RSS Feed

Monthly Archives: April 2014

Day off.

Posted on

I took a mental health day off work today and went to the ballpark.

(My mental health is actually pretty good, all things considered. But the local minor-league team doesn’t play too many morning games. This was a relatively rare opportunity for me to go see them during the day.)

What began as a charming idea turned into an endurance test.

The temperature topped out at 48 degrees at game time, while a whipping wind made it seem much colder. Rain threatened the whole time, and finally broke through with increasing intensity in the fourth inning.

It was one of those permanent-grimace kind of games, the kind where everyone in the crowd bundles up and squints a lot and feels brave and put-upon.

The ‘Pigs weren’t any too motivated by their surroundings, allowing the visiting Pawtucket Red Sox a seven-run second inning.

The umps called the game after five innings with Pawtucket up 8-0. The final inning, played in spattering rain, seemed like one of those affairs where the plate umpire whispers to each batter, “Swing at everything, kid, ’cause if it’s in this area code, it’s a strike.

For all that, it wasn’t the worst experience in the world.

The weather took some of the insistent fizz out of the IronPigs’ usual game presentation. The between-batter and between-innings promotions seemed fewer in number and less annoying. If you could get into the game, there was less to take you out of it.

The beer lines were pretty much nonexistent — always one of the nice things about a 10:35 a.m. start. (Yup.)

And fewer people at the ballpark meant more space to roam. Wanna be the only person on the outfield hill? The only person in the right-field standing-room area? I was both of those people at various points today, and it felt good.

Of course there are pictures of my morning at the ballpark. They’re nothing to write home about, but they capture some of the flavor of The Salaryman’s Day Off.

The Bud Light Trough overlooking right field is usually bustling with beer drinkers before game time. Not today.

The Bud Light Trough overlooking right field is usually bustling with beer drinkers before game time. Not today.

Plenty of good seats available -- and this was *before* the rain set in. I never did hear an announced attendance. It was Education Day, and a couple sections were full of local schoolkids, which must have driven up the total.

Plenty of good seats available — and this was *before* the rain set in. I never did hear an announced attendance. It was Education Day, and a couple sections were full of local schoolkids, which must have driven up the total.

IronPigs third baseman Maikel Franco sports a balaclava.

IronPigs third baseman Maikel Franco sports a balaclava.

Most of the PawSox players opted for hoods. This is Daniel Nava at the plate, with a few of his hooded teammates visible in the dugout.

Most of the PawSox players opted for hoods. This is Daniel Nava at the plate, with a few of his hooded teammates visible in the dugout.

Nava fends off a wicked googly with what looks like a cricket swing.

Nava fends off a wicked googly with what looks like a cricket swing.

Another shot of the empty stands. I think this was during the endless second inning.

Another shot of the empty stands. I think this was during the endless second inning.

Nothing special going on in this shot; I just liked the way the pitcher, second baseman and right fielder lined up from bottom to top.

Nothing special going on in this shot; I just liked the way the pitcher, second baseman and right fielder lined up from bottom to top.

Pigs right fielder Tyler Henson can't bear to watch any more.

Pigs right fielder Tyler Henson can’t bear to watch any more.

PawSox outfielder Bryce Brentz is the hero, having hit a grand slam. The Pigs' shortstop appears to be kicking the dirt in frustration.

PawSox outfielder Bryce Brentz is the hero, having hit a grand slam. The Pigs’ shortstop appears to be kicking the dirt in frustration.

A group of schoolkids from -- Lower Saucon? Macungie? Emmaus? -- glows in the stands like a cluster of pale tulips.

A group of schoolkids from — Lower Saucon? Macungie? Emmaus? — glows in the stands like a cluster of pale tulips.

I took this picture for Pigs center fielder Tyson Gillies' facemask. I didn't even notice left fielder Clete Thomas in mid-squat at top right. It was the sort of day where you're willing to look ridiculous if it means staying warm.

I took this picture for Pigs center fielder Tyson Gillies’ facemask. I didn’t even notice left fielder Clete Thomas performing some sort of baroque squat at top right. It was the sort of day where you’re willing to look ridiculous if it means staying warm.

The Pigs' Phillippe Aumont works to the plate amidst visible rain.

