Caimans are not noted for their sense of humor. They especially hate puns since many of the subtleties of English are lost on them. They also don't like being made the butt of jokes.
This was a comic drawn by myself and the fabulous Brad W. Foster back around 1986. Note the goofy reptilian characters. Now I'm probably on some list!
One morning a week a very noisy garbage truck would visit the common area between the four dorm buildings and wake up the residents with that annoying high-pitched alarm indicating the vehicle was moving in reverse. At some point we noticed the truck was visiting almost every morning. Did it have to be so loud, and so early, and so frequent?
Something about this didn't sound right to the housing officials. Upon investigation they discovered that the same guys who were behind the tic-tac-toe game (mentioned in Evergroove trivia, pt. 19) had also taped the annoying high-pitched alarm and were playing it at very early hours for the enjoyment of everyone.
As one would expect, Evergreen had many talented artists, musicians, cartoonists, and writers. One of my favorite student artists was a guy named Kevin Wildermuth who attended TESC in the mid-1970s. Kevin considered himself to be a conceptual artist and thirty years later continues to follow his passion. If you know the Seattle gallery scene, I'm sure you have seen his work.
His masterpiece, as far as I am concerned, was the result of some town-gown coordination. Somehow Kevin had managed to talk a nice elderly woman in his Maple Park neighborhood into taking part in this effort. Her name was Rosie.
While Rosie sat in a chair, Kevin was behind an enormous piece of card stock paper propped on an easel. An early version of the videorecorder (probably a U-matic) was documenting this scene, and I believe he had it on a tripod so there was no third person involved. Rosie was seated in a position where she could not see what Kevin what drawing. The artwork was also hidden from the videorecorder. And finally, Kevin himself could not see what he was drawing. He was wearing a big blindfold.
After he finished drawing, the artwork was slipped into a huge envelope. If memory serves, I believe he did this twice, resulting in two envelopes containing artwork no one had seen. Not Rosie, not the camera, not even the artist himself.
The envelopes were then sealed. Rosie and Kevin went to a notary and had a statement verified that the artwork in the envelopes was indeed never seen by a human eye. Then he stamped the words "Certified Unseen" on each envelope. When the envelopes were exhibited in the Library art gallery, the notary statement was also on the wall. Maybe the videotape was there too, because I remember watching it someplace or other.
For a while, Kevin lived at the bottom of Harrison Hill, in a funny little house, now long gone, that would have been at the SW "corner" of today's roundabout. There was traffic light at the bottom of that hill, and if you visited Kevin you were treated to the constant sound of screeching tires.
"I'm in with the in crowd,
I go where the in crowd goes
I'm in with the in crowd
And I know what the in crowd knows ..."
About 50 faces looked up to regard his performance, and 49 of those faces were looking blank. But he made me smile.
Kesey himself came to campus to visit once or twice. In the 1980s I had a chance to talk with Kesey at a conference, and he told me he always thought of Evergreen as "The school without chairs." Initially he was talking about furniture, but since the school didn't have traditional academic departments with department chairs, maybe he was giving me a double meaning.
TESC's first Library head honcho was the late, great Jim Holly. Among his many innovative ideas was the concept to create a collection that would be media-integrated. If you browsed the shelves for say, H.L. Mencken, you would not only find monographs but also sound cassettes of interviews with him. If you wanted to read about bridge engineering, you might find a portable video tape loop of Galloping Gertie (to be played on machine that is now extinct, I'm sure) next to some dry engineering tome. The collection reflected the dynamic and creative experimental curriculum. No other library of equal size was as fun to peruse as Evergroove's.
One area of the library that caught the interest of a certain student composer was the music section. He discovered the sound cassettes had extra room at the end of the tapes. So he recorded his own work on them. Or, he recorded some commentary. Then he returned it to the shelves. I sometimes wonder how many of these little sound bombs he bequeathed are still in the collection.
This same individual like to don a tinfoil mask and walk around in his alter-ego of "Nom Binto." Also, I was present when he tied himself up, donned a knit hat, declared himself the "Easter Pimp," and then hopped around like a bunny until he broke through a window. He also enjoyed shaving off his eyebrows.
