USC Digital Folklore Archives / Posts Tagged ‘USC’
general
Material

Latino Floor

The Latino Floor at USC in Fluor Tower has a Mural from the 1990’s showing an Aztec Pyramid and the Eagle that is on the Mexican Flag. It was a gift from older Latino Floor Alumni to show what the floor represents as a community and residence to First-Generation Latino-Students. The potrait also has the signatures of a lot of LF alumni to make their name and add it to the legacy left behind by the first of the floor.

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Eloisa is a Michoacan born lady who has lived in Arkansas since she has been a little girl. She used to be really religious, but after being opened up to human rights, and mostly women rights, she has taken a step back and tried to analyze everything to decide on what she can really identify as part of her.

Digital
general
Humor

Pointy Thing Meme

Informant SM is a sophomore studying Biomedical Engineering at the University of Southern California. He is very passionate about philanthropy, specifically helping poorer parts of India and aspires to one day become a doctor. The informant tells me(AK) about a very popular meme regarding the recent construction on USC’s campus.

SM: Let me tell you about this new meme, it’s called the “Pointy Thing” meme (shows picture on phone). pointythingmeme

AK: I actually haven’t seen this one, can you explain a little about how this started?

SM: You know, I’m actually not sure. I just remember seeing someone post about it on the USC meme page and it kind of took off from there.

AK: Do you think this says anything about our student body?

SM: I think it’s a great thing that we’re all able to make jokes about something like this. You know, even Nikias posted about these “pointy things” on his Instagram, so it just seems like something everyone can laugh about.

I found this piece to be incredibly interesting because not only did it feature a very modern form of media, but also because it referenced the specific folklore of a college. In today’s day and age, people are always in search of a form of immediate gratification. Memes are the perfect outlet for quick jokes or puns because they feature a short amount of text that highlight a funny or playful picture. For this reason, memes are the perfect way for something like this to spread quickly across a college campus to the point where even the president hears about it. The other thing that made this so interesting to hear about is the fact that it is relevant only to USC. Any group, large or small can have folklore, and this piece is a testament to that fact.

Folk Beliefs
general
Signs

EVKitty

Informant DP is a 19-year-old male studying Biomedical Engineering at the University of Southern California. He is well-aware of most USC folklore and he describes a very peculiar one to me (AK).

In this piece, DP describes the folklore surrounding a very special cat that hangs around a dining hall at USC named Everybody’s Kitchen or EVK for short.

EVKitty

DP: So I actually found out about this cat my first time at EVK freshman year. Basically it’s this regular cat but it just hangs right outside EVK by the outdoor seating. I’m not really sure whose cat it is, but I just know it’s been there for a while.

AK: So you have no idea where it came from?

DP: Well there’s rumors that it’s Stan Rosen’s cat. He’s the faculty master for the Birnkrant Dorm. I should probably know this cause I lived there but oh well haha.

AK: Sounds interesting is there anything else I should know about EVKitty?

DP: Yeah there’s actually a facebook page dedicated to her. It’s legendary.

This was another piece of USC folklore, but I especially enjoyed this one because it is so specific and probably unknown to a lot of students. For those that have no idea, they would be thoroughly confused to see a cat roaming around the outside seating of a dining hall. However, for those who are aware of this folklore, they have really done their part to help spread it to the larger USC community. I found out about EVKitty through word of mouth, and I’m sure many other students have also found out from their fellow friends and peers.

Rituals, festivals, holidays

USC Trojan Knights Cheer

S-O-U-T-HERN  C-A-L-I-FORNIA

Southern! Califorrrrnia!

Fight On!

 

Interviewer: What is being performed?

 

Informant: A Cheer by Rafael Souza. The Hammer Drop, one person yells and the others join and spell out Southern California.

 

Interviewer: What is the background information about the performance? Why do you know or like this piece? Where or who did you learn it from?

 

Informant: It is a game day ritual for USC Trojan Knights.

 

Interviewer: What country and what region of that country are you from?

 

Informant: USC Traditions

 

Interviewer: Do you belong to a specific religious or social sub group that tells this story?

 

Informant: Trojan Knights

 

Interviewer: Where did you first hear the story?

 

Informant: When I went to my first game day

 

Interviewer: What do you think the origins of this story might be?

 

Informant: Spirited USC students probably

 

Interviewer: What does it mean to you?

 

Informant: A lot as a new knight

 

Context of the performance- classmate interview

 

Thoughts about the piece- Trojan Knights are a USC service and spirit organization founded in 1921. See  https://www.trojanknights.org/  to learn about other TK traditions including Tommy Watch, Card Stunts and the Victory Bell. As a USC freshman, I don’t know many details about the mysterious TK fraternity type club but appreciate their traditions that enhance school spirit, especially during football season.

