The Bowdoin Orient
Volume CXXXII, Number 1
September 8, 2000
News ... Features ... Opinion ... A&E ... Sports
In the past few days, we have debated the content of this, our first editorial
of the year. While our initial reaction was to address the derogatory graffiti
recently found in Coles Tower, each of us found ourselves, at one point or another,
trying to convince another editor to write this piece. Although we were all
eager to scold the disturbing behavior, no one wanted the daunting task of trying
to ascertain why some people are so threatened by difference, and more so, why
some members of our community felt it was acceptable to express their fear in
the form of derogatory slurs.
To these questions we found no concrete answers. Most of us are used to finding the right answers when involved in an academic endeavor. Thats why we were accepted to Bowdoin. When a definitive answer cannot be found, it is tempting to deem the question invalid and move on to a problem we can more easily solve. But, while we are frustrated by the lack of answers or any concrete conclusion regarding the derogatory graffiti in Coles Tower, the question cannot be put away, but rather, must continually be revisited so that with time, perhaps some understanding will lead to positive change.
Some people have argued that perhaps the perpetrators were drunk. However, while drinking alcohol may remove social inhibitions and affect a persons judgment, the influence of alcohol cannot transform a persons true beliefs.
During the daylight hours, when we sit together in class, eat together in the dining halls, and exchange greetings on the Quad, Bowdoin could be mistaken for a utopian community in which, despite our differences, we freely accept each other. While many members of our community do in fact value individual differences, we too often find that, when not exposed to the community at large, or after having a few beers at a party, people express feelings they know could be deemed politically incorrect and insensitive by many of us.
Although such closet prejudice may seem less obtrusive than public displays of intolerance, the results are just as damaging, perhaps more so. The graffiti in Coles Tower reminded us that, despite the polite and pristine appearance of our student body, we are not in fact a utopian community. Most frustrating is the fact that we are deemed powerless by such acts of closet prejudice. Because the perpetrator was too cowardly to constructively address his or her fear of difference, we the community are left with no chance for rebuttal. However, we can each make a conscious effort to confront members of the community who, behind closed doors, express prejudiced views. What may seem like merely an offensive comment will inevitably translate to offensive and possibly destructive behavior in the future.
Ill come right out and say it: I am a registered Republican. Not only
that, I am an active Republican. At this point, I expect one of three responses
from the reader: 1. Oh God, not an evil Republican; 2. Republican? Whats
that?; or 3. Yay! Im not alone! For the number ones, Im not going
to try to convert you in this letter, so feel free to stop reading now. For
the number twos, hang in there, you might learn something. For the number threes,
you arent alone.
First, what is a Republican? Someone who is anti-choice and anti-homosexuals? Someone who wants a machine gun in every house? Someone who wants to pave the forests and let the poor starve? If so, then I guess I am not a Republican. Unfortunately, those are the things that people associate with Republicans, simply because our solutions to problems are not the easy quick fixes that the other guys offer. I consider myself a Republican because I believe in the power of the individual, not the government. I believe that the government should provide only those services that individuals and private groups cannot perform themselves. In short, I believe that the government should act as a referee in a baseball game, not as a parent caring for a helpless child.
When I came to Bowdoin last year, I hoped to get involved with a college Republican group and do something. Instead, I found that any political talk was taboo and many people had little idea of the principles behind either party and no idea who their congressional representatives were. At a college where government is the largest department and one of the most popular majors, the lack of political activism is ridiculous. Not to mention the fact that the majority of the student body are American citizens who will shortly be paying taxes and ought to care about decisions which will directly affect their lives.
To fill the political void here, a few students have organized to bring back the College Republicans. Already, there are Republicans coming out of the woodwork who have felt that Bowdoin has not been a place where they can express their political views. We have been busy recruiting the necessary ten members so that we can have a nationally recognized chapter. In fact, we are receiving a surprisingly enthusiastic response and we expect a membership of between 25 and 30 members. Professor Jean Yarbrough has kindly agreed to serve as our advisor.
Thats all well and good. But what are we going to actually do to bring some political involvement, activity, and discourse to an otherwise apathetic campus? So far, we have made a small trip to attend George W. Bushs arrival rally in Portland and several of us even attended the Republican National Convention in Philadelphia, PA, this summer. This fall, we will be supporting local politicians such as congressional candidate Jane Amero, in addition to volunteering for George W. Bushs campaign. We also will organize on-campus events with guest speakers, debates, and info sessions about the candidates.
Now, why should you, the persistent reader who is still with me, give up some of your time and join the Bowdoin College Republicans? How about this: you are in the awful situation of having your parents die in an airplane crash. While you are mourning, you receive a call from the Internal Revenue Service telling you that you owe the Federal Government approximately 72 percent of the money that your parents had worked their entire lives for because of the combined death tax and the federal income tax. Or this: the minimum wage increase is passed, and you are excited because you think that youll be making more money at your summer job, but when you talk to your boss you find that you have no job at all because the increase means that your boss can no longer afford to keep you on the payroll since the Democratic President refused to give small businesses a tax break to offset the minimum wage increase. Or less personally: Poor people in New York City die in record numbers this winter from the cold because they cannot pay their home heating bill since the Democratic administration refused to allow oil companies to produce more oil.