What happened to this person? He enlisted in the military and served a stint as one of the guys with his finger on the button in a nuclear missile silo in the Midwest. During the Reagan years, no less. As one who grew up and came of age in the Cold War era, I consider it a miracle we are still here.
Anyway, today this artist/soldier is a highly regarded composer. I have a couple of his CDs and they are really creative, original, and a joy to play. This guy is really good. If you want to find out more about the thoughts of Nom Binto, I would suggest playing Russian roulette with the older sound cassettes in the TESC Library collection and continue playing after the commercial recording is finished.
An oldie from 1983.
There were two aberrations from this neat serial run that deserve mention. The first was The Daily Zero, published as a satire of Olympia's newspaper In April 1977. Today's Olympian was called The Daily Olympian from 1938-1982, and "The Daily Zero" was a longtime common nickname for the paper. The Daily Zero was the brainchild of CPJ staff Matt Groening, Karrie Jacobs, Brad Pokorny, Steve Rabow, Jill Stewart, and Charles Burns and the product poked fun at the right-wing slant of The Daily Olympian. Since the satire had mock ads making fun of Olympia business establishments, there was considerable furor over the publication of this one-shot. It did have the look and feel of the real thing. One bit of humor that might have been missed by some locals: Under "Today's Chortle" The Daily Zero had, "It's getting so you can't tell the boys from the girls these days." In Olympia in 1977, there were still people saying that and thinking they were being clever.
The second effort was entitled The Crapper Point Journal and was not a spinoff from the CPJ. It was underwritten in 1979 by a fed-up faculty member who shall remain anonymous. She gathered up students to produce a spoof of the CPJ and, instead of making fun of Olympia as The Daily Zero did a couple years before, this project turned inward. The premise of this paper was that it was published in 1985, foreshadowing what the school would become in six years. Two features worth mentioning, the full page promo for TESC: "Evergreen, it's not just a college, it's a countryclub," and an interview
While I was back there I visited the ghost-town campus of Franconia College in New Hampshire. Franconia was another alternative school, but it folded up in the second half of the 1970s and Evergreen had a small wave of refugees come from the Granite State. A former Franconia student gave me a guided tour of the place. We had to dodge security people and it sort of reminded me of the days when we would sneak into the TESC steam tunnels at night. The grounds were overgrown and the buildings were starting to show some wear. It really brought home the high-risk nature of experimental colleges in those days. There were other schools that folded up as well during that era.
The best paying job I had in Vermont, armed with my TESC BA in Liberal Arts, was driving a taxicab in Burlington. I never let the company know I was a college grad. There was one other guy in the fleet who had a BA, and the others called him "Doc." If people asked me what I did for a living, I enjoyed answering, "I'm in transportation."
Secondly, the clocktower was a magnet for mountain climber types. Rappelling down the tower was sort of an Evergreen badge of honor. Gov. Evans and faculty member Willi Unsoeld (famous for making the first ascent from the west ridge of Mount Everest in 1963) were two high-profile clocktower adventurers. Willi was a great guy, by the way. He was one of those rare people who exuded a kind of energy that made you feel good just being around him. A charisma, I guess. Evergreen knew how to use his talents in the early years in recruitment efforts and also whenever they got in trouble with legislators. Hey, this guy was no wimpy and pale aesthete. He climbed Everest, by God. Legislators liked that. And so did we, actually.
But the third thing I think about whenever I see that clocktower is really the main thing. I don't know what it is like today, but for years the clocks on that tower never worked in harmony. Seminars, lectures, movies, never started when they were supposed to. We were on Evergreen Time. Our very own time zone, totally separate from Pacific Standard Time. And it was OK. Relax. Don't get uptight about it, man. Time is relative.
Unfortunately, the real world didn't work that way. I had classes in grad school at the UW where they locked the door after class started. If you were late-- too bad. And I wasn't prepared for grades. Or tests. Or the Socratic method. Or feeling like I was back in high school. Or doing a lot of work and not really learning anything except the art of data regurgitation.