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Learned Foote
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Welcome to Columbia! Are you feeling inadequate yet? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.
compiled by Hillary Busis
03 Abandon All Hope, Ye Who Eat in John Jay
Raphael Pope-Sussman
04 Out of Africa Ariel Pollock
06 Altered Boy Melanie Jones
05 We Rule the School Jennie Rose Halperin
11 Literary But Not Solitary
Gizem Orbey and Melanie Jones
\\\ FILM
12 �e Agony of Influence Learned Foote
\\\ FOOD
14 Treats from a Truck Shane Ferro
15 Splurge or Steal Moira Lynch
You may not remember the shortlived, not especially good ABC series
Commander in Chief in great detail, but I
do. During my senior year of high school,
my government teacher would let us
watch each week’s episode as a special
Friday treat. In it, Geena Davis plays the
vice president who’s forced to take over
after the president’s health fails. It’s a
scenario many of us have likely played
out in our heads, given the current state
of things!
I wasn’t going to write about Sarah
Palin. I was so committed to not writing
about Sarah Palin. And while I find the
Mommy Wars, etc., endlessly interesting,
I didn’t know what I could add to the
But then she spoke at the Republican
National Convention. And it may not be
original, but I want to add a voice to the
cacophony. Here is what I netted from
Palin’s speech at the convention last
night: she’s just a small-town girl, living in
a lonely world.
And, um... yeah, that’s about it. Hillary
Busis, our new Features deputy editor
(speaking of, check out our new section,
Eyesites, on the opposite page—it’s
great!), came up with the only good plan
I heard during Palin’s speech. “You guys,”
Hillary said, “we should drink every time
she says ‘small town.’ We’d be so wasted
by now!”
It’s fine that Palin is a small-town girl,
but I hope against hope that the midnight
train she’s taking anyyywhere isn’t
headed for 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
I don’t know whether Palin dumbed
down her rhetoric to appeal to the lowest
common denominator of voter or whether
she’s actually of no more than average
intelligence, but personally, I don’t want
my vice president to be “just another
hockey mom.”
Of course, to some extent all politicians
are guilty of dumbing down their
speeches—Joe Biden and Barack Obama
included. And to some extent it’s a good
thing—so-called “low-info” voters are
still voters, and the more accessible the
speeches are to those voters, the better.
But surely there must be a more solid
middle ground than Palin, who spent more
time last night telling us how she met
her husband than explaining how she’ll
implement her laughably vague plan to
“move forward” with alternative energy
sources. Why hadn’t anyone thought of
“moving forward” as a viable plan?
Maybe there’s some truth to the
principle that the electorate doesn’t want
to be intimidated by its representatives,
but really, shouldn’t we have reason
to believe that the president’s secondin-command is smarter than we are?
Especially with this potential president,
who according to actuarial models has a
one in three chance of dying before the
end of his theoretical second term? When
Obama and John McCain visit next week
(wait, what?), I’ll be watching the latter
closely for signs of ill health. Commander
in Chief was cancelled, but I’d still trust
a poorly written Geena Davis over Sarah
—Alexandria Symonds
Words of Wisdom
“Man is a reasoning rather than a
reasonable animal.”
—Alexander Hamilton
(King’s College, did not graduate)
“A man who has never gone to
school may steal from a freight
car; but if he has a university
education, he may steal the whole
—�eodore Roosevelt
(Law, did not graduate)
Abandon All Hope,
Ye Who Eat in John Jay
“Great things are not
accomplished by those who yield
to trends and fads and popular
—Jack Kerouac
(Columbia College, did not graduate)
�is week, 6,000 young men and women arrive
on our campus to begin a journey. �ey are the
fresh blood in the corpus that is our campus. Fresh
blood is what makes Columbia strong. It’s so rich
in iron.
So welcome to Columbia, class of 2012. You are
a privileged few. You truly are the smartest, the
fastest, the legacy-est. �e expectations are tremendously high for the class of 2012. After all, you
may be the final class that this noble institution
ever graduates. According to Mayan eschatology,
2012 is the “Closing of �is World Age Cycle.” Pacal
Votan, the Mayan prophet of the seventh century,
predicted that the apocalypse will occur on Dec.
21, 2012. And so will come the end of the world as
we know it.
“�e End of the World as We Know It” may
sound like a good-time rock song, but let me be
the first to tell you that the Mayans were not much
for messing around. We’re talking about a group
of people who considered tongue mutilation the
good kind of mutilation. To be fair, the Mayans also
enjoyed the “alcohol enema,” so let’s not accuse
them of being killjoys. �e point is that it would
behoove you to appreciate the terrible gravity of
Pacal Votan’s predictions.
Do predictions of global Armageddon make you
chuckle? Do you think, “Oh, I go to Columbia, I’m
far too intelligent to be fooled by such hucksterism”? Well, think again. Consider the following
passage from the Dreamspell (a calendar based in
Mayan astrology): “�e purpose of the 13-moon
calendar is to assist in converting third-dimensional materialism into the fourth-dimensional
rainbow nation.” If you’re so intelligent, how come
you can’t even understand the fourth-dimensional
rainbow nation?
In any case, I know that you arrived here with
�e 2012ers make upperclassmen feel
old—not only because of their starry eyes
and adorable earnestness but also because
almost all of them were born in the ’90s. In
honor of this frightening fact, we present
you with a playlist that may come in handy
if you’re ever trying to make a first-year
feel at ease.
’90s Party Playlist
1. “Show Me Love,” Robyn (1997)
2. “Mr. Jones,” Counting Crows (1994)
some burning questions. Forget those. Remember
this question:
How will YOU spend these FINAL years?
You came to Columbia expecting the best four
years of your life. But college is never quite what
you expect it to be. For some, college is a time to
learn, a time to grow. For you, it will consist of
three-and-a-half years punctuated by the complete obliteration of the earth.
2012 seems the distant future. But don’t let that
lull you into a false sense of security. �ere is NO
TIME to waste!
Unless you want the END TIMES to arrive before you’ve received your diploma, you’re going to
need to start piling those credits up NOW, so you
nigh. �e END is upon us. Welcome to Columbia. I
hope you like alcohol enemas. Because there will
be lots of those where you’re going. \\\
3. “Doctor Jones,” Aqua (1997)
4. “I Am the Cute One,” Mary-Kate and
Ashley Olsen (1993)
5. “You Oughta Know,” Alanis Morissette
6. “It’s All Coming Back To Me Now,“
Celine Dion (1996)
7. “Fantasy (Remix),” Mariah Carey
featuring Ol’ Dirty Bastard (1995)
8. “Never Ever,“ All Saints (1997)
9. “Zombie,“ �e Cranberries (1994)
10. “Kiss From a Rose,” Seal (1995)
Overheard at
the 2008 NSOP
Sexual Consent
“ Don’t worry,
I’ll ask her first!”
—Awkward first-year boy after
receiving digits from an equally
awkward first-year girl in what
will surely turn out to be an
awkward first-year romance.
In Perspective
7,411 – Undergraduate
population at Columbia,
Barack Obama’s alma mater
(2007 figure)
6,715 – Population of Wasilla,
Alaska, where Republican vicepresidential nominee Sarah
Palin was mayor from 1996 to
(2008 figure)
Out of Africa
Four years ago, I found myself completely lost in
the streets of Langa, a township on the outskirts of
Cape Town. I’d gotten a little too caught up playing
with the barefoot kids who ran to me, jumped on my
back, begged for candy, and fought to be in pictures.
Lost in the moment, I’d had no idea really of the significance of my surroundings. I did not understand
why these kids lived in shacks roofed with flattened
Coke cans or why my mother was so terrified that I
had strayed from the tour group. I only knew that it
was a powerful moment, that remains permanently
in my mind.
