NYU is known for its campus diversity where students can find any kind of niche they want. Revathi Janaswamy dives deeper into the Bollywood Dance community at NYU, discussing the history and richness of the Indian dance culture.
NYU is known for its campus diversity where students can find any kind of niche they want. Revathi Janaswamy dives deeper into the Bollywood Dance community at NYU, discussing the history and richness of the Indian dance culture.
Earlier this year, the children living near the El Jardin del Paraiso public park in the East Village got to adopt and name the trees on their block. Now, as the adoptive “parents” walk to school each day, they pass “Smokey,” “The Stickbug,” and “Mama Hey Hey,” each of the seven trees identified by a plaque bearing its new name and the names of all the participating children. Webs of string cover the plant and flower-filled tree beds to make it harder to throw trash in them – which, up until last spring, was what everyone seemed to do.
The neighborhood’s efforts to restore the trees were made possible with the Citizens Committee for NYC’s “Love Your Block” grant, which gives up to $1,000 to 25 neighborhood groups for community projects.
J.K. Canepa, a member of the steering committee for the El Jardin del Paraiso Medicinal Plot, says that before the community came together to restore the trees in their neighborhood, the tree pits were de facto garbage cans.
“Somebody put some bulbs in there so a few little daffodils keep poking up in the springtime, but otherwise, it was bags of dog turds and candy wrappers and bottles,” Canepa said and continued, “It was horrible and the kids walked past it every day to go to school.”
In addition to the funding, the grant program, which is in its 11th year, also provides these 25 neighborhoods with assistance from the New York Department of Transportation, Environmental Protection, Sanitation, and Parks and Recreation.
When Canepa and her friend — co-applicant Marie Argeris — applied for the grant, they decided to take advantage of all four departments, getting the Department of Sanitation to pick-up trash from around the neighborhood, water barrels from the Department of Environmental Protection, bike racks from the Department of Transportation, and a tree pruner from the Department of Parks and Recreation who helped the kids plant.
According to the Citizens Committee program coordinator Marina Gonzalez Flores, while the program aims to support lower income neighborhoods, the larger impact is the cross-cultural and cross-gender relationships that people build within their neighborhoods.
“It’s not only just cleaning and planting something in the ground, but it’s also coming out and meeting the person who lives next to you or the new neighbor that has come into this neighborhood,” Flores said.
Canepa hopes that passing the adopted trees every morning and seeing their names will give the kids in El Jardin del Paraiso a sense of empowerment.
Transportation in New York City is characterized by crowded subway cars, speedy yellow cabs, and the grid system which makes for an extremely walkable landscape. With the launch of Citi Bike in New York in 2013, people are saying goodbye to these classic means of transportation and have welcomed biking as an efficient way to navigate the city.
Since its inception, nearly 300,000 people have joined the membership service, which costs only $169 per year, while an unlimited monthly MetroCard will run you $121. There are many pros to this service and biking in general, such as its attractive price, decreased carbon foot print and health benefits. However, as more and more people choose to bike as their primary mode of transportation, combating cyclist fatalities is crucial.
In 2014, Mayor Bill de Blasio launched Vision Zero in New York City. This network “works to eliminate all traffic fatalities and severe injuries, while increasing safe, healthy, equitable mobility for all.” It also places responsibility on policy makers to anticipate potential accidents in city design.
Vision Zero was founded in Sweden and became the country’s official road policy in 1997. The strategy has worked tremendously considering that Sweden’s annual road death rate is 3 out of 100,000, while the United States’ is four times that.
Mayor de Blasio says one of his top priorities is to make city streets safer for all New Yorkers. In a letter on the Vision Zero website, de Blasio says, “We won’t accept this any longer. I make that pledge as a parent, and as your mayor.” With its Vision Zero program, the mayor’s office is working to reduce deaths and serious injury.
“I was not about to be a jock,” said Scott Chow, about resisting his parents efforts to join a high school team sport. Originally drawn to the ultimate frisbee, Chow decided to join the track team to condition, deciding to pursue long distance.
And he’s never looked back. Six years later Chow, 20, ran a time of 2:52:19 in Sunday’s TCS New York City Marathon. Chow is a Computer Science Major at the University of California Santa Barbara
Chow, who wants to see the world through running, has a goal to run the six major world marathons: Tokyo, Berlin, Chicago, Boston, London, and New York City. So far he has run the Boston Marathon and the Los Angeles Marathon twice.
