Brown: Auf Wiedersehen to Unconventional Wisdom

I could write a really poetic column with words that waft through the atmosphere, or diction… I could write a really poetic column with words that waft through the atmosphere, or diction that could soar above our imaginations in some kind of elaborate poetry. But I’m not going to. There’s no need.

Because what I really mean to say without all of the fluff is that after writing for this newspaper since 2006, this will be the last column of my college career — even with two months left of school. Yes, really.

Now with 4,352 characters left to make the most of my exit, I’m supposed to share something that will change your lives, some kind of inspiration that you’ll remember years from now. I was originally planning on writing this column about following your passion and not being afraid to fight for what you believe in.

Then I looked at the last column I wrote in high school and realized it was basically about the same thing. So I scrapped that idea.

Then I thought I’d jump on some vitriolic tangent about how Chancellor Mark Nordenberg is an absentee landlord — someone put in the sole position of making our college degrees cost more tomorrow than they do today. Indeed, when I enrolled at Pitt in 2006, we were ranked 58th in the nation, according to US News & World Report.

Today, ol’ Nordy has done a stellar job, raising tuition rates consistently, allowing Pitt to overpopulate to the point where students are living in hotels instead of becoming more selective and letting our rank slip to 64th.

For that kind of progress, it sounds like he deserves his six-figure paycheck about as much as Michael Vick would deserve to be a guest judge at the Westminster Dog Show. But I’ve been complaining about his reclusiveness and hypocrisy for years to no avail, so it’d be a waste of time to continue that any further.

So if I’m not going to lecture y’all on vim, vigor and why Nordy should make like me and resign while the going’s still good, I figure I should change the pace to what I’ve learned over the past five years in college.

This year, I began compiling a running list of philosophies and teachings that college has provided me. With the last 2,712 characters I have left in this career, I’m going to share a few of them with you — all of which are open to interpretation beyond the literal context.

Perhaps the first thing I learned in college — besides never to play beer pong with rum and Coke — was a simple one: If a girl — or whatever sex rows your gears — asks you to dance, the answer is always an immediate “yes.” No questions asked.

I’m a quibbler by nature, and I dance embarrassingly without the aid of copious amounts of alcohol. As my friend’s date to a wedding several years ago, she asked me to stand up with her and get my groove on.

I felt sick that day, and I passed on her suggestion. I hesitated. And she moved on with her life.

That day was perhaps the only day I’ve ever regretted over the past half-decade. But such is life. And life’s about nothing if not learning and adapting.

However, I strive to do the best with people as I can — as much of an asshole as I may be at times. I’ve given shelter to friends in-between leases, founded the Panther Wrestling Club to make sure students have a venue to keep up with the sport after their glory days fade away and heck, I’ve even played wingman for the night a few times against my better judgment.

Hip-hop producer Russell Simmons put it much more eloquently than I can: “Give away your talents until people can’t live without them.” Morbid as it may be, I’d like to think that someday when I’m gone, people will remember me for doing that at the very least.

But sometimes, people won’t. Sometimes, they’ll throw you aside as soon as you lose your usefulness to them. Because everyone has a selfish — if not sociopathic — friend here or there.

This year I made the mistake of holding on to a friend like that for too long, and I can confirm that my next abiding law of life is that there’s no such thing as a friend of convenience. Life’s just too short to deal with jackasses on their own terms.

From here, I guess I could keep going with this column till the end of the year and write about national issues you don’t care about, using an extreme political slant just for effect or comment on topics of trivial concern. I could even contrive some pseudo-satirical nonsense to waste space.

But I promised myself that the readers of this paper deserve to read meaningful, relevant topics — right here on campus, in Pittsburgh or issues otherwise noteworthy — because you’re what makes this paper what it is. Anything else would be armchair quarterbacking, and I’ve never played that game.

So I leave you all with gratitude, for having had the opportunity to provide this University with four years of entertainment — if not some unconventional wisdom. But it’s time for me to move on, and so I shall.

To keep following Jacob in the future, visit his blog at Or if you want to drag him onto the dance floor, e-mail him at [email protected].