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Campus may get cable TV

(01/15/93 10:00am)

University dormitories may soon be equipped with communication lines to handle cable television, a computing network and voice services, Associate Vice Provost for University Life Larry Moneta said yesterday. But Moneta added that any such plans would be contingent upon "financial negotiations" that have not yet been concluded. "If the finances work out," Moneta said, "the intention is to put cable [TV], voice and data in 20 percent of the rooms over the summer." To test the feasibility of installation, Moneta said he hoped a few rooms in each dormitory will be fitted with the new apparatus by the beginning of the 1993-1994 school year. Moneta said he does not know how much the installation would cost, and he does not know if students would have to pay for the service. But the price tag for the venture could be as much as $5 million, according to a June 1992 report on the future of residential living. Despite the cost, Moneta said he is "optimistic" about the chances of equipping the University, citing the "variety of educational, recreational and communication opportunities" it would bring the University. "You can't be a contemporary campus without information distribution," Moneta said. The report on residential living, prepared by Vice Provost for University Life Kim Morrisson, calls the idea "an investment in technology that will be necessary if Penn is to remain competitive in this decade." Across campus, students expressed excitement over the possible technological changes, especially the prospects for cable TV. "That would be great," College sophomore Vanessa Ramirez said. "If I had cable TV I would watch my favorite shows." "Everyone on my floor really wants it because the reception is terrible," Nursing freshman Sally Fry said. She added that she would probably watch movies and sports if she had cable. One student, however, said the addition of cable TV would be an unneeded distraction. "There is work to be done here," said Engineering freshman Ezekiel Fink. "There is enough goofing off here already." But Fink said that he would welcome a computing network, especially if nationwide electronic mail was free. "I think that e-mail would cut down on phone bills to other campuses," Fink said. Moneta acknowledged that the technology would be a draw for students to stay on-campus for housing. "Obviously we're very sensitive to keeping people on campus," Moneta said.


UA freshmen assess their first 100 days

(01/12/93 10:00am)

For newly-elected members of the Undergraduate Assembly, the first few months in office have been a mixture of activism, disillusionment and increased responsibility. Dan Debicella, a Wharton freshman, said his UA involvement has afforded him the opportunity to "meet a lot of really great people" and "help students have better lives." But Debicella admitted that working with the University has become an eye-opening, if not disillusioning, experience. "The one thing I run into a lot is that the school is a big bureaucracy," Debicella said, relating a number of incidents when he was given the "bureaucratic runaround." Still, Debicella added, he retains his optimism for the UA and its ability to bring change to the campus. "Here the people in the UA take what they are doing seriously," Debicella said. "They think they're doing a service for the students." This enthusiasm is characteristic of many freshman, former UA Vice-Chair and current Facilites Chair Ethan Youderian said. "Freshmen are a very interesting breed," the Wharton junior said. "[They] have more enthusiasm than any group on this campus. My freshman years were some of my most productive." For Lauren Lazare, the responsibility of the UA has proved to be greater than that of leadership roles she held in high school. "The people seem very serious," said Lazare, a College freshman. "They get dressed up and use parliamentary procedure. It's more serious than many high school governments, and it makes us feel more serious." And serving on the UA has also made her more critical of events on campus, Lazare added. "It has made me more aware to what people are saying. I keep my ears open," Lazare said, adding that being on the UA makes her "feel that there is hope" because she can effect change. College freshman Lance Rogers said he has had similar experiences in his transition from high school to University government. As a member of the UA's public relations committee, it is Rogers' responsibility to "keep people informed about what they are doing" through advertisements and public announcements. Rogers said his UA experience has given him "real life" responsibilities as compared to the role he played during his high school government days. "I'm taking it a lot more serious," Rogers said. "There is more incentive to work harder. It will have an effect on people."


