Breakin’ the law, breakin’ the law!

Here’s what I don’t get. Check out this graf of the Post story on Torricelli’s impending retirement from the 2002 race:

New Jersey has a 48-day deadline for replacing a state-wide nominee on the ballot, and it’s only 36 days until the election. But party officials are hopeful that the state Supreme Court would allow Democrats to replace Torricelli on the ballot with a new nominee.

How can they be hopeful? What exactly is the state’s constitution worth if a party can change the rules when they’re down in the polls? This is very, very disturbing.


Seen on a dry-erase board

I noticed the following messages on one of the message boards in my hall. (My hall is fairly cluttered with rich, popular girls.)

Hey Rita – call me sometime and we’ll go clubbing!

Hey Rita, let’s go out!


In misanthropic response, I have taken to tallying the days that go by without anyone leaving a message on my door.

I’m up to nine.


Notes from the Activities Fair

The girl in front of me just recoiled. I’m in Norris, and for the only time this year the name of my paper, THE NORTHWESTERN CHRONICLE, is emblazoned behind me in letters a bat could read. So at least I get the reassurance that this girl is not scared of me, per se. She’s creeped out by my conservative newspaper.

Fair enough.

The girl grimaces when she sights my table. She shuffles two steps back in her strappy sandals, hunches her shoulders as if blocking a bum rush. The Helicon table in front of her absorbs all her attention – anything to get away from the Chron. But soon a friend comes over, and she’s given incidence to whisper – “See? That’s that scary paper we got over the summer!”

The friend is perplexed, but she takes the girl at her word. They scuttle out of the media room, and I shake my poor, evil head. I am more than used to this by now.


When I first arrived on campus, back in 2000, I never would have signed up for the Chronicle. I was like most of the kids (probably no less than 1000 of them) at the fair – it was obvious. Conservatives were stupid. They were rich, simplistic, and not a little racist. If I’d wanted to, hell, I could have taken any of them on in a battle of ideas and made sliced shit out of them.

This attitude, I’ve found, is precognitive. Leagues of freshmen, none of whom had spent more than two weeks on campus, made pity looks at the Chron’s table. A few of them (usually short, hirsute, male and wearing leather – I don’t know what this means in the big picture) engaged me in what is commonly called “talking shit.”

“Oh, you’re the conservative paper.”


“Ha hah!” (hand flipped up in defiance)

That was usually the extent of it. I told you, they didn’t think conservatives were very smart. Why use an ace when they could win with a deuce?

One dude, who I later learned was from WNUR (I’d link to them, but odds are you still wouldn’t listen), took some time out of his bong and feedback-heavy schedule to suggest we gave out Chipotle coupons. But he dismissed the idea immediately because, oh wait, “they employ minorities. You don’t like that, right?”

“Are you kidding?” I said. “Chipotle is owned by McDonalds! I’m all for anything that spreads American hegemony over the globe!”

To which he said “Ha ha!” and flipped his … yada yada yada.

Despite all this “harsh” treatment I didn’t venture out of the room for three hours. From 4 to 7 p.m. I pitched the Chron to fresh-faced young ‘uns with some success. Apart from the moments when students mistook our booth for a candy raffle and signed our e-mail list without even looking at us, me, Matt Repchak and Mark Brandau (sometimes) pitched the paper honestly and tastefully to people who wanted to make a difference. Still, a tone of resignation hung over me. Last year we’d signed 70-odd freshmen and only one had ever done jack shit for us. Most of the staff – including me, Matt and Mark, actually – had gravitated to the paper later on, once we’d seen what it was like and gotten a few ideas about how we could kick it in the ass.

So it could have been a thoroughly depressing experience, but it wasn’t. Not until I closed up shop and talked to the president of College Democrats. At that booth, freshmen were looking at the sign, smiling, and signing the sheet with alacrity.

Give ’em time. They’ll come around.


On the road again

For those readers who care about such things, be informed that I’m heading to Evanston tomorrow with an ETA of Friday morning. I’ll be moved in to the Foster-Walker complex later that day, about to head off on a bunch of meetings. See you then.


I should just stop writing now, before I get hurt …

By all appearences the cover story of last week’s Forth Worth Weekly was a piece on being Muslim in America (in These Troubled Times). Normally this would not make into the weblog. But this piece was written by Naureen Shah, the leader (that’s what the press calls it) of Northwestern’s anti-war group and a friend who disagrees with me on everything but the benefits of breathing. So I read it. And it’s pretty good.

While the story has been written many a time before, this one’s distinguished by: (1.) not being about a relatively insignificant slice of the country and (2.) being written by someone I loaned the new Pet Shop Boys record to. The first-person drive of the piece reveals that the author is a Muslim, but not that she is an anti-war organizer. Does this matter? It could have. Luckily, Naureen is a real journalist and interviews subjects who don’t reflect what she thinks. Says one source, a teacher: “In Pakistan, there is no public education. So [the parents] went to religious schools where they’re brainwashed and they blame all their problems on developed countries. They come [to the United States] with tunnel vision.”

The story’s been written before, so I don’t forsee Naureen getting the award that usually greets such “I Was A Teenage Victim!” pieces (although the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies is hyping it tastefully on its site). So I reiterate: It’s pretty good.