When at Purdue, I looked forward to (if that is what you want to call it) grabbing a newspaper in the morning. I could shove it into my backpack and flip through it later, filling out the crossword puzzle inattentively in class. Over the course of the day, I typically read every article (with the exception of sports-related items), finally throwing it in the recycling bin once I had defeated A. in a sudoku race. (Granted, he did beat me the first time; I'll give him that. He's also better at the cryptograms, which is a skill I will have to rebuild next semester, as The Daily Iowan lacks these.)
However, the lack of critically puzzling entertainment isn't the only thing that The Daily Iowan promotes. In fact, whether or not it is done intentionally...the paper really tends to send off a particular vibe...
...towards underage drinking.
Out of all the papers I have read during my four weeks here, I have seen, only twice, the phrase "I/We do not encourage underage drinking." One was in a guest column that addressed the themed "fan cans." The other was included in Andrew Juhl's column "The Ledge," which is typically bawdy, rude, and distasteful anyway. (That day's article--the theme being "Drinking"--was printed the first week of school, in a series called "Freshman Advice Week.") One piece of advice in said column stated that "Four Excedrin Migraine caplets will end every hangover. But 40 will end every hangover."
I suppose you could consider that valuable advice, considering it's contained within a fragment.
In today's Daily Iowan, however, Juhl's article concerns itself with "Twenty movies [he] might have thought were porno flicks, based solely on their titles." (In case you're curious, some of the names included are The Talented Mr. Ripley, The Elephant Man, Holes, and The Nun's Story, which happens to be a film that earned Audrey Hepburn--an icon of mine--her third Academy Award nomination.)
However, it wasn't Juhl's "humor" that aggravated me the most. Rather, it was the first page. The front page story--"Tailgating lucrative." Seriously? They couldn't find any better story to write about? They went for the "the roommates [who] stood in the back of the house, sipping on black-and-gold Budweiser "fan cans" and red plastic cups?"
Oh, wait...I forgot. This is Iowa City. Of course that is what The Daily Iowan is going to report. Heck, on the bottom of the second page are a lovely little chart and a clearly explained bar graph that illustrates the arrests, citations, OWIs, PAULAs, and other offenses that have occurred in Iowa City during the two home football games. (And that's including about only half of the fifty-two entries in today's "Police Blotter.")
My favorite piece included in today's issue, however, has to be on the opinions page...yes, that dreaded one-page spread of rampant thoughts. Titled "Quintessential Iowa tradition," the author, Michael Dale-Stein, begins his article by reliving the hangover he experienced on Sunday. Backtracking to his morning, he states that "from the first sip of tapped Keystone to the hazy, chant-infused walk to the stadium, nothing's better." He goes on to say that "Iowa tailgating is...a lifestyle which we can all attest to being a defining part of college life."
My further aggravations with this article include:
- "There's something comforting about parents joining their children in bouts of binge drinking."
- His play-by-play account of two girls from the "shame train" making out...twice.
- His play-by-play account of early-morning, public-urination. (He also writes of "the neighbor girl" who is notorious for photographing the pee-ers, and subsequently sending the images to the authorities.)
- He mentions a fight that has with a man tattooed with the Star of David...twice.
- The article is concluded with this: "...I realize what tailgating is all about: Quite simply, it's an anarchy-laden weekend when we can...enjoy the fall weather while sharing the commonality of our love for this great school."
My response? *Sigh* Binge drinkers are always trying to find an excuse, even if it is as lame as "common love for school." Right; most people here do not LOVE the school, they love the downtown atmosphere, and the amount of drinking that goes along with it. (Even as I write this, the boys who live below me are tossing empty cans of Keystone out of their window and onto the cars below.) *Sigh* I do not love the University of Iowa, nor have I ever. I knew in March, when I came to visit, that I did not want to come here. To me, this place is just a mediocre state-university that hosts more drinking than I can handle. Why I didn't really concentrate on the fact that it is one of the country's biggest drinking schools, I don't know. *Sigh* The Daily Iowan upsets me because hardly ever are the words "I/We do NOT encourage underage drinking" are included. Two times have I seen that phrase--twice, out of the near-month of printed papers I have read.
Then again, why would anyone (besides me, it seems), in this city go against drinking? I guess because no one wants to be accused by Juhl, who wrote that "not supporting our downtown businesses is reprehensibly un-American."
In Iowa City, then--a place that doesn't bother to discourage binge drinking, that seems to find humor in the amount of PAULAs issued, and results in a few dozen alcohol related rapes per year--I guess I'm not American.