Today I’m studying about half an hour’s drive
from those kids at the University of Cape Town. �e
truth is, I’m here largely because I believe in moments. Maybe it’s because I’m impulsive and not
entirely practical, but I search for moments that will
change the way I think and look at the world. �at
day in Langa I had one. Recently, standing in a lecture hall at UCT, I experienced another.
In this hall sat a panel of human rights defenders. I went because of the big names on the program: Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the great figurehead behind the reconciliation movement in
post-apartheid South Africa, and Denis Goldberg,
a white, Jewish man who rose so high in the ranks
of the anti-apartheid struggle that he sacrificed 22
years of his life in jail for it.
I stood listening to these men in a lecture hall
crowded so tightly with eager students that the
difference between my feet and my neighbors’,
my arms and the ones next to me, became imperceptible.
Goldberg stood first and started with a joke about
how both UCT and the South African prison system
were among his many distinguished alma maters.
He went on to tell the crowd about what made him
an activist—namely a moment when, at the age of 5,
he learned, from the sight of an old man on crutches
hobbling through the rain, about economic injustice
and what it meant to be black in South Africa.
At the end of his address he joked to the crowd,
“Here is a point on which the Archbishop and I will
disagree: for me, ‘the Power’ is the people.”
He then thundered, “You. You all! You are the
power that I speak of!”
Usually I think of idealism as something I must
cling to—something that will regretfully but inevitably fade with time, age, and reality. But Goldberg
and Tutu are not young. �ey are withered with age,
with struggle, and with far too much reality for their
own good, and yet they stood in front of a packed
hall and pleaded with the audience to always take
idealism and turn it into reality.
�at moment—that is what South Africa means to
me. �at is why I’m here. \\\
Ariel Pollock is a Columbia College junior studying abroad
in South Africa.
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We Rule the School
fighting the back-to-school blues with some blues
�e time for pencils, books, and dirty looks is upon the
campus, and one surefire way to make these first weeks
exciting is to listen to a school-themed mixtape. Below
are seven songs sure to remind you why you’re here—or
at least make you forget that you have hours of homework to complete.
“We’re Going to Be Friends”—White Stripes
While most rock songs consist of approximately
three chords, few even approach the simplicity of
“Campus”—Vampire Weekend
It’s hard to have a back-to-school Columbia mixtape
without mentioning these recent alums. �is song,
a forthcoming single from last year’s debut album,
captures the lazy feeling of warm afternoons—while
the lyricist may be “sleeping on the balcony after
class,” most students are running around, already
stressed, and the song reminds a Columbian that
there is college life outside the classroom. Its main
crux, though, comes from the relentlessly cheerful rhythm and the cute chorus in which the angst
of an awkward greeting is captured in a few words:
“I see you, you’re walking across the campus, cruel
professor studying Romantics/How am I supposed
to pretend I never want to see you again?” While it
may be overkill to listen to a song about the Columbia campus, the keyboard blips and intricate bass
line could take the edge off those campus run-ins
and demanding classes.
“Lord Anthony” and “We Rule the School”—Belle and
Belle and Sebastian tread their usual material in “Lord
Anthony,” a depressing gem about a boy bullied at
school while in drag. On this track, though, smart
Lord Anthony is described over a 1960s lounge-like
beat that includes banjo and haunting background vocals—common in their more recent work, and a definite step forward for a band best known for depressing
acoustics. While Stuart Murdoch may be too gloomy
for most days, the song could serve as a reminder of
the terrors of youth. If it proves too downbeat lyrically and too upbeat musically, Belle and Sebastian
write similar material in “We Rule the School,” which
dreamily floats from beginning to end, with strings
playing the Pachelbel theme over the chorus, and a
sleepy flute part at the end. “Lord Anthony” will create no false nostalgia, but “We Rule the School,” with
its ending refrain of “You know the world was made
for men, but not us,” is almost hopeful and cheery.
As holders of the indie rock torch, Belle and Sebastian
do indeed rule the school—and their music is still relevant to a new school year.
“Be True to Your School”—Beach Boys
While not a Beach Boys hit, this song couples a nonsensical chorus (“Be true to your school now/Just
like you would to your girl or guy/And let your colors
fly,”) with the band’s usual infectious harmonies.
�e song did not age well, and most of the production, including one version which includes screaming cheerleaders after each verse, pairs well with the
oddly antiquated lyrics. While the song makes little
sense today, it’s still a fun reminder of a more innocent time in pop music—and a good way to remember that, while Columbia may not be known for its
sports, it is important to “be jacked up on the football game,” in order to properly “let your colors fly”
while saying “rah rah rah rah rah.”
“Good Morning Little School Girl”—Buddy Guy (Grateful
Dead cover)
In almost direct opposition to the Beach Boys, this
song is a sexy take on the back-to-school blues. A
blues classic, it is popularly attributed to Sonny Boy
Williamson, who first recorded the song in 1937.
�e song has been covered by hundreds of artists,
including the Grateful Dead, Buddy Guy, and Jonny
Lang, but the most famous cover is by �e Yardbirds on their 1964 live album, Five Live Yardbirds.
�e song itself is odd, even creepy—a story about a
grown man sleeping with a schoolgirl—but the riff
is so memorable and the bluesy repetitions so incredible that it has remained popular for 70 years.
�e song also has seemingly endless lyrical variations—while Sonny Boy Williamson wanted his
schoolgirl “to be his baby,” all the Grateful Dead
wanted was “to ride your little machine.” �ough
times change and lyrics evolve, the consensus remains that all these big blues boys want to do is
“come home with you.”
you’re getting dressed in the morning, tapping your
feet and using a mouth-harp, or else while you’re
writing that paper on left-wing politics.
this White Stripes single. Jack White, an acoustic
guitar, and silly lyrics about elementary school
made this song an unlikely standout on their third
album, and it has already been used for children’s
albums and indie movies. �e lyrics about a girl
named “Suzy Lee” are self-consciously naïve, and
the tick-tock beat of the acoustic guitar is irritating
in its repetition, but the song is perfect for remembering when school was more than just papers and
the Core Curriculum.
“What Did You Learn in School Today?”—Tom Paxton
�is Tom Paxton classic is a condemnation of American culture and schooling, and it is the leftist version
of a back-to-school special. While Paxton’s students
may be learning that “War is not so bad,” and that
“Washington never told a lie,” the days of Lies My
Teachers Told Me are hopefully past. With a folky,
upbeat rhythm, the song could be on repeat while
“To Sir, With Love”—Lulu
�is song is particularly great because it comes from
a ridiculously enjoyable movie about Sidney Poitier and a rowdy group of Cockney schoolchildren.
�e scene where Lulu sings is hilarious, featuring
overlaid photographs and silly British slang. While
few professors may take a student “from crayons
to perfume,” the song is still a throwback to a time
of surf-rock guitars and Nancy Sinatra-like vocals.
Lulu’s one hit in the United States was actually only
a B-side in Britain, where the film was shot. But the
song, and the groundbreaking film, remain classics. Lulu may not be a household name anymore,
but her ballad is incredibly recognizable and has
been covered by everyone from �e Bangles to Trash
Can Sinatras. Lulu’s torch song does have a concrete
use, though—one sure way to impress a professor
is to sing it to them at the end of the semester—but
there’s no need to think that far in advance. \\\
Altered Boy
melanie jones interviews daniel c. maguire
Daniel C. Maguire has some explaining to do. In 2007,
the professor of moral theological ethics at Marquette
University in Wisconsin was officially condemned by U.S.
bishops for his writings, which continue to exhilarate liberals and rankle conservatives. After leaving the priesthood to become one of Ms. magazine’s “40 Male Heroes
of the Past Decade,” Maguire serves as president of the
Religious Consultation and just published his 11th book,
Whose Church?, on progressive Catholicism. Melanie
Jones met with Maguire to talk about religion and politics
and why not using condoms may be a sin.
