Monday, April 30, 2012

Christine Tusher's (CAS '03) Journey from the Big Apple to the City of Angels

Journalism alumna, Christine Tusher, is one alum who found herself jet-setting to the West Coast after graduation. Earlier this week, Christine submitted a guest blog post reflecting on her journey.

If you or somebody you know is an alum interested in writing a guest post, please contact us at  

"Going West" 

How do you top New York City?

You can’t. But like many NYU students, I grew up a stone’s throw away from The Big Apple. And when it came time to graduate, I realized that despite the variety and depth of experience the city has to offer, I really wasn’t doing anything truly different unless I left.

So when my best friend and I decided on a handshake to move to LA, it just felt right. Sure, it wasn’t the most logical move for a journalism major, but I quickly found that the old adage of “it’s who you know” really is true.

I felt marooned out there. The connections I’d made at my internships in New York seemed to evaporate once I crossed the Mississippi. And despite six months of applying at small newspapers and interviewing for any writing job I could find, I was still working at a Downtown LA Macy’s where a good portion of the clientele came wandering in from Skid Row to use the bathroom.

It was a total catch 22: I needed experience to get experience.

Fortunately, salvation came in the form of a lucky break on a random evening. I showed up at a Hollywood bar for a friend’s birthday party and quickly figured out I was an hour early; there was only one other person at the bar.

I caught a hint of a New York accent as he ordered a dirty martini and decided to introduce myself. Of course, the first thing anyone asks you in LA is “What do you do?” and out came my story. Five minutes later, I’d found out he’d grown up in the same neighborhood as my dad (Sunnyside Gardens), and that his best friend was the news director at KTLA.

Maybe it was the dirty martini, or maybe he couldn’t turn his back on a fellow New Yorker, but he called his buddy right then and there and got me an interview. Turns out KTLA didn’t have any openings, but KNX1070 (CBS Newsradio’s LA affiliate) needed an overnight PA. I jumped at the job, and within a few months I was training to be a writer/producer.

Nearly ten years later, I still wonder what life would be like if I hadn’t decided to talk to a random guy with a New York accent. But it goes to show you “it’s who you know.” So if you find yourself in a jam, start talking. And it never hurts to mention your four amazing years at NYU. Because we New Yorkers like to help our own.  

Christine Tusher is Deputy Editor of, a national online men’s magazine with local editions in eight US cities, including New York. 

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Time Traveling with Terence Winter (WSC '84): Creator, Showrunner and Writer for HBO's "Boardwalk Empire"


Anyone who has seen The Sopranos or HBO's current series Boardwalk Empire has experienced the work of master storyteller Terence Winter (WSC '84). We had the pleasure of interviewing Terence and talking to him about his years at NYU and his journey into show business. You can listen below or download this interview (right click and save).

Indiewalls: A New Way to Become an Art Collector in NYC

indiewalls3.pngArts & Science alumnus Ari Grazi (CAS '10) has teamed up with Cornell University graduate Gavi Wolf as co-founder of IndieWalls--a new, innovative way for New York City artists to share their work with the community. IndieWalls, takes notice that many typical art-buyers make purchases by visiting art galleries--but what about the possible buyers who are not usual gallery-goers? 
As Mr. Grazi told the New York Observer, "every wall that a painting can be hung on is a valuable square foot of Manhattan real estate." IndieWalls finds this unused wall space by acting as a liaison between the artist and venues that are not known for selling art, such as local coffee shops and restaurants. This way, artists are given exposure, venues are provided with beautiful work to display, and New Yorkers unexpectedly walk-in on an art show when picking up their morning coffee. It's a win-win-win situation. IndieWalls has even modernized the actual act of purchasing a work of art, making it possible to simply scan it's QR code with a smart phone and buy the piece online. 

We recently spoke to Ari about IndieWalls and what it took to start the company. Be sure to follow them at @IndieWalls and visit their website to browse work from participating artists and venues

indiewalls4.pngFor those who are not familiar with IndieWalls, could you talk a little about the company’s objective?   

