One in Two Thousand: Julian Speyer ’24

Bellamy Richardson

(Bellamy Richardson/The Williams Record)

Each week, we randomly select a unix from a list of all current students at the College for our One in Two Thousand feature. As long as the owner of a selected unix is willing to be interviewed and is not a member of the Record board, that person becomes the subject of our interview. This week, the computer (using a script in R) chose Julian Speyer ’24, who talked about his gap year, his WCFM radio show, and acceptable slang. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Bellamy Richardson (BR): So, we go way back to the very first day of freshman year. In fact, I think you were the first person in our entry I spoke to. But you took a year off, so now you’re a sophomore, right? 

Julian Speyer (JS): I am a sophomore now.

BR: What did you do on your gap year?

JS: I lived and worked in New York City. I worked at a bar, a bookstore, and a bakery.

BR: Could you tell me about some of the people you met during your year off?

JS: I have a list of people from the year. I’ll narrow it down.  [Long pause.] Can we circle back to that?

BR: OK. Switching gears a bit — do you have a favorite professor at Williams?

JS: Yes. Shawn Rosenheim. The dude knows what’s up.

BR: What’s that relationship like?

JS: Tight-knit. He’ll be talking at the wedding for sure. How did I describe it to somebody the other day? Oh, there would be — sorry Shawn — thousands of other people who I would pick in terms of helping me to survive physically, but if the world ended tomorrow, and we were all in these little warring factions, Shawn Rosenheim would be my number one pick for commentator — like sage witticisms, general takes on the absurdity of the situation.

BR: So, we’re currently in the WCFM radio station. Is there anything special about this place to you?

JS: Many things. I have a story of why I love and respect the radio. Freshman fall, I’m sitting here, I have my 11 p.m. time slot. I’d say it’s my sixth episode of The Smooth Move: my laxative tea-based nightly music program, and I get a call from my best friend… I’m on the air, phone-in live. I pick it up. I’d heard they were gonna call for a couple days, and I was really excited. So I pick up the line, and there’s just screaming. There’s just yelling on the phone. It was intoxicated shrieking. Someone was screaming a Katy Perry song. I was really taken aback. I just sat there — and I apologize to all the radio kids who I’ve bashed over the head with this story before, but I’ll have to repeat it for the greater good — and I’m sitting there, and I’m just in a little pit of despair. What is happening to me? I have an 11 p.m. time slot for a show named after an herbal laxative tea. Why am I bugging out about this? And I call her the next day, and I’m like, “Why’d you do that?” The thing ends in the biggest fight we’ve ever gotten in. There were tears on both sides — visceral apologies delivered and received. 

I was sitting in the station the next day too, and I was just like, “Oh my God, I take this really seriously.” This is my big plug for joining the radio station. I love this place. You’re sitting on the couch upon which I’ve slept more hours than my bed.

BR: What’s your show now?

JS: It’s on Monday nights. It’s called I Love This, Man! It’s a show co-hosted by my main man Sam Thorpe [’22]. We’re figuring it out.

BR: Do you have any future plans for what you might do on your radio show?

JS: We’re not making God’s gifts or anything. The show revolves around finding weird stuff that we both find interesting, and that isn’t necessarily music, and that takes a lot more time to figure out than what I was doing freshman year, which was just making a playlist. My plan is, I wanna stick to the title. I want other people to say, “I love this, man!”

BR: Would you like to circle back to the people you met over your gap year?

JS: [Pause.] In Bushwick, there is a man. You’ll find him on the corner of Wilson and Melrose, and you may find him there from the hours of 11 p.m. to 4 in the morning on some weekend nights. His name is Tybo. His Christian name is Tyson. He is a huge man, a gifted chef, and a wonderful friend. He stands there, manning his Weber grill. The first few times I met him … I wasn’t entirely sure that he existed. 

Tybo was, at first, something of an apparition. I would find him, and he would provide me with food, drink, music, entertainment, a lawn chair, company, a dog, camaraderie — all for 10 dollars. Sometimes no money. Sometimes, there would be laughter when I tried to produce my money. This would happen a few times, and then I’d come back the next night, and he wouldn’t be there, and then, a month later, I’d come back, and he’d be there. It followed no rhyme or reason. Only later did I find out he has a wonderful Instagram page — very few followers — called ‘Tybo’s Kitchen’ (@tyboskitchen).

What did Tybo teach me? Patience. He’s wonderfully quiet. He’s got a great fortitude about him. He wears an apron — mind you, the man is mountainous — and his apron is embroidered with these pink rhinestones, and his wife comes out in her bathrobe at 2 in the morning, and their pitbull can’t sleep because he needs Tybo to say, “Good night” to him, and he makes you a thing called a Bushwick Burger, which is filled with so many absurd condiments that you can’t even take a bite. Then, you walk away at 3 in the morning, and you’re not really sure where you are, and you’re not really sure if he existed, but you know, like, I just made a friend. 

BR: That’s a lovely story. 

JS: Can I tell you a crazy thing that happened yesterday?

BR: Absolutely.

JS: I cried in the shower. My biggest fear since the age of 6 was not the loss of a family, an orphanage, a meteor, cannibals, zombies — it was passing a kidney stone. It’s no joke. There should be no laugh track. I just knew — this was the big one. Do your showers have seats in them? You know what I’m talking about. In the moment, I was sure that that seat was put there for one scared boy, certain that his kidney stone was imminent. I sat there, and I put my head in my hands. I looked up. I looked down. It was heavy. But we made it through. I was convinced it was the last night’s decision to mix the mayonnaise with the ketchup at the Snar. I don’t really know anything about kidney stones. 

BR: Well, I’m glad you’re here to tell the tale. Last question: What do you want more of at Williams?

JS: They need slang here. The slang here is in abysmal condition. I heard someone use the word “chirp” the other day, and then someone started imitating a small bird. It was appalling. 

BR: Is there a word of slang that you would like to introduce to the student body of Williams?

JS: Yeah, I got one. “Deeshed.”

BR: What does “deeshed” mean?

JS: To “deesh” could be a verb, but it is more used as a state; that’s “deeshed.” That’s a messed-up situation. He totally “deeshed” her; he cheated on her. He acted like a scoundrel. Man, this is “deeshed.”

OK, “deeshed” or “hesh.” “Hesh” is a great word that we’re missing here. Are you ready for “hesh”? “Hesh” is not a verb; it’s only an adjective. It’s not an art kid. It doesn’t mean artsy, but it doesn’t mean punk either. It’s kind of this hybrid. It’s the kid who … he doesn’t wear Dickies anymore. I wouldn’t know because I’ve also been displaced from my roots and uprooted, but you’ll see them at the show, and they’re dressed ridiculously but kind of well. Like … Phillip Pyle [’22].