You were once training to be a priest. What
�e Italians gave me a lot of instruction. One Friday,
I was trying to get a meatless meal, and everything
had meat. Finally the owner found something, pasta
stuffed with spinach, but he brought it out covered
in Bolognese meat sauce. I got mad then. I said to
him, “Aren’t you a Catholic?” He said: “Cattolico, sí.
Fanatico, no.” ... Now, when people ask me if I’m a
Catholic, I say: “I’m a Catholic theologian. I know
the tradition. I’ve worked in it for half a century, so I
know it very well, but my spirituality is considerably
more complex.” If you look into me, you’ll find Buddhism, and lots of Jewish stuff in there—I wouldn’t
fit one mold.
You frequently debate and publish works in partnership with the Religious Consultation. How do
you come to any sort of agreement? What draws you
all together?
In one of my books, I have a line with all kinds of
radii taking off from the same point. �ose radii are
Hinduism, Judaism... but all of them start out at the
same point. �ey’re outbursts of awe: “Wow, look
at this, look at the babies, hear the music.” �ey’re
explosions of wonder, of marveling, and all of them
are trying to make sense of it. As different as they all
get, you can bring them back to that “Point Wow,”
and they can all sit and talk.
Whose Church? talks a lot about probabilism, a
Catholic tradition that states that moral matters
with good authorities on both sides should be decided by one’s conscience. Seems like that would come
in useful with issues like contraception...
It’s an escape hatch. At one time, in the 15th century, they thought that all interest on a loan, one tenth
of 1 percent, was a mortal sin. �ey just got locked
into that, and then they got out of it. So you can get
yourself free of that false consensus. In Mozambique,
half of a bishop’s congregation was HIV-positive. He
told them: “If you are HIV-positive and you have
unprotected sex with someone who is not, you’re
a murderer. And if you are not HIV-positive and
you know someone is and you have sex with them,
you’re a suicide. �ose are your sins. Condoms are
not a sin.” And he’s still there.
Can you really pick and choose what to worship and
believe? How do you hold a religion together when
so many people disagree on certain issues?
Everybody, when you get down to it, is a “cafeteria
Catholic,” including the pope. He chooses too, and
often the worst things. Not using a condom when
your spouse is HIV-positive, that’s a terrible thing to
pick in the “cafeteria of life.”
Do you see your books and pamphlets as attacks on
the Vatican or conservatives?
I never feel it’s my mission to challenge them or
anything. I try and keep the conversation at what
really counts: what kind of person are you? If
you’re a bigot, then I’ll challenge you on that, but
the various other beliefs I wouldn’t challenge at all.
With them [those who attack other religions], you
have to wonder, why are you doing that? Are you
so insecure?
But Marquette University, [a conservative Catholic institution], must come into conflict with you
�ere was a guy, now retired, who was the president’s assistant at Marquette, and when he got his
job 30 years ago they gave him a printed page of all
his duties, and one of the items was, answer protests
against Professor Maguire! ... Every university has
the occasional anomaly, and that was me.
What did you think of your “official condemnation”?
Well, it was wonderful. Of course, I had mischievously sent the U.S. bishops the two pamphlets and
wrote that they were wasting their authority on
these issues [of condemning homosexuality, condom use, and stem cell research]. �ey could really have an impact and make a real difference. But
they’re locked in the “pelvic issues,” and so they’re
squandering their authority. ... My pamphlets really took off then, and I couldn’t have done it as
well without them. I wish they would condemn everything I write! It would be a wonderful help, but
maybe they’ve learned their lesson.
What are your views on mixing politics and religion? Where do you draw the line?
Religions are the purveyors of most of the values of
society, so they’re always there, but the worst of
it is when because you’re part of group X you have
to vote Y. For someone to say that there is no other
view—of course there is. You’re removing choice.
As a professor, do you have to take a step back
sometimes to make your work less “scholarly”?
I’m doing it right now. I published a book in 1978
called �e Moral Choice, and the publishers asked
me if I wanted to redo it. Now I look at it and think:
boring! It’ll be 80 to 90 percent rewritten. As I’ve
matured as a scholar, I’ve become much more myself. Before, you had no personal life, nothing was
funny—you were just a filter. I’m not going to do
that to another unwitting public. \\\
ran into a first-year friend from my hometown last week while he was in the midst
of deciding which NSOP activities to skip. I
ended up standing next to Alma Mater for a
good hour or so talking with him. After suggesting
that he stay far, far away from anything resembling a
scavenger hunt (remember “the BlaZe,” juniors?), I
passed on to him my favorite piece of advice for getting through my first year: Don’t try to be the best
at anything, because chances are everyone at this
crazy school is at least as smart as you (and probably
smarter). Since first-years are—well—first-years, I
didn’t really expect him to listen. Would I have?
With that in mind, here’s a guide that disregards
my advice. We have what you’re looking for, whether
you’re into the Greek scene, the performance scene,
the journalism scene, or no scene. We’ve asked the
people who know best to tell you how to succeed.
Trust me, you’ll need their advice.
-Hayley Negrin
�e key to becoming a gold-medal hipster, first and
foremost, is to deny that you are one. After all, being a hipster is based on being cutting-edge and ahead of the game,
so reducing yourself to a label would defeat the purpose.
�e American Apparel at Broadway and 110th Street may
seem like the perfect place to get your new wardrobe started. Avoid this. While everyone else on campus is sporting
sweatshop-free deep-V shirts or lamé leggings, you can
prove your uniqueness by wearing nearly identical fashions
from Opening Ceremony or Barneys CO-OP. If the inflated
price tag is too much for you, check out the A.P.C. Surplus
store in Williamsburg, and stock up on reduced-price skinny jeans and all things plaid. Be sure to mutter something
about gentrification as you walk from the L-train, though,
so people know that you know that Brooklyn isn’t as cool
as it once was.
While you are in the area, be sure to stop by Studio
B, the beloved hipster dance club. If it is still shut down,
light a candle in its memory, shake your fist at the Department of Buildings, and head off to the booming
Lower East Side in Manhattan. Excellent options there
for drinking and dancing include the Mercury Lounge (if
your ID looks real enough) and the Cake Shop. �ere you
will still get your fill of obscure DJs spinning mash-ups
and sweaty, emaciated bodies.
Even Morningside Heights boasts a few places that serve
PBR in a can, the best being the divey Ding Dong Lounge. �e
bearded bartender will have his iPod blasting, and the place
is dirty enough to seem legitimately “underground.” Luckily, it is clean enough to not ruin your Marc Jacobs shorts
when you sit down on the rickety furniture.
If the long walk to 107th and Columbus bothers you,
be glad that you brought your vintage Schwinn bicycle (or
something ironic, like roller skates) to ride there. When all
else fails, the Low steps provide a nice place to lounge and
exude elitism. Simply pull out a Parliament cigarette and a
novel from your messenger bag (Pynchon and Murakami
are solid choices, Proust if you have a lot of free time). Light
said cigarette. Look jaded. Even citizens of the hipster nation
will bow down in awe.
-Elliot Smalling
�e problem with the “dating scene” at Columbia is that
there is no dating scene at Columbia. Every year, a gaggle
of wide-eyed, coiffed first-years descend on campus with
dreams of being over-sexed and under-rested for four years.
Instead, they simply find themselves under-rested, making
eyes for long hours at that cute someone across the table
at Butler, attending a party with a group of friends, poking a
potential lover on Facebook repeatedly, always to no avail.
