Friday, January 26, 2007

A Guide To The Worst College Towns

Because you can’t have the best if you don’t have the worst, here’s a (not so) brief rundown of the best of the worst college towns you’ll ever have the misfortune of finding yourself in. In every sense. (Think about it.) So hop in; let's go for a ride.

Oshkosh (Wisconsin)

Home to The University of Wisconsin at Oshkosh, or UW-O, or as some who don’t actually attend the school call it, “UW-Zero”, Oshkosh proper boasts 5 hours of daylight from mid-October to late April (when it’s not snowing, of course), the abundant alcoholism of the “townies”, lake flies the size of your thumb all summer long, and a campus that, before 8 jello shots, looks more like a women’s prison.

The upside? It’s not…

Birmingham (Alabama)

That’s right, folks. switters’ very own adopted home town makes the cut. Host to The University of Alabama at Birmingham and Birmingham Southern, home of The Fighting Church Burners, this "Magic City" (or, if you prefer, "Maggot Shitty") offers a first hand look at just why segregation actually does work, but only when you, you know, enforce it.

Detroit (Michigan

With a brand new city motto, “Detroit, Where Murder Goes to Die”, this Camel Lot on the Lake is poised for its breakout role as a city of learning so that it can kill you better. Why else do you think there are so many Lebanese immigrants here? Could it be because it looks just a tad too much like Beirut circa 1967?

Have you ever been there? What a hell hole! Home to, among other things, Wayne State University, not to mention a per capita crime rate that would make Roger “Verbal” Kint wet himself, Detroit is constantly reinventing itself so that you won’t recognize it when it comes to shoot you and your entire family in your home in the middle of the night while you sleep.

And the university has responded in kind, with The Graduate School of Homicidal Murder, The Rape and Assault Exchange Program, not to mention the now famous Summer Immersion Program For Would-Be Serial Killers. Who ever said education has to be legal anyway?

Springfield (Ohio)

Once a thriving publishing hub, Springfield now seems to be a city that can’t decide if it wants to manufacture hillbillies, rednecks, or just good old-fashioned white trash in general. Here you’ll find Wittenberg University, a fairly exclusive liberal arts college that, believe it or not, still has some semblance of a core curriculum and a consistency of architecture. Sort of. Do big column thingies count?

Rochester (New York)

Often referred to as “The Birmingham of the North”, this untidy dump’s claim to fame is the vaunted Eastman School of Music, birthplace of The Vocal Major Attitude Adjustment Clinic (don’t ask). You’d think that the home of Eastman Kodak would be, well, slightly more photogenic. Is that irony? Or just bad timing?

Atlanta (Georgia)

With all the crime of an Oakland but without all the ambience, Georgia Tech’s home town, oft referred to as “The Detroit of the South”, boasts traffic that would make a Los Angelean actually carpool. Back in the late 1960s/early 70s, when Birmingham and Atlanta were vying for the title of Most Fucked Up Out-Of-Control City Infrastructure Anywhere, The City of the Kindness of Strangers stepped up to the plate and built the most incongruous, ill-conceived airport on the planet and sealed the deal. Then all those black kids started disappearing around 1980 and The City of Bruthaly Love was officially christened.

And if that's not enough, consider this: It will take you approximately 54 minutes to get anywhere if you're in your car, even if it's next door. Consistency, folks. That's what sells a town. Pay attention, Chamber of Commerce!

Ames (Iowa [pronounced “Eye-uh-way” by some residents])

Looking for something to do in Ames? Well you might want to cancel any early dinner plans because 1.) looking for something to do in Ames, Iowa is an all day affair, and 2.) there’s not really any place to eat dinner.

Iowa State University, home to The Fighting Really Bad Drivers, is nestled in the bucolic hills of this hungry city, famous for its nutrient-rich black soil, immigrant field labor, and its weekly Farmers’ Market, where farmers try to sell each other Mexicans because they don’t have any money or food because of giant agro-business conglomerates that price the family farmer right into homelessness. Ironic that these brave, hearty souls who once fed the world today can’t even feed their own families. Oh quit your whining, gentlemen farmer, and grow something we really need, like tobacco. Pussies!

Oh, and the winters are long and they really blow.

