ROBERT ROSENTHAL puts his career as a magician on hold to fight fires and the injustice of Macalester elevators.

By Olivia Provan

Robert Rosenthal ’08 has already made a strong impression at Macalester, but is aiming to leave with a lasting one. He plans on taking collegiate activism to a new level with at least three plans. First, Rosenthal plans to address what he calls the “tree problem” at mcalester, with the motivating belief that the school has far too many trees. He hopes his efforts in taking down trees will not only address the tree problem, but also help reduce the number of squirrels on campus. Second, Rosenthal plans to start the first Macalester chapter of the NRA in order to give the campus a “South-of-the-Border” feel. And finally, Rosenthal is putting out a challenge to President Brian Rosenberg to end the sexism he feels exists on campus elevators. Rosenthal dishes with Spotlight about these plans, his summer firefighting, his reasons for studying Middle Eastern languages, and more with his “representation,” Brad Goldstein ’08, by his side.You trained to be a firefighter in California this summer. What made you want to fight fires?

I got paid to do all of the things my mom would never let me do – throw grenades and jump out of helicopters.

You actually jumped out of helicopters? Where?

Of course. We had to practice rapelling out of twin turbines. And we fought fires in San Diego, the Grand Canyon, and Idaho – spud fires.

Sounds pretty demanding. Did you see or feel a physical difference?

Well my right trap got bigger than my left. That’s what happens when you carry around a 30-pound chain saw all day on one arm.

Wow that’s pretty intense. Any damage to your morale?

Only the resulting trash talking hurt the mind. But you couldn’t trash talk back or you’d get yelled at. The first three weeks were like boot camp with drill sergeants and everything. If you talked out of line they’d scream, “SHUT YOUR COCK HOLSTER, ROSENTHAL.” Cock holster, like a gun holster. It was kind of poetic in a way. I also had the worst haircut of my life. For the first three weeks of training everyone had to have a mohawk. So I had two options, wear a beanie or look like a weenie – San Diego was hot.

Did your cross country training help you get in shape for firefighting?

No, cross country didn’t help at all. It weakened my bones and gave me premature arthritis. And progressive Alzheimer’s. I don’t do cross country anymore – I quit yesterday. I just worked hard and didn’t get paid.

Since you’re not running this year, what are your plans? You’re a classics major right?

I’m a Classics major with a minor in common sense. And I’m taking Arabic this year. I was taking Hebrew because I figured that once I went bald I could wear a yarmulke, but I’m balding so fast that I think I’m going to need a turban.

At this point Rosenthal stops the interview by pulling back in his seat and spreading out his arms to halt conversation. His “representative,” Brad Goldstein, gives him an encouraging nod.

I’d like to put out a challenge. A challenge to Brian Rosenberg.

Go ahead.

While the rest of America pressures George Bush to end women’s suffrage in America, we’d like to use this opportunity to pressure Brain Rosenberg to end elevator sexism. Macalester use a square with two stick figures – two MALE stick figures – to symbolize an elevator, while other off-campus locations use a male and female stick figure. It’s time for a change.

You raise a valid point. Hopefully your challenge will be met. Now I have to ask you a very serious question. Anyone who knows you is aware of your magic trick where you levitate a dollar bill in mid-air. Some people, myself included, claim that you have magical powers. How do you do it?

It’s not magic. I simply conjure up the spirit of dead presidents, Lincoln, Washington, Taft, whoever he may be. I use their spirits to
levitate the bill.

Seriously. Will you tell us how you do it?

Whaaaaaat? Hell no. That’s why I didn’t do the trick for the Spotlight. Too many people would analyze the picture.

Anything else you want to share?

Yes, this is my last interview.