Saturday, April 29, 2006

Prison punks and daddies

Link


Hooking Up: Protective Pairing for Punks

by Stephen Donaldson


Note: this advice article was written for incarcerated heterosexual male survivors of prisoner rape, but provides a good description of a unique form of sexual relationship which is an important part of the culture of confinement.

As long ago as 1826, shortly after the building of the first penitentiaries, Louis Dwight described the practice prisoners now call "hooking up" and we call protective pairing, an informal arrangement which has remained ever since the collective response of prisoners to the problem of ongoing sexual assault in confinement. There is historical evidence for similar relationships among the ancient Romans, medieval Vikings, and the Caribbean pirates of the 17th C. In most joints the overwhelming majority of rape survivors who remain in or go back to general population do become hooked up as members of such pairs, however distasteful they may find the idea, because they believe it to be the least damaging way to survive in custody.

One reason why this custom has survived for so long is that the alternatives for the known rape victim are usually even more unacceptable. These are a series of very serious and bloody fights, and maybe a lot more time; suicide (a permanent "solution" to a temporary problem); repeated exposure to gang-rapes; paying someone for protection; and permanent consignment to "protective custody" in Seg. This last option, p.c., may not even be safe, staff may not allow you to stay there indefinitely, and solitary can drive you crazy if endured for too long. If you're short or only in jail for a short time or a real hermit, you might as well do the rest of your time in p.c. and you don't need to read this. Otherwise, as the authors of Men Behind Bars: Sexual Exploitation in Prison, who studied the problem at length, concluded: "For the majority of these `targets' the best and safest coping strategy is to `hook up' with a jocker." Still, it is your choice as to which path, none of them good, you want to take.

This brochure is written for those rape survivors who are in and want to stay in population, or who are in p.c. and considering going back into population; who are considering getting hooked up or are already hooked up; and who are punks (we do not use the term "punk" as a put-down, just as the most common and widely understood term for prisoners, usually straight or bisexual youths, who have been forced or pressured into an unwanted passive sexual role), rather than gays. Much of this information also applies to queens, but since gays usually have more experience and fewer problems relating sexually to males, this is written specifically for punks.



General description of protective pairing

Prisoners take hooking up very seriously, for it involves a commitment on the part of both partners, which neither can break (as long as they remain hooked up) without major consequences. The quality of these relationships ranges enormously, from virtual slavery and complete exploitation at one end to a mutually supportive, tender and human exchange of affection at the other.
The senior partner, or "man" in prisoner slang (also called "daddy," "old man," "jocker," "pitcher," and other terms), in a protective pair is most often not a rapist himself, though he may take advantage of the consequences of a rape by offering protection to a new punk. Sometimes a rapist will try to hook up with his victim. In any case he obligates himself to provide complete protection for his punk or junior partner (also called "kid", "boy," "sweet boy," "fuckboy," "catcher," and other terms) from further sexual assaults from anyone else, from violence, from theft, and from other forms of disrespect. Usually as soon as it becomes known that you are hooked up (and the news will spread like wildfire), everyone else will back off and stop hassling you, and deal with you only through your "man." Any "daddy" who fails to protect you will be seen as weak and may thereby make himself a target for sexual assault. Sometimes two or more buddies will share the "daddy" role, and in many joints a whole gang will take control of a punk.

These "pitchers" are usually straight, sometimes bisexual; they consider their punks to be substitutes for women, and they usually do not consider their own penetrative sexual acts or their relationships with punks to be "homosexual," just masculine, though they may think that what you have to do for them is "homosexual." In a broad sense, they habitually treat their punks the way they are used to treating their women on the Street.

The punk has to give up his independence and his control over his own body to his "man" as the price for this protection. He has to put out sexually in a passive role, giving up head or ass or both. This deal is never totally voluntary for the punk: it is often coercive, the alternatives are frightful, and it is motivated above all by the need to survive in a place where the punk has been marked as a perpetual target for gang-rape and other forms of abuse. But it is still very different from a series of violent gang- rapes, and, in the age of AIDS, far safer. We call these relationships "survival-driven" from the punk's perspective.

A punk often is able to choose his protector from among various candidates, especially if he is willing to put up a fight (even knowing he'll lose) or is not in a particularly rough joint, and he may be able to establish a relationship of mutual concern, which is a far cry from the pure exploitation of the sexual assaulter. It must be understood, however, that the "pitcher" makes the rules and the "catcher" follows them. In a particularly tough joint, a punk may be no more than a slave, but usually the relationship allows you some leverage or room to maneuver and have your wishes considered, as long as you respect the basic rules of the relationship.

While a jocker will never tolerate open rebellion, he usually seeks to get along with his punk and avoid an atmosphere of constant tension. He would rather relax around his punk, and over time he can and often does develop genuine affection for him and allow a considerable degree of give-and-take in the non-sexual aspects of the partnership. But the sexual part is pretty fixed and you can't really hope to get out of it.

It may be very hard for you to deal with belonging to somebody else and having to substitute for a girl and satisfy a guy sexually, but at least you only have to do it with one guy or a small number, rather than anybody who can catch you. Your risk of infection with the AIDS virus is greatly reduced, often to zero (see SPR's AIDS and the Rape Survivor). You don't have to fight at all and can avoid physical injury, and it is some comfort knowing that a dead punk is of no value to anybody. Often hooking up will improve your financial situation as well, since a jocker is expected to see that his punk gets the canteen necessities of life.

Hooking up means you have definitely become a punk and will be considered a punk for as long as you stay in the joint, so if you decide to hook up, you might as well get used to that status. Your "old man" will control all sexual access to you, and will expect you to do what he tells you. Some daddies share their punks with their buddies. Others will make you turn tricks for canteen goods, drugs, or other favors.

You may well be given duties other than sex: for example, doing laundry, cleaning his cell, making up his bunk, fixing coffee for him, or giving him backrubs.

The advantage of protective pairing with one guy is that the two of you can get to know each other very well, especially if you cell together (which is to your advantage), and that makes for a more human relationship. You are less likely to be seen as an object to be used and exploited, and more like a junior partner. Much depends on the jocker, because guys vary enormously in the way they treat punks: some beat their punks and mistreat them, others get very affectionate and take good care of you, and there is everything in between.

A small partnership among 2 to 5 jocks who are friends and cooperate harmoniously with each other is pretty secure for you, and means you aren't as dependent on the whims of one person, but such arrangements are not as common and may not be stable.

The advantage of hooking up with a gang or tip is that their protection from people outside the gang is a pretty sure thing, and they can keep you in canteen goods. The disadvantage is that you have to sexually service the entire gang, which may seem like just a gentler form of gang-rape, and it is harder to develop a personal relationship because your time and attention are so divided. In some joints, gangs may be so strong that you have no choice but to accept a gang's claim on you. Many gangs will force punks into prostitution.

If one of the other prisoners does try to put pressure on you after you've hooked up, tell your daddy about it right away; he'll handle the matter.

The whole compound will know as soon as you get hooked up that you are someone's kid. It's an essential part of the system, so don't fight it. All the booty bandits and other jockers have to be warned off. It isn't always verbal, and a lot or all of the staff may never find out. For instance, you may eat all your meals together with your "old man"; people will notice and draw the right conclusion. Once you are hooked up, you will be respected to the same degree that your jocker is respected. Nobody will be allowed to hassle you or dis you, for that would be seen as the equivalent of dissing your jock. Once you are hooked up and seen as belonging to someone, a rape by anyone else is cause for a very serious fight, so it is rare.

It works best if you are housed together with your jock because then he can protect you better. If you're in different blocks, it's hard for him to look out for you. If you share a double cell with each other, then nobody can enter that cell without permission from him or you, and you'll have more privacy and plenty of time to talk with each other and keep misunderstandings from arising. On the other hand, if you share a double with someone else, strange guys may not refrain from entering it, and it can lead to tensions between your partner and your cellie.


Staff attitudes

The attitudes of the keepers towards pairs vary a great deal. Most veteran guards and administrators are realistic enough to recognize that protective pairing minimizes the violence in the joint, and that you don't really have much in the way of alternatives, so they won't press the protective pair very hard, often not at all. But officially they still consider your sexual activity a violation of disciplinary codes, so you have to be discrete and careful to keep sex out of sight of the cops. See our handout on dealing with staff. Rookies often try to enforce every rule in the book, and cops may be prejudiced and homophobic and go out of their way to catch you. And sometimes you'll run into higher ranking officers or staffers with a homophobic bee up their ass about sex between prisoners and you'll have to really watch out. You don't want to get caught having sex, so you should always pay attention to security and don't be foolish. Fortunately, security is mainly your "man's" job and you can generally leave it up to him to make sure you don't get busted. It doesn't hurt to remind him of that duty from time to time, since horny guys sometimes do get carried away and start thinking with their dicks instead of their heads.


