Riding the Pine: With Henry Arndt '16 and Joe Clyne '16

by Henry Arndt and Joe Clyne | 3/2/16 6:30pm

by Eliza McDonough / The Dartmouth

As the last winter term of our illustrious Dartmouth careers draws to a close, so, too, has our already dwindling self-respect. Some people save their best for last. We came in with a bang and are going out with a whimper, unread and unloved by the community that once adored us and hung on our every word.

In many ways, our column has been frozen in time despite this mild Hanover winter. Each week we churn out the same “improvisational” humor and hot takes, adorned by the same daunting picture. Though we tried to keep this column evergreen, frozen in amber in perpetuity, all good (and bad) things must eventually come to an end. The center cannot hold. Things fall apart.

Archived in the annals of these very pages, this term was a turbulent one for us in many ways. We bought Apple. We sold Apple. We joined a housing community, and yes, it was East Wheelock. We lost a fortune betting on political markets but made a fortune taking out loans that we never intend to repay. We witnessed the meteoric rise of Donald Trump and the catastrophic collapse of our beloved Jeb Bush.

Truth be told, the slow burn of winter term has simply bored us to tears. This winter was too warm to freeze Occom Pond for more than a few fleeting moments and too weak to make us hardened men. It’s difficult to tell whether this term has gone by fast or slow as it feels for the most part like we’ve been stuck in some sort of cloudy haze.

Like zombies with our eyes rolled into the back of our heads, we’ve been creeping closer and closer toward the finish line where the promised land of spring break and the end of Joe’s Sig Ep presidential tenure lie waiting to shower us in their good graces.

Even though the temperatures have remained high this term, one thing has surely plummeted — our readership. Our Nielsen ratings were once Trumpesque. Now they’re at Ben Carson levels. Trump said earlier in the election that if his poll numbers went down, if people stopped caring about him, then he would get out of the race. So too will we. If two columnists announce their retirements, but no one reads them, do they make a sound?

Perhaps our brand of absurdist humor has finally reached its breaking point. Maybe we have lost our cache in this god-forsaken Buzzfeed culture. In Hanlon’s Brave New World, only one thing is forbidden: the illicit pleasure of deranged theoretical nonsense. We’re going out of business.

Maybe we’re closing down the shop as a last thrash of proto-masculine pride. Or maybe we’re just trying to prick ourselves and draw blood so we can once again feel pain.

This is the point in the column when we would normally flip the script and spend 150 words murmuring about the sports world to get our editors off our rear ends. This is our last column though, and we’ve missed our deadline by nearly five hours. There’s nothing that they can do to us anymore...

After this dismal winter term, we felt like we should preview our hopes for the spring for you all so you know what to expect from the Riding the Pine boys once our names are no longer in print. Think of this like the end-of-movie montage showing you where your favorite characters are now but before any of it has come to pass.

When we have finally broken ourselves from the shackles of print media, we will be able to indulge some of our more finer tastes in life.

Ironically, just as Joe has finished his tenure on The Dartmouth’s back page, he will be taking his first creative writing class of his college career. Unfortunately, it will be too late for any of you plebeians to reap the benefits thereof.

Henry will spend his spring term oscillating between the Paleo diet and the golf course, unable to achieve any degree of success in either realm.

Well, that’s it for the boys from Riding the Pine. We’ve written 20 of these articles and have learned nothing at all. Nothing of value, nothing of interest, nothing of substance, merely nothing. We stand here, at the edge of all things, at the edge of the abyss, and stare down longingly, praying for the abyss to stare back.

Earlier, we quoted Yeats’ poem “The Second Coming.” That was not intended to get anyone’s hopes up. Riding the Pine is never coming back.

As we reflect on our time as this campus’ moral compass, as Dartmouth’s guiding lights, we are reminded of a quote from our favorite author, the only mind as absurd as our own, Franz Kafka.

“We all have wings, but they have not been of any avail to us and if we could tear them off, we would do so.”