You already know the inimitable Oliver Goodman ’17 and his golden retriever, Freddy Goodman ’17, one of the most popular and highest-profile dogs on campus. But do you know Freddy’s secret crush or Oliver’s most embarrassing moment? The Argus sat down with the Goodmans outside of Freeman to get the scoop on Death Valley, park ranging, and the Kardashians.
The Argus: Why are you Wescelebs?
Oliver Goodman: Well, I’ve been nominating myself twice a week—I didn’t know it was just for seniors, actually—for three years. My friend Isabel Fine [’17] nominated Freddy, she said, so here we are.
Freddy Goodman: I’m nice to everyone. I get along with everyone.
OG: Except the other dogs.
A: Wasn’t he a fugitive when he first came here?
OG: I was really stupid. I didn’t get him approved. He was really small. He used to come to class. And he’s only barked twice in his life, but one day he was having a dream in Tischler, that huge lecture hall, in a chem class. And the professor was like, “Oh, I didn’t know there was a dog in here!” He wasn’t mad; he was just confused. So Freddy stopped coming to class after that.
A: What’s on your respective bucket lists before graduation?
OG: Freddy wants to eat all the vomit he can find, I guess. He loves to eat vomit. Sunday mornings are his favorite, because all the vomit from Thursday, Friday, and Saturday has accumulated. I’ll think, “Oh, we can walk to Weshop; that’ll be safe.” But nowhere is safe. So that’s on his bucket list.
What’s on my bucket list? I don’t know. I’ve had a pretty good year. I think I’ve done pretty much everything. I want to get Freddy in the pool.
A: Tell me about your essay on Death Valley as a queer space.
OG: Wow, where to start? Everyone doesn’t understand, and I’m not sure myself how the desert is queer. I used to work in [Professor of Biology] Fred Cohan’s lab, and he used to do stuff with bacteria that live on the salt flats on the floor of Badwater Basin, which is the hottest, lowest, driest place in the entire Western hemisphere, and I think it has the world record for hottest temperature.
But how did I get from that to Death Valley being queer? I kind of wrote about Latino culture and national parks, and how national parks are very much designed to keep small, white families in and to keep people of color and queer people out. The backcountry permits: you can only take four people out at a time and only have two tent sites, so I kind of looked—I worked at Glacier National Park for two summers—at Glacier’s backcountry permits, and I looked at Death Valley as the exception to all those rules.
I also looked at this idea that nature should be pure and pristine and “virgin wilderness,” and kind of how that was created with a sort of settler colonialist logic, to keep Native Americans out of the parks, and how Death Valley wasn’t protected initially, because it was seen as a harsh environment. So I bring that full circle and connect it to the bacteria that live there.
A: You must have a deep relationship with nature. What are both of your favorite things to do outside?
OG: Freddy’s very much a country dog. I got him on Craigslist from a family in Western Mass. My parents live in downtown Philly, so whenever I take him home, he doesn’t know how to go to the bathroom; he’ll just go in the middle of the sidewalk. He likes to go to Miller’s a lot. He likes swimming around in a circle for hours at a time. And I mean hours.
For me, I’d never been west of Pennsylvania before my sophomore year of college, and my friend from here and I drove to San Francisco and back. So I was like, “Woah, this country’s dope.” And then next summer I went out to Glacier, and here I am.
A: What’s it like out there?
OG: It kicked my ass a lot. I didn’t know to camp, how to backpack. I didn’t know anything about forest fires; I didn’t understand anything about bears; I didn’t know what the continental divide was. I think that was kind of a shock, but it was awesome. That summer there was a huge forest fire, and we had to evacuate several times.
A: What’s the day in the life of a park ranger?
OG: My first season, I was doing a lot of bear management, so a lot of, like, “Hey, bear! Stay away from those people!” Bears are really scared of people, so you just clap and make loud noises, and they run away. Last summer, I was doing backcountry permits two days a week, and then two days a week I was out in the backcountry doing backpacking and patrolling, and then at Yellowstone [next year], I’m going to be doing stuff with environmental education—leading the nature hikes. I get to give a talk every night on a critique of wilderness, which I’m excited about. I want to call it “Yellowstone is Queer,” but I’m sure I’ll get fired within the first week. Men park rangers can’t even have an earring. It’s wild.