The Pigs’ Phillippe Aumont works to the plate amidst visible rain.

 

Advertisements

“Do you make her?”

Posted on

Another one of those posts where a mildly chilly evening walk and an old AM radio clip on the iPod get my imagination going.

For the next seventeen hundred words or so, it is Thursday, October 25, 1973, and our ears are somewhere in the Minneapolis-Saint Paul area, listening to morning jock Bill Gardner on KDWB-AM. (If you want to listen along, the roughly 23-minute clip can be found here.)

– After announcer Michael J. Douglas runs down the news of the morning, Brookdale Pontiac takes over to assure listeners it is “scurrying to make room for those elegant and sought-after ’74 Pontiacs.” The ad touts “Pontiac’s revolutionary aerodynamic design;” I can only assume they had something like this in mind.

– In a tres ’70s touch, Gardner teases the weather forecast not with “Twin Cities weather,” but “Twin Cities environment.”

It seems rather warm for late October in Minnesota, up into the high 50s, but Gardner sounds distracted by the potential for showers. He mentions the weather — excuse me, the environment — with audible concern several times during the broadcast.

– Gardner outcues “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” by declaring, “That’s the kind of a song that, if your house or your apartment doesn’t have a fireplace, your mind builds one of its own.”

I have no idea what he’s on about … but the scraps of music on this telescoped aircheck have that reverberant AM-radio glow, and my mind starts constructing fantasies of comfort around nearly all of them.

– Terry Bradshaw shows up in an Eveready battery commercial touting a Super Bowl sweepstakes.

After his closing “See you at the Super Bowl!,” Gardner retorts: “Wrong, Terry! You’re gonna be holding Franco Harris’ hand, saying, ‘I’m sorry, buddy!’ on New Year’s Day.”

It’s a dopey thing to say. But it also summons faded NFL Films memories of Bud Grant, and Fran Tarkenton, and the Purple People Eaters, and stone-cold Sunday afternoons at Metropolitan Stadium, and those distant days when the Vikings were a force and men were men and concussions were nothing at all.

– A commercial touts “All The Way, Boys,” which sounds like a toothless farce of the sort they don’t make any more. The Wiki entry tells me it was an Italian film; I rather wonder how much of an audience these ads drummed up for it.

– Another ad brings back memories of S&H Green Stamps. Whatever happened to those?

– Mrs. Leroy Norby of Minneapolis wins $6,300 by correctly naming the previous song played, and promptly lets out one of those screeches that pushes the VU meter all the way into the red. (I have never heard anyone make that noise except when they win something on the radio.)

– An ad for Brellantine Dodge (I’m punting on the spelling) mentions an address in Hopkins. I am amused to know there was something else in Hopkins besides Mystery Science Theater 3000, and equally amused to think a young Joel Hodgson might have caught this broadcast when it originally aired.

– Gardner outcues Chicago’s “Questions 67 and 68” by noting, “The answer to one is ‘Yes and no’ and the other one is ‘not necessarily.’ ” Clearly, Hodgson did not develop his sense of humor by listening to the radio — unless he was riffing off that too.

The DJ continues: “If this were, let’s say, about 18 or 19 degrees, I would be fearful … that’s a rough-looking sky out there today. This is as good a time as any to remind you that all school closings that you’ll need to know in 1973 and 1974 are gonna be right here on KDWB.”

This is one of several scraps of the broadcast that makes me contemplate what KDWB’s morning audience was. The teens were in school at 8 a.m. on a Thursday, so the station is clearly aiming at grown-ups, particularly younger ones. That impression is only redoubled by the next ad …

– … for Cherokee Village Apartments, starting at $160 for a one-bedroom and $205 for a two-bedroom.

The ad mentions the apartments’ luxury appointments, including “shag carpeting.”

And suddenly I am inhabiting the mind of a young, single man — a teacher, maybe, or an engineer fresh out of some provincial state school — unpacking the boxes at his Cherokee Village one-bedroom, thinking idly to himself about how some mythical, yet-unmet Twin Cities lady is going to just swoon when she comes by his place and gets an eyeful of his shag carpeting.