I can give you trillions of reasons to get involved. Literally, trillions. Trillions, because that is how much money the government spends each year. Thats your money: you should have a say in how it is spent and see that it is spent wisely. To get involved, please email khorsman or tbuell. Let the debate begin.
Katherine Horsman 03
I really dont like George W. Bush. To be completely honest, Im
not a big fan of either major-party candidate. Ive heard quite a few angry
remarks regarding Al Gore, some of which are completely rational, and several
(thousand) heated comments about George W. Bush, known affectionately to some,
albeit few, as Dubya. I dont believe that either man has the
strengths nor leadership qualities necessary to become president. However, seeing
as how the other candidates are limited to a white-robed, red-faced, cross-burning
crusader and an underappreciated environmentalist (and we all know how they
never win), I dont think we have much choice but to decide between the
Thinking about voting for Nader? Well, so am I, but unfortunately, casting a vote for a third-party candidate is utterly useless. Sure, Nader would gain some recognition. Hed go home to his Green-Party headquarters where hell be thrown a splendid (read: dry) party for securing two percent of the vote, and his wife will give him a little extra loving in bed, but where does that leave us? Since every vote for Nader is presumably one taken from Gore, it leaves us with Dubya, a man who admittedly inhaled (unlike Clinton with his little weed experiment) cocaine. Cocaine that was shipped first class from Columbia next to a pound of Juan Valdezs finest roast. Somewhere outside of Bogota, a baron is being given a French manicure paid for by our potential future president. Keep in mind that this same individual, albeit reformed by the almighty will of God, supports mandatory minimum sentencing for marijuana dealers. Now, as GWBush.com (a parody site) so eloquently pointed out, were not just talking seasoned-veteran pot smugglers. No no. Under Dubyas system of justice, a 40-year-old mother of two would be incarcerated for selling a poppy plant that, unknown to her, was later used to produce opium in someones basement lab. This is not just unfair, this is hypocrisy, pure and raw. A man who evaded being punished for his crime wishes to crack down on those committing far less grievous offences. This is like drunkenly running over a small child, then chastising others for jaywalking. Or, to use a more recent and relevant analogy, like condemning a man for having an extramarital affair (it wasnt even real sex!) while sleeping with your secretary.
Oh wait. In all of this excitement about Bush, I almost forgot to discuss his cheery running mate, Dick Cheney. But know what? Id really just prefer talking about his wife. According to Newsweek, her desire to abolish the National Endowment for the Arts was so conservative, even NRA leader/Moses Charlton Heston opposed it. And what does Lynne, an opponent of gays in the military and of homosexual marriages, have to say about the fact that her daughter is a lesbian? No comment. That shows a lot of class. It seems to me if husband Dicks smiling photo werent plastered on billboards all over the nation, their daughter would be locked up in the broom closet with a weekly bucket of fish heads to munch on. Compassionate conservatism, eh? Oh, and Dick was opposed to the abolition of apartheid. True fact. But back to Dubya
Bushs main faults lie in the fact that hes just plain stupid, yet has had everything handed to him on a silver plate since childbirth. You all know the types. Like that kid that made the soccer team just because his dad was the coach? Remember him? Bush attended Phillips Andover Acadamy in Massachusetts for four years with a cumulative grade point average hovering around a C. Not that theres anything wrong with that; its just that it makes the fact that he got into Yale a bit curious. I know students who virtually governed small nations who didnt get into Yale. And so we ask the inevitable question: whos pulling the strings?
Okay, so to speed things up a bit, well now fast-forward through Bushs adult years as financial devastator for several oil companies, hooded executioner, and courageous educator (he reaches out to those poor Mexican children and addresses them in their own language!!). Lets jump right to a quote from Alex Nosnik across the hall: George W. Bush Jr., the present governor of my lovely state of Texas, is a nincompoop. He has done nothing for our state but increase the death toll, both by giving any individual the right to walk the world strapped to the tooth with weapons and by killing more prisoners then ever recorded. He consistently dodges every question that is laid at his door, and not in the manner that we have come to expect from politicians, but in a way that makes me question whether or not he actually understands anything anyone says. Hes a good old boy from the Northeast who struts the world as an egotistical Texan, which turns out to be a very lethal combination. If youre a fan of gun-slinging Americans who disrespect womens rights and assume to have a greater knowledge about the way life should be then Bush is your man, but for now, all I can say is be afraid. Be very, very afraid.
Which reminds me, in an infamously scandalized TV reporters pop-quiz, Bush conceded to not knowing the prime ministers of either India or Pakistan. Admittedly, I dont have the slightest idea as to who the prime minister of Pakistan is. But Im not running for president.
