The Colgate Scene
November 1999
Table of contents
Reviews

  When No One's Watching
CD by Kevin Briody '85, Tune-Me-Music, Ridgefield, CT, 1999.

by Dave Brown '85

When No One's Watching, the debut CD from fresh, homespun talent Kevin Briody, is aptly named -- for now. Singing and songwriting in anonymity for more than 10 years (often in the bedroom of his Southwestern Connecticut home), Briody has put together a winsome collection of songs that represents the lifework of an artist who first tried his hand at songwriting at the age of 25, after a brief stint in Corporate America. With such a strong debut, it is doubtful that "no one will be watching" for very long.

     Briody's work has a spareness that is refreshing in this day of over-produced, over-electric music -- and that's just on the folk scene. Hard to categorize -- Americana Folk might be the closest -- this collection digs deep into life's themes of love, family and everyday incidents that take on broader meaning with the passage of time. Briody has a way of drawing in the listener to focus on the Iyrics, as he spins lessons and reminders of what truly is important in life.

     "The Mystery" is one of the album's stronger offerings, with Briody musing on that first step in a relationship -- when all is new and mysterious. Years later, from the perspective of a married man, still with the same woman, Briody intones, "I still believe, believe in you and me, but I miss the mystery." In one finely tuned lyric he conveys the conviction of deep love with the longing for the mystery of the new, perhaps to be experienced just one more time but knowing that it will not happen, nor should it happen.

     Other offerings include the powerful "Secrets," the tuneful "Four Dollar Frame" and the family lesson, passed on by his father, of "Walnuts and Rice."

     This latter song articulates Briody's priorities, where family is first and worldly possessions are merely meant "to fill in the spaces" around that love.

     Briody also has a little fun with "The Sensitive Guy Song." Clearly watching the world change around him, he speaks to every male who wants to be "a neanderthal, macho, Monday night football fan" but instead "is taking my cat to the laundromat, washing my clothes for free." You can't help but smile when listening to this tune.

     The catchy "When the Music Stops" closes out the album with a well-produced tune, showing that Kevin can, when he wants to, turn out a more "pop-like" sound.

     The title track to the album is a successful take on the maxim that character is defined as "what you do when no one is watching." Briody's ability to conjure up images in the listener's mind is most powerful in this story. As you listen, you can almost smell the candy mixed with the newspaper and magazine smells in the musty, wood-floored candy shop. You can picture Mr. McVeil, with his white v-neck t-shirt and tired eyes, an ex-con doling out candy and life's little lessons to the youngster at the heart of this song. With more work like this, Briody is surely destined to find widespread acceptance.

     A special note is also due to Briody's "lifelong friend," Chris Anderson '85, whose photography accurately captures the essence of the album. Spare black and white offerings immediately let the buyer know that this album will speak from the heart and will highlight the simple yet profound things in life.

     Briody originally set out to be a songwriter, but over time the "singer" part of it has come along. Entirely self-taught, Briody has a style that is perfect for his songs, as the spare instrumentation allows the story-telling nature of the lyrics to rise to the top. Briody, perhaps taking advantage of the latest trend towards relationship marketing and close ties with your target audience, has chosen to take that first tentative step on the road, concentrating on the New England setting of Connecticut to hone his stage work. You can catch Briody at a number of venues this fall (including Colgate, where he played in November), where, rest assured, people will be watching and listening.

     For more information about When No One Is Watching contact Briody at walnutz@aol.com, at 203-431-0099 or send $18 to Tune-Me-Music, PO Box 102, Ridgefield, CT 06877.

    


Feminism and Ecological Communities: An Ethic of Flourishing
By Christine J. Cuomo '86, Routledge, New York,1998.

by Marilyn Thie

Philosophy is alive for Chris Cuomo, replete with practical implications and brimming with moral concerns. Those who imagine philosophy as abstracted from the world, simply rehearsing husks of ideas from the past, will be instructed otherwise by this book. Dr. Cuomo's "ecological feminist ethic" is situated at the crossroads of contemporary feminist philosophy and environmentalist theory, areas that share fundamental assumptions about the world. At one level, this book provides clear, thoughtful explanations that sort through the plethora of contemporary feminist, ecological and ethical philosophies.

