Thursday, June 3, 2010

Hameau de la Ligue du Lierre

George Will begins his column today thusly:
Today, as it has been for a century, American politics is an argument between two Princetonians -- James Madison, Class of 1771, and Woodrow Wilson, Class of 1879.

A lot of people don't like Princeton, but of all the Ivy League schools FLG's least favorite is, and by a fair margin, Brown. FLG hates Brown and hates everybody he's met that went to Brown. The thing most have in common, again these are the ones FLG knows so perhaps his sample is skewed, are best described as hipsters who take on an air of irony that they are in the Ivy League.

An article to which UD linked recently describes it well:
We go to frat parties — ironically. We head to the Providence Place Mall — and roll our eyes about it later. We sit in the Ratty and crack jokes about the food. We’re even a little disdainful of the whole Ivy League thing. Yeah, we go to one of those schools, but we’re not the type of students who would go to one of those schools.

There's a certain bullshit, faux, hypocritical rejection of society and conformity that bugs the shit out of FLG. When he was in school in Boulder, it was the wannabe hippies who didn't wash their hair, but then drove away in a Beemer their daddy bought them. The people FLG knows who went to Brown suffer from the same fundamental problem, but the outward symptoms are different -- it's a hipster/emo/whatthefuckdidyoudothattoyourfacefor vibe. Life as performance piece on how fucked up the world is, which is fine except the whole your father's an investment banker and in a couple of years you'll probably go to law school and become a corporate lawyer thing. There's probably nothing FLG hates more than upper and upper-middle middle class playing at being an ascetic, hippie, hipster, or whatever with ironic moral superiority that has all the authenticity of the Hameau de la Reine. And Brown represents it at its worst.


Robbo said...

"And Brown represents it at its worst."

Hails of derisive laughter, Bruce! You haven't seen Wesleyan (my old stomping ground), whose corporate mission is to try and out-Brown Brown.

There was a big flap back in the mid-80's when it became known that the Brown infirmary had stocked cyanide capsules so that the kids could take the easy way out if that summ'bitch Reagan started WWIII. My fellow classmates got their collective tie-dyed panties in a wad because our own infirmary wouldn't do the same.

FLG said...


For some reason, and FLG isn't quite sure why, all those NE LACs try to out-Brown Brown.

Withywindle said...

Robbo: FLG said that Brown was his least favorite Ivy. Wesleyan ain't Ivy. Which FLG may already have hinted by his acronym, but I have no idea what an "LAC" is.

However, Brown did produce Jeff Sheshol, author of the fine cartoon Thatch, which wonderfully mocks everything you find absurd about Brown.

Flavia said...

Withywindle: you're the only person I've met (virtually or otherwise) who has heard of Thatch. Love that comic strip. I quote one of its panels to this day. (And no, I didn't go to Brown.)

Agreed on Wesleyan 100%.

FLG said...

NE LAC = New England Liberal Arts College.

Anonymous said...

I dunno. I just about tossed my cookies across the living room a year or two ago when I read in Mr. P's most recent--at the time-- edition of Princeton Alumni Weekly about the students who were learning how to bake organic stone-ground and sustainable bake bread using wild yeast - they trapped themselves.

Stupid Princeton. I had been doing that for a decade. Do you know how to trap wild yeast? You proof some commercial yeast and let it sit in a bowl for a day or two where it sours and the wild yeast in the air of your kitchen is attracted to it and settles in to it. How do you think it was done in the days before simple things like ovens? I got the method from reading a book on -- are you ready-- how to bake bread. Those Princeton kids had to excel all through their childhoods with straight A's since finger painting 101, attend every brilliant kid camp, dozens and dozens recital and art happening. Have zero free time or time to be a kid and pop copious amounts of drugs and chinwag with therapists plus have sex of every stripe to have the privilege of landing at Princeton to to trap wild yeast. And bake bread...

Then there are those at Princeton, Yale and elsewhere who grow their own sustainable organic veg...

Marie Antoinette would be so proud.

Mrs. P

Robbo said...

In fact, Wesleyan is NESCAC, which is the New England Small College Athletic Conference, the schools of which are often known as the "Little Ivies". It's also one of the "Little Three" within that group (along with Amherst and Williams)that are said to mirror the "Big Three" (Harvard, Yale and Princeton).

I brought up my anecdote by way of humorous association with the tenor of Mr. FLG's rant, which is equally applicable to the smaller schools, not out of ignorance or in an attempt to trip him up.

And I've had a copy of the Thatch collection since it was first published in book form back in '91. Long live Politically Correct Person!

Withywindle said...

Robbo: Withywindle is a pedant; do forgive.

Flavia: You know Jeff Sheshol ended up 1) in the Clinton White House; and 2) as a historian of note? A ridiculously versatile man. The quote which echoes in my mind is, "Your rational arguments ... weaken me."

Robbo: Another Thatch fan!

FLG: Speaking of college comics from the early 1990s, you so should read Charles Andrew Bates' Madison Blues collection, Buy This Book or the Vulture Gets It. UWisconsin. Out of print and unbelievably rare. I think it would be just your sense of humor, though.

Flavia said...

Withy: I was wondering if the Jeff Sheshol whose FDR book just came out was the same guy! Thanks for the info.

I, too, bought the collection, a year or so before leaving for college. Between that and old Doonesbury volumes, I totally did my research on the northeastern college experience.

Withywindle said...

"Roland Burton Headley really takes the cake. We could have told him we were a bunch of expatriated Zulus and he would have believed us."

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