Well, Angie, welcome to Bowdoin College. Welcome to the campus that so many
of us adopted Maineacs call home. Welcome to one of the most exciting
experiences that you will have yet encountered. There is just so much that one
can say to an incoming student, so very much to share and to reflect upon-and
so very much more to say when that incoming student is your younger sister.
But while advice abounds for a younger sibling, most of that information ironically
applies to many of us seasoned students.
As the new year approaches, most of us start class with a heightened enthusiasm and an eagerness to learn. Despite the fact that this enthusiasm will quickly fade as the work increases and the time somehow disappears, we inevitably approach the upcoming fall months with positive anticipation. We all intend to take the class that we never took last semester, join the club we never quite had time for, plan the trip that was somehow forgotten in one of last years busy weekends, go to those meetings that you know you should attend, or start training for the sport you are quickly realizing that you should already be in shape for. We all intend to spend more time with our freshman-year roommate, have dinner with the professor who influenced our major, and to attend every common hour offered by the College. It is with great intentions that we begin our fall here at Bowdoin, but, all too often, we end the semester with four-month-old to do lists. If there were one thing that would make this semester better than the others, it would be to retain that initial enthusiasm one finds after a summer of mental relaxation, for as long as the semester endures.
And yes, Angie, you may have no idea what I am referring to, since it is very atypical of you to say and never do, but Bowdoin changes many of us. Be wary first years: hang on to the identity that you brought with you. In the class that is being hailed as the most diverse on campus, keep those things for which you were chosen to be here. Retain those intentions that so many of us upperclassmen see slipping away as fast as the weekends do.
And so, enjoy these upcoming months. Delve into anything and everything that you have wanted to do. Comedian David Ester who appeared in the pub last Friday, spoke of this very issue. He suggested that for one to get the most out of a very expensive education, you should get involved with everything possible, absolutely everything. He even suggested attending class lectures that we are not signed up for. I say go for it. After all, that is what we are all here for: to get the most out of our Bowdoin education. We are here to carry out those intentions that we all initially bring to campus.
So, first years, welcome to Bowdoin. To us returning students, heres to making this semester the best yet. And, Angie, I am thrilled to have you here with me, although I have so very much more advice to give you.
If you have been paying attention to the farce trying to pass itself off as
a political campaign this year and feeling more disgusted than an uptight Bible
Belter watching South Park, you probably really wish that someone else besides
the bickering Democrats and Republicans would present themselves as a legitimate
and unique choice. Well that candidate exists, and no, it is not Pat Buchanan,
although he would certainly redefine America, albeit more along the lines of
Nazi Germany. I am speaking of Ralph Nader, a man who has been tirelessly and
thanklessly advocating your rights as a citizen and consumer since before your
parents got drunk that night camping and decided to play Smokey The Bear
puts out the bush fire.
Ralph Nader is running for President as the nominee from the Green Party, and right now he is Americas best alternative. The process of electing a president in the United States is archaic, is unfair to small parties and panders to the needs and desires of big business. In fact, that sums up the current status of our entire government. At least we have a choice as to who we elect; but in the past few decades that choice has become less and less clear, as party platforms become more and more similar, and both stagnate behind a mask of change and progress. In recent years, our choice of leaders has been effectively reduced to our choice of fast food. The burger looks so good on television, but in reality it is overpriced, cold, tiny, pumped up with hormones, and every restaurant, from McDonalds to Burger King, is the same as the next.
There hasnt been a time in Americas history when we and our leaders have so blatantly ignored the shortcomings of government and society and harped only on the positive. I, for one, cant even use a public restroom without seeing an essay scrawled on the wall about the booming economy. (Whatever happened to witty limericks about that guy from Nantucket?) Im sure you have all heard the statistics before, but Ill bring them out again just to refresh your memory. The economic boom is benefiting only the richest percentage of Americans, and that is mostly from special tax breaks for the rich and loopholes in environmental laws for big companies. The richest 20 percent of the nation controls 80 percent of the wealth. The gap between the rich and the poor is the widest it has ever been in American history, and is increasing. Real wages are lower than they were in 1979. For at least half of the nation (i.e. the bottom half), there is no economic boom. None.
Many in America believe that this government and electoral process has to be changed, and changed more urgently than my roommates socks (hey you dont live with him). But who are our traditional Democratic and Republican candidates with which to effect change? They are George W. Bush, that great paragon of American virtue and intelligence (Oh, nevermind, I was thinking of Dan Quayle), or Al Gore, who is more whipped by Clinton and the latest public opinion poll than my roommate by his girlfriend, and thats saying a lot. Republicans in their compassionate conservatism are adopting, or at least espousing many staples of the Democratic platform. Bush is making concessions on abortion and talking up education, while Gore talks of (seriously) a missile defense system - a goal laughed at by anyone with a shred of common sense who isnt being paid billions to actually build the silly thing. Lets face it, there isnt any more real difference between Gore and Bush than between Burger King and McDonalds, or Pepsi and Coke: You think you can taste the difference, but you cant.
