Sunday, October 22, 2006

N-E-W Jers, Where Plenty Murders Occurs

So I went to Princeton with my momma this weekend, and had some fun and saw some neat stuff.

This post promises to be like an 8 foot broadsword: unwieldy, dangerous, and impractical, but overall, pretty neat.

First, a word on my hosts: Mickey and George Eggers are family friends. Mickey is a very grandmotherly, are-you-sure-you-don't-want-another-cookie kind of lady. General George is a slightly different story. I call him General George because he was in the army for about 40 years and retired as a General (Brigadier, not 4-Star Ghetto). He's about 80 years old, swears quite a bit, and when he laughs his shoulder's literally shake. He likes to talk a lot, but that's okay because he talks about interesting things like insider Princeton admissions policy and gout. He had some sweet dirt on Princeton admissions, but I'll get to that later. He went to Princeton back in '41, and he just went because some of his buddies were going, so he showed up too. Man, college was sweet back in the day.

Two more things about George, each with a picture:

This is the new science lab, designed by Frank Ghery (sp.?), which George referred to alternatively as "the atrocity" and "the abomination." He never actually called it an "abortion," but I could tell he was itching to. In George's defense, it does look pretty ridiculous right now. I assume it will be shinier and smoother when completed, but who knows...

Is this a human skull from the guest bedroom? Yes. Did I ever work up the nerve to ask where it came from? No.

(You may notice a chronic lack of photos in this post. This is not due to any lack of picturesqueness on the part of the Princeton campus, but rather to the problems of my own cheap digital camera. Really, this camera works best with small objects, on a table, viewed from about arms length, and containing reminders of mankind's mortality and the temporary nature of earthly possesions. So basically, excellent for vanitas still lifes, not so much for landscapes.)

Now then, on to the meat of the post:

Top Six Reasons Why Going To Princeton Would Be Really Sweet:

6. I loved the trees. They were old and twisty and mysterious. Most still had their leaves (it was like going back in time) and there were several kinds I couldn't identify.

5. They have a good mascot and school colors: Tigers/orange and black. The mascot is an actual physical, animate object, not a color like"Crimson" or a VEGETABLE like a "Cobber" (although I suppose a Cobber could be a human who "cobs" things; still, lame), and tigers are neat (there are a lot of tiger statues on campus.) Orange and black are good colors, and hey, Lowell Tigers, anyone? Yeeeaaahhh.

4. Because the mascot is a mammal, and a large predatory mammal at that, I will be able to use the line "The Paws That Refreshes" at some point. I realize it's a bad pun off of an outdated Coke slogan and it has bad grammar, but I think it's a good 'un.

3. The academics are top-notch, I like the housing system, the art history program looks good, and the art museum is unbelievably sweet: plenty of (entierly ignored) modern art, a shitload of impressionist and post-impressionist stuff (Age of Bronze, one from the same series as Impression; Sunrise, some Degas and Czeanne, even an Odilon Redon), a fucking wall-sized Reubens, a Bosch, some neat Byzantine stuff, a bunch of Roman mosaics and a room of archaic Greek painted vases. God-Daaaaammnnn. Plus, neat Japanese stuff.

2. There were lots of fun traditions, from stealing the clapper from the bell to the eating clubs to all the Ivy league rivalries. I realize a lot of these are essentially quite lame, but Princeton doesn't seem to take itself quite so seriously as some other Ivy-ish institutions. That, plus the sweet band, on Superblog. Eventually.

1. The campus was easily the most beautiful I've seen. It's all on a big hill, with the math tower at the base of the hill and the engineers rightfully isolated off in there own little corner. There are a couple of cool neoclassical buildings, but it was mostly Gothic revival. It was like walking through a bunch of fucking castles, with the turrets and the crenulations and the ribbed vaults. Also, the non-denominational church there was the single most awe-inspiring building I've ever entered. It just kept going up...

One odd thing: there were lots of spaces for statues with little canopies, as is typical of the gothic style, but there were virtually no statues. Our tour guide didn't know why. IT'S A MYSTERY.

Top Five Reasons Why It Would Be Fine If I Didn't Go To Princeton

5. They want me to take a bunch of SAT II tests. I was all like "Fuck All Y'All!"

4. The Tool to Cool ratio was, as far as I could tell, very similar to the other campuses I've visited (as in there were roughly 5000 tools present, and then me). And the prospecitve students really bugged me, especially the Brits, those cockey motherfuckers. There was this one classic guy, my age but with a full beard, wearing a rumpled tweed sports jacket and cords; his name was Zach, and he was interested in "Math and theater." Classic.

