New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

Staff Recs: Caw-caw!

WSN’s Arts Desk shares their fowl-themed favorites.
Candice Yao
(Illustration by Candice Yao)

If you couldn’t tell, we had a little trouble coming up with a theme for this month’s staff recs. November is a strange month, awkwardly sandwiched between two of our favorite holidays — Halloween and Christmas. Who would actually be itching to read Thanksgiving-themed recommendations? So, we at the Arts Desk decided to expand on one of the holiday’s motifs — the turkey — and go even further with it. Here are our bird-themed recommendations for the month. Bawk-bawk.


“Seabird” by Alessi Brothers

“There’s a road I know I must go / Even though I tell myself / That road is closed / Like a lonely seabird / You’ve been away from land too long / Aw, too long.” 

Imbued with nostalgic longing, “Seabird” by the Alessi Brothers is an ideal song to listen to this time of year. These last two months gives us an opportunity to reflect on the year — how we’ve changed or stayed the same — and the sounds of the Alessi Brothers’ crooning sets an introspective tone that is perfect for this.

The titular seabird referenced throughout the song represents the singer’s isolation and disconnect from the world, paralleling the lonely migratory travels of an actual seabird. Though many interpret the lyrics as a story about yearning for a loved one, some choose to interpret it as a song about wanting to return home — a sentiment I’m sure is shared by many, including myself, here in college.

However you interpret it, “Seabird” is a beautiful tune to add to your playlist as the year begins winding down.

— Stephanie Wong, Arts Editor


“The Birds” by Alfred Hitchcock

In case you aren’t ready to leave Halloween behind just yet, “The Birds” will leave you spooked. Produced and directed by Alfred Hitchcock, the film is a timeless classic from 1963, loosely based on a 1952 short story by Daphne du Maurier.

The film centers around socialite Melanie Daniels (Tippi Hedren) and lawyer Mitch Brenner (Rod Taylor), who meet in a San Francisco pet store. As they start to develop a romantic relationship, unexplained bird attacks around the region begin. In an interview, Hitchcock described the bird attacks in his film as a reaction to humanity taking nature for granted. 

Whether you want to be thrilled or simply enjoy a bird-centric movie, “The Birds” is the perfect choice.

— Clara Scholl, Arts Editor

An illustration of a dark green book cover on a lighter green background. The cover has “Black Swans stories Eve Babitz” written on it, in pink letters.
(Illustration by Alisia Houghtaling)

“Black Swans” by Eve Babitz

Eve Babitz, Hollywood’s literary it-girl next to Joan Didion, wrote “Black Swans: Stories” about the 1990s. Through nine stories, Babitz writes a dreamy love letter to Los Angeles and the role it played in her life. Memoir essays are something Babitz does well, and there is a sense of ambiguity through her writing where the line of fact and fiction is blurred. She’s reminiscent of her past, saddened by loss and above all vulnerable through her memories. 

Throughout her past of learning how to tango, realizing the vanity of LA and brushing closely with marriage, Babitz cozies up to the reader and becomes a permanent muse for young women drifting lazily through society. 

“It’s the fear,” Babitz writes. “I mean, it’s okay to die. We remember that from our psychedelic days, don’t we? That we are divine?”

— Julia Diorio, Music Editor 


“Birdy” by Peter Gabriel

The quintessential avian record, Peter Gabriel’s ambient rock soundtrack for Alan Parker’s 1984 drama film “Birdy” is a transcendent sonic experience. The film follows two Vietnam War vets, Alan (Nicolas Cage) and the titular Birdy (Matthew Modine), the latter of whom is admitted in a mental hospital for believing that he has transformed into a bird. 

The “Birdy” score, like the movie itself, is criminally overlooked by film buffs and Gabriel fans alike. Songs like “Birdy’s Flight (from Not One of Us)” capture the protagonists’ struggles with readjusting to postwar civilian life and a desperate desire to literally fly away into the distance. 

