Baby, We Were Born to Run

Just about a year ago, in between cruising on Craigslist, adjusting my monocle, and sipping scotch, I stumbled across a recruitment post from my now-predescessor Adam. “You wanna wanna write for IvyGate?,” it almost obscenely challenged. And, it turns out, I did. There went nothing. Or, as it turned out: something very much indeed.

In those days, our storied site was in a bit of a holding pattern. The Prox had prematurely proclaimed our death, viewership was down, and IvyGate writers were getting far less play than adequate or appropriate. Were the glory days behind us? Or were they ahead? Regardless, the blog kicked ass, and I wanted to see my name in HTML-ights. In my two years at Yale, I had already encountered enough pomposity, neurosis, idiosyncrasy, and oddity — that is, crazy, crazy shit — to fill a boat-load of puckish posts.

So I threw in my hat, and since then, in 126 installments of varying success, I’ve done more than my fair share of thumb-nosing, internet-adventuring, lawsuit-garnering, and fun-poking. So for this, my 127th post, my last as your Editor, what do I say? That it was a blast, a privilege, a trial, and an honor to churn the gossip mills, inflame the commenters, and rake a little muck on the gleaming facade of our ivory towers? Obviously.

But moreover, I have to say thank you. To all of you that trusted us with your tips. To Dan D’Addario, my absurdly talented co-captain (we’ll do that porno one day, we promise…). To the team of contributors, guest editors, and friends who helped us accelerate through this remarkable year, with pick-ups in the New York Times, the Washington Post, the New York Observer, the New Yorker, Gawker, HuffPo, Jezebel, The Awl, and more. It still shocks me that over 5,000 of you would deign to read this freewheeling carnival or blog-debauchery day-in and day-out. The greatest thanks goes to each and every one of you. (And to Rumpus… And the Bullblog… And to the Hanover Police… And to Kurt Schneider… And to Arthur Matuszewski… And to the ADPhi bros… And to the Yale College CouncilSo. Much. <3.)

And oh, will I miss you all, and this silly blog that I so love. So keep in touch, damnit. And if you miss me, you can read the Yale Daily News, for which I’ll be putting my serious-hat on and serving as Opinion Editor this year. Or, if you like your Alex Klein pithy, pointless, and confined to 140 characters, you can follow me on twitter. In the coming week or so, look forward to new Editors, new bylines, new posts; but, as always, the same sass.

So, whether it’s “good luck” or “good riddance,” I hope we at least kept things interesting. Don’t forget to keep the Ivy-doldrums at bay. Stir the pot. Have fun. And now, goodbye, dearest all. See you around the bend.

Man Who Killed Self in Harvard Yard Leaves Massive, Online Suicide Note

Mitchell Heisman, the man who shot himself last weekend in Harvard Yard, killed himself as “Experimental Elimination of Self-Preservation,” according to an extensive suicide note he has published online. The note, found at the domain //www.suicidenote.info/, is over 1,905 pages long, and divided into complicated subsections. In its totality, the document sketches Heisman’s dense, heavily-cited social, political, and ethical philosophy, and promotes his book, heretofore unpublished. Heisman worked in several bookstores throughout the area, and consulted with Harvard professors in the process of writing the document.

Most arresting of all: the note — tome, really — is probing, deeply researched, and often humorous. Heisman personality and erudition shine through every page, as he traces the philosophical steps that have led him to suicide: not really desperation or depression, but rather, intellectual curiosity, and a desire to test the limits of the unknown. After a quick read, comparisons to Albert Camus’ “The Myth of Sisyphus” abound. All the more sad that such a deeply intelligent young man would choose to cut his scholarly output off at one, interesting book.

Man Kills Self in Harvard Yard

At 10:50am this Saturday, an unidentified, non-university-affiliated man climbed up to the top step of Memorial Church in Harvard Yard, the centre of campus, and shot himself in the head. The Crimson has the full, horror-movie-esque story. Apparently, a group of tourists were posing for pictures in front of the church when the suicide took place, sending them running in fear. According to one freshman witness,

From my friend’s window, I could see him in a pool of blood.