U. forms French Institute

(12/07/92 10:00am)

American students are "abysmal" at learning foreign languages, according to Emeritus Romance Laguages Professor Frank Bowman. Bowman said that University students can't match up to their European counterparts who are often trilingual by college gradaution. Bowman, who directs the University's recently-formed French Institute for Culture and Technology, said he wants to bring an international perspective to campus. The Institute will focus on student exchanges and scholarly visits between the Univeristy and France, which Bowman said are necessary for American students to stay competitive in the future. "It's quite clear that in every respect we are becoming a more and more internationalized world," Bowman said. "Unless the United States and Penn get into that, we will be left out." Francoise Huysseune, an Engineering junior, is part of an exchange program between the University and her French school, the University of Technology of Compiegme. She said the program works by swapping equal numbers of students from each school. "I think every university in France would be interested in belonging to an exchange program," Huysseme said. "In my class there are 200 students and all of them are interested in coming to Penn. The problem is that the students of Penn don't want to come here." Bowman said that he thought the institute would help "make a difference" in the way American students perceive the world. "As far as institutes go, it can encourage a degree of international understanding that facilitates making the transition to the world of the future," Bowman said. According to Institute employee Mimi Sharp, the institute will be a "clearinghouse" for all interaction that takes place between the University and France. It is currently trying to identify all of the University's collaborative efforts with France. "We have joint ventures in the medical field, in geology and in psychology," Sharp said. "We are doing all kinds of things." The Institute, which is based in the College, was partly funded by a $100,000 grant from the French government.


D. Sci class studies Escort Service

(12/04/92 10:00am)

If two Wharton students have their way, students could reach their destinations faster. Inspired by the controversy over Escort's recent changes, Wharton juniors Lauren Franklin and Derek Jokelson proposed a new plan Wednesday that may cut down on wait time for vans. Franklin and Jokelson analyzed Escort's current system of receiving and distributing ride requests and concluded that an automated system would be the best way for the University to maximize its fleet of 13 vans. According to Franklin, Escort's current system is plagued by an overwhelming amount of paperwork. "When a person calls in, the operator writes it on a notecard," Franklin said. "On a night where 1,000 people call, that means there is a lot of paper flying around." "The operators couldn't write it down fast enough," said Jokelson, adding that some operators were writing 100 cards an hour. Franklin and Jokelson's presented their proposal in their Decision Sciences 210 class Wednseday morning. Their study on Escort was a project in the class, taught by Associate Decision Sciences Professor Gerald Hurst. "What we think they should do is computerize the dispatching," Franklin said. "Then they can have records, archives, and they can analyze it later. They'd be able to handle infinitely more calls." According to the proposed system, an operator would enter a rider's location and the caller's time into a computer. Using that information, a dispatcher would be able to keep a precise count of the number of riders in a van, and thus be able to keep the van full and cut down on waiting times. Currently, Franklin said, the notecard system does not allow for an accurate count of people who are in a particular van. The pair said another possible step would be to install two-way terminals in the vans that are similar to ones now in some taxicabs. "When the cab driver wants to pick someone up he presses a button and the dispatcher automatically knows, " said Jokelson. "We want the same type of terminal in the escort van." Transportation Director Ron Ward said yesterday that he was open to the students' proposals. "There was some talk about it last year," Ward said. "It was an idea whose time had not come yet. Now the volume has reached a point where we might need it." Escort has seen its ridership increase by 35 percent since last year, Ward said. On some nights, the system handles over 1,200 passengers, he added. Franklin said that she has not yet analyzed the cost of the proposal. She did note, however, that Escort has recently spent approximately $10,000 to install a PENNcard reader at Gimbel Gymnasium. The reader allows students to stay inside while waiting for an Escort van. Franklin and Jokelson are both Daily Pennsylvanian staff members.


