FedEx delivery receipts were scattered across tables and chairs at the Rathskeller Saturday, where an audience of curious students gathered for The Goods, ink’s sixth biannual student arts festival.
Detailing a shipment of “Dangerous Goods” including author and comic artist Joey Comeau, the cleverly designed program – signed “inky” – mimicked an official shipping statement.
The Goods delivered a full roster of student readings and performances. Drawing a record crowd, the festival provided the College’s resident artists the chance to show off their skills – their poetry-writing, guitar-playing, play-acting and song-singing skills.
“This is the most people The Goods has ever had,” Sarah Maloney, event coordinator and ink president, said. Maloney, senior math major, started planning the event early in the semester.
Lining up featured guest artist Joey Comeau required no more than an e-mail, though his travel arrangements were complicated first by a missed plane and later by a forgotten ID, which prevented him from entering the United States via train.
Accompanied by three friends, the 25-year-old Canadian drove from Halifax, Nova Scotia to the College just for ink’s event.
“The world would be better if people took things into their own hands,” Comeau read in an excerpt from his book “Lockpick Pornography.”
His hilarious prose kept the audience laughing through a chapter which detailed the exploits of several gay young adults set on making trouble at a local mall.
“Super-malls eat all the little malls, chewing them like gum, and stretching them across six floors and eight blocks of conformity,” Comeau read. In “Lockpick,” he rails against the very congruity and sameness epitomized by the “super-mall” image. A particularly funny scene involves the story’s heroes gushing that a shopper’s obviously female, pink-clad baby is handsome.
“You can’t raise a little boy like he’s a girl. He’ll grow up all confused,” Comeau read to a giggling audience. “You have to instill in him right from birth that boys and girls are inherently different,” he warned, predicting that chaos would ensue if people did not strictly adhere to societal norms.
Comeau first serialized “Lockpick” on the Internet to pay his college tuition, and then found a publisher for it in 2005. Copies from the book’s first print run have recently sold out.
Comeau also read several chapters from another book, “The Summer is Ended and We are Not Yet Saved,” which he intended to be a quieter, more thoughtful work than the comparatively angrier “Lockpick.”
A mixture of the sad and strange, “The Summer is Ended” bears greater similarity to Comeau’s Web comic “A Softer World,” which has a weekly following of over 50,000 and can be viewed at asofterworld.com.
Jenna Meyerberg, freshman psychology major, thought Comeau was hilarious. “He was honest and open, and his humor was really fun and refreshing,” she said.
The day included student readings of original short fiction and poetry. Bethany Allinder, vice president of ink and senior English major, read part of her novel, “Stealing Her Heart,” and several poems, including “The 743 is Late” based on her experiences commuting to an internship in New York City.
Andrew Erkkila, junior English major, read “Albanian Hospitality,” a short story he crafted from years of experience in the restaurant business. “These were true stories about the people I worked with,” he said.
The crowd also enjoyed Nicole Grieco’s humorous excerpts from her story about a girl in love with someone she later discovers is gay. “I like you, in a family way,” writes the narrator’s crush in an e-mail. “I don’t like guys in a family way, unless the guys are family.”
The senior English major, observing that literature is “majorly lacking in musical interludes,” broke with tradition and serenaded the audience with the protagonist’s theme song: “Maybe you thought you could change him. Maybe you did. Maybe not.”
Original short stories and poems were also read by Maloney; Mike Shelichach, senior English major; Jessica Gill, senior English major; Tim Hinton, junior English major; Jacky Vogtman, junior English major; and Michelle McGuinness, freshman English and philosophy major.
The program included an encore performance of “Shit,” the winning one-act comedy from WIRED ’06, which freshmen interactive multimedia major Nick Maloney and McGuinness wrote.
Musical performers included: Matt Fair, senior English and journalism major; Jordan Kaplan, senior biology major; Jason Morgan, senior biology major; Shana Baty, junior music major; Brian O’Halloran, sophomore English major; and David L. Byrne, senior computer science major.
“It went so well. We had a larger turnout than any other year,” Maloney said. Co-sponsored with the English department, ink’s supply of “Dangerous Goods” provided hours of entertainment for those who attended.