June 05, 2004

I'm in the eye of a lot of storms this week.

Right now I'm in the eye of the finals storm. Justo the roommate and his friend studying for a chemistry final with a dogged determination to Get Things Right I could never muster for any subject involving kilojoules and angstroms, or anything involving books I didn't elect to read, now that I think about it. They are buzzing around the room comparing notes and talking about buffers and Hasselblads. They've been at it for hours. After not being able to get into a bar, I came home and spent most of the evening reading blogs. I rummaged around for change and got a Snickers downstairs. I'm waiting for them to be done studying so I can go to sleep. After all, tommorrow, I have to be somewhere at noon.

I've also been in the eye of the Going Home storm all week, watching flocks of people's parents and their cars with Pennsylvania, Jersey, New York license plates, grey wheeled bins full of appliances, moving trucks, turn my dorm into a ghost town, with tiny piles of free-for-the-taking things people can't fit in their luggage in the place of tumbleweeds. I participated in the flurry of activity a little bit last night, doing laundry and throwing clothes in my giant red duffle bag, in an uncharacteristic bit of forethought going completely against my ordinarily last-minute nature.

Wait, hold on. Saying I have a last-minute nature is like saying cotton candy has a sugary nature. I'm not prone to doing things at the last minute. I AM doing things at the last minute. It's my essence. I picture my fetal self waiting 'till the final day of the third trimester to develop arms and legs, fingers and toes, the sloppy thrown-together limbs accounting for my innate athletic ability, or complete lack thereof.

I haven't done anything for the past week besides eat, sleep, read, and rehearse.

Also, I went to Cornell, and was one person in a three-person eye at the center of a People Who Attend Cornell storm, to stretch a metaphor way too far.


So originally Dangerbox was supposed to go to Cornell and perform improv, opening up for Gregor's friends' band, as a sort of last hurrah for the original lineup before we went our seperate ways. (Cliche Count for the last sentence: 2. It was higher, but then I edited out "take it to the next level" for space and "pig in a poke" because who the fuck says that.) But one by one people dropped out, citing such lame excuses as "entertaining my visiting mother," "working for money I need to eat," and "finals." In the end, only three were left.

And they were as follows:



Fran.


Gregor.


And Prosey McNarrator.

When I started this entry it was the 12th of May and now it's the 21st. I'm no longer in my dorm room in New York while some people study for finals. I'm back in Phoenix on my stepmom's sister (who lives with my family now)'s computer 'cause the one I used to use is permanently out of commission. I'm gonna keep going with this 'cause it seems like such a waste to lose this many pictures of me and comedy people drinking in Ithaca. Oh, yea. And Kanye West.

We drove for four hours. It may have been five. Gregor called his dad for directions; we didn't go the right way but then again, maybe we did 'cause we got there. When it has foliage, which it never does when I see it out of train windows and things, upstate New York is really very scenic. We got to Ithaca and parked our car outside Gregor's friend Mendel's house. Mendel's the one in the band we were opening for. And yes, they realize they are good friends with the last names Gregor and Mendel, like famed physicist Gregor Mendel (right? physicist? Googling it would take all the fun out of my ignorance.) They have probably heard it observed more often than I get "Haha, DC, like Washington DC," which I figured would pretty much drop off after sixth grade, not exponentially increase, like it has.

Then we went to the bar pictured at left. It was called The Nines, if memory serves, which it does, proving that we didn't drink enough that night at all. Although after our sketch bombed, we certainly tried.

But first things first. This place was a campus-hangout, pizza-and-wings-and-bands kind of place, which colleges apparently have. The phrase I use most frequently when visiting other colleges is "Hm, they really have these," whether I'm referring to quads or cavernous frat-houses, or in this case, a place where people drink cheap pitchers of beer and the ice bin is covered in stickers of bands who've played there. They do really have those.

You're probably asking, "All this musing on ways in which your over-expensive urban arts school differs from colleges where people actually learn things is interesting and certainly a topic you've never even begun to broach before, but what we really want to know is, did you take a picture of hilarious graffiti on the wall of the 2'X2' shack that served as this joint's bathroom?"

