Flashbacks: The politics of whoopee cushions, Sarah Lawrence’s dirty little secret and the agonies and triumphs of caving

5 Years Ago
June 20, 2003 | Carly Carioli profiled hip-hop baiting rappers of Gravy Train.

“Gravy Train...are a quartet of three self-described ‘rap bitches’ (Chunx, Funx, and Drunx) and one gay boy (Hunx) who apply riot grrrl’s postfeminist mandate to the Fat Beats and Bra Straps (Rhino) girlschool of ’80s hip-hop...Frontgal Chunx seems to have internalized Just-Ice’s 1986 anthem ‘That Girl Is a Slut’ — and decided, like the grrrls who scrawled ‘whore’ on their bellies in the mid-’90s, to turn the epithet on its rear. Their finest moment is ‘Drinking 40 Oz.,’ from their debut Menz EP (Cold Crush). In the spirit of Schoolly D’s ‘Saturday Night,’ Chunx recounts, in a squeaky bubblegum rhyme, the story of her day, and her love affair with St. Ides: getting trashed (‘Don’t even try to contain the fortiez that I drain/I leave a malt liquor stain like a fuckin’ freight train’); picking up strays of both genders at the local high school (‘I find me a bitch, a young virgin switch/I find a young gun, I drench him in cum’); eventually deciding she loves the booze more than the boyz (‘rather sip you than get screwed’).” Read the Full Article
20 Years Ago
June 17, 1988 | Aron Abrams described his unique tactics to battle the Ayatollah Khomeini — with whoopee cushions.
"The Ayatollah Khomeini may be a horrible man, but his face looked great on a whoopee cushion. Everyone in my line of work knew that. In 1980 I, along with a few dedicated others, fought to overpower his evil regime. I didn't work in Washington near the Pentagon, but in Boston, near Sandwich World. ‘Jack and Jill's Fun Shop’ was the name of the office, and we sold anti-Iran propaganda.

"1980 was the hostages' summer in Iran. While the diplomats did what they could with talks here and rescue attempts there, the Fun Shop rallied to the crisis in a direct, no-holds-barred fashion. Our big seller was a novelty postcard showing the ayatollah, in his turban and robe, sitting on a toilet. Take that, Khomeini. The way to victory, we knew, was through demoralizing the enemy."

25 Years Ago
June 21, 1983 | The Phoenix reported about a one-time employee of Sarah Lawrence College who had published an article after making a dark discovery in researching the school’s past.

“Written by Louise Blecher Rose, a Sarah Lawrence graduate who left the college’s faculty last month to teach creative writing at Columbia University, the Commentary article describes Rose’s accidental discovery of a file marked ‘Admission Quotas Jewish Students’ while she was researching a history of Sarah Lawrence for its 50th anniversary, in 1979. The file, Rose wrote, was ‘a detailed record of Sarah Lawrence’s discriminatory quota system,’ which operated until 1956. Included in the file was evidence that Jewish applicants had been rejected in favor of far less qualified non-Jewish applicants...

“Rose maintains that Sarah Lawrence’s president at the time, Dr. Charles DeCarlo, was much less impressed by the quota revelation. She says DeCarlo refused to publish the Sarah Lawrence history she turned in...[T]hough DeCarlo never directly threatened her with dismissal, he made it clear that her job would be in jeopardy if she published...outside the college...

“But according to DeCarlo, the file material had no bearing on his decision not to publish...The manuscript was ‘sophomorically serious’ and ‘heavy-handed,’ DeCarlo says. ‘It just wasn’t good enough to be published, period.’ ”

30 Years Ago
June 20, 1978 | Phil Bertoni explored the agonies and triumphs of caving.

“ ‘Endurance limit’ is a phrase frequently recurrent in cave exploration, and refers to a very real boundary. It is that point, deep underground, where a caver looks balefully at a promising lead with eyes that haven’t closed for 24 hours — and knows by his chattering teeth, twitching muscles and stomach cramps that if he crawls in, he won’t be able to crawl out. Few activities that pass as sport demand as much strength and endurance as does caving. A routine survey trip can easily involve 16 straight hours of continuous hard activity, simultaneously requiring the mental acuity to perform a sophisticated and exacting job.”

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