– A cannonade of John Bonham drum-fire announces the next song, and Gardner quips: “You’re with a lady. Things are looking good. The question comes up: Do you make her? Is the Pope a Catholic?”

It seems in rather poor taste. Then Gardner outcues the record by saying again, with a straight face, “Led Zeppelin, ‘Do Ya Make Her?”

And I am left wondering how many DJs in the hinterlands never quite got one of Zeppelin’s most idiosyncratic song titles.

(I confess: I always thought it was pronounced “Dire Maker.”)

– A parody commercial starring a Johnny Cash imitator touts yet another “luxury” apartment complex, the Grand Prix West Apartments in St. Paul. No shag carpeting mentioned here — just a car wash and underground parking.

– Given a good 30 seconds of lead time to promote the next cash giveaway, Gardner still manages to step on Karen Carpenter’s arrival in “Top of the World.”

– The cash giveaway is the next song, “My Sweet Lord,” whose strummed guitars sound gorgeous and magisterial.

Unfortunately, when Gardner cold-calls the Berg residence, M(r)s. Berg is unable to name the song that’s just been played, missing her chance at $6,300. Gardner is concise and classy in response, while M(r)s. Berg presumably hangs up and is gripped for weeks afterward by dismay and regret.

– Any ad that starts, “Meat-eaters, hear this!” is bound to draw one’s attention.

And so one is drawn in to the tale of Vivian Wojsica of Saint Paul (did I mention I’m punting on some of these spellings?), who won $10 worth of Schweigert meat products by submitting a cash-stretching recipe for Schweigert Boiled Dinner.

Her recipe, for you foodies: Cook carrots and a small rutabaga, cut in fourths, in a large kettle of water. When the rutabaga is tender, add onions, potatoes, a head of cabbage cut into fourths, and a Schweigert-brand ring bologna. Simmer ’til the potatoes are done, and enjoy.

This is as much a time capsule as the $160 big-city apartment. The rising price of meat was a significant concern to Americans in 1973-74. I can believe that more than one Twin Cities housewife committed the basics of Schweigert Boiled Dinner to memory while listening to the KDWB morning show.

– Bobby Goldsboro’s “The First Time” and some more weather-related blather lead into a commercial for Lafayette Radio, a local sound-equipment store. (Remember locally owned sound equipment stores that still had the word “radio” in their names?)

Another time capsule: Lafayette’s goods include “a $60 set of Koss stereo headphones” and “an $8 TV antenna.”

The ad ends with one of those random synth-twizzles that sounded so techie back in the ’70s … which bleeds right into the mighty semi-gospel intro to Helen Reddy’s “Delta Dawn.”

It’s a curious but charming juxtaposition, like leaping directly from a lab full of scientists to a Baptist church.

(And then my mind leaps to 2000, to the newsroom of a daily paper in Massachusetts, where a wise-ass copy editor colleague greets every mention of a dotty old female state senator with a chorus of, “Delta Dawn, Delta Dawn, what’s that flower you have on?” Those were days, those were.)

– Gardner returns, explaining that he’s having trouble figuring out exactly where a station-sponsored haunted house is. He knows the address — 9235 Medicine Lake Road, Minneapolis — but no one he talks to knows exactly how to get there.

It makes me think of the million different intersections in a city, and the countless different places, and the way a building can have a defined address and yet be totally beyond recollection in the minds of people who have passed it all their lives.

– From there, a background of jangling bells leads into a commercial for Akavan Imports, which offers imported clothing, rugs, tapestries and handcrafted wood and ivory items. (“Beautiful items for apartments and townhomes, costing very little” — was KDWB consciously selling to a less affluent but hopeful audience?)

The whole thing rings very ’70s to me: I can remember a time when such stores were alluring, but I do not think that time remains.

The ad pitches the grand opening of Akavan’s latest store, in “the New Old Town at Southtown Shopping Center,” which strikes me as an exquisitely jumbled confection of retail nomenclature.

– The chiming intro to “Maggie May” begins — and damn, doesn’t that sound autumnal? — but Gardner is entertaining a young female caller who has a joke to share:

“Did you hear about that new group called the Watergaters? You can buy their records, but you can’t buy their tapes.”