Understanding jockers

The basic fact of the matter is that most males, when separated from females, and especially when they're young and full of sex hormones which make them horny all the time, can become sexually aroused at the thought of penetrating anyone, regardless of their real sex. The nerves which produce pleasure in the dick don't ask if it's a girl's mouth, a boy's mouth; an ass or a pussy. For these guys to be turned on and horny doesn't really require any kind of feminine qualities in you, though the jockers usually prefer to imagine such qualities so they won't have to think of their attraction as homosexual. That's why they'll try to tell you you have feminine qualities even if it's not true.
When locked up, men get bored with beating off and lonesome and start looking for someone else to provide sexual relief. Also there's an unexpressed human need for touch and intimacy and prisoners don't recognize any other way to meet that need. It is also a question of men feeling a need to confirm their own sense of their masculinity, which they feel is somewhat compromised by the fact that they're locked up, by functioning in their accustomed male sexual roles as penetrators and dominant controllers. Prisoners all have to constantly take orders from the authorities, which makes them feel like slaves of the state. As a compensation they like to find a way to be the boss with someone else and give orders themselves. Sex is a vehicle for a jocker to express all these non-sexual needs.

At the same time only a very small fraction of prisoners the queens enjoy being sexually passive, taking care of another guy's dick. This tremendous imbalance between the demand for catchers by most of the fellows and the very small or nonexistent supply of available willing partners is extremely important to understanding the way prisoners relate to each other. There's no way to increase the supply of queens, so all the effort goes into trying to "turn out" new punks. Unfortunately, the main means by which they turn out punks is rape and the threat of it.

Jockers frequently loan out their punks to their friends, usually as a way of ensuring their loyalty to him or to reinforce his position as a leader. In a way, this is good for you, since the more backup he has, the safer you'll be. And when he's not around, you can turn to his friends in an emergency. Sometimes it is just a way to repay a favor. Jockers know you won't get pregnant by someone else. They may, however, be afraid that you could get infected with AIDS and for that reason keep you, or at least your ass, to themselves. You should encourage them to do so.

Since many jockers have very little money, those who are poor are very tempted to use you as an asset with which to make money or get canteen goods. In fact, some jocks (especially professional pimps from the Street) will hook up with a punk for no other reason. In effect they continue their pimp trade on the inside. Avoid them if you can. When you're put "on the block," your old man lets other guys know that you are available for a price and the other guys negotiate with your "owner" and then he tells you what to do and with whom and when. If you have a chance to negotiate with a jocker over this, try to get a veto over particular customers, and especially try to limit it to head jobs, in order to keep the risk of AIDS low. Some jockers will keep everything they get this way to themselves, more will share it with you 50-50, and there is every possibility in between. If you can possibly do so, find a jocker who will not rent you out at all.

Jockers will almost never switch roles with you or let you penetrate them, and they may get very upset if you even suggest it. Some of them may be willing to jerk you off, but most don't want to be reminded that you even have a dick. It is very important to them that they stay within what they consider the "man" role. They may, however, be willing to consider other human needs of yours, such as the need for affection, for touch, for comforting, and they will often try to see to it that you are as comfortable as possible while having sex. Within the rules of the game, most jockers try to get along with their kids as well as possible, so as long as you live up to your part of the deal they won't get mean or hurt you. If you make them happy, you are even likely to find that over time, they'll become grateful, and try to keep you relatively happy, too. But don't expect that gratitude will ever go to the extent of relieving you of your sexual obligations.

Jocks can treat you like a slave and sell you to some other jock whenever they get tired of you or run out of money. They can also fall in love with you and get very jealous of anyone else. It takes all kinds. Some of the jocks who play the gorilla game and act extremely tough, callous, and cold-hearted will relax once they get hooked up and learn to trust you and show a whole different and unexpected side of themselves.

You have to understand that for jockers the world of confinement is one of constant competition, with everyone looking for a weakness. So guys put up a false front which never admits any vulnerability. But this makes them less human. When they get hooked up, they have someone to relate to, who is no longer an actual or potential competitor. Especially when you've accepted their claim, they can feel you're on the same team. Thus they can relax, and become very gentle if they want, and as they learn to trust you and you show you can keep confidences to yourself they may tell you things about themselves that they would never tell other jockers. They may share their own anxieties and fears and their deepest feelings, and they will listen to you as you learn to trust them and can talk about your own feelings. Thus you have a good chance at developing a human relationship where each of you really cares about the other and you work together to keep the relationship smooth. Generally the older the jocker is, the more likely he is to want to develop a real partnership with you rather than just get his rocks off.


Choosing a daddy

This usually has to be done pretty quickly or events will overwhelm you and you may get gang-raped or forced to hook up before you can make a choice. But if you want to have a choice, as soon as you decide to hook up you should tell the other prisoners; the word will get around fast and guys will then start to talk with you about it. It can get pretty hectic.
The relationship begins when a jocker puts a claim on you, and you accept or recognize the claim, either voluntarily or under duress. If more than one guy wants to claim you, you'll usually get to choose, but sometimes the jockers will settle the matter among themselves and you'll just be stuck with the winner. If you have some time before you have to make a commitment and you can keep your head straight about it, you can often get more than one guy to become interested in you; this allows you more choice and greatly improves your bargaining position. Often there is such a strong demand for punks that jockers start competing for you right away in any case. Since the character of your partner will be the most important factor in shaping your further experience behind bars, and jockers range from assholes who only abuse and exploit their punks to lonely fellows looking for someone to really care about, it is important for you to try to get a choice.

If you have any negotiating room at all before committing yourself to someone, discuss what he expects from you in detail and try to work out the most favorable arrangement. Even put it in writing! Probably the single most important thing has to do with avoiding AIDS: get him to agree not to fuck your ass without a condom or let anyone else do so. If he insists on fucking your ass, try to get him to not let anyone else do it, to "keep your pussy for himself alone." A lot of jockers like the idea of keeping "pussy" to themselves even if they'll make you give head to their friends or for pay.

Spend as much time as you can with the jockers who want to hook up with you; ask them lots of questions and judge for yourself how sincere they are. Ask other prisoners (especially punks and queens) about their reps. The more information you can get, the better your choice will be. Once you make it, you are pretty much stuck with it.

You'll want to know if the jocker wants to "put you on the block" (which unfortunately is pretty common), whether he has ever shot up drugs (and therefore might carry the AIDS virus), whether he'll settle for head or insists you give up your ass as well, whether he'll allow anyone else to fuck your ass or keep it for himself, whether he'll loan you out to his buddies, whether he wants to cell with you, and what the relationship means to him.

Check out how serious the guy is. Protective pairing is a very serious matter for him as well, since it obligates him to put his life on the line if necessary to keep you from harm, and if you are foolish or stupid and fuck up, he may have to suffer for your mistake. Ask him about any previous catchers he's had and how they managed together and why they split. If any of them are still around, talk with them. Ask him what he feels his responsibilities would be and what yours would be. Also ask about canteen arrangements.

Jockers may well insist on having sex with you before putting a claim on you. It's not an unreasonable demand, since sex is such an important part of the deal, and if he's willing to limit himself to head it makes sense for him to find out if you can satisfy him that way. But make sure you're both serious first, or anybody could use it as an excuse to go up in you. You can tell a lot about a jock by how he behaves with you sexually. If he breaks contact with you right after he comes, it may be a sign of discomfort and guilt on his part or that he sees you as just a piece of meat. On the other hand, if a jock stays with you for a while after he comes, even stays inside you, it may be a sign that he likes your company and is attracted to you as a person and not just a sex object. Also, if a jock shows affection with you, such as stroking your body or hair, it is a good indication that he wants to treat you as a human being.

Ask jockers how they treat their women, because most jockers treat their punks the same way. If they form real partnerships with their women, they are more likely to do the same with you.



Nitty-gritty details

As a new punk you won't know diddly-squat about your sexual duties, so here are a few practical tips: to avoid AIDS, learn to suck dick. In fact, learn it so well you can do deep throat and he'll forget all about your ass. The trick is relaxation, not easy at first, to be sure, when you feel the whole thing is absolutely disgusting, but for your own good, you need to learn to relax using any technique that works for you. In order to avoid gagging, wait til your stomach is empty (1½ hrs after meals), so there's nothing to barf. If you do throw up, do it on the floor and not him! Train yourself gradually. Meditate, say mantras, anything that gets you to relax. Stop thinking of the dick as an invading foreign object; if you can get over that perception, you'll be OK. Try to take deep breaths whenever you can and breathe through your nose. Practice holding your breath like a swimmer. If he fucks your skull so hard you think you're about to pass out from asphyxiation, you should grab his legs and signal your distress. Most likely he'll be about to come and won't let up, but it'll be over real soon.

The first few times you get fucked in the ass, it hurts bigtime. If you have to get fucked in the ass, again try to relax as much as possible and get him to slow down. It will hurt less, and if it keeps happening you will get used to it and it won't hurt at all. Be sure to use some kind of greasy stuff (vaseline, hair cream, etc.) as a lubricant, and a condom if at all possible. If you are hooked up, your jocker will usually try to minimize any pain that might be involved. After all, he wants to keep your resentment and complaints to a minimum.

A dick up your ass may well physically stimulate your prostate gland, and you may experience that as pleasurable. You may even get a hard-on while being fucked, just as a physical reaction. And some punks will find the sexual experience arousing. Many guys have some homosexual feelings even though they are basically straight. You don't have to put a label on yourself just because you have a variety of feelings.

Punks sometimes agree to switch out with each other or "take turns" sexually, since this is about the only way you can take a penetrative role instead of a passive one. As a punk you come under a lot of pressure to act less masculine, and you will naturally resent this pressure inside and feel a strong need to act in masculine ways whenever you can get away with it. This need can make the urge to experience what a lot of people call "the male role" in sex very powerful. It is an understandable compensation, a way of proving to yourself that you're still a man, so if you do it, don't feel guilty about it. If you want to take turns with another punk, it is best to clear it with your jockers first. The jocks usually don't object since they know the other punk is not a rival for them.