At his high school in a San Francisco suburb, he was hooked on running from the first day. “I was absolutely enthralled with it, it was addictive.” said Chow. He was obsessed with the feeling of accomplishment after a run and with watching his time drop.
However he cautions against chasing faster and faster times.“People who usually chase the time don’t last as long because they tend to hit a plateau and lose interest or get injured” Chow said.
Boston was a hard race for Chow. “I absolutely exploded, I broke on heartbreak hill,” Chow said. Heartbreak hill is a series of hills between miles 17-21 and it breaks a lot of people. He remembers thinking in the moment that he couldn’t go any more and began to walk. “It still haunts me.” said Chow.
His goal is never to simply to finish a race but to excel. Boston tested that, “I was just telling myself, I have put way too much into this, I have done way too much work, spent too much money, too much time, blood, sweat and tears to get to this point and not finish.” said Chow.
Chow finished Boston with a time of 3:16:32.
Chow starts his morning off with a run, getting up at around eight a.m to run before morning classes. He feels that it allows him to pay his health dues for the day so to speak, and then he can do what he wants, eat what he wants, for the rest of the day. Running in the morning makes everything else seem like small potatoes, Chow said.
Chow begins training for a marathon around 20 weeks before. There is the daily mileage which is to build up aerobic and anaerobic resiliency as well as resiliency One day a week is the long run which is to build endurance, usually from 20-24 miles.
People always tell him that 26.2 miles is an intimidating number, he doesn’t see it that way when put in perspective. “It’s hard but when you think of the 800-900 miles you run before that, 26.2 is a victory lap.” Chow said.
What drives him is the question of how far can he take his passion. “I think I’ve only scratched the surface of what I can do.” Chow said
Adrianne Wright is the co-Founder of women’s action group called I Will Not Be Quiet. Wright aims to create an intimate and sacred place for women to discuss the current political and social justice issues. Wright held a rally with the group on Mon., Oct. 1 called #WHYIDIDNTREPORTIT.
Adrianne Wright, on the right, met with the co-founder of I Will Not Be Quiet, Chelsea Schuster, at Washington Square Park to set up their talking circle on Oct. 1.
Wright co-founded the women’s action group with Schuster in Brooklyn, N.Y. “I wanted to create an intimate and sacred place for women to learn political and social justice issues,” Wright said and continued, “And discuss the challenges or experiences they’ve had, without apology or interruption.”
The rally began with chanting “I will not be quiet” with the crowd and “It’s not your fault, we believe you.” The rally also included readings of anonymous accounts from women who experienced sexual misconduct and assault. Wright hopes that the group will help women feel empowered by the knowledge that they have.
Wright met up with two other women who had volunteered to share their own experiences with sexual abuse. Wright believes that most important thing about hosting a talking circle is to have an open and supportive discussion. Attendees were encouraged to step up and share their own experiences if, they felt comfortable enough to do so. By openly discussing past experiences, Wright wanted to demand belief in these accounts. “We are demanding to be believed,” Wright said and continued, “So that when we do report it, they do support it.”
A crowd began to form around Wright as she recounted the details of how she was raped at 16-years-old. Wright explained that she had been knocked unconscious by her attacker in the lobby of a hotel she was staying at. Wright was then raped by her attacker and another man. “I’m angry that I reported it and they [police officers] distorted it,” Wright said and continued, “They didn’t believe me.”
By Jendayi Omowale
The March for Black Women on Sept. 30 saw hundreds of people rally in City Hall Park to protest against the expiration of the Violence Against Women Act, which was set to expire at midnight. Activists and allies walked across the Brooklyn Bridge to highlight issues concerning gender violence and sexual assault against black women, under the contexts of the current Ford-Kavanaugh hearings and the Anita Hill hearings of 1991. Later that evening, there was a candlelight vigil in front of the Brooklyn Courthouse.
In the entertainment industry body image is an issue that many actresses are hyper aware of. The woman in this film explain the body image issues and eating disorders obstacles while working in a field that is constantly pitting them against one another.
