The Time I Briefly Clung To The Bottom Millimeter Of The Bottom Rung Of ‘The Onion’
On being sad, but funny, but not quite funny enough
Calling me “half-baked” in college would be an overstatement. I probably wasn’t even quarter-baked. I had yet to figure a lot of stuff out, I didn’t make the most of the opportunities college presents, and in many ways, albeit with some noteworthy exceptions, my four years at Brandeis and the University of Michigan were rather forgettable.
What I did know was that I liked to write. So I wrote a lot — at both schools I was a columnist for the primarily daily student paper. And as soon as I arrived in Michigan for my junior year, having transferred from Brandeis, I applied to write for The Michigan Every Three Weekly by sending in some sample headlines (and probably fully written articles, too — I can’t remember).
The E3W was the flashier, hipper upstart of the two humor publications I was aware of at Michigan. The other was The Gargoyle, which was something of an old-school Lampoon-ish magazine and whose most famous alum is Arthur Miller, while the Every Three Weekly — that’s a play on The Michigan Daily, the student daily — was simply and unapologetically a clone of The Onion.
There was a bit of a rivalry between the two. The Garg had been around forever and was seen by E3W staffers as a bit lamer and fustier, while the E3W was more of the new kid on the block, having only begun regular publication (according to Wikipedia) in 1999. The E3W probably benefited from the fact that, thanks to the internet, this was also around the time The Onion started getting national recognition.
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