. We need more moderate voices.”

One of my longtime friends was tempting me, noting that his political party was in charge now. If I wanted to participate in the new regime in North Carolina, I should change my registration. “And,” he said, “we could use some more moderate voices in our party.”

“Well,” I said, “if you, as a moderate, are uncomfortable with the takeover of your party by the ‘non-moderates,’ why don’t you change your registration to Democrat? You might feel more at home there.”

“Maybe in 10 or 15 years,” he said. “But not until we settle some scores that the Democrats built up against my party over the past more than 100 years.”

If you wonder why the Republicans now in control are moving so fast to turn government upside down, you should remember that they have been waiting a long time and have a bag full of grievances to settle.

Turning out the boards of agencies and educational institutions, gutting popular programs that were pet projects of prior Democratic office holders, and taking away powers from local government entities that are or could be controlled by Democrats, are all part of a political revolution.

At least there are no firing squads.

Not yet.

But, as my friend reminded me, there are grievances to settle and, perhaps, a limited time to take control away from political opponents who lead cities, airports, and school boards.

Has there ever been anything like it?


Back in 1875 as post-Civil War Reconstruction was ending, Democrats (or Conservatives as they had been called) were taking back control of state government from Republicans. They pushed through changes in the state constitution that, according to William Powell in his classic “North Carolina Through Four Centuries,” “clearly increased the power of the legislative branch of government, giving it considerable authority over local affairs and enabling the Democratic Party to regain virtual control of the state. The party considered local control to be essential – especially in some of the eastern counties with large black populations and in western counties heavily populated by Republicans. The amendments also gave the legislature extensive authority in those counties with a relatively low number of blacks. In either case, insofar as local control of municipal and county government was concerned, this was a backward step.”

According to William Link in his “North Carolina: Change and Tradition in a Southern State,” “Using the power flowing from the constitutional amendments of 1875 – which were ratified in the elections of 1876 – the legislature enacted the Local Government Act of 1877, which eliminated elective home rule in local government. In order to ensure that white Democrats would dominate the black majority districts of eastern North Carolina, the law empowered the legislature to appoint justices of the peace who, in turn, would choose county commissioners.”

When the new Democratic Governor Zebulon Vance took office in 1877, Link writes, he “fired nearly all of the state’s Republican officeholders, replacing them with loyal Democrats. The new regime instituted strict economy and retrenchment, drastically cutting the state services expanded under the Republicans.”

If the party labels were reversed, Powell’s and Link’s histories are a good description of what is happening again in North Carolina today.

History may not repeat itself, but it can remind us that when political factions gain power after having been long deprived, they can be expected to take radical and decisive steps to secure their position and deny their opponents a meaningful role in government at all levels.

D.G. Martin hosts “North Carolina Bookwatch,” which airs Sundays at noon and Thursdays at 5 p.m. on UNC-TV. For more information or to view prior programs visit the webpage at

Next week’s (April 7, 11) guest is Pam Durban author of “The Tree of Forgetfulness.”

The program will also air at Wednesday April 10 at 11 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. on UNC-MX, a digital cable system channel (Time Warner #172 or #4.4). In addition, airing at 11:30 a.m. Wednesday on UNC-MX will be a classic Bookwatch program featuring Timothy Silver, author of “Mount Mitchell & The Black Mountains: An Environmental History of the Highest Peaks in Eastern America.”

A grant from the North Carolina Humanities Council provides crucial support for North Carolina Bookwatch.

About Pam Durban:

Understanding the actions and attitudes of our parents and grandparents in dealing with the system of oppressive racial segregation that confronted them is one of our great challenges. Some of the best Southern writers deal with our past in ways that make for compelling storytelling. UNC-Chapel Hill creative writing professor Pam Durban steps up to that challenge in her new novel, “The Tree of Forgetfulness.”

