On campus

Qarrtsiluni is now accepting submissions for a new theme, education. Meanwhile, however, those short shorts of summer will keep appearing through the end of August.

tire tracks 1

It’s the last two weeks before the students return with their immaculate book bags and their forty thousand sets of genitals. Workers from the Office of Physical Plant are busy trimming and chipping, watering, applying poison and fertilizer. The chains that line the walks must be re-hung from fancy new black metal hitching posts. Fresh-looking bark mulch must be trucked in to cover up the scandal of decay. Earthworms are coming out of the ground, and cicadas are tumbling from the treetops in mid-buzz. Their small bodies stiffen with every inch of sidewalk they attempt to traverse.

annual cicada on sidewalk crack
Click on photos for larger versions

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Dave Bonta (bio) crowd-sources his problems by following his gut, which he shares with 100 trillion of his closest microbial friends — a close-knit, symbiotic community comprising several thousand species of bacteria, fungi, and protozoa. In a similarly collaborative fashion, all of Dave’s writing is available for reuse and creative remix under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License. For attribution in printed material, his name (Dave Bonta) will suffice, but for web use, please link back to the original. Contact him for permission to waive the “share alike” provision (e.g. for use in a conventionally copyrighted work).


  1. It is astonishing, how much effort this culture invests in cosmetics, on every level, and — given that investment — how repulsive the resulting landscapes, buildings, arts, and people are.

    Forty thousand sets of genitals arriving! That does give one pause. So long as they’re not wearing makeup, though, they’re welcome, so far as I’m concerned :-)


  2. tee hee…you are a wit! with a great eye


  3. My response to this mystifies me. Like Dale and Dave, I don’t like cosmetic fixes. Not one bit.

    On the other hand, I have a very strong longing for visual order, and as a result, a well-kept college campus is one of my favorite things. The lawns, the libraries, the sense that the non-commercial enterprise here is a worthy one. There really is so much decay, in everything, that covering up some of it doesn’t always scandalize me. It’s a needed relief.

    I think this strong longing has to do with the relative absence of such spaces where, uh, I come from. Lagos is so disorderly that order refreshes me.

    I do react badly to lawns when they are suburban and obsessively manicured by insecure rich people and, depending on my mood, certain college campuses can give me historical flashbacks about the sorrow that went into enriching them.


  4. Thanks to each of you for commenting.

    Teju – Fair enough. If you ever come visit, I’ll have to show you around Penn State. The University Park campus is certainly impressive, especially for the huge old elms that they labor so hard to save from Dutch Elm Disease. But whatever they’re spraying on the lawns these days, the worms sure don’t like it!

    It’s fine to prefer open, ordered landscapes — to each his/her own — as long as you understand that parks and wildlands in Eastern North America shouldn’t look that way, and if they do, it’s a sign of severe ecosystem imbalance (a hugely over-abundant deer population, for example).


  5. I was about to comment in admiration of the photo, when I read down and came upon “immaculate book bags and their forty thousand sets of genitals”, which trumped the tire marks, great as they are.


  6. I paid the briefest of visits to school the other day to collect my students’ exam results & everywhere the hoes & paintbrushes were active as the campus is reclaimed for the new academic year.

    School bags will soon be in abundance, but, it being a highly respectable girls’ school, I’d best pass on things anatomical…


  7. Lots of hoes at the girls’ school?

    What’s the world coming to?


  8. Hi, what a great blog you have here.


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