3. The admissions guy really bugged me. He seemed really disingenuous, although I suppose that arises naturally from the two-faced nature of his job; he has to get as many people as possible to apply, to keep up the application numbers, and then reject 90% of them, to keep down the acceptance rate and make himself look good.
1.Guy: "Early Decision doesn't really increase your chance of being accepted."
Guy two minutes later: "Well, the acceptance rate for normal decision is about 10%, and for ED it's about 20%."
2. Guy: "We all just sit down, and it's very democratic, and we look over each application and we ask ourselves, 'is this person a good fit for Princeton?,' and that's what we do with each individual application."
Reality, according to General George and his insider info: international students 10%, recruited athletes 17%, U.S. minorities 37%, children of alumni 10%. Which leaves, what, 26% for us red-blooded cacuasian americans? And those numbers have been suprisingly steady for having been selected by such a "democratic" process.
3. Guy:"Children of alumni don't really have that much of an advantage:"
Overall acceptance rate: 10%
For children of alumni: 39%

2. It's way the fuck out in New Jersey for chrissakes.

1. Really, I'll have a good time at college no matter where I go. Princeton would be nice, but I can live without it.

Now then: I realize that perhaps in writing 900 words about my trip, I've subconciously betrayed my own public sentiment that Princeton isn't that important to me...and that's all I'm going to say about that. Go Tigers.



At 1:12 AM, October 23, 2006, Blogger Houley said...

Let's take a little bit of advice from Led Zeppelin:

Yes, there are two paths you can go by, but in the long run, there's still time to change the road you're on. And it makes me wonder... ohhhh-oh-oh...

General George sounds like he knows what he's talking about. That chapel also looks danged sweet; the only other place I've seen 'em as nice as that is Europe.

As for the rest of it, I'm not exactly sure what to say. Don't make Princeton your Yale, if you know what I mean, but don't just blow it off either. Ivy isn't everything; I was already decided on the U of M by the time I got the thumbs down from MIT, Harvard, and Princeton. On the other hand, Ivy League schools are great places to be - especially for humanities - and if I were in your situation, I'd have a hard time turning it down, especially if Questbridge comes through.

In any case, you have plenty of time to weigh and consider your options, so try not to disclude any one path. Also make sure you have a nice arsenal of "safety" schools on hand - I'm glad I did.

Finally, your last reason is solid; college is going to be an amazing experience no matter where you go. Everything will work out just fine, believe me.

At 6:51 AM, October 23, 2006, Blogger Shelty said...

I'd go just for the art museum... Cezanne and Degas? Sweet.

At 11:48 AM, October 23, 2006, Blogger El Jefe said...

Jersey = that much closer to drink wine coolers with Tay.

At 2:12 PM, October 23, 2006, Blogger Houley said...

Yes, I bet Tay's drinking wine coolers. That's right up his alley.

At 4:59 PM, October 23, 2006, Blogger mayah said...

prestige isn't all that important, when it comes down to it. you just become part of this super-elite group (i'm not ivy, obviously) and then compare yourself only to people in that group, which inevitably drives down the self-esteem/image and creates this bubble that skews the rest of the world into nonexistence. kind of. and then you can really lose perspective and drag yourself down before realizing that you are, in fact, above average, and you're going to be okay. so it's kind of a question of whether you want to enter that world, and there are obvious benefits (working with leaders in your field, doing research, networking, hanging out with wonderful gay men, getting a stellar education) as well as drawbacks (see above and throw in some socially awkward ubernerds). choose wisely, little bro, but remember that you can make it any way you want and it's ultimately 4 years of your life, wonderful but fleeting. annnnd there's always grad school!

At 6:29 PM, October 23, 2006, Blogger Tom said...

do this: tour the campus again, snag a Cezanne, come back to Minnesota, give me the painting, ill see if i can find some space on the wall here at the Tweed Museum for it. that will automatically make our art history program better, so you can just go here. in fact, they'll probably pay you to come here, tuition plus a 10k signing bonus.

At 8:13 PM, October 23, 2006, Blogger Josh said...

if you are going just for the art gallery, keep in mind that you can see mediocre impressionist shit at most galleries across america.

At 12:59 AM, October 24, 2006, Blogger Houley said...

Yeah. We have the Weisman.

At 9:49 AM, October 24, 2006, Blogger hannah said...


i just wanted in on the conversation. all i'm getting from my education is a ring and a free pass to the rest of my life in f/m. oh boy.

At 8:18 PM, October 24, 2006, Blogger Samwalkertron said...

Yeah. We have the Weisman.

True. the U of M had a Frank Gehry abomination years before Princeton.

And that's when Gehry was actually fresh.

At 8:32 PM, October 24, 2006, Blogger constant_k said...

Yeah sam, we need a fresh new face in modernist architecture. Someone like...SAM WALKER?

Seriously though, "fresh"?

At 9:16 PM, October 24, 2006, Blogger Houley said...

As fresh as Will Smith?


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