Breaking away

When your "man" treats you bad and you want to get out of the situation, it's a tricky situation, but it's not hopeless. Maybe he's dissatisfied too and is willing to let you go, in which case you are back to square two. If he wants to keep you, he may get violent to do so. You can check in to p.c. and get transferred as one way out. Another way is to let other jockers know that you want to switch and encourage one of them to make a deal with your current jock to take you over. He may buy out your contract, so to speak. Sometimes if he wants you badly enough he'll fight your current daddy in order to get you.
A punk who successfully breaks away from his jocker and becomes independent is called a "renegade." There are also some independent punks who never hook up. Unless such punks have learned to fight well, they usually end up with another jocker.


Adaptation

Human beings are remarkably adaptable creatures. It is true that if you become a punk and are locked up for a long time, you will get somewhat used to the punk role. This varies a lot from one punk to another. Some still hate every sex act after a decade of doing it every day. Others focus on other aspects of it and find some value in those aspects. Some treasure the security it brings. Many punks who have good relationships actually become fond of their jockers. It is not even so uncommon, in the unusual conditions of confinement, for two straight guys to fall in love with each other over time. Psychologists generally consider adaptation to be a healthy reaction to a situation which you cannot change, so don't worry about it if you find yourself adapting to the role. Once you are out you can reverse the process and work on reclaiming the full expression of your masculine identity.
Unfortunately, many (if not most) jockers will try to get their punks to be as feminine in appearance and behavior as possible. That is because they are more comfortable pretending they are relating sexually to some kind of female than to another male. But they also know that you are a punk, not a queen, and that such things don't come naturally to you. You should ask about such things before accepting a claim, and make it clear that retaining your masculine identity is important to you. Some jockers don't care; I was hooked up once with a guy who let me grow a moustache! Most will still call you "him" and use your male name. Others may insist that you shave your legs and grow long hair and get a feminine nickname. No matter what you have to do, remember that it is all an act and you can go back to your normal behavior as soon as you get out.

Sex is a very complex experience. It has many aspects which have nothing to do with lust. Being penetrated is an intense experience; it can give you an adrenaline rush. Being touched can be a pleasant experience, regardless of the sex of the person touching you. Being held has been a comforting experience for most people since they were babies, and it can seem very protective in an environment where gang-rape is a grim reality. Being desired can seem like a tempting alternative to being ignored, especially if you've been ignored all your life. Intimacy itself can be very powerfully attractive if you feel isolated and lonely. It is quite possible that you may delve further into these feelings, which are general human feelings. That doesn't mean you are sexually turned on to the guy, it doesn't mean there's lust or sexual arousal or homosexual inclinations. Besides, if experiences alone determined a person's sexuality, we'd all be in love with our hands.

That's a lot of advice, but if it's a whole new world for you, you'll need it. Good luck finding a decent man, and remember you will leave it all behind (except for a much better understanding of men and of women!) when you walk out the front gate.

NFL draft value chart

ESPN

Before NFL general managers consider trading draft picks, they more often than not consult this value chart. The chart assigns each pick in the draft a point value, giving GMs an easy reference to compare the relative value of draft picks in different rounds.

Draft Pick Value Chart
Round 1 Round 2 Round 3 Round 4 Round 5 Round 6 Round 7 Other
1 3000 33 580 65 265 97 112 129 43 161 28 193 15.2 225 2.9
2 2600 34 560 66 260 98 108 130 42 162 27.6 194 14.8 226 2.8
3 2200 35 550 67 255 99 104 131 41 163 27.2 195 14.4 227 2.7
4 1800 36 540 68 250 100 100 132 40 164 26.8 196 14 228 2.6
5 1700 37 530 69 245 101 96 133 39.5 165 26.4 197 13.6 229 2.5
6 1600 38 520 70 240 102 92 134 39 166 26 198 13.2 230 2.4
7 1500 39 510 71 235 103 88 135 38.5 167 25.6 199 12.8 231 2.3
8 1400 40 500 72 230 104 86 136 38 168 25.2 200 12.4 232 2.2
9 1350 41 490 73 225 105 84 137 37.5 169 24.8 201 12 233 2.1
10 1300 42 480 74 220 106 82 138 37 170 24.4 202 11.6 234 2
11 1250 43 470 75 215 107 80 139 36.5 171 24 203 11.2 235 1.9
12 1200 44 460 76 210 108 78 140 36 172 23.6 204 10.8 236 1.8
13 1150 45 450 77 205 109 76 141 35.5 173 23.2 205 10.4 237 1.7
14 1100 46 440 78 200 110 74 142 35 174 22.8 206 10 238 1.6
15 1050 47 430 79 195 111 72 143 34.5 175 22.4 207 9.6 239 1.5
16 1000 48 420 80 190 112 70 144 34 176 22 208 9.2 240 1.4
17 950 49 410 81 185 113 68 145 33.5 177 21.6 209 8.8 241 1.3
18 900 50 400 82 180 114 66 146 33 178 21.2 210 8.4 242 1.2
19 875 51 390 83 175 115 64 147 32.6 179 20.8 211 8 243 1.1
20 850 52 380 84 170 116 62 148 32.2 180 20.4 212 7.6 244 1
21 800 53 370 85 165 117 60 149 31.8 181 20 213 7.2 245 0.95
22 780 54 360 86 160 118 58 150 31.4 182 19.6 214 6.8 246 0.9
23 760 55 350 87 155 119 56 151 31 183 19.2 215 6.4 247 0.85
24 740 56 340 88 150 120 54 152 31.8 184 18.8 216 6 248 0.8
25 720 57 330 89 145 121 52 153 31.2 185 18.4 217 5.6 249 0.75
26 700 58 320 90 140 122 50 154 30.8 186 18 218 5.2 250 0.7
27 680 59 310 91 136 123 49 155 30.4 187 17.6 219 4.8 251 0.65
28 660 60 300 92 132 124 48 156 30 188 17.2 220 4.4 252 0.6
29 640 61 292 93 128 125 47 157 29.6 189 16.8 221 4 253 0.55
30 620 62 284 94 124 126 46 158 29.2 190 16.4 222 3.6 254 0.5
31 600 63 276 95 120 127 45 159 28.8 191 16 223 3.3 255 0.45
32 590 64 270 96 116 128 44 160 28.4 192 15.6 224 3 256 0.4


Thursday, April 27, 2006

Brazilian sex worker memoirs

NYTimes

April 27, 2006
Letter From Brazil
She Who Controls Her Body Can Upset Her Countrymen
By LARRY ROHTER

SÃO PAULO, Brazil — She goes by the name Bruna, the Little Surfer Girl, and gives new meaning to the phrase "kiss and tell." First in a blog that quickly became the country's most popular and now in a best-selling memoir, she has titillated Brazilians and become a national celebrity with her graphic, day-by-day accounts of life as a call girl here.

But it is not just her canny use of the Internet that has made Bruna, whose real name is Raquel Pacheco, a cultural phenomenon. By going public with her exploits, she has also upended convention and set off a vigorous debate about sexual values and practices, revealing a country that is not always as uninhibited as the world often assumes.

Interviewed at the office of her publisher here, Ms. Pacheco, 21, said the blog that became her vehicle to notoriety emerged almost by accident. But once it started, she was quick to spot its commercial potential and its ability to transform her from just another program girl, as high-class prostitutes are called in Brazil, into an entrepreneur of the erotic.

"In the beginning, I just wanted to vent my feelings, and I didn't even put up my photograph or phone number," she said. "I wanted to show what goes on in the head of a program girl, and I couldn't find anything on the Net like that. I thought that if I was curious about it, others would be too."

Ms. Pacheco parlayed that inquisitiveness into a best seller, "The Scorpion's Sweet Poison," that has made her a sort of sexual guru. A mixture of autobiography and how-to manual, her book has sold more than 100,000 copies since it was published late last year, and has just been translated into Spanish.

At book signings, Ms. Pacheco said, "80 percent of the public is women, which I didn't expect at all," because most of the readers of her blog appeared to be men, including customers who "wanted to see how I had rated their performance." As she sees it, the high level of female interest in her sexual experiences reflects a gap here between perceptions about sex and the reality.

"I think there's a lot of hypocrisy and a bit of fear involved," she said. "Brazilian women have this sexy image, of being at ease and uninhibited in bed. But anyone who lives here knows that's not true."

Carnival and the general sensuality that seems to permeate the atmosphere can give the impression that Brazil is unusually permissive and liberated, especially compared with other predominantly Roman Catholic nations. But experts say the real situation is far more complicated, which explains both Bruna's emergence and the strong reactions she has provoked.

"Brazil is a country of contradictions, as much in relation to sexuality as anything else," said Richard Parker, a Columbia University anthropologist who is the author of "Bodies, Pleasures and Passions: Sexual Culture in Contemporary Brazil," and has taught and worked here. "There is a certain spirit of transgression in daily life, but there is also a lot of moralism."

As a result, some Brazilians have applauded Bruna's frankness and say it is healthy to get certain taboos out in the open, like what both she and academic researchers say is a national penchant for anal sex. But others decry her celebrity as one more noxious manifestation of free-market economics and globalization.