In a secluded corner of Prospect Park, Tzvi Levine, a 22-year-old resident of Kensington, Brooklyn, ground some weed, made a joint, took a puff, and began strumming his guitar while improvising a song. The sinking-sun shone golden on his clean-shaven face, the trees cast long shadows, and Levine’s Nike sneakers tapped to a beat. He looks like an average Brooklynite: jeans, a white t-shirt, Buddy Holly-glasses frames. He sat on a fallen tree trunk crossed diagonally over poison ivy and rotting foliage. A plastic shopping bag beside him contained a cucumber and iceberg lettuce. Levine often brings raw foods with him to enjoy their “pureness”, and occasionally, he’d take a bite. Perched next to him, Yoni Krakauer, Levine’s friend of only a year, removed his kippah before reaching for a smoke. The two meet here to unwind. There are no rules to follow, and they can speak freely. Levine notes that it’s a place where he can feel in-touch with nature.
During the day, Levine spends time with his nine siblings in his parents’ Jewish Orthodox home: he sings on the couch, plays games, or reads books when they return from school. He currently has no day job, and is largely supported by his parents by means of food and housing.
At night, Levine is a hip-hop performer, attending open mics in Brooklyn, making connections, and hoping to gain popularity as a white artist in a predominantly black community that created hip hop as a reaction to oppression from white people.
Levine was raised Orthodox, but decided to forgo his religion after being expelled from his mesivta, or Jewish high school, at the end of 12th grade for poor attendance. “I didn’t like authority there,” said Levine. “I hated the way that the rabbis had power and I hated the way that they knew more than you. There were ten-hour school days and at one point we slept in dorms.”
As Levine grew up, he encountered a disconnect between the strict laws of Orthodoxy and his own interests. Levine had grown up in a musical family, and had taken interest in non-Jewish music that he heard away from school and his home. “When I was in 9th or 10th grade, I felt repressed from the school and the class I was in because they forbid us to listen to non-Jewish music, even if it was “clean,’” Levine said. During this time, Levine discovered hip hop music. “A friend of mine put Not Afraid, an Eminem song, on my iPod Nano,” said Levine. “He found some way to not make it show up unless you searched for it.”
Not Afraid was the catalyst to Levine’s interest in hip hop. He became interested in the technicalities of rhyming to rhythms and spent time trying to compose his own similar work. As his interest in the non-Jewish world increased, Levine spent less time attending classes, and thinking more about life outside Judaism.
After leaving school and choosing not to continue the path to yeshiva, Levine’s parents became increasingly unhappy, ultimately banning him from their home. Levine was sent to live with his grandparents in the neighborhood, picking up a telemarketing job after being encouraged by his grandfather. Levine has no current intention to attend college. He has held a series of part-time jobs since leaving school, but is currently unemployed.
Living in the basement of his grandparents’ house gave Levine the freedom he lacked in his own home. “That’s when I was able to do whatever I wanted,” said Levine. “I really got into hip hop then because I was free to listen to non-Jewish music. I also started watching porn and smoking weed.” Growing up in an Orthodox community, Levine sheltered from the outside world. “I grew up without a TV or movies, and no non-Jewish music whatsoever,” said Levine. “All of these rules would have stayed with me forever, but I just stopped following them.”
Levine would sneak out the back door at night, unknown to his grandparents, but made sure to be home for Shabbos each week, putting on a kippah before entering his home.
Levine’s telemarketing job allowed him to save money to buy recording equipment. After being allowed to move home over a year later, Levine took over the empty garage in his backyard. He began to create his own music inspired by the hip hop he had listened to. “I made a song, and it was like a white-boy knockoff of Eminem,” he said. “It was about being different.” Songwriting and performing was easy for Levine. “I grew up singing, and I taught myself to play guitar,” he said.
After posting the song to an online hip hop forum, Levine was contacted to attend an open mic. He continued to write songs inspired by artists like Kendrick Lamar and MF Doom, often with explicit lyrics that contrasted the tenets of his upbringing.
Levine chose to tell his father about his interest in hip hop, but not to his siblings. “I told my dad that I could write rap really well,” said Levine. “But he just asked what my back up plan was going to be.” After showing his father the music he had written, he started to take his son more seriously.
Levine’s father, who recently graduated from NYU’s Silver School of Social Work, has been supportive of his music and non-Jewish interests. “I think my dad is sort of proud of me as a hip hop artist in certain ways: he’d show non-Jewish people what I’m doing,” Levine said. “He even brought me into his class once to lecture about weed.”
Levine’s mother takes a more hands-off approach to her son’s diversion from Orthodoxy. “My mom doesn’t say much about what she thinks of me because she’d rather not learn about what I’m up to,” Levine said. “She’s going to get hurt by what I say or what I do with my life because she’s afraid.”
