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Posts Tagged: Sara Najam


Overexposed on Time Magazine

Last week’s Time Magazine cover received much backlash. The front page displays Jamie Grumet, a twenty-six-year-old mother, breastfeeding. Instead of her son, Aram, being of the typical age for breastfeeding—a year or younger—the child shown is three years old.

Aram stands on a kid-size chair in order to reach his mother’s breast, while Jamie gives off a confident pose, with one hand on her hip and the other holding her son’s back. The picture is clearly meant to be “in your face.” Grumet stands by the magazine’s photograph selection. She notes that “there were other photos that were more nurturing, kind of like our daily life, the way we do it. I don’t think it would have been quite as provocative.” As a result of this decision, the audience is not presented with a realistic view of breastfeeding. Rather, the controversial picture negates the readers’ ability to form their stance on the social issue because they are more focused on the inappropriateness of the image. Grumet explains, “the statement that I wanted to make was this is a normal option for your child and it should not be stigmatized.” However, the overexposed picture does just the opposite. It’s not normal to be three and still breastfeeding. It’s not normal to make a private and tender moment into a public one.

Furthermore, the byline reads “Are You Mom Enough?” suggesting that if you don’t offer the nutritional value of breastfeeding to your children, you aren’t tough enough or a good enough mother. Questioning one’s parenting capability and dedication once again runs the fine line of appropriateness.

This isn’t the first time that the Time Magazine succeeded at pushing the boundaries. A cover dating back from November of 2010 illustrates a married couple, titled “Who Needs Marriage?” Rather than presenting a thought-provoking question, the magazine argues in subtitles that “men do more than women. And it works better for richer than poorer.” Apparently they missed the memo that attacking the female gender is not the best way to reel in your audience and bring about respectable debates.

If these types of covers continue, the buzz behind the stories will slowly morph into a Maury episode.

~Kerry Gertner

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A Haircut and a Suspension

The topic of school authority has been put to question more often than usual this month. A previous blog post mentioned the arrest of a young child in school because of a tantrum. The parents of the child were not even contacted as the school’s first alternative. Closer to home, on the campus of our very own Brooklyn College, students were arrested when a peaceful protest against tuition hikes took a threatening turn.

Should school authority have a say in their students’ haircuts though? What would you do if you were suspended for a haircut you had? Maybe this action might have been reasonable if a student had shaved a phallic symbol onto their head but Patrick Gonzales is in this outrageous predicament for having shaved Matt Bonner of the San Antonio Spurs onto his head. This haircut is being deemed as “threatening” and “severe” by the principal of The Woodlake Hills Middle School.

The principal is in “righteous fear of the apparently inevitable anarchy and lawlessness in the school halls” that would result if Patrick walked the school halls with this haircut. This claim and his fear seem so exaggerated though because the shaving is benign and qualifies as a cool haircut. Its way cooler than the haircut I currently have. I can’t imagine chaos erupting over this student’s haircut, maybe a couple of head turns, approving pounds, and comments of the “Bro, that’s badass,” type.

- Sara Najam

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2 years ago    |   Tags: sara najam finals junction function  


First off, we at the English Office thank everyone who attended the Junction Function last Thursday. It was a memorable evening with floor touching ball gowns,  awesome DJ-ing by our one and only Kernel Mustard, and The Junction which was the reddest of reds as compliments swirled and swirled in the lounge. If you were unable to make it, no worries! I’m pretty sure the awesomeness of the function diffused into pages of the Junction itself so come by Boylan 3416 to get a copy and be therefore awesome.

Finals are finally here. I have been waiting for this week ever since we came back from winter vacation. Goodness, haven’t we all?  So let’s get through this week of classes, reading days, and exams being the strong that we are and see finals to their very end.

Here are this week’s announcements:

 We, at the English Office, wish you the best of luck with finals, the best of summers, and can’t wait to bring you new and exciting blog entries next Fall semester!

- Sara Najam

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2 years ago    |   Tags: Art Eating Sara Najam Jennifer Rubell Creation  

You’re Supposed to Eat the Art

Jennifer Rubell’s artwork is anything but traditional. Her exhibits combine performance, installations, and food! When was the last time you were able to eat while looking at artwork in a museum? And I don’t mean pretty finger food, I mean real food. In the past, Rubell has worked with one ton of honeyed ribs, 1,521 doughnuts hanging on a free standing wall, and a room padded with 1,800 cones of pink cotton candy.

Still thinking about the honey covered ribs? They were the savory component of “Creation”, a piece exhibited on October 30, 2009 in the DIA Center for the Arts, New York City.  “Creation” spanned four floors of food installations that viewers literally put on their plates to eat a meal. On the fourth floor was the drinking/appetizer component with 3,600 glasses of varying sizes and shapes, one ton of ice cubes, 30 ice scoops, and a heaping pile of roasted peanuts. The elevator in the DIA Center had a pedestal of wine, liquor, and mixers.

