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SPRING 2018

MIKE SWEENEY PAINTS A LASTING IMPRESSION

A Berry GOOD BRUNCH ATHENS DJS Set the Record Straight Unwrap Your Perfect Burrito


Letter from the Editor

Alexandra Greenberg Editor-in-Chief, backdropmag@gmail.com

The second I first stepped on Ohio University’s campus, I was enchanted. Athens drew me in, just as it has pulled in thousands of students, professors and residents for years. It’s a place that leaves a mark on everyone who passes through, and likewise, it’s sometimes changed by remarkable locals. Those kind of people include journalism professor and artist Mike Sweeney, who finds joy in painting and teaching while battling terminal cancer (pg. 24). His artistic process allows him to create and give his art away to friends and loved ones. Kristin Waltz, a Survivor Advocacy Program employee and musician, spends her days advocating for survivors of gender-based violence and her nights fronting the band the Come On Come Ons (pg. 8). Her contributions through social work and music showcase how Athens’ residents impact the community in meaningful ways. When a staffer and I gave roller derby a try this semester, we were introduced to “Maim Squeeze,” “Brüzer von Hammerstein” and the other kickass women who dedicate time to the sport in addition to working various full-time jobs (pg. 42). We stood shakily on skates in the center of the rink as the Appalachian Hell Betties sped around us, occasionally stopping to teach us a thing or two. In that moment, I found myself dreading my impending graduation from a place full of such kind and helpful people, although it may seem a little rough around the edges. Athens won’t be an easy place to leave. Leaving Backdrop won’t be painless either, but it’s in good hands with next year’s editor-in-chief, Julie Ciotola. As students prepare for the next chapter in Athens, I’ll be packing up and driving away. I feel prepared to head into the “real world,” but I’ll never forget my time here and the people and experiences that made and continue to make Athens such a magical place. Best,

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SPRING 2018 » VOLUME 11 ISSUE 4


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backdrop magazine

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EDITOR-IN-CHIEF ALEXANDRA GREENBERG MANAGING EDITOR ADAM MCCONVILLE ASSISTANT MANAGING EDITOR ABBEY KNUPP ASSOCIATE EDITORS ALEXIS MCCURDY & LILLI SHER COPY CHIEF LIZ HARPER COPY EDITORS DARYL DAVIDSON, MADISON EBLEN, AVERY KREEMER WRITERS RACHAEL BEARDSLEY, ELEANOR BISHOP, GRACE DEARING, JESSICA DEYO, BAILEY FINK, RYAN FLYNN, ANNIE GOINS, ALLY LANASA, HALEY RISCHAR WEB EDITORS JULIE CIOTOLA & MICHAELA FATH VIDEO EDITOR CHRISTIAN GOODE

PUBLISHER IGGY COSSMAN CREATIVE DIRECTOR EMILY CARUSO ART DIRECTORS TAYLOR DIPLACIDO & JESSICA KOYNOCK DESIGNERS KALEIGH BOWEN, HALEIGH CONTINO, MADISON FOULKES, KAITLIN HENEGHAN, JYLIAN HERRING, KRISTEN HUNT, KATE KINGERY, MADDIE KNOSTMAN, ASHLEY LAFLIN, SAMANTHA MUSLOVSKI, MORGAN MEYER, MAGGIE WATROS DIRECTOR OF MEMBER RELATIONS MARIE CHAILOSKY MARKETING DIRECTOR SARAH NEWGARDE PHOTO EDITOR SARAH WILLIAMS ONLINE PHOTO EDITOR MADDIE SCHROEDER ASSISTANT PHOTO EDITOR MAX CATALANO PHOTOGRAPHERS CELIA SNYDER & BAXTER TURAIN

Want to advertise Interested in in Backdrop? working with us? Send an email to Stop by one of our weekly backdropadvertising@gmail.com meetings at 8 p.m. to get started. Tuesdays in Scripps 116.

Follow us on Twitter @BackdropMag

SEE THE PHOTO STORY PAGE 30 A teacher at the Ohio School for the Deaf shows a student how to use video messaging. In the Deaf community, individuals text or send video chats in lieu of phone calls.

