Vox Clamantis in Harlem

by Zachary Pfeiffer | 10/22/04 5:00am

I guess I have to start out with a confession: I'm fairly uninformed. I don't find newspapers that enjoyable, and I'm lucky if I can pick up The Dartmouth a couple times a week and give it a quick read. I'm even less likely to react to something I read in the paper, but after catching an article in The Columbia Spectator that gave Dartmouth a thorough railing, I felt a humble response couldn't hurt.

In a brilliant little piece by Kwame Spearman, Dartmouth is dumped on for everything from our football team to what we wear. Nothing was really off-limits, and since I admire candor above all else, I decided to reciprocate.

Spearman began by decrying the vague aura of cow manure that Dartmouth and its fans brought to Columbia's humble Harlem abode. This was really the only confusing part of the article. I couldn't imagine cow manure wasn't an improvement on Harlem's usual aromas. But I digress.

The oh-so-subtle jabs at Dartmouth athletics were the next target of Spearman's pointed wit. Being the shameless Google-whore that I am, I had to check out Columbia's football record from last year. I found that while Dartmouth tied for second in the Ivy League, Columbia found itself sadly situated near the bottom of the rankings. Columbia's cause wasn't helped by its overall losing tally last season, compared with Dartmouth's even record. Maybe if uptown Manhattan had enough grass for me to practice chipping with my pitching wedge, those guys could get a little more practice time in.

Besides our Ivy champ lacrosse team, Spearman must have forgotten our third-ranked hockey team (which would roll over Columbia if they, um, had one). But I'm glad that Kwame can guarantee victory over Dartmouth in every sport. The CIA guaranteed that there were WMDs in Iraq, and I'm sure Kwame would guarantee that he's a totally sweet dude that likes to hang out a lot. I guess that means that anybody can guarantee just about anything. That doesn't make it so.

But that's more digression! Spearman pointed out that there isn't a whole lot to do here in the New England hinterlands. Everyone can't be content with nightly Five Olde runs (like I am), so I thought this was fairly astute of him. It didn't seem to occur to Kwame, however, that one of the reasons I came to Dartmouth was to get away from people like him.

While he reassures himself of just how cool he looks, clad daily in charcoal pants and black sweaters, drinking his lattes and congratulating himself on getting into a school that ties Dartmouth in all the rankings, I'm happy to kick back in the middle of the woods and sip some nice scotch on a chilly winter's eve. We should all be so lucky. And with regard to dress, while your wardrobe is probably limited to what you can find on sale in SoHo, unless Lacoste makes overalls, I'm not wearing them.

So we're a "voice crying in the wilderness," you say? Better to be "in deserto" than "in a crowd of guys about to jack you and steal the fake Rolex you bought in Chinatown." Also, I'm glad that Spearman acknowledged Dr. Seuss. Though perhaps a tad above his reading level, I hope everyone can enjoy those books as much as I do. After he dropped the Seuss-bomb, I felt that I should comment on one of Columbia's famous alums, so it sucked when I realized I couldn't think of one.

Needless to say, the football game this coming weekend will be a pleasant little trip. After we pound Columbia's overrated football team into the only field anywhere close to their 60-acre campus, I hope the Dartmouth football team can stick around and drink with the Harlemite lightweights. The swarms of alcohol-poisoned Columbia students will give hospitals way uptown something to take care of on a nice autumn night in the Big Apple.

As a close, I ask only one thing. Kwame, for god sakes, don't write a rivalry check that your school can't possibly cash. Guess what? We came to Dartmouth because we like it here. I prefer the nighttime sound of wind in the trees. You must prefer gunshots and sirens. That's great, but the bellow of Harlem gun battles is nothing compared to the cacophonous roar of people like you praising your overrated school. Cheers, and we'll see your team on the gridiron (that's slang for a football field, Kwame) this weekend.