TABLE Celebrates its 5th Birthday

TABLE celebrated its 5th birthday with children of the South Estes Family Resource Center with a delicious and healthy carrot cake — made with carrots, whole grain flower, white flour and cream cheese icing. TABLE is a nonprofit providing hunger relief to at-risk kids in the Chapel Hill Carrboro area. They will be celebrating their birthday with a community event next month and you can find out all about it, plus what this great organization does for our community, at their website

Photography by Lillie Elliot

Sleep On It

Some mornings I wake up, check Twitter, and see the following: “The struggle is live today” or “I’m captain of the struggle bus this morning.” Did you ever think about what is the cause of the struggle? I’ll tell you: insufficient sleep. College students are probably the worst offenders when it comes to not getting the adequate hours of sleep they need to be productive (and feel good) the next day.

The Shades of Hope Treatment Center recently put out an article about the importance of sleep for college students which found that only 40 percent of adults get the right amount of sleep and only (are you ready for this…) only 11 percent of college students get the right amount of sleep each night. I knew before I did research on this topic that the number would be low, but 11 percent? That is a crazy statistic right there.

I keep saying “the right amount of sleep” and you’re probably wondering what that means. Multiple sources report that the average college student needs 7-8 hours of sleep each night to feel awake and perform at a good level the next day. Now, between you and I, I rarely get that much rest. The days fill up so easily with class, exercising, extracurricular activities, meetings, group projects, and other tasks, that by the time I actually sit in my desk and focus on my homework, it’s at least 9 or 10 pm. I work for a few hours and usually am asleep by 1 am. Then, I’m up early in the morning to run. I know from experience and the people I hang out with, that my scenario is one of the better ones. I see my friends pulling all-nighters and “struggling” through the next day. It is awful to witness, but I find myself at a loss as to how to fix it. I do have an attempt though: a scare tactic with facts and then some helpful tips!

According to the Shades of Hope Treatment Center article, insufficient sleep leads to anxiety, cognitive difficulties (no one wants that), depression, health problems, and weight gain. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather sleep than have any of those.

Here are some helpful tips to implement in your own nightly routine:

  • Exercise in the morning, not at night
  • Come up with a schedule or nightly routine to help your body know when sleep is coming next
  • Plan your day so you can go to bed as early as possible
  • Stay out of your bed during the day (don’t study or eat in your bed) it has to be a place just to sleep
  • Limit your naps (if you take them) to less than one hour and take them before 3 pm
  • Wake up on the weekends (I know this one is difficult, but if you plan to “catch up on sleep” during the weekends, that’s a flawed plan. The more consistent your sleep schedule is the better).
  • Avoid caffeine at night (drink your coffee in the morning and don’t drink soda past dinner time)
  • Adjust the lights (Who doesn’t love a little mood lighting? When it gets to be about 30 minutes before bedtime, turn off the big overhead light in your room.)
  • Don’t eat big meals before bedtime
  • Unplug thirty minutes before bed (This is the hardest yet. Try to power down computers, and put away the phone before bedtime.)

Personally, the last one really resonates with me. Our problem today is that every social media outlet we need is at our fingertips (thank you iPhones). Every night, I dim my lights before bed, I wash my face, get into bed, and the last thing I do is check Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook: The cardinal sin of “before bedtime rituals.” Sadly, most days it works out that before bed is when I have “free, uninterrupted time” to check my social media. I know it’s awful to do before going to sleep, but it’s such a hard habit to break. I promise to try to stop the habit if you do too!

I have yet to talk about the big bad sleep issue, which would be going out to parties/bars, etc. on the weeknights. I personally have never understood how students can go out Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and still function the next day in class (kudos to those of you that can). It’s really important to think about what that pattern is doing to your daily performance though. If you’re not getting home until 2 or 3 am and getting up early for classes, that’s a really unhealthy lifestyle that could have bad effects in the long run. One or two nights of coming home at those hours on the weekend is one thing, but it’s when it’s in excess that it becomes a problem. Just some food for thought for all my college friends out there!