�e prospects seem promising in the first weeks—dozens of “orientation couples” form, and many new people
are added to phone books and friend lists. For those who
make it past the first few weeks, the couplings undoubtedly
crumble under the stress of midterms, as there is always
one person in the relationship who doesn’t see the light of
day for a solid week. While sometimes tempting, avoid an
orientation relationship at all costs. Stay in your room and
read the Iliad this week—just don’t get involved.
It also seems, at the beginning, that there is some
sort of intense rivalry between Barnard and Columbia.
�e battlements are dismantled as soon as both Barnard and Columbia women unite over the lack of eligible bachelors and skip happily downtown where they
often find older men who occasionally leave the library.
�is kind of May-to-December romance is often fleeting, and some settle for graduate students, who hold all
the allure of an older person but with less personality
As a student in the most Benningtonian of subjects, I knew little about I-banking. However,
when I asked if an American studies major could
make it as a summer analyst at Lehman Brothers,
young bankers told me it would be easy. Columbia’s theoretical economics courses are generally
considered unhelpful anyway, and the prospective
banker can major in, well, whatever (with the sizable caveat that Calculus I, Calculus II, Principles
of Economics, Macroeconomics, and Microeconomics look good on a resumé).
�at sums up what the interns I knew advised:
don’t stress out, but do, a little! (Let English majors
suss out contradictions.) In terms of meeting banking professionals and networking at events—don’t
be pushy or obnoxious. But do stick out: send an
e-mail of thanks—extra points if “Sent from my
iPhone”—to anyone you meet, as those professionals often decide who gets one of the few interview
slots at Columbia. Resumés are submitted to an
electronic drop box, which the banks review in determining who gets the interview.
Your resumé should be focused, but with random
digressions. One banker I spoke to recommends
getting personal to provide grist for the interview:
his interests include “Ayn Rand novels, fine dining, marinas...” It should, though, also convey your
broad experience within a limited field. Don’t worry
about what you’re doing over the summer after your
first year of college—as long as it’s somewhere in
the financial field. Do whatever you find fun—many
and life experience. To avoid this, never go downtown,
and never spend time at the Hungarian Pastry Shop or
any of the libraries.
For the LGBT population on campus, finding a date can be
equally dismal. �ough student groups and identity lounges
may be appealing, some people feel more comfortable in a
relaxed setting, and most people look off-campus, discovering a more welcoming environment downtown. One way to
speed things up is by attending the “First Friday” events, held
by the Queer Alliance—a serious piece of advice that is a sure
bet for a date, or at least a dance.
While some women successfully find love in colder,
downtown climates, others flock to fraternity and sorority
parties and local bars, where they actually encounter the
man of their dreams. It is these people who create the fewand-far-between “they met during their first orientation
event at Columbia” New York Times wedding announcements, which rival only the name of the Vagelos Center in
their ridiculousness. As a rule, these people are inseparable
for the entirety of their college experience. Never become
their friends because it will only make you feel worse about
your single existence.
But don’t despair! Ask the girl who talks incessantly about
gender performativity for her number, write a nice e-mail
to the guy who always has a comment about Marx in your
economics class, compliment your TAs on their wonderful
handouts, leave the neighborhood for a few days, and perhaps this degree will be put to good use.
-Jennie Rose Halperin
bankers are involved in the Greek scene! But also get
involved with organizations like 116th to Wall Street
and Women’s Business Society.
In short, getting ahead in banking seems to be a
game of patiently exerting a great deal of effort while
making it look as though you are not.
But you’re in the game with a lot of compatriots. No one I spoke to indicated that the world
of would-be bankers is at all competitive—instead, they advised working on your resumé with
friends. Host a resumé party in JJ’s! The banking
game is a hard one—14-hour days—but it sounded
utopian as I talked to a Merrill Lynch junior analyst. “We’re all good at econ, we’re all good at
math,” he says, describing a group of people that
network simply because it’s their nature. But be
warned: in response to my next question, he said
that juniors getting involved in banking without
any economics internships on their resumés were
behind the curve.
-Dan D’Addario
You may have been all that in high school, but
you won’t pass Columbia’s acid test—half of CC
wants to be the next Tom Wolfe (or at least Julia
Allison). No one is wearing white suits after Labor Day yet, but every writer headed up his or her
school paper. Not to fear, though—there are steps
you can take as a first-year to become Columbia’s
next top sad young literary (wo)man.
Rising to the top has its perks: your own URL
and a post-grad job at the Post if you work at
Spec, the dinner-party circuit if you’re a Blue and
White-er. �ere are other publications, too! Still,
none of the humor or student-run academic journals on campus have quite as much clout as those
two mammoths.
You’re on the right track by reading �e Eye.
You should try to figure out which publication is
right for you by reading them all—some will appeal
to you more than others, and all will contain information about upcoming meetings. Attend as many
meetings of different publications as you like (and
their parties, to which you can take your less-insidery friends)—just don’t burn any bridges when
Welcome to Columbia—where drinking stops being
recreational and closely resembles a Division I competitive sport. Each “going-out” night (officially �ursday
through Sunday, although a true champion parties all
week) finds students of all ages and affiliations competing for the title of the biggest and best drunk, evidenced
by the swarms of jocks, frat boys, and scantily-clad
girls stumbling home along Broadway at 4 a.m. While
you may have been a big deal at your hometown’s bimonthly Natty Ice chug-fests, keeping up with the big
kids on campus is going to take some serious practice
and sincere dedication. �e secret to being the best drunk
at Columbia? Drink deep, drink cheap, and drink often.
Pre-gaming is absolutely crucial to any night where
the ultimate goal is inebriation. If you are not sufficiently
buzzed by 9 p.m., expect your evening to end in misery
at a Carman floor party with other mostly sober freshmen pretending to be drunk off a six-pack of Smirnoff.
Some neighborhood pre-gaming (and post-gaming)
you stop attending.
Editors and writers, like most people who spend
free time together (marching band, SEAS), calcify
into cliques. You’ll spend so much time in whatever office that it becomes convenient to befriend
the faces you see at 2 a.m. It helps the hours pass
quickly while waiting for the next edit to come in
and smooths the path for future opportunities. Also
helpful: carving out a niche. Find a subject of interest
that’s a bit off the beaten track. You’ll be the go-to
writer. Bonus points if it’s something that requires
little reporting, like film or hipsterism.
Even if you rarely venture below 110th Street,
attending college in New York does have its perks:
internships! Journalism is notorious for its emphasis on free labor, and most student journalists
have held at least one internship. Some intern at
unknown literary journals or blogging upstarts,
whereas “luckier,” better-connected ones will find
themselves on Gchat at a “name” publication. Past
Columbians have found second homes at Vogue,
PAPER, n+1, and the like. �ere’s a future for you
outside of Columbia’s gates—you just have to work
hard at your chosen outlet. And a white suit can’t
hurt matters.
-Dan D’Addario and Lucy Tang
classics include swigging cheap rum on the Low steps
courtesy of the 125th Street Harlem liquor store (if you
ask nicely, they’ll brown-bag it), Beirut tourneys with
lukewarm 40s delivered by Crack Deli, or free boxed
wine with your “Chinese food” at Columbia Cottage.
Frat parties are always a semi-viable option, although
be wary of any house (ahem, Pike) that designates
separate trash cans of jungle juice for “Bros,” “Chicks,”
and “Barnard Frosh.”
