Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Century of Student Rants


Rip 'em up. Tear 'em up. Cocks give 'em hell!

That was the favorite cheer from the (red) Carolina stadium in the mid-1960s. The university's fascination with the nasty little birds included naming the student newspaper The Gamecock.

I note this because:
  • The paper is 100 years old this year (same as the FBI)
  • I reported and wrote columns and editorials for it waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay back
  • A current editor tracked me down and interviewed me on a scandalous article for the recap
Pic Note: The logo above does not have my cupcake art. I adapted it from the paper's site.

Up here in Yankeeland, the assumption is that all meaningful history occurred in Boston and Cambridge. Locals don't even seem to recognize Florida, New Mexico, Virginia and New York settlements, much less that anything of moment could happen below Milton.

Truth be told, the Harvard Crimson is older by three decades. Yet other colleges had student journalists and journalism schools too. In this particular instance, you can go to the only repository of all of The Gamecock — the oldest separate college library building in the nation, South Caroliniana. Before this USC was a party school, it was one of two where the smart Southerners went, the other being Virginia.

As you might surmise, when I was on the paper at the height of the Vietnam War, I was the thumbtack on the chairs of the university president and numerous politicians. Although it is a state school, it has a lot of alumni funding (and interference) and virtually anyone of import got an undergrad or law degree from it. The Gamecock has a huge alumni readership.

Locals also have no shame over the newspaper name/mascot. The same t-shirt that would get raised eyebrows, invitations or worse here is classic there.

Now, any right winger or redneck is likely to have long hair and at least one earring. Back then (when I had hair), those were up-yours-conservatives symbols. My inflammatory columns and articles were surely worse. Even if you were not in the same room, you could get offended by reading. I loved it.

I don't know how you spent your college years, but I can tell you tales. The various editors-in-chief can likewise recount the letters, calls and visits from students, faculty, alumni and lawmakers complaining about me. I loved it.

The recap touches on the f-word article. It doesn't mention:
  • Interviews with hookers and drug dealers
  • Ridiculing the athletic director
  • Calling the frats on their self-satisfied once-a-year visit to orphanages
  • A view of an acid trip
  • A fake article about me as a filmmaker and director
  • Slamming Black students for wanting to imitate the white Greek life
  • Calls for coverage of and accepting ads from women's reproductive clinics
  • Going head to head with a rabid legislator wanting to fingerprint all students in the state
  • Publishing pix of undercover Army cops and their unmarked vehicles out to find soldiers fraternizing with anti-war coffee house folk
I swear that an intense and passionate life is much superior to a calm and cautious one. I have to thank Paul Bowers at The Gamecock for tracking me down and triggering those cheap thrills. (Swallow your coffee if you intend to click the link.)

If you're still holding back on your strong opinions, consider letting fly today. The reactions won't be nearly as bad as you project, you'll feel much better, and you just may get more of both respect and meaningful conversation.

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