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Sudsy Wants You to Join the Oregon Commentator

Decade of Debauchery

As this decade (the Twenty-oughts) comes to a close, the Commentator will inevitably examine the impact of several movements, from politics to pop culture, from the last ten years. In kind, much has happened over the last ten years to the Commentator itself, and I believe it to be important, dear readers, for you to learn about who we were at the turn of the century, if only to better understand who we are today.

Perfecting the Art

frohn dead

Just one month before the turn of the century, the Oregon Commentator was in some relative hot water over a front cover they had ran purporting then University of Oregon President Dave Frohnmayer to have died. Frohnmayer famously had a heart attack at a medical conference in Bethesda, Maryland but had escaped the ordeal relatively unharmed.

At the time, “Das Frohn” was rather upset about the cover, “Quite frankly, he was pissed off,” said then-OC editor Bill Beutler.

The comedic timing of the magazine had been a question, but the Commentator’s place ten years ago was clearly one of interest, to say the least.

The Birth of a Brew

first sudsy

In the Summer of 2001, the Commentator’s beloved mascot, Sudsy O’Sullivan, was introduced. Although he graciously turns away the notion that he is the “father” of Sudsy, former staffer Sho Ikeda is largely credited with creating the icon. As the story goes, Sho, Bret Jacobsen and Pete Hunt (the magazine’s publisher and editor respectively) were drinking at Rennie’s Landing when the idea for the anthropomorphic mug of pilsner was scribbled down on a cocktail napkin.

Using all the craft of the rudimentary search engines of the day (alongside Photoshop) Ikeda combined clip art of a mug of beer, the face from the Kool-Aid Man and the cigar-holding arm of “Baby Huey” from Who Framed Roger Rabbit? Ikeda unleashed a golden, frothy blessing upon the campus of the University of Oregon.

A Campus Mourns


Sudsy’s story briefly turned dark in 2004 as an article (“The Death of… Sudsy!” 5/24/04) reported that the mascot had died in an attempt to make himself into a gigantic boilermaker for the alcoholic staffers. The true “King of Beers” was gone, and without an immediate replacement, the Commentator began a search for a new mascot. Fortunately for students Sudsy was re-brewed the following school year, as he rose from the grave and returned to his former position.

Go Fuck Hirself

In the Fall of 2004, transperson and  ASUO Sentator Toby Hill-Meyer was being interviewed for a Daily Emerald piece about a performance he’d done at the EMU. Hill-Meyer wished to be referred to by the gender neutral pronouns “ze” and “hir” as he did not associate himself with one sex or the other.

The Commentator playfully jabbed at the ridiculousness of the situation, one where Hill-Meyer had made his own sexual confusion a campus-wide topic by his own doing (it should be noted that Hill-Meyer’s request was followed by the Emerald for the entire year, as much was to be written involving him as he was an ASUO Senator). In any case, the Commentator ran several “OC Asks” with Hill-Meyer as a participant where he talked about “hate crimes” “lawsuits” and the like.

The situation escalated when the Commentator’s PFC tag, Mason Quiroz, actively took part in an effort to defund the magazine. Media coverage about the Commentator being an “active perpetrator of hate crime” turned the ASUO against the Commentator, and led to a show trial (really, a funding meeting) at which opponents of the Oregon Commentator showed up with purple arm bands in goosestepping similarity.

The Commentator was, however, funded for the upcoming year. It probably didn’t help that the main plaintiff against the OC, Hill-Meyer, waffled when asked a direct question by the ASUO members regarding the Commentator’s purveyance of hate crime. Once again, the Commentator proved to the campus that free speech was not to be infringed upon, and that content was not a basis for funding (or defunding).

Defending Those Who Will Not Defend Themselves


The front cover of the Oregon Commentator in which all 12 of the Mohammad cartoons ran. Spring, 2006.

As the Jyllands-Posten Mohammad cartoon controversy ran wild in 2006, the Oregon Commentator, in an effort to open the discussion about printing the cartoons, printed all twelve of the “offensive” cartoons themselves. One of the only western media outlets to do so, the Commentator saw little reaction to their reprinting of the cartoons. That is, until the Student Insurgent got hold of it.

For some unexplicable reason, the Student Insurgent printed several cartoons in their May 2006 issue of Jesus Christ in several “radical” poses – with a massive, pink boner, as a helicopter, as a woman (and pregnant) etc. The editorial in the Insurgent suggested that this was to “teach the Commentator a lesson” and to “see what it felt like to have their deity impugned”.


Jesus packing some serious heat on the front cover of the Student Insurgent. March, 2006.

