31 March 2006

Alma Mater Sweet Home?

I read a small blurb in this weekend's USA Today about Virginia Tech offering house plans designed to resemble the big stone buildings on their campus. [a more complete article can be read here]

They've licensed their name and enlisted some area architects to design home plans in VT's "Collegiate Gothic" style. No doubt, a new wrinkle in the age-old question, "how can we squeeze more money out of the turnips called our alumni?"

As Seraphim and I were enjoying a nice Friday night dinner at Golden Corral (for being crowded, the food was awfully lukewarm tonight - what I wouldn't give to trade our GC for the one in Albany ... that one never fails to satisfy, but anyway.....), and with a belly full of under-the-hot-lights-since-3:30 fried chicken, I got to thinking:

What if other universities offered house plans based on their own building designs? Or go beyond exterior plans -- look at the whole picture; yard layouts, landscaping, that sort of thing ... heck, whatever kind of expression just oozes "I DON'T WANNA GROW UP, I WANNA BE AN ALUMNI-R-ME KID."

The two of us brainstormed, and came up with a few ideas for some other universities:

UNIVERSITY OF GEORGIA -- or, as it's affectionately known 'round these parts, UGA: Piece of cake. The mascot of UGA is the almighty bulldog. The bulldog is named - you guessed it - Uga. There are actually purebred bulldogs who have a family tradition of being the mascot. I think they're down to Uga VI, if I'm not mistaken (Seraphim, being the native Jawja girl of this household, may be able to clarify here). So, what kind of house? Easy. A doghouse. Flowerbed borders can be little concrete bones. As a reliable "security system", make a fence out of old Samsonites and American Tourister .... that'll keep the Evil Florida Gators at bay. The included-at-no-extra-charge bulldog yard ornament/hitching post also comes with its own built-in bug zapper. Yellowjackets are no match.

And for an extra $59.95 a month (payable to the UGA Foundation, heh heh), you can spring for your very own scale model of the Denny Chimes (see below). That way, anyone decked out in Auburn orange-and-blue won't go NEAR your side of the block!

UNIVERSITY OF ALABAMA -- Show your pride in being part of Tide Nation with your custom-designed Crimson Court layout. It comes in a nice, attractive red and white brick design, with a working model of the Denny Chimes out front. And check out the hat-shaped roof ..... a checkered design that offers plenty of attic space for a bonus room, just perfect to display your U of A memorabilia, yellowed poster of the 1982 Football Schedule, and of course that bust of Bear Bryant's head. You can live in denial as you reminisce about the good old days, and forget the ugly truth: that The Bear is DEAD, and will never coach another game. Included is your own private hotline to Paul Finebaum's radio show.

For Alabama fans on a budget, there's also the Tide Trailer. Based on a mobile hom--er, I mean traile--er, I mean, manufactured home in the beautiful garden town of Mulga, Alabama.

AUBURN -- We'll call it, "The Loveliest Bungalow On The Plains." Drawing from Auburn's heritage as the quintessential "cow college", the house will look like a orange-and-blue colored barn. For an extra $500, our expert sign painter can even give your new Auburn home further attention with the three most famous rooftop words in the South: "SEE ROCK CITY"

Your mortgage holder will change as often as the football coach, so get ready to send your check to a new address each month. Best of all, the Auburn University board will personally micromanage every aspect of your household, right down to the choice of lumber used on your patio deck. So if I were you, I'd go with the "Yellawood."

TROY NO-LONGER-STATE UNIVERSITY -- This one is easy. Having spent more than a decade with this college's name in the upper left hand corner of my paycheck, I can picture the perfect Red Wave Ranch style Troy Townhome. Trojan diploma holders, one and all, will swoon over their new dream home featuring a perfectly manicured lawn, with precision trimmed hedges and bushes, a stunning red brick facade with beautiful windows looking out toward your very own backyard sewage lagoon. The doorbell -- or, as we like to call it, "Jed Clampett's spooks-playin'-music-in-the-walls" -- will have chimes playing the Trojan Fight Song.

With the "gold level" T(NLS)U Alumni Association membership, you'll have complimentary use of the Chancellor's housekeeping staff to keep your Tropolitan Terraces lookin' their Bibb Graves Best.