"This is the fruit of a type of society in which people will do anything to get money, including selling their bodies to be able to buy cellular phones," said Maria Clara Lucchetti Bingemer, a newspaper columnist and professor of theology at Catholic University in Rio de Janeiro. "We've always had prostitution, but it was a hidden, prohibited thing. Now it's a professional option like anything else, and that's the truly shocking thing."

But Gabriela Silva Leite, a sociologist and former prostitute who now directs a prostitutes' advocacy group, argues that such concerns are exaggerated. "It's not a book like this that is going to stimulate prostitution, but the lack of education and opportunities for women," she said. "I don't think Bruna glamorizes things at all. On the contrary, you can regard the book as a kind of warning, because she talks of the unpleasant atmosphere and all the difficulties she faced."

Part of the controversy stems simply from Ms. Pacheco's forthright and unapologetic tone about her work. Traditionally, Brazilians feel sympathy for the poor woman selling her body to feed her children; she is seen as a victim of the country's glaring social and economic inequalities.

But Ms. Pacheco does not fit that mold. She comes from a middle-class family and turned to prostitution, she said, both as rebellion against her strict parents and because she wanted to be economically independent.

That a woman is now talking and behaving as Brazilian men often have may also offend some. Roberto da Matta, a leading anthropologist and social commentator, noted that even though role reversals were an important part of Carnival, other areas of Brazilian life, including sexual relationships, could be quite rigid and hierarchical.

Under the system of machismo that prevails in Brazil and other Latin American countries, "only a man has a right to command his own sex life, and that control is seen as a basic attribute of masculinity," he explained. "So when a young, attractive, intelligent woman appears and says she is a prostitute, you have a complete inversion of roles, leaving men fragile in a terrain where she is the boss, not them."

For all her willingness to break taboos, though, Ms. Pacheco's current life plan is conventional. She has a steady boyfriend and hopes to marry him, and is studying for the national college entrance exam, with a mind to majoring in psychology.

"Being Bruna was a role that left its mark on me, but I can't abandon her," Ms. Pacheco said. "There are people who still call me Bruna, and I don't mind, but I wouldn't want to be her for the rest of my life."

Nor is Ms. Pacheco immune to the influence of pudor, a concept important throughout Latin America that combines elements of modesty, decency, propriety and shame. In her book, rather than write out the words commonly used on the street to describe sexual acts and organs, she prints only their first letters, with dots indicating what everyone already knows.

"I think it's quite vulgar to say the whole word," she explained. "But I didn't want to be too formal, either."

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Yellow Tail wine

NYTimes

April 23, 2006
The Wallaby That Roared Across the Wine Industry
By FRANK J. PRIAL

WILLIAM J. DEUTSCH was apprehensive when he first agreed to import an unknown Australian wine called Yellow Tail into the United States in 2001. Its handsome black-and-yellow label featured what looked like a kangaroo, and he felt that animals had no place on wine labels. But he liked the wine. "So," he said recently, "I agreed to take 25,000 cases."

His son Peter disagreed about the animal, which actually was a rock wallaby. "That label is fabulous," he told his dad.

"O.K.," said the elder Mr. Deutsch. "60,000 cases." Their wine-and-spirits importing company, William J. Deutsch & Sons, paid about $2 million for that first shipment; it arrived in June 2001. By the end of that year, 225,000 cases of Yellow Tail had been sold to retailers. In 2002, 1.2 million cases were sold. The figure climbed to 4.2 million in 2003 — including a million in October alone — and to 6.5 million in 2004. And, last year, sales surpassed 7.5 million — all for a wine that no one had heard of just five years earlier.

John Casella, whose winery in southeastern Australia produces Yellow Tail, is predicting sales of 8 million or 8.5 million cases in the United States this year, and he says that sales in Europe, Canada and Asia — which started only recently — could add 3.5 million to the total.

Nothing like this has ever happened before in the American wine business. The breakneck success of Yellow Tail has lifted the Deutsches, or, more precisely, their business, into the top ranks of the American wine trade. (The elder Mr. Deutsch is chairman of the company, and Peter is the president.) In addition, the Deutsches stand to profit handsomely from the wine's success. As part of their arrangement with the Casellas, they own 50 percent of the Yellow Tail brand.

At the same time, the brand has transformed Mr. Casella's company, Casella Wines Ltd., from a modest enterprise into a major wine producer with a huge, Gallo-like winery. What had been a modest farmhouse has, in a brief time, become an immense wine-making complex with some 600 wine holding tanks, 48 of which hold a million liters each.

The Yellow Tail phenomenon took everyone in the wine business by surprise. In retrospect, however, it was probably inevitable. Interest in wine had been growing steadily in the United States for two decades, but the domestic industry had never had much success in meeting the need for a good, inexpensive wine to attract all these newcomers. "There were good wines at $15 and up, but nothing between those wines and the jug wines at the bottom of the scale," said Rich Cartiere, editor of The Wine Market Report. "Yellow Tail, at $6, was and remains better than most American wines at $8.99 and $10.99.

"When I think of Australian wines, I think of a big, juicy, red apple," he added, "and that's what the American wine consumer looks for, too, even if he can't say why. Couple that with a label that's friendly — not a joke, like so many now — and excellent distribution, and you have an unbeatable package."

THE Yellow Tail story began in the late 1990's. Casella Wines, in the Riverina district of New South Wales, west of Sydney, was seeking to expand. It had been started in 1969 by Filippo Casella, a Sicilian immigrant who arrived in Australia in the 1950's — after seven years as a war prisoner in Italy during World War II — and worked as an itinerant farmhand until he could afford to buy some vineyard land of his own. In 1994, his oldest son, John, joined the business and began to look for new markets, particularly in the United States. He enlisted the Australian Trade Commission to help him find an American distributor.

About the same time, 12,000 miles away in White Plains, Bill Deutsch was looking to expand his portfolio. He marketed a variety of products, but his most important client was Georges Duboeuf, a prominent producer of Beaujolais. After having considerable success in the United States during the 1980's and early 1990's, Beaujolais had fallen into a slump, partly because the "nouveau" phenomenon — selling the new vintage in November, a few months after the harvest — had grown stale and partly because of the burgeoning American disenchantment with French wines in general.

Meeting for the first time at a trade show in San Francisco in 1997, Mr. Deutsch and Mr. Casella agreed to team up. "It was a perfect match," Mr. Deutsch said. "Two smallish, family-owned businesses looking for new business." They agreed that in exchange for half-ownership of the label, the Deutsch company would market a line of Casella wines in the United States.

That line, introduced in 1999, was called Carramar Estate, and it was a flop, in part because it could not compete with established brands in the same price category. "John was distraught," Bill Deutsch said recently. "He said he felt he had let me down. He said he would buy back the wine and that he was ready to dissolve the partnership. I told him to forget it. It was only 30,000 cases and there were other things we could do.

"He said: 'Good. I know I can make better wine.' "

Back in Australia, Mr. Casella and his marketing director, John Soutter, came up with a new wine and a new package. They had found a graphic artist in Adelaide, Barbara Harkness, who offered them a design of a black and yellow rendering of a yellow-tailed marsupial styled to emulate Australian aboriginal art; the image was seen as friendly and typically Australian. The Casella company paid her $4,800 for the design and a marketing program based on it.

Sometime late in 2000, Mr. Soutter came to the United States with the new Yellow Tail wine — a chardonnay and a shiraz.

Though William and Peter Deutsch, the importers, would initially disagree about the packaging, they always agreed about the wine. "It was — it still is — delicious," the elder Mr. Deutsch said. "It's an easygoing wine, uncomplicated, fun to drink. In fact, it's better tasting and a better value than the price would indicate. I have to say it: with this one, the Casellas overachieved."

Jon Fredrikson, a California wine industry consultant, calls it "the perfect wine for a public grown up on soft drinks." Yellow Tail, Mr. Fredrikson said, is "round, fruity and user-friendly, and it's immediately drinkable." Even more important, he said, is the consistency of the wine's high quality. "With a lot of wines," he said, "the first batch is great and the second and third are disappointing. Yellow Tail has been consistently good since the first shipment arrived five years ago."

American wine writers — including the dean of wine critics, Robert M. Parker Jr. — have been consistently enthusiastic about Yellow Tail. "In some wine circles, it is fashionable to criticize wine of this genre," Mr. Parker wrote, "but if the truth be known, these are surprisingly well-made offerings."

Yellow Tail is an uncomplicated wine meant for undemanding wine drinkers. But Mr. Casella says that in tastings, experts often identify it as a $60 or $70 bottle. "We've found that some knowledgeable people prefer it to more expensive wines," he said in a telephone interview.

Building on the original two wines, chardonnay and shiraz (or syrah, another name for the same red-wine grape), the Casellas have expanded the line to include merlot, cabernet sauvignon, pinot grigio, riesling and three blends: shiraz-cabernet, cabernet-merlot and shiraz-grenache. In 2003, the Casellas introduced a reserve line of Yellow Tail, which includes merlot, cabernet, chardonnay and pinot grigio. The reserve wines, which sell for $2 or $3 more per bottle, undergo a longer fermentation than the regular wines and are aged in oak barrels.

The wines are all bottled in Bordeaux-style bottles, in both the standard 75-centiliter and 1.5-liter sizes. The Casellas buy about 80 percent of their grapes from other growers.

Yellow Tail was introduced in a number of United States markets with almost less fanfare than had accompanied the ill-fated Carramar Estate line. "We had some point-of-purchase materials," Mr. Deutsch said, referring to displays in stores, "but that was it."