Of course, the Commentator is not a Christian organization, and individually the members of the Commentator have typically been ones with little or no religious designation. Quite simply, the Commentator staffers were not, as the Insurgent had hoped, offended by their “artwork”. In fact, upon reading the editorial in the Insurgent, then editor-in-chief Ian Spencer asked his staffers, “Do these people have no reading comprehension skills at all?”

What followed was a national clusterfuck of epic proportions. A former Commentator editor, Owen Brennan, was working as a producer for Bill O’Reilly’s O’Reilly Factor at the time, and wanted the editor of the Insurgent, Don Goldman, to appear on the show. When Brennan asked Commentator editor emeritus Tyler Graf to contact Goldman, the leader of the “anarchist collective” was dismissive of the invitation, “Why the fuck would I want to go on there [the O’Reilly Factor] and get yelled at?” he told Graf.

Mustering all the courage he could, Graf was invited to appear in place of Goldman – and in defense of the Insurgent’s right to free speech (however idiotic and misplaced) – on the show with Mr. O’Reilly. And indeed, he did get yelled at.

In his essay in By the Barrel: 25 Years of the Oregon Commentator, Graf remarked of the situation, “The Insurgent had its opportunity, and in a fit of infighting, decided to slink away into the shadows, like cowards. Looking back on it, it’s obvious the Insurgent collective didn’t actually believe in what they printed, and they had no rationale for it, unlike the OC with its editorial and pictures of the Mohammad cartoons. They were only interested in provoking a response.”

Drew Supports Rape Culture

In one of his fan-favorite editions of “Graphs by Drew” then-staffer and current OC editor-in-chief concocted a particularly hilarious “Odds by Drew” for Valentines Day 2008. The “Odds” gave examples of what you could give to ladies and the odds you would get laid depending on what you gave them. The graph looked like this:

  • A box of chocolates  1:4
  • Roses  1:2
  • A bottle of KY Intrigue  1:50
  • 40’s of 2-11  1:1

Katie Hulse, a member of the Siren (the women’s center’s magazine) found this highly offensive and expressed her concern in a letter to the Emerald that was not printed (for obvious reasons found below). Fortunately for her, she was able to turn her letter into an article for the Siren, “ ‘Odds by Drew’ perpetuates a rape culture and climate, and actively furthers the stereotype that the smart and powerful women at the University of Oregon and everywhere else are at the disposal of men… I urge the ASUO senate to re-examine their funding of this periodical…”

Cattermole’s response was perfectly measured in the next issue of the Commentator, and he responded to Hulse directly, “I see you’re a big fan of my work. Only someone who has too much time on her hands (or loves my odds) could write and 800 word letter about one sentence. Clearly I was way off in thinking that 40’s returning the best odds was a cheap joke. No, it’s definitely a sign that rape is cool.”

The ridiculousness of the situation didn’t escalate from there, but clearly the Commentator is still the victim of overreaction just as much as it was in 2000 as in 2008.

The Decade Ahead

The Commentator has gone through much in the last decade. Several important events, although meaningful, have not been mentioned here. To list them in full would take up too much space, and would be almost impossible to report. Upon examination of the Commentator at the turn of the century, it is clear that the OC is, as 2009 turns to 2010, still an instigator of discussion and a magnet for ideological bombshells from those in the PC movement.

We are still the targets of death threats. We still get called “racists”. We are still the leading contrarian viewpoint on campus. I can only imagine, after reflecting on the last 25 years and the last 10 years individually, that the Commentator will continue on for the next 10 years in the same role it has played – introducing meaningful conversation about campus topics while the Emerald prints Sudoku and the Voice writes about hipster bands.

It’s a labor of love, but someone’s got to drink it. Here’s to the next 10 years.

If you would like to know more about the history of the Oregon Commentator, please contact us about our book: “By the Barrel: 25 Years of the Oregon Commentator”

  1. Michael G. says:

    Heh, that funding “show trial” (quite a good description) was the reason I decided to get involved with the Oregon Commentator to begin with. Becoming an associate editor and all those times at Rennie’s ended up being my favorite part of the whole “college experience”.

    And somehow I have that jackass Mason Quiroz to thank for it.

  2. Loving it says:

    Where can I send in my donation check to ensure oregon commentator writers/editors can get wasted until 2020? I am going to mail it out right before my substancial donations to Chris Dudley and Sarah Palin (each will be granted 3.12 American Dollars), you guys will get double that!

    Is Ciaramella a real name? Or is it some sort of bacteria? Oops, back to doing IV drugs for me.

  3. CJ Ciaramella says:

    That’s cool. Is there any, y’know, current news?

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