While the man lay dead or dying, other tour groups continued strolling about the Yard, and Harvard’s emergency notification system sent out the following message:

Man in Harvard Yard suffered self-inflicted gunshot wound. Incident Over. No Ongoing Threat.

While Harvard’s campus appears to be under no threat, the area remains taped off.

Rappers Young Jeezy and Pusha T Insult Annie Le

Less than a year after the brutal murder of Yale grad-student Annie Le, popular rapper Jay Jenkins — better known as the alimony-avoiding, Lamborghini-crashing, firearm-flaunting Young Jeezy — has satirized her tragic death, and compared her corpse to drug-money. In his recent song, Illin’, a guest verse from Pusha T (another new Kanye bud) features the following display of lyrical virtuosity/insensitivity:

No amount of record sales could derail this
Stuffing dead prezzies in the wall like
That Yale b-tch

Pretty shocking. Listen for yourself below.

Dead prezzies = $$$, in the colloquial sense. “Stuffing in the wall” refers to how Annie Le’s accused murderer Raymond Clark hid Le’s body: by pushing it into a hollow wall in the basement of the Yale laboratory at which they both worked.

Since the song is pretty horrific, we’re hoping this will fade into the MP3 mists. It would be really sad if, a few years down the line, this was still kicking around as some kind of perverse Annie Le memorial. Especially bad timing for Pusha, who just made it big by backing up Kanye at the VMAs on “Runaway” — a way better track. Come on mainstream hip-hop: we can deal with the drugs, prostitution, violence, horrible role-models, and insecure macho-posturing. But making fun of a murdered young grad student? Really?

Would Hov or Lupe Fiasco (or even Ye himself) pull a move like this? We think not. Get your act together southern rap.

Yale Precision Marching Band: Imprecise, Non-Marching… Network TV Stars???

Yale’s loudest and horn-iest group of musicians has thrown in its hat for CBS’ “Hawaii Five-0 Marching Band Mania” competition. The absurdly named contest will pit college marching bands nationwide against one another for glory and gold. The winners get 25 Gs and a chance to guest star on the one, the only, Hawaii Five-0, which the ailing primetime network is blasphemously remaking this Fall. All they have to do is play the immortal theme song, to which we are not embarrassed to say we often start our day.

Yale’s online entry certainly stands out from the rest… While other school’s efforts are impeccably choreographed, costumed, and orchestrated, the YPMB is decidedly more raucous. Dress code: lax at best. Tonality: hard to discern. Dance routines: lack thereof.

But, as the only Ivy to submit to the contest, they definitely gave it the old college try. There’s a behind-the-back guitar solo, a man in a fish suit, a dude playing the saw, people surfing on one another. In a word: awesome. With about a hundred times more energy and enthusiasm than the other videos — marching banality, seriously difficult to sit through — we’re hoping the YPMB wins this one for the old Bulldogs. Besides, if there’s a school that needs $25,000 and even more pop-culture coverage, it’s definitely Yale.

Check out the video below:

EXCLUSIVE: Kanye’s New Stylist, Life Coach, and BFF is a Yale Sophomore

Meet Cassius Marcellus Cornelius Clay: aristocrat, eccentric, old-money, nouveau-style. It’s hard to miss him at Yale. At a lanky 6’5″, the baby-faced blonde, pocket-watch user, and cravat-wearer cuts an imposing figure. He’s also more ironic than a truckload of Tumblrs. The man dresses like some unholy hipster hybrid of Scott Schuman, a 19th-century robber-baron, and the Shah of Iran. Since Day-One of freshmen year, the bespectacled social-butterfly has been Modern Love-ing and DKE-ing, praising royalism with the fusty Tory Party, and lauding Lady Gaga and libraries in the YDN.