My hope is that you’ll think more about your sleep patterns. If you are truly feeling the struggle during the day, please try some of these tips and see if they help. I hope by reading this you are more aware of your sleep schedule and just how important it is. The saying, “I’ll sleep when I die” is one of my biggest pet peeves. Honestly, that’s just a misinformed statement and not a quote you should live by. Please get the adequate amount of sleep you need. Try planning your day out in the morning and doing work whenever you have free time (during the day) so that your nights are free for relaxation and sleep.

Cheers to a happier and more productive you! Sweet dreams my friends!

Sarah is a junior at UNC’s Kenan-Flagler Business School, pursuing a career in sports business or the fitness industry. A group fitness instructor of Muscle Cut at UNC, she ran her first half-marathon last November and is training for her second in April! You can follow Sarah on twitter @SarahPell14.

image by mcbeth via flickr

A Dangerous Eight Seed

Anyone who was channel surfing last Sunday had to stop and marvel at the Carolina-Miami game and how great that first half was. Even if they didn’t know the teams.

That’s how good, and at such a high level, the ACC championship game was played. Both teams scored better than a point per possession, shooting so well and really not turning the ball over much. That’s almost unheard of.

If there are four teams in the country playing better than Miami going into the NCAA Tournament, I don’t know who they are. That Miami won both the ACC regular season and the tournament, and isn’t a No. 1 seed, something seems wrong about that.

I think all the ACC teams were seeded too low. How’d you like to play N.C. State as an eighth seed? When they’re playing well, they are as talented as any team in the country. Richard Howell played so well in Greensboro and looked like he was really hurting.

We have one tough draw in the first game. Villanova beat all the best teams in the Big East — Louisville, Syracuse, Georgetown. So we have our hands full with them.

But we’re capable of beating anyone as long as we’re making shots. That’s different from past years, when we could rely more on inside scoring and rebounding. But our coaches have done a great job getting us to this point.

And how about how Marcus? Those two baseline shots he made against Maryland… I’m not really sure how he even got in there to take them. He’s improved so much these last few weeks and I really like how he’s running the team.

As I’ve said, our team has to be shooting well to win. If PJ, Reggie and Leslie can all get hot at the same time, and stay hot for the weekend, we could beat both Villanova and Kansas. Playing in Kansas City will be tough — like two road games because the KU fans won’t want to play us Sunday. They’ll be in the arena cheering against us on Friday night too. 

It’s like playing us in Greensboro, which is tough on the opponent. But we’re no longer an inexperienced team, and Kansas can be beat by keeping it close and they’ve been known to get tight down the stretch. But first things first. Let’s beat Villanova and then worry about Kansas.

Win or lose, I’m proud to be a Tar Heel with how far this team has come. Hope your bracket doesn’t get busted too early!

Phil Ford was a three-time All-American at UNC, 1978 ACC Player of the Year, NBA Rookie of the Year, an NBA all-star, and was recently inducted into the College Basketball Hall of Fame.

Light Sensitive at Nasher

Immediately upon entering the exhibit, one is greeted by images at once recognizable and disorienting. The photographs in “Light Sensitive” are not merely beautifully captured or distilled moments in time. Rather, they are hyper-consciously manufactured artistic works. In this exhibit the idea of photography as an unbiased portal into reality interacts powerfully with the more interesting notion that the photographer creates his or her own fiction from scraps and trappings of the real.

The photography exhibit “Light Sensitive” opened at Duke’s Nasher museum February 14th and will run through May 12th. The show features over 100 works gathered from both public and private North Carolina collections. Patricia Leighten—guest curator and Professor of Art History and Visual Studies at Duke—co-organized “Light Sensitive” along with the Nasher’s Interim Director and Nancy Hanks Senior Curator Sarah Scroth.

The exhibit is separated into five different sections—each featuring photographers who alter and construct their image in different ways in order to control or influence the experience of the viewer. The show seeks to examine these elements of control and technique—to explore photography not as an access point to a “real” moment or image but as a highly self-aware work of art.