Gardner, apparently jangled to distraction by the beauty of Rod Stewart’s finest record, outcues it with all apparent seriousness as ” ‘Maggie May,’ done by the Rolling Stones.”

Yup, the Rolling Stones.

– A long and poorly done commercial for the KDWB haunted houses follows. It features a Dracula voiceover that segues, instantly and bafflingly, into a normal pitchman’s voice declaring, “If you rent an apartment or house, you’re grinding up money in the garbage disposal!”

I have to listen to it again (a luxury 1973 listeners didn’t have) to sort out the chaos. As it turns out, the thunder sound effect that closes the haunted-house ad blends remarkably with the grinding noise that opens the next one. It sounds like one continuous ad; you never hear Drac leaving or the new guy coming.

The grinding ad turns out to be for Patty Mobile Homes, which is offering one year of free lot-space or a free 1973 snowmobile to new buyers.

While its ad begins with a family pitch — “Build your happy family in a Patty home today! Fill it with happy children!” — it moves on to a different kind of sell: “You bachelors should see Patty’s super bachelor pad with deluxe features throughout! For swingers only!”

Which makes me think of someone more downmarket — a young factory worker, perhaps — sizing up the inside of his new swinger’s special from Patty’s and wondering how long it will take him to charm the miniskirt off some comely visitor.

– On that note, our 23:31 in telescoped time and one hour in real time with KDWB is over.

Gardner cues “the Number One record” — “I Got A Name,” by the recently deceased Jim Croce — and the tape fades out. (“I Got A Name” did not reach Number One on the national charts, so Gardner is presumably referring to the station’s own play chart.)

And I realize how dark it is in 2014 Pennsylvania, and that the kids aren’t going to put themselves to bed while I gas about some faded-around-the-edges sound snatched from the distant ether.

What Easter means to me, Part 2.

Posted on

Today was a nice day — windy, sunny, mid-60s — so I spent several hours of my Easter Sunday watching college baseball.

It was a thriller, too. The Leopards of Lafayette College dug themselves a 5-1 hole against the Bison of Bucknell University. Going into the bottom of the seventh, Lafayette had only three hits. (This being a doubleheader, the first game was only seven innings.)

Then Bucknell’s manager left his starting pitcher in too long. And hit by hit, walk by walk, Lafayette improbably chipped away until it was 5-4, with the bases loaded and only one out.

It died there. The next hitter struck out, and the final hitter flied out down the right-field line. The Lafayette fans felt disappointed; not being that loyal to the Leopards, I was perfectly content.

As always, I took bunches and bunches of pictures with my little point-and-shoot. And you get to see the “best” of them. Click to see ’em larger, if you want:

The throw has pulled Lafayette's first baseman off the bag, and Bucknell's runner is diving to avoid a tag. He was safe.

The throw has pulled Lafayette’s first baseman off the bag, and Bucknell’s runner is diving to avoid a tag. He was safe.

Sweet play by Bucknell's third baseman on a slow roller.

Sweet play by Bucknell’s third baseman on a slow roller.

Way too many pajama pants on the field, but there were a few proper pairs of stirrups to be seen.

Way too many pajama pants on the field, but there were a few proper pairs of stirrups to be seen.

All eyes are on this guy 'cause he's just gone deep.

All eyes are on this guy ’cause he’s just gone deep.

Action in the Lafayette pen, which is partially set off from the field by a small grove of pines.

Action in the Lafayette pen, which is partially set off from the field by a small grove of pines.

Second-base ump called a balk; the pitcher is protesting that the home-plate ump had called time. He had.

Second-base ump called a balk. The pitcher is protesting that the home-plate ump had called time. He had.

Two away, top of the seventh.

Two away, top of the seventh.

Lafayette's last pitcher of the day sported high-cut stirrups -- an unusual look in local college ball. Usually it's either stripes or pajamas.

Lafayette’s last pitcher of the day sported high-cut stirrups — an unusual look in local college ball. Usually it’s either stripes or pajamas.

I've said in the past I always take pix of submarine-style pitchers. This guy isn't a proper submariner -- he's more of a Tony Fossas-style thrower, somewhere between sidearm and three-quarters. I took his pic anyway. Funky arm angles rule.

