Is John McPhee a Lax Bro?

[caption id="" align="alignright" width="210" caption="           "Bros, anybody care to lax?"             "]Bros, anybody care to lax?[/caption]

John McPhee’s doing a reading at Labyrinth tomorrow, and I wouldn’t be entirely surprised if our esteemed Ferris Professor of Journalism walked in wearing a practice pinny and a backwards fitted. That is, judging by his recent writings: last month, he reported on ex-Princeton lacrosse coach Bill Tierney’s sudden move to Denver, and his latest book, Silk Parachute, includes a sprawling, 59-page dissection of the game, its origins, its stars, its stereotypes. It’s literally everything you (I) ever wanted to know about the sport, spun wittily in his trademark style. The piece, titled “Spin Right and Shoot Left,” follows our lacrosse team to an exhibition match in Manchester, with McPhee as the team’s Faculty Fellow — “an official position, not unlike shaman.” He packs in plenty of Tierney one-liners and some fascinating Tiger lax trivia:

In 1888, Princeton’s face-off man was Edgar Allan Poe. His granduncle (ibid.) wrote “The Raven.”

Throughout the article, McPhee comfortably slings lax slang such as “whip” and “FOGO,” like he wouldn’t sound out of place in the Cottage taproom (he is, after all, a ’53 alum of the UCC). His laxicon is most definitely up-to-date. At one point he modestly recalls his only season of competitive play, a postgraduate year (classic bro move) as a Deerfield Academy middie. Apparently the game caught him by surprise:

… after a close and raucous [basketball] game one Saturday night, a teacher came through the departing crowd, stopped me on my way to the locker room and said his name was Mr. Haviland, and that he was the coach of Deerfield lacrosse. He said come spring he would like me to try out for his team … I told Mr. Haviland that I had fiddled around with lacrosse sticks maybe ten times ever while I was growing up in Princeton, but I didn’t play lacrosse, did not know how to play lacrosse.

And the rest is history. Dude’s a lax bro at heart; you can tell by the way he writes about the game, all tangled in a certain wide-eyed poetry. All I’m saying is I might bring my (nonexistent) stick to his creative nonfiction class next spring. Provided I get in. At least now I know which sport to awkwardly allude to on my application.

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Week in Review: July 13 – 19

If a tree falls in Princeton during the summer, and no students are there to hear it, yes, still, nothing ever happens in Princeton. In this week’s edition: Sotomayor yada yada yada, Jeff Peek won’t be attending reunions anytime soon, moving walkways are a moving farce, the Wall Street Journal backs us up on the Kindle thing(!), a lax coach cries, and Stan Katz would love to have you for dinner tonight.



  • Meanwhile, updates us on another alum who’s not doing as hot as ol’ Sonia. Jeff Peek ’69 is CEO of CIT, a company providing small and midsized commercial loans. CIT’s not doing too hot these days, and on Thursday, federal regulators denied CIT a bail out. The company’s stock crashed nearly 75%. The article suggests some fingers are pointing at Peek. And a little digging found that Peek’s wife penned an anonymous article in Portfolio recently, in which she complained about how because of the recession she couldn’t throw moneybags around, or something. Princeton alums: Win some, lose some.
  • This week in “studies that contribute little to our understanding of the world”: The Telegraph reports that “Researchers have found that using [moving walkways] at airports, especially at busy times, can actually slow you down because people reduce their walking pace on the human conveyor belts and cause blockages.” Travelers everywhere slowly are realizing they have been living a lie. Princeton locomotion researcher Manoj Srinivasan contributed mathematical models to the study to show “that people slow down on walkways to reduce energy consumption.” Well, yeah, I’m sure tons of lazy people would ride around in motorized scooters to “reduce energy consumption.”
  • This week in “I told you so”: The Wall Street Journal writes on the latest  trend of using “e-books” instead of hard copy texts in higher education. They report that in a “Student PIRG study, 75% of college students said they would prefer print to digital texts.” The organization running the study “slammed existing e-textbook efforts such as CourseSmart for “being on the wrong track.” The article states also that students in pilot courses testing the Kindle have been bailing out of using the thing, preferring hard copies to e-books. They don’t see the use, it seems. Wait, that sounds familiar… Oh, yes, right, we said that.

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