     In developing her "ecological feminist ethic," rather than simply discard the history of philosophy, Dr. Cuomo develops a process by which to "reclaim" certain ideas for ecological and feminist purposes. Specifically, she reclaims Aristotle's notion eudaimonia (happiness appropriate to humans) to describe what she calls "an ethic of flourishing." Whereas Aristotle focused on characteristics unique to human beings, Dr. Cuomo argues that because human beings share a complex environment with other "biotic forms," human well-being is interdependent with the flourishing of other existents and systems. Moreover, in contrast with some environmentalists, Dr. Cuomo unabashedly assigns priority to human flourishing, ranking human well-being higher -- and so deserving greater moral consideration -- than the flourishing of other beings.

     Apart from whether one accepts the ecological feminist ethical framework Dr. Cuomo generates, this work advances a conversation barely begun among those who recognize how imperative it is to bring intellectual work to bear on the values and mores which increasingly imperil sustainable life-flourishing.

     Marilyn Thie, professor of philosophy and religion, first knew Chris Cuomo as a student. One course in which they worked together was "Philosophy and Feminisms." Professor Thie says it gives her great satisfaction to now be instructed by Chris, who is associate professor of philosophy at the University of Cincinnati.


Surge
By Matthew Cooperman '86, Kent State University Press, Kent, Ohio, 1999. 39 pp.

Articulating the search for a cohesive American identity, Matthew Cooperman's poetry attends to the slippery question of place: its history in personal and cultural memory and its tenuous constitution as family, nature, love and community. Cooperman uses the metaphor of travel to invoke the necessary motion and distance required to look back at one's past.

     Cooperman recently completed a doctorate at Ohio University and is a writing fellow at the Fine Arts Center in Provincetown, MA. His poems, essays and interviews have appeared in Black Warrior Review, Field, Denver Quarterly, The Journal, Chicago Review, Sonora Review and Rolling Stock. He is a founding editor of Quarter After Eight, a journal of prose and commentary.


Boys Don't Cry
film produced by Jeff Sharp '89, Fox Searchlight Pictures, Los Angeles,1999. 114 minutes.

From the middle of America emerged an extraordinary double life, a complicated love story and a crime that would shatter the heartland.

     In Falls City, Nebraska, Brandon Teena (Hilary Swank) was a newcomer with a future who had the small rural community enchanted. Women adored him and almost everyone who met this charismatic stranger was drawn to his charming innocence. But, Falls City's hottest date and truest friend had one secret: he wasn't the person people thought he was.

     Back home in Lincoln just 75 miles away, Brandon Teena was a different person caught up in a personal crisis that had haunted him his entire life.

     Like many young people, he made costly mistakes and when he inadvertently trespassed between his new love Lana (Chloë Sevigny) and her reckless friend John (Peter Sarsgaard), the mystery unraveled into violence.

     In a single, short life Brandon Teena was at once a dashing lover and a trapped outsider, both an impoverished nobody and a flamboyant dreamer, a daring thief and the tragic victim of an unjust crime.

     Boys Don't Cry explores the contradictions of American youth and identity through the true life and death of Brandon Teena. What emerges from a dust-cloud of mayhem, desire and murder is the story of a courageous American drifter searching for love, a sense of self and a place to call home.

     "Upon setting out to cast Boys Don't Cry, we knew that finding our Brandon Teena was going to be a major challenge," said Sharp. "Our fears were put to rest when Hilary Swank flew herself to New York to audition for the role. Upon entering the lobby of our casting office, Hilary tucked her long blonde hair into a cowboy hat and got past the receptionist, who announced that a young man had arrived to audition. The casting of Hilary assured the realization of Brandon Teena."

     The film is directed by Kimberly Peirce from a script by Peirce and Andy Bienen. Executive produced by Pamela Koffler, Jonathan Sehring, Caroline Kaplan and John Sloss, Boys Don't Cry is produced by Sharp, John Hart, Eva Kolodner and Christine Vachon. Starring Hilary Swank in a quiet tour de force, the film also stars Chloë Sevigny, Peter Sarsgaard, Brendan Sexton III, Alison Folland, Alicia Goranson, Matt McGrath, Rob Campbell and Jeannetta Arnette. Fox Searchlight Pictures

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