No longer. The Deutsches have scheduled some $24 million for promotions this year, up from $4 million in 2005. Billboards featuring yellow tails on a bird, an airplane and a mermaid, as well as a yellow ponytail on a pretty girl, have become familiar sights in some cities.

Perhaps more important, Mr. Cartiere and others in the industry say, the Deutsches provided Yellow Tail with almost instant access to the American market, using the distribution network they had built over two decades for Duboeuf wines.

The increasingly familiar Yellow Tail label is loosely meant to depict the brand's namesake, a yellow-footed rock wallaby, a smaller cousin to the kangaroo. The bottle labels and in-store advertisements always put the brand name in lower case and within brackets: [yellow tail].

As for those brackets, the story is that the Casellas were looking up "kangaroo" in a textbook when they came upon a technical description of a wallaby. In the margin, alongside the Latin derivation of the name, was the Australian version, in brackets: [yellow tail]. They decided to keep the brackets "to set the wine apart" and to retain the lower-case lettering "to underscore the wine's lack of pretension," John Casella said.

Yellow Tail's success is a hot topic in the wine trade, but so is its future. The history of popular wines is replete with labels that were once wildly popular but no longer are. Blue Nun, Reunite, Lancers and various brands of cold duck are sobering examples. Charles Shaw wines — better known as Two-Buck Chuck — were a sensation a couple of seasons back, and while "Chuck" still sells well, it is no longer the marketing marvel it briefly was.

Two-Buck Chuck, which was created as a way to drain off some of California's last wine surplus, is carried only by stores in the Trader Joe chain. It sells for about $2 in California and $3 elsewhere. Yellow Tail sells for $5 to $7. An attempt to move up the price of Yellow Tail by a dollar in some markets was unsuccessful, Mr. Cartiere said.

FOR the fiscal year ended last June 30, Casella Wines reported an after-tax profit of $77 million on revenue of $255 million, up from $61 million on $230 million in revenue in fiscal 2004. The profit was based almost entirely on sales of Yellow Tail in the United States, the company said.

The wine is now sold in Europe and Canada, and throughout Southeast Asia. Less than 2 percent of production is sold in Australia.

Mr. Casella acknowledged that Yellow Tail's recent growth was unsustainable, and Mr. Cartiere agreed. "It will plateau out, maybe in 2006," he said, adding that competition would stiffen when American winemakers moved successfully into Yellow Tail's price category. "The question is when."

Yellow Tail's impact has not gone unnoticed among bankers. A report issued earlier this month by Silicon Valley Bank, a major wine-industry lender based in Santa Clara, Calif., blames the United States wine industry for allowing wines like Yellow Tail to grab so much of the market. What's more, it questions the very future of vast portions of California's Central Valley, the source of most of the inexpensive domestic wine sold in jugs and boxes, the wine meant to compete with Yellow Tail and brands like it. Criticizing the region's production and marketing methods as obsolete, the report notes that imports have doubled, to 27 percent of the United States market recently from 13.2 percent in 1990.

"Are American vintners starting to look like Detroit in the 70's, when gas prices soared and automakers kept putting out big gas guzzlers?," the report asked. Mentioning the success of Yellow Tail along with that of Italian pinot grigio, the report warns that "the U.S. will no longer be able to ignore the depth of the world glut (which keeps import prices low), or the high cost of American production for lower price-point wines."

Mr. Fredrikson, the wine consultant, predicted that Yellow Tail could enjoy a relatively long run so long as it remained consistent in price and quality. "Yellow Tail caught the wave," he said. "It's perfect for the newest generation of wine drinkers and potential wine drinkers." Furthermore, "the label is subtle," he said. "My daughter pointed it out to me. With the brackets and lower case, it looks just like e-mail."

This kind of techno touch, he said, will resonate, probably unconsciously, with new, young wine buyers. "It's the biggest achievement in the history of wine," he said.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

FDA and marijuana medical benefit

NYTimes

April 21, 2006
F.D.A. Dismisses Medical Benefit From Marijuana
By GARDINER HARRIS

WASHINGTON, April 20 — The Food and Drug Administration said Thursday that "no sound scientific studies" supported the medical use of marijuana, contradicting a 1999 review by a panel of highly regarded scientists.

The announcement inserts the health agency into yet another fierce political fight.

Susan Bro, an agency spokeswoman, said Thursday's statement resulted from a past combined review by federal drug enforcement, regulatory and research agencies that concluded "smoked marijuana has no currently accepted or proven medical use in the United States and is not an approved medical treatment."

Ms. Bro said the agency issued the statement in response to numerous inquiries from Capitol Hill but would probably do nothing to enforce it.

"Any enforcement based on this finding would need to be by D.E.A. since this falls outside of F.D.A.'s regulatory authority," she said.

Eleven states have legalized medicinal use of marijuana, but the Drug Enforcement Administration and the director of national drug control policy, John P. Walters, have opposed those laws.

A Supreme Court decision last year allowed the federal government to arrest anyone using marijuana, even for medical purposes and even in states that have legalized its use.

Congressional opponents and supporters of medical marijuana use have each tried to enlist the F.D.A. to support their views. Representative Mark Souder, Republican of Indiana and a fierce opponent of medical marijuana initiatives, proposed legislation two years ago that would have required the food and drug agency to issue an opinion on the medicinal properties of marijuana.

Mr. Souder believes that efforts to legalize medicinal uses of marijuana are a front for efforts to legalize all uses of it, said Martin Green, a spokesman for Mr. Souder.

Tom Riley, a spokesman for Mr. Walters, hailed the food and drug agency's statement, saying it would put to rest what he called "the bizarre public discussion" that has led to some legalization of medical marijuana.

The Food and Drug Administration statement directly contradicts a 1999 review by the Institute of Medicine, a part of the National Academy of Sciences, the nation's most prestigious scientific advisory agency. That review found marijuana to be "moderately well suited for particular conditions, such as chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting and AIDS wasting."

Dr. John Benson, co-chairman of the Institute of Medicine committee that examined the research into marijuana's effects, said in an interview that the statement on Thursday and the combined review by other agencies were wrong.

The federal government "loves to ignore our report," said Dr. Benson, a professor of internal medicine at the University of Nebraska Medical Center. "They would rather it never happened."

Some scientists and legislators said the agency's statement about marijuana demonstrated that politics had trumped science.

"Unfortunately, this is yet another example of the F.D.A. making pronouncements that seem to be driven more by ideology than by science," said Dr. Jerry Avorn, a medical professor at Harvard Medical School.

Representative Maurice D. Hinchey, a New York Democrat who has sponsored legislation to allow medicinal uses of marijuana, said the statement reflected the influence of the Drug Enforcement Administration, which he said had long pressured the F.D.A. to help in its fight against marijuana.

A spokeswoman for the Drug Enforcement Administration referred questions to Mr. Walters's office.

The Food and Drug Administration's statement said state initiatives that legalize marijuana use were "inconsistent with efforts to ensure that medications undergo the rigorous scientific scrutiny of the F.D.A. approval process."

But scientists who study the medical use of marijuana said in interviews that the federal government had actively discouraged research. Lyle E. Craker, a professor in the division of plant and soil sciences at the University of Massachusetts, said he submitted an application to the D.E.A. in 2001 to grow a small patch of marijuana to be used for research because government-approved marijuana, grown in Mississippi, was of poor quality.

In 2004, the drug enforcement agency turned Dr. Craker down. He appealed and is awaiting a judge's ruling. "The reason there's no good evidence is that they don't want an honest trial," Dr. Craker said.

Dr. Donald Abrams, a professor of clinical medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, said he had studied marijuana's medicinal effects for years but had been frustrated because the National Institutes of Health, the leading government medical research agency, had refused to finance such work.

With financing from the State of California, Dr. Abrams undertook what he said was a rigorous, placebo-controlled trial of marijuana smoking in H.I.V. patients who suffered from nerve pain. Smoking marijuana proved effective in ameliorating pain, Dr. Abrams said, but he said he was having trouble getting the study published.

"One wonders how anyone" could fulfill the Food and Drug Administration request for well-controlled trials to prove marijuana's benefits, he said.

Marinol, a synthetic version of a marijuana component, is approved to treat anorexia associated with AIDS and the nausea and vomiting associated with cancer drug therapy.

GW Pharmaceutical, a British company, has received F.D.A. approval to test a sprayed extract of marijuana in humans. Called Sativex, the drug is made from marijuana and is approved for sale in Canada. Opponents of efforts to legalize marijuana for medicinal uses suggest that marijuana is a so-called gateway drug that often leads users to try more dangerous drugs and to addiction.

But the Institute of Medicine report concluded there was no evidence that marijuana acted as a gateway to harder drugs. And it said there was no evidence that medical use of marijuana would increase its use among the general population.

Dr. Daniele Piomelli, a professor of pharmacology at the University of California, Irvine, said he had "never met a scientist who would say that marijuana is either dangerous or useless."

Studies clearly show that marijuana has some benefits for some patients, Dr. Piomelli said.

"We all agree on that," he said.

Cornell trying to improve its image

NYTimes

April 22, 2006
Cornell's Worried Image Makers Wrap Themselves in Ivy
By ALAN FINDER

ITHACA, N.Y. — Cornell has been a member of the Ivy League for decades, but some of its students have Ivy envy.

