Columns

A Chronicle of Higher Education

A felonious alumnus provides words of wisdom to the graduating class and sepia-drenched remembrances on the way things were at Higbert Community College.

The following is a transcript of Mr. McDonald's commencement speech to the 2007 graduating class of Higbert Community College and Vocational School in Akron, Ohio. At the insistence of PopMatters' legal counsel, we must note here that Mr. McDonald was never paid for the commencement appearance, was not actually invited, delivered the speech last Thursday for some reason, and is currently facing civil litigation and several criminal charges.

Greeting and salutations, humbly endeavoring students!

I am honored to appear before you today. Too long has it been! Looking out upon your eager upturned faces, I am of course reminded of my own youth. For I, too, once strode the hallowed sidewalks and fertile parking lots of Higbert Community College and Vocational School.

I remember it well. As an innocent youth of tender sensibilities, I walked with certain trepidation those first few days. Dressed smartly in my schoolboy cap and assless leather chaps, as was the fashion, I would swing my broadsword in great sweeping arcs, to steel my resolve and discourage adjacent pedestrians. Singing Portuguese drinking songs and (later, during the Troubles) Appalachian disco, I vowed to meet the challenges of higher education head-on.

Ah, the memories. We did not have notebook computers or pencils in our day, of course, but we made do with what we could afford. Sharpened twigs, mostly, dipped in industrial resin or linseed oil. Then, as now, a favorite studying spot was the haunted labyrinth beneath the south campus library annex. There is something about the eerie, dead silence there that seems conducive to higher thinking, and even the occasional screams of eldritch terror heightened our sense of purpose.

There are those who say that it was a mistake to erect the Higbert campus atop the sanctified Chippewa Burial Grounds for the Criminally Insane (later the LeVay Memorial Sanitarium for Lepers and Satanic Cultists), but I say this is the kind of bold initiative that has made our institution great.

Many are the landmarks I recall with fondness. Some still standing; some lost to the mists of time. Sniper's Bell Tower, the controversially-named centerpiece of our campus. The Old Granite Well, said to have been dug by monkeys 93,000 years ago, in the jungles of the Amazon, and moved here at some point, by someone. And the proud bronze statue of our beloved and hermaphroditic founder, Douglas Penelope Higbert, the moss-covered genitalia still ambiguous after all these years…

Higbert, of course, was an early champion of the liberal arts education, and thus does our institution proudly carry on in his and her name. I remember well the first few weeks, as broad new vistas of knowledge opened before me. Many were the hours spent studying the freshman curriculum -- cosmetology and aikido, theoretical roofing and tesseracts.

It was not all toil and endeavor. In the evenings we would participate in the most popular vocational electives, stitching denim-and-squirrel-hide vests, or performing exploratory spinal surgery on one another. How I envy you all today, and the last few years you've spent here.

I do, however, grieve for many of the traditions that have somehow been lost. I'm told Higbert no longer hosts the impromptu "Higby" parades, in which students would abduct, anesthetize, and decorate the instructors with spackling paste and glitter. Mounted diagonally on the sides of alpaca-drawn stagecoaches, the faculty would pass in silent dignity as we pelted them with lacquered popcorn and peat samples from the agriculture building.

Saturdays in autumn, we would all gather at the stadium in our houndstooth jackets and dental prostheses to cheer on the team. Voices raised in unison, we would root on our beloved Fightin' Chippewa Leper Cultists, and hoist aloft our mugs filled with dark mead, seltzer, and spinal fluid. Later, we would steal away in pairs (occasionally, threesomes or larger groupings) to make an amorous rendezvous beneath the stars, the bleachers, or the Provost.

As you well know, many Higbert alums have gone on prestigious careers in the arts and sciences: James Dewar, inventor of the obsidian shale contact lens and mechanical crotch-puncher… Kathleen Hunsucker, the first woman to orbit Cleveland… Bagpipe prodigy Than "Skipper" Nguyen… that bipolar pederast, Jeremy Irons.

