Throwing The Knuckleball

Rohit Chopra '04 Rohit shares his views on Harvard and prison love over noodles and beer with FM in the
By William L. Adams, Irin Carmon, Mollie H. Chen, Peter L. Hopkins, and Daniel K. Rosenheck

Rohit Chopra '04

Rohit shares his views on Harvard and prison love over noodles and beer with FM in the Adams House kitchen known as the “Diaspora Room.” Or, more precisely, the “Diaspora Pooh,” thanks to the handwriting of a visionary Adams resident. Rohit pauses reflectively, lowering his keg can from his pursed lips. “I can only imagine what it was like when it was still a room [and not a pooh],” he said. Rohit may be vying to lead the Harvard student body into the future, but he certainly does not lack reverence for the past.

FM: What’s your favorite mispronunciation of your name?

Rohit Chopra: People just assume that the “h” in my name is a “b,” so they often call me Robert. I actually really don’t like to be called Robert. Of course, there’s also “Roheeet” and “Ro-shit.” People seem to have been able to figure out my last name ever since Deepak Chopra became famous and started showing up on Oprah all the time. Yet, I was still called “Road Head” Chopra more than once.

FM: What’s your Spanish name?

Chopra: In Spanish class, I was always Felipe. My Spanish teacher wanted me to go by Roberto, but, as you know, I have a problem with that. There was no Phil in my Spanish class, so I said, “Um, why not Felipe?”

FM: “Poach it, (w)horr(e)!” is an anagram of your name. How do you intend to overcome this anagram and reach out to female voters?

Chopra: T Horr, Horr and Poach it horr have always been a part of me. By focusing on campus safety, [health] counseling and advising, I’m hoping people will be able to look past the anagram of my name. To be honest, Poach it horr is dead. He may have been around more in 7th grade, but I think I’ve killed him.

FM: Let’s get back to your roots. In what ways will the themes of Indian independence and the brutal legacy of European colonialism play into your campaign for UC President?

Chopra: Well, I mean Larry S. is much like Winston Churchill was when it came to India. [Like Gandhi] I want to be the guy who stands up for the little guy [against the fat white guy]. Gandhi gave a slap in the face to Churchill, so maybe we’ll show Larry a thing or two as well. I don’t meditate though.

FM: You’re from New Jersey? Explain.

Chopra: I’m actually from the very marginalized South Jersey, which is not recognized by either Northern or even Central Jersey. The rest of Jersey thinks that all we do [in the south] is farm and not attend college. I was spawned in Central Jersey, though. And my parents first came to Northern Jersey. I’m a turnpike rat, I suppose.

FM: Which member of the Harvard community would you “whack”—in a purely metaphorical sense, of course—and why?

Chopra: That’s a tough one. I have some college student angst but probably not that much. Well, actually, if I had to pick, sometimes I get annoyed with my a cappella roommate. I have convinced him to move on to bigger and better things, though.

FM: Tutoring inmates in the Massachusetts penal system is one of your extracurricular activities. What have you learned from the prisoners, especially about love and dating?

Chopra: The prisoners whom I taught were slightly edgy and violent and I think I learned that violence isn’t that attractive. For any of you who might have to go to prison, in terms of love and dating, I would watch your back.

FM: You have sat on the Harvard Square Design committee. So what do you plan to do make Harvard Square look more like a square? Because right now it sort of looks like a vulva.

Chopra: I realize that 99.9 percent of people define a square as a shape with four sides of equal length. Around here, though, any time there is an end of a street and a curb, you can have a square. To make it more square-ish, I think I would allow food vendors on the street.

FM: Imputing human characteristics onto Harvard Core classes, which Core class would you spend a single evening making sweaty pig love to, and which would you make your life partner? Why?

Chopra: I would make sweaty pig love to Ec 10 because it clearly hasn’t gotten any in about 20 years. In terms of a life partner, I would choose “Sex” because I don’t want life to get boring.

Hunter A. Maats '04

The only notable light source in Hunter Maats’ allegedly “nice” Mather common room is a chest-high column that appears to be some sort of glorified color-changing lava lamp. Maats fits into the incongruous setup by donning a ragged “I Love NY” T-shirt—which he says is “the last clean shirt I have”—under an unbuttoned sport jacket. The T-shirt is, contrary to Maats’ claim, not at all clean. Neither were Maats’ answers to FM’s perfectly decorous inquiries.

FM: Your name is Hunter Maats. Discuss.

Hunter Maats: My mother was a hippie and did a lot of drugs. She had a fascination with Hunter S. Thompson, which I think is where the name comes from. She says that’s not it, but frankly, I think she’s a liar. She says it’s a beautiful and powerful name—some hippie crap. Now, my last name, Maats. My dad is Dutch, and Maat is Dutch for measure or measurement. It comes from Ma’at, who is the Egyptian goddess of truth, justice and universal order.