IndieWalls works with trendy local venues - restaurants, cafes, hotels - whose walls function as gallery space for the artists we represent. The driving philosophy of the company is that artists are always looking for new ways to gain exposure, and lots of venues want unique and eye-catching artwork for their walls. Everyone wins; the artist gets to reach new audiences, the venues get free artwork for their walls, and buyers get the opportunity to see and buy beautiful local artwork everywhere they go. The IndieWalls online platform is the central hub of activity - where venues find art for exhibition, and artists promote and sell their work to new buyers. We are in 14 venues in Manhattan and are expanding quickly. We have 150 approved artists on the site, and 1400 pieces of art currently browseable by venues looking for artwork to exhibit. While we are currently working mainly with restaurants and cafes, we are quickly expanding into both retails stores – designer clothing, home furnishing, among others – and lobbies of residential and commercial buildings. Most venues love getting local artwork for free, but have no idea where to find artists. Indiewalls is a full-service company devoted to this entire process. We source the artists, oversee the installation, handle all sales inquiries and payments, and take care of shipping and handling.  

What are the criteria for artists who wish to work with IndieWalls? Will IndieWalls feature artists who practice as a hobby rather than a full-time endeavor? 
Most of our artists have previous experience showing and selling work. For artists, our goal is to help those who are serious about their art get more exposure. For the public, our goal is to change the perception that the art in local venues is merely decoration. We want people to see the art in an IndieWalls venue and not only know that there is a serious artist who created the work, but be ‘wowed’ by the work itself. Therefore, we are not opposed to exhibiting work from a hobbyist, so long as their work raises the bar on work shown in alternative exhibition spaces, and meets our curatorial standards.  

indiewalls5.pngThe New York Observer states that you do not compete with NYC art galleries. You are, “selling different art to a different consumer.” How do IndieWalls artists and art-buyers differ from those that work with art galleries?

Let me first say this. The Chelsea gallery world is, and will always be, an essential part of the art market. In fact, we hope that some artists will use IndieWalls as a springboard into that gallery world. Remember that gallery directors and museum curators are patrons of the venues in which IndieWalls displays art. To answer your question specifically, our goal is to bring high-quality artwork to the public – especially to individuals who are not necessarily frequenting the New York gallery scene. Instead of opening an art gallery and attracting buyers to our space, we put up artwork where potential buyers are already congregating – their cafes, restaurants, and lounges. Does that mean that gallery-goers won’t buy artwork from our site? Of course not. But we’re hoping to reach a market that hasn’t been reached yet – consumers that can afford high-quality artwork, but are not going to art galleries to buy that artwork. Lastly, where we are different from our competitors is that we are not just putting the art online and hoping that people come to the site. Rather we are presenting it to buyers everywhere they go. The platform is an infinitely more successful method for artists to gain exposure than just selling their art online. 

What kind of affect do you see IndieWalls having on the NYC art scene?

I don’t think anyone can say for sure what is going to happen to the NYC art scene. There are a number of different online art galleries as well as pop-up galleries that are looking to shake things up. But I think the verdict is still out as to where we will find ourselves in 5 years from now. The only thing I think we can say for sure is that the art market as we know it today is changing. The purchasing of original artwork and limited edition prints is still a passion limited to a minority of New Yorkers. IndieWalls is going to change that, by bringing high-quality artwork to places where people are congregating – reaching those consumers who may never have attended a gallery opening.   

There are quite a few “participating artists” listed on the IndieWalls website. Do you think IndieWalls will ever need or want to open an art gallery of its own?                
And pay rent? I think not. The more local artists we represent, the more local venues we will be able to partner with.   

As a young entrepreneur, what experiences or knowledge best prepared you to start your own business?

Knowing how to cater to a lot of people at once and treating them each as if they were your only client – that’s very important. We’re helping artists get public exposure, while helping venue owners get artwork for their walls, and directing potential art buyers to those walls. At the same time we’re processing purchase orders, seeking capital investments, and harvesting partnerships with others in the worlds of art, hospitality and tech. I deal with a lot of different people every day and I try to give each one as much attention as possible. No doubt an essential characteristic of successful entrepreneurs (and I don’t consider myself part of that group just yet) is the ability to think fast, and move even faster. Never lose focus and never lose steam; slowing down could be terminal. When entrepreneurs are going into an industry – art, medicine, finance, education –they should always seek to be adding something new, something different. In the world of entrepreneurs “me too” doesn’t cut it. Probably the most successful entrepreneur of our generation, Steve Jobs, couldn’t have said it better: “Think different." Lastly, one of the most important things about being an entrepreneur, which so many people have stated but can’t be stated enough, is not to believe anyone that tells you something is impossible. I can’t tell you the number of times that someone has told us some piece of the model was impossible, after which we eventually proved them wrong.  

