Tag Archives: State College

The College Town Circle of Life

On a Sunday afternoon this summer on my way to a coffee shop, I parked my car on the side of West Beaver Avenue, a road that cuts through a leafy neighborhood adjacent to downtown. The residents are primarily college students, you know, real salt of the earth inhabitants. Rather than measure worth by monetary gain, stature is gauged by seconds spent standing upside-down atop a keg, or by swiftness of movement after lighting a couch on fire in the middle of the street. The simplistic beauty of this lifestyle reminds me of late 19th-century America, when men and women lived off the land and daily alcohol consumption stood at about a liter per capita.

I live a half-mile away from the student neighborhood in a subdivision known as College Heights. The neighborhood, for the most part, houses professors and their families. It’s kind of quiet. It is famously where Joe Paterno lived for most of his life. The houses and the inhabitants are old, the structures and the humans dating back to the 1930s.

Trash pickup here is on Monday mornings. Yellow bags rest on yellowing lawns. There is nothing else to the curbside landscape. The opposite is true in the Beaver Avenue neighborhood. Trash heaps, nearly every week of every week, are like free stores. I’ve seen skis, computer speakers, mattresses, dressers, desks, lamps, Dodge Vipers and actual vipers. Whatever does not work for you will work for someone else. One man’s venomous snake is another man’s treasure. Continue reading

Tagged , , , , , , , ,

On the Road

On God’s Son, Nas has a song titled “Book of Rhymes.” On this track, he supposedly rifles through an old book in which he has written a bunch of random lyrics, and he regales us with his findings. Most of the time his musings are unintentionally comical. These nonsensical short bursts (“How can I trust you, when I can’t trust me/picture me an old man, an old G”) are often followed by sound effects of him crinkling paper and throwing it into a trash bin. At one point, instead of rhyming, he begins acting like he’s stumbled upon a page featuring the phone numbers of several women. He is surprised, saying, “Oh shit, Tina. I’ve been lookin’ for this bitch’s number.” Later, he will complain about a lack of values regarding our treatment of women. In short, he pulls off the common rap achievement of sounding terribly unoriginal while also disrespecting women and then sounding hypocritical by calling others out for disrespecting women.

Nonetheless, this song has inspired me. I’ve had it stuck in my head all morning, and it’s made me want to copy its style and retell my road trip from Dallas to State College “Book of Rhymes” style, Continue reading

Tagged , , , , , , , ,