FM: Can we abbreviate that TJUO?

Maats: Sure. Ma’at had a feather of TJUO, and she would weigh the heart of the deceased against the feather to see whether they would go to heaven. You see, I’m of the divine lineage, to be involved in TJUO. And that’s what my campaign is all about.

FM: You went to high school at Eton, in Britain. I hear they don’t have Oreos there. Have you ever thought of importing Oreos to Britain?

Maats: They’ve started to sell them now there, but it’s still a novelty item, so they only come in packs of four Oreos.

FM: What should FM call you in Gossip Guy?

Maats: Well, non-English speaking employees always call me Matt Hunter. [Adopts Indian accent.] Alo, ees Maht Unter dere? But my DJ name is Mazta Maatz.

FM: You have a DJ name...Does that make you a DJ?

Maats: Most DJs just have to understand the people, know what they want, and feed into it. When to bring the flava, and when to simmer. It’s about knowing what they want and giving it to them. And that’s what I’ll do as UC President—lead the people.

FM: Are you a communist?

Maats: Absolutely not [slinks into chair].

FM: Have you ever been a card-carrying member of the American Communist Party?

Maats: I guess “commie” is one label that might be fair, if you have to simplify things. But I don’t want to take. Only give.

FM: That’s what distinguishes you from the other candidates?

Maats: You know Rohit’s blockmates? They’re really cool guys. How did that happen? Maybe it was a sympathy block.

FM: Go on.

Maats: You want me to really bring it? I can’t bring it. I’m not allowed to do negative campaigning. Stupid bullshit UC rules.

FM: How did you celebrate Britney Spears’ 21st birthday this week?

Maats: Well, I’ve had it on my calendar for some time. You see, it’s a secular, sexual and religious holiday for me at the same time. She’s such a good Christian girl. I thought a lot about the Lord and also a lot about her ass.

FM: Say “she sells seashells by the seashore” five times fast.

Maats: She shells sheesh—

FM: You screwed up.

Maats: Maybe I should just drop out of the race now. No, seriously, I don’t trust any man who can say that. It’s too fast. I consider my words ahead of time. Plus it’s an insidious sound.

FM: Your roommate tells me you write poems to Jodie Foster.

Maats: He told you that! Well, even though she’s a Yalie, she embodifies—

FM: Embodifies isn’t a word.

Maats: Yes, it is. It’s a power word, a mix between embodies and personifies. She’s had staying power, which is a good thing in an actress and a lover.

FM: Let’s hear a poem.

Maats: You want a freestyle poetry slam? Let’s see...Jodie, you stole my heart/How is it you seem to Foster/these pure feelings since the start/of your career?

Jason L. Lurie '05

Jason Lurie has a website. “Chez Jason,” to be exact. There is a pop-up box that boasts, “Jason kicks ass,” and a section entitled “Jason Lurie: Man, Myth, Legend.” In person, the legend is slightly disheveled but still kicking ass. Or at least talking about it.

FM: Okay. I’ve seen your website.

Jason Lurie: That’s not my campaign website—that one will be coming out later. That’s just the “Life of Jason” website. I’m good with the computer programming skillz—skills with a “z.”

FM: How has the ass-kicking been going since you came to Harvard? Your website features numerous references to the ass you kicked in high school.

Lurie: Oh! My ass-kicking! I kick tremendous amounts of ass. I kick so much ass I don’t know where to kick it anymore. I used to kick it over into my closet but if you look into my closet right now it’s so full of asses that I have no more room.

FM: Why did you decide to run for UC president?

Lurie: The council does some things really well. We give out money to the student groups and they benefit from it. But at the same time, there are other things on council that aren’t so great. The current president decided to give $750 extra—that she wasn’t allowed to give—to technology people to fix the voting system...FDR, JFK, Bill Clinton—these are great men, great presidents. The one thing that they all had in common was that the reason that they ran for office was the women. I have to say that I’m proud to follow in those footsteps.

FM: Have you run into girls showing more interest since you’re running for president?

Lurie: I actually have. I’ve had one or two being like, “Oh, hi Jason,” and waving. Normally we talk, but it’s not flirtatious. So it’s an improvement. I’m happy about this.

FM: What would you say separates you from the rest of the candidates or just in general? What is unique about you?

Lurie: Well, I make balloon animals!

FM: How did you learn?

Lurie: I have a younger sister and for her fourth birthday, she said she really wanted balloon animals. So I locked myself in the basement with balloons and taught myself to make balloon animals over a weekend.

FM: Regardless of whether you win, do you have any goals for this campaign?

Lurie: I have a lot of ideas. If my ideas get co-opted by the other candidates and then I have nothing left to run on, that would be perfectly fine with me. I don’t have to be the guy with all the glory. As long as good things are happening. And the women. They’ll say, “Oh, Jason Lurie—I know him.” Then they’ll slap me. But at least they’ll know me when they slap me.