But that’s not all there is to the inimitable fashionisto. As it happens, Cassius’ blood is bluer than even his pretty eyes. In fact, he’s the heir of the Clay dynasty, New England’s foremost titans of business and government. Cassius is related to Henry Clay himself, and takes his name from another old-Yalie ancestor, famed abolitionist Cassius Marcellus Clay. But despite the Yale debauchery, Cassius is no layabout. The kid earned top honors at prep-central, Phillips Academy Andover, where he was an international-level debater. In short, it’s an open question whether or not Cassius’ eccentric fashion and demeanor (not to mention his talents) satirize his dynastic roots or exemplify them.

But enough about hipster-ocrats; where does the Taylor-Swift dissing, gold-digging, strange-sunglasses-wearing hip-hopper K-West enter the picture? The tale — now verified by multiple sources close to the unlikely duo — is one of those rare gifts we gossip-mongers get: a story too unbelievable not to be true. Read on!

Rewind to earlier this summer. Cassius is doing what the does best: dropping tin at expensive, trendy designer stores. The lucky retailer of the day is Barney’s, New York. Today, his outfit is impeccable, topped off with high-end Italian designer shoes. In the midst of shopping, a man approaches Cassius, taps him on the shoulder, and tells him that he really, really loves the footwear. Cassius looks up; it’s Kanye West. Cassius keeps it cool, thanks him, and introduces himself. The stars align; history is made. (This moment will almost certainly be reenacted dramatically on Behind The Music.)

The two get to talking as they shop. Kanye loves Cassius’ style, his attitude, his patrician hipsterdom. They talk for over half an hour. Kanye begins to reveal a little more about himself: his reinvention in the wake of the Taylor Swift disaster, and his thoughts on life, art, philosophy, hos (maybe), etc. Cassius advises the rapper on his day’s purchases. Eventually the two leave the store, shopping bags in tow, and exchange phone-numbers and emails. Kanye promises to keep in touch. And oh, does he.

The next day, Cassius receives an email. Kanye has bought a controlling share in the company that designs Cassius’ sexy shoes, and wants to see his ideas for new designs. The Yalie mocks up some images, puts on his Sunday best, and heads to Kanye’s lavish Manhattan office to present seven-plus mockups. Kanye loves them, and the two hit it off even more. In the weeks that follow, Kanye and Cassius exchange emails almost daily, and the young Yalie is invited into the superstar’s inner-circle. There are lavish parties, industry introductions, and a grand tour of Ye’s social life. Cassius ingratiates himself with Kanye’s fashion team, and meets all sorts of high-rollers at Kanye’s shindigs.

All the while, the pair are growing closer. Kanye sees in Cassius a fellow artiste, torn between opposite poles of classy sophistication and earnest expression. Over many an email and phone call, the 20-year-old begins to offer his wise consul on matters beyond fashion — personal and emotional — which Kanye readily accepts. Kanye decides he needs to apologize to Taylor Swift. At this point, the rapper wants to commisserate daily.

Eventually, Kanye comes up with the brilliant idea of tweeting the apology (the pair have been following each other on the site for a month now) and near the end of the summer, comes up with this magnum opus, which rocks the celeb-osphere. Kanye’s fashion choices increasingly come from Cassius’ recommendations; his personal life flows into Cassius’ in streams of emo emails. Finally, at the end of the summer, the “College Dropout” seals the deal: he asks the Yale sophomore to dropout of Yale and become a part of his inner posse, traveling around with him for the rest of the year, helping him through his life’s lowpoint. Kanye West wants Cassius Clay to be an integral part of his resurrection.

And here’s the rub: Cassius has not returned from summer break. His Twitter account, otherwise indecipherably ironic and obscure, has filled with @kanyewest mentions and re-tweets. And earlier today, he tweeted the picture you see above, of Cassius backing up Kanye at NY Fashion week.