Vermillion (South Dakota)

'nough said. Although The University of South Dakota, home of The Fighting "Yes-There-Is-To-A-University-Up-Here" Sayers, does happen to be the alma mater of our favorite official representative of The Greatest Generation, Tom Brokaw. And yes, he was in fact a member of Alpha Tau Omega fraternity. Small world.

Lawrence (Kansas)

Almost a complete lack of perspective? Basically.
Judgmentalism as far as the eye can see? Pretty much.
Narrow minded approaches to social issues and current events? You tell me.
A Jesus Camp? I wouldn't be surprised in the least.

Welcome to Lawrence, Kansas, where you'll find more churches than bars, more tornados than the entire Southeast region, and a collective belief system that makes the Puritans look like Unitarians. And with a person-to-gun ratio of 3 to 7, you'll find plenty of unintelligent design, and even less evolution. Birthplace of The Darwin Awards, there's a pretty good chance you'll come across something like, say, the world's biggest poorly designed slingshot.

Relax, she's fine. Way to go, sis!

Whew! Grab your passports, folks, and let's take a little gander at what sort of educational tomfoolery we'll find across the big, huge, giant lake.

Paris (France)

Whoa. We're not in Kansas anymore, to be sure. But by the looks of things, we might as well be. Yikes!

The problem with Paris is all the Parisians. You're talking about a group of people that works an average of 28.3 weeks a year, and still can't seem to manage to find the time to bathe. Pepe la Peu, alright. Pepe La Pee Yuu. For the love of God would somebody please light a match or something.

And I hope you're not from Texas. Because if the French were any more snotty to American visitors, they'd be nothing but big giant huge mucus-filled noses. With legs. And arms. Or maybe just hands and feet. (We're still trying to iron out the irony of that metaphor.) The point is, Paris just doesn't provide a student with the atmosphere and culture that a town needs in order to breed academic curiosity.

London (England)

Snore! Come on. One of the many qualities a town needs in order to foster thoughtfulness and academic rigor in any student is some history. The only thing we found educational about London was the invention of a machine that extracts all flavor out of food, and some rotted textbook called The History of Boiling Meat. I'll pass, literally.

Prague (Czechoslovakia)

Also known as "The Ames Iowa of Europe". So, yeah, you might want to bring a magazine or something.

Amsterdam (The Netherlands [we think])

Let me ask you this: How in the hell are you supposed to get any studying done if you're high all the time? Oops! Forgot about NYU.


Let me ask you this: Why exactly would I want to study in a region with a 1,000 year history of anti-Semitic genocidal war mongering Aryans trying to improve the human race through selective breeding and not-so-natural selection [nudge nudge]? That's what I thought. Oh no, I'll get my Holocaust™-denying course credit from The Hutton Gibson Pseudo-Catholic Jew Hating Reeducation Center and Day Spa, thank you very much (2-for-1 seaweed wrap every third Tuesday of the month – fuck you, there's an ecumenical precedent [look it up, dumbass!]).

Okay, this place is really lame. Let's pop back over the pond and see where else we need to visit so we know never to go there again. Hmm…

Meridian (Mississippi)

Ever wonder what a town would look like if the city planners had been hammered blind on moonshine and based its design on a strip mall? Well look no further. Home to Mississippi State University's Fighting Separaters But Equalizers, this "Ingrown Toenail On The Foot Of America" says "Southern hospitality" with a capital K, 3 capital K's, in fact, proving once again that it really does take a village to raise an idiot.

Denton (Texas)

Because no list of towns listed for whatever reason would be complete without a nominee from Texas, "The State That Shouldn't Have Been But Is Anyway Oh Fuck", Denton prides itself on being the home team to the North Texas College of Music, famous for its cookie-cutter approach to squirting out indistinct jazzbots whose only claim to fame will ultimately be having attended North Texas. You'll recognize them by all those modal riffs during their solos. Not to worry, graduates. People will always be getting married; thus, people will always need someone to bang out "Satin Doll" and "The Girl From Ipanema" at the reception. (15 minute smoke break max.)

Baltimore (Maryland)

Uhh… Homocide: Life On The Street, The Wire, Liberty Heights? I'd rather take my chances in downtown Baghdad armed with nothing but a quarter-filled sock.

