Tuesday, March 8, 2005

Beer Jacket Blast from the Past

Beer Jacket Blast from the Past


Decades ago, in a different life, I was an undergrad at Princeton University. Like many of the Ivy League universities, Princeton is and remains a stuffy, conservative institution set in a sleepy, small township in Mid-Jersey where one can get a great liberal arts education and encounter some truly incredible beautiful minds. Of the 4,600 or so undergrads, there were those who gave it its reputation, those who leveraged and drafted off said reputation, and the remaining majority who were there to finance its existence and cover its overhead. I won't say what group I was in = D.

Anyway, it really is an old (by American standards) university, covered with actual ivy; a gorgeous setting to learn in and one steeped in traditions. There are school songs (Ol' Nassau--words to which I can still sing from memory today), bizarre rituals (Nude Olympics (since banned I hear), Cane Wrestling (in which freshmen and upperclassmen fight over possession of a stick--no holds barred), Clapper stealing (also since banned I believe) and exclusive societies (such as the infamous 21 Club) and eating clubs (akin to most universities fraternities).

One other tradition is that every graduating class has to create their own Beer Jacket (mind you, many of the seniors were still underage, but old habits die hard). The purpose of the Beer Jacket seems self-explanatory--one wears it while quaffing down fermented brews and I imagine it helps keep your real clothes nice and clean. It is also worn at the annual P-Rade where you march down beautiful Prospect Street with all the other Reunion classes who descend and take over the university every June. All the Reunion classes are also decked out in their own atrocious orange, black and white class gear. Some of the looks take on various themes--Pirates, Sailors, 20's Flappers--you name it--it's been done. It truly is a place where people have stepped out from the pages of the Great Gatsby.

Anyway, I was graduated in the class of '86 and had the proud distinction of designing and drawing our graduation Beer Jackets. Click here for a closer look but don't look too hard...my work was very rough around the edges nearly 20 years ago! All I remember about this design was that a fellow classmate who was an outspoken feminist took me to task for the aggressive and overly masculine take on the school's mascot. I don't think she would have approved of the Image Comics look years later, heh. The front of the jacket has a outline of one of the famous Tigers in front of Nassau Hall (where once the US's early fledgling government was seated for a spell if I recall) and instead of Tiger stripes, I drew in a barcode, creating a Tiger look and saying something which I thought was cleverly insightful, heh.

Anyway, the Tiger on the back is holding his diploma and has the aforementioned cane one wrestles for in the other paw. I think in retrospect, I should have gone to an arts school like RISD but then again, I would never have met my wife, who lived upstairs from me my freshman year. And my cane wrestling skills would have never have blossomed.

No comments:

Post a Comment