Nathan Cambridge ’99 has used his Macalester degree to become a starring actor in national and international commercials, a freelance sports reporter for the Los Angeles Times Media Group and the High Priest of Beanpole, the god of pointless behavior.
At Macalester, Cambridge majored in communications and dramatic arts with an acting emphasis. He performed improv comedy with Fresh Concepts, directed and acted in several shows for Mac Players during its inaugural year of 1997, was a member of the rugby team and the now defunct home-brewing club, and worked on campus at the physical plant. “So I got access to lots of dark tunnels and hidden places beneath the school,” he said.
Cambridge’s religious creation, “Beanpole,” is most well known in his hometown of Bloomington, Indiana, where it has had a float in the city’s Independence Day parade for the past twenty years.
“While the floats and people involved have changed, Cambridge and the Beanpole icon, a stick figure drawn on a bed sheet, have been a part of the spectacle every year,” according to an article written in Bloomington’s Herald Times this summer. The article added that nonsense phrases, such as “Talk to the horseman if you want a potato,” are shouted through bullhorns as part of the procession. Beanpole has also traveled to California, where Cambridge will submit an entry, called the Flying Baby Circus, in the Pasadena Doo Dah parade for the seventh time this November.
Cambridge is not Beanpole but is the brainpower behind the inception of the unique, antinormative group called Beanpole. “Beanpole is not a ‘who,’ really,” he said. “Beanpole is the god of pointless behavior. I am the High Priest of Beanpole, not Beanpole per se.”
Beanpole’s formative years occurred while Cambridge was at Macalester. “I imagine the level of discourse, whacky enterprises engaged in, variety of intelligent schoolmates and freedom of thought afforded fostered the idea,” Cambridge said.
Cambridge honed his float building skills in Dan Keyser’s technical theater courses. And don’t think you will only be able to wear your Macalester graduation robe once – Cambridge wears his for Beanpole parades and events. He has also been known to come back to campus now and then to paint the rock in dedication to Beanpole. “This might very well happen again this late November,” he hinted.
For students worried about post-Macalester plans, Cambridge has advice. “Just be your own potato; have your own eyes and grow your own roots,” he said. “For those leaving Mac soon, I will share that one of the things I missed most was the sea of intelligent, interesting and empowered people that surround you at Macalester. Soon the outside world will surround you with humanity that isn’t so awesome. Maintain your community and be a leader. Like [Bertolt] Brecht said, ‘Art is not a mirror held up to reality, but a hammer with which to shape it.’”
You can watch Cambridge and his signature horseshoe mustache in old spots for Foster’s Beer, Go Daddy, Coke Zero, Valvoline and Swiffer, check out his journalistic work in the Burbank Leader and Glendale News-Press and keep up with Beanpole on the Facebook page, “Beanpole the god of pointless behavior.”