Blue Notes, October 2016
A little known Columbia factoid is that the the tunnel complex underneath Dodge is named “The Grove.” According to urban legend, the tunnels were originally a park located at the northwest corner of Columbia that is now occupied by the Northwest Corner building and the surrounding structures. Hidden within this ironically named subterranean sprawl are two dumpster sized cardboard bins ominously referred to as “The Computer Graveyard.” The Computer Graveyard, much like name of its decidedly un-grovelike home, is a misnomer.
Sitting next to a pile of empty boxes, The Computer Graveyard lacks all the the markers of a proper burial site. No headstone or inscription marks the final resting place of all these victims of obsolescence. Instead, there is simply a piece of paper supported by three garish strips of duct tape that awkwardly reads “USED ELECTRONICS FOR RECYCLING STAGING AREA.” On opposite sides of this paper are two more piec- es of paper, similarly supported, that both read “ELECTRONICS PLACED IN THIS AREA ARE SHIPPED FOR SCRAP METAL RECYCLING,” then a line break and “IF ELECTRONICS ARE 6 USEABLE OR REFURBISHABLE CONTACT ENVIRONMENTAL STEWARDSHIP 4-7046”.
As the signs suggest, the graveyard contains much more than computers. Inside of the bins, there is a wide range of electronic waste ranging from decrepit projectors to power outlets to even some decidedly non-electronic items such as the stack of allen wrenches that was piled in one of the boxes.
To say that the Computer Graveyard failed to live up to expectations would not be entirely true. It would be more accurate (and more enjoyably pretentious) to say that it subverted expectations. It promised haunted motherboards and decomposing hard drives and delivered a much more diverse, if less atmospheric, collection of abandoned goods. So go check it out. Maybe pick up a free allen wrench or twenty.
— Justin Cheng
As Deantini gave a rousing speech at Convocation about the importance of maintaining a “beginner’s mind,” I was distracted by the shape of the fountains flanking Low Library. Underneath the large tent and peeking above the heads of quietly sniffling parents, I couldn’t discern their entire shape. From what I could see, they looked like dicks. The crusty flesh colored stone, bulbous heads, and liquid spurting from the tips skew Low’s fountains toward lewd instead of majestic. I missed the content of the subsequent speeches because I couldn’t reconcile Columbia’s postcard image of intellectual superiority with what appeared to be two penises.
Despite their strange shape, the Low Fountains actually have fairly unremarkable origins. Much of Columbia’s Morningside Heightscampus is part of Charles McKim’s “Master Plan.” Grand and innovative, his campus design was met with general approval and applause; however, critics focused on two particular aspects of his proposal: the dome of Low Library and the South Court (now known as Low Plaza). After vigorously defending his blueprint, McKim was advised to send his design of the South Court to Frederick Law Olmsted, the legendary landscape architect who conceived Central Park, for a second opinion. Olmsted generally approved of the design, having only one small suggestion: the addition of simple Renaissance-style fountains. McKim agreed and immediately added round basins to his plan, inspired by the fountains in St. Peter’s Square in the Vatican. Although the basins were part of the original design of South Court, the fountains themselves were not installed until 1907 as a gift from Marcellus Hartley Dodge (another dead white man whose name you will never escape).
So, the fountains may have been designed to reflect the majesty of Rome, but what they lend is a moment of levity to reflect Columbia. In contrast to Low’s grandeur, these fountains look like the drunken scrawls I find on the whiteboard outside my suite door every Saturday morning. I can imagine Olmsted as a young architecture student grabbing his fellow architects’ designs in class and absentmindedly scrawling dicks in the corner. Maybe the fountains are bones thrown to us lowly freshmen: a touch of the immaturity we were supposed to leave in high school. A small giggle allowed before you pass.
— Jasmine Park
TV is dead at Columbia. In fact, it has been dead since the spring of 2016, when the Activities Board of Columbia officially decertified the Columbia Television Network by a unanimous vote. CTV, founded in 1974, was a student-run TV station that ran on Channel 37 in the closed-circuit cable TV service provided by CUIT in Columbia undergraduate dorms.
Prior to its decertification, the network had an under-the-radar existence, operating as a two-person club for a semester, and as a one-man show before that. The URL for the CTV website now returns an error message, but it appears that the last time the station produced online content was in 2014, when former Vice President of Programming Hye-Jin Yun, BC ’15, released a recurring segment called “Voices of Morningside.” In the fall of 2015, a new Facebook page tried to gather students, but there is no evidence anything was produced that year.
Some might say a student-run TV channel in the middle of New York was doomed to fail, but there were better times for CTV. In 2012, Spectator report- ed that the network would release “three standout student-written shows” in the spring. In 2006, CTV received national attention when their footage of the Minuteman stage-rush was run by several major media outlets. Yet even in its glory days, the network ran the menu screen of “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” for at least a day according to an anonymous tip to Bwog back in 2011.
Former Eye staff writer Joe Daly, CC ’12, speculated in 2009 that a combination of lack of accessibility and low production values, along with the vast opportunities to intern professionally in television in New York City contributed to apathy towards the network. As of today, the old television studio in the fifth floor of Lerner is used by CURecords for recording sessions. Hope springs eternal with various film clubs on campus, but with the ever-present space problem on Columbia’s campus and a growing trend towards online streaming, it seems unlikely that CTV will have a comeback.