Obviously, the ways in which the featured photographers construct their images differ in a myriad of nuanced ways. However, organizing the exhibit around five different, broad manners through which these photographs were approached and manufactured provides the show with a neat, highly comprehensible format. The five categories into which the photographs are grouped are Light Magic, Intensified Vision, Metamorphosis, Emulations, and Identities Constructed.

“People often want to fall into a photograph like they’re falling through a window into a real space,” said the exhibit’s co-organizer Patricia Leighten. Leighten seeks to disrupt this paradigm. She wants those who come out to see the show to realize a new level of skepticism with regards to photography. “The impulse to believe in a realistic looking image—that’s what I want to interfere with,” said Leighten.

The exhibit attempts to dispel inclinations toward passive viewing. While interacting with the exhibit’s photographs, one is made more aware, likely than ever before, of the different mechanisms at work in each image. However, Leighten is quick to emphasize that this embrace of skepticism should not diminish the impact of any given work.

Instead, Leighten asserts that this greater pause—this increased awareness of a photograph as a constructed image—should only deepen and augment the viewer’s experience. “This skepticism can enrich the photograph for the viewer and make him or her better able to celebrate the final result,” she said. “Any artist in any medium wants, in some way, to control the experience of the viewer. I think this is something to be celebrated about art.”

Vera Lutter’s work Fulton Ferry Landing, Brooklyn: June 26, 1996 is one of the first photos to greet visitors as they step into the exhibit. The image is striking, to say the least. “I wanted it to serve as almost a shock when you first enter the exhibit,” said Leighten. “You know it’s an exhibit on photography, and you expect it to feature images you can easily process or recognize—and then it’s something else entirely.”

To create this photograph, Lutter transformed an entire room into a camera obscura with just a pinhole to allow in light. The image was captured on the opposite wall—upon mounted photographic paper. The result is a mammoth, color-reversed photograph, in the form of a negative. The final image is a product of extensive exposures—ranging anywhere from hours to weeks in length.

“It was really exciting to find that one,” Leighten said. “Someone in a contemporary work dealing with the origins of photography—and in a very different way.” The image is a part of the “Light Magic” section of the exhibit—a section whose works elaborate upon the ways in which photographers use light to transform and comment upon the world. This portion of the exhibit asserts light’s primacy to the process and history of photography. In the works included, light is sometimes used to distill or extract a certain feeling or a particular interpretation of the world. At other times light or light’s role in photography is the photograph’s subject in and of itself.

The next section into which one is ushered is “Intensified Vision.” Epitomizing this section’s magnificent photographic dialogue is Larry Fink’s This Sporting Life from his 1978 series Primal Elegance. In the photo a praying mantis sits perched upon a zinnia stalk. Fink used a strobe flash to capture the scene in greater detail and laid on his back in order to enlarge and highlight the zinnia. Fink’s efforts and techniques have resulted in an image that dignifies the insect, expunging any foreign or otherwise unpleasant aura from the leggy creature. A very specific scene is created—one in which our experience of the insect and his gaze is tightly controlled by the artist.

An image such as this may, if it was viewed in another context, be enjoyed more simply, as a mere interesting peek into life near the ground. However, this exhibit emboldens and equips the viewer to look deeper—to notice the sometimes subtle and sometimes glaring artistry and technique behind photographs. Information on the walls detailing the artists’ methods and each section’s emphasis aid this process and will make visitors active participants and dissectors—not just gazers.

In the exhibit’s “Metamorphosis” section, photographers create fictional images—sewing multiple moments in time together or staging a scene to suit their artistic vision. Gaurdian, by Anthony Goicolea, is a 2008 photograph in which the artist has truly created a fictional world. At a glance, one might register a certain disquietude to the scene but will likely accept the photo as a somewhat eerie shot of reality. However, really look at the image, and you will realize its true strangeness—its obvious manipulation of the real. “Once you notice that it is not a single exposure of a single moment in time, you start realizing that the scale is wrong,” said Leighten.

