My apologies to Senator Warren

By Jackson Maxwell

(Jackson Maxwell)

The opening scene of the amazing mockumentary “Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story” shows a television producer desperately trying to find the titular singer, who is scheduled for a performance in two minutes.

The producer eventually finds Cox dramatically brooding in a dark hallway. Cox’s bassist approaches the producer and assures him that “Dewey Cox has to think about his entire life before he plays.”

As I sit here, tasked with writing a column to conclude my four years with the Massachusetts Daily Collegian in a neat bow, I find it impossible – much as I hate to admit it – not to engage in just as dramatic a reflection. For me, what makes this newspaper special isn’t how great it is, (find me a college paper that does as much with as little resources; I dare you) but the people who work and have worked there.

I can’t reflect on my time at the Collegian without thinking of the intimidation I felt attending my first arts section meeting, nor the thrill I felt when I saw my first ever published article in the paper the following week. I have to think back on how the arts and comics staff, who ranged in age from 21 to 25, were so kind and welcoming to me – a very, very young 18 year-old when I was first hired as an arts assistant halfway through my freshman year.

I think of how that semester the arts section became my refuge, the one place where someone like me – who hadn’t a clue of how to function in as complex a social environment as that which exists at the University of Massachusetts – could truly feel comfortable. I don’t remember everything about that semester: All of the articles I wrote and edited or just how long it took me to find my way around the endless quirks of Adobe InDesign. What I’ll always remember are the looks we got from the sports and news staff as we read My Chemical Romance bandfics aloud, combed through the bizarre depths of Flickr and tried to think of the strangest quote to put on the page for that day. Anything but the work we were supposed to be doing.

I can’t forget how many discussions were had my sophomore year about the many highlights of Nicolas Cage’s filmography, UMass Dining’s seeming obsession with cranberries or how best to visually portray a scenario in which Nickelback replaced the Minutemen marching band.

I may not remember exactly how it felt when I became the head of the arts section my junior year, but I’ll definitely remember the time I decided to pass the baton to my successor – upon my decision to go abroad – by joining forces with him to dedicate a special arts page to Coldplay’s “A Head Full of Dreams,” simply because we could.

From my senior year – where my countless hours night editing may have given me some skills that Career Services will encourage me to highlight on my resume – I’ll remember the half-crazed, late-night Don Pardo impressions, the informal karaoke sessions to Miss Juicy’s flawless cover of Kelly Rowland’s “Motivation” and the nightmare I inadvertently created for the poor staff when I trolled a horrifyingly large portion of the UMass student body into thinking that Guy Fieri was the 2017 Commencement speaker, just hours before Senator Elizabeth Warren was announced as the actual speaker.

More than anything, I can’t reflect on my time at the Collegian without thinking of the people, of whom there are far too many for me to list, who altered my experience at UMass for the better. Without them, all of those aforementioned memories wouldn’t exist. Without them, I wouldn’t have wandered around the most beautiful cities in Europe for a semester and occasionally thought to myself, “Man, I sure wish I was in a windowless basement office right about now …”

Without them, the Collegian would be just another college newspaper. Ask anyone who has been working there since dinosaurs roamed the earth (like me) why they’ve been there as long as they have, and they’ll probably give the same answer as I’ve just given you. I’m sure they’re going to miss it as much as I will.

Jackson Maxwell was the arts editor and can be reached at [email protected]