So driven by a sense that Cornell is underappreciated, some of them banded together to form an "image committee," making it their mission to press the university into marketing and branding itself more aggressively, and to help it climb higher in college rankings.

Their fear is being viewed as a country cousin to Harvard, Yale and Princeton, more like a Midwestern flagship state university than a core member of a prestigious club. "Because of when most people go to college, their identity becomes closely associated with the identity of their university," said Peter Cohl, a committee founder who graduated last spring and is now working on Madison Avenue.

Let the college's standing drop in publications that rank universities, he said, and "my value as a human being feels like it's dropping." (Cornell is now ranked 13th among national universities by U.S. News & World Report.)

"We deserve more respect," said Heather Grantham, a senior who is now co-chairwoman of the image committee. "I am glad I came here," she added, "and it saddens us if it's not properly marketed."

It is an odd bit of role reversal. Marketing and honing an image have become commonplace among university presidents and admissions deans these days. But it is rare to hear students speaking the same language.

In this case, the committee, which was formed four years ago and now has about 50 members, successfully lobbied administrators to jettison a relatively new logo, which featured a large, bright red box with the word Cornell in modern typeface, and to revert to a simplified version of the old circular logo, with a crest and other traditional symbols.

The committee also persuaded the bookstore to stock a line of vintage hats and sweatshirts that decidedly emphasize Cornell's Ivy League roots. Next up is an assault on class size. "If they can reduce class size, they can be a Top 5 school," said Mr. Cohl, a nontraditional student who was 38 when he enrolled at Cornell.

Some recent developments have bolstered the students' view that Cornell was not putting its best foot forward, committee members say, and that changing its image has helped. Applications have increased by 35 percent in the last two years, and so it has been able become more selective, with the proportion of applicants offered admission declining to 24.7 percent this year from 31 percent three years ago.

Many elite universities also experienced increases in applications this year, but few if any have been as large as Cornell's. Its rate of admissions, while declining, is still higher than the seven other Ivy League universities.

Doris Davis, the associate provost for admissions and enrollment at Cornell, cited several factors in the sharp increase in applications, from a revamped timetable for sending mailings to potential applicants to an expansion of its recruitment trips to eight primary market areas. The image committee was not prominent on her list.

Other Cornell officials, though, gave the committee credit. "There's no doubt in my mind that it's directly related," said Thomas W. Bruce, vice president for university communications. "They were enormously important to the process."

Image committee members say that students' morale and sense of self-worth is caught up in the university's standing, though they deny that they see the school as the Rodney Dangerfield of the Ivy League.

"I don't have an inferiority complex," said Daniel Cohen, an image committee co-chairman who is now a graduate student in mechanical engineering at the university. "I just want to see my school improve, and I don't see why it can't."

The committee's roots lie in a Cornell-Yale football game in Ithaca four years ago. Yale fans in the stadium were wearing hats and other neat gear unlike anything Cornell offered for sale, Mr. Cohl said. He talked about that with students sitting nearby, including leaders of the campus Republicans and Democrats.

All were in agreement, he said. "Nobody was wearing our stuff," he said. "We didn't have cool hats, we didn't have cool hoodies."

The committee's first effort was at the bookstore, which proved responsive. Bookstore managers agreed to produce a new line of hats and sweatshirts that looked vintage and emphasized Cornell's Ivy tradition. A blue fitted hat with a simple red C became a big seller, as did a red hooded sweatshirt with a small C on the front.

But when committee members first approached administrators to talk about their concerns — including what they saw as the university's passive response to a slight drop in some ranking guides — they met with resistance.

That changed three years ago, they said, with the arrival of a new president, Jeffrey S. Lehman, and the subsequent appointment of Mr. Bruce, who took their critique seriously, particularly their thoughts about the so-called view book for potential applicants and about the Web site. (Mr. Lehman resigned last June over differences with the board.)

"Today, a Web site is the face of the university," Mr. Cohen said. "It's often the first way that high school students see Cornell. Not all administrators understood that."

The university redesigned the Web site and the view book more than a year ago, and the students think the new versions are more traditional and more elegant.

Committee members who carefully analyzed college rankings are now focused on class size. They have concluded that if Cornell could diminish the number of classes with more than 50 students, and increase the number with fewer than 20, it could significantly improve its U.S. News & World Report standing.

"It's the issue that most affects the rankings and the quality of student life here," Ms. Grantham said.

But this would involve major new expenditures by the university, whose large lecture classes include a celebrated introductory psychology course that draws as many as 1,500 students to a huge lecture hall.

Committee members are also lobbying Cornell to offer more generous financial aid packages to low-income students, comparable to those at Harvard and other elite universities. They say it is necessary to foster more diversity on campus.

Moving up in the rankings would cement Cornell's standing among its peers, Mr. Cohl said. "Much of the Ivy League has looked at us and said, 'Oh, you're the farm school,' " he said, referring to Cornell's agricultural college, one of several at the university that are run by the state.

"One thing I think the image committee has done is to say, we are an Ivy League school, and it's O.K. to be an Ivy League school," Mr. Cohl said. "I think it's Ivy and more. If I were doing strategic positioning, I would say it's Ivy and more."

And he should know. These days he works in strategic branding, in part, he says, because a principal of the firm is an alumnus and read about the image committee in the student newspaper, The Cornell Daily Sun.

Parents still helping grown kids financially

NYTimes

April 20, 2006
The Bank of Mom and Dad
By ANNA BAHNEY

AT 23, Jason McGuinness lives a postcollege life in Manhattan that is very nearly typical. He works as a media research analyst, making about $30,000 a year. Sharing a two-bedroom apartment on the fourth floor of a walk-up building with a roommate on the Upper East Side, his portion of the rent is $1,100 monthly.

The walls are decorated with pennants and posters from Syracuse University, his alma mater. He orders takeout dinners, carries peanut-butter sandwiches to work and occasionally takes in a Mets game with friends.

And like many of his peers — educated, employed, urban-dwelling young adults — he receives monthly assistance from his parents, in the form of a $300 check and the payment of his cellphone bill.

This is not the largesse of wealthy families doled out through trust funds. Nor is the money a couple of $20 bills tucked into a card at the holidays. Mr. McGuinness and others like him are the beneficiaries of an increasingly common subsidy arriving regularly from Mom and Dad, something like a family fellowship.

It helps to pay for housing, bills and travel expenses, and the support has been increasing for the past two decades as education is extended, marriage is delayed and young people take the scenic route from adolescence to adulthood.

"Everybody I know is supporting their children in some way," said Gail Horowitz, Mr. McGuinness's mother, a vice president of the Zlokower Company, a public relations firm in Manhattan. Unlike young adults who "boomerang" back home to live with their parents — the subject of the recent comedy "Failure to Launch" — these young people live independently. But they need help to make ends meet, or put another way, to maintain a middle-class way of life.

The bottom line is that the assumption that financial obligations to children ended after graduation from high school or college is going the way of the pay phone. Today, parents are finding that they are on the hook for more, sometimes much more — contributions of thousands of dollars a year to help young men and women get on their feet economically, often into their 30's.

The economic dilemmas facing young adults were chronicled in two recent books: "Generation Debt" by Anya Kamenetz and "Strapped: Why America's 20- and 30-Somethings Can't Get Ahead," by Tamara Draut. Both explore how paychecks have stalled, housing costs have risen, education costs have skyrocketed and credit has become so available as to be dangerous.

Ms. Draut, the director of the economic opportunity program at Demos, a New York think tank, said students now leave college with an average of $20,000 in loans, which "added to these flat-lined paychecks and high costs of living, tips people over the edge."

While economic stresses may be exacerbated in cities like New York, people in other areas of the country are feeling the pressures as well. Nationally, 34 percent of those between 18 and 34 receive cash from their parents annually, according to a study by the Institute of Social Research at the University of Michigan published in "On the Frontier of Adulthood" in 2005. Cash is only part of the picture; parents also make generous presents of clothes, cars and help with down payments.

"We have not seen any signs of it decreasing," said Bob Schoeni, an associate professor of economics and public policy at the University of Michigan, who is an author of the study. "Certainly over the last couple of decades it has been increasing."

Middle-income parents earning less than $72,600 a year can expect to spend $190,980 on a child through age 17, according to 2005 government statistics. But Dr. Schoeni said that parents can plan on paying almost 25 percent of that amount again over the next 17 years, or $42,280 in 2005 dollars. This sum includes higher education but also much more.

Parents pay $2,323 a year to help support children 25 and 26 years old, said Dr. Schoeni, and $1,556 annually for offspring 33 and 34. (All amounts are in 2001 dollars and reflect support to children living both independently and at home.)

Nearly half of children between 18 and 34 also receive aid in the form of their parents' time — driving them home to the city after a visit, doing laundry, taking care of grandchildren — that has financial value. Time assistance from parents averages about 367 hours a year, or nine weeks of full-time work.

Although some may argue that the willingness of parents to subsidize adult children is prolonging their coming of age, Dr. Schoeni said his study suggests that extended education, the exploration of career options and delayed marriage are the causes of the long transition to self-sufficiency. Parental support "is not the driver of a delayed transition, it is a response to it," he said.

Other experts say that young adults with material support from families make a smoother transition into adulthood than those struggling entirely on their own.

"It may mean that they don't have to take the first job available," said Jeffrey Jensen Arnett, a developmental psychologist and the author of "Emerging Adulthood: The Winding Road from the Late Teens Through the Twenties."