Contestants bare (almost) all on UTV

(12/01/92 10:00am)

Tom, Dick and Harry are no longer in vogue. Three University students said their genetalia prefer to be called Napoleon, Magnum and Mighty Mouse. The students revealed their private parts' previously private names during last week's taping of University Television's new dating gameshow Mix and Mate. Mix and Mate is UTV's entry into the increasingly competetive field of libidonous and sometimes probing television game shows, where love is spawned in 30 minutes and its winner is often only known as "bachelor number one." According to UTV Publicity Manager Dan Schorr, Mix and Mate represents the new type of show that UTV is trying to produce. "This is the kind of show you can do regularly. Shows with sketches and a script take a lot of time," College sophomore Schorr said. "We can have new episodes every week, and hopefully build a cult following." As the brainchild of hosts and College sophomores Erika Stupine and Mike Rosenfield, Mix and Mate, has a relatively simple format. College sophomore Courtney Mizel asked the three "bachelors" questions, ranging from their penis nomenclature to what they would do with a can of whipped cream, a bucket of water and a paint brush. Bachelor Michael Dodds said he would inhale the "nitrous oxide" from the can of whipped cream, throw the bucket of water on Mizel in order to see her "chest" and would fondle her with the paintbrush. Mizel said she came to the show looking for a date, noting that she wanted someone who did not fit the standard stereotypes. "One [roommate] told me to get someone big and beefy. One told me to get someone dorky and intellegent," Mizel said. "One also wants me to get someone weird. I think I want someone in between." Rosenfield gave the participants two pieces of advice just before filming began. "Be relaxed and get raunchy if you can," he encouraged the contestants. Almost immediately, the bachelors competed with each other to answer Mizel's X-rated questions with creativity. Shortly into the program Mizel asked the three suitors to identify themselves with a type of candybar -- prompting a variety of responses that more than satisfied the question. Engineering and Wharton sophomore Ronen Israel said he would like to be recognized as "rich milk chocolate." Engineering sophomore Ben Kaplan chose "nuts." And Dodds, a Wharton sophomore, said he would be "white carmel cream." The show's questions, however, contained more food analogies than a grocery store's produce department. And when Stupine asked them to describe what they would to Mizel if she were a banana, the contestants doled out the charm. After Dodds said he would "eat" Mizel, Kaplan upped the ante and promised to "peel" her and then "eat" her. Continuing the gastronomic motif, the contestants were also asked what type of bulkfood they would steal from WaWa. Rosenfield said the show is supposed to have a lively and spontaneous atmosphere. "We tell the guests to be as fun, crazy, and raunchy as possible," Rosenfield said. "It makes the show more fun and suspenseful, and each show will be different." Rosenfield said he did not think the show was sexist, citing that the show also has a "bachelor" asking similar questions of "bachelorettes." At the end of the program, Mizel had to pick her date. After deciding that Kaplan was "not her type" and that she "didn't want to do dishes" for Israel, she chose to spend her free date at Baskin Robbins with Dodds. Dodds said he was pleased about his selection. "We're going to keep the tape to show our kids," he said. Mix and Mate appears on UTV Monday and Wednesday nights at 7:30 p.m.


Student reactions vary on new UTV program

(11/24/92 10:00am)

One of them left the room after a few minutes, another said she was bored, while another student said she loved it. Students had varied reactions to last night's Mix and Mate dating gameshow on University Television. Although the students' opinions of the show were mixed, they all agreed that it was not overly sexual or degrading. "Why do people automatically assume that sexual innuendos are insulting towards women?" said College freshman Natasha Friedman, who said the show was "boring." In last night's episode, contestants of Mix and Mate were asked questions about the names of their penises, and discussed sexual activity relating to bananas, paintbrushes and whipped cream. The show consisted of a female student "bachelorette" asking questions of male student "bachelors." Engineering freshman Steven Moseley said that sex is what makes dating games interesting, and that it can be a funny part in other nationally televised game shows. He said he laughed at certain parts of the show, although he said that the UTV production was unoriginal in its presentation of sexual motifs. Moseley said that the Mix and Mate is not as good as Studs -- a syndicated television game show that matches couples. "The show is a little too low-budget," said College freshman Danial Bennett. "I don't see why they need to put this stuff on television." College sophomore Karyn Peiser, who watched last week's episode, said she thought the show "was kind of interesting to watch," and that it "was fun to see the different people who are on the show." Peiser said she thought the hosts "did a good job," although she said she did not like the contestants as much. "It was sexual, and it seemed a little overboard," Peiser said. "But I didn't mind it. That's the way people think sometimes." Other students said they found the contestants interesting and humorous. "I love the show. It's kind of interesting to see people your own age, people making fools of themselves," College sophomore Jennifer Shreiner said. "I did like bachelor number two. I'll watch it again." Host and producer Michael Rosenfield, a College sophomore, said the show's goal is to make students laugh. "To us were just having fun," Rosenfield said. "We hope the viewers laugh with us. That's the whole point of the show." And UTV Publicity Manager Daniel Schorr, a College sophomore, said the show is one of the television stations newest efforts. "As it goes along, the producers will get new creative inovations and it will grow with UTV throughout the year," Schorr said. "The producers and staff work very hard to produce the show." Last night's episode of Mix and Mate will air again tomorrow night at 7:30 p.m. on UTV.


