October 28, 2003

Will the Real Ithaca Please Stand Up?

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Ithaca is Gorges.

Ithaca is Cold?

Ithaca is Gangsta?

Ithaca is Long Island?

Ithaca is the City of Evil?

“Ithaca is Gorges” t-shirts have been a growing craze since Howard Cogan ’50 came up with the slogan over 20 years ago. T-shirts and bumper stickers with the famous slogan are seen all over the Cornell and Ithaca College campuses, Ithaca and its surrounding area, and other places throughout the country and the world today.

Until the fall semester of 2001, “Ithaca is Gorges” shirts were the only “Ithaca is…” t-shirts available for sale. Today, one can find many variations on these popular shirts. For some, the varieties are all in good fun; for others, they are part of a politicized analysis of the city itself.

“Ithaca is the City of Evil”

A complete line of merchandise can be found at www.cafeshops.com/cityofevil, displaying the words “Ithaca is the City of Evil.” This merchandise has been endorsed by www.freerepublic.com.

According to its website, www.freerepublic.com is “an online gathering place for independent, grass-roots conservatism on the web.” It is comprised of forums, articles and links of interest to conservatives around the country.

A post by aptly named contributor “Behind Liberal Lines” at www.freerepublic.com/~behindliberallines, criticizes Ithaca as the “City of Evil,” citing liberal sentiments.

“Politics in Ithaca runs the gamut from ‘liberal’ to ‘communist,'” the article says, referring to Ithaca’s history of endorsing Democratic and Green Party candidates.

The writer criticizes Ithaca’s “alternative” schools and the “educated idiots” who attend school in Ithaca, including its many college students.

Links to newspaper articles displaying news from Ithaca grace the site to show said liberal tendencies.

Some conservatives empathize with the author’s point, but do not necessarily agree that Ithaca is “the City of Evil.” Paul Chernick ’04 remarked, “The author of the website does have a point, but while it is hard to be a conservative in Ithaca, I can only imagine how liberals feel in places like Grand Rapids, Michigan or the Deep South.”

T-shirts, sweatshirts, mugs, bumper stickers, mouse pads and even lunch-boxes have been decorated with the “evil” slogan and can be found at the Cafe Shops website.

“Ithaca is Cold”

Other, perhaps less profound, variations are the brainchildren of a dorm room in Clara Dickson Hall where two friends, Jesse Stolow ’05 and Daniel Schudroff ’05, unknowingly started a trend.

Stolow generated the idea for “Ithaca is Cold,” and traveled down to T-Shirt Expressions on the Ithaca Commons in order to design his dream.

After wearing the shirt and seeing students’ responses, he decided to create the shirts in bulk and sell them on Ho Plaza for 10 dollars.

“People would come up to me and say ‘wow, that’s a really cool shirt! What a great idea!'” Stolow said. “That kind of got me in trouble though, because apparently you need a permit to sell things on Ho Plaza.”

According to Schudroff, “Jesse is a brilliant businessman and individual, and he is a great entrepreneur.”

As the craze was beginning, Schudroff began to come up with designs of his own. He can be seen wearing his originals, “Ithaca is Gray,” “Ithaca is Gangsta” and “Ithaca is Long Island.”

“‘Ithaca is Long Island’ has received the best remarks,” Schudroff said. “Some girls get frustrated because they think it is taking a stab at them, but it is all in good fun.”

Stolow has been selling the shirts on and off since his freshman year. He recently noticed that T-Shirt Expressions was selling the “Ithaca is Cold” and “Ithaca is Gangsta” versions.

“I went in there just to find out how they said they came up with it, and they said that people were coming in asking for the shirt, and they thought that there was a market for them,” Stolow said.

Stolow is now contemplating his legal options as far as his rights to the idea.

After creating the initial design, he mailed a copy of his idea to himself, postmarking the envelope. This proves that he came up with the idea before anyone else.

A spokesperson from T-Shirt Expressions was not available for comment.

“It is interesting to be partly responsible for a concept such as this,” remarked Stolow.

Archived article by Eric Finkelstein