For those of you lucky enough to possess legitimate
fraudulent identification, kudos for planning ahead. �e
Morningside area offers a vast array of drinking holes in
which you can, and will, lose your inhibitions, personal
dignity, and various items of clothing over the next four
years. �e Heights, recently named New York’s “secondbest place to drink under the stars,” has a rooftop that’s
open until 11 p.m., great Buffalo wings and guacamole dip
(warning: calories kill the buzz), and $4 tequila-heavy
margaritas during their 11 p.m. to 1 a.m. happy hour. Other neighborhood faves include $8 pitchers at O’Connell’s
(formerly known as Cannon’s), darts/$3 beers on tap at
1020, and two-for-one cocktails and sidewalk tables at
Campo. Get friendly with the bouncers, owners, and bartenders—they will be the only people you meet during
orientation week with whom you’ll maintain a meaningful and lasting friendship.
Come the pre-dawn hours, you and your buds have a
couple of different options for where to recap each moment of your drunken shenanigans in obnoxiously loud
tones—Tom’s, Koronet, Pinnacle, and possibly the Public Safety office under Low Library. But hey, we never
claimed doing half-naked beer bongs on top of Alma
Mater wouldn’t have its consequences.
-Tipsy McStumbles*
Columbia has long been a stronghold for reformers.
From the ’68 riots to last year’s infamous hunger strike,
campus activism is alive and kicking in Mo-Hi! Why travel to protest when you’ve got Columbia to fight? As one
hunger-striker explains: “Don’t look across the ocean for
glorious causes—you can really make a bigger impact on
issues that are right under your nose, in which the University itself is implicated. What could be worse than our
own university’s expansion plan being implicated in the
displacement of thousands of people of color in Harlem?
George W. Bush and John McCain don’t care what you
think, even if you set yourself and five of your friends on
fire. To some extent, Lee Bollinger does.” With the expansion impinging on Harlem residents and businesses,
activists have plenty to demonstrate against right here
on campus.
�e steps to becoming a campus activist are pretty selfexplanatory—get involved! From Tibet to veganism to safe
sex, each cause has its campus representatives. You’re
bound to find one close to your heart. Activist hot spots
include the Hungarian Pastry Shop—where better to read
essays about the sub-altern?—and the Potluck House on
Friday nights, filled with vegan dishes and delicious vegans.
On fun nights, a sing-a-long and a jug of wine follows dinner, complete with acoustic guitar and a fiddle!
Most activists straddle the line between goodwill and
nagging. A lot of people are described as “less fun” after
committing themselves to the greater good of the world.
Try not to lecture about animal rights in JJ’s at 3 a.m. on
a Saturday night—no one wants to hear moral tales when
devouring spicy chicken. Also, proclaiming the evils of Ibanking at a St. A’s party? Not your target audience.
Activists tend to flock together. �ose long hours planning protests and debating injustices are a real friendship
builder. However, the scene can be become rather heated,
and one activist bluntly advises, “Don’t let activism eat
you alive.” Activists might care about the world, but that
doesn’t free them from petty social drama. �ere are bound
to be arguments about hierarchy, titles, ideology... disagreements common to any social organization.
Worst-case scenario: getting romantically involved with
an activist. After her personal experience, another campus
activist warns against dating your own kind, “Activist incest is a common and frightening problem.” Yes, the boy in
the Free Burma T-shirt smoking hand-rolled cigarettes is a
dreamboat, but do you really want to hear Das Kapital as a
bedtime story every night?
Well... you’re a better woman than I.
—Lucy Tang
Step one to excelling at Columbia: plan
ahead. Use your adviser, SSOL (Student
Services Online, one of the most useful acronyms on campus), and the online class
directory to help you map out your course
of study. Familiarize yourself with the requirements and idiosyncrasies of the Core
Curriculum (check out the Bulletin for more
information—yes, frustratingly enough, this
is an entirely separate Web site from the Directory of Classes). It’s especially important
to figure out which courses you can take
to kill two birds with one stone—pre-med
requirements, for example, also fulfill your
science Core requirement, and Global Core
courses count as history classes.
Once you’ve harnessed the Core, it’s easy
enough to be the most bookish student—that
just requires a dedication to camping out in
the University’s libraries. No student camper
would be prepared without a computer lock.
Attach this device to your chair or your desk
in Butler to ensure that no quick-handed
visitor steals your laptop or your place.
It also can’t hurt to have some bookends
to corral the manifold texts you’ll want to
collect from Columbia’s awe-inspiring library system (we’ve got over 8 million
books on the undergraduate campus alone).
Just watch out for Avery—they don’t let you
check books out there, so you’ll have to
photocopy any information you may need
for later. When studying in a library, don’t go
overboard like students at other Ivy League
schools who have actually cut out the answer pages from textbooks so fellow classmates won’t do as well on exams. At Columbia, we prefer subtler methods of sabotage.
Really, though, the secret to being the
best student you can be at Columbia is to
make sure that you talk to people. �is
sounds a lot easier than it actually is. �e
most social weeks at Columbia come at
the beginning and end of your four years
here—NSOP your first year, and then the
week before graduation, when the college sponsors a host of activities curiously
meant to facilitate class bonding right before everyone leaves campus for good.
While a dedication to memorizing the
terminology for Frontiers of Science and
the ability to recite several of Dante’s cantos verbatim are impressive feats, your
ability to network with the people around
you is much more important. Facebook
can help with this, but it’s much better
to get out there in person. Go to alumni
events, talk to your professors, and establish lasting relationships with your
fellow students. Keep in mind that early
Phi Beta Kappa inductees are chosen by
a combination of your GPA and professor
recommendations, so don’t be afraid to
(tastefully!) kiss some ass. Never forget to
fight for what you want, and don’t give up
until you get it. It sucks to be that annoying person who keeps pestering the various offices on campus, but that’s how you
get things accomplished. Ever heard of the
hunger strikers? Exactly.
-Laura Taylor
Don’t let movies like Animal House and
Old School influence your opinion of the
Greek community—Columbia’s Greek scene
is about making amazing new friends, community service, socializing both on and off
campus, and getting 50 new friend requests
on Facebook.
Begin your journey to Greek-dom by attending the Activities Fair. �e sorority and
fraternity tables will have Greek lettered
signs, and the tables are normally clustered
together. Put on a big smile, making sure
that the casual but sophisticated attire you
picked out the night before looks decent.
Pink rhinestone-designed shirts that spell
HOTTIE may be appropriate in Greek-themed
films, but not when making first impressions.
Or when you are in public. Or ever.
Go to each Greek organization’s table
to get a feeling of which group of sisters or
brothers best matches your personality and
interests. Of course, stick to fraternities if
you’re a guy and vice versa for girls, unless
you’re aiming to polish your pickup lines.
Ask the organizations that interest you
when their recruitment takes place. For so-
Whether you are into dance, theater,
music, or a combination of the three, you
can easily find your niche at Columbia.
You’ll find plenty of flavor in dance groups
like Onyx, Sabor, and Raw Elementz, but
watch out for the rivalries between the
three. A primer: Raw Elementz was the original big-daddy hip-hop/break dance group
on campus until some dancers broke off
and formed Onyx, which has a more house,
street hip-hop, and pre-professional focus.
Dancers of all types and skill-levels flock to
Sabor, Columbia’s Latin dance troupe, but
Onyx has recently been recruiting some of
Sabor’s best and brightest. �ere is also the
student-run, student-formed, studentfunded dance group Orchesis, which has biannual shows and boasts that everyone who
auditions will get into at least one dance. �e
Columbia University Dance Team is another
option, but be prepared for long rehearsals, epic workouts, and a pop-ish, funky
vibe interspersed with occasional instances
of “pom”—a brand of dance featuring huge
smiles and very strong arm movements.
Also consider checking out the Barnard
dance department, which specializes in
technique courses, avant-garde ballet, and
modern performances. Bonus: a dance class
at Barnard can be used to fulfill a physical
education requirement for Columbia’s Core
Curriculum, as long as you take a Columbia
P.E. course first.