Then discrete realizations begin to trickle in. The huskies, alone in a snowy landscape, are chained. And, yes, the scale is definitely—and somehow disturbingly—off. The sky is lit, but the image on the ground shows no traces of this light. Though there are buildings in the background, Goicolea seems to have created an image devoid of human life and energy, and the strange, disorienting shifts in scale are markedly unwelcoming.

A myriad of negatives were digitally joined to create this photo. Leighten asserts, of the relatively new, digital world of photography, “I think it’s encouraging a lot of artists to reinvent image making.”

Other works are less high-tech in their manipulation of reality. An untitled piece from 1960 by Ralph Eugene Meatyard, for example, depicts a child playing with a doll while wearing the mask of an old man. Further disjuncture comes from the photo’s the bleak, dilapidated setting. Meatyard took many photographs of his family and friends wearing Woolworth’s masks—seeking, an exhibit description lets us know, to “non-personalize a person.” The result is fascinating and refreshingly original. It held my gaze hostage while also encouraging me to actively parse my own reaction.

“Identities Constructed” is the final of the exhibit’s five sections—and its works are wildly captivating. This section deals largely in portraits. Candy Cigarette, a 1969 work by Sally Mann, depicts a young girl—the artist’s daughter—holding a sugary cigarette in front of a hazily entrancing background. Her pose is defiant and projects a tension between her evident young age and a certain world-weary maturity. This work also reflects a consciousness, on the part of the girl, of herself as a subject of the photograph. This awareness permeates many other portraits included in the section.

“Light Sensitive” is expansive and ambitious—both in its conceptual scope and in the sheer number of images it includes. Despite this, the experience feels remarkably cohesive. The exhibit’s conceptual explorations are purposefully and effectively organized. Its scope somehow manages to seem both controlled and unrepressed.

You will not want to skip a single photograph—so beautifully and eclectically curated is this exhibit.. These images are all gorgeous, and there is something wonderfully luxurious about getting off the computer or out from behind the digital camera and seenig actual, physical photographic works, handsomely displayed. “As a society and culture we’re constantly inundated with photographic images, but they’re all digital, and I think it’s important to be reminded that they’re all physical too and the product of someone’s handiwork,” said Leighten.

Run, drive, or fly to Light Sensitive before it closes. When you leave its rooms, you will feel as if you have engaged deeply, refreshed the way you think and feel about photography, and experienced something complete.

image by hush david via flickr

The Luck of the Draw

Roy Williams wasn’t thrilled with the ACC’s NCAA Tournament draw on Sunday night. One might have thought Maryland and Virginia made half-decent cases for tourney bids, and even if you think they didn’t, whichever teams you might put in their stead probably didn’t have a much better case either.

But that’s the point here. The selection process has become an annual charade of guesstimating which teams have earned a bid based on a forever revolving criteria that always seems disconnected from the eventual form the bracket takes.

Side note: Do people think expanding the BCS is going to fix the qualms in that sport? Just look at the NCAA Tournament — there are 68 spots and people still want it expanded. You could even argue that more teams leads to MORE arguing, but that’s a discussion for another time. The grass is always greener, isn’t it?

The inevitable temptation with the schedule at this point is to look at the matchups put in place by the committee and consider the motives behind them. Meaning: which teams make good storylines for TV, radio and message board fodder — maybe two coaches who used to work together are paired up, or teams with former transfers from one another are put in the same region.

In other words, no one would have been surprised a bit if UCLA and UNC were in the same mini-bracket. And even though everyone would have seen it coming, they somehow would have still found a way to talk about it nonstop — though starting that conversation would be the whole point to begin with.

There’s zero evidence the committee is trying to set up these made-for-TV storylines but we all know doing so for ratings would be highly incentivized to say the least — in the sense that it would be almost stupid not to do it.

