Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Remembering the "new" Bexley (MIT Dorm) from 1976-1980

Re: http://destinationexhilaration.blogspot.com/2010/04/everyone-and-their-mother-seems-to-have.html

Yup that's Bexley.

I ran across a blog about my old dorm at MIT, which was (and evidently still is) the hippie dorm. I just picked it because it was cheap, it was close to campus, it was renovated, and it had kitchens. The other stuff had I known that telling somebody you were from Bexley meant they would take a couples of steps back, maybe I would have gone a bit upscale. At least we got new furniture and I had a good 50wx2 stereo, my son going to Santa Clara University which has some fabulous new buildings but the dorm still has cabinets from the late 1950s, and doesn't care about hifi like we did in the 70s.

Nobody I know who went to MIT or Stanford has managed to send any of their kids there. (Actually an MIT alum volunteer says she got two in) My parents sent all 7 to one or both in the 70s and 80s when only the smart kids even applied. Even the old U Washington is idolized by Asian parents who overpush their kids and moved to Seattle from Texas and Witchita to get in. My son got in, but they told us only 50% of sophomores who applied fof CS department get in - Yeesh.  Seems like The Claw from Toy Story chooses "who will go and who will stay".

When I was there 76-80, there was still a struggle between the new "suburb!" Bexley and the "ghetto" Bexley (there would be shouts into the courtyard SUBURB! GHETTO! all night) and the renovations were still new, and we were only getting started on "redecorating" the walls. I painted my room 1970 Plymouth RoadRunner green with matching sheets, and later we wallpapered the walls, and punched a hole in the wall and put in a bar and aquarium. That's suite 210 which probably still looks like that. Bexley residents were featured in a Playboy which covered a scandal where the underground paper had 'performance" reviews of actual men by two women associate with Bexley. Anti-rush was toned down a bit so that the entry in the freshman handbook was "anywhere but Bexley" but stories were that they used to put stoned naked people into the storage cages in the basement.

They were still treating freshmen and freshwomen to "registration day" movies. I think it was the Devil in Miss somebody or other that first year. Later in the 80s when they dropped the tradition and replaced it with Star Wars there was huge outrage. The houseparents served lox and bagels on sunday mornings. I was in Tech Catholic Community as guitar and singer, Violin in MIT Symphony, chamber soceity, musical theater guild and was the guy defending nuclear power and South Africa investment in the Tech. I still have a photo of a beast roast where they dug a pit in the courtyard and set up a bed, dunno if they still do that. Put up a snow C3P0 and R2D2 next to Bexley in the blizzard of 1978. Wikipedia lists among the notable alumni the guy who invented Visicalc, perhaps a coincidence that I was also a spreadsheet developer of "The Twin" which was C-language clone of Lotus 1-2-3 of the mid 1980s based on early object oriented programming ideas they taught us in the late 1970s.

Back the, Boston was like a Phoenix rising up out of the ashes of industrial decline and rebuilding for the big bicentenial celebration. The T subway stations were completely renovated (they're rebuilding them again as they've since fallen into disrepair) and the minicomputer industry. based largely around Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) was just getting into its stride, so that Boston was booming by the mid 1980s after I graduated in 1981. Too bad the entire minicomputer industry (or at least the 80% of it that was in New England) collapsed by the 1990s as DEC, Data General, Prime, Wang, Computervision, you-name-it all imploded at the same time as PC's took over. The computer museum is now in Silicon Valley and a lot of the old DEC peopled ended up moving to Seattle at Microsoft, and HP which was just a computer toddler in the 1970s bought what was once #2 DEC and is now the #1 computer company in the world.