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Thu Oct 1, 2015, 06:11 AM

 

Legendary UW-Madison student prankster Leon Varjian dies

http://www.jsonline.com/news/obituaries/legendary-uw-madison-student-prankster-varjian-dies-b99587654z1-330124071.html




A legendary University of Wisconsin-Madison student government prankster best known for putting a foam Statue of Liberty on a frozen Lake Mendota and 1,000 plastic pink flamingos on Bascom Hill died suddenly in New Jersey, where he was a beloved high school math teacher.

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Varjian was 25 when he arrived on the UW-Madison campus in fall 1977. He already had a degree in mathematics from New Jersey's Montclair State. (There, he set up the Miss Montclair Steak Pageant, a spoof of the university's beauty pageant.) He also had been a student at Indiana University at Bloomington, where he sponsored a Banana Olympics, which included a banana toss and a search for a banana hidden in a haystack.

Varjian didn't go to UW-Madison to earn a degree. He took one-credit classes in the late 1970s and early 1980s so he could remain eligible for student government. He was a student senator when he and sidekick Jim Mallon hit on the idea of making up a Pail & Shovel Party, and running a mock campaign later described as "one continuing performance-art piece on the corruption of government."

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Varjian was such a legendary prankster, a case number was devoted to him in the book, "If At All Possible Involve a Cow: The Book of College Pranks." Varjian and Mallon didn't just prank elections, they openly squandered student government funds on beer, parties and other high jinks, including bringing the Statue of Liberty to Madison. It was to have been set up in the dead of night, facing campus, on the ice of frozen Lake Mendota. But the statue took three days to build out of chicken wire, papier-m ché and plywood. It was just the head, arm and torch so it would appear partially submerged. They also flocked Bascom Hill with 1,000 pink plastic flamingos — a tradition that was later embraced as a beloved fall fundraiser, recognizing alumni donors.



And when the student government funds ran low, Leon sent Jim Mallon to Vegas to try to run up some more cash. This before the State of Wisconsin started a lottery. RIP Leon.

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Reply Legendary UW-Madison student prankster Leon Varjian dies (Original post)
Scuba Oct 2015 OP
dhill926 Oct 2015 #1
postulater Oct 2015 #2

Response to Scuba (Original post)

Thu Oct 1, 2015, 07:44 AM

1. Aw man…

Remember those days well (kind of…). A great time to be in Madison.

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Response to Scuba (Original post)

Thu Oct 1, 2015, 07:47 AM

2. And when there were complaints about waste by the student council

he stood at the exit door of the registration hall and handed out one cent rebates to all of the students as we left.

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