Friends, Alumni, Distinguished Law Enforcement Officials, Faculty, and Checkbooks... er... Parents. You have gathered here today to finally see the culmination of years of hard work bringing the class of 2006 to a productive, meaningful adulthood. I can only imagine your disappointment. Still, to be fair, you really didn't have great raw materials. It must pain you greatly to know that after scrimping, saving, and placing your retirement at risk, you have to sit here on a beautiful afternoon listening to a few brief comments from a guy whose only qualifications are a well regarded column on a little regarded webzine; an editor who, even if he didn't need a thirty ton crane to get himself upright, still wouldn't wish to leave the Sizzler "All You Can Eat Buffet"; and the ability to create a six figure speaking fee using only a camera, a dean of students, a lacrosse team, and a MySpace account. To say only that I'm being well compensated would belittle the weight of the briefcase full of cash the dean handed me after our "negotiations," and the talented mouth of that little auburn haired girl in the front row.
But I'm not here to talk to the responsible adults today. My purpose is to provide words of wisdom and encouragement to you graduates. Your journey into adulthood began six long years ago on that memorable day when you trooped in, number two pencils at the ready to take your PSAT's, the first of the tests to determine the quality of your knowledge. It should be no surprise that this year we learned how deeply flawed those tests can be. We could blame your parents, those selfless individuals who, when they weren't too busy divorcing, dating, remarrying, and divorcing again, occasionally threw you a scrap of attention while hauling you to soccer practice, but let's face it, they've suffered enough. If you need proof remember that abortion has been legal for decades in this country, yet somehow, in 1985, they still decided to bring you into the world. Imagine how they must feel right now to be sitting in crappy little plastic seats, smelling all the relics from your last night on campus, and trying to corral your 3 year-old half brother. It's amazing that my speech isn't repeatedly interrupted by gunfire. How sharper than a serpent's tooth to have an ungrateful child? Well just ask your mom, I did last night and she's way pissed.
It's customary on these occasions to recount some thing that makes a graduating class feel unique and special. Last year, for example, was the first class to be educated in the shadow of 9/11. Next year will be the first class to be educated during the most declared war since 1944. It will also be the first class to be educated since that war was officially declared over by the commander in chief. But those are boring, current events type things best left to liberal documentary film makers. You found much more exciting, if less intellectual pursuits. Tom Cruise, speaking on behalf of Scientologists everywhere showed us a religion than can gracefully reconcile belief, reason, and jumping on the furniture. Together with Katie Holmes, he also finally gave us a celebrity hybrid name that resembles a real word. Will the public settle anymore for such awkward constructions as BritFed, Brangelina, or Bennifer now that we've grown used to TomKat? Jessica Simpson and Mr. Jessica Simpson, managed to marry, be on T.V., and split during your academic slog. Fortunately the marriage ended without children, lowering the need for the rest of us to take anti-depressants, and keeping TomKat from attacking Matt Lauer.
In the world of technology, the ubiquity of MP3 players became passe. Even the RIAA seemed to find better things to do than to sue 6 year olds for downloading the latest Elmo/Insane Clown Posse mash-up. Maybe because the likes of Reason, Ableton Live, and Sony Acid made digital music production so ubiquitous that the music industry finally sees their business model beginning to implode like Mariah Carey's career. In CyberspaceTM, MySpace.com started grabbing headlines as the number one place for child molesters to meet their targets. Of course in an attempt to clean up that image, MySpace co-operates fully with police agencies around the country and cheerfully gives up any and all information about suspected perverts. Citing this brave stand against ruthless and dangerous criminals, companies like Google and Yahoo have courageously been turning over the names of political activists to the Chinese government . Amazingly, it seems to have done nothing to lower the number of predators using the web, indicating that a high percentage have graduated from schools with substandard admissions policies. If I were you, I'd go register as a sex offender right now before your classmates use up all the forms.
Politics this year have shown us that the more things stay the same, the more they stay the same. Despite having the GOP handed to them on a platter after Hurricanes Katrina and Abramoff, the Democrats spent more time trying to keep Russ Feingold from censuring the president than winning back Congress this fall. Meanwhile, President Bush seems increasingly irrelevant as a lame duck without even a scandal to call his own. Nixon had Watergate, Reagan had Iran-Contra, Clinton had Wee Willie, well not so wee if Monica is to be believed. Bush the Younger is a true Teflon President, nothing sticks to him, not even malfeasance. Of course great scandal is required to bring down great figures. Nixon went to China, Reagan ended the cold war, Clinton balanced the budget. The Bush era will be marked by cold Chinese relations, a hot war with fanatics, and a budget busted just before the boomers retire. No wonder he doesn't have a presidency defining scandal, you have to fly near the sun to be brought low. Bush can barely climb above the gutter.
The stink of stale booze, staler urine, and atrocious genital hygiene is reminding me why I never look back on my own college experience with fondness.Fortunately the meandering path of politics isn't having an undue drag on the economy. Indications are that you're graduating into the best job market in years. The prospects look even brighter once Congress passes some meaningful immigration reform and finally builds a fence along the border. Hollywood will have to turn to local talent rather than a bunch of wetbacks from Montreal and London. Those of you with no marketable skills, that is everyone except that hot little auburn haired number that came by my hotel last night, shouldn't despair however. The economy currently has six more months before the boomer retirement problem really comes home to roost and, when coupled with rising gas prices, there will be a market demand for cheap foot soldiers in Lord Humungus' Road Warrior army. Those of you with aspirations, because you once got an B+ on a paper for P.E., to be writers will find a world full of bad news. Highly paid writers like myself have thousands of ideas a day. Hell I crap out doctoral theses every noon with my digested Cheerios and even I'm not clever enough to sucker Oprah with a story of how I kicked my completely made up, self-destructive, drug habit. Given your presence at this particular institution, your best idea is "I think I'll have that Big Mac that's been sitting on the counter for three weeks for lunch." followed by, "Well at least they're Bob's," as the hamburger seeks it's freedom in a handy pair of sneakers.
And that lovely image of you vomiting your highly suspicious leftovers into your roommates shoes brings me to the conclusion of my remarks. The stink of stale booze, staler urine, and atrocious genital hygiene is reminding me why I never look back on my own college experience with fondness. It's a wonderful thing to be able to gaze out onto a sea of graduates and see a hopeful future of promise fulfilled and joy obtained. Someday I'll get to do this at Harvard and finally know how that feels, only with more booze, more urine, and even worse genital hygiene. Still I have my fee, and you have the following words of wisdom from Mr. Suntori's new book, And Zen What?: "Give a man a fish and he eats for a day, sell the man a program of 7 powerful fishing strategies that can double or triple his income in his spare time, and you eat for life."
I now have the sad duty of condemning you to your fate as graduates of Ottsamatta University. In England, judges, when sentencing criminals to death, would place squares of black cloth on their heads. If you think it's a coincidence that the mortar board bears a more than slight resemblance, well Scrappy Doo, then you truly are a graduate of this fine institution, and, once again, the lying, thieving, vicious criminals that prey on your fear of economic disadvantage... I'm sorry, once again the faculty have done their job. One task only remains before I can slip out of these well tailored clothes and into a tight co-ed.
Members of the Board of Trustees, Mr. President, and Dean. The candidates before you, having been tested and found to be meeting the "highest" standards of academic and personal acheivement, ask for your approval as Baccalaureates of Ottsamatta University. May God have mercy on our souls.
*Ottsamatta U. Home of the fighting Capi del Tutti Capi.