Center lends expertiseto small businesses

(11/17/92 10:00am)

Robert Berg sometimes worked six hours a day marketing his client's line of clothes. The struggling company needed to change its name and styles, he said. After conducting some marketing focus groups, Berg helped bring the line to national retailers. And he did it for free. Berg, a second year MBA student, is one of fifteen students who work as advisors for Wharton's Small Business Development Center. The center provides free advice for small and new businesses in marketing, financing, accounting and long-term planning. The students work 20 hours during the school year and full-time in the summer. They handle 20 to 30 cases per year and are paid by tuition remittances. Most advisors are Wharton MBA candidates, but there are two undergraduates in this year's class. Second-year MBA student Sean Reynolds said that the SBDC provides an opportunity that most other universities do not. "There aren't that many institutional opportunities to get real world experience," Reynolds said. "It's a vicarious entrepreneurial experience." "Unlike consulting firms, we're here to be a strategic sounding board," second year MBA student Bill Haney said. "We act to prod the client in thinking instead of doing academic crunch work." Reynolds said the majority of the consultants have had previous experience in the business world. This, he says, helps them in advising their clients. "Most businesses need to be slowed down and discouraged in their optimism," said Haney. "We introduce some realism and get them to take another look at their problems. The SBDC was founded in 1981 and an average of 10,000 companies request help each year. Eligible businesses must have annual sales of less than $10 million and employ fewer than 100 people. These guidelines generally describe new businesses, which according to SBDC director David Thornburgh, are most likely to go out of business. "It's an uphill climb, particularly the first few years," Thornburgh said. "We have taken a look at what happened to clients. We can say lots of good things about companies who have had SBDC help and those who have not." The SBDC is funded by the Federal government's Small Business Administration, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and the University. It forms "an important partnership" between them, said Assistant Director Becky Clark. "This is an important contribution for the University," Clark said. "You can see the real benefits when companies come back and tell us how well they are doing."


Speaker blames feds for economy

(11/11/92 10:00am)

The federal government has transformed a bad cold into pneumonia, according to Ronald Rosenfeld. Rosenfeld, who is the U.S. Treasury's deputy assistant secretary for corporate finance and a Wharton graduate, spoke to an audience of 30 students last night about the workings of Washington. Rosenfeld said Congressional pressure weakened an already poor economy until it is "the worst in 50 years." According to Rosenfeld, who spoke as part of the Musser- Schoemaker Leadership Lecture Series, Congress has started a "credit crunch" which is now stopping potential borrowers from securing loans. This is keeping the economy in a slump, he said. "You can't make character loans anymore. All bankers care about is collateral," said Rosenfeld. "There is almost a reign of terror that runs from Congress to regulators to individual banks." This reign of terror, said Rosenfeld, is a paranoia that sprang from the Savings and Loans crisis. In order to prevent another breakdown, Congress is pressuring regulators to be tough on banks wishing to make new loans, he said. "Congress has gone much too far to micromanage the extension of credit," Rosenfeld said. "Congress put the fear of god into regulators." Rosenfeld served as a political appointee under Jack Kemp at the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and was later moved to the Treasury Department. He said he learned more than he wanted to about politics in the Reagan administration. "The Reagan administration was inept and very political in the worst sense of the word," Rosenfeld said. "If you were a well-connected real estate developer, you could make a call and have a certain decision changed." The atmosphere at HUD changed under Kemp, according to Rosenfeld. But there was still a stifling presence of bureaucracy, he said. "Bureaucracy begins to win the fight," Rosenfeld said. "After a while you begin to learn what you just can't do." Rosenfeld said he did feel proud about serving his country. "It's a spectacular experience," he said. "There's nothing like sitting at that desk with the flag behind you, representing the U.S. government." Cecile Reid, a Wharton senior from Barabados, said Rosenfeld's speech confirmed her desire to work for the government in her home country. "Everyone at Wharton is concerned with their G.P.As and making money," Reid said. " He proves that there are people who graduated who want to work for their country, to help everyone." Wharton freshman Dan Debicella said the speech also moved him to act. "It's men like this who make you feel that you can do something in government," Debicella said.


