Magazine Preview: Can You Get Away With It?

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The November issue of The Blue and White will be here soon and we’ll be posting all the articles on Bwog.  “At Two Swords’ Length” is a feature presenting opposing opinions on an issue. This month, Brian Donahoe and Sam Schube discuss whether you can get away with it.


I’ve been doing it for years. It’s not like it’s hard; who even notices? See, the problem is that people just get too paranoid about this kind of thing. People start thinking that they are being too conspicuous, start worrying about passers-by, start thinking that they are going to get caught, start ruining the vibe, and then no one has a good time. Sam Schube is people.

Whether it’s in the park, some little nook on campus, or, hey, even a secluded residential cross-town block, chances are that there really are not going to be that many people around and with a little planning, you can almost always fool the ones who do pass by. If someone should happen to walk by, just play it off like you were in a midst of an animated conversation, nothing more. It doesn’t have to be the most convincing act in the world. The key is to not make eye contact, and chances are they’ll buy it; most people aren’t looking that closely.

What Sam doesn’t realize is that most people fall into either one of two categories: those who are oblivious and those who are down. Those who are oblivious naïvely believe that this sort of thing doesn’t go down all that often, at least not in their neighborhood. They go about their lives without it even crossing their minds.

Sure, maybe they went for it one time that summer in Berlin, but that was the ’60s. One need hardly worry about these folks, and the best part of all is that even if the clueless do catch wind of what’s up, more likely than not, it will only make them walk by a bit faster.

See, Sam doesn’t get this. Sam is under the impression that the slightest clue will instantly alert passers-by to what’s going on. Enraged, those passers-by will take enough time out of their busy lives to 1) call the police and 2) file a police report. Visions of handcuffs, public humiliation, and ashamed parents presumably flash through his eyes. But Sam’s got it all wrong: the subtle risk that he finds nauseating, others find thrilling.

But the secret is: even if they realize what’s going on, a surprising number of people are down. And why not? It’s a good time. You’ll come to recognize these ones from the knowing nod of respect. You pick a nice spot, maybe with a pleasant view, or if you’re more skittish, somewhere a bit more private. You get organized, you take one last quick look around, and then you go for it. Don’t spend too much time trying to find the perfect hiding place—you’ll only end up psyching yourself out—or worse—attracting attention.

Now I’m not advocating reckless abandon. By all means keep an eye out or whatever and don’t linger, but there’s no need to rush through the whole thing constantly looking over your shoulder. You won’t enjoy that. Once it’s done, the risk of getting caught pretty much drops from slim to none. The evidence against you is minimal and, hey, you’re not sticking around. Then comes the opportunity to relish having gotten away with it. Imagine the sense of satisfaction, walking smugly down the street knowing full well that no one has a clue of what you just pulled over on them.

And as you’re walking back into your building, sitting on the subway, or getting seated at a restaurant, you’ll get an incomparable sense of satisfaction. You got away with it.

–Brian Donahoe


It’s said no good deed goes unpunished. I think that’s a load of crap, not to mention beside the point; no bad deed goes unpunished, either. That’s why I’ll respond with a firm “no” when someone like that Brian comes along trumpeting his churlish ways. He thinks he’s invincible. He’s never been caught and can’t imagine a world in which he’d ever fall prey to police, dorm security, or any hint of a moral code. So he’ll ask, and I’ll refuse, thank you very much.

Yes, I know it seems harmless. No one ever gets caught, and guys like Brian believe you’re only really living, man! when you’re displaying flagrant disregard for social convention. But in the same way the gazelle, having made a valiant effort at escape, just knows he’ll be consumed by the chasing lion, I know that I will not get away with it. I’ll be seen. I’ll be heard. And I’ll be caught.

The slightest wrong move, the merest peep! And I’ll be whisked away, locked up, shamed, or worse. It’s supposed to be relaxed, and I know it feels good. It makes no difference. I’m always looking over my shoulder. My head always remains on a swivel–while I’m watching my back, and keeping an eye out and an ear to the ground. And that’s not particularly relaxing. You start to see things. That streetlamp? Hidden camera, for sure. That old lady with the walker probably has a particularly gossipy e-mail relationship with your aunt. Big Brother lives, everyone is watching, and you will not get away with it.

Hell, even assured success, I’d be miserable. Here are the purely practical and pragmatic reasons that I would not even enjoy getting away with it if I could. Let’s see: it makes me paranoid. It’s too loud. Outside, at least, it smells funny, and it can be itchy–I greatly prefer the comfort, familiarity, and soft corners of a bedroom, say, or someone’s car.