TUSKEGEE UNIVERSITY -- If you're a fan of Lionel Richie, then sign right up; these homes are goin' like hotcakes! They're low country style 3BR/2BA bungalows with a soundstage courtyard out back, complete with wax figurines of The Commodores (furnished by Bubba Tusseaud's Wax Works & Chevron Service of Hatchechubbee, Ala.) ... including a continuous-loop tape of all their great '70s soul classics, like "Just to Be Close To You", "Machine Gun", "Easy", among others.

ARKANSAS STATE UNIVERSITY -- I couldn't think of university-themed residences without touching on the three words proudly etched on my diploma. Today, ASU has a couple of distinctive buildings. However, back when I was there, I have to say -- for all the wonderful times I had with Bolivar Shagnasty and a cast of dozens -- that the ASU of the 1980s didn't really look that picturesque. Dare I say, it looked a bit ... dull! Most of the campus is built with bland-looking light yellowish-tan brick exteriors, and most that have been put up since 1950 (80% of the campus) have rather milquetoast facades. "Boxy" comes to mind.

After a recent visit to ASU, following a near decade-long absence from the fair city of Jone'burr, Arkansas, I was shocked at how my beloved Indian Powers That Be messed with my layout. Major portions of ASU's two big roadways -- Aggie and Caraway -- have been torn up and replaced with pedestrian malls. It plum' caused me to come discombobulated, that's what it did.

And they destroyed the practice track out behind the College of Communications, the building where I spent the most academic (and employment) time. Memories of taking midnight walks with friends and sitting on the track, gazing at the stars, and drinking in the peace and tranquility and nearby speeding freight trains of north Jonesboro. Memories that are now buried beneath a @#$%ing student parking lot.

So.......the Indian Joe Chickasaw Special house plan, for we alumni of ASU, will be a nice, unassuming, boxy-looking edifice built of bland light yellowish-tan brick. In a complete nose-thumbing to political correctness and as a proud paean to the only TRUE mascot of A-State, a flashing neon outline of JUMPING JOE will greet all visitors.

Once inside, you'll be captivated by the creature comforts of your new Craighead Commorancy. Plenty of room in your built-in SubZero fridge for ... soft drinks. Yeah. Soft drinks. (officially, the house is supposed to be dry ... but Joe won't mind if you slip down to Trumann to stock the crisper with a stronger tonic). Comfy couches, sectionals with built-in TV trays, and a plasma screen telly to kick back and watch the Tribe kick the living chit out of Troy State.

Unfortunately, you'll have to get used to a small design flaw: every couple of years, the hallways in your home will turn into inaccessible "malls." You'll have to get to the bathroom via the garage utility room.

Oh well. At least you've got a nice, respectable dwelling. No Superfund budget needed here.

UNIVERSITY OF TENNESSEE -- Any house, with orange paint poured all over it like it were the Earth in the Sherwin-Williams logo. Love it, or else we'll kick your ass.

FLORIDA STATE UNIVERSITY -- What can I say here Indian-wise that I didn't already cover with Arkansas State? We could design a nice Seminole-motif layout and name it Renegade Roost.

UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA -- You know that swamp a couple miles up the interstate from here.......?

SAVANNAH COLLEGE OF ART AND DESIGN -- Been there, done that, coming next to your city's downtown to buy up all the buildings. For individualist flair, visit Home Depot at closing time to buy up all the paint-mixing mistakes at bargain prices. Some students and alumni have been known to make it a game -- see if any paint can be found which matches the color(s) of the students' hair. The Following House Is Brought To You In Living Color, From SCAD.

Any other ideas? Bring 'em on. This is fun!

Ciao for niao.


1 comment:

nettiemac said...

Then there's my alma mater -- where you could live in a truly historic home (and I *did* for two years -- the Benjamin Lucas house, ca 1858).

All the floor plans would be Charleston single-room style homes (only found in downtown Charleston). It would cost you an outrageous fortune and would have to be stocked with family heirlooms and carefully purchased antiques -- purchased from those families who are having to hock the heirlooms because they no longer have actual money, but they have "family money" (or did back before the Late Unpleasantness).

Oh, one other slight problem. A Charleston single-house placed anywhere OTHER than Charleston just looks downright tacky. Trust me. They built a few on the other end of "P" Road from where I work. Tack-tack-tacky in extremis.