Humor

Pointy Thing Joke

Informant is USC sophomore in the film program.

The subject is the “Pointy Thing” meme which has circulated through the USC student body this year. I ask informant to pull up his Facebook account and log into a group with about 15,000 members where students make and share memes with each other, usually about the school or the different majors.

Scrolling through a number of posts liked between 500 and 3,000 times, he arrives at one which depicts a man in a white T-shirt with one arm in the air. The president of the University is photoshopped in place the face, and “Pointy Things” are raining down across the image*.

“Pointy Things… they’re legendary. What can I say?” he tells me. “They just got put up this semester. They’re these pointy obstacles by all the USC gates. And they’re a waste of money because they don’t have a purpose, but we all got together to make fun of how ridiculous it is.”

The image has about 5K reactions in the Facebook group. I think it’s cool how all these USC students can come together in a group to make jokes with one another about the school they share. In a way, it’s kind of unifying.

“Yeah, they went all out. Pointy things in the Matrix was done, somebody 3D printed a pointy thing. Beating a dead horse at this point but people will like it if you make it” he tells me.

*The image was based on the popular Salt Bae meme, in which Turkish chef Nusret Gökçe is seen sprinkling salt in a fancy manner.

Legends
Narrative

The Pineapple Man- A USC Legend

Informant is a sophomore at the University of Southern California, majoring in Computer Science/Business Administration. This is a story about an event that he had heard last about last year from a senior student, who said it had happened long ago on Menlo Street, an area off campus that is known for its parties.

“So this is a story that one of my senior friends in an entrepreneur club told me. The story goes that one of his friends had gone to a party at the SoCal Vocals house on Menlo Street. This friend was slighty tipsy and was under the influence of a marijuana edible, so he was at the kitchen sink drinking water straight from the faucet, when to his right, there was a guy who pulled a pineapple out of the fridge. The guy set the pineapple onto the counter, and he look a big ass, machete ass knife out of their wooden cutlery block and starts hacking away at the pineapple. Starts slicing the fuck out of the thing. Then, a brother from the SoCal Vocal house approaches the guy and says ‘Hey bro, you can’t just eat our pineapple.’ So the guy says, ‘Fuck you, I can do whatever I want. I don’t even go here.’ And he starts waving around the knife and air slicing everything with this big ass knife. The friend is still at the sink this whole time, drinking water and feeling like this is a movie going on. So the brother tells him to calm down, and two other brothers come in to help, at which point the dude is just getting angrier. They try to wrestle the knife out of his hand, and eventually they pin him down and get it away. They try to drag him out of the house, but he breaks away and breaks a window, barrel-r0lls out of it, and runs off into the street. That is the Pineapple Man.”

 

Collector’s Comments:

This is a story that almost sounds unbelievable, yet based on the setting, is very possible. Menlo Street is an area where many different people, primarily USC students but also outsiders, will go to party on the weekends. The houses throw parties where anyone can enter for a fee, so it is not surprising that this person is an outsider. Based on the fact that the person who experienced the event and told the story was intoxicated, some of the details might be jumbled or exaggerated, but this makes for a very memorable tale to tell friends and underclassmen, which is how the informant had learned about it. This story could be easily passed along by word of mouth, and would be very relatable to the experience of many USC students.

 

 

general
Humor

The UCLA toilet

Okay so it’s outside the psychology department, there’s a fountain but it’s a reverse fountain so instead of the water shooting up, the water drains down so it like spins and it goes down. If you stand in a certain area it’s right behind a tall building that has a bridge so if you look at it and the hole that goes down towards the back and so once it was built people realized that it looks like a toilet flushing.And they said that they found out the designer was a trojan.

My informant learned this piece of folklore through a sorority at UCLA. She experienced looking at this fountain and saw that it ended looked like a toilet. She told me this as we were discussing college traditions and rivalries. I found this piece of information funny. As a student at UCLA’s rival school it was nice to know that this rivalry goes way back and that the legacy of both schools live on. We also got to share a bond, even though we are from rival schools.

Legends
Narrative

Two Directors on a Tour

Folklore:

This participant performed this story as if he was on a college tour, since he learned it in his training to become a tour guide.  