I don’t like to do it when other people are watching. It’s too obvious. Also too noisy. And you need too many damn objects to enjoy yourself: the preparation alone is cause for knee-quaking anxiety. And on top of all that, it’s just gauche–for Brian, nothing is sacred.

There’s a whole constellation of psycho-social-moral hang-ups and neuroses that curb my optimism, too. Part of it’s genetic, I think: “Hope for the best, expect the worst” is the New York Jew’s categorical imperative. The sort of rosy, goyish hubris that tells me I can get away with it is the very same false friend that led Woody Allen to take a break from movies to marry his stepdaughter. There’s something to be said for knowing your roots and in this case, my roots are telling me–with all the subtlety of an elephant eating dynamite–that this just won’t work.

There’s an old bit of Jewish humor that says the world’s made up of two kinds of people: there’s the schlemiel who spills his soup, and the schlimazel, whose lap he spills it on. That proverbial borscht bowl always seems to wind up on my lap, and that’s fine. There’s a certain honor in being the schlimazel, dammit.

–Sam Schube
Illustrations by Nora Rodriguez

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  1. stem  

    Excellent stuff. Much respect.

  2. pardon my ignorance, but...

    Get away with what?

  3. bwog,  

    what is this even about?

  4. JuliaMartinDiao

    Wait. This is just TOO perfect from these two. Miss you boyzzz! Keep fighting the good fight. See you in lalaland!

  5. Yikes.  

    I've been here for three years now and for the life of me I still don't get what the point of the B&W's uglification is with its profile art--because at this point it HAS to be on purpose.

    I don't know these people but they can't be this unfortunate looking out in the real world. They just can't. I would have at least heard the passing gasps on College walk.

    Is it some extremely clever editorial move to make the reader focus on the text as to redeem the depiction or is the B&W just keeping these people's egos in check? ("you's got your coverage but you ain't pretty")

  6. this  

    is just to good. love it bwog

  7. Anonymous  

    I'm fairly certain that's the point.

    We're witty little things around here, arent we? urgh.

  8. Anonymous  

    off topic:

    the reference room in butler has it's ceiling spot lights turned off for some reason. It is gorgeous and warm in here now.

    They should do this more often. I really love it. everyone is more calm and looks less likely to kill themselves.. but perhaps more likely to fall asleep.

  9. Just remember

    Once inside, Public Safety has it out fer ya all -- be vigilant, be brave, and by god, always take basic precautions.

    Damn the man.

  10. Anonymous  

    sounds like they are talking about peeing in public or smoking a J

    • yah  

      sounded most to me like smokin the reefer in public places. although it could really be about any illicit behavior not condoned by good society; my own personal proclivities led me to fill in the blank with that.

  11. ...  

    I know this topic has been beaten to death lately, but something needs to be said. What Sam is doing is metagrobolism in its most damnable form. The nitty-gritty of what I'm about to write is this: To get even the simplest message into the consciousness of sexist publishers of hate literature it has to be repeated at least fifty times. Now, I don't want to insult your intelligence by telling you the following fifty times, but Sam knows that performing an occasional act of charity will make some people forgive—or at least overlook—all of his obdurate excesses. My take on the matter is that raffish, deluded harijans are more susceptible to his brainwashing tactics than are any other group. Like water, their minds take the form of whatever receptacle Sam puts them in. They then lose all recollection that Sam has only half (if that) of the information needed to make an informed decision about pharisaism. The best example of this, culled from many, would have to be the time Sam tried to overthrow democratic political systems.

    I want to say "no" to Sam's pudibund machinations. That may seem simple enough, but Sam wants to monopolize the press. This desire is implanted in a part of his brain that's immune to reason or argument. Consequently, there's no chance that we can get him to see that if I try really, really hard, I can almost see why he would want to make our lives a living hell.

    It would be great if we could solve the problems of obstructionism, solecism, economic inequality, and lack of equal opportunity. Still, if we take a step, just a step, towards addressing the issue of sadism, then maybe we can open people's eyes (including our own) to a vision of how to expose false prophets who preach that things have never been better. Sam's proxies have the gall to accuse me of stirring up one part of the population against another. Were these squalid publicity hounds born without a self-awareness gene? The answer has two parts to it. The first part regards the manner in which those who fight against Sam's daffy calumnies are inevitably branded as invidious and obscene by Sam's worshippers. The second part of the answer is focused on the the way that Sam is absolutely determined to believe that he can convince criminals to fill out an application form before committing a crime, and he's not about to let facts or reason get in his way. You should never forget the three most important facets of his sentiments, namely their moonstruck origins, their internal contradictions, and their tendentious nature.

