On Craic (& booze)

When I turned 21, the age when the morally upright Uncle Sam decided I could handle booze, I was abroad in London. It’s a city that proves gloomy enough without an unwelcome birthday. London’s nickname is “the Smoke,” which is appropriate because it’s very gray and because I sometimes found it was hard to breathe there.

It was April 6. As the clock approached midnight, I downed some Stellas at a sparsely populated café. A few of my moneyed friends had left London the day before to go skydiving in Lucerne, Switzerland; I was mostly broke and completely alone.

When I sobered up, I found myself aboard a train to Hollyhead — a seaside town in Wales. From Hollyhead, I bought a roundtrip ferry ride to Dublin. I boarded the vessel and promptly fell asleep in the first available chair, mumbling about a Portrait of Dorian Gray. I awoke with a dry mouth aboard the ferry. I got up and stepped carefully: the floor was littered with bodies; each was asleep or hoping to be. It was around five-thirty in the morning when the sun smudged the sky, polluting the cragged Irish coast with a sour orange.

F. Scott Fitzgerald would introduce himself at parties as “one of the most notorious drinkers of the younger generation.” While I’ve sort of fallen in love with the phrase, I’m not as brilliant a drinker or writer as he was. Anyway, I needed something of an introduction (as I knew no one and had no plan) so I went with a typical Irish greeting: “What’s the craic?” Continue Reading

Anatomy of a RISD party

“Dude, we’ve been planning this for a while, haven’t we?” I asked a friend of mine, who prefers to remain anonymous. We’ll call him Keenan.

“Yeah, but we’re actually fucking doing it. We’re actually fucking going to the other side of the Hill,” he mused, lacing up his new Nikes like they were armor. Our pulses thumped in our throats and were drunk with the exotic lure of the place.

There’s a Hall & Oates song called “So Close” which contains these lyrics: So close, yet so far away. We believe in tomorrow, maybe more than today. Daryl Hall and John Oates often strike my steely heart, their words like a flint. But this time, the resulting spark lit a strong urge. RISD, our redheaded, sulky stepsister, had lurked in my skull for too long as just a murky ghost.

Who were these too-hip brooders? I had heard whispers, seen glimpses, but I wanted to crawl right down into the belly of the beast and understand our cigarette-wolfing, wanton pseudo-siblings that were so close, yet so far away. Continue Reading

Ra Ra Brunonia: That’s a Boss Lid, Man

The thing that’s so irksome about freshmen — or “first-years,” if you’re a Gender Studies concentrator — is that they are having more fun than you. The rest of us are weary from their loud bursts of ecstatic liberty; freshman are newly free, yet safely cooped up beneath the big Brown shelter — and they want the world to know.

Then it’s over and bam!: you’re an upperclassmen and you abruptly inherit the solemn duty of mocking them, the fun-havers. Lucky for us, it turns out that teasing the newcomers is a lot of fun.

But our Brown impulse to deride the Young and Gradeless used to be much crueler. For this Blog edition of Ra Ra Brunonia we turn to the aptly called Encyclopedia Brunoniana by Martha Mitchell. According to Mitchell, since 1907, Brown’s Cammarian Club, a selective and elite cabal (and early student government), mandated that all first year students don a special brand of beanie called Eton caps. These things were fucking awful. They were, essentially, small brown-colored skullcaps. These harsh hats were unflattering, unfashionable, and, most crucially, marked you as a fun-haver — which meant your smug freshman head belonged in a toilet. Continue Reading

Quarter-life crisis: The sorta-bearable lightness of Senior Spring

If you’re about to graduate in May, you already know: your hide is glossed like a fresh, crisp apple, shining with sweet potential. And those of you who’re still snug in your cozy and bohemian Ivory Tower, you’re closer to ripening than you realize.

Each student’s inevitable harvest, Senior Spring, is precarious. It’s like a dizzy red balloon at the end of a taut line — the thread that attaches the light, frantic excitement of any looming release to the heavy, terrible dread of walking outside those Van Wickle Gates. Continue Reading

Spot étude secrète

One fish, two fish: bigger fish gobbles the smaller. If you’re trawling for a secret spot with choice java, you’ve just been hooked up. This week’s locale has coffee and comfort from the Devil you know—and a new drip you can sip. New on the bean scene, the Clover® brewing machine digitally controls the time and temperature, keeping the drink within a degree of the ideal percolatin’ heat. The result is an aromatic, sans-bitter smooth roast.

Here’s the catch: these Clover® coffee contraptions don’t come cheap – but for this Wayland Beast, a cool $11 grand was chump change. It’s currently the only place in ol’ Rhody to pick up this crafted cup o’ Jo. We like it.

For buttery leather chairs, a homey fireplace, and a terrific venue to meet women over 30 donning jogging digs, get down from Brown to this study-rific franchise. The outdoor seats-a-plenty lends a Euro-café feel to this venue, while its proximity to Red Stripe and Books on the Square makes a hasty retreat from the books a real treat.

Correction: In a previous version of this post, the last sentence read, “The outdoor seats-a-plenty lends a Euro-café feel to this venue, while its proximity to Red Stripe and Symposium Books makes a hasty retreat from the books a real treat.” This secret study space is actually close to Books on the Square, not Symposium. Happy hunting!

The Secret Study Scene: Part Deux

Author’s Note: First, allow me to apologize for the tardiness of this blog post. It’s really unacceptable, the height of rudeness. Thank Deputy Managing Editor J-Bomb for nagging me into punching through the bacchantic Brunonian wine-mist that’s stained this blogger’s brain. She takes things serious when I take ‘em Sirius. The fall equinox was the 23rd; summer’s officially gotten dressed and left without a word. Adieu Dog Days, adieu. Luckily, hair of the dog is a cure not bound by season.

My dear, this week’s secret spot is one with a view. It’s a spacious room that boasts two large windows: one, with an aesthetic downtown skyline view, and the other, a lush peek into groomed treetops. There’s a plasma television you can hook up to your laptop for studying that Intro to Sleep PowerPoint (or watching Bored to Death), a sizeable table, and an overall sense of personal fiefdom. An opulent oasis in dense drudgery.

There is, as with most pretty things, a catch. The caveat is that this room is not tucked away down some rambling cobblestone street on the Hill. It’s very much accessible. So to make this space your own, you’ll need just a little lie. A tiny pinch of truth-kneading. We won’t tell. Continue Reading