January 18, 2009

[The following was written for the 20th anniversary issue of The Rutgers Review, my college newspaper.]

Dear Present-Day Reviewers:

How it does my heart proud to see that the kids of today haven't completely given up on the traditions of the past, still endeavoring to get their hands dirty with the old newsprint and ink. When I received your missive I went up to the nether regions of my attic and pulled down a dusty wooden box containing several dozen issues of The Rutgers Review in which my writings appeared. Ah, the memories, how they come flooding back to me, reminding me of the happier, simpler salad days that were the early to mid-early 1990's!

I remember the day when I first climbed those soon-to-be-familiar stairs in the Student Center looking for the offices of The Daily Targum so I could offer my services as a Society Reporter. I knew that I needed to start at the bottom rung of that illustrious organization -- covering sorority events, costume balls at the President's mansion, fancy-dress pig roasts -- before I could work my way up to a position such as Style Editor or gossip columnist. Full of anxious excitement I wandered around the Fourth Floor of the RSC, asking passers-by where I might be able to find the newspaper offices. Finally, somebody pointed me in the direction of a rather unpromising looking room. With trepidation I made my way towards the office, slowly opened the door, and made my way inside.

Ah, that first visit to that strange universe! I think that I will always remember the...well...stench is really the only word that could describe what greeted visitors to the Review office. A strange mixture of sweat, fear, marijuana, pheromones, fried food and livestock, it let strangers know that wherever they may have come from, they had arrived in an entirely different world, where the rules of so-called civilized society no longer applied.

Posters of Chairman Mao and Andy Gibb lined the walls, illuminated by a single bare bulb dangling from the ceiling from a precariously frayed wire. Three writers were huddled together over a rusty Tandy computer, possibly for warmth, ignoring the pained moans emanating from the passed-out fraternity pledges sprawled on the couch. Hunched over the layout table was a bearded, naked man working furiously, while in the center of the room three people engaged in a heated argument over whether worldwide socialism would arrive immediately or if it would take at least a year. In the far corner of the room, some sort of cockfight was taking place. I felt like I had finally found home.

This was The Rutgers Review of the early to mid-early 1990's, a wonderful place during a completely unique time. In those days the streets were ripe with the heady feeling of revolution, and we at the Review were filled with a sense of purpose, of being right, of magic! Sure, the Daily Targum may have had the money, equipment, experience, advertising, professionalism, administration backing, alumni support and high-paying job offers, but we had more than that! We had...well, now that I look over that list I realize that we, in fact, had much less, but it sure seemed like we had more, though that might have been the peyote talking.

Still, even with our limited resources and intermittent consciousness we managed to put out an excellent paper, week after week, taking what had previously been a money laundering scheme for the Genovese crime family and turning it into the best damn college publication in the country. Late at night, when I lie in bed silently weeping, it is that thought that makes me smile, at least until the tremors return.

We proud veterans were asked to write down memories of our time on the paper, and while I must still insist that I know nothing about the dead body that turned up in the supply closet in 1994 I will say that those years were, without a doubt, the most wonderful of my life. I met and worked with amazing people, and got to write about whatever I wanted. Never will I forget the furious deadline crushes, the passionate arguments, and the drunken revelry. Jesse, you and your compadres should treasure these days of freedom and purpose, and should know that the rest of your lives will only feel pathetic and pointless in comparison. May God bless you all.
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