I really do not remember exactly when Bob Faggen ‘82 and I actually started Nassau Weekly, but it was most likely over a pitcher or two (maybe three) of beer one evening at Chancellor Green (where you could charge beer on your U-Store Card and at your parent’s expense as it showed up as ‘misc. sundries’ on the monthly bill) which is where most important meeting of our era took place. I vaguely remember that my St. Paul’s classmate, Todd Purdum ‘82, who at the time was active in the Press Club, made the initial introduction. Bob was, and probably still is, an extremely intelligent and intensely serious individual who most of the time was consumed by his passion for classical music and literature. I think Bob recognized a real need for journalistic coverage of culture and the arts as many of our generation were passionately interested in both the liberal arts and creative writing.
At the time I was selling advertising for the Princeton Alumni Weekly as well as the Business Manager of that famous Princeton sporadic and sophomoric rag—the Princeton Tiger—which was the hang out at the time of Katie Carpenter ‘79, John Farr ‘81, Eric Schlosser ‘81, who was also writing the Triangle Show, as well as subsequently by Brett Watson, and many other free creative spirits of writers and cartoonists, too many to mention, who were mentored (or more aptly censored) by Henry Martin ’48 and John McPhee ‘53. The Tiger had a very modest office at 48 University Place upstairs from the Prince, but as I recall, at the time, the Press Club group mostly looked down (or over) their noses from their office across from Firestone Library at the Prince staffers and the competitive and often toxic environment that was prevalent in putting out a daily paper.
Bob Faggen was certainly the publishing and editorial catalyst who worked doggedly to get Nassau Weekly started. I provided some capital (with the help of paid advertising) as well as access to a very manually intensive typesetting machine that was always breaking down and running out of paper or toner at the most inopportune times. Page layout was all done by hand and then taken to the printer to be shot and printed for Friday morning distribution. This was way before computers and automation, so everything had to be done manually. If mistakes were made, entire articles needed to be retyped. In fact, to give a better idea of the lack of technology at Princeton, my father, who was exasperated at never being able to contact me, purchased an $800 phone-answering machine (a pitcher of beer was $3.50) which I believe was the first one on campus. I remember numerous calls of classmates and even faculty calling to hear this “amazing” technology and leaving novelty messages which I now wish I had kept for posterity.
At the beginning, it was really Marc Fisher ‘80, David Remnick ‘81, and Alex Wolff ‘79 who were the creative writing geniuses that initially made Nassau Weekly into what it has become—a serious publication for longer insightful and often quirky articles of general interest that make great reading, something for everybody with an emphasis on contemporary art and culture. Additionally, I want to mention my very fond memories and friendships of the comrades like Don Hawthorne ‘82 (we also founded the Princeton Endowment for the Arts) who diligently typed, smoked, and drank coffee most of the night to get the paper ready to go to the printer every week as well as many other tireless workers without whom Nassau Weeklywould have failed quickly in its youth.
For me it was the contact and friendships with other Princetonians, both older and younger that I remember most fondly. I am quite overwhelmed and somewhat surprised that something that I helped get off the ground over as generation ago is still relevant and cherished over 40 years later. Finally, I thank Bob Faggen for his perseverance and vision to begin publishing Nassau Weekly.
Andrew Rose is a founding member of the Nassau Weekly.