Smacking the Ivy Off Each Other

These young men and women will one day, one day very soon, be managing huge hedge funds, litigating at the largest firms, and take their place among the country’s best and brightest.

Last Saturday they spent the night punching each other in the face in front of a cheering crowd.

sign out front

Every year the students from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business square off against the law school for Philly Fight Night. The proceeds from the event go to the Boys and Girls Club of Philadelphia, this year they raised $90,000, but that isn’t why people go. We went to watch ivy league kids punch each other in the face.


Missushammas and I sat down with our programs and began picking our horses. Lets see… Matt “American Psycho” Magan 170 lbs. vs Konstantin “the Doctor” Gromov 195 lbs. I pick Gromov. Samuel Rech from Italy vs. Zach Garland from Texas? Look at the picture, Sam is too pretty, and he’s from Italy? Zach all the way. And so it goes on down the line, us predicting winners based on pictures and nicknames. Then the lights go down and the music starts. We are ready for them to rumble.


Fight night is only 60% fighting and 40% dramatic entrances.  As fighters names are called we watched  entourages of dancers, military processions, and skits usually including the fighter knocking out a crowd of mean looking stooges. When the bell rings it is obvious more time went into the entrances than the fighting.

Oh the fighting.cheers

I call it video game fighting. At the bell the two fighters approach each other and begin flailing wildly as if someone is blindly hitting the Xbox buttons as fast as they can. Such fights end in one of two ways, dramatic knockout in the first round, or two fighters exhausted and leaning on each other after one minute of action.

The first three fights were knockouts.bowtie and sparkly

After 8 fights I picked six right, the Mrs. only one. I beamed with pride as I am rarely right when the two of us shirtsThe next day I was asked “were there any good fights?” There was one. Do not get me wrong, there were lots of entertaining fights, but those are not the same as good fights. The last bout squared off Mark Wales of Australia vs Giancarlo Albelice of the United States Marine Corps. There were no windmill punches or corkscrew whiffs, but rather heads moving side to side and jabs. Two heavyweights actually boxing. It was beautiful. boxersThe American won. He looked a little less skilled but was much more the  aggressor. This was a vulgar crowd that appreciated offense over defense, power over finesse. And we, my date and I, appreciated it all.tie guy

A “Townie” At Swarthmore

I once conducted an interview with a student leader at Swarthmore. “We are a small and tight student body. I mean, sometimes we might have trouble a with a townie but mostly we feel safe here.”campustower

I had never heard that word used in real life before. I thought it was purely the stuff of affected preppy movies where Matt Damon is a supporting actor. I thought it the second cousin of the phrase “daddy-o”. I smirked a little when he said it. He did not.obervatory

But as I looked around the room, and the campus, I realized I was an extra in that preppy movie. Lacrosse warm up jacketed kids mingled with scrawny girls wearing over sized knitted caps and thick glasses. A stone bell tower stands off to the side of a palatial main building, and there, off to the side, is a cottage topped with the dome of an observatory. I just imagine that inside is a grey haired fellow surrounded by plaid skirted girls and rep stripe tie wearing boys, all oohing and aaahing as the old man shows them the stars while quoting Plato.

pianoOur interview was put on hold as we were drowned out by a piano. A passing student had decided to sit down and play something classical, I would not be the one to tell you what it was, but I will tell you it was flawless. It appeared I was the only one in the common area that thought this was in any way impressive as most never looked up from their laptops or term papers.

quillAfter the interview was over I left the building and stepped out onto the tree lined quad. I walked down a path past the small train station with its scalloped wooden rails. I walked through the parking lot where I was parked next to an old Volvo that had an Occidental sticker in the back window. I pulled the car out of the lot and pointed north toward real life. I looked back in my mirror just to see if there were credits rolling down my back window, or perhaps an added scene of Robin Williams reciting poetry standing atop a school desk.

Nope. Just a waving kid who thought nothing of his use of the word “townie.”


Radcliffe, the lost sister

Books, tweed, scarves, glasses, rowing, and bicycles. Cambridge.radcliffe

I went looking for Radcliffe but all I got was Harvard. The sign at the gate still says Radcliffe but once inside it is all Harvard.stairway

What was once a sister school to its Ivy male equivalent, is now just part of one co-ed whole. No distinction other than a sign on an old brick wall.jake library

W.A.S.P.y blue bloods still swarm around but it is no longer a singular hive. This is a good thing but still I feel a little loss on behalf of Radcliffe.equations

No. That isn’t true. I don’t know Radcliffe and I cannot mourn for her. We never really met. Really, I’m just a little perturbed that in my quest to collect pennants from all seven sisters, they no longer manufacture one for a school that was absorbed long ago.

front of librarySo I settle for Harvard. Typing that phrase makes me smirk.  So, like a suitor late to the dance, the music has already started, I see Radcliffe has gone off with another. I look a little to the left, “Sup Barnard? How you doin’?”