And so goes a tale of perhaps the unlikeliest friendship ever to come out of the Ivy League: of a hip 20 year-old Yalie, Henry Clay’s cousin, holding the hand of a tough-guy, multi-platinum rap artist, ready to buy companies and move mountains on his behalf. Throughout history, there have been creative duos that have rocked art: Pollock and Krasner, Capote and Lee, Lennon and McCartney. Now, thanks to one weird, wonderful Yale sophomore and his fabulous shoes, we have another for the ages.

So yeah, Sonny and Cher, I’m really happy for you, and I’mma let you finish, but CASSIUS AND KANYE ARE THE BEST DOUBLE-ACT OF ALL TIME.

After the jump, check out more pictures of the Yalie half of Kany-ius.

Note: When this story was first published, Cassius was not available for comment, and the piece was sourced from friends and contacts. Cassius has since contacted us and the story has been updated to reflect his account. Cassius did not discuss Taylor Swift with Kanye, nor has he met Beyonce and Rihanna. Finally, the original piece misstated Cassius’ familial relation to former Secretary of State Henry Clay.

Read the rest of this entry »

Yale Safety Video Makes Dangerous, Bike-Stealing New Haven Fun!

Yale videos have long been a hit or miss affair… Elis love to film themselves doing silly things for all sorts of reasons: self-promotion, raising money, cute boyz, etc. But usually, it’s been an undergrad thing. Enter “You, Your Safety, and You,” straight from the Yale higher-ups.

Much as “That’s Why I Chose Yale” reimagined the dull admissions video as a broadway musical — or as Kurt Schneider reimagined Yale as the Disney Channel — Thom Stylinski, media producer for the Yale Broadcast and Media Center, has completely reinvented the campus safety vid, with irony and the 80s aesthetic taking center stage. His heart’s definitely in the right place:

I saw this as an opportunity to make the opposite of ‘That’s Why I Chose Yale.” I felt the need to respond to that video.

The safety video is a satirical classic, replete with campy in-jokes, awkward transitions, and an angry old man yelling at freshmen. Also, if you follow its advice, you might not get knifed in New Haven! Maybe!

BREAKING: GoodCrush to Be Shut Down

The anonymous matchmaking service GoodCrush — which has already confirmed the social/sexual-awkwardness of the Ivy League and falsely raised the hopes of thousands checking the web in common locations — will soon face the axe. The news comes to us straight from the site’s Princetonian founder, Josh Weinstein. Backstory, in the words of the mensch himself:

One day during sophomore year, I was walking in front of the campus center when an idea hit me — there needs to be an easy way to offer my peers (read: myself) a risk-free way of expressing a crush wherein their (my) identity is only revealed if there’s a match. It was then that I built the “CrushFinder.”

The Xanga-esque, tween-angsty service is to be replaced by something “bigger and better,” which we can only hope will anonymously facilitate relationships that are “bigger-and-better” than hook-ups: professor-student, doctor-patient, organ-donor-donee ,Princetonian-entrepeneur-and-HuffPost-columns, etc. That said, did anyone really find love — or even a one-night-stand — on the site, or was it just filled with inside jokes, people posting about themselves, and gems like:

Your beauty is so radiant it’s like you have eight legs. Mmmmmmmmmmmmm.

Gates, Zuckerberg… Weinstein? Or will he just get GoodCrush-ed by the Ivy League’s low, low brand loyalty? Only time will tell.

“Wheeler? I Didn’t Even Know ‘er!”: World-Class Non-Ivies Just as Gullible as World-Class Ivies

The school that everyone assumes is in the Ivy League before you casually explain to them that, in fact, it isn’t, has made news… Well, only through another tangential misassociation with the Ivy League, but still! Apparently, Stanford professors are smart enough to tell us not to worry about driving around in Japanese flaming death machines, but not to spot a flagrant fakester: that is, Adam Wheeler, whom they admitted as a transfer  for the 2010-2011 academic year.