If any of our alumni are artists or have art that they would like to submit, how should they get in contact with IndieWalls?
We have a simple application that requires contact information and three sample pieces of their work. Here’s a direct link - 

Do you recommend any particular IndieWalls venues that NYU alumni should check out?  
Let’s see, around the NYU area there’s The Bean on 2nd Avenue and east 3rd street (and the one on Broadway and East 12th), The Grey Dog – both on University Place and Mulberry street – The Cupping Room on West Broadway @ Broome street. You can always visit to find the exhibition nearest you and to start collecting works from IndieWalls artists. 

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Jacqueline Murekatete (CAS '07) chosen for Distinguished Young Alumna Award

While many of us might have periodic concerns about politics, the job market, or even the recently unpredictable weather, most of us have never feared the possibility of genocide. Jacqueline Murekatete is a human rights activist driven by her horrific memories of the 1994 Genocide against Tutsis in Rwanda, and she is determined to see an end to the crime of genocide worldwide.


A few years ago (2009) in a Huffington Post article, Jacqueline shared her memories of what it was like to witness genocide as a nine-year-old Tutsis child in Rwanda:
"How can I ever forget the day that I had to flee my home and everything I had ever known and loved if I had any chance of surviving? How can I ever forget my horror and lack of comprehension as I listened to a national radio station that encouraged my neighbors to pick up machetes and hunt my family and other Tutsis, calling us cockroaches that needed immediate extermination? How can I forget the days I spent watching men, women, and children being dragged to their death?"

speaking%20at%20general%20assembly.pngNow an internationally recognized human rights activist and advocate, Jacqueline is the founder of Jacqueline’s Human Rights Corner, a program created under the umbrella of the New York-based non-profit Miracle Corners of the World (MCW). Her organization strives to educate people about the crime of genocide and provide aid to genocide survivors in Rwanda. It is in recognition of these efforts that Jacqueline Murekatete will be presented with the Distinguished Young Alumna Award at tomorrow's Alumni Awards Luncheon. We had the opportunity to talk with Jacqueline about her organization and her time at CAS.  

Can you talk a bit about how you became involved with MCW in 2007, and how your involvement evolved into a partnership to form MCW Jacqueline’s Human Rights Corner?

In 2001, while a sophomore in High School, I had the opportunity to read Elie Wiesel's Night. After reading this horrific account of Dr. Wiesel's experience during the Holocaust, I was fortunate to be able to hear a holocaust survivor, David Gewirtzman speak and he encouraged me to start sharing my experience with him. I began speaking with David to high school students and college students and sharing my experience of surviving the 1994 genocide against Tutsis in Rwanda as he shared his experience during the Holocaust. While a student at NYU, I spent a lot of time traveling with David and alone and sharing my experience and trying to get young people to get involved in genocide prevention work. After graduation from NYU in 2007, I decided that I wanted to take time off before going to Law School and to develop my genocide prevention work further.

 In addition to traveling and speaking to students about genocide prevention work, I wanted to find other ways to educate the public about genocide and also to find ways to help my fellow genocide survivors in Rwanda, who are still struggling to rebuild their lives. I thus realized that I needed an organizational framework in order to do that. It is at that time that I officially became involved with Miracle Corners of the World (MCW), a New York based nonprofit organization whose mission is to empower youths to become agents of positive change in their communities, and which was founded in 1999, by a friend of mine, Eddie Bergman, who is also an NYU Alumni. Under the umbrella of MCW, I founded MCW Jacqueline's Human Rights Corner, a program whose mission is to educate people about the crime of genocide and to help genocide survivors to rebuild their lives.


