Coffee for a Cure:

“Blackbeard was a scallywag who sailed the high seas; at the mention of his name men would buckle at their knees,” proclaimed Ben Lasman ’06, one of the Three Buccaneers who performed their hit single, “The Ballad of Blackbeard,” at last week’s Coffee for a Cure. “Ye be nothing but a filthy landlubber, claimed his crew,” continued Lasman. “His first mate bellowed, I declare a mutiny on you.” Coffee for a Cure, the student-organized AIDS benefit coffeehouse held in Underwood Room Saturday night, was a tremendous success, raising over $700 and drawing huge crowds to a memorable night of entertainment and education. The night was fun, relaxing, and full of talent; however what made [the event] great was that it stayed true to its purpose by creating a casual atmosphere that inspired AIDS awareness. After the event, co-coordinator Jon Weigel ’05 said, “I loved it. There was this great atmosphere of enthusiasm but you could also tell there was, on top of the awesome acts, a message.” Co-coordinator Morissa Sobelson ’05 added, “There were acts that were very entertaining but had a nice twist by incorporating information about AIDS, which reminded the audience why they were there. I think that it really clicked.” Candace Mitchell ’05 read an incredibly moving poem about AIDS. Her words left the room stunned: “My best friend died due to complications caused by AIDS. I lived on, due to complications caused by fate.” Following Mitchell in a complete about-face were the Three Buccaneers (Lasman, Nate Greenberg ’05, Alex Malozemoff ’05), who came onstage barefoot, pant-legs rolled up, and with bandanas on their heads. “Excuse our piratry while we set up,” said Greenberg as they oriented themselves after a quick swordfight. They performed the hilarious “Ballad of Blackbeard,” Malozemoff taking swigs from a mysterious brown bottle in between trills on his flute. At one point, Lasman asked for the “treasure map,” secret pirate-talk for the lyrics sheet. Julie Min ’05 sang and Scout Kingery ’04 played guitar to “Hallelujah.” Kingery’s slow, airy plucked notes provided a rough, melancholy harp sound while Min’s pure voice sent shivers down my spine. Susannah Gund ’04, with the help of her assistant Iemanja Brown ’04, gave a very memorable performance, opening with, “I first learned how to put a condom on in seventh grade.” She continued with a “condom demo,” in which Brown held a banana while Gund explained and demonstrated the use and application of condoms, using the banana as a, well, you get the picture. Though this demonstration was very humorous, it was also very informative, with Gund stressing that the only way to safeguard against pregnancy and S.T.I.s is abstinence. Alex “Lyrisense” Thorn ’04 and Ben “Sway” Hansen ’04 provided another change of pace, delighting the crowd with their rapping skills, freestyling, “everybody give money to AIDS!” The long list of wonderful acts was wrapped up with an amazing performance by members of the Hamlet cast. Allegra Asplundh-Smith ’04, Steve Sherrill ’05, Justin Cahill ’04, Steve Travierso ’04, Gund, and Meg Dallett ’04 performed excerpts from “Angels in America,” a play which chronicles the start of the U.S. AIDS epidemic in the 1980s. WPAA hosted the event, with Anthony Reyes ’05 and Lizzie Maxwell ’05 MC-ing the nearly 30 acts. Throughout the night they enthusiastically commanded the audience to “give money,” and auctioned off a CD and a WPAA t-shirt; the shirts were on sale at the event, with 10% of the proceeds going to Boston Living Center. Their commands were obeyed, as the event raised over $700, “$600 more than I was expecting!” said Sobelson. All money raised will go to the Boston Living Center, a non-profit community and resource center located in Back Bay. Its mission is to foster the wellness of all HIV positive people. Weigel, who volunteered there during Winter term, said of BLC, “The whole organization has a nice feel; all you have to do to be a member is be HIV positive and it’s like a home where you don’t have to worry about being discriminated against.” He went on to say “They have all sorts of different, free services—an art studio, a barber, massage therapy, and a pharmacy where they can get AIDS-specific meds instead of having to go to a CVS. It’s a place where people who are pretty disillusioned with life can be happier.” AIDS is a particular interest of Weigel’s and Sobelson’s, who hope to start a club that will raise AIDS awareness and organize similar benefit events, as well as hold an AIDS Awareness Week next fall. Both will travel to Africa this summer on programs that will incorporate AIDS work. Sobelson said, “AIDS is not something we talk about very often here at PA… however it’s a very serious topic that’s going to be one of the major issues in our lifetime because, it’s scary, but the situation [globally] is not getting better. We need to find a cure, and unless we raise awareness, we’re not going to find one.” Coffee for a Cure was a triumphant community effort. “Starbucks donated coffee for 200 people, Dunkin Donuts gave lots of donuts, Commons supplied tablecloths and a great amount of baked goods, and OPP, which usually charges to set up the stage, did so for free, said Sobelson. “To see the community come together in support set a really nice tone for the event.”