Geraldo Rivera was in front of the Broadway Gates tonight. So was Armin Rosen.
When I saw a Fox News producer scouring College Walk for students willing to stand behind Geraldo Rivera during a live episode of Geraldo at Large, my thoughts instantly turned to the mustache. Specifically, I wondered whether and how such an aerodynamic and totally inexplicable article of facial hair actually exist on this earth. After spending the past hour a mere few feet away from one of the titans of sensationalist pseudo-journalism, I can say that yes, the stories are true. Hard as this may be to believe, the Geraldo mustache is no urban legend.
The Columbia journalism grad held court with a group of about 50 or 60 students and rubberneckers, shell shocked by the pairing of Geraldo frickin’ Rivera with a murderous president of Iran. So the mood was light, even if the topic and the passions involved were not.
“Nobody wave. You gotta swear to God nobody’ll wave” the mustachioed anchor instructed the rotating gaggle of students. “Don’t be dumb,” he added. “This isn’t NYU,” one girl retorted, although the most insulting line was Geraldo’s: “Don’t be nervous,” he instructed participants. “We’re not on 145th St.” Would that we were, Geraldo, so that we could postgame this over some hot jazz at St. Nick’s, rather than having to go straight from here to the dreary confines of the Butler reading room.
While Geraldo kept busy trading witticisms with audience members, onlookers hurriedly called friends and family. “I just called to say I’m 10 feet away from Geraldo Rivera” was one urgent report; meanwhile a man in a white SUV offered a booming holler of approval. “I love you Geraldo!” he shouted–although as the hour progressed, the venerable Mr. Rivera was showing signs of weakness. Just why was he wearing a pair of beat up New Balances? And what was with that odd, star-shaped tattoo on his hand?
“What’s with your tattoo?” asked one student. “Umm…yeah. So how ’bout that” he muttered, before deftly transitioning by declaring he will debate Glenn Beck on the Ahmadinejad invitation on tomorrow’s Good Morning America.
“Will you be debating O’Reilly again?” I shouted. From the man and his soaring hairdo I received no reply. And yet I can’t be too hard on him–everyone else took advantage of the opportunity for their own purposes as well. Chris Kulawik offered a quick endorsement of tomorrow’s event, while a gang of CU Dems unfurled a CU Dems banner. The guy with the Ten Commandments sign got on air. Ahmadinejad coming here is serious–Geraldo’s appearance tonight was comic relief.