A hopeful campus performer should also
look into the theater and musical communities on campus—chiefly, King’s Crown
Shakespeare Troupe and the Columbia Musical �eater Society. �e jewel in King’s Crown
is their annual mobile, outdoor performance
of a Shakespeare classic. Columbia Musical
�eater Society has several shows a year and
likes to branch out into more non-traditional
performances. Be ready to read sides and
make sure to prepare 16 bars of a song you
love for the respective auditions.
�ere’s also the Varsity Show, which
holds auditions early in the fall semester and
never fails to point out the idiosyncrasies of
Columbia life. �e time commitment for Varsity Show is huge (those involved are actually prohibited from doing any other theater
during spring semester) but well worth it—
getting a role one year means you’re almost
guaranteed to get cast in shows throughout
the rest of college. Make sure you check out
the Activities Fair tomorrow, and always go
to the info sessions offered throughout the
year. More often than not, you’ll find free
food along with information about auditions—just because you’re an artist doesn’t
mean you have to starve.
-Laura Taylor
rorities, recruitment is in the spring, while
fraternities often have a rolling membership
process. You want the organization you like
best to remember you, so forge friendships with some of the members and wave
(over)-enthusiastically when you see them
across College Walk.
During recruitment, get lots of sleep, talk
to as many members as possible, and be
yourself. Remember that fakeness is easy
to spot—impress the members by showing
that you’re comfortable in your own skin.
On joining the organization of your choice,
congratulate yourself on your great decision
to enter the Greek scene. Participate in not
only your own organization’s activities, but
also promote inter-Greek spirit by participating in the events of other Greek organizations. And remember to purchase Greekletter attire so you can strut across campus,
showing that you’re a proud member of the
Greek community—much classier than your
-Emily Kogut
Central Park’s Conservatory Garden at 105th Street
and Fifth Avenue. Its distance from campus makes it
a closely kept treasure, one of the few places on the island where you can actually feel completely alone. �e
spare people you may run into there are “real” New
Yorkers—not the ever-present student body.
Literary But Not Solitary
the best places to bury your head in a book
Congratulations, you’re officially a Columbia first-year! Now
go sit in a corner and read by yourself. �at may not be exactly what’s written at the top of your Core class’s syllabus,
but �e Eye remembers that’s often what it felt like. �ere are
ways, however, to do a respectable portion of your homework and still get to meet people, explore campus, and live
that bohemian, intellectual lifestyle you dreamt about before you actually got here—coffeeshops, pipe smoke, tweed,
etc.—and the following is a guide to the best places you can
go to play the bookworm without feeling like one.
Let’s start with the obvious: Morningside Heights
boasts not one, but two Starbucks, with the perks of
air-conditioning and a reliable array of snacks—the
latter of which comes complete with sometimes-disturbing calorie counts provided. And while the 114th
Street location has been known to offer samples of its
breakfast sandwiches to early birds, by 8 a.m. there’s
usually a sizable line of anxiety-inducingly perky Columbia students out the door. While its four window
bar stools are an excellent place for people-watching,
if you want to fit in some actual reading, a better balance can be found at the roomier Starbucks on 110th
Street, which has an additional seating nook in the
back that not as many people seem to know about.
If you’re really serious about your book, the Underground Lounge on 107th Street, which poses as a bar
and escapes the notice of daytime crowds, opens early
every weekday and serves good coffee with a dash of
free Wi-Fi to boot. Since it is also, after all, a bar, the
atmosphere inside can seem a bit gloomy in the light of
day, but the chance to say you “discovered it” is worth
it. Of course, the true bohemian can visit �e Hungarian Pastry Shop on Amsterdam and 110th Street, a
crowded Columbia tradition that offers unlimited coffee refills and superb poppy-seed hamentashen, plus
classic bonus reading material scrawled all over the
walls of the bathroom that you can enjoy during study
breaks. For the perfect combination of atmosphere and
solitude, however, one need look no further than Max
Caffé at Amsterdam and 123rd Street. Max combines
a bohemian-yet-comfy décor with great coffee, delicious huevos rancheros, a waitstaff that lets you linger, and a nice-sized crowd that provides white noise
without interfering with your work—little wonder so
many upperclassmen swear by it.
Peaceful Escapes
When you get nostalgic for home back in the ’burbs or
find yourself feeling a little overwhelmed by Columbia
(it’s OK—it happens to everyone), take a short walk to
the quiet park benches and swing sets overlooking Riverside Park on 117th Street. Alternatively, venture east
to the crazy fountain at the Cathedral of St. John the
Divine and the adjacent gardens, where you can lose
yourself among the windy, fragrant little paths. Dare
to go farther, and you’ll reach Manhattan’s true gem—
Campus Locations—Indoors
Few words can pay due homage to Butler Library, a
building that will inevitably define your Columbia experience in ways that are both triumphant and, sometimes, a little depressing. At the end of your four years,
you will have found the reading room that is your soulmate, but that’s a personal journey and we wouldn’t
feel right advising you about it. In the meantime, Barnard’s Java City Café is an ideal locale for early-risers
and night owls, its noise level counterbalanced by convenient snacks and the op�e Conservatory Garden portunity to catch up with
in Central Park is an ideal friends. For more variety,
Lerner Hall offers multiple
spot for some quality
lounges and computer labs
time with your favorite
for reading and interaction,
dog-eared book.
although the Piano Lounge,
with its impromptu concertos, should be avoided. Avery Hall boasts a two-storied library, with a beautiful
top floor that looks prestigious enough to make tuition seem worth it, and a bizarrely incongruent but
delightful lower level that evokes your hometown library, especially if it was built in the 1970s. Hook a left
at the circulation desk at the bottom of the stairs and
you can also hang out in the Wallach Art Gallery when
you get bored. Also in the Avery basement, Brownie’s
Café is a prime spot to watch wiry, stylish graduate
students with nicer shoes than yours converse in multiple languages. It’s noisy, but it offers delicious cashonly food and drink options and considerable space.
For complete solitude, which is especially key during
reading week, the Geology Library in Schermerhorn
is Columbia’s best-kept secret—small but incredibly
swanky, with dark mahogany bookshelves and leather
armchairs. �e floor design alone can mesmerize you
for hours, and its innocuous location frees it of rowdy
Campus Locations—Outdoors
Of the numerous lawns on both campuses, the one facing Lewisohn ranks near the top, with leafy trees providing shade and a beautiful, if slightly, er, naughty,
statue of Pan to lean against. Alternatively, the bridge
over Amsterdam gives a panoramic view of the city on
both sides and is often a go-between rather than a study
area for students, providing ample space on the green
or near its three statues for you to spread out and relax
for a while. For the ultimate campus reading experience, nothing beats the top of the Low Library steps.
�e height lends a hawk’s-eye view of campus, from
which you can pinpoint your crush from as far away
as the entrance to Butler, while the pillared entrance
provides shade and shelter from rain and makes the
spot suitable for all sorts of nasty New York weather.
�e ledges that branch out at either side are perfect to
climb onto and watch the ant-sized campus go about
its daily routine as if from a Richard Scarry book, but
watch out for Public Safety officers, especially if you’re
out to do some twilight reading. \\\
�e Agony of Influence
helpful tips on good plagiarism
$1,081,255,363. As of Sept. 1, 2008, that’s how
much money the genre-movie franchise has stuffed
into its pockets. �ough a film critic might turn up
his nose and bemoan the state of mainstream cinema,
I reject this attitude. Over $1 billion! Screw art-house
film—I don’t know what could be more inspiring than
those numbers. I hope the genre movies continue to
drain money from our pocketbooks for years to come,
and I intend to offer them some helpful advice.