Yes, ours is a long and storied tradition, fellow Higbertites, and I know you shall carry forth our proud heritage. I salute you all. So join me if you will, one last time, as we sing our beloved alma mater…

The transcript ends with jumbled audio of a cassette player being activated and the first few bars of Rick Astley's "Never Gonna Give You Up", followed by the squawk of bullhorns and police sirens. Contributions to the McDonald Bail Bond and Legal Defense Fund can be sent care of this publication. Thank you for your concern.

In Americana music the present is female. Two-thirds of our year-end list is comprised of albums by women. Here, then, are the women (and a few men) who represented the best in Americana in 2017.

If a single moment best illustrates the current divide between Americana music and mainstream country music, it was Sturgill Simpson busking in the street outside the CMA Awards in Nashville. While Simpson played his guitar and sang in a sort of renegade-outsider protest, Garth Brooks was onstage lip-syncindg his way to Entertainer of the Year. Americana music is, of course, a sprawling range of roots genres that incorporates traditional aspects of country, blues, soul, bluegrass, etc., but often represents an amalgamation or reconstitution of those styles. But one common aspect of the music that Simpson appeared to be championing during his bit of street theater is the independence, artistic purity, and authenticity at the heart of Americana music. Clearly, that spirit is alive and well in the hundreds of releases each year that could be filed under Americana's vast umbrella.

Keep reading... Show less

From genre-busting electronic music to new highs in the ever-evolving R&B scene, from hip-hop and Americana to rock and pop, 2017's music scenes bestowed an embarrassment of riches upon us.


60. White Hills - Stop Mute Defeat (Thrill Jockey)

White Hills epic '80s callback Stop Mute Defeat is a determined march against encroaching imperial darkness; their eyes boring into the shadows for danger but they're aware that blinding lights can kill and distort truth. From "Overlord's" dark stomp casting nets for totalitarian warnings to "Attack Mode", which roars in with the tribal certainty that we can survive the madness if we keep our wits, the record is a true and timely win for Dave W. and Ego Sensation. Martin Bisi and the poster band's mysterious but relevant cool make a great team and deliver one of their least psych yet most mind destroying records to date. Much like the first time you heard Joy Division or early Pigface, for example, you'll experience being startled at first before becoming addicted to the band's unique microcosm of dystopia that is simultaneously corrupting and seducing your ears. - Morgan Y. Evans

Keep reading... Show less

This week on our games podcast, Nick and Eric talk about the joy and frustration of killing Nazis in Wolfenstein: The New Order.

This week, Nick and Eric talk about the joy and frustration of killing Nazis in Wolfenstein: The New Order.

Keep reading... Show less

Which is the draw, the art or the artist? Critic Rachel Corbett examines the intertwined lives of two artists of two different generations and nationalities who worked in two starkly different media.

Artist biographies written for a popular audience necessarily involve compromise. On the one hand, we are only interested in the lives of artists because we are intrigued, engaged, and moved by their work. The confrontation with a work of art is an uncanny experience. We are drawn to, enraptured and entranced by, absorbed in the contemplation of an object. Even the performative arts (music, theater, dance) have an objective quality to them. In watching a play, we are not simply watching people do things; we are attending to the play as a thing that is more than the collection of actions performed. The play seems to have an existence beyond the human endeavor that instantiates it. It is simultaneously more and less than human: more because it's superordinate to human action and less because it's a mere object, lacking the evident subjectivity we prize in the human being.

Keep reading... Show less
3

Gabin's Maigret lets everyone else emote, sometimes hysterically, until he vents his own anger in the final revelations.

France's most celebrated home-grown detective character is Georges Simenon's Inspector Jules Maigret, an aging Paris homicide detective who, phlegmatically and unflappably, tracks down murderers to their lairs at the center of the human heart. He's invariably icon-ified as a shadowy figure smoking an eternal pipe, less fancy than Sherlock Holmes' curvy calabash but getting the job done in its laconic, unpretentious, middle-class manner.

Keep reading... Show less
5
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image