I’ve said in the past I always take pix of submarine-style pitchers. This guy isn’t a proper submariner — he’s more of a Tony Fossas-style thrower, somewhere between sidearm and three-quarters. I took his pic anyway. Funky arm angles rule.

While the funky sidearmer was warming up, this prospective Lafayette pinch-hitter came out of the dugout for a sneak preview.

While the funky sidearmer was warming up, this prospective Lafayette pinch-hitter came out of the dugout for a sneak preview.

The last-ditch bid to win one for Hilton Rahn '51 comes up just short.

The last-ditch bid to win one for Hilton Rahn ’51 comes up just short.

What Easter means to me.

Posted on

Let everybody else get chocolate bunnies, jellybeans and peanut butter eggs today. For me, Easter is a baseball-card holiday.

(Actually, for me, Easter is not a holiday at all; it’s a day I get off because lots of other people believe something I don’t. But I’ll take it.)

When I was a kid, I got the usual candy-filled Easter baskets like everybody else.

But, noticing my fascination with baseball, my folks started slipping a few packs of baseball cards into the basket as well.

It was a genius move on several fronts. The baseball season is just starting in mid-April, and a young baseball-mad kid appreciates cards even more than usual at that point in time. Plus, baseball cards are a treat with no sugar, fat or calories, which is rare in an Easter basket.

I especially associate the 1983 Donruss set with Easter. I own maybe three packs’ worth of ’83 Donruss, and I know for a fact they came from my Easter basket.

In 1983, Donruss was in its third season of challenging the established giant Topps. They’d gotten past some embarrassing goofs in their first year or so and were putting out cards that were reasonably attractive, yet still noticeably different from Topps.

Like any good baseball-card haul, my Easter take in ’83 included a couple of superstars …

Having abandoned their disastrous attempt to turn Johnny Bench into a third baseman, the Reds were planning to play him at first in '83.

Having abandoned their disastrous attempt to turn Johnny Bench into a third baseman, the Reds were planning to play him at first in ’83.

… a couple of people who would go on to greater success than they’d achieved to that point …

For one of baseball's good guys, Joe Torre looks rather churlish in this picture.

For one of baseball’s good guys, Joe Torre looks rather churlish in this picture.

… and a couple of never-weres.

Tony Johnson's major-league career was already over when this card appeared.

Tony Johnson’s brief major-league career was already over when this card came out.

My own kids are not as baseball-crazy as I am, but they have small card collections of their own.

They received three packs of baseball cards in their “spring baskets,” and are engaged in ripping them open as we speak.

If you’ll excuse me, I’m going to join them.

101_0577

Ghost in the machine.

Posted on

Sometimes a push in the right direction can come from the most unexpected sources.

Longtime readers might remember Chris Stufflestreet, the music and baseball-card blogger whose death I wrote about in September 2012. (Has it really been a year and a half?)

Earlier today, I was gassing with a friend on Twitter about Pat Corrales, the former major-league player and manager.

The discussion led me to 1973 Topps Photography — the blog Chris left unfinished — to look up his entry about Corrales’s epic ’73 Topps card.

And, whaddya know, there was an unexpected new blog post there, dated Jan. 1, 2014.

newpic11
Obviously, Chris had banked it more than a year in advance, anticipating a steady stream of ’73 Topps cards to come throughout 2012 and 2013.

In the post, Chris talked about his plans for the new year — this year — and for the blog:

2014 will be the final year of this blog (assuming nothing bad happens to me which forces me to take an extended break). I still have quite a ways to go with the set, however, so so keep coming back to see what I’ve got planned.

Oh, and by the way…once the cards run out, I’ll have some more stuff to show. I’ll also have a surprise ready as a way of saying “Thanks” for your readership. You’ll have to see what that is, but I promise you’ll like it.

I found Chris’s words both saddening — it sounds like he knew he might be getting sick — and inspirational. Mostly the latter.

They tell me I should stop twisting myself around in knots and just write. Forget about being authoritative or definitive, or trying to add to the Great Cosmic Discourse … just get the words out of my fingers, because I might not be able to do it next week, or next year.

If what I write is really good, lots of people will find it. If it’s not, they won’t. Either way, that’s not supposed to be what I do this for.

