With one of the eight Ivy League schools in the news this week for having Iranian president Ahmadinejad speak there, now is the perfect time to have a debater who graduated from Columbia defend the proposition that the Ivy League is superior against a detractor who says the League is a big, pretentious waste of money. And so we shall.
Is the Ivy League superior?
Arguing yes: uptown computers-and-business whiz Perry Metzger. [UPDATE 10/3/07: David Robinson will replace Metzger (who replaced Bradley).]
Arguing no: downtown comedian, performance artist, and It Came from New York hostess Michele Carlo.
Join us — and bring all the Ivy-Leaguer and anti-Ivy-Leaguer pals you have — this coming Wednesday, Oct. 3 (8pm) on the air-conditioned basement level of Lolita Bar (266 Broome St. at Allen St., one block south and three west of the Delancey St. subway stop on Manhattan’s Lower East Side) — with Michel Evanchik moderating and me (Brown class of ’91) hosting.
(Please note that Perry Metzger replaces our originally-scheduled “yes” man, Richard Bradley, who has to go on a business trip. Note as well, just to avoid confusion, that the New Yorker is indeed doing a debate three days later on almost the same topic — featuring one man who has been a Lolita audience member and another, famous for tipping and blinking [and meeting ladies], who helped craft the opening arguments of one of our [female] prior debaters — but our debate on the Ivy League is [a] first and [b] free. I also notice, incidentally, that the same day as New Yorker’s Ivy League debate, they’re doing various panels that include David Byrne, Fiona Apple, Eugene Levy, Grant Morrison [my favorite comic book writer], and seemingly half the other pop culture figures I’ve ever heard of — but again, us: free.)
Perry may well talk about Columbia being the one Ivy where the Great Books are still central to the curriculum, so anyone interested in continuing the conversation started in my blog entry this week about the 100 most influential books should also drop by.
As I hope to start recounting on October 19 — the twentieth (!) anniversary of the 1987 stock market drop and of my first college journal entry (like a blog but on paper and unread) — I went to Brown, and though I ended up deliberately taking courses that incorporated some of the Great Books (and read some on the side), I have to confess that the complete lack of a core curriculum and the fluid-sounding willingness of Brown to let people craft their own majors helped draw me to that institution.
Also, I didn’t want to have to take French, after four years of doing so in junior high and high school, all the while knowing full well I’d probably never speak it well enough to be of much use. Quel dommage! I have, however, mastered the phrases “Vous etes le grand canard” (“You are the big duck,” though when I said it to actual French people once, one of them said, “He’s a canary?” so I may have it slightly wrong) and “Le velomoteur est rouge” (“The moped is red,” potentially more useful for travel purposes, since Europe is littered with tiny, tiny vehicles).
Anyway, whether you want to make a case for the Ivies, the school of hard knocks, Iranian extremism, Great Books, illiteracy, or France, I think Lolita Bar is the place you should be at 8pm on Oct. 3 (it’s also cheaper than that rooftop-party alumni event that I see Brown’s having the next night — every martini-drinking person there likely a professed Marxist back in the day — but more on that in three weeks, far more).