College Kids These Days: A Bunch of Cheap, Vomitous Whores

Don’t be mad at me for the post title – it comes out of a quote from a recent NY Times article: “Last Call for College Bars.”  You can’t accuse me of burying the lead:

“These kids today won’t pay even $2 for a drink,” said the former owner, Lenny Leonardo, as he cruised down a highway in Florida, where he retired in August. “They buy a bottle of Southern Comfort and show up in time to try to get laid. But they just end up throwing up in my men’s room, and I get reprimanded because it looks like I’m the one who let them get this drunk.”

Josh Brown wrote a post about this same article today, focusing on the angle of how social media / Web 2.0 is negatively impacting the bar biz.  Brown pulled the NYT article quote:

“These days text messaging, Facebook and Foursquare make it possible to see if a bar is worth the trip (translation: who is there) without leaving the dorm. Meanwhile, location-based mobile apps like Grindr, which point to the nearest available candidates looking for sex or not-quite-sex, are helping dethrone college bars from their place as meat markets.”

and concluded:

“The whole piece is worth a read…the kids are still getting drunk and laid just like we did – but they’ve hacked it to the point of maximum time efficiency and lowest possible expenditure, just like in the real economy.”

There even more AWESOME in the Times article though – beyond my opening quote – so let’s get to it.

“Students have spent so many hours pregaming (as in, getting as cost-efficiently drunk as possible, usually on hard liquor at a private party) that there is little need to waste money even on cut-price drinks, and they often don’t arrive at the bars until midnight or so, before the bars in Ithaca close at 1 a.m.

“Students don’t need bars to create a community the way they used to,” said Stephani Robson, a senior lecturer in the School of Hotel Administration at Cornell who specializes in restaurant psychology.”

Pre-gaming is nothing new, of course, but I’ll take some issue with the Restaurant Psychologist bemoaning the lack of “community” – college bars have probably never been about “community” and always been about getting drunk and getting laid – that’s nothing new.   The difference, as the quote above noted, is that nowadays the kids don’t have to actually go to the bar to see who is there.  There’s an app for that.

Let me tell you a story, young whippersnappers:  wayyyyy back in the 1990’s, when I was in college, if we wanted to see who was at the bar we had to – get this – walk to the bar and look around!   You’re asking: “Kid Dynamite, couldn’t you just use your cell phone to call your friend who was already there?”   Huh?  Our what?  We didn’t have cell phones in college back in the 90s…


“Bars near Gettysburg College in Pennsylvania are so peripheral to Lanie Parr’s social life that she doesn’t know what time they close. That is not because she doesn’t drink. “We sometimes pregame even the pregame,” she said. “

Slow down Lanie – you’re blowing my mind.  PREGAME THE PREGAME?  That’s some seriously recursive Inception-inspired drinking prep.   I think we just used to call that “Saturday.”    Anyway:

“Pregames often are single sex, with men playing beer pong or video games, and women drinking vodka sodas or a peach-flavored Champagne called André and refusing to head out until they have captured the perfect photo, which they promptly post to Instagram and Facebook.

“You could have this really amazing night, but if you didn’t get a picture, it’s like it didn’t happen,” said Ms. Parr, 22, a senior at Gettysburg, whose friends often order designer outfits from the Rent the Runway Web site because incessant documenting makes wearing anything more than twice taboo. “It’s crazy how much pictures consume our lives. Everyone knows how to pose and how to hold your arm and which way is most flattering, and everyone wants the picture taken with their phone.”

Oy vey – it’s time for another story from the WAY BACK machine.   You kids are not gonna believe this one:  when I was in college, we had these things called cameras that looked like this:

Camera, from like 100 years ago or something

They used this stuff called “FILM” which could take about 24 pictures (no do-overs!) and then you’d have to send it out for processing*.    You’d pay almost $10, and then in a week you’d get back a stack of pictures where 2/3rds of them sucked, and the other 1/3rd ended up in a shoebox somewhere that you would take out to look at once a year.   Ya know what else?  In our day, girls hadn’t mastered the “how not to look fat” pose, because they didn’t have 100,000 chances to practice it with instantly visible digital images.  We had to wait a week to see our pictures, and by that time, we forgot what was going on in them anyway…

But I guess that delayed gratification was a good thing – because we couldn’t get in trouble with The Facebook:

“But no matter where the drinking is done, the morning after is often the same. Tracy O’Hara, 21, a Cornell senior, said: “I can’t imagine what it was like before Facebook when you could just spend the morning after a big night out recovering. Now you have to spend, like, an hour untagging photos. And then you read your texts and you’re like, ‘Oh, so that’s what I did last night.’ ” (It’s job-recruiting season, which means even most students who can drink legally untag every photo, she said.) “

Let me tell you what it was like BF: that’s “Before Facebook” – it was soooo easy! We could, in fact “spend the morning after a big night out recovering,” without worrying that our bad decisions would be chronicled forever on the Interwebs.   A brutal hangover was JUST a brutal hangover!  We didn’t have the additional burden of worrying that our prospective bosses would see us chugging fishbowls full of liquor and passing out in our own filth.     Hey – tough livin’ – as the Notorious B.I.G said (unconfirmed), “Mo technology, mo problems.”  Or, if you prefer a more legit quote, I give you Voltaire: “With great power comes great responsibility.”   I’m pretty sure he was envisioning bad decisions chronicled on Instagram and Facebook when he said that.

The Times article concludes with one more cringe-inducing gem (emphasis mine):

“Mr. Brogan (who would like the record to reflect, especially for his parents, that he has a job after graduation) sipped a pint glass of sangria left by a previous patron and shot down prospects.”

You guys are familiar with the term “Larry,”  right?   A “Larry” is a cup that has a little bit of a beverage abandoned in it by the previous “owner” – like the last few ounces of beer/wine/ or in this case, sangria.   It’s so-named because the guy who comes around and drinks everyone else’s leftover was, as the legend had it, named “Larry.”     I’ve never actually known anyone to drink the Larrys, but I guess kids these days are pushing the envelope here too.   Kudos, Generation Y, or whatever we’re calling you.


NYT:  Last Call For College Bars

Josh Brown: The Death Of the College Bar Scene


* we even had a class in high school called “photography” where we’d take pictures on this “film” and then “develop” it ourselves using “chemistry.”   Do they still teach that in high school these days?  I’m genuinely curious…

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