Artsy Absolute Ridiculousness

To the beat of a “Just Dance” remix, students swarmed Friday’s Beatnik Coffeehouse, hosted by Andover’s literary magazine, “The Courant.” If they came for coffee, they were out of luck, but not disappointed, as “The Courant” traded up. Over cups of Pellegrino and sparkling cider, students experienced life as a beatnik for a night—“even though no one knew what [a beatnik] was,” said Co-Editor in Chief Louise Ireland ’09, A beatnik, according to posters displayed around campus, is a type of rebel. Following this theme, Underwood was transformed into a revolutionary underground on Friday night and evoked the most pervasive images of the sixties. The backdrop was comprised of submissions to “The Courant,” haikus and a massive Andy Warhol-esque soup can reading not “Campbell’s” but “Courant: Condensed Art and Literature.” Performers sang, read poetry and played various instruments. The coffeehouse was chaotic and subversive from the start as Masters of Ceremonies Alex Kalil ’09 and Henry Metro ’10 took the stage and announced, “I just want to talk about the Green Cup Challenge for a minute—those pins actually hurt the environment.” Andrew Malin ’09 opened the coffeehouse with a cover of “Slide Away” by Oasis. He was followed by a political parody of Ritchie Valens’ “Oh Donna” by Kelvin Jackson ’10, and an original song performed by Casey McQuillen ’11 and Elaine Kuoch ’11. Over the course of two hours, the coffeehouse showcased a range of performances, from a stirring rendition of Jeff Buckley’s “Hallelujah” on acoustic guitar by Charlie Danner ’11 to Azure’s performance of The Beatles’ “Because.” It wasn’t simply the words and the music that held the audience’s attention, but also the atmosphere and the interplay between the emcees. Students watched the show come together before their eyes.Phrases like “If Azure could please report to the girls’ bathroom” and “We just formed 30 minutes ago” weren’t at all out of place in the coffeehouse’s relaxed atmosphere. In fact, one could argue that the atmosphere was a little too relaxed. While the performers transitioned from one act to the next, Metro and Kalil reappeared on stage shirtless. Fear not, advocates of modesty, the incident was well-handed by “The Courant’s” Co-Editor in Chief. “We had that one incident when they took off their shirts,” said Ireland, “and I was like, ‘No, no.’” Because the coffeehouse had an open mic, Metro and Kalil were constantly searching for the next act. “Is Menelik [Washington ‘09] here?” asked Metro after the second act, scanning the crowds for the missing performer. By the fifth act, however, Washington did make an appearance—and an impression. His poem about love, tears and New York brought the clamor of the crowd to an awed silence. The hush was soon broken however by “the long awaited return of SLAM,” who made the beat drop in front of an enthusiastic audience. As students taped their haikus to the wall, drank sparkling cider and took in the art that surrounded them, Charlie Walters ’10 summed up the night. In his spoken word poem, “Obama-Nation,” Walters said: “Evolution is a revolution.” This philosophy encompasses the feeling behind “The Courant’s” Beatnik Coffeehouse—the spirit of revolution that arises from the evolution of art. The coordinators of the coffeehouse naturally had the environment’s best interests in mind. “We wanted to spray-paint the snow,” said Ireland on the event’s advertisements, “but we wanted to be environmentally friendly.” Even though “The Courant’s” editors settled for spray-painting the time and place of the Beatnik Café on paper, low attendance wasn’t a problem. The coffeehouse’s rebellious vibe, as well as the excellent and unexpected performers, drew in an intrigued crowd. “We really wanted the coffeehouse to have an image of artsy absolute ridiculousness,” said Ireland after the performers had left the stage, the crowd had slowly dissipated and all shirts had been put back on. Artsy absolute ridiculousness? Wish granted.