An aspiring dramatist presents #OurBlue Detective, a short closet drama featuring Rust and Marty and their quest to find out who killed Columbia’s school spirit. Read the captivating caper below.
Recently, it seems Columbia’s ambitious plan to renew school spirit has faded. A planned Dino BBQ event before a Columbia-Princeton basketball game was canceled, and not an ounce of information about a second video has been leaked. Fortunately, PrezBo sent an e-mail to the student body today saying he’s assigned two of Columbia Public Safety’s best detectives—Marty Hart and Rust Cohle, GS ’97—on the case of who killed Columbia’s school spirit. This is a partial transcript of their investigations:
INT. BUTLER 210—RUST and MARTY stand among students using essays and problem sets to distract themselves from their biting urge for sleep.
RUST: I’m disappointed. I was told Butler 210 was the hottest bar in Morningside Heights. But the closest drink I found to some good liquor was something called “Coconut Water.”
MARTY: That might be helpful if you ever find your true love, Rust.
RUST: Nah, I snuck in some whiskey.
MARTY: Hey, you fella in the wide-rimmed glasses and thrift-shop clothing. [Eight people turn around and look at him] What you do at night?
STRESSED SOPHOMORE: Four problem sets, three midterms, and a CC essay this week! I don’t have time for crime.
RUST: Son, we all see our lives as Sisyphean struggle, pushing our rocks of meaning up a hill, but in reality, it’s all just air against our palms we assign value to.
STRESSED SOPHOMORE: [Typing] This is good stuff—
RUST: We are sparks of energy in a decaying corner of an icy universe, flying in a random arc and then extinguishing, gone, forgotten.
STRESSED SOPHOMORE: Uh-huh, uh-huh, keep going—
RUST: All around you are skyscrapers and temples, batches of matter thrown together to give our minds worth in a cloak of misery. Yet they will crumble, and no matter how much you can expand your ego, you will always be driven into despair by that one syllable that makes all humanity dust: Death.
STRESSED SOPHOMORE: Thanks, you’re a real help, detective.
STRESSED SOPHOMORE 2: Hey, mister, you think you could do the same for me, but include the words “Heteronormativity” and “Foucault?”
INT. LERNER—RUST and MARTY slide through the turnstile and into Lerner’s hallway. In a six minute single-take the pair sprint up the ramps. They make it to the piano lounge. There, they see a HIPSTER and a GS STUDENT arguing.
HIPSTER: It will hammer a message into the campus, a message that needs to be heard!
GS STUDENT: Hasn’t put any nails in me from what I’ve seen.
MARTY: Sounds like y’all are planning some school spirit. What’s wrong?
HIPSTER: This financing mogul aimed at business schoolers won’t fund my literary journal and short film collection sure to bring together all Columbia.
MARTY: What’s it about?
HIPSTER: 38 poems to accompany 19 short films, each one repeated in black and white and in color. They summarize the decay of our or world, driven to chaos by greed, bigotry, and mainstream music. I was thinking of filming in McBain, but I didn’t want to create that much despair.
GS STUDENT: I don’t think an audience will come. You need something that motivates people, like sex scenes in your films.
RUST: Sex and nihilism? That’s my boat.
GS STUDENT: See—that’s what you need to do. And instead of publishing your poems, live-tweet them. Saves money on printing, creates an easy fan-base.
HIPSTER: I might be able to get Lena Dunham and Tao Lin to do the live-tweeting. That’ll be sure to harness the gaze of Williamsburg!
MARTY: Will it harness the gaze of Columbia?
HIPSTER: Would you prefer a film festival by a NYU hack nipple-deep in student loans who is only able to make films about going to film school, who has seen Ran a thousand times but never read King Lear?
RUST: Jesus, I was hoping we could build spirit through some old-fashioned common enemy of the people, but that’s just too harsh.
INT. ST A’s—RUST and MARTY stand at the entrance of a wild party where college students grind the night away in a mist of tobacco and cannabis.
MARTY: I don’t know. The last secret club I investigated—the one in Butler—I got covered in raw eggs and chocolate syrup. It seems I had accidentally stumbled into #OurBlue is the Warmest Color.
RUST: Oh yeah, at least you get to have the sapphic fun. I spent this morning searching through Teacher’s College for a fabled hidden cult alcove. I eventually stumbled into a room full of dead freshman with a man standing over their bodies ranting about the animalistic sex drive of humanity. I cuffed him, but I was later informed he was a very well-respected FroSci lecturer, and those freshman were sleeping, although in a rather coma-like way. Anyway, I found the WikiCU article on the Sachems and Nacoms to be very terse and clear that they had no part in damaging Columbia’s school spirit.
MARTY: Have you checked their rivals, ADP?
RUST: I was doing pretty well in their poetry slam until my sonnet “To the Ladies: I view you as sexual objects and not human beings.” That one got me disqualified for some reason.
A ST. A’s MEMBER strolls up to the duo. His blond hair is slicked back, and he wears a white sweater vest. In his right hand he holds a glass of champagne, and in his left hand he checks his gold watch.
ST A’s MEMBER: What can I do for you gentleman?
MARTY: Yeah, we read in The Eye that your extravagant spending alienates less wealthy Columbia students.
ST A’s MEMBER: Pah! Well-researched, high-quality investigative journalism has no place at Spec! We need to promote community by increasing discourse!
RUST: Your club’s rather exclusive, right?
ST A’s MEMBER: I’m sorry if someone out there can’t appreciate caviar and ice sculpture. But we’re very diverse. We even let in a member of the West-Coast New Money this year. You don’t see those sorts of people at Princeton Parties, do you?
MARTY: But how are you contributing to school spirit?
ST A’s MEMBER: My paid summer internship at my dad’s investment banking firm can’t cover everything! Do you expect me to pay for the whole college to go a weekend ski trip to Vermont? They’ll have to pull themselves up from the bootstraps through hard work and insider connections from family members and the wealthy friends of family members. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have an appointment to keep. I’m having dinner with Mitt Romney, Donald Trump, and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
MARTY: Discover anything, Rust?
RUST: Only that time is a flat circle. Everything we’ve ever done or will do we’re gonna do over and over and over again.
MARTY: You been reading Nietzsche again?
RUST: Watching Columbia’s football team play.
MARTY: So you’ve learned nothing?
RUST: Only that as our consciousness is wretched forward with our dying bodies through time, as every thought and breath marks a tick off our lifespan, as our faces, no matter how distorted by earthly battering, always preserve the terror of holding our mortality in our gooey flesh, as our actions bring wrath upon ourselves and others, as we terrorize our planet from selfish desires steering our lives towards tragedy, the only way we can distract ourselves from acknowledging the hole we’ve dug ourselves to escape the truth of the universe that would make us blank from its sheer surreality is to beg our student leaders through social media for more opportunities for free food.