On the third floor was the elaborately planned entree. A honey trap mounted to the ceiling steadily dripped honey on barbecued ribs. On the second floor was the dessert. There were three felled apple trees, bags of powdered sugar filled with cookies, and seven chocolate replicas of Jeff Koon’s “Rabbit” made specially by Jacque Torres. After the event Torres actually told Rubell to never call him again because the bunnies were so difficult to make!

If I had not known this was an exhibit, I would have considered “Creation” to be a surreal and extremely elaborate dinner. What exactly made “Creation” a piece of art? Was it the artistic purpose with which Rubell constructed the piece, the exhibit’s location, or the mindset of the viewers? Maybe it is this thinking that Rubell’s gastronomic innovation sought to trigger.

-Sara Najam

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2 years ago    |   Tags: adele sara najam i could not ask for more sara evans  

Can’t Ask For More

My original plan was to write about Adele, her voice is emotion-filled and so wonderfully elastic that it gives me goose bumps. As I was searching for my favorite song, I became distracted by a video titled “Adele’s Life Journey”. I intently watched the pictures transition on the screen as I prepared myself for that “Aha!” moment when the smiling girl would finally begin to resemble Adele. Minutes into the video I scrolled down to read comments and realized I was watching pictures of another woman named Adele who had passed away because of a heart condition. I guess I should have closed the video then because it wasn’t what I was looking for but I became genuinely interested in its significance, after all it had received 270,000+ views.

Sara Evans’ cover of the song “I Could Not Ask for More” played in the background as Adele’s life was pictorially captured in eight minutes. Even though the content of the video was building towards Adele’s death, the song radiated optimism. Evans’ pitch continued to increase until it reached its refreshing high in the chorus. I can actually imagine a couple having their first dance to this song or the song even being in a Disney movie. It was fitting that this song played while moments Adele shared with her husband, children, and grandchildren were shown. This song was the right amount of powerful, the piano and guitar in the background were soft enough for Adele’s pictures to leave their effect.

In the end this video reminded me that my grandma is going back home to Pakistan in 7 days. I have spent the last 7 months with her, the time I saw her before this was 6 years ago. Back then she could also walk on her own. I don’t know how I feel about old age and sickness, it saddens me but I know it also gives some people strength. When is a person really ready to let go though?
- Sara Najam

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2 years ago    |   Tags: Currently Watching Beauty and the Beast Sara Najam  

Beauty and the Beast

There’s a satisfaction in reading a book that you’ve already read before or watching a favorite movie again. I begin to feel right at home, cozy, with lingering memories of bygones. There’s also satisfaction when reading a book or watching a movie that you’ve never read before but have heard so much about. The latter is what I felt when watching Beauty and the Beast this weekend. Hands down, it was one of the sweetest movies I have seen in a while. Usually in Disney movies princesses are beautiful and princes charming. This movie was innovative in the sense that the “prince” was far from charming. In a scene where the Beast was practicing how to smile in front of Belle, I couldn’t help but wince! Yet, I warmed up to his soft personality and the value of inner beauty is definitely one of the messages of this movie.

With that out of the way, I’m kind of glad I watched this movie now rather than when I was 6 years old because I noted something I probably wouldn’t have back then. In the beginning of the movie when the townspeople are bursting in song about Belle’s odd character and her unusual interest in books, Gaston (villain) explains how it is wrong for a woman to read because soon she’ll start getting ideas! I know some Disney movies like “The Lion King” and “The Little Mermaid” have inappropriate subliminal messages, but this comment against the intellect of women was anything but subliminal. It wasn’t masked in any creative way and the fact that children are still watching this movie and hearing this is unacceptable.

Besides this, I loved Belle’s bravery, her selflessness, and the animate objects in the castle. Disney movies would be incomplete without them, talking teapots and candles, singing clothes and dancing brooms, and moving armor heads.

Sara Najam


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2 years ago    |   Tags: henna Sara Najam  

The Henna Tattoo

Henna dye was initially used in India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh to stain skin, hair, and fingernails for weddings and holidays. Traditionally referred to as mehndi, the henna design customarily painted was a filled circle on the palm. The circle was thought to symbolize the sun and the mind. In rural areas, women ground fresh henna leaves on stone with different oils to create the dye. However, the use of henna has now expanded and henna dye can be bought in readymade cones, allowing anyone to create a design of his or her own liking. Henna tattoos last for one week at most, depending on the quality of henna used.  

According to my mother, the first henna tattoo I received was the traditional sun design on my palm when I was 3 years old. However, it wasn’t until my senior year of high school that I began to experiment with creating henna designs. After consecutive weeks of sporting orange-brown chaos on my palms due to henna experiments gone wrong, I learned the trick of its execution: The henna cone has to be held close to the tip (about an inch or two away) to control the amount of henna that actually leaves the cone.

My favorite henna designs are flowers; I include them in all of my designs and usually experiment. I start off with a circle and then make petals. I learned the technique of shading from watching other people paint henna designs. To shade the petals, I pipe more henna than necessary on the borders of the petals and then make downward strokes with the henna cone. To create more of an intricate feel, I add outer petals and fill them with repetitive patterns of circles.

