By Naoto Shercock, P.I.
There’s a storm brewing underneath the university campus. There, nearly 45 square miles of catacombs sprawl, are now forgotten to the dust and snow. Some say it was built there in the late 60s right around when the summer of love became the winter of revolution. When the great famine shook Vestal to its core, and when the Campus Communists made their greatest attacks on the establishment.
This sort of thing is now etched in fairy tales and urban legends, but for a time it was true; the Campus Communists were the hellraisers and cropburners. These proponents of Marx led their ideology to a great standoff on February 14th, 1969, sometimes called the Battle of Crocker Island, where local militia forces and the Marxist disciples encountered each other on that small isle on the frozen Susquehanna River. The fighting was brutal; when the opposing forces ran out of ammunition, they resorted to taping hunting knives at the ends of their rifles and charging at each other like they would with bayonets. But the results were clear: the Communists, in their infinite dumbassery, retreated with only a dozen of their original force. Many of those still standing were badly wounded, but like chimps running from a turf war they knew they lost, they hobbled themselves back into the frozen woods, never to be seen again.
With that history lesson out of the way, let’s jump into an event that transpired just last year at one of our ever-important Binghamton Review meetings. As usual, we guided new members from a special meeting spot in the Classroom Wing to a secluded covert second location, all the while wearing black robes, sheathing scimitars, and walking by lamplight. The long walk yields its benefits; after becoming an E-board member, I’ve noticed that my calves and glutes are rock hard now. In a small bungalow on the top of the great mountain overlooking campus, we pulled open the sliding doors and led the new recruits in, for a ceremony in which they would finally gain their stripes and become official members of Binghamton Review.
This is where I must take a detour to explain proper procedure for acquiring membership. First, the soon-to-be members walk in, in front of everyone else, and then the E-Board, and then the novice members. The members walk in a double-file line inside the woodwork temple, and the final file of the line each takes a sliding door and pulls them shut. Next, the preceding two files of novice members, now being transferred the lanterns, each walk in unison around the perimeter of the bungalow’s one large room, and at each corner, they use the fire from the lantern’s core to illuminate the environmentally-safe TIKI brand tiki torches that work in dual purpose to act as a source of light for the room, but also to ward off mosquitos and ticks through the release of citronella. On top of these benefits, they are also only $4.99 at the local hardware store.
With the room now illuminated, we proceed to the true ritual, in which the E-board disperse and gather behind these platforms elevated just half a foot high, and stand all together in a tell of choreographed unity, and take their right foot first and station themselves further with their left upon the platforms. Written on each wooden platform is a word from our view upside-down: “soap.” Finally, a voice calls among one of them, “forward.” With that single bellow, the recruits each take a step toward the hooded figures on their platforms. From here, they each take turns in rotation approaching each E-Board member, and getting verbally abused as they look down at them, in a process called “cleansing”. After these rotations are done, the E-Board retreats off their platforms and carries a large basin of liquid (I may be generous with my depiction, the E-Board usually slides the basin, as it is rather heavy and they are not altogether so strong). The recruits take turns dipping their heads into the mysterious liquid. It is viscous and slimy.
The ultimate step of this arduous process is the final confirmation. They must stand in front of a podium on which a box of Ritz crackers stands. One by one, the group takes turns eating these crackers. The worst is behind them. However, as on this occasion one soon-to-be member, having gone through all the steps, chose to betray us in a light’s flicker. He took the box of Ritz crackers, and ran away through the fire escape, and never came back again. What was a subject of sacrament was desecrated in sacrilege. And I was assigned to the case.
After a series of Batman-style beatdowns and interrogations, I came to a hidden room in the Bartle Library, obscured by, of all things, a book on the shelf which, when you pull it down activates a switch that moves the whole bookshelf like some Scooby-Doo cartoon. It led me down to those very catacombs of legend. But where I expected to see dusty tunnels, I found instead hammers and sickles spray-painted red on the walls. Further down, I found an entire commune of the Red bastards all very, very stinky and very, very high. I communicated with some of them, but I could barely get a word in edgewise through their postmodernist ramblings.
“The filthy capitalist pigs extort us by adding a surcharge to the price of production!” and, “a market left alone will monopolize!” and “extant power systems function in collusion to maintain unfair hierarchies based on such factors as race and gender!” With expert craft I pulled out the megaphone conveniently attached to my utility belt and retorted to their faulty criticisms: “take a shower, you filthy simp!”
Like that they dropped to their knees and withered away like men of straw, their fallacious arguments so indomitably annihilated that they had pissed themselves in utter embarrassment, and I stood sweaty and victorious and everybody clapped. I saw it there; a Nabisco-branded box, pristine in its display, a war trophy, containing those most palatable golden crackers. I was the adoration of the Review that next Tuesday at 7:30pm in room CW215, and, as they say, the rest is history.