This is the online component of the humor section of the Argus, the Wesleyan University newspaper.


Jonathan Franzen Disappointed by Camp Cardinal

As American writer and bird lover Jonathan Franzen was dismayed to learn, Wesleyan’s Camp Cardinal is in fact a daycare for the children of alumni, not a forum for enthusiasts of birdwatching and other amateurs of avian activity.

 Franzen, who often publicly expresses his affinity for cardinals and their ilk, traveled all the way from his bodega in Boulder Creek, California to attend Camp Cardinal. He arrived on campus in high spirits, binoculars at the ready, but he was soon gravely disappointed. “I came here to watch some birds,” said Fran- zen, visibly shaken. “But this is just a bunch of children. Why would I look at these illiteate ur- chins when I could look at dope- ass birds?”

To the Camp Counselors’ dismay, Franzen refused to leave the premises, hanging about in a foul humor and ruining the oc- casion for everyone. “Can children poop and fly at the same time?” Franzen asked one counselor rhetorically. “Not any that I’ve seen.”

Sorely disappointed, Franzen tried to cheer himself up by organizing a writing workshop for Camp Cardinal’s juvenile attendants. True to his curmudgeonly and sour public persona, Franzen was harshly critical of his peers’ work. Franzen described the poetry of one Charles Hildenburss, age seven, as akin to “a dyslexic Billy Collins.”

“Come on, impress me!” the contemporary American novelist and essayist was heard yelling. “You call this literature? This makes me want to vomit. This makes me want to go read Stephen King in Rosie O’Donnell’s hot tub.”

 Though this criticism was cer- tainly harsh, many of the attendees of the Camp Cardinal writing workshop appreciated Franzen’s feedback. “It’s so difficult to get honest feedback at most workshops,” said Darla Harrington, age six. “A lot of the time people show up without having even reading your work; they just want something to put on their CV so they can get into some shitty MFA program. That doesn’t happen at Camp Cardinal.”

Franzen spent the rest of the weekend wandering alumni brunches and lunches with a petition demanding that he replace Michael Bennet ‘87 as commencement speaker. “I have a lot more to say about birdwatching,” Franzen explained.

Franzen was last spotted talking to the Wesleyan cardinal, which is a human being dressed as a highly an- thropomorphized cardinal. According to witnesses, he was quizzing it on its nesting habits, plumage, and whether or not it had a boyfriend.