How do MCW and MCW Jacqueline’s Human Rights Corner function in relation to each other—in what ways do they work together?

 MCW Jacqueline's Human Rights Corner is program under MCW. Thus MCW is the parent organization of the program and supports its genocide prevention education work and provides human and financial resources to the program in addition to those resources that are raised specifically for the program.  

What are MCW Jacqueline’s Human Rights Corner’s main strategies for spreading awareness about the crime of genocide around the world?  

MCW Jacqueline's Human Rights Corner's mission is two fold: (1) to educate people about the crime of genocide and (2) to help genocide survivors in Rwanda to rebuild their lives. MCW Jacqueline's Human Rights Corner carries out its educational and awareness mission through speaking engagements at schools, conferences, churches, synagogues, NGO events and at other diverse venues in US and abroad. The speaking engagements are carried out by me. We also carry out our genocide prevention and awareness work by organizing a number of genocide awareness forums in New York City which are free and open to the public and seeks to bring voices of Holocaust and survivors of different genocide to share their experiences and insights on genocide prevention. In its mission to help genocide survivors, MCW Jacqueline's Human Rights Corner has worked with MCW to raise funds for a community center in Rwanda, which today provides educational and job training programs to Rwandan youths, many of whom are genocide orphans.


Have your experiences at NYU influenced your approach towards public service in any way?

While at NYU, I took a number of classes which made me attuned to some of the current domestic and international social justice issues and helped to crystallize my passion for ensuring basic human rights for all. While at NYU, I also met a number of faculty members and classmates who have since been among my biggest supporters. Many of the people that I currently work with at MCW are themselves NYU alumni.  

What made you decide to major in Politics at NYU’s College of Arts & Science?

I have always been interested in politics and International relations and I felt that a degree in politics would better inform my future human human rights work.  

In 2009 you began studying at the Cardozo School of Law. How do you plan to integrate this training into your human rights efforts?

My concentration at Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law has been International and comparative law. Upon graduation this May, my goal is to find opportunities to participate in the search of and implementation of more effective human rights policies and institutions.  

Thus far in your career, what has been the most rewarding experience for you?

The most rewarding experience for me has always been to learn of the positive impact that my genocide prevention work has had on individuals, especially young people. Whether it be reading letters from students who write to me and tell me how they went on to start human rights clubs in their schools or traveled and volunteered in less fortunate places after hearing me speak, or whether it be hearing youths in Rwanda talk about how the MCW center in Rwanda which I help to build is benefiting them through its various services, my reward has always lied in knowing that my work is actually positively changing someone's life for the better. This is what motivates me to keep doing the work that I am doing and to always strive to find more effective ways of doing it.


Your story is so moving, and I’m sure many alumni are moved as well. Do you have any suggestions for alumni who are compelled to strengthen your cause?

They are many ways to get involved in my genocide prevention work. First we often have volunteer opportunities either our office in Manhattan, or sometimes at our community center in Rwanda. We are also always looking for individuals to organize awareness or fundraising events in their communities where we can go and share our work. Furthermore, we are always looking for ways to get our work out there to the media and other relevant entities and individuals which can help to propel it forward. Finally, we welcome financial contributions by those who are in the position to do so, and every dollar goes a long way in helping to advance our work. Interested people can learn more about how to get involved by visiting


Monday, April 16, 2012

The Walking Dead's Glen Mazzara (WSC '89, GSAS '93)

TWD-S2-Glen-Mazzara-590.jpg Glen Mazzara (WSC '89, GSAS '93) is currently showrunner/Executive Producer for AMC's The Walking Dead which is based on the comic book series written by Robert Kirkman. The third season of The Walking Dead will premiere this fall. Listen to our interview with Glen Mazzara below or download it (right click and save)

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Dan Barry (GSAS '83): From Womb to Writer

danbarry.jpg Photo Credit: Fred R. Conrad/The New York Times

Dan Barry is an author, columnist, and award winning journalist. He writes The New York Times’ celebrated “This Land” column, a national feature he inaugurated in 2007. During his 17 years at The Times, he has served as Long Island bureau chief, City Hall bureau chief, and “About New York” columnist, and was a major contributor to the newspaper’s award-winning coverage of 9/11 and its aftermath.

