Today, September 22nd, marks the birthday of not one, not two, but three very dear fraternity brothers.
All three of them are unique. All three of them are special. And all three of them know how to throw back a beer.
September 22nd. It’s a special day.
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Facebook tells me that one of them is named Kevin Doran. My question is: who the hell is Kevin Doran?
The man I knew went only by one name. It was not Kevin, and it was not Doran.
I first met him as an 18 year-old pledge, and even then, so early in his college career, he’d already reached a mononymous level of infamy.
The NBA has LeBron. Hip-hop has Kanye. Tau Kappa Epsilon at USC? We had Tebow.
Tebow wasn’t a human being. He was a force of nature. A juggernaut. When he was hyped up, and a few beers deep, there wasn’t anything on this planet that could stop him.
Doors? No way. Walls? Please. Other people? No chance. Nothing could stop Tebow when he was in the zone. He was a blissful blur of benevolent belligerence.
But beneath the size, the the strength, and the grit, there was a heart of gold. A good man. A Midwestern boy who found his home, and his place, at our fraternity. One of those guys whom you’re proud to call a brother — especially when you’re a tough situation.
Tebow was part of the Fall ’09 pledge class. Those boys changed our fraternity, with their passion, with their energy, with their commitment to having a good time. And Tebow was a huge part of that special group.
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Dexter put everything into our fraternity. In his years at TKE, he did everything he could, not only to improve the quality of his own life, but the quality of ours.
There were some outstandingly good-looking women at USC. And Dexter did his best to ensure that they showed up at Tau Kappa Epsilon on Friday mornings. Porch days.
Most of my memories of Dexter are of him as a respected brother, as a member of the executive board. But I do have a vague idea of what he was like as a pledge, in Fall ’09. He respected his elders, but he didn’t take unnecessary shit from anyone.
As Social Chair, Dexter was a confident voice in chapter meetings. A confident, liberal voice, in those awkward moments when things got ugly, when politics threatened to split us apart. He was also the voice of reason, whenever things got a little out of hand. He knew how to keep guys in line, without pricking their egos.
Dexter was also true to his roots. Most of us at TKE were newcomers to LA, and I think that at one point or another, in big ways or small, we all struggled with the superficiality of Southern California. Dexter was an aspiring actor, but he was never fake. He was Bay Area, through and through.
And in those quiet, late night moments, on the couch of the Taj, or out on the front porch, Dexter would always share what was really on his mind. Thoughtful, insightful. An artist.
Other times we weren’t quiet, or contemplative. We raved our hearts, and our souls out. All day, and all night. At EDC, and Hard Haunted. Electrified by light, and energy, and colour, and sound.
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I guess that leaves Michelman.
Michelman, I think, was born with a microphone in his hand. We graduated together, in the class of 2012, but he pledged the semester before me, in the Fall of ’08.
I remember him presiding calmly over my rush events in Spring ’09. He was statesmanlike and serene. Comfortable on stage; he always knew how to find a laugh. A simple, easy laugh. A professional laugh.
Michelman had these brilliant blue eyes, and he was always watching, observing, collecting material — and there was plenty, at USC, and at TKE Beta-Sigma.
That booming voice of his. Honestly, Michelman didn’t even need a microphone sometimes. At parties, on Thursday nights, there would always come a moment in which he would suddenly appear, on one of those rickety wooden platforms we built, overlooking the dancefloor.
Michelman, would stand there, with both arms aloft. One fist would be clenched in victory; the other would be invariably be holding a handle of vodka. Triumphant. Proud. Jewish. Happy with his station in life.
Jack and Cam were fraternity historians the year before Tim and me, and together they forever raised the standard of what our end-of-year Red Carnation Ball recap film could be.
The absurd, the disgusting, the obscene, the explicit: Jack and Cam captured it all. And let me tell you: some things just can’t be unseen.
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Happy birthday, brothers. Thanks for the good times.