I just have to more tightly define what I think, and then get it on the screen; and anyone who enjoys it is welcome to drop by. If I can do that, I’ll be back on track, and hopefully also producing stuff somebody, somewhere, finds interesting.

Thanks for the lesson, Chris.

 

What next?

Posted on

So, yeah, I’m a little … blocked.

I increasingly feel futile writing about the music I know best, because I’ve become more cognizant of the thousands of people doing the same thing.

I think that, within a few more years’ time, there will exist a MOJO magazine spread or a fancy e-book dedicated to literally every album released between 1967 and 1982, complete with behind-the-scenes pix and reminiscences from the studio engineers.

I have neither the resources nor the inclination to sift through all that material. But not reading it makes anything I have to say on the subject seem futile, since I don’t know All The Facts, and my own observations or additions feel paltry.

I tend to revel in my distance from the performer. I like to write stuff that asks questions like, “I wonder why they sequenced the album that way?”

I don’t need to have somebody leave me a comment saying, “Page 112 of the August ’11 MOJO says they sequenced the album by taping the song titles to the backs of turtles and having them race across the studio parking lot.” That destroys the mystique.

That conundrum would suggest I focus more on my local music reviews. Damn near nobody writes those around here, it seems.

Those are starting to feel formulaic, maybe because a lot of local musicians seem to hew to a handful of sounds and styles. There are only so many ways to describe hardcore metal or a guy in his bedroom with an acoustic guitar singing a song about Cocoa Puffs.

That leaves diddley bow videos … but I don’t think the first-take, so-bad-it’s-good vibe I put into them really comes through on the other side of the screen.

So, I’m gonna have to find something to put in this space. (Or not, I guess.)

But on this particular Friday night, I don’t know what it is.

Paper cuts.

Posted on

One of the big rivalries around here is Lehigh University vs. Lafayette College. It’s more than just an annual football game — Leh-Laf (or Laf-Leh, depending on your loyalties) spills over into other areas of student life.

Both schools have searchable editions of their student papers online — The Brown and White for Lehigh, The Lafayette for Lafayette. Both date back to the 19th century.

College papers, while laughably bad sometimes, are also barometers of American youth culture. You’ll read about issues and cultural events there that you won’t find in professional daily papers.

So here’s a new twist on the Lehigh-Lafayette rivalry:

I took 10 terms from the past half-century of American college life and youth culture, and searched the archives for their first mentions in both papers.

I was trying to determine which campus has been hipper over the long term.

As I saw it, if one school’s paper was consistently the first to mention youth culture or alternative topics, its campus was probably in the lead, culturally speaking.

So who’s cooler? The Mountain Hawks or the Leopards? Let’s see what the papers say:

Pizza: The definitive college food was first mentioned in both papers in 1949, thanks to advertisements from local restaurants. Colonial Pizza and Spaghetti House, which advertised in The Lafayette, helpfully subtitled its ad “Pizza (Tomato Pie).”

But which was the first to mention it in staff-written copy? After exhaustive research, I conclude that honor goes to The Lafayette, which mentioned in its Dec. 9, 1955, issue that a student injured in a car accident was “dying for pizza” instead of hospital food.

Marijuana: How do you think college kids get so hungry for pizza? (Well, OK, there are multiple ways; but pot is one.)

Lehigh’s Brown and White was the first of the two papers to refer to marijuana, in its Sept. 26, 1939, issue. An anonymously written opinion-page column opined: “You will have most trouble with sophomores, the faculty and sophomores. Together they will contrive to make your life so inexpressibly happy that you will sooner or later come to know the joy of arsenic, the charm of marijuana.”

The Lafayette didn’t get pot into print until April 16, 1948, again in an opinion page column — this time about the music of jazz saxophonist Illinois Jacquet.

(It occurs to me now that I might have gotten different results if I’d used the archaic spelling “marihuana.” Not gonna take time to do it again, though.)

Velvet Underground: One of the most influential bands of all time, the Velvets’ sound has echoed in college/underground/alternative rock for decades.

The Lafayette did itself proud, running a staff-written review of The Velvet Underground and Nico in its April 21, 1967, issue. It’s kind of a lousy review — quoting the whip-verse in “Venus in Furs” and calling it “pure poetry” — but it was still far ahead of a lot of other people and publications in noticing the band.

