a PAW web exclusive column by Hugh O'Bleary (firstname.lastname@example.org)
A Mod Squad for the Street
Undercover cops penetrate the eating clubs: fact or fiction
By Hugh O'Bleary
We can all agree that
there's nothing funny about over-indulgence in alcohol - well, except
for Dudley Moore in Arthur, or John Belushi in Animal
House, or W.C. Fields in just about anything, or that scene
in Lucky Jim when he has that toenail trouble after a few
too many toots, or that time my uncle Mike mooned the Shriners'
float, or ... Er, that is to say, at least, that there's nothing
funny about the news of the latest alcohol-related incident on campus,
a Bicker binge that sent 15 people to the hospital or infirmary.
I mean, I was so shocked when I read about it that I nearly spit
my beer all over the train. Ha, ha! See, there's another example
of drinking not being funny.
What is funny, however,
is the notion reported in some local newspapers that Princeton Borough
police are threatening to use undercover agents to crack down on
underage drinking at eating clubs. I can just picture some 42-year-old
local cop, dressed in a brand new Princeton sweatshirt and Tiger
cap lurking around Ivy or Terrace pretending to read a chemistry
textbook while eyeing any imbibers for signs that they're well,
not yet half his age. Hey, dude, what's your major?
The Bicker episode drew
the usual tsk-tsking and concerned discussion among the old guard
on the Dinky. (And a few fond reminiscences of Bickers past from
some of the old, old guard, but that's another story.) Still, I
found myself thinking about the undercover angle. I decided to go
high-concept. I broke out the cell phone. (For a couple of years,
I had resisted joining the cellular hordes, but New Jersey Transit's
reliability record being what it is lately, I finally gave in, if
only to be able to call my wife from the train to tell her to get
the old shaker ready.) I put a call in to my friend Scott on The
Coast. Sure, it was only 4:30 A.M. Hollywood time, but I knew Scott
would already be in the office, talking foreign rights with London
while riding the elliptical trainer and story-boarding his latest
film or cable project.
After the second ring,
Scott's voice came over the phone. "Talk to me."
I gave him the pitch:
"It's Mod Squad meets Good Will Hunting!"
There was silence from
The Coast. I plunged on. "Three hot young kids - a girl, two
guys. They're in trouble with the law. Maybe the girl's a runaway-turned-hooker;
one of the guys is from the projects, he's on the lam from gangbangers
who offed his brother; the other guy's the son of a Mafia kingpin
who just got whacked. He's got nowhere to go. None of them do. The
cops take them in and give them one last chance: They've got to
go undercover as students to bust an underage keg ring at - get
this - Princeton University. Call it, Undercover Tigers!"
I took a quick breath.
"Only the president of the university knows they're not real
students. "They're kind of like legacies, right?" he says.
The kids think they can handle it, but they get sucked into college
life. One of the guys becomes a star athlete and, between classes,
studying and practice, can't find the time to spy on his clubmates.
The young woman gets the lead in the spring musical and is away
at rehearsals every night. The other guy gets bogged down with his
junior paper and obsessed with getting grad school recommendations.
It all comes to a head at houseparties. There's a chase down Prospect
Street, a shootout, explosions, the eating clubs are leveled. The
heroes bust the drinking ring - and all graduate cum laude."
I waited in silence.
"It's boffo, O'Bleary,"
said Scott. "But you're too late. Matt and Ben pitched it to
Miramax already. They got DeNiro to play the president."
I think maybe I need
You can reach Inky Dinky
Do at "Hugh O'Bleary"