Parental support allows adult children to explore careers with low earning potential, to make career shifts or to maintain a quality of life.

"So many of the things that I'm able to focus on now are great career-wise, but they are not monetarily rewarding," said Daisy Press, a singer who performs classical and avant-garde music. At 27, Ms. Press has just completed eight years of college, four at Sarah Lawrence and four more at the Manhattan School of Music. "I wouldn't be able to do this without them," she said.

That would be her parents, Reinhold and Linda Press, who are also musicians. As a bassist and singer, respectively, they have toured with Neil Diamond for the past 30 years. In addition to paying for her education, they bought her a one-bedroom apartment on the Upper West Side and are supplementing the income she receives from teaching music history part time.

Mr. and Mrs. Press said they believe their daughter's energy and thoughts should be on her education, and now that she is pursuing a music career they want her to have the best chance possible in an unforgiving field. "What if she had to stop and spend her days at Starbucks?" said Mr. Press, who lives with his wife in Laguna Niguel, Calif.

Mrs. Press is careful to say the money is not endless; she is 57 and her husband is 68. "It is the hard work and the passion that makes us want to help Daisy," she said. "She's not a lazy slug with no direction. She keeps moving forward."

Like other young people in her position, she has mixed feelings about accepting money from her parents. "I think the down side, if I can even say there is a down side, is not necessarily feeling like an adult," Ms. Press said. "There is a part of me that feels like I'm 19 or 20. I don't have the emotional experience of knowing what I cost and earning what I spend. I can only imagine what it may feel like."

Alanna Lopez, 27, knows very well the value of money. After leaving college before graduating and returning to Manhattan to be with the man who is now her husband, Benjamin Lopez, she began working in hotel management. Then 14 months ago, she had a baby, Abigail.

"Customer service was draining," Mrs. Lopez said. "I would be getting home very late. It was going to be 5, 6 or 10 more years until I had a major promotion."

She decided to quit and study art history and education at Hunter College. But losing her income put the self-sufficiency she and her husband, a hospital receptionist, had achieved in peril. Her mother, Suzanne McGrattan, came to the rescue.

"She is paying for my education and a monthly stipend to cover my portion of the bills," Mrs. Lopez said. She'll also watch Abigail and she recently renovated the couple's kitchen and helped to furnish the apartment. "I'm thrilled she's going back to school," Ms. McGrattan, a lawyer, said. "She saw she didn't have a life. She wants to spend more time with the child."

Dr. Arnett, the psychologist, said young people are ambivalent about receiving money because it represents parental power. Most young people, he said, are striving for independence, to feel they have reached adulthood.

"But they are also generally quite ambivalent about adulthood, in general," Dr. Arnett added. "You feel grown up. You have more status, more position. But it is annoying, too. You have to pay your own bills, and take on all these responsibilities."

While some parents earmark contributions for food and rent, others expect their children to take care of the basics while they pick up special expenses like a vacation.

"I'm enjoying watching them spend their inheritance," Judy Maysles, a real estate agent in Manhattan, said about the support she provides to two grown children, John, 30, who works with a hedge fund in New Jersey, and Celia, 27, a filmmaker. "I'd rather spend it now and watch them and enjoy it with them. I think that a lot of my generation feel that way."

She bought her daughter appliances for a house in Portland, Ore. Now the proceeds from selling that property are enabling Celia Maysles to make a documentary about her late father, the documentary filmmaker David Maysles.

Eventually, most children outgrow the need for a stipend. But the instinct of parents to give — and of children to receive — can linger on. When John Maysles got a dog four years ago, his mother told him he couldn't leave it alone all day.

"So I pay for doggy day care," she said. "It is $16 a day. Probably he could afford it, but it has been on my credit card and I haven't changed it."

Myspace profit

NYTimes

April 23, 2006
Making Friends Was Easy. Big Profit Is Tougher.
By SAUL HANSELL

SANTA MONICA, Calif.

ALMOST on a lark, Chris DeWolfe bought the Internet address MySpace.com in 2002, figuring that it might be useful someday. At first, he used the site to peddle a motorized contraption, made in China and called an E-scooter, for $99.

Selling products online comes naturally to him. Having jumped into the Internet business in the early days, Mr. DeWolfe had become a master of the aggressive forms of online marketing, including e-mail messages and pop-up advertising. After the Internet bubble burst, he even built a site that let people download computer cursors in the form of waving flags; the trick was that they also downloaded software that would monitor their Internet movements and show them pop-up ads.

Very quickly, however, Mr. DeWolfe's tactics for MySpace changed. He had noticed the popularity of Friendster, a rapidly growing Web site that let people communicate with their friends and meet the friends of their friends. What would happen, he wondered, if he combined this type of social networking with the sort of personal expression enabled by other sites for creating Web pages or online journals?

He convinced the executives of eUniverse, the company that had bought his own marketing firm, ResponseBase, to back his plan. As soon as the site was reintroduced, in the summer of 2003, Mr. DeWolfe saw it grow quickly with little marketing. And although his scrappy backer was hungry for cash, he resisted pressure to flood MySpace with advertising and to turn all of its members into money.

"Chris came from ResponseBase, and they knew all the direct marketing tactics to get money out of almost anything," said Brett C. Brewer, the former president of eUniverse, which was later renamed Intermix Media. "But I give him credit: from literally the first or second month, he realized MySpace could be something we really need to protect because user confidence in the site was paramount."

Now MySpace has a new owner — Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation, which bought MySpace and Intermix last year for $649 million — and the pressure on Mr. DeWolfe to find a way to make much more money from MySpace is far greater.

But the opportunity is greater, too. More than 70 million members have signed up — more than twice as many as MySpace had when Mr. Murdoch agreed to buy it — drawn by a simple format that lets users build their own profile pages and link to the pages of their friends. It has tapped into three passions of young people: expressing themselves, interacting with friends and consuming popular culture.

MySpace now displays more pages each month than any other Web site except Yahoo. More pages, of course, means more room for ads. And, in theory, those ads can be narrowly focused on each member's personal passions, which they conveniently display on their profiles. As an added bonus for advertisers, the music, photos and video clips that members place on their profiles constitutes a real-time barometer of what is hot.

FOR now, MySpace is charging bargain-basement rates to attract enough advertisers for the nearly one billion pages it displays each day. The company will have revenue of about $200 million this year, estimated Richard Greenfield of Pali Capital, a brokerage firm in New York. That is less than one-twentieth of Yahoo's revenue.

In buying MySpace, Mr. Murdoch also bought a tantalizing problem: how to tame a vast sea of fickle and unruly teenagers and college students just enough to notice advertising or to buy things, yet not make the site so commercial that he scares off his audience. At the same time, he must address the real and growing concerns of parents and teachers who see MySpace as a den of youthful excess and, potentially, as a lure for sexual predators.

Mr. Murdoch's initial strategy seems to be to do nothing to interfere with whatever alchemy attracted so many young people to MySpace in the first place. So he has embraced Mr. DeWolfe, 40, and Tom Anderson, 30, the company's president and co-founder, and their close-knit management team. And he is providing them with the cash to reinforce MySpace's shaky computer system and to hire armies of sales representatives to bring in more money from the banner ads and sponsored pages that MySpace sells.

He also gave them multimillion-dollar bonus payments to smooth the feelings that were ruffled when Intermix was sold, dragging MySpace along with it against the will of its founders, who received only a small portion of the sale price.

Still, change is coming. In Beverly Hills, nine miles and worlds away from MySpace's beachside office, the News Corporation is assembling its overarching online unit, Fox Interactive Media. Run by Ross Levinsohn, the longtime manager of FoxSports.com, Fox Interactive Media is stitching together several Web properties into a big Internet company focused on youth. The top priority is MySpace.

"We have some very aggressive goals on how to build this thing into a real contributor to News Corp. financially," Mr. Levinsohn said last month. Mr. Murdoch, he added, "is focused on that, and he rightfully holds my feet to the fire."

To expand ad sales, especially to big brands, Mr. Levinsohn plans to supplement the MySpace staff with a second sales force linked to the Fox TV sales department. He wants to expand one of Mr. DeWolfe's advertising ideas — turning advertisers into members of the MySpace community, with their own profiles, like the teenagers' — so that the young people who often spend hours each day on MySpace can become "friends" with movies, cellphone companies and even deodorants. Young people can link to the profiles set up for these goods and services, as they would to real friends, and these commercial "friends" can even send them messages — ads, really, but of a whole new kind.

Mr. Levinsohn is also developing plans for MySpace to be paid by some of the bands and video producers whose songs and short films are woven into its gaudy profiles like so many electronic stickers on a high-school locker. And he sees a chance for MySpace to rival eBay and Craigslist as a place where nearly anything is bought and sold.

Mr. Greenfield, the Pali Capital analyst, says that these moves have potential — especially if MySpace can convince members to put clips from Fox movies, television programs and other youth-oriented "content" on their profile pages. "I don't know how big a business this can be, but it can clearly be a lot bigger than it is today," he said. "The question is: Can you take it to the next level by making a business that leverages all the consumers who are telling you what they want to do?"

Another question is this: Can the News Corporation achieve these goals if the executives in charge don't agree on how to do so, or even on whether they want to? Mr. Levinsohn, for example, said he saw opportunity in the one million bands that have established profiles on MySpace; he said MySpace could charge bands to promote concerts or to sell their songs directly through the site.