2002 Olympics: Why the Word Brohammas.

Once upon a time, when I was in college, there was a ski resort with a $10 half day pass. It only took 20 minutes to get from my door to the lift. This combination of affordability and accessibility were the perfect combination for poor academic performance. It did however lead to great back-country board performance. Sadly there is no listing for back country on my transcript.

Several years later, still an undergrad, the roommate of a friend says, “dude!” because that was how we talked, “I need some help at work, do you want a job?”

That was how my friend and I became the managers of the official ticketing center for the Salt Lake 2002 Winter Olympics.
olyparadeThis job consisted of my friend and I managing the staff of a box office, saying “no” to angry scalpers or tourists who bought fake tickets, and sitting in the back room with a schedule of events and this magic box that printed out legit tickets to any and all of the Olympic events.

Our conversations went a lot like this: “Dude, one of us has to be here during business hours so lets each list what events we want to see and plan this out. Okay, so hockey is on Thursday, dude, why would anyone want to watch curling, wait… Dude I told you before no refunds! I know they said they flew here all the way from Denmark just to see curling but if they bought their tickets on Ebay there is no way we can guarantee them… Where were we?”

Speaking of Ebay, we all reported to a large warehouse to get our official uniforms. They were color coded by role, one color for volunteers, another for officials, another for employees. My list said our color was mountain blue. When I received my mountain blue coat I said, “Dude, this is purple! I ain’t wearing a purple ski jacket.” Some guy in Atlanta had no qualms with a purple ski coat and paid me $500 cash via Ebay.

We each thought the other a sucker. I used my cash to buy a Dale of Norway commemorative sweater. Dale thinks I’m a sucker.

I scored two tickets to the opening ceremony. Fifty yard line, about half way up, sweet. I rushed triumphantly home to my beautiful bride, because I had a wife already but still no degree, and presented to her my glorious prize. “Uh… there is no way I’m going to that.” was her simple reply. The words did not register. I repeated again, slower this time, what exactly I had just presented.

Same reply.


“It is winter. It is outside. I-HATE- Cold!”

I called her co workers and anyone else she wasn’t married to and they convinced her that wearing three of my boarding outfits at once may just fend off the elements enough for her to enjoy a once in a lifetime event. She listened to people, most anyone, who was not me.

She is wise.

Having conquered cold the two of us commenced to conquering the nightly medal ceremonies followed by live music. We watched Dave Mathews, Nelly Furtado gave me a rose, and being unable to convince the Mrs. to leave the N’Sync concert early; I walked home five miles, uphill, at night, in February, alone. She drove home once Justin Timberlake had satisfied the roaring crowd of 12 year old girls.

I went down to the basement the other day and pulled the old board out of its bag. The edges are rusted out and the foam around my goggles has turned to dust. These days we rarely brave the cold for a concert and I say dude far less than I once did.

Little is left of those years other than some photos, a line on my resume’, and till the other day, my gloves. I just got a text from Boston saying they had found my glove under the seat of the car. Glove. Singular. Now it seams the only thing left of those powder filled years, is the name of this blog.

Wet Socks in Boston

The conference is almost a weak long, right downtown. They suggested I stay at the Marriott so I assumed that was where the conference was. One should not assume.IMG_0746

A two block walk isn’t all that bad, unless you have luggage and it is winter. I don’t mind winter so much, but I wore the wrong socks. Wrong socks don’t matter so much if one wears the right shoes. I did not.


Working at a conference is not quite as intense as attending one. People pay good money to go to these things and they are normally packed from 8 am til ten at night with lectures and breakout sessions. I once tried attending the lectures at these things but quickly learned that lectures are no good if you only understand every third word of what the smart person up front is saying.

I’m sure I would appreciate the lectures much more were I a biochemist. I am not a biochemist.artist

So after hours I wander. Wandering would be much better if I had brought the right shoes. fountain at noght

Wandering a strange city isn’t that bad if you are on your way somewhere nice, or interesting, or both. In Boston I went somewhere both.



Unfortunately, or fortunately, I will not be bringing you any photos of this place… my camera died. Should I find it strange that when my camera dies I cannot place phone calls?

What you would have seen were I able to take phone calls would be house slippers, a youngster with a wooden sword, and multiple fire alarms.

Your loss.



Its about that time of year when we talk about Duke.