Okay, so maybe I have embellished a bit, because there are differences between Gore and Bush, and one could even argue that they are significant. But if you desire the kind of restructuring of the electoral process and of the governments relationship with big business that I do, then neither is a viable option. Ralph Nader is. Born in 1934 to immigrant Lebanese parents in Winsted, Connecticut, Nader attended Princeton as an undergraduate and then went on to Harvard Law School. He gained national recognition as an activist and a consumer rights advocate when he wrote Unsafe At Any Speed, an exposé of Chevrolets shoddily built Corvair. He is also responsible for founding many civil and environmental activist groups around the nation and has spurred such landmark laws as the Freedom of Information Act and the Clean Air Act.
Nader is a man who genuinely wants to change the way things are. His biggest goal is to remove corporate interest from Washington and to replace it with (gasp!) public interest. He also wants to completely revamp the electoral process, which is mired in the politics of big business. He wants stricter enforcement of current environ-mental standards and eventually stricter environmental laws. Nader wants people to become active participants in their government and to have children take a class or two in school on how to become active and caring citizens and to let their voices be heard. He wants to crack down on corporate crime and fraud. He wants universal healthcare. Hes not a revolutionary. He desires simply to make all of America great, not just the top 20 percent of it.
Now, what has Gore or Bush done that demonstrates either deserves to be president? Gore has done a respectable job, fighting in Vietnam and eventually serving in the Senate for a number of years before being elected Vice-President, but his associations with and actions in the Clinton Administration (no, he didnt have an intern) show that while Gore has good ideas (i.e. protecting the environment), he really hasnt acted on his beliefs and often sacrifices his ideals to please corporate interest. Bush is another story altogether. He graduated from Princeton with a gentlemens C, and then immediately and fearlessly joined the National Guard and defended Texas from the Communists. After that he worked overtime on his alcoholism until someone bought him the Texas Rangers, and poof! he was qualified to be governor of Texas and is now, according to some, the most popular option for leader of the free world. Only in America, right?
Ralph Nader is a patriot. He believes in the fundamental systems on which our forefathers founded this nation. But he believes that somewhere along the way the explosion of huge, powerful, and unchecked corporations has not only drowned out their voices but has also brainwashed most Americans. The guy working in the local factory who feels abused by his company cant pay $10,000 for a chance to plead his case to Gore or Bush at a fundraising dinner. Exxon and Dupont can, and do. And they dont ask for simple things like raising the minimum wage to a livable level. No, they say Hey Al, buddy, you know that bill that could prevent us from logging the national wildlife reserve, gee thats really a thorn in our side. Weve always been a big supporter of you and do you think you could just see to it that it doesnt get passed? That is straight-up bribery, it happens all the time, and its legal. The last I was aware, everyone in America had an equal voice: one vote. If you think this corporate corruption needs to change, then vote for Ralph Nader, because neither the Republicans nor the Democrats are going to do anything about it. They are the same platform with different clothes on. McDonalds and Burger King.
Ralph Nader is different. Hes the local hamburger joint where the wait is longer and the food more expensive; but its still worth it. Go buy a burger at McDonalds or Burger King, and what do you get? A big roll with pickles, onions, ketchup, and mustard, and an insignificant little pre-formed hamburger patty: all fancy dressing with no substance. Go to your local restaurant and what do you get? A big honkin half pound of beef that you have to eat with two hands and a plate full of steaming hot fries.
Vote Nader for the 2000 presidential election and visit his website at www.votenader.com. He brings the beef. (No offense to vegetarians, its just an analogy.)
Theres something about September that appeals to me, and I dont
know why. Even though it signals the end of summer, it also signals the beginning
of cold, crisp days, of trees painted red and gold, and of the first day of
I suppose that its a bit of a cliché to be writing my first column about the first day of school, but I read something recently that reminded me of the universality of this experience. Last Friday, the Associated Press carried a story about the return to school of Elian Gonzalez, Cubas most infamous youngster. The story chronicles Elians first day at the Marcelo Salado school in Cardenas, and relates the seemingly mundane goings-on of a group of children who would otherwise be distant from our lives, if not for their well-known classmate. Perhaps most interestingly (and heart-warmingly), the A.P. article describes the scene as the students go around the room, introducing themselves: My name is Elian, the 6-year-old piped up when the teacher asked all 28 kids in his second-grade class to introduce themselves. There was no applause, no commentary, until every child has said his or her name - and then they all applauded themselves.
There is something wonderfully comforting and reassuring in that sentiment. While I am sure that Elian has suffered more than his share of sidelong glances, this vignette illustrates that his classmates know something that the journalists dont:
Its time to start over.
