It doesn’t matter if you consider yourself part of Generation X, Generation Y, or whatever else. If you’re part of the target demo of this website, you grew up with distractions of mass awesomeness. These said distractions of course followed you to college, where they continued to evolve in tandem with technology…and quite possibly had significant effects on something known as your “Grade Point Average.”
Painful as it is for me to remember...that once upon a time...the dorms weren't wired for cable TV. And I survived to tell the tale, right here.
Most to all of the traditional UD dorms did NOT have cable until Fall of '93. So, my first couple of years, we just dealt with it. But how you ask? Any way we f'in could, that's how! It might be impossible to fathom now, but yes, we did the best we could with old-school antennas and various other rigs. Our best attempts to receive broadcast, over-the-air, basic basic basic TV...
...and most attempts to do so were absolutely futile. Here's what I remember from the cement block encased first floor, Dickinson C ('91 - '92): The guys who had the best TV reception on the floor were my friends Chuck and Chad, whose room faced Hillside Road -- they picked up a few channels. Snowy, but watchable. My side of the floor faced the train tracks, and had pretty much zippo reception. So, my freshman year, me and my roommate AB didn't even have a TV.
In retrospect, one of the bizarre aspects of being freshmen at that time was how disconnected we were from news and the media. Remember, this was years before the internet took off – you couldn't catch up on the day's headlines by just logging on, and looking at Yahoo's front page. And Twitter was decades away. I remember one piece of jaw-dropping news we heard during my freshman year -- relayed from upperclassmen who lived off-campus, and had cable -- was the Magic Johnson HIV thing.
Anyway, one of the actually really positive things that came out of the individual dorm rooms not having cable, was the sense of community it created in the TV lounges. We had to go over to Dickinson D (which shared access with Dickinson C) to watch TV
Here's some of the stuff I remember watching in that lounge: Cheers (yes, still new episodes, but almost at the end of its run), Letterman (when he was still on NBC at 12:30 AM, and not yet robbed of Carson's spot), and, oh man, the start of The Simpsons third season. As you fans know, this is when the show really started hitting its stride -- that Dickinson D TV lounge was PACKED for the September 19th, 1991 episode -- which turned out to be the Homer wearing the pink shirt / Michael Jackson episode!
The big screen at the Scrounge was also way popular my first year, especially when UD Men's Hoops made their first run towards March Madness…more about that later in another chapter.
Well, our next year we were fourth floor Sypherd. I did bring my Sony 13” TV, and it got okay broadcast reception. I even bought a "reception amplifier" device. It sometimes amplified the signal okay, other times it seemed to just amplify static. But the next year we finally got wired for cable, and our lives were saved.
And being a native of North Jersey, the only TV market I'd ever known was NYC -- ain't it weird to watch the local news, etc, from a different region? And where Newark, DE sits geographically, it receives Philly AND Baltimore stations.
The shows that most defined my UD years, probably came down to Letterman (at his peaking out point), The Real World (first three seasons, before it really parodied itself), the first season of Friends (during my senior year), Seinfeld's best seasons…
…then on MTV, was Ren & Stimpy, which we couldn't believe what an animated show could get away with. That was, until the bar was further raised by the be-all end-all: Beavis & Butt-Head. Really, was there any other show that better represented the wise-ass, Alt / Grunge, slacker era of my '91 - '95 college years? Brilliant satire, and to this day, one of my favorite shows of all time.
But I can’t not mention Student Life TV, which is channel 49 on UD’s campus cable system. SLTV (now STN) launched in February 1995; I was living off-campus by then, so have never seen it. But hey, if I was a student at UD now, I’d totally want to do be involved in it. Me wanting to do something which gets me attention? Who would’ve thought? Anyway, shows at the time of launch included What in the Hall?, Toga Talk, and Hen Pecks Sportscene.
And whoa, we can’t forget the now infamous animated incarnation of UD, in 2010...
...as Ryan Cormier tracked down, “Kara Vallow, a producer on The Cleveland Show, told me the UD reference was included because one of the program’s co-creators, Rich Appel, has an aunt that went to UD.”
Those years in the UD dorms without cable were dark, dark times. Often, if you simply had a VCR with your TV, your room became one of the floor’s hangout spots. Then it just became, “Okay, who has movies?”
Blockbuster was the obvious “name” place to rent from, but when we were car-less in Dickinson, it was all about walking distance. Yep, time to walk over to Elkton Road…
Video Paradiso was in the Grainery Shops building. It was that old gray block building, right by the Rodney underpass, which has since been bulldozed. I remember Video Paradiso being a funky little alternative video store, that carried some great independent and foreign films, and possibly Japanimation (Anime). Don't think I ever actually rented there, though, and not many other people did evidently; it didn’t last all that long.
Video Americain (or maybe the name used to be something else) was where we all rented from the most, at 243 Elkton Road. You know, it was in the shopping center adjacent to Apple Road, by where that bank and Friendly's was.
That store had the honor of hosting my first adventure in renting a video of the adult persuasion. The infamous “back room,” behind-the-curtain. I didn't go alone, as Chubbs was really the point-man, and I was simply there for administrative support. The whole Dickinson C first floor (well, the guys) benefited from our bravery.
Hands down, the most popular "normal" movie that circulated on our floor '91 - '92 was The Silence of the Lambs, but I also remember many viewings of Spies Like Us…which features the best exam cheating scene ever put on celluloid:
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