�ere are eight movies in the “genre movie” genre:
Scary Movie, Scary Movie 2, Scary Movie 3, Date
Movie, Scary Movie 4, Epic Movie, Meet the Spartans,
and, now, the latest entry: Disaster Movie. Other films
could be considered to be genre movies, but only by
fools who forget about the priority: box office grosses.
Another Gay Movie, for instance, fits all the clichés of
the hackneyed gay film market into one storyline, but
this movie didn’t even make a million dollars, so it’s
worthless. $1 billion—that’s all I’m interested in.
Yet I worry. �ough these parody movies have been As with poets, so it is with filmmakers. Every genre
hugely successful so far, Disaster Movie fails to live movie longs to match (and surpass) the fart jokes
up to its noble predecessors. During the first weekend and cheap thrills of its artistic predecessor. So I
of its release, Disaster opened as the seventh-most wish to appropriate Bloom’s theory and rename it
popular movie, and then proceeded to make a paltry “�e Agony of Influence,” because these movies are
$6 million. Even Meet the Spartans opened at number agonizingly bad.
one. Have audiences finally grown sick of the genre
No matter how hard the genre-movie filmmakers
movies? Will Disaster Movie fail to
try, they can never quite escape
make a profit, tragically negating
the influence of the genre-movie
Various characters who look
the sole reason for its existence?
granddaddy: the original Scary
vaguely like other characters
In order to maintain the purity
in Disaster Movie, right before
Movie, which reeled in 30 percent
of the Western capitalistic tradibeing crushed by a piano or an
of the series’ total income. Witness
the attempts of Meet the Spartans,
tion, I turn to its principal defendanvil or something.
which at first seems to have bravely
er: Harold Bloom, and the theory
he presents in �e Anxiety of Influence: A �eory of transcended the genre with its catchy title. It’s not
Poetry. Bloom says that every poet suffers anxiety, Sword & Sandals Movie or Greek Fighting Movie;
knowing that all of his work must ultimately derive no, it’s Meet the Spartans (the film contains not a
from the poetry of others, and he must therefore single reference to Meet the Parents, thus demonstrive for originality with every fiber of his being. strating its originality). Alas, a bit of research reveals
that the original working title was first Epic Movie 2,
and then Not Another Scary Epic Teen Date Movie.
�e agony of influence rears its ugly head.
Disaster Movie proves no exception to the rule.
Although the title styles itself after the more august
entries of the genre-movie series, the film originally
had a working title of Meet the Spartans 2. Might as
well call it Not Another Scary Epic Teen Date Movie
2. Plagiarism is a tricky art, promising much profit for little effort. Unfortunately, Disaster Movie
makes the same mistakes we see in any parody, from
MadTV to Family Guy. �ere exists an important
distinction between the merely bad (will still make
a profit) and the unwatchable (nobody watches it,
thus no profit). �is distinction rests upon the originality of the unoriginality.
First: we need an original narrative to tie together random parodies in a barely coherent manner. Ever since the first Scary Movie parodied �e
Matrix, thus departing from the strict category of its
title, the genre movies have seen fit to parody any
random movie, whether it be Dane Cook in Meet
the Spartans or �e Fellowship of the Ring in Date
Movie. Here’s the difference: the latter movie successfully created an incoherent narrative. When did
the pointless Lord of the Rings parody occur in Date
Movie? Why, when Alyson Hannigan walked into
a jewelry store, thus providing an ideal moment to
bring out the Ring of Doom. Nobody laughed, but
nobody was confused either. How does this contrast
with the vastly inferior Scary Movie 4? We have two
sets of characters—one from �e Village, one from
The War of the Worlds—who suddenly disappear as
the screen fades to black. �en all of the characters
wake up in a dark room
wearing the torture
In Disaster Movie,
contraptions from Saw
Crista Flanagan plays
II. Movie producers:
a facsimile of Juno, a
we will be fooled if you
popular character from
provide some semthe eponymous 2007 film.
blance of a narrative
She, too, is for shizzle up
thread. Grant us this
the spout.
one grace.
Second: the parodies
need time to become funny. �ese films thrive on
unoriginality. Sometimes when we see a scene the
first time, it’s just too new and exciting. It needs to
be repeated, endlessly. Scary Movie 2—arguably the
apex of the genre movies—opened with a lengthy
prologue. A possessed girl spun her neck 360 degrees and spat green vomit, all while dryly making
“Yo’ Mama” jokes and successfully seducing a priest.
�is slightly tired idea became increasingly funny
as it continued, and the will of the audience broke
total gross
release date
Scary Movie
$19 million
Scary Movie 2
$45 million
Scary Movie 3
$48 million
Date Movie
$20 million
Scary Movie 4
$45 million
Epic Movie
Meet the Spartans
Disaster Movie
$6,945,535 (to date)
$20 million
Box Office... Gross!
Stats on the genre-movie franchise, courtesy of Box Office Mojo
down. However, the average length of the Disaster
Movie skit is a paltry 45 seconds. �ere are notable
exceptions: we see Juno and Paulie Bleeker playing the guitar and crooning together. Sort of funny.
�en Juno suddenly has a pipe. Hey, didn’t she have
one in Juno? �en she picks up a hamburger phone,
just like in the movie! By now, the audience has had
time to understand the joke and reconcile themselves to the agony of influence. Movie producers: a
repetitive joke will always eventually become funny,
excepting the endless Riverdance scenes from Meet
the Spartans.
�ird: plagiarism should be performed aptly, so
as to make the audience feel intelligent. As Bloom
would say, when reading a comedy, it’s better
to recognize Shakespeare than Sedaris. Disaster
Movie barely thinks about what sort of plagiarism
to perform. Rather, it crams the last 10 seconds of
our lives into one movie. I saw a Hannah Montana
commercial preceding the movie, and somehow
the script actually managed to mock that very commercial. Disaster Movie needs some historical reference—it needs to plagiarize with taste. �is mistake is most demonstrable in the film’s most severe
omission. Disaster Movie somehow neglects the
best disaster movie of all time: Titanic. Even Scary
Movie 2 saw fit to mock Titanic, and that didn’t fit
into the storyline at all. Movie producers: plagiarize
with intelligence, for Kate Winslet outstrips Jessica
Simpson any day.
�ough further examination of the genre movies
may seem depressing, I came to an important realization while embarking on the research for this
article, which consisted of several minutes on, as well as watching Date Movie,
Disaster Movie, Meet the Spartans, and all of the
Scary Movies (save the third entry—my nerve grew
weak). Date Movie may seem sort of bad, but it’s
original and creative compared to Disaster Movie.
And Scary Movie 2 is even better! �ough these
movies can never escape their ancestors, every stale
fart joke may have some whiff of originality. Such as
an animatronic cat writhing on a toilet for 10 minutes in Date Movie. \\\
Treats From a Truck
a lesson in business brilliance
Imagine yourself just out of college and unsure of
what to do with your life. Your passion is food, but
the industry doesn’t excite you. Your foray into office
work didn’t go so well, and you believe that life is too
short to spend behind a desk. What’s a person to do?
Ben Van Leeuwen started selling ice cream from
a truck.
�e Van Leeuwen ice cream truck is the newest
of a slew of haute vendors springing up across the
city. In addition to ice cream from Van Leeuwen, the
casual walker might also happen upon fresh Belgian
waffles from Wafels & Dinges, baked goods from the
Treats Truck, or gourmet, restaurant-quality desserts from the Dessert Truck (which is owned and
operated by two Columbia graduates).
While the business is compact and mobile, Van
Leeuwen is not your typical street vendor. Sure, he
scoops ice cream out of a truck, but there are no
jingles, no packaged popsicles, and no soft-serve.