Even for those of us who are not as famous as Elian, the beginning of school oftentimes carries that feeling with it. I can remember only a few first days from my own elementary school, but Im sure that I always wore my new clothes, and that I always had my shiny new pencils and my Trapper Keeper with the dinosaurs on the front. And, even though I had been going to school with many of my classmates for years, the first day always felt like a day unlike any other. There were, I imagined, so many different possibilities. Anything could happen! As I got older, first days got more and more complicated, and I found myself with more and more responsibilities. Nevertheless, I couldnt shake that feeling of newness, of beginning again.
So, as we embark upon another year at Bowdoin College, lets think about it as a year of firsts. Last week, Craig Bradley reminded the senior class that the year is almost over, and, although I understand his sentiment, I couldnt disagree more. There is still so much to do this year, even if there is so little time to do it in. For those of us who are at Bowdoin for the first time: explore the campus, and the town of Brunswick. Take a drive up the coast. Sign up to volunteer at the animal shelter or at the junior high. Try to get a radio show on WBOR. And, for those of us who are nearing the end of our careers here, take a moment to think about everything that you ever wanted to do at Bowdoin, and do it. Now. Because, hey: this might be your last chance.
Over the course of the year, youll see me write about a lot of things - music, Halloween, the presidential election, people who yell at their children in supermarkets - but I will say nothing that is as important as what I am going to say now:
Happy first day of school. Now go have some fun.
Shortly before the end of my first year of college I, a lonely homesick kid from the West Coast was accepted to become a proctor here at Bowdoin College. The contract began two weeks before the majority of students were scheduled to arrive on campus. Now after nearly three weeks, I sit in my homey college brick watching and critiquing the campus from a new but still familiar point of view. Ill begin with a little letter to the students of Bowdoin College.
To Whom It May Concern:
What is the deal with campus elections? I find it hard to believe that such a diverse, bright, and accomplished new freshman class has the stomach to allow future sleazy politicians to poster their homes with ridiculous promises and virtually no helpful information. It is very frustrating to walk around campus reading these posters knowing that inevitably one of these promise toting anonymous public servants will someday make some decision that may actually affect the students of the Class of 2004.
More than anything, this is a call to action. I want to see the first-year students pull their heads from beneath pages and ask those who want to run their class to explain themselves and their goals. And Im not talking about some high and mighty little paragraph posted on some multi-linked page deep in the Bowdoin technological maze. I want to see students getting up on an orange crate right next to our favorite mascot and fielding questions about what it might actually mean to be the president of a class of four hundred and fifty students.
Is it really necessary for these students to campaign now? To plaster their names across brick and wood that they barely recognize? Give these future Gore and Bush followers some time to actually form opinions and ideas about what its like to live here. How can these William Cohens cope with any problems they encounter or decisions they have to make if they do not have knowledge of either what the problems are or where to find the solutions?
Its frustrating for me, an active member of this lovely little community, to sit back and watch this atrocity occur. What an opportunity we have to make things happen around this often lonely and monotonous campus. Come one folks, lets shake things up.
Sarah Orne Jewett H1901 once wrote, When one really knows a village
like this and its surroundings, it is like becoming acquainted with a single
person. This Maine born and raised writer was no stranger to the Bowdoin
College campus, her father was a professor of the medical College, and in her
lifetime she would become the first woman to receive any sort of degree from
the College. Aside from being closely associated with the college, Jewett lived
with her finger on the pulse of Maine life. Her interest in Maine was sparked
as a young child as she made house calls with her father, who served the town
of South Berwick as their physician. Arguably no author has paralleled her ability
to capture the essence of what she regarded as a vanishing culture, the Down
Eastern way of living. Writing with an urgency similar to Melvilles attempts
to record the dying breed of New Englands sailors, Jewett pinpoints a
way of life that she saw as vanishing, but that may not be completely extinct
On Sunday, August 28, I pull out of my driveway in Saint Louis, Missouri. Ahead of me lies 1,300 miles of highway leading to Bowdoin College, or as I say to many Midwesterners, a small liberal arts college in Maine, just about half an hour up the coast from Portland. They acknowledge the city of Portland, and look back into their short-term memory to check if I said Maine, or Oregon. I cross through the states of Illinois and Indiana before lunch time, passing thousands of Amoco stations, Cracker Barrels, and Steak n Shakes - Midwestern establishments that become fewer and farther between the deeper into the Northeast I drive. With CDs that skip too often and farm town radio stations that crack and fade before disappearing, I tune out whatever is emanating from the stereo and open my eyes to the mammoth that is the state of Ohio. The seemingly impenetrable final Midwestern state. It is between Columbus and Cleveland, heading Northeast for the first time, that the land first begins to change noticeably. The cornfields have been left behind at this point, and as I briefly cut through Pennsylvania, I sense that I am fast approaching New England. I begin to feel like I am finally making a dent in my journey- that is, before my spirit is crushed by the behemoth that is known as the New York Thruway.