After establishing himself back at home, Levine started to attend open mics in Bedford Stuyvesant or East New York. He became enamored with the community. “I was able to meet a lot of people who encouraged me and gave me connections,” Levine said. But even as he tries to be an optimist about his experience, he’s also had trouble fitting in. At a hip hop party in East New York, a woman took the stage to criticize Levine for being white. “She singled me out and started talking about me saying that I was coming there to take their culture,” Levine said.
“Most people who don’t like me aren’t interested in seeing me as a person, but then they realize I’m respectful, and that I grew up in Brooklyn just like them,” Levine said. “I’ve had a lot of bad experiences, but the good ones outweigh them.”
Levine has found an expanding group of people who accept him and hope to help him gain recognition within Brooklyn’s hip hop community, but when he returns home to Kensington, he is happy to blend into the crowd. “Kensington and Borough Park are like Manhattan,” said Levine. “It’s so diverse there, and nobody cares who you are. Sometimes if I want a favor, I’ll make it known that I’m Jewish by saying something in Yiddish. Otherwise, everyone minds their own business.” Even Levine’s siblings have become used to him. “My baby sister just thinks that I sleep all day,” he said. “When I’m not at home spending time with my family, they don’t question where I am.”
Living a double-life between hip hop and family life has helped Levine evolve his musical style. “My music doesn’t usually discuss being Jewish, but the sincerity in which I sing is reflective of my upbringing,” said Levine. Levine realized that hip hop could include more than rap: he heard performers sing at open mics and soon adapted that style to fit his own voice.
At a Bedford Stuyvesant open mic that Levine hadn’t attended before, he approached the crowd with a song that predominantly relied on vocals and chorus, rather than rap. At the end of his song, Levine was accompanied by a loud ovation.
Moments like these encourage Levine to continue writing and performing. “It’s a life direction, not a money-making career,” said Levine. “I don’t see it taking me anywhere, but if it does, I’d love to get enough recognition to allow me to work with Kendrick Lamar or Anderson Paak. I enjoy collaboration because I want other people’s influences. It’s about community.”
At Prospect Park the following day, Levine brought a cucumber to enjoy alongside music and weed. Krakauer, who has known Levine for only a year sat beside him. Krakauer isn’t a fan of hip hop, but still supports Levine. “He has beautiful melodies and chord progressions, so I wonder why Tzvi even raps at all,” Krakauer said, suggesting that Levine’s talents lie in the “jam-sessions” he and Krakauer engage in. Levine plays guitar, and the two of them sing together.
“It’s very difficult for me to figure out how hip hop and Judaism mix because I don’t see it very clearly,” Levine said. So, Levine uses this time to find contentment and reason in a segmented life. Despite no longer being a practicing Jew, Levine remains spiritual on his own terms. “My spirituality is happiness, and from playing guitar,” Levine said. “It’s contentment from being grateful for everything you have.” For Levine, happiness comes from enjoying the things around him in their most natural state: nature, raw food, air. “I don’t connect to a specific god anymore,” he said. “The world is perfectly made for us to live in.”
When Levine returns home, he sleeps on the bottom bunk of a room shared by three of his siblings. He drapes a blanket from the rim of the top bunk, creating a closed-off space for him to relax. “This is the only private space I have in my home,” said Levine. He has no plans to move out of his parents’ house, and has no intention of quitting hip hop anytime soon. “I’m a very simple person,” said Levine. “I sleep and eat at home, so I don’t need much money.”
Unintentionally prophesied in the early 2000s by the likes of American rapper Eminem in his song “Stan,” stan culture and its growing prolificacy have become immensely widespread in recent years, enough so that Beyoncé’s dedicated fanbase, the Beyhive, were parodied on Saturday Night Live in 2014 and the term “stan” was entered into the lexicon of the Oxford English Dictionary earlier this year.
Despite the subculture’s prevalence online and in burgeoning youth cultures that cannot separate themselves from the internet’s omnipresence, most news media is lacking in its coverage of stan culture, and what limited coverage there is pertaining to it can be disparaging, with articles often noting the extreme extents to which some stans express their devotion to a celebrity they idolize.
