Here’s a funny scenario for you. You know how frats and sororities set up those booths outside Brower, trying to get you to care about this cause or that community? Don’t you always have the same thought, like yeah, I guess it’s a good cause but I just really don’t like the way I’m being targeted right now? And you know why. Because they’re playing techno music at difficult volumes. Because they’re all wearing the same exact outfit. Because you can’t shake off the feeling that they were looking at you on your way up the steps, laughing and saying “Look at this faggot!” Well, maybe that’s just me. But today I witnessed one of the oddest displays of frat-lanthropy likely to have ever been seen. Bear in mind that this anecdote is completely of a third-party perspective. No interviews were given, no prior information gathered. I mean, shit, I didn’t even go up to the Brower Steps to see what all the dang hubbub was about. That being said, the story I’m about to relay to you has value in its pure aesthetic presentation, hearkening back to an age-old, fully proven theory that all the world is a stage.
You know what it’s like to walk down College Avenue. It’s the Julian Forum to New Brunswick’s Rome. Clowns and professors and artisans all engage in multi-cultural non-communication, as they go to their next class or get a coffee at Au Bon Pain or buy pot from the chicks at Sigma Delta Tau. I happened to be a part of this procession, right as a major demonstration was being enacted. Slip into my point of view for a second. I’m standing outside Au Bon Pain, smoking a cigarette because I’m cool like that. Brower is in front of me, that brick-red edifice giving me stomach pains just looking at you but you’re still hot. On my right, and also your right because you’re me right now, is a group of Palestinian peace organizers. They’ve got a big, gray tower next a small table. On the tower, painted in red is the slogan, “Germany 1961-1989, Palestine 2003-?” Now for those of you who aren’t deriving any meaning from this, I will break it down for you very tersely. Check it. Germany was split in half by the Berlin wall for almost thirty years. Apparently, Israel is building a similar structure at it’s borders with their Palestinian neighbors. Any other political history beyond that is beyond the point of this story, because like I said, I just want to paint this picture for you and then you can be on your way and think about whatever it is that you think about and I can go back to whatever it is that I think about (pussy/drugs). From what I observed, it seemed like a bunch of “chill” Palestinians who were all like, “Dude, Israel, like chill. I know it’s bad but we need to be more chill about this.”
Now picture me across the street. I’m like, alright, I can get down with this; a little Palestinian rep going on, don’t see much of that these days, okay. But what’s going on to my left, on the very same Brower steps; that omnipresent, blood-stained rostrum where gathers our University’s most public minds? Pro-Israel people, likely deployed from the nearby Jewish centers of Chabad and Hillel. They’ve got a similar thing going. It’s all chill. They’re like, “Dude, Palestine, you know we’re here to stay, so why don’t you just chill, okay?” Everything is chill. Now, I’m a little cynical about this side of the story. You know cynicism? That totally useless cop-out; that criminally benign state of mind? Yeah, that’s me. Anyway, I’m cynical and I’m Jewish, or maybe because I’m Jewish, and I’m all like, “Man, how can I care? Like, how can I really care? It’s so far away from me in every sense of the trope. I’m so disenchanted, wah.” But I want to make it clear that this is not a political essay. We’re talking about aesthetics, here, like I’ve told you probably a million times. Aesthetics, like when you see a homeless guy playing an instrument with a respectable level of talent and enthusiasm, or when you see a child doing something that portrays an adult sentiment. Strictly surface-level stuff, okay? It means nothing.
So, let’s see if you managed to keep up with me. You’ve got Palestinians on one side and Israelis on the other, each demonstrating a relatively moderate view on a nothing short of incendiary fucking topic. These guys deserve a damn medal. They’re out there in the early March chill, just hanging out, voicing their opinions, inspiring dialogue. But wait a second! Dialogue! There’s no dialogue, here! There’s no Israelis in Palestine. There’s no Palestinians in Israel, at least in the sphere of the steps at Brower and at the all-seeing/all-hearing Forum of College Avenue at Rutgers University there is only one sphere and that is that sweet, sensual poison of the rostrum at the Brower steps. And there’s no fucking dialogue here and it’s a tragedy because the situation is rife—literally rife with opportunities for such an event. And picture what great PR we’d get from it! Especially for a school who’s PR department is basically a trivial, but less demonic counterpart to the American government in Dr. Strangelove. These guys dodge bullets like Neo from fucking The Matrix. Wouldn’t it be nice if they could snap one picture, just one fucking picture of a Pro-Israeli student and a Pro-Palestinian student engaged in a productive dialogue? But nooo, they don’t have that photo opportunity, that precious Kodak moment which would have made our community look so wholesome and productive. And you wanna know why?
Come back to my vision line for just a second. I told you that the Palestinians are on my right, and the Israelis are on my left. Who do you think is between these two booths, blasting techno music and partaking in a general sense of jolly, belligerent authority? Who do you think is standing there, arms crossed, hair spiked, chillin—seemingly unaware of the cross-cultural dialogue they are obstructing like a toxic cesspool that the public works department had to block off because they didn’t want anybody to get retarded? If you’re looking for the answer, I already said it in the tiny preceding paragraph. It’s the fucking frats, man! The fucking frats! There’s no dialogue because of the fucking frats! They’re not playing “Give Peace a Chance,” over there, man. They’re playing Skrillex, and while I do admit that the he is a Grammy-winning entertainer, the guy’s music is just not conducive to anything besides ecstasy pills, seizures and 4-am Burger King. Sorry, dude. So while this maniacal womp-womp garbage is infecting the entire Forum, and people are giving other people they pass on the street that they don’t know these looks that say, like “Well, the fuck is really going on right now?” there are two groups maintaining low tones, sustaining their positions, and basically just chilling next to this voraciously loud, exclusively abrasive music. They can’t move they’re so startled and confused. Actually a few people were dancing on the Israel side but I think it might have been ironic.
So I come to my refrain. I’m not making a statement of any kind. Do I think that frats are a major impediment to dialogues between Israelis and Palestinians? Pretty much not really. It’s the fucking aesthetic that I can’t get out of my head. How do these things look so meaningful but actually mean nothing? What is this benign symbolism that’s plaguing the rostrum? Can we eat it? Can we play with it? This is where the maze ends, here, in my world, and I’m encouraging you all to cover it with gas and set it on fire.