Enter the Tar Heels, who seem under-seeded to many (given an 8th seed when their resume seems to line up with those around six or seven). And as easy as it would be to jump on that bandwagon, the fact of the matter is that the Heels didn’t do much to separate themselves from the pack that’s lodged between the 5th and 8th seeds.

In light of everything above, the focus falls on UNC’s probable opponent in the 2nd round (or whatever the hell round it is now) if they were to beat 9th seeded Villanova on Friday night. Of course, that team is Kansas. Of course, there’s a storyline that’s well-known.

—so much that it won’t be rehashed here. If you don’t already know about it you probably wouldn’t care to hear the story in the first place.

Adding some fuel to the conspiracy fire is that the first Saturday and Sunday of the Tournament are usually the hardest sell TV-wise. The first two days are possibly the most exciting in sports, and by the Sweet 16 you start having great match-ups between the higher seeds. But for the Round of 32? Those games are usually relatively boring and there won’t be as many upsets as in the first two days. Naturally, there’s an incentive to try to set up a Roy Williams vs. Kansas showdown.

—A showdown we’re likely going to see on Sunday. Villanova is a solid team and wouldn’t shatter anyone’s world if they beat the Heels on Friday, but they’re not big enough to exploit UNC’s main weakness and are one of the poorest three-point defenders in the nation. Advantage, UNC.

So all signs point to what will likely be THE matchup of the first weekend, as far as storylines go anyway. The Heels have yet to beat Kansas in the tournament since Roy’s return to UNC (both of which were much more high-profile than this one would be, but that isn’t the point), and the pressure on the Tar Heels for this one wouldn’t be any lower even though they would certainly be the Vegas Dog by several points. Kansas, version 2013, is a traditional squad which should have the size and guard-play to really hurt the Heels’ small ball system. Advantage, Kansas.

It doesn’t get any easier after that for the Tar Heels if they were to even make it. In their “South” region are big boys like Michigan (#4), UCLA (#6), Florida (#3), Georgetown (#2) and Oklahoma (#10).

But what everyone seems to be missing about all of the seeding is that they’re applying the “old” days of college basketball to the current era. No team is dominant this year. If no one has a clue who’s going to be a #1 seed going into Selection Sunday, then those #1 seeds can’t be that imposing can they?

The point here is that we’re poised to see the most ridiculous Tournament, maybe ever, in terms of upsets and losses. And since this is the year UNC is going with the non-traditional lineup and just a “throw the talent out there and see what happens” philosophy, what year could be a better draw for UNC to be in such a compromising position?

Sure, the Heels will probably lose on Sunday to Kansas if they make it that far. But then again, how much of anything ‘probable’ in college basketball recently has actually come to pass? Not much. The Luck of the Draw doesn’t seem that important anymore.

The fantastic Photography used in this piece is via TODD MELET

ACCT 2013: This Matters.

Who would say this tournament doesn’t matter? Try finding someone in the Greensboro Coliseum on Saturday afternoon who would tell you this is all just a big “cocktail party.”

Not only was Saturday’s content potentially Maryland’s last ACC game ever, but every member of this particular UNC team was fighting to win their first tournament—of any kind—ever. Put those two storylines together in a packed house still very much alive from an earlier match up which involved about eight future pros (Miami vs. NC State), and you had one of the most electric non-Tobacco Road ACC Tournament matchups in a long time.

And those storylines don’t even take into account what makes the tournament, the tournament. You really have to be there. The context of each game changes in a way that you can’t sense on TV. When you get that many different fans, going to that many different games, it leads to dynamics you can’t predict.

Many a Wolfpack fan stayed for the Carolina game after their team fell to Miami. Would they pull against Maryland since they recently jilted the ACC? Or would they pull against their rival Tar Heels?