You have to ask?

We don't bomb very often. Dangerbox (improv) performed at a Relay For Life where we were seperated from the audience by the track through which people were walking (raising money for cancer and stuff) and, partly at my insistence, went ahead and tried to do a longform piece anyway. We were able to save it by shitting on the "show must go on" tenet, calling the piece halfway through the first incomprehensible scene, and doing some old fashioned shortform (Beastie Rap and 185) and generally being dirty as all hell on the mic. But this was different. This was bombing. We were authentically out of our element...ten feet away from what passed for the crowd (the place got packed five minutes after we were done) everybody who was there when we went on was sitting at tables and genuinely and forgivably puzzled as to what we were doing. We got some chuckles, but there may have been something funny going on at the pool table behind the stage. We weren't watching. We were too busy dying.

Fran and I adjourned to the bar, where we discovered that a pitcher does not care whether or not you were just funny. On the way to Cornell, Fran told us that Cornell has no hot girls. None. We didn't want to believe it. No way, we said. There's no way a whole learning institution can have exactly zero attractive girls. It's a big East Coast. And at the bar, I was getting looks from girls who, if this had been a disaster movie, would be the shocking initial incident everyone refuses to believe is proof of the scruffy rogue scientist's doomsday theory. No proof. Small sample. We watched Dan sing back-up for his band.

Spiegel's Always The Bitch (which, thanks to Cornell graduation, no longer exists at the time of this writing) are the practicioners of catchy tunes about The Olsen Twins, a Monster Ballad, and my personal favorite, a song about Kilby, the camel who went to school ("Kilby loves no one/he's a camel/he's a camel with no one to love") which I really need to find an mp3 of. They put on a good show, which was followed in short order by the grunge-rock stylings of Lithium, Cornell's premier Nirvana cover band. A Nirvana cover band seems like it's pretty much one of your only options as a front-man when it sounds like someone shit in your throat. Also, no one vibes Kurt Cobain's paens of apathy and disillusionment better than a tiny room full of rich-n'-boozy fratboys, apparently. And I say that with the utmost respect, considering fratboys were also our gracious hosts.

I slept on the couch of a guy named Gonzo:

College.


Slope Day. Have I mentioned Slope Day yet? I don't think I have. Slope Day is a day between the last day of classes and finals at Cornell marked by two things:

1) a huge outdoor festival of music on the aptly named "Slope"

2) drinking.

EPIC drinking. Drinking with intent. Early-morning, carpet-bombing, we-could-construct-reasonably-well-working-civilizations-with-the-effort-thought-and-resources-we-are-putting-into-beer-pong-and-ice-luges drinking. People argue about how early they're going to get up and begin the festivities, with those bold enough to suggest 10 AM shouted down as weak and ineffectual by those who'll be setting their alarms for eight. It's a thing to behold.

I awoke on Gonzo's couch at what I'm gonna say was 9:30 on Slope Day. Someone across the hall was playing Rage Against the Machine full volume. People were shouting X-treme things. I found Fran and Gregor. We joined the fun.

Mendel's house where we slept; Fran in the foreground. If it looks idyllic that's because it was. It was an insanely nice day and the house itself, as well as the neighborhood, were all really nice. They were all also owned by Cornell students and overflowing with said students, beers in hand, at this early hour. Good times.

Bender's house. Bender, the kid in the middle on the phone, is another one of Gregor's high school friends; his house was three houses down from Mendel's and across the street. The beer was better at Mendel's (Rolling Rock, Labatt, and free! All of it!) but the girls at Bender's were better looking. If you want to accuse me of being shallow after writing that sentence, you are incapable of fun. If, even once a decade, the greatest dillemma of a day is a choice between good free beer and prettier girls, your life is amazing, as I often suspect and accuse mine of being. We settled for walking back and forth.



Back at Mendel's: Someone decided sitting on the roof was The Best Idea, but before long it would play horse-drawn carriage to an even BETTER Idea, throwing shit off the roof.


