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August 2008

August 30, 2008

Parent Attack!

They're everywhere!  Holding pamphlets and reading maps.  Pointing fingers and taking tours.  Telling awkward jokes and laughing loudly.  Asking me dumb questions.  With no shame!

Today is freshman move-in day at UVM, and here at the school administration's darling Davis Center, parents have attacked.  All summer long, this place has been a mausoleum.  The only thing that crowded these halls were the occasional echos coming the tap of  a solitary pair of flip flops.

But now things have changed.

Not the kind of sweeping, mythical, hard-fought change that President-to-be Obama spoke about last night.  What we have here is a temporary kind of change.  It's a three-day transitional period that forms the margin between the off season and the commencement of the academic session.  This margin is the Parent Attack.

It's a phenomena that conjures a host of emotions.  A knowing smile creeps across my face as I remember the time when my anxious parents moved me up to school.  The smile becomes a smirk as I walk by a blonde first-year shooting her dad a look of death as he painfully jokes "hey honey check it out, it's a gender-neutral bathroom.  Is that for people with both parts, or neither?!"  My smirk devolves into a full-scale scowl as the path to Underground Copy (i need to fax something and this is the only place on campus that still boasts an operational fax-machine) is obstructed by about 100 parents in a sprawling line emerging from the Chittenden Bank branch here at The Dud.  I fight down the urge to yell "don't you remember what college kids spend their money on..."   Images of booze, condoms, and cigarettes float into my head.

We can't blame these Helicopter Parent Baby Boomer Almost Empty-Nesters for being here.  After all, in 2008, parental involvement in college stops far after packing the car and a pat on the back.  With that said, this is only day one of the Parent Attack.  Updates to follow...

August 29, 2008

College Is Hard

As part of the internet generation, I get hundreds of videos unloaded on me every week by blogs, pop culture mags, even my friends ("Hey man...have you seen that Jimmy Kimmel / Ben Affleck - NSFW - video? So f'n funny, dude). Even though that particular video is one of the funniest things I've ever seen, it's a rare gem in YouTube's mine of webcam rants, bad garage bands, etc. etc.

So when online editor Cathy Resmer posted back in April about a web show called College is Hard — put together by a few guys from Skidmore College — I thought, "More college guys doing skits? Dammit." Then I watched the show. And it's hilarious.

So far there are three episodes in eight parts on YouTube and they're all pretty spot-on when it comes to the college experience. The guys have already touched on important issues such as Guitar Hero, thong girls and getting lost finding parties — I can't wait to see what they come up with next.

Check in with their site to see what College is Hard: Sophomore Year will be like. I'm pretty sure you'll love it.

Texting: What's Good

I went to college in the pre-cell phone era, way back in the mid-1990s. Now, of course, we're all way more advanced. Not only do we have super cool cell phones, we don't even just use them to talk to each other! They've become mobile data devices.

This shift has been going on for a few years, but I think it took a major step forward in the past few weeks as the Obama campaign promoted its texting service on the national stage. Nielsen Mobile estimates that nearly 3 million people received Obama's "Joe Biden is my veep" text. And then last night, I heard them plugging it from the podium during the convention.

I was excited to hear the Obama people talking up texting, because we're about to start experimenting with it, too. What's Good is debuting its first texts next week. You can sign up to get 'em by texting "wgme" to 21321. Or enter your phone number here.

We'll text you twice a week with discounts, parties and events. You'll be able to get a coupon on your phone, and then you show your phone at the business and get a good deal.

OK, it's not quite as exciting as finding out Obama's veep pick, but it has the potential to be pretty cool.

August 28, 2008

Showing Your O-Face

Hey, I'm Tyler. Nice to meet you. I'm a junior at St. Michael's, journalism major/art minor, I like music and food and local beer and long bike rides by the water, etc...

Anyway. All of our freshmen are moving in Thursday to begin that most hallowed of college traditions, orientation. Or as I fondly remember it, the very first time I thought to myself, "Oh, dammit, maybe this school was the wrong choice."

Here at SMC, the new kids are warmly greeted on move-in day by O-Leaders, a pack of neon-clad upperclassmen with entirely too much perkiness and school spirit. Per SMC orientation tradition, all of the O-Leaders have loud, shrill whistles, and use them non-stop. Seriously. All the time. I'm amazed that it doesn't result in half of Colchester calling in noise complaints.

The rest of orientation at St. Mike's unfolds like it does at most other schools. Lots of ZANY and FUN icebreaker games that are supposed to help you make friends. Some larger assemblies, like a hypnotist show, to promote class unity. And, of course, a hilariously over-the-top lecture from a Student Life representative on "responsible decisions" that dissuades nobody from partying. This all culminates in a dance party for the new students and O-Leaders alike (after which comes many first-years' first regretful morning of college).

Now, freshmen/freshwomen/first-years, listen closely here. Your O-Leaders will tell you that the friends you make at Orientation will stick with you for all four years. They might be right, but more likely you'll find your best friends through clubs, classes, service trips, and anywhere else where common interests are the basis for a friendship. They'll also tell you that orientation is the best weekend you'll have in college.  Well, gee, in that case, it's all downhill from there, isn't it? Luckily, they're wrong about that too. If you think orientation is fun, just wait for the weekends you have with friends you know well, and without an itinerary of silly activities you have to go to.