In an interview the next day, however, Mr. DeWolfe dismissed the idea. "Music brings a lot of traffic into MySpace," he said, "and it lets us sell very large sponsorships to those brands that want to reach consumers who are interested in music. We never thought charging bands was a viable business model."

Mr. Levinsohn brushed aside the discord, saying it was appropriate for the people running MySpace to be more concerned at this point about serving users than making money. And, for now, Mr. DeWolfe and Mr. Anderson say they are happy working for the News Corporation and Mr. Murdoch, its 75-year-old chairman and chief executive. "Rupert Murdoch blew me away," Mr. DeWolfe said. "He really understands what youth is doing today."

BY many accounts, the MySpace culture reflects the style of Mr. DeWolfe, who has a hard-nosed business approach under a laid-back exterior. "Chris is a very strong personality," said Geoff Yang, a partner in Redpoint Ventures, which invested in MySpace last year as part of an effort to separate it from Intermix; the News Corporation's acquisition of Intermix thwarted that effort. "He will listen to a lot of ideas, make up his mind and be laser-focused to get a few of them done."

Mr. DeWolfe, who focuses on business affairs, and Mr. Anderson, who designs features for the site, have deliberately kept MySpace rudimentary, with an almost homemade feeling, to give the most flexibility to users. In spirit, the site reflects its Southern Californian home with all of its idiosyncratic performers, designers, demicelebrities and other cultural hustlers, many of whom the founders recruited to be early members. Mr. DeWolfe, in particular, is a fan of Los Angeles nightlife and has become something of a public figure himself.

"Chris has become this living persona of MySpace," said Mr. Brewer, who recalled a trip to Aspen, Colo., with Mr. Anderson and Mr. DeWolfe last December. "Chris is wearing an awesome leather jacket, some sort of designer shirt, with his hair all over the place. He has this whole rock-star persona. And you hear people going: 'Psst, psst. That's the MySpace guy.' "

When he is not basking in the MySpace spotlight himself, Mr. DeWolfe has begun using it to promote music events around the country. MySpace members can become "friends" with a profile for "MySpace Secret Shows," for instance, and they will receive tips about free concerts — sponsored by companies like Tower Records — in their hometowns.

On a recent Friday in Manhattan, several hundred people trekked through drizzling rain to the Tower Records store in the East Village for free tickets to a concert by Franz Ferdinand, the Scottish postpunk band, at the Hammerstein Ballroom.

Heather Candella, a college student from Sloatsburg, N.Y., was among those at the show. She said the shows were "a really good idea because it's kind of a secret kind of thing — it's not so commercial."

She added that MySpace had become a main way to stay in touch with her friends. While she does not use the site to meet people, it has become part of the dating ritual. "When you meet someone, the question is not 'What's your number?' " she said. "It's 'What's your MySpace?' "

By checking out a guy's profile, she said, "you can actually get a feeling for who they are."

MySpace users pepper their profiles with their own photographs, musings and poetry, and with their favorite music and video clips. That maximizes the individuality of each profile but turns the typical media-company business model upside down, which is one reason that it is so hard for the News Corporation to use the audience to sell ads or to promote its own programming. The best way to get, say, a television show in front of the MySpace audience is not to cut a deal with a programming czar at a Hollywood restaurant, but to win the hearts, one by one, of thousands of members who will display the show to all of their friends.

"We can't look at this as a media property," said Peter Chernin, the News Corporation's president. "This is a site programmed by its users."

For that reason, MySpace is only gingerly pushing users into other Fox properties. Right now, Fox's relationship to MySpace is not explicit, although Fox movies and television shows are frequent advertisers. Ultimately, the News Corporation will make it easy for MySpace members to put clips from its television programs and trailers for its movies on their profile pages. But there will be nothing to stop them from using material from other companies.

Mr. Levinsohn calls MySpace the antiportal. "It's not about a central hub, because that's not where things are going," he said. "The under-30 set wants choice. It's not about one destination; it's about 65 million."

Indeed, rather than squeeze all its Internet ambitions into MySpace, Fox Interactive is assembling a network of Web sites, including IGN, a collection of sites focused on video games, and Scout, which runs Web sites for about 200 local sports teams. The News Corporation is also developing a portal devoted to entertainment, drawing from its Fox network programs, the Page Six gossip column of The New York Post and show-business reporters at the 35 local television stations it owns, Mr. Levinsohn said.

AT MySpace, the first challenge is to raise advertising rates. Because its supply of pages so greatly outstrips demand from advertisers, it has offered deep discounts. Indeed, the average rate paid for advertising is a bit over a dime for 1,000 impressions, Mr. Levinsohn said, far lower than rates at major competitors. "If we can raise that by 10 cents, think of the upside," he said.

One way to coax more money from advertisers is to build special sections — areas devoted to music and independent filmmakers — that provide a neutral home to advertisers that want MySpace's youthful audience but don't want their ads associated with the risqué content of some members' profiles.

A sign of that challenge is seen in Mr. Levinsohn's effort to expand the use of text ads — the rapidly growing format pioneered by search engines. He has been running tests with Yahoo, Google and several smaller ad providers and has sought proposals from them for longer-term deals.

The answer he received was a shock. Not one of them, not even the mighty Google, was sure that it could provide enough advertisements to fill all the pages that MySpace displays each day, Mr. Levinsohn said. The search companies did not want to dilute their networks with so many ads for MySpace users, whom they said were not the best prospects for most marketing because they use MySpace for socializing, not buying.

Mr. Levinsohn says he also hopes to raise ad rates by collecting more user data so advertisers can find the most promising prospects. To use the site, people need to provide their age, location and sex, and often volunteer their sexual orientation and personal interests. Some of that information is already being used to select ads to display. Soon, the site will track when users visit profile pages and other sections devoted to topics of interest to advertisers. People who put information about sports cars in their profiles or who frequent MySpace message boards about hot-rodding, for example, would be shown ads for car parts, even while reading messages from friends.

The bigger opportunity, however, is not so much selling banner ads, but finding ways to integrate advertisers into the site's web of relationships. Wendy's Old Fashioned Hamburgers, for example, created a profile for the animated square hamburger character from its television campaign. About 100,000 people signed up to be "friends" with the square.

Fox officials wonder whether this sort of commerce, built on relationships, can be extended to small businesses. A Ford dealership in, say, Indiana could create a profile, said Mark A. Jung, the chief operating officer of Fox Interactive. The profiles themselves, he said, would probably be free, but MySpace would sell enhancements to help businesses attract customers and complete transactions, Mr. Jung said.

Yet here is another place that executives at Fox and MySpace don't see eye to eye. Mr. DeWolfe discounted the idea of people creating profile pages for small businesses. "If it was a really commercial profile — the gas station down the street — no one is going to sign up to be one of their friends," he said. "There is nothing interesting about it."

For now, Mr. DeWolfe said, he has more down-to-earth plans. With the News Corporation's help, he is opening an office in London to coordinate MySpace's expansion in Europe. He is cutting deals to let members connect to MySpace over cellphones.

The News Corporation, he said, is helping MySpace achieve his goals sooner than it could on its own. So far this year, MySpace has spent $20 million of the News Corporation's money, in part to nearly double its staff of 250. About one-third of its employees focus on customer service and, increasingly, on responding to parents' concerns about what teenagers do on the site and what else they can see there. In the last six months, there has been a torrent of letters from schools to parents — as well as newspaper articles — about the glorification of drinking, drug use and sex on many MySpace profiles.

MySpace has long had rules that forbid anyone under 14 to join and that ban pornographic images and hate speech. Beyond those, however, the site is very open to frank discussion, provocative images and links to all sorts of activities. It didn't stop Playboy magazine, for example, from creating a profile page on its site to recruit members to pose in the magazine. Nor does it object to Jenna Jameson, the pornographic film star, maintaining a profile with links to her hard-core Web site.

Ms. Jameson "is more than a porn star," Mr. Anderson said. "She is an author and a celebrity and has been on Oprah." He added that "if we had a site that was 'My name is so-and-so and this is my porn site,' we would delete that."

Mr. Levinsohn, Mr. DeWolfe and others at the News Corporation say the site has no more or fewer problems than any other community on the Internet, and their primary response to parents' concern is a campaign to educate users about safe surfing techniques. "There are a couple of basic safety tips that can make MySpace safe for anyone over 14," Mr. DeWolfe said. "Just like you tell kids not to get in the car with strangers and to look both ways before you cross the street."

A sign that MySpace can play a role in some of the most distressing experiences of growing up came last week, when five teenage boys were arrested in Riverton, Kan. Law enforcement and school officials there said that the group planned to go on a shooting spree at their high school but were stopped after one of them discussed the plot on MySpace.

IN some ways, MySpace has assumed the role America Online held a decade ago when it introduced e-mail services and Internet chat to the masses. But AOL's example is a cautionary one. For many reasons, largely its failure to keep up with trends, AOL lost its place in the social lives of young people.

Mr. DeWolfe argues that MySpace won't suffer that fate because, in just two years, it has already become so entrenched in so many lives. "People are truly invested in the site," he said. "All their friends are on it. They spent months building their profiles. And so the cost of switching is too high. If we keep building the features they want, they will stay on the site."

If he is right, MySpace will be more than just a trendy toy to be discarded like last year's E-scooter.