Let's Get Ready to Rumble!
Welcome to Eugene, Oregon, home of hicks, hippies and hypocrites.BY BRYAN ROBERTS
Chances are good that you're a new student here at the U of O who imprudently picked up this curious publication while stumbling through some labyrinthine campus structure, hoping it was a map, or at least something intelligible. You've spent the last few minutes flipping through articles, pictures, criticisms, and jokes which allude to concepts and attitudes you never dreamed would find an outlet here at Trustafarian's Disneyland, the look of quizzical amusement upon your face gradually morphing into one of befuddled concern. You've just unwittingly assailed your mind with a hailstorm of information it can't appreciate, and you are still late for class.
You will place this magazine in the nearest low-grade paper recycling bin and forget about this dubious experience as quickly as possible-pretty quick, judging by your drug intake as a new student here at the U of O. You will live out the remainder of your school year in a vitamin D-deprived, THC-laden somnambulant haze, without the benefit of conservative punditry found within these pages. We could serve to balance things out, like a glass of V-8, if you would only let us.
You may presently be experiencing a flush of independent indignation, articulated by the sentiment, "You can't tell me what to think!" Well, no shit. Please, remember that you felt that way, if only for a brief snapshot of time. If there's one travesty of the Eugene experience, it's that young people come here from all over the world, having rejected the feel-good apple pie conventional wisdom of their place of origin, only to become hypnotized by a new set of dogmatic sound-bites which only appear to add up to something different. When "Subvert the Dominant Paradigm" is a popular bumper sticker, you can be sure that the dominant paradigm of the subculture which expresses itself through said medium is at least as chock-full of contradictory truisms as anything it pretends to subvert. Not that there is anything too abject about contradictory truisms. They go along with societies of all sorts, if you ask me.
And you are, pretty much, asking me. The beauty of this column is that I can say all sorts of ludicrous things and I only have to qualify them if I want to. It's not so much the fact that you're reading the Oregon Commentator as it is the fact that you're attending the University of Oregon. As far as I can tell, the greatest reason for this paper's existence, after the narcissistic desire on all our parts to showcase our sophomoric writing chops, is the utter ridiculousness that occurs here, which would go without parody if not for us fearless crusaders. There was a time when I would have had nothing to do with an enterprise that refers to itself as Conservative, but after being caught floating aimlessly by the dipsomaniacal tentacles of the Oregon Curmudgeon-er, rather, the Oregon Commentator-I'm as happy as a clam. I hereby pledge to make fun of all your fruity costumes and to champion the cause of Self-Referentiality in Journalism. But more about you.
Chances are poor, it has been established, that your interaction with this literary enterprise will be more than minimal. This column may be the last chance to get through to you, short of the whimsical deluge that is Spew and the abusive ribaldry that is the back page. It is my duty to inform you that you must prepare yourself for hell. Sheol. Hades. A virtually inescapable inferno congested with fulsome fiends who clamor in feeble competition for your soul.
Get ready to be surrounded on all sides by an encroaching omnium-gatherum of career eggheads who preface their sentences with phrases like "within the realm of academic discourse" and "a fascinating aspect of the professor's assertion"; political polliwogs for whom the understood language of passage into adult bullfrog obesity is a flaccid Progressive Party-line fighttheman/getinthereandworkwiththeteam facade; Greek brothers and sisters whose mindless android fashion sense is a tad too easy to ridicule; Phish phollowing brothers and sisters who ephect no phashion phenomenon I can phind; backwoods varmint hunters who will level their guns at you if they suspect you of being a vegan; vegans who mumble something altogether incoherent about Jah when questioned about shampoo; tuition-devouring Athletic-department types who regard the student body as their peasant population; loopy panhandling acid freaks; coffee-buzzed EMU computer-lab geeks; bug-eyed stereo equipment-thieving tweaks; blatantly fraudulent incidental-fund sneaks; and magazine types with awkward arsenals of questionable alliterative tricks.
They want you. They dumbly assume that you will be impressed by their activities and will be unable to avoid becoming one of them. Chances are good they are right. As one true native son of the Northwest alternative music scene has rhapsodized, "What in the world can it be?/ It's as strange as I've ever seen/ The girls are dead in their eyes/ Just standin' around like they're hypnotized/ Follow me back to the freak show/ Crawlin' all over the carnival/ And I am home." Chances are beyond calculation you don't even know who the hell I'm referring to. I'm going on the obscene amount of standing room at his last performance at the WOW Hall.
Get ready to pretend that a townful of feigned brotherly love is an adequate substitute for sunlight. Get ready to remind yourself not to question those various charts and graphs which conspire to assure you that the education you're going into debt to acquire is a bargain. Get ready to shield your ears from the cacophony of disparate ideologies which depend upon each other for relevance. Get ready to be nonplussed by the many religious zealots bleeding their desperate conversion mentalities all over the sidewalk as you shuffle past them to class in what is supposed to be the most unchurched state in the Union. Get ready to shrug your shoulders with the rest of the complacent masses when all the articles in all the news publications that report a given issue fail to speak to it, and instead project an acceptable stance for the demographic you're supposed to fit into. Get ready to curse the day you graduated from high school.
I know that some of you, dear readers, are perceiving me as a judgmental person. I can feel it: the same feeling I had all those months ago, when the last item I wrote for the Commentator was printed in a manner that seemed to exude more seriousness than the manner with which I wrote it. The same people who think of Jonathan Swift as a cannibal were thinking of me as a homophobe. The truth is that I don't judge people's attitudes or dispositions or even their ignorances and prejudices. I'm the kind of jackass that teachers of ethics refer to in lamentation as a "moral relativist". I figure that if I were you, my attitude would be whatever yours is. I'm not you, though; I'm a cynical, world-weary, in-debt columnist for a maverick college magazine, and a bit of a moron, to boot.
What's worse is that it's all persona here; you never get the real me.
You can quote me on anything, but it doesn't mean I meant it. In closing, though, a quip from the heart, to the campus left: If critical thinking is vilified, only villains will think critically.
Bryan Roberts, a junior majoring in Rant Studies, is a featured columnist for the Oregon Commentator