Category Archives: Ephemera

Real humorists say “propaganda”

But they were really just ads. Horribly designed and written ads (done by a niave 22-year-old) I might add. But as the saying goes (and if its not a saying, then I just coined it): “Advertising is 80% being seen.”

The problem was we needed more writers and we needed to get noticed. Well, mostly we needed to get noticed. A monthly four-page pamphlet of a paltry 1,000-copy run that was distributed at (somewhere around) 5 locations on campus was treated with the same interest as a coupon booklet. We needed wider exposure. Hence, the most ubiquitous and overlooked form of on-campus advertising: the flyer.

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By Hook or By Crook or By Law of Bylaws

the Harpoon bylaws
the Harpoon bylaws

So there were these rules, right? I mean they had to be there or the Harpoon would never get any money. So we had to write some. It was actually pretty fun.

And they were popular, too. At least in certain circles. For instance, in the Student Life Office, the leagal counsel seemed to really enjoy them. After the War Issue, his advice was to stop publishing stupid things, and start publishing more things like the bylaws. It seems there was one he really liked. I don’t think it was the one about what to do with them when they can’t take a joke. That one was full of problematic advice.

Constituting the Harpoon

Constituting the Harpoon
Constituting the Harpoon

So, when a bunch of students at the U want to get together and do something, I mean really do something.  Together.  In a bunch, like.  And not be arrested for being a mob or something, I mean.  When they want to do that, become a bunch, not become a mob, they become a Registered Student Organization.  This gives them access to all sorts of resources of the U.

Stationary.  Office Space.  Student Life Fee Funding.

All these things and more, o! so much more.

And all you have to do is fill in the paperwork.  And ask.  And ask.  And ask.

Even a cusrory reading the constitution of the Harpoon will make the reader with experience running organizations shudder.  Were a serious attempt made to actually operate an organization with this document, things would fall apart pretty quickly.  Certainly within one year.  Possibly much, much sooner if someone with an Agenda got involved.  Or even just someone with a Trickster mentality.  As difficult as that is to imagine.

Funding Revocation

Funding Revoked
Funding Revoked

The kerfuffle rolled along with only constant prodding by the Harpoon staff, associates, and acquaintances–and such prodding as was done by agents of the Other Side.  Unexpected allies emerged; of whom not the least was one of the ‘no’ voters, a person initially strongly opposed to the Harpoon, but who had the integrity to visit with the founders for a bit, and came to understand what was going on.  Looking back, this is one of the best parts of that phase of things.

Although the original funders withdrew their stake, all was not lost.  Nearly $35.00 was raised by an impassioned campaign across campus, supplemented by an unforeseen donation from an out-of-town lawyer and a grant from the Kellogg Foundation.  Publication continued apace.  And other plans were set in motion.

Volume 1 Number 6

the Harpoon Volume 1, Number 6
Volume 1, Number 6

This was possibly the most successful number of the first year of publication.  Fueled by spite, cold sodas, and an angry mob, the organization set out to Show Them.  Topics were farmed out at a bull session held in the back room of a bar in the back of a bowling alley.

Pieces were written up, layout was accomplished, and a friend of the editor volunteered a midnight print run at a place better known for funeral programs.  One dealer discount, and several hours with teaspoons and staplers later, the issue hit the streets.  The actual content may not be much to write home about, but all involved look back fondly on the production and focus of the theme.  Even if it’s not all that apparent now.

Post-war recession

Post-war Recession
Post-war Recession

This was not the first run-in the Harpoon had with other students.  Nor was it the most surprising, in retrospect.  It was, however, not the most intense, either.  What it was, though, was the one which shocked the organization into form.

What had previously been an organization only on paper, notionally led by a couple of loons with beards became, overnight (as it seems, in the temporal compression of memory) a Movement.  Volunteer writers who hung around the publisher’s apartment eating his food became Staffers who Did Things.  The co-founders started stalking around campus with The Walk, going from office to office, Cleaning Up.

Not that it did much good, as least with respect to the question at hand.

Volume 1 Number 2

Volume 1, Issue 2
Volume 1, Number 2

After being taken public, the Harpoon attracted wise assistance from people the founders tended not to listen to very much.  A good way to get listened to was to be obnoxious and loud, take charge-y, and good at something.

This number is a mock-up of a more refined style, created to impress upon a board of funders the notion that it would be a good idea to stake the endeavor.  Its content is possibly the most even of all the numbers, and it has the good sense to be 25% less filling than the standard issue.  It’s quite rare, so feel good about seeing it.