Smooth move, especially after ‘Wheasler’ had already been expelled from Bowdoin and Harvard, the latter heavily featured on his transcript. Nor did they seem to notice the overwhelming smell of bullshit emanating from his obviously-faked resume before firing off the thick-envelope. Perhaps our parallel-universe California brethren aren’t so different after all. Although, their mascot is a god damn tree. What’s the deal with that?

But here’s the best part: Seems as if Stanford still isn’t sure whether or not to let the guy in. Speaking to the Crimson, Lisa Lapin, Stanford’s PR lady, is taking an innocent-until-proven-so-obviously-guilty attitude:

Whenever the university becomes aware of a possible misrepresentation of facts in an application for admission, Stanford will investigate. If at any point the university concludes that an applicant has misrepresented their credentials, we will revoke an offer of admission.

Maybe, just maybe, after talking his way out of those 20 felony charges, Wheeler will end up in sunny NorCal, working on his tan and being asked what the Ivy League is like. (Also, “suckling on the teat of disdain.”)

We also gather that his academic interests might have changed a bit from “Armenian critical topographies.” He also applied to Williams College’s seaport maritime studies program.

Arr!!!

Nothing Left Un-cliched: The Yale Class History Video Ruins Yale

For those who don’t know his work, meet Kurt Schneider, ’09: Yale’s musicman. He’s the self-promoting mastermind behind the meteoric stardom of crooner Sam Tsui, as well as other Yale video mock-magnets. His specialty, which has earned him hundreds of thousands of tween fangirls on YouTube, is arranging fey covers of shitty pop songs and producing the living daylights out of them (see this Miley medley). As the man behind the epic success of Tsui and “That’s Why I Chose Yale,” he was well poised for his final, dastardly ploy: making sure that the last piece of multimedia his classmates will remember from their bright college years is his own. Kurt scored thousands of dollars of administration funding to write and direct The Yale Class History Video, played at Class Day in front of the entire school, as well as a gaggle of famous alumni and guests.

Basically, Kurt Schneider cursed his alma mater with “Nothing Left Unsaid”: a tweeny, uber-hetero, straight-to-DVD-esque love-story that happens to be set at Yale, but has absolutely nothing to do with it. It’s a cloying carnival of cliche, with more faux-sentimentality than you can shake a pair Traveling Pants at, all punctuated by a tinkly piano/violin medley that sound likes the background music of a Tide commercial. Schmaltzy, saccharine, soulless, sanitized: fuck alliteration, it’s just shitty. It’s your beloved couch-humping dog after being neutered. Oh, and it’s got 353,566 views. Excuse the imbroglio; not since “That’s Why I Chose to Ram a Soldering Iron into my Ears” has IvyGate been this terrified by a Yale video.

It starts with two friends: Carter, a well-meaning, wholesome Yale senior (read: pussy) and the other, Dave, a contrived comic foil that’s about as funny as a Turkish flotilla. Hollow but pretty stock-characters start us off on our journey to Nickelodeon-ville with lines like,

Carter: I can’t believe you wore that jungle safari outfit.
Dave: I told you, it’s a rainforest exploration suit!

So, Carter has a Yale bucket-list (cliche #1), one of which includes nature exploration (cliche #2). He also has a gorgeous girl on his mind — Katie, another senior — that is denied personhood beyond object-of-desire status (cliche #3, and Yale women scoring yet another victory). Wait a second, now that I think about it, the only other woman in this Class History Video is a one-liner pretentious egghead than gets shot down in class section…

Okay, well, moving on… The trio hike up to a cliff-face overlooking the slums of New Haven, where a willowy, and possibly-high Katie stares out agog:

Wow, you can see everything out here… It’s like a city of fireflies. (cliche #4… oof)

But no words can really do justice to what follows (brace yourself and just watch 3:36, barf bag at the ready). Katie, now apparently Natalie Portman in Garden State, leans over to Carter:

Katie: Hey… do you want to scream?
Carter: What, why?
Katie: Don’t you feel sometimes you just wanna… yell out… at the whole world?
Carter: Um, sure, after you.

