Barring some sort of unforeseen graduation mishap, this is my final piece of writing for The Cornell Daily Sun. I understand it’s one of collegiate journalism’s cheesier traditions to indulge the author in a “farewell column,” but fuck you, I’m a traditionalist. I have been lucky enough to stumble upon some of Cornell’s greatest student organizations, but only The Sun has been kind enough to confirm for me what I want to do when I grow up. I plan on spending the rest of my life writing and editing — and hopefully spending way too much time holed up in a newsroom — and I can’t imagine being happy without some outlet to rant about music.
There is a certain freedom that comes with being an Arts writer. The ability to write about whatever I want has forced me to consider not only what I have to offer, but also what my audience might be interested in reading. Some of my favorite pieces, though, have been the ones where I am able to champion something I truly believe in — whether it’s a band I’m obsessed with, the need to put a diner in Collegetown or the injustice of Matthew McConaughey’s Oscar snub — regardless of what other people care about.
A quick personal highlight: My sophomore year, as an Arts editor, I devoted an entire page of one day’s paper to Big Star, a mostly unknown but incredibly influential power pop band from the ’70s. Whatever you may think of my editorial indulgence, it did produce the line: “I like my music like I like my women: loud, adorably cute and kind of weird,” which is either the best or worst sentence I’ve ever written.
There is, however, a darker side to publically publishing your opinions. In a concert review I wrote my freshman year, I described a group so harshly that I earned the title “Asshole of the Year” on one of the band members’ Facebook page. Close to four years later, I stand by what I wrote, but I also understand that I’m not writing blindly into the abyss.
The Sun has given me the chance to work on my interviewing chops with some of my personal heroes. I will never forget being able to spend an hour on the phone with the lead singer of my all time favorite band (Black Francis of the Pixies), or speaking face-to-face with Jon Stewart after he performed stand-up to 10,000 people. Not only that, but with the power of The Sun behind me, I’ve sat down with more indie bands than I can count and felt confident asking them whatever questions I wanted.
No farewell column is complete without the requisite shout-outs. So: PKT, CCC, SDPB, D6, The Nook, United Jewish Girls of Cornell and all the rest. Shouted.
Because this is my last column in The Sun, I also want to spend some time talking about the people on this paper that have shaped both how I write and who I am. I joined the Arts and Entertainment section my first month on campus and it has proved to be one of the best decisions I’ve made in my four years at Cornell. I have written 67 articles — reviews, columns, features and, somewhat oddly, news stories — for The Sun under my own name, plus a handful of others I’ve co-authored. Serving as an Arts Editor on the 128th Board and a News Editor on the 129th have, without a doubt, been the positions I’ve held on campus that have impacted me the most.
I was extraordinarily fortunate to have some of the best co-editors I can imagine. Ruby, thank you for keeping the Arts section running day to day and consistently put up with my B.S. (no easy task). Jeff, Juan and Margo, you all helped a scared little Artsie find his footing in the rough and tumble world of “news editing.” All three of you taught me more than you can imagine, and I couldn’t be happier to call each of you my friend.
Former Arts editors Sammy, Peter, Julie and specifically my immediate predecessors — Ted and Ann — were inspirational, supportive and much cooler than I could ever hope to be. These qualities also all apply to Graham, Arts senior editor and always an amazing resource. Those that have manned the Arts desk since — James and Joey, Zach and Daveen, and the newbies Arielle and Sam — have been consistently superb editors and have never missed an opportunity to print something that makes me go: “Damn, I wish I thought of that.” To all the Arts section illustrators, especially Santi, thank you for bringing out aspects of my columns in the coolest possible ways.
Special recognition to the Sports department — Evan, Reena and Alex — who made a terrible former high school football player feel welcome. Reena, here’s a #hashtag.
Rebecca, Akane and Liz: It’s a testament to your abilities that you’ve succeeded despite having to deal with your editors’ combined ridiculousness way back when. Congratulations on an excellent first few months, and I look forward to seeing what you’ll accomplish next year.
I want to address another necessary element of any good farewell column — the moniker. I’ve been writing under “Big Talk” since I first began slipping columns into The Sun as Arts editor. It’s on some level a reference to / rip-off of Big Star, but also, without being too self-important, a reflection of myself. In my eyes, the phrase connotes something loud, boastful and questionably true. I hope I’ve been a voice where you’ve found — regardless of my intentions — insight, humor and, on some level, taste.
Boom Jacobs. Big Pete out.
Original Author: Peter Jacobs