Now we talk about a lot about other basketball teams, UNC, Ohio, Georgetown, but when it is March, we will surely bring up Duke. Love them, hate them, every March they are there.

I was there late last fall.


So it turns out that Duke is also a school. Been that way since 1838. By all accounts its a pretty good one too. U.S. News & World Report ranks Duke as the nations 8th best school overall. That is almost as good as their basketball team.


My visit was rather uneventful. Not many were on campus, just me and a few folks I was scheduled to meet with. We met. i walked around taking pictures.


I could have been on any number of New England Ivy covered campuses. Gothic church? Check. Tree lined quad? Check. Granite relief of Confederate General? Wait… they do actually have one of those. Check.



Business Travel

Priceline, Kayak, Jet Blue; I almost forgot to check Jet Blue. The GSU event begins at 10am, wait, where exactly is GSU? Statesboro. Where exactly is Statesboro? Okay, this flight lands at 9, how far is Statesboro from the airport? Fine,  I’ll take the flight that lands at 8:50. Now from GSU I go right to Boston. What time does the Boston event start?

In order to land at 8:50 I must take off at 5:30. I do my best to ignore what time I must wake up in order to take off at 5:30.

tarmac prop planes

I park in the lot and take a picture of E/35 knowing there is no way I will remember the space when I get back next week. I get the text reminders telling me to check in online but I have an extra bag. To the counter I go. The counter is mostly for tourists, the ones wearing cheetah print sweat pants and slippers. They travel with giant three week capacity bags and  stand between the self check kiosks and the counter confused. The people behind the counter mostly just watch.

outside window

I am in boarding zone 4. Most wearing ties pre-board. It looks crowded and I worry my briefcase will have to go under the seat rather than above. If it goes underneath, my feet will have no where to go and I won’t be able to sleep. I have the isle seat, the other guy has the middle, no one is at the window. When they close the door he slides over. Lucky again.

slc from the air

I open a book and ignore the safety presentation then get jogged awake when the wheels hit the ground. I realize I’ve been drooling and look coyly around. Everyone else pretends they didn’t notice and I collect my bags and wait my turn to get off.

Then I wait my turn at the carousel.

Then I wait my turn at the rental counter. They give me a Fiat that looks like a Smartcar. I don’t mind. I hop in, pull my gps out of my bag, rifle through it a bit more. Where is the mounting bracket for the gps? I have the Garmin but no mount. Sigh.

I drive an hour with the Garmin in my lap.

alamo rental

I am on time. The event goes well. Not a bad campus, a bit corporate for my taste, where does one eat? Brand new state-of-the-art dining hall and all they serve is Burger King and Taco Bell? I stop at a grocery store on the way to the Days Inn.

claremont hotel room

My phone rings at 7:30 but when I answer I just sit and listen to, “What are you doing? No you have to brush your teeth every night but come here first. What do you mean you have math? I thought you only had the book report. Where is your sister? Come on Dad is on the phone ready for a prayer…. Okay Dad are you ready?

There is a chorus of I love you after we say Amen and she promises to call back once they are all in bed.

I refuse to pay $12.50 per night for internet and spend the next half hour trying to figure out why my my-fi card won’t work. I suppose I can do my data entry tomorrow.

Wait… what time does the plane leave tomorrow?

reading wide shot

By the end of the week I have stood in lines, sat in seats, talked, gained ten pounds, and traveled twice as far as Marco Polo ever did in a year.


Magnolia trees and dogwood blossoms paint a grand southern picture, but sprinkle in some Spanish moss and that picture becomes a masterful portrait. In the heart of one such portrait sits Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University, or FAMU.

FAMU is one of only a handful of historically black colleges or universities that are public institutions. This means they receive tax payer’s money. Recently they have also received a lot of publicity over a little hazing incident. The hazing was carried out not by the football team or even a fraternity… it was the band.

frat paaint

Now to be fair this isn’t just any band, it is arguably THE band when it comes to college marching bands. They aren’t limited to football games and local parades, they are more along the lines of presidential inaugurations and Superbowl half times. Some members of said band were dangerously foolish, but it would be foolish to forget how good these guys are.

wearing a jacket

Foolish to haze, foolish to forget, and it would also be foolish to assume that while history has proven that separate is inherently unequal, this does not mean that all black institutions hailing from the days of segregation were poor quality. The may have indeed been, and are, poor in funding, but not in product.



Headlines cry out about the education and performance gap between black and white, inspiring armies of experts to investigate why black folks lag. If these experts would rather look the other way, and find out why the black folks who succeed do so when so many others don’t, they would do well to look at FAMU.