On April 19th, Mr. Barry will be presented with the Distinguished Alumnus Award at the 2012 Alumni Awards Luncheon. We had a chance to interview him about his time at NYU and his career as a writer.

Do you have any specific memories of your time at NYU? Any professors who had an influence on you?
I remember having no money, at a time when everyone else was wearing suspenders and loud ties; it was early Gekko. Several of the professors in the journalism department were very helpful; make that memorable. David Rubin, the chairman; Margo Jefferson; Terri Schultz-Brooks; others. And there was Richard Petrow, an old hard-news kind of guy who taught me how to report and write on deadline. I’m forever indebted.  

At what point in your life did you know that you wanted to be a writer?
In the womb; about 7 months, to be exact. I don’t know. I think very early on, when it was clear that I would never make it as a cartoonist or as a baseball player.  

Before starting the “This Land” column you had written a column called “About New York.” Can you give one or two examples of things you learned about New York City while writing this column that were most interesting to you or something our readers might not know about NYC?
What I would say is that people who live in or commute to New York should try to shed that seen-it-all persona we all adopt as we navigate the city. Once you do that, the city becomes a marvel. How do we ever take for granted the Brooklyn Bridge, or the subway system, or the Staten Island ferry, or even the Hudson River Drive, at evening time, when the night is clear and the river’s water seem at eye level. Another thing? That a guy up in Harlem once kept a tiger named Ming in his apartment – and this was accepted by neighbors as mere New York eccentricity.  

How did the idea for the “This Land” column come about?
I had been doing the “About New York” column for a couple of years when Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast. I was dispatched to New Orleans and wrote several column-like pieces for the National section. The idea to do a kind of About America – however crazy that may sound – grew out of that experience.

Has writing “This Land” changed your view of America?
I guess the column has changed my view, because my view was limited. I had never spent much time in the south, or in the Pacific Northwest, or in Indiana, or Tucson. The column has allowed me to visit all 50 states, so my view has, shall we say, broadened. I am quite aware now that New York is only a part of the country, and not the entire country.  

Do you have a favorite spot that you’ve journeyed to? Is there a place you haven’t been where you’d like to go?
I like many places very much. I’m fond of New England, where I lived for more than a decade. I like northern California. I’ve been blown away by the sight of the Hoover Dam, by the beauty of Molokai. I’ve never been to Puerto Rico, which, to my mind, is part of This Land. My favorite spot is on the road, in the evening, listening to the local radio and driving through hills.  

Online readers of your column will find some wonderful interactive features including American Objects, where we can see photos of the souvenirs you have brought back from each trip and hear you talking about them. Would you consider yourself a collector and if so, are there other objects you collect?
I like to collect tokens of places where I’ve been. I initially thought I would collect shot glasses, but that was silly. So I pick up odd things. The latest, for example, is a copy of an old poster for the Joe Frazier-Ron “The Butcher” Stander fight in Omaha, way back when – signed by the loser, Ron Stander.  

Your most recent book, Bottom of the 33RD chronicles baseball’s longest game against the Pawtucket Red Sox and the Rochester Red Wings. Was this an event you had always wanted to write about?
I wouldn’t say always. I had known of the game, played in 1981, for quite a while. I lived in Pawtucket after it was played, and so knew the lore of the 33-inning game, the longest in baseball history. But it wasn’t until a couple of years ago that it came to me: to describe what it must have been like to be, say, the center fielder for the Pawtucket Red Sox, freezing at 3 in the morning on Easter Sunday, trapped, by a never-ending game – and there is virtually no one watching the game.  

What kind of effect did the game have on the town of Pawtucket, RI?
 I think that the game gave Pawtucket, and McCoy Stadium, the WPA ballpark where the game was played, an extra distinction. The city was known as central to the Industrial Revolution, but now it had this: Pawtucket, Home of the Longest Game. I think the residents are happy that this little bit of history happened on their ground.  

Do you have plans to write another book? If so, have you decided on a subject?
I do want to write a book, but I am, at this moment, hampered by one problem: No idea about what the book should be about. Working on it, though.  