“I don’t really know it that well, but I’ll try. So this right here is the School of the Cinematic Arts courtyard, and here you’ll see two buildings: the George Lucas building and the Steven Spielberg building. Now, does anyone know who actually went to USC? …  It was actually George Lucas, and Steven Spielberg was actually denied from USC, legend has it, not once, not twice, but three times. And um, so uh, the reason why the building is here, you’re probably wondering why this building is here when he didn’t go here. Well, legend has it that Steven Spielberg and George Lucas had a bet a long time ago, when Lucas was working on the first Star Was. The bet was, whoever’s movie did worse in the box office would have to donate to a building, or at least a large sum, to the others’ alma mater. So they agreed to this bet, blah blah blah, time goes on, and guess who’s movie did better? George Lucas’ because it was the first Star Wars. So Steven Spielberg, unfortunately, had to donate this building to George Lucas’ alma mater, which is the University of Southern California. Now we have two buildings at the School of the Cinematic Arts, well many buildings, but two facing each other the George Lucas building and the Steven Spielberg building.”

 

Context

This legend is told on tours to prospective film students. The participant doesn’t know if it’s actually true, and prefaces the story on his tours by saying so. This would be told in the cinematic arts school, in the courtyard between the Spielberg and Lucas buildings. In my collection, it was performed while working in the office.

 

Background information

There are a lot of legends in the Tour Guide’s office, both that are brought up by the tour guides and brought up by guests. If you were to ask tour guides to tell you about the legend of the Lucas and Spielberg bet, you would probably hear 100 different versions.  Just like you might hear 100 different tours all together, each of us have nuanced performances of each of our informative tours.

 

Personal Analysis

This legend is interesting because of the dynamic between the tour guide and the guest. The guest comes to USC to get an informative experience that will aide them in their decision of what college to go to. While tour guides do not claim to know the true validity of this legend on their tours, it is still interesting in that it leaves an impression upon the student.

The tour guides also are taught these legends, either formally or informally, through their training to become a tour guide. So while the validity of the bet remains a mystery, its perpetuation year after year, through the teaching of new workers, gives the story credit in it of itself.

Rituals, festivals, holidays

USC Club Swim Team’s Banana Chant Tradition

Tradition: The Club Swim Team at the University of Southern California always does a chant involving bananas before every swim meet.

The informant is a 20 year old female USC student, who is on the swim team.

Informant: Before every swim meet, we always do this chant with bananas. Everyone on the team holds a banana in their hand, and we all chant:

“Are you ready to go bananas? (Everyone screams)
Peel bananas, peel peel bananas!
Swim bananas, swim swim bananas!
Fight bananas, fight fight bananas!
Win bananas, win win bananas!”

Collector: Why do you guys like to do this chant?

Informant: I think that it it gets everyone excited, and it’s a lot of fun.

Collector: What do you do with the bananas after the chant?

Informant: Most people just eat the bananas after the chant.

Collector: Where did you learn this chant from?

Informant: One of the members on the team taught it to us. He learned it from his swim team before joining our swim team.

I think that the swim team does this chant to get pumped up for their competition. I don’t know why they chose to use a banana, but it reminds me of the idea of ‘going bananas’ (going crazy), in a good way that gets everyone excited. Another reason may be that bananas are a health food and helps relieve muscle cramps for swimming. The words in the chant itself “swim,” “fight,” and “win” are suggestive of what the team wants–to swim, fight, and win the competition.

Rituals, festivals, holidays

APASA Annual End of the Year Banquet

USC APASA is the University of Southern California’s Asian Pacific American Student Assembly, a student run organization that aims “To celebrate and share Asian Pacific American (APA) heritage and diversity, USC APASA supports its member organizations and sponsors cultural events to foster unity and growth within and beyond the APA Trojan community. We strive to create a more united community, where students support each other culturally, socially and academically by educating each other with their heritage, history and traditions.”

Every year, they have a tradition of hosting a gathering at the end of the year to celebrate their achievements for the school year. The informant is a college student and member of the organization.

Informant’s folklore: Every year, APASA invites the presidents and representatives of the Asian Pacific American organizations to this big dinner. It’s like an end of the year celebration to celebrate everything we’ve done as an organization. We have a really nice three course meal, and everyone dresses up really nicely. You go through superlative awards the executive board votes on like “Best Representatives,” or “Rising Star,” or “Best Culture Show” awards. We do that to recognize that our member orgs are trying and all the work the put into everything they do. It’s really fun to be able to nominate your friends when they do something really good. We also make a video to celebrate everything that we’ve done and encourage their good work.

Why do you like celebrating this event?

I think that it encourages everyone as a community to work together, and foster everything they’ve created. It also rewards those who put the effort into it. And I feel like everyone who puts in the effort should be rewarded for it. And it’s also a nice time to reflect how far we’ve come since the beginning of the year.

Where did you learn it from?

I learned the tradition from the existing members.

I think that the event is not only a way to celebrate and look back on all the great work that APASA has done over the school year, but also a way of bringing together community on the college campus. College students are in a time of developing their identities, and this organization and their celebration helps to shape and form their identities and the communities they identify with.

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