So — apparently jonesing far too hard for the D — Katie has managed to up the schmaltz to Letters to Juliet level, blatantly plagiarize a Zach Braff movie, and deliver cliche numero cinco (#5, Frenchies). And then, quoth she, this whisper-bomb:

Katie: How about with you?

They scream out over the homeless people, drug-dealers, and Yale students hoping in vain for a cool, fun graduation, and Carter slinks his arm around her. A puppy dies somewhere. “That was fun!” says Carter. No. No it fucking wasn’t.

Now I’m just upset. Well, anyway, there’s an unfunny interlude with a wasted (that is, poorly utilized) Prof. Murray Biggs — hell, all the talented people in this movie were wasted, all of them! — and then, goddamnit, Carter and Katie are throwing books off a building (cliche #6). In the market for soulless, heavy-handed expressions of youth and faux-life-affirming-Romanticism: you know, like, skateboarders and breakdancers on McDonald’s packages, Edward Sharpe in sexting ads, and Coca-Cola “Open Happiness” propaganda? Schneider’s got you covered. Then this:

Carter: Alright, ready to toss some stuff? 1… 2…
*Katie, ever the free-fucking-spirit, throws the books.*
Carter: Couldn’t just wait till three?
Katie: Why does everyone always wait till three?

Carter goes in for the kiss. A smaller puppy, along with an endangered sugar glider, dies somewhere.

Of course, Katie initially refuses Carter’s Mormon-esque advances because she doesn’t want to fall for someone so soon before graduation (cliche #6). Or because she’s a cock-tease. Either way, Carter temporarily gives up. But then his BFF secondary-character Dave (oh, he’s back) gives him a motivational speech about seizing the moment, inspiring him to, well, do so (cliche #7). The rest, as they say, is horrific. (9:04 onwards).

Carter tells Katie how he fucking feels.

Carter: You’re the coolest girl I’ve ever met.
His revelatory nice-guy speech ends, there’s an awkward silence… Carter walks away, dejected. Tweens weep. But wait! “Carter!” Katie calls out. She runs to him, the orchestra crescendos, they embrace…

Katie: You’re a little bit cool yourself.
They kiss. The Yalies in the background of the video (and sure as hell not the ones in the audience) applaud gleefully. And in the bucket-list notebook, Dave crosses out Carter’s final entry: “Nothing left unsaid.” (cliches 7, 8, 9, 10, 129381028, 128e.askjk;as…). A puppy embryo is aborted somewhere. Schneider’s 14 year old YouTube fans scream in glee. Here’s his target audience, user S1MPL3xPLAN:
4 hours ago
Well done! Watched this so many times and have shared it over Facebook. Now, everyone I know is watching it!
But after four years of general collegiate debauchery/sincerity, Yale’s graduating seniors probably had a different take.
Compare this Wonder-Bread-athon with last year’s Yale Class History video — created by some hipsters and improv people — a legitimately hilarious, profanity and nudity-laden lark replete with boundary-pushing wit, which left the Class of 2009 in glee. And it probably had a far smaller budget than Schneider’s Mickey-Mouse-club entry.

Whatever Yale is, “Nothing Left Unsaid” ain’t it. It’s ABC Family. It’s Disney Channel. Hell, it’s the deformed, white-bread offspring of the two. It’s Bieber and Cyrus (note the haircuts). Also, note the incredible production values, the sheer, artificial “perfection” of it all, wrapped up with a tagline, a neat little bow, and yes, you’re hearing that right, a vomit-inducingly corny Sam Tsui ballad about graduating played over the credits.

Worst of all, it’s just not genuine, nor is it college. It’s a shameless PR exercise for the sole benefit of its director’s burgeoning media career and a waste of the talents of its well-meaning cast.  But, on the bright side, our “what hath god wrought” and “falies” tags have ne’er been more appropriately used.