As the camera soars out of Birdy’s window, catapulting across the grungy streets of 1960s Philadelphia, Gabriel’s song accompanies the scene with a jarring yet meditative collage of resonant metallic tones and rattling drum beats. In three minutes, the soundscape crafted in this visceral track takes listeners on a roller coaster of a journey, starting as a contemplative melody and gradually transforming into a triumphant anthem. While the songs on the album perfectly weave into the film’s drama, the album stands on its own as the most unique project from a living music legend. 

— Mick Gaw, Film & TV Editor 

An illustration of a gray book cover on a light green background. There is black text on the cover that reads, “The Goldfinch,” and “Donna Tartt.” The middle of the cover is ripped and a green-and-brown bird is peeking through the rip.
(Illustration by Alisia Houghtaling)

“The Goldfinch” by Donna Tartt 

“I had the epiphany that laughter was light, and light was laughter, and that this was the secret of the universe.”

Donna Tartt’s Pulitzer-winning novel “The Goldfinch” is an over 700-page-long thriller of a book — all of which I read in five days. The story follows the life of Theo Decker, beginning at age 13, when he was a victim of an art museum bombing. In the heat of the moment and by the instructions of a dying man next to him, he decides to walk out of the wreck with a 17th-century masterpiece painting: Carel Fabritius’ “The Goldfinch.” Throughout the book, readers are brought on an intense journey of the chaos that ensues after he takes the artwork.

Theo seems to live many lives throughout the novel, from within a ritzy Upper East Side residence, to a desolate house in the middle of a desert near Las Vegas. But, his most profound experience in his adolescence was spent in an antiques shop in Greenwich Village, a detail which captured my Violet heart. The book is one of grand emotional turmoil, epic grief and hardcore art fraud. Tartt’s prose and plot never fail to impress me as a reader, and this book took me on a wild ride. If you manage to read one book this Thanksgiving break, let it be this extremely long one.

— Alexa Donovan, Deputy Arts Editor

Contact the Arts Desk at [email protected].

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About the Contributors
Julia Diorio
Julia Diorio, Music Editor
Julia Diorio is a sophomore studying journalism at CAS. When not reminiscing about 2000s pop-punk music, she can normally be found drinking copious amounts of Dunkin' iced coffee, curating hyper-specific Spotify playlists or struggling with the NYT crossword. Find her variations of all-black outfits and dog pictures on Instagram @juliadiorio_. Send song suggestions to [email protected].
Mick Gaw
Mick Gaw, Film & TV Editor
Mick Gaw is a junior double-majoring in History and Public Policy. When he’s not holed up in a cinema, he's probably perusing the aisles of an Asian grocery store, wandering around museums or taking ugly pictures of his meals. You can find him on Instagram as @gawmick and occasionally on Letterboxd as @micks_canon.
Stephanie Wong
Stephanie Wong, Arts Editor
Stephanie Wong is a junior double-majoring in Media, Culture and Communication and Journalism, with a minor in English Literature. In her spare time, she loves watching bad movies and curating esoteric Spotify playlists. You can find her at @_stephaniewong_ on Instagram, @normalstephanie on Spotify, and unfortunately, on Letterboxd as @emima.
Alexa Donovan
Alexa Donovan, Deputy Arts Editor
Alexa Donovan is a sophomore majoring in Journalism and Art History and minoring in Creative Writing. Her favorite drink is lemonade and her party trick is listing the U.S. presidents in chronological order. You can find her in Bobst Library most hours of the day, on instagram @alexadonovan/@lemonadequeen5678 and on Goodreads @alexafdonovan.
Clara Scholl
Clara Scholl, Arts Editor
Clara Scholl is a Gallatin junior studying philosophy, politics and economics. She’s from New York City and hosts a radio show on the Riot Grrrl movement. You can find her on X, formerly Twitter, @scholl_clara or on Instagram @cllscholl.
Alisia Houghtaling
Alisia Houghtaling, Illustration Editor
Alisia Houghtaling is a first-year in Applied Psychology in Steinhardt and one of WSN's Illustration Editors. In her freetime, you can find Alisia drawing, painting, reading, eating pasta or autopilot walking around SOHO to window shop or stare into windows and say "I want to live there." You can find her on Instagram @_alisiart_ and send Italian restaurant recommendations or ridiculous real-estate listings in the city.

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