Class board organizers set aims

(11/04/92 10:00am)

After holding its third organizational meeting, organizers of underclass boards have established goals for the upcoming year. The goals, introduced by the 20 people who attended a meeting last week, include creating a "Hey Day" for freshman, class Olympics and a Homecoming Ball, including the crowning of a king and queen. The objective of these functions would be to resurrect old University traditions as well as to create new ones, co-founders Jason Diaz and David Yarkin said. "We want to create spirit," Diaz said. "By looking into Penn's history, we can find old events, twist them, and make it [social life] more successful," he said. The class boards would be elected by the freshman, sophomore, and junior classes and would be modeled after the senior class board already in existence, according to organizers. The boards are seeking recognition from Student Activities Council which will evaluate on the boards' constitution and mission statement. Yarkin added that obtaining funding from SAC might be hard due to the class boards' mainly social mission. SAC tends to fund groups that are only activity-based, Yarkin said. Diaz said that if the boards could not secure SAC funding, they would turn to other sources, both within the University and private corporations. Wharton sophomores Yarkin and Diaz said they have received administrative support from President Sheldon Hackney and Albert Moore, assistant director of student life. "Sheldon Hackney read about it and loved it," Diaz said. "[With his support] we can get some new traditions or restart some old ones." Diaz said $5000 per class annually would help establish the class boards, although he said the figure was "optimistic." "We're going to go through all of the bureaucratic channels, and hopefully we'll get the funding that we need," Yarkin said. The organizers also said they would work to secure corporate sponsorships for each class. "We want to establish something as wild as possible -- as bizarre as the funding lets us," said College freshman Kieran Snyder, who is heading the committee on a freshman Hey Day. Diaz and Yarkin said one of the purposes of the proposed class events is to maintain friendships established during freshman year. "I feel isolated. I don't meet those same people I did during the first few days of orientation," Diaz said. A freshman event similar to junior Hey Day would be a positive opportunity to keep those relationships alive, according to Snyder. "Since we won't be living with the same people next year, it will be a good chance to see everybody," Snyder said. "If you don't live down the hall, its hard to keep up with people." Snyder said she was enthusiastic about establishing a new governing body at the University. "We have a chance to totally break new ground. We don't have some of the stigma or bias attached to [other] organizations."


Gays and greeks learn about each other

(10/22/92 9:00am)