The globalization of major corporations will be the death of regionalism in the United States; theres not a major city in this world that hasnt been tainted in some way by corporate America. Theres a McDonalds in Saigon. Ive found though, that Brunswick is a die-hard town when it comes to fighting off the bombardments of fast food, establishments that have been cut straight off the assembly line. Brunswick pushes said businesses to the virtually characterless Cooks Corner intersection just east down Bath Road. Just across from the Brunswick Naval Air Station, rests Fatboy, the last refuge of independent charm. Ahead lies Burger King, Staples, Papa Ginos, and the like. I like walking into downtown Brunswick, and choosing between Big Top and Broadway Deli, rather than between Burger King and McDonalds.
Just after Ive passed through Portsmouth, NH, and across the Maine border, my gas light comes on, a cruelty as I begin my homestretch. So having come over 1,200 miles, and with less than 75 remaining, Im almost out of gas. Taking the off ramp at the next advertised exit, I come to a fork in the road, with no indication as to the direction of the nearest gas station. Another thing about New Englands charm: its assumed too often that everyone already knows where they are, and where theyre going, thus there is no need for road signs, street signs, etc. So I did the easiest thing I could have done, I lost my way. And after pulling several U-turns, I spotted an older man working in his yard. And as I asked him directions, I knew for the first time in nearly four months that I was back in Maine. The dialect is like none other, not so general as say, a Southern accent. Somewhat similar to that of other New England states, but at the same time unmistakably Maine. The man provided directions to the gas station, and from there, he told me how I would find my way back to the highway. I got the sense that hed been asked before.
Sarah Orne Jewett feared the disappearance of a people, a way of life, and a culture in itself. As one who comes from halfway across the country, and one who spent his freshman year adjusting to a different way of life, I feel that the Maine Jewett wrote so passionately about is safely off the endangered cultures list. While in the 21st Century Bowdoin College students might be experiencing a diluted version of Maine life compared to a century ago, life in Maine remains unlike any other.
Christina Aguilera never saw it coming. But then again, neither did he. What
started out as a seemingly innocent quote on MTV has created a bitter whirlwind
of media that lands both Eminem and the teen pop-queen in a flailing heap on
the tongues of just about every American.
In response to what she thought about the blonde-haired rapper, Aguilera responded, Hes cute and everything, but hes got too many girls after him. Besides, hes married, so Im going to stay away from that. While her comments were both complimentary and cautious, Eminems replies have come in the form of inflatable dolls, slanderous sexual suggestions and a Christina lyric on two of his last three singles (The Real Slim Shady and Off the Wall). Aguilera, however, isnt the only figure to be cut up by the sharp tongue of hip-hops most controversial artist since Ice T back in the days of Cop Killer.
And thats just the problem. Though the media and the public are willing to brush off the very lopsided verbal sparring between Eminem and Christina (and Britney Spears, NSYNC, Insane Clown Posse, his mother, his wife ), his newest CD, The Marshall Mathers LP has brought him a tremendous amount of criticism despite its multi-platinum status. Too many different groups and people have been attacked: from Clinton to Sonny Bono to Versace. In response to a barrage of public outcry, Mathers responds, I do say things that I think will shock people but I dont know how long Im going to be on this planet. So while Im here, I might as well make the most of it.
Its safe to say that if Eminem dropped out of the entertainment business tonight, he would create enough stir to carry over until the next white rapper from Detroit appears on the Billboard charts and TRL countdown. However, since its also not likely that this will happen, let me address the biggest problem with Slim Shadys public problems. Though many of his lyrics are undoubtedly offensive, they are also some of the most impressive in the hip-hop world. His constant stream of menacing yet perfectly placed verses puts Eminem atop both the pop charts and the underground music scene.
This is where the dilemma arises. While rap icons such as The Notorious B.I.G., Method Man, and DMX have risen to the top of the hip-hop world, they havent entirely crossed over to the mainstream. However, their white counterpart has become fully immersed in a sea of teenage pop fans who bring home his CDs and play them over and over, while their parents read in the next room. All of a sudden, a public outcry is heard because of the offensive lyrics that Shady is pumping into childrens ears.
With this outcry comes the inevitable volley of accusations and defenses. The latest and most potable complaints have come recently from the Gay/Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation. GLAAD executive director, Joan M. Gerry states, The Marshall Mathers LP contains the most blatantly offensive homophobic lyrics GLAAD has ever seen. While the First Amendment rightfully shields Eminem from complaints from the outside world, his own seemingly invincible armor has become dinged up in the argument.
Mathers was quoted in his defense as saying, Faggot to me doesnt necessarily mean gay people when I started saying faggot, I started getting people going. [They said] You have something against gay people and I thought it was funny, because I dont. Yet, when you listen to the lyrics in many of his songs, its clear that this is not the case. The poster-verse for GLAADs argument go a little something like this: MY WORDS ARE LIKE A DAGGER WITH A JAGGED EDGE// THATLL STAB YOU IN THE HEAD WHETHER YOURE A FAG OR LES// OR A HOMOSEX, HERMAPH// OR A TRANS-A-VES// PANTS OR DRESS// HATE FAGS?// THE ANSWERS YES.
