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Every now and then a song sweeps the world, catapulting its singer into the stratosphere of super-fame. “Gangnam Style” is that kind of phenomenon, performed by South Korea’s Park Jae-sang, better known to nearly 1.6 billion YouTube viewers (the most ever) as Psy.On Thursday the Korea Institute at Harvard University sponsored “A Conversation with Psy” for a packed audience of Harvard students, staff, and faculty and the international press at Memorial Church, in a session that was also live-streamed online.The event was introduced by Carter J. Eckert, the Yoon Se Young Professor of Korean History. Slipping on a pair of sunglasses, à la Psy’s trademark style, Eckert suggested that Harvard hasn’t been so close to cool since Ralph Waldo Emerson’s 1838 speech on transcendentalism.Alexander Zahlten, assistant professor of East Asian languages and civilizations, put “Gangnam Style” into the context of the investments Asian countries are making in exporting their cultures, and their growing influence in the West.Psy then entered and shook hands, and the audience cheered as he walked to the pulpit.“Isn’t life beautiful?” he asked.Psy, of course, wasn’t always a superstar. He was born in 1977 in the well-to-do Gangnam district of Seoul. As the only son, he was expected to take over the family business, building a “semiconductor equipment thing.” To avoid that, he spent four years in the late ’90s in college in Boston. First, he studied business at Boston University, then dropped out and enrolled at the Berklee College of Music.He left Berklee without a degree (“My nickname was W-W-F: Withdrawal, Withdrawal, Fail,” he said to a chorus of sympathetic “Awws!”), went back to South Korea, started making K-pop, and danced on television. He released his first album in 2001. For the next 10 years, Psy sang, danced, and made music.In July of 2012, he released “Gangnam Style.”“When I wrote [‘Gangnam Style’] last summer, the economy was so bad,” he said.“Everyone was so poor. My only goal was to make them laugh, with the song and choreography, so I tried to be as ridiculous as possible.” He explained that he intentionally developed the now-famous “horsey dance” so that anyone could do it.Then, lightning struck. By August, “Gangnam Style” was No. 1 on iTunes, and by November it was the most viewed video ever on YouTube. In December, it became the first YouTube video to reach one billion views.“Isn’t that amazing?” Psy said. “I am so glad, because the crowd doesn’t know [the meaning of the words], but they look so happy” when listening to the song and doing the dance.“I think there is something beyond the language,” he said, trying to explain the song’s popularity. “We can assume it’s the music. But that’s the boring answer. I think it’s the word ‘fun.’”Psy has won accolades and dozens of music and video awards, but he said the moment he really knew he’d made it was when Madonna asked him to perform with her at Madison Square Garden. He said when he arrived, Madonna was lying on the stage, and she told him, “Honey, you can touch anywhere on my body on the stage.”He said his first thought was, “I’m her honey?”His actual response was, “Really?”“I’ve got to be humble,” he continued. “This doesn’t happen to everyone, especially Asian artists. I dreamed someday, some Korean artist would be recognized in the American market, but I didn’t dream that it would be me. I have a very special body shape, so I never thought it would be me.“It’s weird,” he continued. “I am facing you guys like this. But life is weird. I’m happy and so proud. It’s so unrealistic to make a speech at Harvard.”During a question-and-answer session, he advised, “Please be positive. That’s the biggest power on the planet.”And, almost echoing his cool predecessor Emerson’s words at the Divinity school so many years ago (“Thank God for these good men”), Psy said, “I thank God all the time, because what I want to do is what I can do.”He then graciously thanked the audience for their time, and treated everyone to a Korean dinner.“A Conversation with Psy” was co-sponsored by the Office for the Arts at Harvard “Learning from Performers” series and the Edwin O. Reischauer Institute of Japanese Studies. read more
(REUTERS)-Andrea Belotti scored twice as Italy made light work of Liechtenstein in their World Cup qualifier yesterday, scoring four first-half goals on the way to a 4-0 win.Ciro Immobile and Antonio Candreva were also on target as Italy stayed level with Spain at the top of European Group G. Both teams have 10 points from four games although Spain lead on goal difference.Italy were quick off the mark when Alessio Romagnoli headed down a corner and Belotti turned the ball in from close range in the 11th minute. Belotti turned supplier one minute later when he headed a long pass forward into the path of Immobile who ran on and thumped his shot past Peter Jehle.Italy, playing with a new 4-4-2 formation, sliced their way through the home defence and Candreva turned in the third in the 32nd minute after Mattia De Sciglio pulled the ball back from the byline.Belotti had a backheeled goal disallowed but was not to be denied and added Italy’s fourth one minute before halftime when he ran onto Giacomo Bonaventura’s chipped pass over the back and scored from a narrow angle.Italy continued to dominate in the second half but the final pass repeatedly let them down to the clear frustration of coach Giampiero Ventura on the touchline. Liechtenstein stayed bottom of the group after their fourth straight defeat. read more
A repeal of the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act sponsored by State Assemblyman Tim Donnelly has received significant student support in its first week.The DREAM Act, signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown on Oct. 10, allows undocumented college students to qualify for and receive state financial aid. If Donnelly obtains valid signatures from 504,760 registered California voters before Jan. 6, a ballot measure to repeal the DREAM Act will appear on the Nov. 2012 ballot.Source: Californiadreamact.org – Christina Ellis | Daily TrojanThe petition received 7,800 signatures in its first week, and 20 percent was from college students, according to Donnelly.Donnelly disapproves of the DREAM Act because he says it provides illegal immigrants with some of the same benefits legal residents have.“We need to have one standard, and offering money to illegal immigrants is just wrong in so many ways,” Donnelly said. “Giving them the same benefits as legal residents and U.S. citizens who’ve worked so hard is wrong.”Aimee Chang, a sophomore majoring in health promotion and disease prevention studies, said the DREAM Act should be repealed because it could negatively affect U.S. citizens.“[The DREAM Act] should be repealed because it can really have a negative impact for American citizens,” Chang said. “It is already hard enough to get adequate financial aid as it is.”Alex Chin, a sophomore majoring in biological sciences, said given the current state of the U.S. economy, money should be spent on citizens rather than on illegal immigrants.“The economy is in a major slump right now,” Chin said. “By allowing illegal immigrants to obtain financial aid, we’re spending tax dollars on them when we really should be spending it on the education of U.S. citizens.”College students already pay high prices to attend college and government funds should be directed to help alleviate the financial burden of college for legal residents, Donnelly said.“What I hear college students complaining [about] the most is not getting their classes,” Donnelly said. “A four year education should not take five years. We’ve broken the promise to students that we will pay for their education and we should fix this instead of paying for the tuition of illegal immigrants.”Other students, however, said they believe undocumented students should not be prevented from receiving financial aid.“Students who graduate from California high schools should receive funding to attend [public] California universities,” said Katrina Kaiser, a sophomore majoring in economics. “[Undocumented students] have integrated into the California community, culture and economic fabric.” read more