November 21, 2007: On the Campus
Geeks rock; faux rocks
By Laura Fitzpatrick ’08
Facing a nightclub audience, Joshua Green was out of his element. Instead of his signature thick rectangular specs, he sported sunglasses; his pants hung low on his 5-foot, 5-inch frame, and a bandana tied down his mop of curly black hair as he spat out the rap lyrics: “This is J.V. the geek / It’s the honeys I seek ... / Paired me with a beauty / A caramel cutie.”
Reciting his “autobiographical rap,” Green seemed light-years away from the stereotypical astrophysics graduate student that he is — even if some endearing latent awkwardness permeated the performance. And that’s the point.
As a contestant on the fourth season of the CW’s reality show Beauty and the Geek, touted as the “Ultimate Social Experiment,” Green was one of a handful of “brilliant but socially challenged men” paired up with “gorgeous but academically impaired women” to vie for a $250,000 prize. They advanced in the competition by completing challenges that shoved them way out of their comfort zone — hence the “autobiographical rap” battle.
Green received an e-mail from the show after some acquaintances had tipped off the casting directors that he would be a good pick. “All of my friends apparently thought I’d be perfect for this show, which is kind of disturbing,” he said.
Curiosity piqued, Green filled out an application and sent in a videotape — including footage documenting his enthusiastic karaoke rendition of the Pointer Sisters’ “I’m So Excited.” His signature move? “I just jump around randomly to beats,” he said. “Nothing particularly formal or fancy.”
A couple of days before the show’s formal auditions, Green walked into the Debasement Bar to find that he’d already gotten a spot: “I open the doors to the Grad College and people are cheering, ‘There he is! There he is!’” he recalled.
Green was tight-lipped about the show itself, not wanting to reveal what was in store in future episodes. But he enjoyed watching them unfold on television while finishing up work on Type 2 quasars to earn his master’s degree.
The show was a wonderful chance to learn, he said: He pays more attention to his appearance these days, and is less apprehensive about meeting new people. “The Beauties were actually wonderful — it’s not that they were stupid or anything like that,” he said. “They just haven’t studied the same things that we [Geeks] have ... You say you’re different and you live in different worlds, but you have a lot more in common than you think.”
By Chip McCorkle ’09
Some students are taking hold of a new place to spend their Thursday nights — the new Outdoor Action (OA) rock-climbing wall at Princeton Stadium (though this writer found his hold on the wall all too tenuous).
“Thursday Nights at the Climbing Wall,” an event funded by the University trustees’ Alcohol Initiative, attracted close to 50 students to the wall on its debut and 50 more a week later, according to coordinator Katy Barnhart ’08. On these nights students can forgo the usual $8 day pass and climb from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m., prime hours for drinking alcohol at room parties and on the Street.
The events are part of a more vigorous effort by OA to expand the close-knit climbing community that long surrounded the University’s first climbing wall, retired this summer when the Armory was demolished to create room for a new chemistry building.
Despite its snug home in a concrete column of the football stadium, the new wall has twice the vertical climbing space the old one had. The 32-foot-high, elongated-U-shaped structure is fully outfitted with what OA’s Web site calls “the latest in climbing-wall technology”: horizontal overhangs, artificial cracks, and real-to-the-touch faux rock.
With an expanded climbing-wall staff, Outdoor Action has stepped up its outreach to the residential colleges and student organizations. The initial response was encouraging, OA leaders said.
So how did this acrophobic, muscle-deficient writer fare on his first trip to the wall? Well, after scaling the wall at a snail’s pace, his arms gave out, unable even to undo the knot tied to his harness. Rely on one’s legs, not one’s arms, was the lesson.
“Climbing isn’t about powering your way up a climb,” frequent climber Megan Schoendorf ’10 later said in an e-mail. It’s “about solving problems — being able to look at a problem and figure out how to shift your body weight and twist your limbs to make what holds you’ve got work for you.”
MORE ON THE CAMPUS: Caution on the Street; the Chapel reaches out, click here.