Misinformation was taught to her in school. It was modeled to her and in the air she breathed, according to educator and speaker Kathy Obear. Obear, who founded The Human Advantage -- a firm that consults universities on social issues, told 35 students yesterday that gay issues were addressed negatively during her childhood -- if they were addressed at all. "I hid a lot of who I was," Obear said last night in McClelland Hall. "How well do we really know each other if, in fact, [some people] can't be who they are? " Obear's speech, "Opening Doors to Understanding and Acceptance," was hosted by the Greek Student Activities Committee, the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Alliance and PEARL -- Penn's Eagerly Awaited Radical Ladies. The seminar was designed to educate the gay and greek communities about each other, according to GSAC Tri-Chairperson and Wharton senior Haesin Kim. "Homophobia is like racial prejudice," Obear said. "If you were to tell a homosexual joke, it's the same as a racial joke." Obear also said she was scared about society's general disrespect for the civil rights of gays. "It can happen anywhere to anyone, and it can happen to others," Obear said. "If you can be prejudiced to one group you can be prejudiced to another. It's all the same stuff." Obear asked the students to stand in a circle and discuss their earliest memories of gay men and prior experiences with lesbians and bisexuals. Obear told the group that society can be sparked to change by revising school coursework. "I want curriculum to represent real life. We've been centered on a white ethnocentric history and literature," Obear said. "All faculty should have access to stories, plays, and films about gay issues." Obear added that changes in society can best be accomplished through dialogue similar to hers. "Whether or not we agree with me, if we can just get the dialogue going. The power of you -- at dinner, in the classroom, is to ask the tough questions -- that's being an ally," Obear addded. Robert Schoenberg, assistant director of student life programs, said he believes it is important for the fraternity system and the gay community to work together to dispel myths. "There are a couple of myths about gays and fraternities and sororites," Schoenberg said. "First, that there are no gay and lesbian people in fraternities and sororities. Second, sometimes fraternities and sororities get an unfair rap as being hyper-hyper homophobic."


Opthalmologists win $100,000

(10/12/92 9:00am)

Medical School opthalmologists Alan Laties and Richard Stone recently received a $100,000 award from the Alcon Research Institute for their work in vision research. The two were recognized for their studies of ocular innervation, or how the nervous system controls the functions of the eye. Recently, their efforts have expanded to include study of natural mechanisms controlling eye development, especially in relation to myopia, or near-sightedness. "It's a nice award because [Alcon] provides research funds," Stone said. "It's important in the sense that on a practical level you need money to fund research projects." According to Stone, the award was approximately one of 10 given by the Alcon Corporation, which is the manufacturer of opthalmic drugs and contact lens products. "What we are interested in is the innovation that underlies the physiology of the eye," Laties said. "The chief interest we have now is in the nerves of the eye and the pressure of the eye." Laties was trained to be a neurologist, but after a short opthalmology course in medical school, decided to change his attention to the study of the eye. He has been a professor at the University for 32 years. With his neurological background, Laties pioneered the use of fluorescence in helping to map parts of the eye. "At least one day, we can find a cure for myopia," said Cheryl Capehart, a research specialist who works in Laties' lab. "The long-term idea behind the research is to get human applications and help people out." Stone and Laties, along with Associate Opthalmology Professor Patricia Grimes, have been working on the project for approximately five years, according to Carpenter. "It's hard to get bored," Carpenter said. "There are so many steps to just one main thing. Especially when you've got to find out what causes it and what prevents it." Laties also received the $50,000 Paul Kayser International Award of Merit in Retina Research last month in Stressa, Italy. "The understanding of disease is improving at an incredible rate. The challenge of it, the sheer joy of discovery is going to rise," Laties said. "There is a difference between scientific careers and other careers. If you are just an average scientist doing average work, you can still look forward to defined accomplishments." Opthalmology Chair Stuart Fine has also received a $75,000 grant from Research to Prevent Blindness to support his research of the macula, the central area of the retina.


Poet warns U.S. is losing culture

(10/12/92 9:00am)

