Web Exclusives: Tooke's Take
a PAW web exclusive column by Wes Tooke '98 (email: cwtooke@princeton.edu)

December 19 , 2001:

Handing out the hardware
As interesting as the Academy Awards; as meaningful as an Emmy...

With a New Year and a new Ivy League basketball season almost upon us, it is time to hand out the inaugural PAW Princetonian of the Year Awards. Since the idea of handing out only one award seemed frightfully disciplined given my track record, I have created a number of totally arbitrary categories. Also, please note that current and past presidents of the university are ineligible for the Princetonian of the Year award for the same reason that the secretary general of the United Nations ought to be ineligible for the Nobel Peace Prize - if they do their jobs, they ought to win the awards almost every year. So, without further ado...

Grateful Alumni of the Year: Over the last 24 months, Peter Lewis '55 has given the university $115 million (plus class dues). I would tell Steve Forbes '70 not to let the door hit him on the way out, but I'm finished with taking cheap shots at wannabe presidential candidates who inherited their father's money but none of their charm. Oops.

Princetonian in Hollywood of the Year: With Tom and Nicole and Bruce and Demi but lingering tabloid memories, it is time to salute the enduring presence of Hollywood's real golden couple. The Coen brothers have been making interesting, engrossing movies for 15 years now, which puts them in rare company. Since I can never remember which one actually went to Princeton, we'll just give the award to the entire family.

Hero of the Year: Li Shaomin *88 spent six months in a Chinese jail on a cooked-up espionage charge, almost certainly because he has criticized the Chinese political and legal systems in his work. He returned home in July and has continued to speak compellingly on human rights issues. In a side note, while Chinese jails may not get the press of Turkish prisons, I don't think they're any treat.

From the Grave Award: John Nash could be either the big winner or the big loser - it's hard to decide if being played by Russell Crowe is a coup or an insult. Speaking of Russell Crowe, the petulant Aussie earns Class Act of the Year for extending his middle finger at one of our innocent sophomores while a guest on campus.

Initiative of the Year: Eliminating loans. Best thing to happen to private education since coeducation.

Badass of the Year: A tie between Donald "we drop cluster bombs because they kill more people" Rumsfeld '54 and Robert "I'll find the terrorists and strangle them myself" Mueller '66. The only group more terrified than the perpetrators of September 11 is the Washington press corps.

Team of the Year: Men's lacrosse. If Steve Tosches could coach football as well as he coaches lacrosse, he would make $2 million a year and be a media darling.

And the Princetonian of the Year goes to... Lesley Carlin '95. Not only is she a former coworker of mine, she has also written a hilarious book, Things You Need to Be Told (Berkley Books), and created one of the funniest sites on the web. Tune your computer to www.etiquettegrrls.com.

In a totally unrelated note, I would like to thank Berkley Books and the Carlin Foundation for their generous contributions to the Wes Tooke Rent Fund. And I would also like to point out that I have managed to avoid awarding myself any hardware. Congress should take notes.

You can reach Wes at cwtooke@princeton.edu