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CONTENTS FEATURES BURIED HISTORY

Learn about the Native American earthworks that have existed in Southeast Ohio for thousands of years . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20

PORTRAIT OF GRACE UNDER PRESSURE

Through his artwork and teaching, professor Mike Sweeney creates a lasting legacy at Ohio University . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24

Q&A

PHOTO STORY

The voice of Jafar in Disney’s Aladdin movies who brings his role to life on Broadway and the co-producer for new Star Wars films share their stories. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6

Students learn adaptive forms of communication at the Ohio School for the Deaf . . . . . . . . . . . . 30

BOBCAT SUCCESS STORIES

THE DROP

RAISING HER VOICE

CALENDAR ON THE BRICKS

The best events in Athens this spring . . . . . . . 34

Kristin Waltz, an advocate with the OU Survivor Advocacy Program, found her passion in social work and music . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8

SEX & HEALTH

BEEN THERE, FILMED THAT

Alternatives to cigarettes may prove safer but may still carry some risks . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 36

A media professor promotes international travel to bring students out of their comfort zones . . . . 10

KEEP THE CHANGE

The Parkmobile app allows students to pay for parking on the go . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12

FOOD

TOAST TO FRIENDSHIP

CLOUDY WITH A CHANCE OF HEALTH RISKS

ENTERTAINMENT THE LOCAL SPIN

DJs B-Funk, Hex and Trail Mix share a behind-thescenes look at the Athens DJ community . . . . 38

SPORTS

At Shade Winery, owner Neal Dix connects with his customers and the earth by sharing good times and good wines . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14

SADDLE UP

RECIPE

VOICES

RISE AND DINE

Try Backdrop’s french toast berry bruschetta recipe to sweeten your morning.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16 Cover photo by Baxter Turain

SIGN & TELL

Members of the OU equestrian team combine a love of horses with a competitive streak . . . . . 40

CRASH COURSE

Two Backdroppers may have unexpectedly found their true passion: roller derby . . . . . . . . . . . . . 42

INFOGRAPHIC

BIG MAMMA’S BEST

Dieticians break down common misconceptions about caffeine . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18

EXHIBIT A

BEHIND THE BUZZ

SPRING 2018 » VOLUME 11 ISSUE 4

Adam McConville shares advice for Big Mamma’s newcomers and returning customers . . . . . . . 44

Mike Sweeney finds solace in his paintings . . 46

PHOTO HUNT

Spot the five differences between these photos taken at the March for Our Lives . . . . . . . . . . . 47

www.backdropmagazine.com

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BOBCAT

Q&A

SUCCESS STORIES

BY BAILEY FINK PHOTOS PROVIDED BY DEEN VAN MEER AND LUCASFILM

Two OU alumni recount their journeys from the small town of Athens to big cities.

JONATHAN FREEMAN Freeman, right, performs as Jafar.

J

onathan Freeman, best known as the voice of Jafar in the Disney movie Aladdin, graduated from OU’s theater program in 1972. Since graduating, Freeman has been on Broadway 10 times, most notably in How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, The Little Mermaid and She Loves Me, for which he received a Tony nomination. Now, Freeman is performing in Disney’s Aladdin on Broadway as Jafar.

WHAT WAS YOUR TIME AT OU LIKE?

WERE YOU A FAN OF DISNEY PRIOR TO VOICING JAFAR? Absolutely. Since I was a kid, but more than that I was a fan of Disney villains, specifically. Everything about them appealed to me. Disney villains always seemed to live on an operatic scale, bigger than life and I think [it was] the fact that they had this certain cruel beauty. I always wanted to be a Disney villain, so it sounds incredibly corny, but it was a dream come true to finally be able to voice a Disney villain and one that turned out so well.

At the time, Ohio University had a lot of support in the arts department. It attracted an acting teacher named Robert L. Hobbs, who I really wanted to coach with. … It was a great time period to be growing up and coming of age. I remember it being really wonderful, especially in the spring. The Hocking River used to flood every spring, pouring silt over Ohio. It made it incredibly green, it was almost unimaginably green.

WHAT IS IT LIKE REPRISING SUCH AN ICONIC VILLAIN ON BROADWAY?

WHAT DO YOU CONSIDER TO BE YOUR BIG BREAK?

HOW DO YOU KEEP UP WITH THE BUSY LIFESTYLE OF DOING EIGHT SHOWS A WEEK?

I am not sure that there is one moment that changes people’s lives; it’s cumulative. I can look back at the touchstones and tell you the things that were the most important that helped me along the way, but the fact is that without the failures and minor disasters and unfortunate experiences, you wouldn’t have gotten to the place that you got to. … It’s all important, I really do believe that your lowest point and your biggest failures are the things that change your life the most.

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Bringing him to life, I wouldn’t consider it reprising the role because a) I never stopped and b) it’s such a different animal. I am very privileged to be able to do that. There is no other person who’s ever voiced a Disney character that has taken it to another medium.

I always say that doing a Broadway show every night is like building a car. It’s wonderfully creative in the beginning, but then it sort of becomes like a blue-collar job. You get to the theater and you get on the stage and I say a line, and then you say a line, and I say another line and we get a laugh, and then we move on and I say a line, and you say a line, and then there’s a song, then there’s a blackout, and then we go on to the next scene. It happens the same way eight times a week and at the end of the evening, if you’re lucky, you’ve got a beautiful car.