Some people enjoy writing in a crowded space, others retreat to the wilderness. Is there a place where you prefer to write?
I’ve written in noisy newsrooms and in the midst of natural disasters, but I prefer to be alone somewhere – a hotel room, my attic – where I can get up, wander around, mutter bad words, and sit back down to search again for the right words.  

What advice would you give to someone attempting to make a career as a writer?
Keep at it. Write every day. Read the best. Write some more. Have a job on the side to keep your creditors at bay. Write some more.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Talking with CAS Acting Dean, Gabi Starr

starr.jpgG. Gabrielle Starr has been Acting Dean of the NYU College of Arts & Science since August 1, 2011, following in the footsteps of Dean Matthew Santirocco. Having been Acting Dean for almost two semesters, Gabi has already initiated some exciting changes. We were very grateful for the opportunity to speak with Gabi earlier this week about new developments in the College of Arts & Science, her experience as Acting Dean, and even an anecdote from Gabi's first few days in the position. It must be thrilling to go from Chair of the English Department to Acting Dean of the College of Arts and Science. So far, what is your favorite part about being a dean? It has been a great honor for me to be able to lead the College this year. I’ve spent 11 years at NYU, but I still have so much to learn about the greater NYU community. We have an exciting, complicated, rich university and an extraordinary student body; getting to know the place and the people differently and better has been the best part of my job so far. Has your new role opened you up to any new perspectives or taught you any unexpected lessons? The complexity of NYU is one of our greatest strengths, because it means that we have the ideas and the perspectives to solve just about any problem; it’s just a matter of putting the pieces together. What sorts of changes do you think will take place over the next decade at the College of Arts & Science? We will continue to attract the best students in the country, but increasingly will draw the best the world has to offer because of the unique appeal of the College as part of the global network university. Are there any new developments within the college that alumni might find interesting? Beginning in Fall 2012, the College of Arts and Science will launch an exciting new co-curricular initiative, the Collegiate Cohort Program (CCP). The CCP will ultimately furnish a framework for the four years of university life in CAS, and will provide students with micro-communities that are diverse in intellectual range, and that become crucibles for debate and scholarship, as well as a welcoming Collegiate home. Students’ first encounters with their cohort will be in the Freshman Dialogue, during Welcome Week; activities throughout that first week will begin to engage students with each other and with the dynamics of life both here in the city and in our broader, global presence. As students circulate throughout the global network university and as they transition to the wider world of work, the Collegiate Cohort will anchor them, providing a home at NYU and a portal for continued engagement with the College. In the first year, freshmen will work closely with a CAS advisor and a College Leader (an advanced CAS student) as they shape their own visions of Collegiate life at NYU. Over the next 3 years, cohorts will become the focus for some of the essential building blocks of CAS, including advising, mentorship, and academic curiosity. We will be asking alumni to join in as mentors as the cohorts mature, and I look forward to welcoming many of you back in that role! What would you say is currently your main area of academic research, and do you still find time to pursue it outside of work? I just finished a book on the neuroscience of the way we experience music, painting and poetry, called Feeling Beauty. The world of the aesthetic is dynamic, even strangely so. We all know that tastes and arts change, and that what counts as art to one person or one culture is nonsense to another. In this book I argue that the dynamic nature of aesthetic life is linked to the way that our brains encounter aesthetic pleasures. The book will be out next year, from Johns Hopkins University Press. Research is still possible for me as a dean, and I find time to do it because I love learning new things, and because it helps me feel closely connected to the life of the mind, which our students and faculty share. I work with students in my lab and as research advisees, and that keeps me grounded in the work we do. Have you read any good books lately? I’ve been reading books for the Freshman Dialogue this year. There were three amazing finalists, but we’ve chosen The Tiger’s Wife, by Téa Obreht. It’s a beautifully written, compelling account of family and humanitarianism in a time of war. Do you have any favorite lunch spots in the village? It’s too hard to choose! But I have a soft spot for the Knickerbocker on University Place. Do you have any fun stories that you could share with alumni about your experience as Acting Dean? People talk about being swept away in a new job. I started being Acting Dean in August, and we immediately had an earthquake and a hurricane; seeing the scaffolding swaying from the 9th floor of Silver was a dizzying experience.