�e Van Leeuwen ice cream truck serves nothing
but the highest-quality artisanal ice cream, homemade in Brooklyn using the best ingredients from
all over the world.
“It’s almost no different than a fine foods shop,
other than we are mixing the ingredients,” Van
Leeuwen said of the quality of his product.
During the day, from 1 to 8 p.m., there is a truck in
SoHo on the corner of Prince and Greene streets, and
from 1:30 to 8 p.m., another truck parks on Broadway between 74th and 76th streets. After 8 p.m.,
the SoHo truck moves to University Place between
11th and 12th streets until 11 p.m. Unfortunately for
Morningside residents, the uptown truck packs it in
for the day at 8 p.m. and heads back to the parking
lot in Brooklyn.
Much of the truck’s success comes from the simplicity of the idea. From the beginning, Van Leeuwen
set out to serve the best ice cream possible without
alienating people by offering only strange, gourmet
flavors. Instead, his goal was to keep things simple.
“We wanted to do the classics as well as they can
possibly be done,” he said.
In order to do this, Van Leeuwen relies on organic
milk and cream from Organic Valley Farms in upstate New York, as well as organic eggs and sugar. He
does extensive research into each flavor, pulling the
best additions from all over the world.
�e classic flavors on the menu include basics such
as chocolate and vanilla, timeless favorites like mint
chocolate chip, espresso, and pistachio, and specialties like currants and creme and giandujia (chocolate
and hazelnut, pronounced John-Do-Ha).
Each flavor has its own unique story. �e vanilla
�e Van Leeuwen Ice Cream Truck
SoHo – Prince Street at Greene Street,
1-8 p.m. daily
Greenwich Village – University Place between
11th and 12th streets, 8-11 p.m. daily
Upper West Side – Broadway between 74th and
76th streets, 1:30-8 p.m. daily
Prices range from $3.95 - $8.
ice cream is flavored with a special vanilla extract
made by infusing vanilla beans with vodka in oak
barrels for four months.
�e hazelnuts for the giandujia come from Piedmont, a region in Italy famous for its high-quality food. �e nuts are ground into a thick, aromatic
butter before being added to the custard base of the
ice cream.
For chocolate, Van Leeuwen prefers Michel Cluizel, one of the few chocolate makers to ban the
use of soy lecithin in his product. Soy lecithin has
not been proven to be harmful in any way, but Van
Leeuwen is adamant about keeping his product free
of additives or stabilizers. In addition, the chocolate
flavor comes from air-dried beans, not those dried
in an oven. “It’s not overdried, and therefore you get
floral undertones,” he said of the flavor. “�e chocolate really proves itself in taste tests.”
To a couple who claimed to have had the best ice
cream in the world in Paris, he offered a taste of his
own. While there were no exclamations of absolute
triumph over its Parisian counterpart, the couple
was duly impressed and walked away quite satisfied
with their scoops.
“I’m very competitive—I don’t know why,” Van
Leeuwen explained as they left. He takes a certain
pride in extolling his flavors as some of the best, but
only dismisses those he believes to be making an inferior product. “I don’t feel any competition with
people who are doing things really well.”
Doing things well goes beyond the ice cream on
the truck. �e only beverages sold on the truck are
bottles of soda without high-fructose corn syrup:
root beer and ginger beer, along with Mexican Coke
(made with real sugar), when he can get it.
Van Leeuwen tries as hard as possible to cut
down his carbon footprint. The cups that he uses
are biodegradable, made from sugar, and the
spoons, also biodegradable, are
made of cornstarch.
�e ice cream freezer’s refrigeration system relies on huge metal
plates that are frozen overnight
and stay frozen for most of the day,
cutting down drastically on the
amount of energy needed to keep
the ice cream cold all day in the
truck. Electricity for an entire day
on the truck costs about $6, and the
generator is nearly silent.
�e environmentally friendly
products and practices, as well as
the high quality of Van Leeuwen’s
ingredients, are all made possible because of the mobile vending business
model. “We couldn’t afford to do this
if we were paying rent,” he said.
Because the business avoids paying rent, it is already profitable,
and can choose its location on a
temporary basis. During the day,
the downtown truck in SoHo gets
the prime shopping crowd, and at
night in the Village, it caters to students and bar-crawlers.
However, the vending business poses problems as
well. �ere is a certain stigma in being a mobile vendor that Van Leeuwen can’t quite shake off. While
he generally maintains good relationships with the
store owners around his parking spots, they occasionally get annoyed if they believe him to be blocking their storefronts.
Also, Van Leeuwen has noticed that trucks don’t
quite reach the volume of sales that actual stores
seem to be able to attain. “I know how much they are
paying in rent and so I know how much they need to
be making,” he said of his stationary competition.
He estimated that Grom, a high-end gelato shop
in the West Village, pays about $25,000 a month
in rent. At $4 a scoop, that comes out to about 200
scoops per day just to pay the rent, before supplies,
ingredients, or staff salaries.
�e advantage of storefronts, though, is their
readily available storage. Everything that is needed
for the day must be loaded onto the truck in the
morning. �e ice cream is stored in the Bronx, the
cups and other supplies in the office in Brooklyn, and
the trucks are parked in a different part of Brooklyn.
If a truck runs out of supplies during the day, business is over.
Whatever the troubles now, however, Van Leeuwen has an optimistic outlook for the future. After taking the winter to streamline the business,
he hopes to be operating up to 10 trucks in the city
by next summer, as well as expanding to the West
Coast, possibly even opening a store there. “�e cool
part is that when we do open our first store, running
it is going to be like a dream.” \\\
�is article is the first of a two-part series on Manhattan’s mobile cuisine. Check out the Sept. 18 issue for the
second half, a profile of the Dessert Truck.
Splurge or Steal
room décor
With the start of school comes the chance for all
students to decorate and furnish their rooms in a fun
way, which may be the only thing that can make up
for having gotten shafted by Housing and Dining.
I always find the most pleasure in covering my walls
with ads and posters, maybe because I was forbidden
to do so at home. I love new fashion ads, and this year
my two favorites are a lifeless Charlotte Gainsbourg
for Balenciaga and a fierce Naomi Campbell for Yves
Saint Laurent. I recommend buying a copy of W,
because the ads look even better in the large magazine, and they have editorial spreads worth hanging
up. �ose who prefer art to
fashion will love the gallery
Glitter skull
ads in Art Forum, which
very Damien Hirst
showcase pieces by
body from Elizabeth Peyton to Damien Hirst. On the
topic of Hirst, Pottery Barn sells a glitter crystal skull
reminiscent of his decorations for the Prada Fashion
Week party last year in the SoHo store. Images of art
and architecture can easily be found in Avery Library,
where color photocopies come cheap.
Columbia gives students the bare minimum of
old and boring furniture, so a few extra items will be
necessary. �e lighting in the dorms is terrible, so a
good lamp is a must. sells iHome Desk
Lamps, which, conveniently, can both charge any
iPod and play music. A Hello Kitty humidifier, sold at
Target for $40, provides a cute way to maintain the
moisture balance in a room. For those looking for a
more powerful alternative,’s Kaz Home
Environment “Enviracaire” Germ-Free Humidifier
is well-reviewed and still reasonable at about $90.
�ankfully, most floors at Columbia are not carpeted, which provides the freedom to purchase a rug.
Anthropologie has absolutely beautiful options, but
they are a little pricey. More affordable choices can be
found at Target and Pottery Barn, which sells a moderately priced line of animal-print items, including
rugs, towels, and sheets.
With décor options like these, students—even
those who got the last lottery numbers—can turn
their rooms into comfortable and festive havens. \\\
Target Rug
iHome Desk Lamp
Leopard Towels
Imperial House Rug