America is in danger of losing its literary culture, according to businessman-turned-poet Dana Gioia. Gioia, who quit his job as vice-president at Kraft General Foods this year to concentrate on poetry, spoke to a crowd of about 25 last Friday. The event was sponsored by the English Department's writing program and hosted by the Philomathean Society. "I feel the problem in America is that America does not have an intellectual culture outside the academy," Gioia said. "There is an anti-intellectualism in America that's considered manly." Gioia's responded to attacks on his controversial 1991 article in The Atlantic Monthly entitled "Can Poetry Matter?". In the magazine Gioia wrote that American poetry belongs to a subculture. "No longer part of the mainstream artistic and intellectual life," Gioia wrote. "It has become the specialized occupation of a relatively small and isolated group." In response to letters in the Atlantic that claimed poetry was never important in America, Gioia's speech explained how poetry fit into American society. "Up until the 20th century, poetry was seen as enterntainment," Gioia said. "Longfellow was the best-selling author of any genre of the 19th century," Gioia said. "By Longfellow's fiftieth birtday, 300,000 copies of his books had been sold. Virtually every American had read Longfellow." Gioia also said that newspapers were once the main outlet for poetry in America. When involved in circulation wars, papers often commissioned poems to boost circulation, he said. "Poetry was seen as a public art," he added. "Capable, at its best, as the ultimate expression of our national identity." Miners in Leadville, Colorado, produced Shakesperean plays as means of entertainment and even former President Ulysses Grant played Desdemona in an Army version of Othello during the Mexican War. Now poetry has been fading as an important part of education, which he traces to "the vanishing of a public intellectual person," he said. He said memorization and performance of poetry should be taught in schools. "I was very impressed," College junior Adam Korengold said. "I guess what we can take from that is that you can apply the knowledge of the word in daily life." Gioia left Kraft General Foods in 1992 to be a full-time writer. Before resigning he said he would work eleven to twelve hours days and come home at night and write. Gioia said his co-workers were "shocked" when he told them he was resigning. "If you truly have your passions you'll be better. You have to live for yourself, not other people," Gioia said. "Half the people in America have unfulfilled dreams."


Author discusses his childhood

(09/23/92 9:00am)

He said he was "a misplaced person" who had problems with spelling, grammar and relating to Shakespeare. But Gay Talese added yesterday that he overcame these "isolated adolescence" hurdles to become a bestselling author and reknowned journalist. Talese, whose speech launched this years PEN at Penn lecture series, discussed the trevails of growing up as an Italian Catholic in the mostly Protestant town of Ocean City, N.J. "I lived in my own troubled realm," Talese said. "I was the only Italian in my parochial school." Talese said he grew up in the U.S. while the country was in the heat of World War II. Mussolini was an enemy of the state and newly-immigrated Italian-Americans were isolated from both their homeland and adopted country, according to Talese. "I didn't like who I was as an adolescent because history gave us [Italians] a sense of isolation from the land of our birth," he said. This troubled sense of identity led Talese to write his latest book, Unto the Sons, he said. The non-fiction work discusses his family's immigration from Italy to America. After decades of "hiding" in non-personal topics, Talese said he was ready to confront the facts of his own life. "I no longer wanted to ask questions of others," he said to the audience of nearly 125. "I had a lifetime of dodging my past." Area resident Ida Petrill -- who is originally from Triest, Italy -- said she learned about herself from Unto the Sons and was eager to hear Talese speak. "I loved it," Petrill said. "It is so intertwined with history. When I read it, I remembered my school days and all the history I learned." When discussing the craft of writing, Talese stressed his insatiable curiosity as a tremendous asset. He said he gained this curiosity as a boy growing up in his parents' tailor shop. There he learned to listen to people's stories and hear of their small triumphs, sacrifices and disasters. He said he later turned his experience as a curious little boy into the philosophy behind his writing. "People can talk all day and I'll listen. I'm interested," he said. "I am trying to bring, in a sense, a presence of the dress shop I keep running into." Searching for similar "dress shop" stories has led Talese to look for tiny components of big organizations to tell an overall story. He said he used this technique in his book Honor Thy Father which depicted the daily life of a gangster as "an awful lot of waiting, watching TV and smoking." College sophomore Bradley Tusk lauded Talese's ability to bring life to the routine. "I read Unto the Sons and was impressed by his style and how he can make an average person's life the most interesting thing you've ever read," Tusk said. "It really helps me focus on my life and people I know." Romance Languages Associate Professor Victoria Kirkham also said she enjoyed about Talese's remarks. "He was wonderfully honest and forthcoming," Kirkham said. "He was sharing very personal feelings. He said a lot about himself . . . But it's ultimately everyone's experience." Talese said he did not want success to inflate his ego and belives that young writers who win awards begin to concentrate on honors instead of writing. "I just try to continue to do my best work," Talese said. "For young writers gaining recognition, success does them a disservice. They become a success at the expense of what made them successful." According to English professor David DeLaura, Talese was recruited by the Poets Essayists and Novelists organization based in New York City.