The severity of sensationalism pertaining to stans this year alone has ranged from the harmless reporting of stans, sometimes deemed as superfans, waiting hours in line for a Lady Gaga concert in Miami to a celebrity gossip blog reporting on Taylor Swift’s legion of stans, dubbed Swifties, commenting rat and mouse emojis on Kim Kardashian’s Instagram posts to an article reporting on the aggressive nature some stans direct towards their own idols on Twitter.
Nolan Feeney, a music editor for Entertainment Weekly, reported on stans for the entertainment magazine, going so far as to interact with some on the social media platform, Twitter, and the online pop culture forum and stan mecca, ATRL. “I think a lot of articles about stans have been very sensational and focused on how they’re ‘crazy’ or ‘rabid,’” he said, “But I just knew there was more to it than that.”
The coverage of stans is made even worse by how the current definition of the term “stan” has been propagated by the Oxford English Dictionary as “[a]n overzealous or obsessive fan of a particular celebrity.”
Such an interpretation of stans and their prevailing culture in the contemporary world seems to bear some form of negative connotation with being a stan; as if to be a stan is to be Eminem’s “Stan,” i.e. someone who repeatedly and violently strives for acknowledgement from their favorite celebrity to a point where the obsessed fan would harm themselves or others for the attention of a celebrity.
Among those who consider themselves stans of a celebrity, there is a sense of a different perspective within stan communities of what it means to be a stan. Anthony Davis, 20, has been stanning Nicki Minaj since sixth grade, and finds the media’s portrayal of stans to be exaggerated yet sees truth in the culture’s obsessive tendencies.
“I feel like a stan is just engrossed in who they [celebrities] are as a person and everything,” Davis says as he scrolls through a seemingly endless Twitter feed on his phone teeming with images of and tweets in reference to the Queens rapper he devoutly follows.
Krista Burton, 20, is a Swiftie who has a different reasoning for what comprises a stan while also distinguishing her feelings as a stan from that of a fan.
“You can be a fan of a specific artist and not really place an emotional development in them,” she says. “But since Taylor Swift has been a huge part of my life and present throughout the journey, I don’t think the word ‘fan’ is strong enough to decide how I feel.”
However, Burton does recognize that there is a detrimental aspect to stans in this subculture of what some may regard as extreme fanaticism. “I think for a lot of people it can be really unhealthy,” she says. “I know Swifties who are always on their phone watching Taylor’s movements.”
“Like, they know when she’s online and they just start reposting their content to get noticed,” Burton continues. “It really gets unhealthy, obsessive, and stalker-ish.”
Regardless of Davis or Burton’s perceptions on what a stan is, it is certain that articles on the topic of stan culture are very few this year despite “stan” entering into the vernaculars of numerous teens and young adults, as well as of Nicki Minaj in her verse on Katy Perry’s song “Swish Swish” and of news outlets like Buzzfeed that tend to market themselves towards younger segments of the population.
A quick search of the term “stan” on Buzzfeed’s website yields more than 40 articles and listicles that relate to the word in some manner. A decent portion of these search results are in reference to comic book writer Stan Lee and actor Sebastian Stan.
Interestingly, however, the website seems to have overhauled its use of the word “stan” in over 25 pieces within the past two months alone. Of these pieces related to the term “stan” in Buzzfeed’s search results, only a few analyze the impact and psychology of the stan, with one analysis focusing on the media’s negative spin of fan and stan culture in pop music throughout time. The rest mostly use the term “stan” as if it were any other verb akin to “love” or “admire,” which provides a positive spin for a currently underrepresented and misrepresented culture in the news.
As much as Buzzfeed has begun overdosing much of its content with themes related to stan culture, even going so far as to have an entire week dedicated to stans this year, it seems to be the only non-specialized news outlet bringing it any form of considerable press coverage.
However, what content Buzzfeed does publish in relation to stans may not be enough to spur a movement like the fervor of groupies in the 60s, but it is comparatively more in quantity and, in some regard, quality; that is, if those other outlets are even publishing anything at all concerning an ever present subculture that has become less underground and more airborne nowadays thanks to the prevalence of the internet and social media making stanning more accessible to those with a Wi-Fi, broadband, or cellular connection.
What little media coverage stans do receive, Davis does not believe it is generally positive. “I think that the media portrayal is kind of skewed negatively, but I’m not sure if it’s always intentional,” he says. “The things that are worth talking about sometimes are the things other people outside of stan culture notice or when it gets extreme.”
