Doordropped: Some Salient Advice

“Who needs H Bomb when we have Fifteen Minutes and the Independent?” the Harvard Salient’s Gladden J. Pappin ’04 asked
By Leon Neyfakh

“Who needs H Bomb when we have Fifteen Minutes and the Independent?” the Harvard Salient’s Gladden J. Pappin ’04 asked two years ago. His complaint may have been inspired by squeamishness, but at the heart of the matter lay a local case of media saturation. Harvard’s doordrop boxes were bursting, and since 2003, the door-dropping has only increased. Upstart glossies like Cinematic and the new Current challenge old guard standards like the Independent and the Advocate, and a half-dozen humor magazines try their hardest to make us laugh harder than the Lampoon.

Pappin can whine all he wants, but we welcome the media onslaught. The Salient, Harvard’s token conservative paper, should agree that competition is never a bad thing. But we do understand why Pappin felt overwhelmed. (Nude girls!)

The whole mess is landing on our floors like a pile of socks with no hamper in sight. For the next semester, this column aspires to be that hamper. What does Newsweek have to do with Current? And how does the Advocate choose what poems to run? Why is the Indy? This media column will be the place to find out.

For the time being, it’s only appropriate to turn our attention towards Pappin’s old haunt: The Salient.

Coming out swinging last week with their debut issue of the year, The Salient had the overall feel of an Intro to Harvard for young conservatives in the class of 2009. Editor Travis R. Kavulla ’06, ripped straight from the pages of the Crimson’s own editorial board, enlisted a little help from above for the housewarming, soliciting a piece from none other than Kenan Professor of Government Harvey C. Mansfield ’53.

An advisor to The Salient since its founding in 1981, Mansfield seems to serve as a kind of manly den-mother to the magazine staff, and his latest piece seems an effort to extend that relationship to the entire student body.

“My request was that he write what he thought incoming undergraduates would most need to be told,” Kavulla wrote in an e-mail.

Fresh off last spring’s interview with H Bomb, in which he admonished Harvard women for giving men “free samples,” Mansfield was right back on his grind. Along with a tremendous riff about dining hall food, Mansfield drew blood on three separate battlefields: politically correct professors, the uselessness of benevolent activity, and the dangers of loveless sex. He’d been thinking about these things for a while, he told Doordropped—and all three take some inspiration from his scholarly work.

Mansfield claims to have only written one or two other articles in the history of The Salient, although he graciously deferred the specifics to Kavulla, who says he contributes fairly regularly in the form of articles and interviews. No matter the numbers, Mansfield unquestionably enjoys a comfortable and unique relationship with the magazine.

“He’s a very active Faculty advisor generally,” Kavulla wrote in his e-mail. “He attends some of our social functions—i.e. our recent croquet outing—and helps our members secure internships and jobs.”

Mansfield did not actually play croquet, according to Kavulla, although he did “appear fashionably attired in a straw hat and summer jacket appropriate for the occasion.”

“I stayed until I was just overcome with pleasure,” Mansfield told Doordropped, “and I was satisfied.”