The Brown and White has mentioned the Velvets five times in its history, the first as a passing mention in a Jan. 16, 1973, review of Lou Reed’s Transformer. (“Have a few drinks and enjoy it.”)

Doonesbury: Before Garry Trudeau’s comic strip became as entrenched and familiar as Peanuts, it was the first strip of its generation that commented satirically on current events and sympathetically depicted long-haired young adults.

The strip entered syndication in 1970, but it took eight years to get mentioned in the local college papers. The Brown and White was first, putting a front-page tease into the Sept. 26, 1978, issue to announce it had picked up the strip.

The strip was first mentioned in The Lafayette on Feb. 8, 1980, in an article announcing Trudeau as that spring’s commencement speaker.

Quaalude: A friend of mine who attended the University of Massachusetts in the latter half of the 1970s once nostalgically told me, Those were the days of ludes, ludes, ludes.” So I’ve chosen the depressant to represent all of ’70s and ’80s campus drug culture.

Whaddya know: The first reference to Quaaludes in either paper is, once again, on the front page of the Sept. 26, 1978, Brown and White. A story mentions that former Presidential adviser Peter Bourne, coming to speak on campus, faced charges for writing a false prescription for the drug.

The Lafayette has mentioned Quaaludes three times, all between April and December 1993.

Punk rock: College kids were probably the first group of Americans to warm to punk rock. And they’re still listening to it today, in different guises (pop-punk, anybody?)

The race to get punk rock into print was a close one. It was won by The Brown and White with scarcely three weeks to spare.

Lehigh’s paper ran a review of a local punk concert on Oct. 4, 1977, while The Lafayette mentioned the term in a disparaging review of a Stranglers album on Oct. 21.

Condom: College kids hook up; everyone knows that. Condoms can also be a controversial topic on college campuses, when the student health dispensary either provides or refuses to provide them.

So which was the first paper to call a French letter by its real name in print?

Well, The Brown and White ran an advertisement for mail-order birth control as early as Feb. 5, 1971. Almost exactly two years later, the first reference to a condom in staff-written copy appeared, in a story claiming that “Many Women Remain Ignorant of Information on Birth Control.”

Lafayette women apparently remained ignorant for another 15 years: The first reference to a condom in The Lafayette appeared in the issue of April 17, 1987.

Michael Stipe: Few bands were as synonymous with college radio in the ’80s and early ’90s as R.E.M., and frontman Michael Stipe was the most visible member of the band.

I thought a search for R.E.M. might be difficult and time-consuming — for instance, what if the writer spelled it REM? — so I decided to search for the singer instead. Certainly, any reference to Michael Stipe would have to occur in the context of intelligent staff-written copy.

As with the Velvet Underground, The Lafayette was in the vanguard, mentioning Stipe in an October 1985 review of Fables of the Reconstruction. The Brown and White wouldn’t mention the singer until October 1994, in a review of Monster.

Kurt Cobain: When I was in college in the first half of the ’90s, no band was bigger on the college scene than Nirvana. Everyone knew Nevermind song for song. If you didn’t own it, your roommate did.

I found it rather surprising that neither paper mentioned Cobain until after he killed himself. The Lafayette mentioned him in passing in a nonsensical column in its April 15, 1994, issue, while a letter to the editor in The Brown and White of April 22 included his name.

I’d call that a draw, and not an especially impressive one.

Fuck: No, this isn’t a uniquely youth-oriented term. But college kids tend toward salty informality, especially after a couple beers. And God knows they like to test limits. So I figured I’d search for one of the seven dirty words and see where it showed up first.

(We won’t count a mention of “Fuck ’32” in a track meet summary in The Brown and White from April 1929. Presumably that was actually the guy’s last name, or a misprint of same.)

Once again The Brown and White led the way, running a police blotter item in November 1982 in which a luckless Sig Ep said someone threatened to “fuck up his car.”

Nine years later, The Lafayette dropped its first F-bomb, in a May 3, 1991, column by Frank Puskas.

The final verdict? Over the years, The Brown and White seems a touch more cutting-edge than The Lafayette — though the Easton paper seems to have an advantage where music is concerned.