A broken clock we saw on the back porch, apparently the victim of some hurling-things-out-of-windows antics.

Gregor: Somebody definitely made a "time flies" joke.


A real winner was going around, sneaking up on people, and going at their hair with electric trimmers, a la Jackass. The above gentleman without the headband did not appreciate the subtle homage. Things got heated.

We later learned that The Demon Barber of Ithaca was not actually IN school, but had graduated and was still living in the house. His occupation? We can only assume he's a professional Life Of The Party.

A large fella stumbled up from the street and insisted all slurrily that he had never seen me before. I agreed. He asked if we had seen his friend. We replied, not lying, that we hadn't. Moments later, he and his wayward pal were reunited. One of them proceeded to sit down and throw up. Embarrassed, he dragged his chair between a van in the driveway and the house after the first round seemed pretty much done.

Then his buddy pulled a chair up beside him and coached him through the rest of his hard times, in an touching and vaguely homoerotic display of camraderie. It was kind of like Of Mice and Men, only they're both Lenny and the "rabbits" are made of booze.

We watched all this safely from our Sittin' Wall. We may have condescended more than I'm doing now, but that woulda been hard.




I had never been to Slope Day before, but after witnessing just one I can state without fear of contradiction that it exists for one purpose: so at some point somebody at a party can yell "We're goin' to the Slope!" and begin the charge, to start people killing beers and clearing out to join the foot traffic, shouting "Slope!" or at the very least words that sound like it. Also, Slope Day exists so all the various frats and sororities can make commemorative Slope Day t-shirts. Because the world needs another "For Everything Else, There's Mastercard" parody, and goddamnit, it needs it on a gaggle of tipsy co-eds. Legion were take-offs on the popular "Ithaca Is Gorges" t-shirts, their abundance and refusal to be amusing surpassing alcohol as the day's leading depressant.

Did we go to the Slope? Fuck yea, we did.

This is running rrrrreally long. If I had taken a moment to note every time I stopped and started this thing, like I did close to the top, you wouldn't get more than a sentence without seeing "Well, now it's June/now it's Tuesday/now it's much later on Tuesday" etc. The rest of it is not very interesting to tell and not really accompanied by decent pictures so here it is in brief: when we got on the Slope, Dilated Peoples were playing, and before long they were joined by Supernatural, purportedly the greatest freestlyer of all time (he was okay), followed by a long bare-stage period accompanied by Dave Matthews house music, followed by Kanye West's hype-man, who exhorted the crowd to "show some love, Cornell" and when he got hit with water bottles by assholes up front, insisted that "we just tryin' to show you love, Cornell, and y'all be throwin' shit," (I definitely need to get a job where I get to use the phrase "The ROC is in the building") then he left, then after a prolonged silence Kanye came out and did an amazing show, including a medley of songs he's produced but isn't featured on (every song on the radio in the past three years); he is, if you haven't heard, the best thing to happen to hip-hop since, well, me; purple-shirted volunteers roamed the crowds combing out passed-out people and handing out water; we chilled against the back fence, got food, and the next band, OAR, being too frat-rock for our tastes, we went back to the frat. Then we passed out.

At one point Fran asked me if she thought Gregor wished he'd gone to Cornell like all his high school friends. In his head, I said, he has an alternate-universe life where he went to Cornell, just like I have an alternate-universe life in my head where I went to ASU. And you're glad your life is what it is, but you can't help but wondering what that other life might have been like, for the simple reason that you'll never know.

Later, Gregor said something to the effect of "I'm glad we came." He'd never been to Slope Day. I agreed with him. For all the making-fun-of-drunk-people I've been doing, it really was a great, great time, a great show, good friends. "Now I know what it would've been like if I'd gone to Cornell," he said. I told him about the conversation with Fran, about my theory. It's important to keep in touch with your alternate-universe selves. Maintain an active correspondence with who you might've been. And, if you get the chance, visit them where they go to school. Drink their beer.

Posted by DC at June 5, 2004 01:27 AM
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