- Sara Najam


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2 years ago    |   Tags: frogs kerry gertner news briefs sara najam sony whitney houston kate conte Jeremy Lin  

Whitney Houston’s Posthumous Price Raise 

After someone dies, you expect common courtesy and compassion. This was not the case when it came to Sony Music’s handling of Whitney Houston’s death. Several hours after she passed away, the U.K. iTunes store raised the cost of her digital albums. Sony increased the price of Houston’s The Greatest Hits and The Ultimate Collection on Sunday at 4 a.m. The Ultimate Collection changed from £5 (approximately $7.89) to £8 (approximately $12.63).

This created a negative outpour from her fan base. Sony claimed that the number change was an accident, altering the price back to its original amount on Sunday night. They published a statement, saying, “[The] Whitney Houston product was mistakenly mis-priced on the U.K. iTunes store on Sunday. When discovered, the mistake was immediately corrected. We apologize for any offense caused.”

It is too much of a coincidence that barely twelve hours after Houston died, the prices of two of her albums were raised. Although Sony claims that this was an error on their part, I don’t believe that it was a mere slipup. It was a strategic move. Case in point: after Amy Winehouse died, her 2007 album Back to Black quickly topped the iTunes chart and the music video for her single “Rehab” reached number ten on iTunes. The thought that Sony’s actions were done intentionally echoed throughout the social network Twitter, with people commenting sarcastically that the situation was “classy.” Some even suggested that they would boycott Sony products as a result. There is a major difference between taking advantage of business opportunities and taking advantage of someone’s death.

- Kerry Gertner

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“Canary in the Coal Mine” 

            I usually don’t encounter frogs, the topic or the amphibian itself, on a regular basis. When I read that a frog-licking scientist had made a discovery, I couldn’t help but be curious. Valerie Clark studies the ecology and evolution of frog chemical defenses. One way she has studied their chemical defenses is through taste. However, frogs are definitely an acquired taste, to say the least. Some frog toxins are unappetizing and unpleasant to humans. If the toxin is too strong a human licker can experience a burning and constricted throat. Therefore, the applications of this technique are limited.

 Alternatively, Valerie Clark and her father, William Clark, have co-created an electro-stimulation device that extracts chemicals out of skin glands without physically harming frogs. This device has allowed them to extract never before seen bile acids and sugars from frogs of the Mantella genus in Madagascar. They even observed that the concentration of bile acids and sugars exceeded poisonous alkaloids by tenfold. Bile acids are usually responsible for helping in the removal of toxins from the body. In the human body, bile acids shuttle toxins to the kidney for excretion but the bile acids themselves remain in the digestive tract. To the contrary, both the bile acids and the toxins were excreted and found on the external skin of the frog.

 Why are frogs important? According to Valerie Clark, “Frogs are like the canary in the coal mine.” Similar to how canaries are affected by poisonous gasses in a mine before humans, frogs are usually the first to be affected in an unhealthy environment. Many frog species are in worldwide decline, victims of habitat destruction, and a fungus called chytrid. A dying or deformed frog can also serve as a potential indicator of pollution, whereas a frog population without defects reflects a healthy ecological system.

So, next time you see a frog, don’t forget to give it a taste. Just kidding! Let’s leave that to William and Valerie Clark.

 -Sara Najam

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Watchdogs Taught to Heel


     “Chink in the Armor” was an article’s headline for all of thirty-five minutes on ESPN’s website, referring to the Knick’s great white knight, Jeremy Lin. The headline was taken down; the employee responsible was fired. This headline was wrong for two reasons. The first, is that all the skyscraping giants in the world won’t help the Knicks, and putting the franchise’s future on Lin’s helicopter landing pad shoulders isn’t going to change that. The second (and more important) reason is that “chink” is a racial slur for those of Asian descent. In an attempt to be witty, the headline’s writer has succeeded in slinging racist mud across an athlete’s face and adding one more man on the unemployment line for no reason other than to get a rise out of people.

     So often I’ve heard that the news and the newspapers were the “Watchdogs” of America. I’ve also heard that if we had the international news presence we have now back during World War II, Adolf Hitler wouldn’t have risen to power and the Holocaust would have never happened. Strong assumptions for a media presence that just spent more than thirty six hours mourning Whitney Houston and celebrating a Brooklyn clergyman’s elevation to Cardinal in Rome. Not that these aren’t important things, but the caliber of suggested media power and the actual use of media power is sadly lopsided. Unfortunately, like our educational systems across the country, the business side of making headlines has neutered America’s Watchdogs. The topics that sell papers, subscriptions and get ratings are the ones that devour the spotlight, over and over on a continuous loop like a child who’s discovered his new height can finally reach the cookie jar. Big corporations and government used to fear journalists and cameras. But why bother being afraid when the dogs are sniffing around for Houston’s drugs and Lin’s free throws?


-Kate Conte

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