No more CUnity this year. Orientating first-years, who arrived at Columbia a few years too late to have Edward Said tell them that they have in fact been Occidentating all along, instead had BlaZe–a kind of scavenger hunt / color war hybrid–sending them screaming across campuses on both sides of Broadway. Naturally, Bwog was there, in the form of correspondents Andrew Russeth and Marc Tracy.
The event was everywhere, and nowhere. A hula hoop race—quick, everyone hold hands! now pass a hula hoop around your circle without not holding hands!—in front of the B School. Sudoku in Upper Mac. Beirut and Quarters, at, respectively, Barnard Lawn and the basement of Mac—except with cheap cola instead of cheap beer. Word games in front of Philosophy, posted to The Thinker (get it?). All done by forty teams spread out in five colors ( e.g., Yellow 1, Red 3, Bwog favorite Green 5).
We had been told the name of the event—BlaZe—carried humorous connotations. Puzzled by this, we put on our reporting caps and asked around. “Fire and fun,” an OL offered, on what BlaZe meant to her. “Pouring gasoline on people and lighting them on fire,” another, perhaps the younger brother of the McBain arsonist, told us. “I don’t know,” demurred another student, inexplicably adding, “I don’t smoke.” And then there was the first-year who, as we talked to her during something of a traffic jam behind Earl Hall, insisted, “You know what we’re thinking.” Um, no, not really.
A few highlights (why did a group of upperclassmen in EC laugh at us when we referred to “BlaZe’s highlights”?):
– The cult of holding up the sign emBlaZoned with the team’s name, reminiscent of the flag-bearers in Red Badge of Courage.
– A girl complaining of her lactose intolerance as she approached the whipped-cream pie eating contest in front of the Law School.
– A blonde girl remarking to a dark-haired boy, “Oh, you Jewish guys.” Score one for the landesmen!
– And best, the sight of Dean Colombo trying to descend the staircase from Lerner 4 to Lerner 3 as dozens of first-years ran up it, like a lone (if utterly sexy) salmon making his way upstream.
Oh, and BlaZe’s total buzzkill (there’s that laughter again): This asshole, who stopped your faithful Bwog correspondents as they made their way into Carman—to report, and perhaps find beer—asked to see their IDs, and informed them of a small gathering on Carman 5, which happened to be nonexistent. Dude, we don’t care if you were with a girl more attractive (and taller) than you. You’re an asshole.
Meanwhile, none of the jokes, the snickers of laughter, that inevitably arose when we mentioned the name of the event made any sense to us…until we wandered into the surprisingly quiet night of South Lawn. And then it hit us–OF COURSE! The darkness, the name…BLAZE! It’s funny because it’s done at night–precisely NOT when the sun is blazing—BlaZing!!!—but only once it’s gone down and the only thing to light up the world is the enthusiasm of eager first-years!
Well done, NSOP. We’ll be looking forward to covering your future events, such as your scientific safety presentation on Saturday, “[Don’t] Drop Acid!” as well as your program, which we can only assume concerns queuing up to buy texts at the Bookstore, “Doing Lines” (although will there really be enough room for that event in the 4th floor girls’ bathroom in Butler?).
Regardless, four years from now, we know we will remember the friends we made and the experiences we shared at BlaZe.