To his friends, colleagues and hip-hop heads, Eminem constantly maintains that he says exactly what he thinks; what comes out in the recording studio is what runs through his head. Yet when he is interviewed by the pop-culture media, he skirts around the issues or replies that he has the right to create a stage persona. When asked about his Slim Shady LP track, 97 Bonnie & Clyde (in which he murders his wife and steals their baby), Mathers replied, Me and Kim have a special relation. She knows when Im just fuckin around on stage. She can tell that Im only doing it for fun.
If this indeed is true, then Eminem should not claim to be sharing [his] point with the world if his lyrics are based on stories he has made up in order to create more record sales. Though his lyrical wizardry is undisputed, his responses to the media are generally different from what he puts down on his tracks and relays to his close circle of hip-hop friends. This takes something away from his hardcore persona, and puts him somewhere between rap icon and showman extra-ordinaire.
It recently dawned on me that I am indeed graduating in a few short weeks,
barring serious academic collapse. Its been four years. Holy shit. Wait,
I cant say that.
I arrived in Brunswick in the fall of 1996. It was a sunny day and I was a scrawny, dorky looking kid with glasses and no fashion sense, struggling to grow his hair out. Now I have blossomed into quite the stud.
Im sure you are all asking yourselves, Whats Pedro doing next year? I know Im asking that question. With a Bowdoin degree under my belt, the world is my oyster, whatever the hell that means. But I have two conditions that guide my future. They are my desire not to work in an office and my need not to live at home. So without any further pomp and circumstance, its time to present my top three plans for the next chapter in the life of Pedro.
I have been working for the Orient in some capacity every semester that I have been at Bowdoin. Its a bit scary to say, but I am really going to miss it. Ah, the memories. Bowdoins identity may lie in expelling women, Victory at Columbine, Let the flag fly. And those are just the headlines.
There is something about the profession that appeals to me. I cant quite put my finger on it, but it revolves around the fact that I enjoy writing for an audience. I enjoy soliciting responses, and inspiring discussion. I enjoy pissing people off. Of the hundreds of pages I have typed over the past four years, I have put much more consideration into what is read by my peers rather than what is read by my professors. Sure, this may not be the best strategy for anyone looking to graduate cum laude, but who cares? I have received the greatest comment I could hope for, I cant believe you wrote that.
Now the life of an aspiring columnist is not fun-filled. Syndication scares me. Perhaps some of you gourmets out there in readers land have glanced at one of my restaurant reviews. Now those I enjoy. They combine my love of writing with my love of dining out. Unfortunately, my parents smoked throughout my childhood, and I fear that my taste buds are much too dulled to truly sample the subtleties of gourmet meals.
Regardless, journalism is a possibility. I am a procrastinator by nature and have based much of my academic career on writing under time constraints. I love the idea of people reading what I think they should know or think. Maybe its a power trip.
And on to the second path. I have spent the past four summers and a few winter breaks working in restaurants, and have found that I love the art of hospitality. While washing dishes was a bit too menial to turn into a career, I found my niche in running the door. The mid-priced restaurant-microbrewery might just be the home for me.
While home over Spring Break, I paid visits to a few friends I have worked with and for, and had offers of management positions. Of course in this business that could mean $9 an hour or 75 hour weeks at $30K a year. But if I like it, is that enough? Perhaps for a few years, but thats pushing it. Ive seen people get sucked into the business, and its not pretty. Though casinos still appeal to me
I have a vision of taking a bus out to Vegas and taking any hospitality job I can get, and living by the seat of my pants for a few years. I had a friend for whom I washed dishes several years ago. I remember him sharing is sage-like advice. Pete, the best thing about cooking, is that I can pick up and move anywhere in the country and have a job in 12 hours.
Rereading what Ive written, I realize that I have been painfully dull, and you have my apologies for putting up with me, or my congratulations for sticking it out so long. You pick whichever, depending on your mood.
The most off-the-wall option I have been considering is the military. Not many kids from Bowdoin find their way into the enlisted ranks, which is a shame. My military plan involves my joining the navy and finding myself in the Mediterranean a year from now, operating sonar or weapons systems on a fast attack submarine.
Of all the answers I have given to the perennial, What are you doing next year? this answer always draws the most criticism. There is a general disdain for the armed forces among many of my peers, which is most unfortunate. I have several reasons for pursuing this type of lifestyle for myself, at least for a few years.
First of all is the superficial; I like the idea of being able to spend every cent Im worth, and still have a roof over my head and food in my tummy at the end of the day. There is a sense of duty that strikes me every now and then. Many of my relatives have found themselves in the military for a few years both in times of war and times of peace, and I would hate to break the tradition.
Above all, I see the military as a chance to continue my education. Im not talking about learning the proper way to salute and how to make a bed that quarters will bounce off of. I have led a very sheltered life thus far, and enlisting would expose me to types of people I have not had the opportunity to get to know. I see the military as a way to become a minority in several ways for the first time in my life.
