The first track—”Everywhere I”—kicks in with a dizzying speed, swirling at a breakneck pace that makes the tunes brief pause feel like a welcome release. When Tommy Booker‘s space funk organ first jumps in, the band’s sonic diversity makes the time change seem natural and appropriate. There is a danger in highly technical music, in that the spirit or soul can be lost in the drive to go faster and turn sharper. Guitarist Adrian Ciucci easily manages to retain enough human inflection with everything he does, dancing on the edge and creating truly engrossing jams without ever seeming sterile.As you listen, it quickly becomes obvious that The Southern Belles take great care to keep themselves grounded in the humanistic application of their whip-smart time changes and intricate solos, as is displayed on the rapid but heartfelt “Deja Vu.” After the furious pace of the first two tracks, the languid opening of “LA Moves” comforts as it builds, like the sunrise it is meant to evoke. Again, the lyrical content is perfectly underscored by the music itself, a trick the band seems to have perfected. Imagery, tempo, and tone are united in an alchemy of storytelling that is impressive and completely engulfing.On “Tryin,” the album’s longest and most energetic track, The Southern Belles appear to revel in their respective roles. Drummer Aaron Zarrow seems to view his job of creating a pocket as simply a portion of his overall workload. Tracks like “The Lever” see Zarrow lay down fills and displaying an innate understanding of genre conventions that is quite impressive. Bassist Derrick Englert shares the “more is more” philosophy without ever stepping on toes or hogging the spotlight. The balance of The Southern Belles is only possible through the obvious respect everyone seems to have for the skills of their band mates.The band expounds one last time on the virtues of freedom while demonstrating the variety of ways they themselves practice what they preach on “Everywhere II.” The Southern Belles view their core sound as a result of devil-may-care divergence, not a charted destination, and In the Middle of the Night bravely showcases the impressive results that can come from a band this skilled when they create without fear or doubt. The Southern Belles have crafted an enthralling album of songs that perfectly capture the spirit and flavor of seventies progressive rock while avoiding the pitfalls of derivation and imitation with their latest release, In the Middle of the Night. Leaping from style to style with smile-inducing confidence, The Southern Belles created a perfect playground for themselves on their third record, and watching them explore it is truly and thoroughly enjoyable. There seem to be no limits in the realm of their musical imagination; only an endless landscape of possibilities and stylistic combinations as far as the eye can see.
Marina Betancur knows the Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) well. Five days a week, she’s there before dawn to prepare the café for a long day of operation.But on Tuesday (April 5), the 47-year-old Colombia native got to see a different side of the School she loves, one usually reserved for visiting diplomats and world leaders. Surrounded by family and friends, as well as by teachers and tutors from the Harvard Bridge Program, Betancur and 15 other Harvard employees were feted by President Drew Faust at a dinner in the Taubman building.Their accomplishment? Becoming Harvard’s newest American citizens. For Betancur, who was formally sworn in as a citizen last September, the annual dinner was a victory lap after a long and arduous trek to becoming an American.“Sometimes I forget I am [a] citizen,” she said with a humble laugh.When Betancur, then a young newcomer to the United States, gave birth to a baby girl 21 years ago, she made a promise that her daughter would go to college.“My plan was to stay here for two years,” she said. “But I knew, for my daughter, the future was here.”At the time, she was newly married and working as a seamstress in a Boston factory. She spoke little English and worked long, physically demanding hours. Her life began to turn around, she said, when she found a new job at HKS in 2000.“I love the people at my job, and they love me,” Betancur said.Every weekday morning, Betancur wakes up at 4 a.m. to ride the T from East Boston to her job at the HKS café, where she preps and runs the grill. In the afternoon, when her shift ends, she heads to her second job at a Boston cleaning company.In between, Betancur makes time for twice-weekly classes at the Bridge. Founded by Harvard human resources employee Carol Kolenik, the Bridge Program was conceived in 1999 to offer English language classes to hourly and union employees. Kolenik is director of the program, which has expanded to include courses on General Education Development (GED) and Adult Diploma Program (ADP) test preparation, college preparation, computers, and citizenship preparation.Through her 18-hour days, Betancur wears a radiant smile that threatens to overtake her tiny frame. “I like to work,” she said with a laugh. “My goal was to come here to make money for my family and me. But when I was here, I was so happy.”Now in her 10th year taking English and computer literacy classes, Betancur has been a Bridge student for twice as long as she attended school in Colombia, where she started working right out of elementary school. She relishes the opportunity to learn English, even though it’s been the hardest task of her time in the United States, she said.“She’s one of the most special people I’ve encountered,” said Carla Fontaine, Betancur’s ESL instructor.Betancur’s journey to citizenship has been fraught with difficulty. Her immigration lawyer failed to send in her legal paperwork, she said. That lapse, she later discovered, landed her on a deportation list. With support from the Bridge Program, she connected with a new lawyer who made the case that she had been unfairly targeted, and she was allowed to stay in the country.She began preparing to take the citizenship test with the help of the Bridge Program’s citizenship tutoring program, which pairs hopeful citizens with Harvard undergraduate tutors from the Institute of Politics.In preparing employees for the test — which assesses English comprehension and fluency, and quizzes test takers on civics and history — Harvard is validating some of the hardest-working members of its community, said Ana Roche, co-coordinator of the program. “For many people, becoming a citizen is part of their American dream coming true, a culmination of their hard work and perseverance. [America] has given them a lot, and they’ve given the United States a lot, too.”Betancur’s daughter is now a student at Mt. Ida College in Newton, and Betancur can remain in America to watch her graduate without worrying about deportation. She pauses, her eyes as wide as her smile, when she considers Bridge’s effect on her life.“God is in these people,” she said. “They have given me a lot.”
Ghana defender John Painstil has revealed the much-publicized story which hit the Ghana media some months back about him stabbing his wife in the eye has cost him his football career.The 30-year-old, who is still searching for a new club after leaving Israeli side Hapoel Tel Aviv in June, has been unable to secure a new deal since the incident.According to the former Fulham player the bad publicity he got in the assault case of his wife has made him jobless.“The story about me stabbing my wife which was not true has cost me my job as a professional footballer, all the teams that wanted to sign me have refused due to this incident,” he said on Metro TV’s magazine show Morning Ride last Saturday.“What happened was my wife took my passport to my neighbour’s house to keep it after we had some misunderstanding which is normal with married couples.“So they kept my passport for two weeks whiles my club in Israel was waiting for me, the club called me to come and I told them I couldn’t find my passport so they went ahead to get a new player which when I finally got back there was no place for me.” Even though John Painstil impressed on trial at English Championship side Millwall recently, he was not given a contract.