Rick Shory

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Evergreen geoducks

My cousin sent me this link, with no comment:

http://keepingscore.blogs.time.com/2009/05/17/top-10-worst-college-team-names/?iid=sp-article-mostpop1#evergreen-state-college-geoducks

I am an alum of Evergreen, late ’70s, which was about one “generation” removed from the founding class. We knew what was going on.

Keep in mind that Matt Groening was at Evergreen in those early years, drawing his cartoons of one-eared bunnies in the Cooper Point Journal (school newspaper) . It was both a barometer and a training ground. Years later, when “The Simpsons” came on TV, I immediately recognized Evergreen humor; cynically playful, no-holds-barred, and if you didn’t resonate with the irony you didn’t get it at all.

The first Evergreen students hiked to their seminars through the unceasing Northwest rain, between concrete shells of rising buildings, on catwalks over the mud. Who thrives living in the mud? Those giant phallic clams down on the beach. What’re they called? Oh, yeah, geoducks.

Choosing them as the mascot pulled together all the misery and hope, scathing contempt and sparkling wit, pathetic dysfunctionality and survivor grit of those first pioneers. If you had told them The Evergreen State College would someday be a respected institution they would have rolled their eyes. If you had told them Evergreen would someday host sports teams, well, they would have done exactly what they did — saddled those teams with the most embarrassing mascot imaginable. Despite decades of trying to cutesy it up (e.g. the duck face) they’ve yet to live it down. Maybe it serves up the same moral lesson as “Boy Named Sue”.

By my tenure at Evergreen, there were starting to be a few “joke” sports, like Ultimate Frisbee; but everybody still got the joke. “Evergreen Geoducks” is the legacy of people like me, who can only see organized sports, and the public madness over them, as so ludicrous there is no way to even explain. That’s the biggest in-joke of all.

I first saw actual geoducks on ice in the seafood section of Seattle’s Pike Place Market. Yes, they looked exactly like a pile of great big flaccid grey penises. From learning how tough they are, both in their physical environment and culinary consistency, I gained a new respect. I finally tasted geoduck at a restaurant on the ocean. Properly prepared, they are delicious.

But maybe all you need to understand geoducks as a mascot is imagine they’re a team in “The Simpsons”‘ Springfield.

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