So there you have it. Dont ask me what Im doing; take a guess. It could be a small town paper, it could be Vegas, it could be the Mediterranean. But whatever happens, you wont run into me on the streets of Boston.
Pedro is really cool.
I called with a request in mind, which I wasnt sure would be fulfilled.
I knew theyd be closing at four, and would most likely want to shut down
at 3:59 like most other eating establishments. The phone rang once and a half,
and as the other side picked up, I heard the trailing off from an in-house order,
, followed by the familiar Hello, Big Top.
Though I was aware of the closing time, I had been talking and thinking about
getting a sandwich and salad since about 2 a.m. the night before. I ordered
a bagel with lox and cream cheese and a caesar salad with extra dressing, and
told the voice on the other side that I had class till four. He took my order
graciously when I said Id be there as soon as possible, but in a comment
that surprised me, the owner replied, Dont worry about it. If youre
not here well put it by the doorstep and you can pay tomorrow. In
a time when it seems to be up front or not at all, it just caught me off guard.
But it really shouldnt have; thats just the way they run things down at Big Top. Theyve been doing it ever since 1995. No ones really sure what stood at 70 Maine Street in the past, but since Alex Ho and Michael Kunhardt decided to open the New York-style delicatessen, it hasnt mattered. While their sandwich creations are often elaborate, the origins of Big Top are quite simple. Kunhardt wanted to start a business in the Big Apple, but his partner favored Colorado. In a compromise which has proved beneficial for Brunswick residents, they settled in Maine. Ho, 30, said, We parked at Christys, had a few beers at Joshuas and just decided, lets have it here. He also added that Bowdoin was a great influence in establishing Big Top at its present location, saying, the students definitely help on weekends.
Unlike its foundation, Big Tops name and design has more of a background. After Michael Kunhardt and his family finished working on a PBS documentary involving circus life and history, he kept the various memorabilia. Much of the pictures, news articles and old photographs now adorn the interior walls, and the television program serves as the basis for the establishments name. With Hos knowledge for running a business, and Kunhardts paraphernalia, 70th Maine has become a town favorite.
Big Top has been named Midcoast Maines Best Deli/Sandwich Shop (Market Surveys of America) for three years running, but its not your classic order and go place. While some may take their food elsewhere, many customers enjoy the laid back atmosphere at one of the ten tables or numerous stool seats overlooking the center of town. The walls are well decorated, and fit perfectly under the name, Big Top. On your immediate left is a black and white image of P.T. Barnum, flanked by an article written on the circus magnate. Around the deli can be found an assortment of other framed photos or illustrations; from the Golden Gate Park and Ringling Bros. & Barnum & Bailey to an 1873 shot of Maine Street. Towards the rear, a wavy mirror contorts anyone who walks by the corridor. Another aspect of the deli that separates it from others and adds to the atmosphere is the preparation area. Instead of closing it off from view, a low counter opens up half the floor and allows clientele to see what is being prepared.
Its likely that other sandwich shop owners would like to take a peek at what goes on at the cutting boards and meat slicers. Whether its a simple sandwich, or a quarter-pound burger, patrons are continually satisfied and thinking about seconds. Although Ho recommends, anything, some more specific suggestions should be added for the Big Top beginner. For the basic palate, an egg salad sandwich on a Kaiser roll does wonders; in an alteration from this traditional selection, Id recommend slices of (fresh daily) avocado on top. As a Long Islander, the bagels with cream cheese and lox (complete with capers) are truly New York-style, and the caesar salad competes with any sit-down restaurant Ive been to.
Some more exclusive Big Top creations have names to match. Scanning the colorful chalkboard menu, one will find titles such as The Trapeze, Jenny Lind, Tightrope, Oliphant, and The Rockies. Other favorites include the Tom Thumb, which at $2.50 is probably the best bargain there (it includes fried egg, avocado, tomato, mayo and salt and pepper on a toasted English muffin); The Goose (turkey, muenster cheese, honey mustard dressing, avocado on a 7 or 12 wedge); and The Nick (a footlong hot roast beef with hot peppers, provolone cheese, tomatoes and mayonnaise). The soups change three times a week, new sandwich creations change daily, and a pickle and chips are included with every order. A number of soft drink coolers can be found standing on the black and white checkered floor, containing Snapple, a variety of sodas, and of course Fresh Samanthas. Jaime Nichols 03 says, Even though Im twenty, I still cant resist Samanthas smile. I get three or four every time I eat there.
While the school year is coming to a close, reading period and Senior Week provide plenty of sunny days. For a great mealand procrastination breakwalk down to Big Top and order one of their hundred menu selections, or create one of your own. Theyll call you by name, bring the food outside on wicker baskets, and be there when you go back for seconds.
Big Top accepts credit cards and is not affiliated with P.T. Barnum himself.