So don't worry, new kids. Orientation might feel like summer camp for 10-year-olds, but it'll be over quick. And then the real fun begins.

Local Music 101

Wg7facebook_2 If you're new to town, or maybe just don't get out that much, you might not know how great the local music scene is here. We've got some kick-ass bands in Burlington in lots of genres: indie rock, jam bands, bubble-gum pop, post-punk, surf, hip-hop... you name it, we've got it.

On Thursday, September 18, Seven Days and Sugarbush are hosting What's Good: The Bands of Burlington Showcase at Nectar's/Club Metronome. It's a 2-floor event featuring the best bands around. Think of it as a primer on the Burlington music scene. Best of all, it's 18+ and only $5! (Admission benefits The Radiator — Burlington's low-power indie radio station.)

Continue reading "Local Music 101" »

August 27, 2008

Totally NOT Welcome

“What’s Good” is just one of the cooler cousins on the outskirts of the “what’s up” family tree. Close relatives include “what’s goody,” “what’s goodington” and “what it is yo.” No relation to “you good?”

“What’s Good” applies to a lot in the Queen City. But one thing that’s never going to be good is the relationship between the hordes of UVM students that descend upon B-Town come August and the year-long residents who don’t always take kindly to our arrival. I mean, I don’t know why Mrs. Hardass who lives on College Street has problems with inebriated frat pledges urinating on her petunias at 2:30 in the morning. Or why Mr. Weaksause of Hungerford Terrace feels the need to rudely intrude upon the small intimate gatherings of, say, 85 close friends across the street by phoning the 5-0.

But no matter what their lame reasons may be, students who live and travel off-campus will find that these people (UVM Community Relations adorably calls them “UVM Neighbors”) aren’t too quick in dispatching the welcome wagon. In fact, as Mike Ives reports in this week’s Seven Days, City officials have been trying to work for a decade to limit Catamounts from descending down the hill. It’s a cool little article — definitely worth reading.

I don’t know where they get the nerve to try and hold us at bay on campus. Don’t our UVM neighbors know that underage drinking, smoking, gathering in large numbers, and excessive noise are all prohibited up in those jail-cell dorms? Don’t they care about our needs?

But now you’ll have to excuse me. It’s getting late, and there’s fifty people in my backyard who want some music to rock to. Maybe I’ll idle my car in the street and treat my new neighbors to some old-school gangsta rap. Now that’s what’s good.

Welcome to What's Good

Minicover_2 This is the spiffy new website that goes along with What's Good: The Students' Off-Campus Guide to Burlington, a swell 96-page magazine available in various Burlington-area locations.

Below is our group blog, written by and for local college students. Er, mostly written by students. Seven Days staffers might chime in, too.

The Davis Center: Precisely What We Need?

I went to St. Michael's High Sch...I mean, College.

This admission makes me lame and I don't know too much about UVM. For an intro about the center of student life on Burlington's biggest campus, watch our faithful What's Good correspondent Louis Armistead dissect the heart of the Davis Center in a clip that aired last year on UVM TV (with an interview from UVM prez Dan Fogel).

Is it precisely what UVM students need? Decide for yourself.

MiddBlog's Top Students to Watch in 2008-2009

A couple years ago, I started reading MiddBlog to find out what was going on at Middlebury College. MiddBlog delivers the "'unofficial' happenings at Club Midd." At least, it claims to. And because I don't go to school there, I have no idea whether they do a good job with that. But I enjoy it anyway.

Last week, MiddBlog contributor "Ryan" — dude, what's your last name? Why can't I find it on the website? — published a post identifying his picks as the Top Students To Watch in 2008-2009. They are: Pooja Shahani ‘09, Bobby Joe Smith ‘09, Sam Lazarus ‘09 and Jimmy Wong ‘09. Click the link above to find out what makes them so special.

Last year, I mined MiddBlog's list of top students for a story I did on Hiba Fakhoury, who was one of their picks last year. Hiba was singlehandedly answering the questions of hundreds of incoming freshmen on the Midd class of 2012 Facebook group. She started her own site this year. And I hear she's going to be contributing to MiddBlog, too. Cool.

Back to School Stories

Fshortbus_3 There are a bunch of them in this week's Seven Days:

UVM Trek

Any of you out there go to UVM Trek? Seven Days videographer Eva Sollberger profiled the first-years' program this week on "Stuck in Vermont." That's her weekly arts and culture vlog.

Man, back in my day, freshmen orientation was all about ice-breaker games and scary lectures about the honor code. This seems so much more... involved.

August 21, 2008

Welcome to B-Town

Hey everyone!

Welcome to Burlington. You're going to have an awesome time here — it's a great place to be during your first "non-parent" years. I feel like it's safe to assume that most of you reading this are brand new to Burlington and need a bit of prep to really get out there into the Queen City.

  • Step #1 — Pick up a copy of What's Good: The Off-Campus Guide to Burlington, if you don't already have one.
  • Step #2 — Open it.
  • Step #3 — Look at all of the sweet stuff you can do around here.
  • Step #4 — Go do some of that stuff.
  • Step #5 — Check back here for more WG info, like student bloggers, school-related stories, funny videos and much more...

That's pretty much all you have to do to get acquainted up here. The key to school in Burlington is to get off-campus, so do it.

But first, a look back at the pain you just endured — the move in. Seven Days videographer Eva Sollberger shot this at UVM last year.

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