David M. Darst '04

David Darst is a sensitive kind of guy. Sure, he’s got that little pharmaceutical company startup under his belt, as the two cell phones and two laptops in his Leverett single attest. The scores of cardboard boxes that crowd his common room, marked with magical names like “Goldman Sachs” and “Morgan Stanley,” might also fool you into thinking that Darst is just another ruthless capitalist. But he’s on his way to curing tuberculosis in the Third World. And he likes ballet!

FM: Do, Dump, or Marry. Are you familiar with this game?

David Darst: No, sorry.

FM: You have to pick one to do, one to dump and one to marry. Larry Summers, Marty Feldstein, George W. Bush.

Darst: One to do—like have sex with?

FM: Yes.

Darst: Oh my god! Are you kidding? Do you give these three to everyone? But these three guys are all conservative. No matter what I pick, I’m going to look bad. The vast majority of people at Harvard hate all three of them.

FM: Well, Larry Summers is technically a Democrat.

Darst: This is hard to do, because I work with Feldstein, and I think he’s wonderful. And I’ve worked with Summers as well, so it’s tricky. So from personal experience...I’ve had a good relationship with Summers from what he’s done with the non-profit I’ve been involved with. So I would feel some sort of connection to him. But I don’t love the guy. This is ridiculous!

FM: It’s a tough world. Choose it and go.

Darst: All right. So do Feldstein, marry Summers, and dump...well, I wouldn’t dump Bush. But I wouldn’t do or marry him either.

FM: So, according to your press, you’ve had to travel a lot for your pharmaceutical thing. Say the plane crashes and you’re stuck on a desert island. What three things would you want with you?

Darst: Can they not be people?

FM: One of them can be people.

Darst: Only one?

FM: Come on. You need survival objects. Material things.

Darst: One would be the girl I care most about. Okay, two objects...Are there other people on this island?

FM: You’re asking too many questions!

Darst: Well, it’s important. If there are 100,000 people on the island who are blind, I’d definitely like to bring cataract equipment. Right? Makes sense.

FM: Fine. You’re the only person on this island.

Darst: I’d probably want to bring photo albums of my family and friends...well, is this a survival-type thing?

FM: No.

Darst: Let me think about what’s really important to me. The two most important things in my life are family and helping people, and family is sort of covered in that way. And helping people is tricky to figure out when it comes to an island with no people on it. So it would probably have to be a stuffed animal that I got when I was younger.

FM: So what’s the most extreme thing you will do to get a vote?

Darst: [Thinks for a long time.] I’m willing to play the piano with my shirt off.

Fred O. Smith '04

Fred Smith isn’t shy: he portrayed a horny slave in the play “Buck” last semester and got naked for Adams House Pool Theater crowds. When FM stopped by his room on the 10th floor of Leverett G Tower, he wasn’t dressed, but insisted that we come on in, revealing a firm back, broad shoulders and 0 percent body fat.

FM: Where are you from?

Fred Smith: I’m from Athens, Ga. Home of the University of Georgia Bulldogs.

FM: As far as I know, Jimmy Carter was the last president from Georgia. Are there any similarities between y’all?

Smith: He’s a hero of mine. He had a lot of heart. He was honest and personable while campaigning and I hope that’s what comes off during my campaign. I just want to run the cleanest campaign possible.

FM: Jimmy was also a peanut farmer. Do you like nuts?

Smith: Chocolate-covered.

FM: How do you like your juice?

Smith: I think people who know me know that I’m always open to different kinds of juice.

FM: Do you drink a lot of juice?

Smith: Not since I’ve been preparing for this campaign.

FM: Do you prefer white or dark chocolate?

Smith: Depends on the mood I’m in.

FM: Hot or cold chocolate?

Smith: Definitely hot.

FM: If you’re elected UC president, do you plan on having interns?

Smith: Yeah, I already have one in mind.

FM: And what functions will this person serve?

Smith: It will partially be up to the intern.

FM: How would you react if your intern propositioned you for sex?

Smith: I’m gonna go serious here. I’m a member of the Coalition Against Sexual Violence. In all my romantic dealings I’m very conscientious of power dynamics and I try to make sure they are never abused.

FM: How do you feel about your running mate?

Smith: He’s an extremely sincere guy. One of the most sincere people I’ve met here. He’s the first person in his family to go to college. Since he’s been on the council he co-founded the Crimson Cash Expansion Committee to get Crimson Cash in different places in the Square. We click on both the professional and the personal level.

FM: That’s nice and all, but that’s not what I mean. How do you feel about your running mate?

Smith: [Long pause]. I’ll just say that some people have called him the conservative Steve Smith [’02, former council presidential candidate] and I was a big fan of Steve Smith.

In The Meantime