Media Memories: The College Press Experience

MiMi Yeh

I’m lucky. Damned lucky. I can say something few others can boast: I love my job. Working for The Mass Media has its good and bad points but, for the most part, I’m always having fun interviewing new people, writing, and, very recently, traveling. I started writing for our campus paper in the fall of my freshman year, 2000 A.D. Writing news, the occasional review, and covering random events in obscure classrooms was the extent of my duties. As Arts Editor, my title changes and I have to organize a few more things, but otherwise, the heart of it remains the same.

It was my first junket, where the press goes to schmooze and booze with the stars on an advertiser’s tab. It was a sweet deal; take the Delta shuttle to New York City, stay overnight at the Essex House, and fly back in the afternoon. On top of that, I get to meet people my age doing the same things I do.

Usually, a hotel full of adolescents and a bottomless mini-bar can lead to disaster, especially on a Saturday night. However, the back-to-back scheduling of screenings of Orange County and Vanilla Sky, coupled with hurried interviews and traffic, made it a bit hairy and next to impossible to get into any trouble.

Our story starts with my 9:30AM flight to La Guardia International Airport, on time, amazingly enough. Getting through security at Logan was embarrassing. I opted to wear a corset, Victoria’s Secret of course, neglecting to remember that it is reinforced with metal strips, to the general hilarity of the airport personnel and security personnel. While security cracked up and my mortified mother watched from the gate, I was scanned up and down, in places where I wouldn’t think it would be possible to hide weapons of mass destruction. She managed to lecture me from a 12-foot-radius on my choice of dress, making me thankful that non-ticketed people were not allowed beyond a certain point.

Thankfully, the flight itself was uneventful and I managed to board the M60 to East 59th Street without too much trouble and check in to the Essex by noon. I opened the window, kicked off my shoes, cracked open a bottle of champagne, and toasted to the Big Apple. It sounds corny but imagine being there, excited and not knowing what was going to happen next. It was Disneyland for adults.

With several hours to kill, I finished off the bottle and thought about where I wanted to go. I settled in for another hour before making the trek on over to the Pierpont Morgan Library, whose main attraction (for me) was an opportunity to see a Gutenberg Bible and the Oscar Wilde Exhibit. Morgan had been an avaricious, vicious railroad tycoon who made a pile of money and like most, felt guilty about it later on. He was also one of the foremost bibliophiles with an extensive collection of ancient art and manuscripts.

After getting back, I went to the lobby where I was due to meet up with the group and ended up going outside to enjoy some inhalation therapy. That was where I found everyone. Not only do they all smoke but they’re all pretty cynical. We got to know one another before piling onto a bus and heading out to Loew’s Theater for the screening of Orange County, a teenage ditty about Shaun Brumder (Colin Hanks) and the various mishaps that befall him in his attempt to get into Stanford.

It was humorous without being too sentimental, appealing to a wide variety of audiences, yet still capable of understanding life from an adolescent perspective. The interview with Jack Black of Tenacious D (Lance Brumder) was one of the most memorable moments. He insisted on referring to himself as “the D” in most of he questions that were asked of him and otherwise, is not much different from his screen persona.

A half hour later, they yanked him out so he could catch his flight. We were then chauffeured over to another theater where we viewed Tom Cruise’s new movie, Vanilla Sky, a sentimental, drawn out, romantic version of Momento, except there are too many one liners. In other words, long on eye candy, short on plot. It’s better seen on video when there’s nothing else left to rent.

The roundtable discussions, where we had 15 minutes to interview the stars of OC, were interesting. Reporters were tossing references to directors and dropping names left and right. Mostly, I kept quiet and tried to follow the herd, with a few pertinent questions of my own. I felt like the odd man out, since I hadn’t even heard of half the flicks they were naming but realized that a majority of the press in attendance were movie critics or film buffs in general. My poison happens to be music and books.

The fun began that night, when a group of us got together and made the decision to hop on over to CBGB’s, where the Ramones had once played. It was a haven for old-school punk and hard rock bands. We heard the Sea Monsters and danced until 2am. I’d like to say that I was able to make the forty-block walk back to Times Square, but my insensible shoes (5-inch-heeled boots) gave out and I shared a cab back to the Essex after 22 blocks.

The morning after was spent nursing a mild hangover and taking a walk through Central Park to Strawberry Fields, the home of a George Harrison memorial service. People were milling about, not really talking so much as singing along with the amateur musicians doing Beatles’ covers. I didn’t get a chance to visit Ground Zero. Some photo opportunities are meant to be missed. There are too many who want to go there, simply to gawk. I agree that the victims and heroes should be remembered but there are too many ghouls who only want a souvenir.

It seems appropriate to end the semester on a high note such as this. I had an amazing time, came back inspired, and met other like-minded people whom I plan to keep in touch with. The college press experience is unique, it’s not a club or an after school college application activity, it’s an opportunity to explore life.