Feeney believes the size of stan culture partially contributes its misrepresentation. “Part of [it] is just that stan culture is so big,” he says. “There are all kinds of stans and all kinds of stan communities and all sorts of ways to be a stan.”
Thomas Fortune, 21, stans multi-platinum solo artist, Beyoncé, and agrees that the media seems to represent the most extreme stans that “drag” and “come for” people mostly on the web. “It’s this unfiltered kind of anger and a celebrity as an excuse to come for people slash [sic] insult people,” says Fortune in his formal explanation of the two stan jargons mentioned.
Apart from the sensationalism of stan culture through the reporting on its most extreme proponents, the media representation of stan culture could be the result of a lack of journalists like Feeney who are well versed in contemporary pop and internet culture, or of a lack of being online where stan culture abounds in its natural habitats of social media comment sections and message boards on pop culture forums.
To improve on both the negative and lack of coverage of stan culture, Feeney suggests improving upon the coverage of pop music, which he believes is integral to stan culture considering how musicians tend to have greater and more represented stans in the media.
“I think you can’t really have serious, legit reporting and criticism about stan culture until after you have serious, legit reporting and criticism about pop music,” he says. “So I think as that trend continues or that type of pop coverage becomes more commonplace, coverage about stan culture will grow, too.”
Burton believes stan culture shares a direct relationship with the internet, and that it may receive better reception once both it and internet access mature. “I think stan culture is just beginning,” she says. “The more connected the world gets, the more intense stan culture will get.”
Whatever the trend may be for the coverage of stans, there are signs that it truly is in its beginning stages as Burton suggests, and that it is starting to receive fairer and wider coverage. Just this year, The New York Times culture reporter, Joe Coscarelli, highlighted the relationship between Taylor Swift and her Swifties, and how their strong relationship has emboldened Swifties to prevent leaks and preserve their matriarch’s good image.
Only time will tell whether the media reception of stans improves. All that is known is that these digital upgrades of now outdated groupies will continue subsisting off of Wi-Fi connections to feed their borderline obsessions of the idols they cherish. The internet is their sandbox and social media their pails and buckets which are rapidly forging virtual communities and societies that may soon rival those of the real world.
Major streets are blocked off. The subway is packed. Sidewalks are crowded and Survivor’s “Eye of the Tiger” blares from multiple directions, the bass turned up so earth-shatteringly loud that it can be heard through the Nassau Station underground. Despite all the commotion, the atmosphere in Greenpoint is not one of stress. It seems that today, on the morning of the 2017 TCS New York City Marathon, New Yorkers do not mind the disruption to the city’s sights and sounds.
At the corner of Manhattan Avenue and Greenpoint Avenue, spectators crowd along the street to see runners prepare to cross the Pulaski Bridge, marking the halfway point of the race. Neighborhood residents and international travelers alike bring the enthusiasm, practically dangling off fire escapes to wave posters and handing out free bananas by the bunch on the sidelines. There is a slight drizzle in the air, but that doesn’t deter the bands set up every few blocks playing covers of 80’s rock songs.
Christina, a resident of the neighborhood, came to the bustling intersection to cheer on three of her friends. “I’m two for three so far. I missed one,” she says, her neon pink poster rolled up below her arm. She has watched the race here four times now, though she claims she would never want to run it herself. Still, she loves the energy that the race brings to her area. “I think it’s really inspirational, and the camaraderie is great.”
While some only have to go out on their balconies or sit on their porches to see the race, others have to plan their trips months or even years in advance. Sharon, a woman in her mid forties, came all the way from South Africa with her husband to cheer him on in his first marathon. She stands on the sideline with a friend waving a full-size South African flag. She has never visited the city before this week, but her husband’s decision was more about timing than location. “Basically, it was in a year’s time from when the decision was made, and that’s enough time to train,” she says with a shrug.
A sight that brings a smile to the faces of nearly every runner that passes is a man in a full cow costume leaning over the sideline barrier, furiously rattling a cowbell and screaming cheers. Brian, who is from Seattle, is donning the outfit to cheer on his girlfriend and her sister, and chose the location because it’s nearby their Airbnb room. His favorite part of the race so far is the reactions of runners when they see total strangers cheering them on. “You can call anybody’s name here,” he says, then proves his point by screaming, “LET’S GO, MARY!” at a passing runner in a pink t-shirt with her name printed across the front.