Gosh, surely that should be more than enough for now. I hope you've enjoyed our little trip down Fraternity Row right into Collegeville, population: Keg stand! But remember: No matter where you go, you have to take your self with you. Good luck with that. Because I know, for a lot of you, that's a pretty unattractive proposal, if you know what I mean.

(With thanks to bright_virago)


Thy Goddess said...


Mississippi State is located in Starkville, MS...aptly named and funnier.

ThyGoddess picked this campus to attend.

Just because she could.

No shit.

Schadenfreude said...

Dude, you have no idea...

It could be worse...much, much worse.

Keifus said...

I'll say this about Rochester, NY: it's better than Troy.

(Oh and good post, etc.)


alexa-blue said...

An interesting trivia tid-bit: if you measure [(# of selective liberal arts colleges)*(# of waffle houses)/capita], Ohio comes in #1 at a whopping .0338; the next closest is Florida with a paltry .00017 and then Pennsylvania at .00015. With that in mind, I wonder how you could find a college town in the state that doesn't deserve to be on that list?

TenaciousK said...

Oh man, you so missed the target with this one...

They wouldn't display this without a fucking drape!

Oh, and bongs are way out (and alcohol, tobacco, coffee, tea, pornography, "soul kissing", and basically all the other things that make life worth living - except for seducing hot innocent virgins (check the diary highlighted diary entry).

There is always the satisfaction of corrupting the innocent.

a-b: Your calculation doesn't account for regional variation in bad taste. Perhaps you could try a composite variable of waffle houses and ice-cream shops.

Or, you could make a reverse calculation using a composite of the number of coffee shops, pubs and head shops. Either way...

TenaciousK said...

Oh, almost forgot - no beer sold on Sunday in the county, and seeing as it's 3.2% anyway, not sure you'd even care that much.

I'm pretty sure you can still get Nyquil on Sunday, but they may be working on that.

Archaeopteryx said...

The first time I visited Starkville, I remember passing a sign that said "Miss State Police," and thinking, wow, that'd be the worst beauty contest ever.

Of course, I was high.

TK, where do you find that stuff?

TenaciousK said...

Hi Arch! You ever going to join up over here?

Confession: I attended BYU for one long, lonely semester. Actually, I stayed active in the Symphony for the second semester as well, though I was unregistered. It was the conductor's retirement year, he was doing "The Planets" and you need strong French Horns (which I was, long ago). He (gratefully, I think) looked the other way at my out-of-standards hair and unregistered status.

I grew up in Provo, and have some family connections at BYU. The deal was - try it for a year. If you hate it, you can go elsewhere. One semester of classes was all I could stomach.

However, they have the most beautiful sidewalks down there, and people rarely walk on the grass. There are beautiful, wholesome, friendly with promising smiles, and though the official male-to-female student ratio has stabilized at 48/52%, the reality is that there is an imbalance of unattached women (the proportion of single students is far more lopsided). So I can understand why someone would want to go there.

If, that is, you don't mind giving up every earthly pleasure (save ice cream). I minded; I felt a little too much like a diabetic working at Krispy Kreme.

Well, and I was a total fraud, as far as the religious aspect of it went. They would've kicked me out eventually anyway.

Is that what you were referring to?

twiffer said...

keif: hey, at least troy has a good brew pub.

storrs CT: college town, or cow town?

Keifus said...

One of the joys of Troy was finding the tolerable places to go. And yeah, it speaks well of that ugly town that they're hidden about here and there.

TK's experience at BYU sounds frightening.


Keifus said...

Also, them are smart cows.

Storrs and the surrounding towns are lovely though. And there's a brewpub in Willimantic, which if not good, is, well, a brewpub. (And the Bidwell tavern always had decent stuff on tap.)

(And I should have said "Troy's joys." Oh well.)


twiffer said...

i remember lounging on the side of horsebarn hill, on shrooms, looking at the clipped, hollow stalks on the hillside and, amazing, these almost look like straws...wonder what they are...

took a few minutes to realize it was, well, straw. [grin].

there were some nice little trails along the fenton river up there too. what was it...the nipmunk trail. good hike

MsZilla said...


Fairbanks, Alaska came off the list. It used to be listed on some famous "worst" list or other.

And as an alumnus, I can assure you unless you don't mind skating to class, everyone around you drinking enough to float a mule, doing a LOT of physics, or too much canoodling, this place is a bad idea.

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