And for all the Carolina fans that came early to watch the Wolfpack play the Hurricanes, would they pull for NC State (assuming that would be the easier matchup on Sunday) or would they cheer against their hated enemies from Raleigh?

You never know until it happens, and it’s different every time. Throw in an eclectic mix of basketball fans from different cities, states, and demographics and what you have is a fantastic atmosphere for sports. You just have to be there to get it.

And we haven’t even discussed the impact this has on the athletes themselves.

The tournament dynamic affects different players in different ways. With some guys, the adrenaline makes them focus and play out of this world — see Childress, Randolph. But with others? That same adrenaline and over-dose of cortisol pumping through their veins can cause fatigue — see State, Florida.

Leonard Hamilton’s team was so un-FSU-like some reporters wanted to know if they had eaten a tainted meal before the game. UNC played well, but won by 21 because the Seminoles simply ran out of gas. They gave up. And while you might think Leonard Hamilton wouldn’t allow such a thing (let’s just say Hamilton is known for his sternness), the head coach seemed to understand that his players were just exhausted from having played the late game the night before — much like UNC would have to before playing Maryland.

Now switch to PJ Hairston, who clearly seems to have the opposite reaction to the stress of a weekend tournament — to say the least. Hairston is a Greensboro native and drained his first four shots without so much as touching the rim — all bombs from downtown, all with a long and lanky Florida State defender in his face. He had decided to shoot all four before he even got the ball.

But with about four minutes to go on Friday night, a freak play led to Hairston lacerating the webbing (cringe) of his left hand. Thank God it was his non-shooting hand, because it took eight stitches just to stop the bleeding. Odds are every human on the planet would be just fine going the rest of their lives without ever hearing the term “torn webbing.” Ouch.

It must have been adrenaline that got PJ on the court Saturday because he again nailed another three just moments into his second game as a Tar Heel in his hometown’s biggest stage.

The Tar Heels as a whole would need every ounce of that same energy so they could pull out the win. With a 13 point lead and the game seemingly in control, things started to go downhill fast. And for one reason: fatigue.

Up until 12 minutes to play, Carolina had gone TWENTY-FIVE minutes without a single turnover, and led by double digits. But that ended quickly. They would have five over the coming minutes and were soon in a fight for their team’s survival

The Maryland fans were loud, and doing everything they could to keep the reputation of sports fans that live near or above the Mason-Dixon Line (you know, mean, nasty, and ever-creative with their name-calling). The atmosphere was electric.

Down the stretch however, it was possibly the least likely of candidates who took over. PJ’s adrenaline had worn off, and for once #PJBeShootin wasn’t streaming across every Twitter timeline in NC Media. It was the freshman, Marcus Paige, who made two outrageously poised and difficult shots to seal the deal.

If you’ve ever met Paige, be it after a game in the locker room or on the street, you can just tell the kid has “it.”

Point guards have to have “it.” It’s the gene that somehow tells Ty Lawson exactly when his team needs him to take over. It’s the instinct that tells Ray Felton, “OK, I haven’t scored all game, but my team needs me now.” It’s the gut instinct that told Shane Larkin against NC State that, “Alright, State is making a run, I feel this slipping away, now it’s time for my back-breaking dagger.”

All great point guards have it. And even though Marcus isn’t a great point guard yet, if you have “it” then you’re always just a couple steps away from making that leap.

And because of Paige, the Tar Heels are just a few moments away from an ACC title.

A title which feels different than others. The Tar Heels have been to three straight finals, and five of the last seven, but they’ve only won two of those — both with Ty Lawson and Tyler Hansbrough in the starting lineups.

This one matters. And it couldn’t come against a harder opponent. Miami is big, fast, long, experience, and most of all… hungry. This same team crushed the Tar Heels last month and has won both contests this year.

It’s going to be a hell of a ball game tomorrow in Greensboro. And it sure as hell matters.

You can follow Jordan on Twitter @BlackFalcon_net

All Hoop it Up photos provided by TODD MELET