Our Maiden Aunt, the 'Star,' Should've Left Spring Break In Mexico Well Enough Alone.
By Jeff Smith
BACK WHEN I was still in my cavity-prone years, in that comfy, pupal pupil cocoon we call college, I used to head south during the Easter break for what we jocularly called The Riots of Spring.
Riots/Rites... get it? My facile touch with the tongue commenced at a tender age.
Connie Francis had topped the charts with "Where the Boys Are," detailing in no great detail the classic vernal mating rituals at Daytona Beach, Florida, every spring, when co-eds from the snow-bound campuses of the northeast shed the long-johns and their inhibitions in a long, lost weekend of sun and suds and skin and sand.
Daytona was too far and too Florida for my tastes, and too expensive. Like most of my generation, I went to Mexico--Rocky Point and Choya Bay, Guaymas and San Carlos. The beer's better, the folks are friendlier, and the foreign locale infinitely more exotic, with just enough of that edgy, dangerous quality to make it exciting.
Of course my behavior was execrable, and I was in the Boy Scouts for several years. I've seen Yankee students do things in Mexico during Easter week for which they ought to have been crucified.
But not in the fashion their entire sub-species was nailed in the recent exegesis on spring break in The Arizona Daily Star.
I don't know if this is the Star's current notion of hard-hitting investigative reporting, if some kind of print-medium ratings sweep is going on, or if the city desk just now stumbled onto the fact that college kids on holiday tend to drink, screw and throw-up, but I, as a responsible adult, a parent, and a former collegian myself, was appalled at what I read and saw in those news photos. An orgy. A drunken debauch. Physically mature males peeing from hotel balconies. Post-pubescent young women body-slamming on the dance floor with multiple males.
OF COURSE, YOU IDIOTS! What else are you going to do with all those hormones?
This is news? No. This has been going on, in whatever form and by whatever means suitable and available to succeeding generations, since Christ died for our sins, thus creating a perfectly timed break from college curricula, just when the sap starts rising from trickle to flood-stage. And it will continue. Forever.
And the only people who either don't know what goes on wherever college boys and girls flock for the equinox--or express shock and dismay at the news of it--are dead-head old farts who never knew what it was to be a kid and full of juice, or maiden aunt newspaperpersons such as seem to hold the reins at The Arizona Daily Star these days.
What was that line about them as fears that somewhere, somehow, someone is having a good time? Clearly the editors of the Star suffer from this affliction. Anyone in the journalism racket ought to be at least sufficiently aware of the world they live in to know from childhood that such rituals are universal. Likewise, we all should be sufficiently engaged in our world of thought and deed to have experienced these rituals in the first-person.
And we ought to have sense enough to let it lie.
I mean, we all wipe our asses once a day or so too, but I've yet to have an editor tell me to take a photographer and head for the campus and cover the story from the toilet's POV.
All hyperbole and sarcasm aside, I'm genuinely amazed that Jill Jorden Spitz and her editors at the Star thought it news, newsworthy, worth the expense, time and space in the paper, to illuminate their readers to the fact that our children--who have attained the legal age to drive a car, buy a beer, rent a motel room and purchase prophylactics, but who have not yet left school for full-time toil, settled into a monogamous relationship, and taken on the responsibility of having and raising children--will go to a foreign beach resort where the locals encourage them to spend like drunken sailors, and act, to the limits of their physical and fiscal abilities (which are considerable at that stage in life), like drunken sailors.
I remember when the daily papers in this town used to send me to the Green Dolphin Saloon at 5:45 a.m. on St. Patrick's Day and tell me to start pounding down the green beer by 6 a.m., be drunk by 7 a.m., back in the newsroom by 7:20 a.m., and have something colorful written by 7:45 a.m. for the first edition. Then there was the time the Star sent me out to see this woman who got paid to take off her clothes so you could finger-paint on her body. They wanted to see what I could make of that for the folks out there in newspaperland.
Today the Star is editorially opposed to alcohol, sex, gasoline-powered vehicles (especially pickups and four-wheel drive), motorcycles, beef, the Second Amendment and anything else to do with guns, fatty foods, jokes involving anything more animate than sand, rodeo, charcoal grilling, ranchers (indeed, men in general, unless they wear ponytails and are in touch with their feminine side), and women in general who do not agree with their prejudices against men in general.
The Arizona Daily Star has become our Aunt Emma, the morose old biddy who ruined every Thanksgiving pig-out we ever invited her to, by, just as Dave and I were about to crawl into the turkey and gravy all the way to our armpits, saying, "I only wish everyone could be sitting down to a meal like this...(audible sigh)."
Hey. Just because you never got drunk in college, just because you never blew chunks on your date, just because you couldn't get laid, even if you didn't barf on anybody (even in Mexico at Easter, even in a whorehouse in Choya Bay), doesn't mean you ought to take your notebook and camera down to Puerto Peñasco and blow it all for everybody else.
It's a rite of passage as immutable and essential as your first nocturnal emission. How else is the boy to become a man, the girl a woman? Where else will the leaders of tomorrow come from, than the littered beaches of Mexico and Florida?
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