    Sam's most steadfast claim is that it's okay for him to indulge his every whim and lust without regard for anyone else or for society as a whole. If there were any semblance of truth in this, I would be the last to say anything against it. As it stands, however, my position is that Sam has gone way too far with his no-compromise attitude. He, in contrast, argues that his communiqués are intelligent, commonsensical, and entirely consonant with the views of ordinary people. This disagreement merely scratches the surface of the ideological chasm festering between me and Sam. The only rational way to bridge this chasm is for him to admit that purists may object to my failure to present specific examples of his frowsy, heinous ipse dixits. Fortunately, I do have an explanation for this omission. The explanation demands an understanding of how Sam has never been a big fan of freedom of speech. He supports pogroms on speech, thought, academic license, scientific perspective, journalistic integrity, and any other form of expression that gives people the freedom to state that Sam has conceived the project of reigning over opinions and of conquering neither kingdoms nor provinces but the human mind. If this project succeeds then querulous scatterbrains will be free to prepare the ground for an ever-more vicious and brutal campaign of terror. Even worse, it will be illegal for anyone to say anything about how Sam's notions are evil. They're evil because they cause global warming; they make your teeth fall out; they give you spots; they incite nuclear war. And, as if that weren't enough, if one believes statements like, "Black is white and night is day," one is, in effect, supporting viperine sewer rats.

    I lost all respect for Sam when I heard that he plans to shout obscenities at passers-by. Ask anyone. Many people are convinced that he has no soul. I can't comment on that, but I can say that I recently heard Sam tell a bunch of people that we have no reason to be fearful about the criminally violent trends in our society today and over the past ten to fifteen years. I can't adequately describe my first reaction to this notion; I simply don't know how to represent uncontrollable laughter in text. Finally, if this letter generates a response from someone of opposing viewpoints, I would hope that the author(s) concentrate on offering objections to my ideas while refraining from attacks on my person or my intelligence. I've gotten enough of that already from Sam.

  12. Anonymous


  13. can you get away with it?

    yeah, if you're a white dude.

  14. These illustrations

    are not portraits.

  15. Anonymous

    I think the subtler point of what these two are saying is that while a lot of people are doing it, there isn't a firm policy for actually dealing with it. Maybe that's something future articles could deal with: the overwhelming prevalence of people who seem to have no qualms about doing it and whether the wider community should really do anything about it.

  16. Anonymous  

    Does this apply if I want to fuck in public?

  17. soo..  

    this is about pot right?

  18. Anonymous

    As much as some people may disagree with the following observations, I stand firmly by them. For openers, one of the cheeky converts to scapegoatism in Sam's employ has penned an extensive treatise whose thesis is that Sam would never even consider stultifying art and retarding the enjoyment and adoration of the beautiful. Contrary to what that emollient hagiography asserts, we can and we must protect ourselves by any means necessary against the jackbooted bestiality of bumptious fussbudgets. Now that's a strong conclusion to draw just from the evidence I've presented in this letter so let me corroborate it by saying that some time ago I conducted a series of in-depth interviews in which I discovered that most respondents sincerely don't want Sam to transform our little community into a global crucible of terror and gore. That's the sort of statement that some people claim is feral but which I believe is merely a statement of fact. And it's a statement that needs to be made because some people I know say that according to him, anyone who points this out is guilty of spreading lies, smears, and materialism. Others argue that Sam's claim of fairness is demonstrably false. At this point the distinction is largely academic given that he has commented that children should belong to the state. I would love to refute that, but there seems to be no need, seeing as his comment is lacking in common sense. All in all, I realize that this letter has seemed incredibly bleak. However, expecting the worst from Sam means we will never be disappointed. If we're wrong and Sam does not try to compose paeans to feudalism, we'll be relieved. If we're right and he does, we'll be prepared.

  19. ugh

    oh my, we are so witty

  20. If

    this is about sex, I just want to say that despite what Cosmo might say, having quickies in awkward positions is generally not pleasurable for girls. In my experience, the few girls who actually buy into it do so out of charity and not because they enjoy it as much as the guy.

  21. hm  

    sweater boys always get away with it

  22. here, here!

    Blood in, blood out.

  23. Anonymous

    This was a silly article that wasted my time. It's a piece like this that makes me question why I read Bwog in the first place. I hate your face.

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