Jeff Pearlman

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A true April Fools story

Seventeen years ago (yikes), I was the editor in chief of my college newspaper, The Review.

At the University of Delaware, The Review meant something. It was widely read, filled with advertisements, columnists took heat. If one were to work for a student newspaper, he/she could do much, much worse.

Anyhow, I liked to liven things up. To take chances. So I made the decision, against the advice of nearly everyone (except for Brian Hickey and Greg Orlando), to put out an April Fools issue of The Review.

Man, I wish that thing were archived. We had two lead stories on the front page. One—SNOOP EXCITED TO ADDRESS BITCHES AT COMMENCEMENT—was the story of Snoop Dogg being chosen to speak to students after the original choice, Tom Clancy, was gunned down in a drive-by. The other—MIDGETS FIGHT TO TAKE OVER NEWARK—was the saga of short people overtaking the college town. The beauty of that piece was the sheer, utter, remarkable lack of taste. Inside The Review offices we had a bunch of bins with archived photos. One of the pictures was of a past student-government leader, standing against a brick wall, who happened to suffer from Dwarfism. He was a tiny little guy, with smallish arms, hands and feet.

Anyhow, we took the picture, placed a football helmet atop his head, named him Butch Romano and listed him as the Blue Hens’ new starting nose guard.

Uh, yeah.

When the paper came out, the reaction was both glorious and lousy. The journalism teachers hated it. I mean, just loathed it. The students, as a whole, celebrated the damn thing. But the most memorable moment came when I received a call from a woman—the mother of the former student who had Dwarfism. She was not happy, and threatened to have the Little People of America picket the paper. They, of course, would have been righteous and just in cause. It was not a cool thing that we students did. Not even remotely cool.

And yet …

I regret nothing. One teacher said, “Ten years from now you’ll look back with great shame.” Well, I never did. Because college is about learning; about stretching limits; about taking chances. That’s the kind of stuff you’re supposed to do, then figure things out from the aftermaths.

So if you’re reading this, and you’re a college newspaper editor, and you’re debating an April Fools issue for next year—do it, do it, do it.

Amen.

PS: The above strip, written by Hickey, appeared in the day’s comics section.

The Review, 1994

  • Rob Erdman

    AWESOME! The only thing missing was a large, front-page, stand-alone of a giant snow penis, and that problem was rectified a few years later…

  • Arnold

    My true April Fool’s story…

    I was student reporter for my college radio station in 1983 when my news director asked me to put together an April Fool’s story for the April 1st news broadcast. About a month and a half earlier, I had interviewed Grenada’s ambassador to the UN (he was on a speaking tour) and he quite seriously told me that the U.S. was planning to invade Grenada. I did not take him seriously on that point, but ran a short report on the talk he gave, which was not about a coming invasion of his country.

    So for my April’s Fools story, I remembered what the ambassador had said and decided to do a story on the U.S. invasion of Grenada. It was totally over the top. I had a friend pose as a general to state that they had planned to invade Cuba, but overshot it and didn’t want to waste their invasion forces, so just went into Grenada instead. The whole idea that the U.S. would invade some tiny Caribbean nation seemed so ludicrous at the time and even sillier with the “quotes” in my report.

    Of course, you know what happened thereafter…nearly 7 months later, the U.S. actually did invade Grenada. And I wished then that I had taken the ambassador seriously.

    • Jeff Pearlman

      great one, arnold. thanks for sharing.

  • Greg

    No offense, our journalism teachers were dour men. That was the year the Review put out a funny April Fool’s issue.

  • http://brianphickey.com Hickey

    1) Born to Eat Salmon was a substantially better cartoon.

    2) Butch Romono (and family) was a punk-ass whiner.

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Once again, Jeff Pearlman has produced an exhaustively researched, elegantly written book that re-creates one of the most colorful and memorable teams of the modern era. No basketball fan's bookshelf will be complete without it.

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