Art Credit Heather Levinsky
An excerpt from The Hofstra Issue
I had nothing to be nervous about. As a veteran student journalist, I'd long understood the value of confidence and composure. For an assignment of this magnitude, though, I'd need as much of both as I could muster. Despite all I knew about proper journalism, I had long been relegated to the most benign and obvious assignments. “SGA to Vote: 'Is Smoking Weed a Sin?'” was by far my biggest story last semester, notable still among my journalistic peers for my concise yet biting closing sentiments, “Christ does anybody even read this does anybody even read this shit you fucking swine yo ufucking shitbeastsss.” I'll admit it was a brash decision, and perhaps at a different school it would have meant a swift kiss of death for my young career; instead, they made me editor-in-chief, allowing me to assign myself the best stories and fuck anybody I want.
It's true we had an idea that something like this was due to happen soon enough; we'd received vague-if-teasing e-mails notifying us of a “New Era,” a “Master Plan,” and, seemingly unrelated , a string of off-campus assaults attributed to somebody named H O T P O P E Y E S B I S C U I T S. Hell, Hofstra had been attempting publicity stunts fairly regularly long before any of us thought we'd end up here; sure, we all remember the TLC Reunion fiasco of Fall Fest '14 (only two of them bothered to show up), but what about the shocking Spring Fest '09 that saw SuperChef Bobby Flay eat his own throw up? What about the night shuttle that doubled as a Planned Parenthood clinic? (Thanks Steve) They had all failed to put us on the map in any significant way, and I suppose that by now it was pretty obvious we needed something big if we wanted the name-recognition of a Penn State or Virginia Tech. Their plan: Bring award-winning father and food eater Guy Fieri to campus to put some of our top-flight eateries on an episode of his seminal investigative series Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives. My plan: turn this into the biggest story Hofstra had ever seen.
We were scheduled to meet upon his arrival to campus, if only for a chance to ask preliminary questions before the crush of fanboys came flocking, tips a-frosted. I gripped the inside of my pockets like the crossbars of a roaring coaster, a buoyant anxiety growing inside me as if every step towards our meeting point furthered my crawl over the apex of Flavor Town Mountain. Something inside me knew already that soon my life would never be the same. I crossed the street towards the Student Center a nervous wreck of potential questions, thinking still of how I would draw the greater truth from such a complex journalistic muse. Then it hit me. A car; a sickly-cum colored Honda knocked my bitch ass down like nothin', drawing blood from a scrape on my knee and a some pee from my penis. (Perhaps also some brain trauma because, well, letters and numbers scream at me pretty relentlessly. But that's besides the point).
My ears were still ringing when the unholy smell of Pulled Pork Vape engulfed me. A hand reached towards me through the hell cloud, the spray-tanned flesh clump bearing a faded reminder of once-flaming knuckle tats inscribed: “FOOD”. It was Him.
“Shit brother, I can't afford another case. Please man, you don't need to go to a hospital do you? Do you know who I am? I'm fucking famous! I have money! Please, take my money. I have $38 dollars right here. I have some black and milds in my car. I can probably get like three more black and milds from my cameraman. Oh god I can't believe this fucking happened again.”
“Mr. Fieri,” I interrupted, “I can't take your money or your delicious treats, I'm the one covering your visit. I'm supposed to be meeting you for an interview right now. Please stop blowing that Pulled Pork Vapor on my wounds. I am begging you to stop doing that to me.”
“Oh shit, the student-journalist. Yeah, uh, my publicist said that would be a really bad idea for me right now. I mean, besides the fact that I just hit you with my car, I've also got a lot of shit working its way through the legal system currently that may ban me from campuses altogether.”
“Oh wow, well I—”
“And I mean, I can't even do a full episode here. They've got me doing an online-exclusive thing right now, which we'll probably scrap altogether. They're making me drive my car from home, I don't even get anything cool! I can't even believe somebody let me put myself in this situation. I killed like three cats too, I just ran them right the fuck over. I shouldn't be telling you this. What am I doing? Do you have any Xanax? Any shit at all? Please bro.”
“Look Mr. Fieri, this is my career we're talking about. This event—you—this is a big deal for this school and for me. This is going to help me make a name for myself. Don't you remember that struggle for recognition, for validation in doing what you love? I could be the next Guy Fieri, and you could help pass the torch! Don't you see that?”
He paused and backed away suddenly, exhaling some additional smokehouse vapor from his ears and from behind his cool sunglasses.
“Kid, I'm sorry, but my career still has twenty-plus years. This is only the beginning for me. Hell, you probably think I'm what, 35? 38? Not even close. But that's just the power of money my friend. Now stay away from me.”
With that, he lowered his powerful frame into what smelled like an outhouse made of kielbasa, and drove away as dangerously fast as he had come. I was stung, devastated the way so many were when Guy Fieri's S'mores Indoors Dessert Pizzas turned out to be full of hot peppers and very little else. I'd been shunned by the one man who could surely change my life, pushed away by the master of my craft. He was right though; this business isn't built on friendship. If he wouldn't agree to help my story, well, maybe I didn't need his permission.
Disallowed from my press privileges, I took a series of insignificant notes on Guy's reactions from a distance. Impassioned howls of “Dang brother!” and “Wowza” filled the Sbarro kitchen for some time before he finally wrung out a slice of pepperoni pizza like an old dish rag, streamlining its orange grease directly into his face holes. He wiped his bristled goatee and looked in for the money shot: “That's the kind of nectar we love, here on Triple D.”
My time was coming, and I knew it; I'd already watched Guy eat every kind of Sbarro slice, every type of sushi, a steak sandwich, and three different kinds of preservative plastic wrap. They were going to have all the necessary footage soon, and my story was not yet complete. I moved through the crowd with swift determination—my mind tuned to chaos, my heart to destiny. Our eyes met across the Sbarro counter and he stepped forward only to shake his head in silence .
“Hey Guy,” I shouted, confident that I was about to say something really cool. “Make this gun bullets a snack for you!” I was wrong. But it didn't matter; I had just shot doting husband and affable neighbor Guy Fieri four times in the chest with a handgun I was able to legally purchase. I don't know if I killed him, I don't even know what the full extent of my charges are yet. I only know what the last words he said to me were, spat between coughs of blood and the regurgitation of some garlic bread. “I only have...this to say...the liberals were right. We still need stricter gun control. This all could have been prevented.”
So as you can see, President Obama, I'm writing this letter to you as a sort of olive branch. I've scratched your back, and your front, and your sides, and your grey little head. I fed the public the perfect appetizer of heartbreak with an entree of fear. I turned a national icon into a national tragedy, a bleeding heart mouth piece narrating the story of a nation in distress. I'm now isolated in a maximum security prison, mostly because I keep spitting on my fingers and smelling them. Nobody wants to be my friend. So now it's time for you to help me. Pardon me of these charges, let me go back to the school I put on the map and do what I deserve to do. Help me tell the stories that need to be told. And please, Mr. President, bring back the Hofstra football team. The Master Plan must continue. My work is not done.