A: Why not? Too gay?
OG: Yeah, I guess. You get a long list of standards, too. Women, if they wear the uniform that has a skirt, they have to shave their legs, which is ridiculous. So I’m making a list of battles to fight.
A: Did you have any near-death experiences?
OG: Oh, yeah. The fires were pretty scary. Once my car caught fire, too. My parents were really, really nice and gave me their ten-year-old minivan to take with me to Glacier. And I’d never driven on a dirt road, and I was excited, you know, listening to country music for the second time. But I hit a ditch and knocked the whole bottom of the car off. I was on a dirt road, way back. I tried to tie together a string, but it caught fire. It was just a nightmare.
A: How have you changed since freshman year?
OG: I got recruited to swim here. I was very much into the image of being an athlete, and I think that’s no longer the case. I also thought I was majoring in journalism, which it turns out we did not have. Freddy’s obviously a new addition. Freddy came my sophomore year. He’s put on some weight.
A: Do you have any enemies?
A: How many?
OG: A lot. There’s the Oliver Goodman Fan Club, but there’s also the Oliver Goodman Association of Haters.
A: What do you say to your haters?
OG: You just have to let your haters be your motivators. The Oliver Goodman brand is really built on the haters. Not that I’m trying to prove anything.
[Freddy humps the leg of a passer-by; Oliver pulls him away.]
OG: It’s hard, because I’m not trying to shame his sexuality.
A: Is Freddy queer?
OG: Yeah, Freddy’s queer.
A: Freddy, what are your thoughts on President Roth being rehired?
FG: I like Roth because he raises a lot for financial aid, but I don’t like Roth because he’s cool-for-teens.
A: Freddy, how do you feel when Oliver ties you up outside of Weshop?
FG: I like it. I get to see a lot of people; I get to smell food. I like when doors open—that’s really exciting. I’m confused by the glass box, but overall I like it.
A: Freddy, any crushes on campus?
OG: Freddy has a crush on Maisie. Who else? Freddy’s not really into heteronormative-people relationships. He’s trying to queer the way down his own path.
A: How has he been doing that?
OG: He says he wants to be in an open relationship with another dog, or he’s thinking about going interspecies. Never a human, or anything. Let’s not go down that road. He’s just trying to explore his sexuality and get the full Wes experience.
A: What’s your most embarrassing moment?
OG: I shit my pants sophomore year. It was Freddy’s fault. I used to live in [Malcolm] X House—it was awesome; it was my favorite living space—and it was a normal morning. I was having my coffee outside with Freddy on that field, letting him run when he should have been on the leash. The normal stuff. And then I had to go, so I started walking back, and then I was like, “Oh, crap—I really have to go.” So I started walking back, and Freddy wasn’t back on the leash yet, and usually, he’s really good: he comes right away. But he wasn’t coming. I was like, “Freddy, you really, really need to come.” He was following me, but he wanted me to chase him. So I was on the second floor of X House, and when we finally got in, I was walking up the steps, and it just, like, yeah.
[Someone] was asleep in my bed, actually, so I had to sneak in there, grab new underwear, drop Freddy off, go to the shower, and throw out my old underwear. I was like, “Do I want to throw it out or wash it? I’ll throw it out.”
A: Were there any witnesses?
OG: No, no witnesses. I don’t think anybody knows.
A: So I guess we’re creating your most embarrassing moment right now.
OG: Oh, yeah. I should have thought about that.
A: Who’s your celebrity crush?
OG: Kim Kardashian. I was going to not talk about the Kardashians, but why not.
A: What about them pulls you in?
OG: Just the brilliance of it. It’s so smart. It’s the smartest show. I think Kim’s a genius. I’m excited to see what North and Saint turn out to be, because Kanye’s also—there’s something in Kanye’s head, let me put it that way. I think Kourtney’s smart, I think Khloé’s smart, and I’m really excited for Kylie, too. I think she’s going to take over the whole franchise if Kris ever dies.