Swartz, right, speaks with Felicity Jones on set of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.

JOHN SWARTZ

J

ohn Swartz graduated from OU with a degree in telecommunications in 2006. He worked as an assistant at Paramount Pictures and for Kathleen Kennedy before getting a job at Lucasfilm. Swartz was a coproducer on Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. Swartz is a co-producer on Solo: A Star Wars Story, which hits theaters in May.

WHAT WAS YOUR TIME AT OU LIKE?

I loved my time at OU. I tried to make the most out of the college experience while I was there. Coming out of high school, I knew that I wanted to get into film and video production, but I wasn’t quite sure exactly what part of that I wanted to do. … I think because I got so involved, it helped me figure out what my career path was going to be. It was such a great experience, and I’ve met a lot of the same people that I still consider incredibly close friends today that work out in Los Angeles and came to the industry with me.

WHAT MADE YOU WANT TO WORK FOR LUCASFILM? I was a huge Star Wars fan as a kid, I loved it growing up. … The Star Wars movies were key to me figuring out that I wanted to make movies for my career. Going with Kathy, being her assistant and the excitement of her telling me that George Lucas asked her to take over the company and would I like to come along, it’s hard to say no to something like that. … It was definitely a dream come true, something that I didn’t even dare dream because it was so crazy to imagine that I would be working at Lucasfilm someday producing Star Wars.

WHAT DO YOU DO AS A CO-PRODUCER? One of the biggest responsibilities for the role is communication, because you have hundreds of people on a film crew and the director has to make so many decisions, you end up being a collaborator and a partner to the director to help make sure that all of that gets done. … Everybody is different, every director is different. It’s the producer’s job to know how to make the company run most smoothly to support that person and that personality.

WHY THE DECISION TO TELL THE ROGUE ONE STORY?

John [Knoll] had an idea about a group of rebel spies stealing the Death Star plans and he met up with Kathy Kennedy and pitched her his idea and she said, “This is great, let’s figure out how to do it.” It was a long process of figuring out exactly what the story would be, but a lot of the inspiration came from John’s original idea. It was an easy thing to get excited about because it was such a fun story to explore and something we hadn’t seen on film before, but it’s such a big part of Star Wars history that it was kind of a no-brainer for us to jump into.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE PART ABOUT YOUR JOB? That it’s different every day. I think I’d get bored if it wasn’t, and that’s the fun part about it. … As a producer, you have to adjust to that every day, you’re going to go to different locations, you’re going to have different actors, you’re going to be doing so many different, challenging things that it becomes a really exciting adventure just to make the movie every day, and that’s become my favorite part of it.

FOR MORE ALUMNI SUCCESS STORIES, VISIT OUR WEBSITE www.backdropmagazine.com

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THE DROP

Raising

HER VOICE Kristin Waltz is dedicated to her roles as an advocate and a singer.

BY RACHAEL BEARDSLEY | PHOTO BY MAX CATALANO

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or Kristin “K.C.” Waltz, life is a careful balance between the personal and the professional. Music is the support she falls back on when the stress of social work becomes overwhelming. As an advocate for Ohio University’s Survivor Advocacy Program (SAP), Waltz provides support to survivors of genderbased violence, sexual assault and stalking. “We help survivors regain some of their power,” Waltz says. “When someone has had an assault, their power was taken from them, … and it’s very important to help people understand what their options are and help them make a decision that’s right for them.” SAP assists survivors in all aspects of their lives. The program provides medical advocacy, legal assistance, counseling and other services. SAP also helps students navigate university life after an assault and aids them in recovery. But when Waltz isn’t helping students, she spends her time performing with her band, the Come On Come Ons. The Come On Come Ons play many different types of music, including soul, rockabilly, swing and jazz. Waltz has played with a few different groups since her time as a student at OU in the late 1980s. After graduating from high school in 1985, Waltz began studying dentistry at OU and performed with the Electric Ozone Band, which later morphed into Appalachian Death Ride. A few years into college, she realized social work was her true passion, changed her major and graduated with a degree in social work in 1990. That same year, she joined the Voodoo Birds. Waltz was the lead singer, and her friend Roman Warmke played the bass. After graduation, she spent many of her weekends on the road with the Voodoo Birds while she worked with Child Protective

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Services (CPS) in Athens during the week. About two years later, Waltz followed the Voodoo Birds and moved to North Carolina, where the nine-person group hoped to start a successful music career. “We moved to a town about 13 miles out of Chapel Hill, the entire band, and we rented a house,” Waltz says. “It was horrible. Love them all, don’t want to live with them.” The band eventually split up, and a few of the members moved back to Athens. Waltz stayed in North Carolina to focus on her career. She bought a home and owned about 10 acres of land on which she and her then-husband grew organic crops. She helped out on the farm at night, but during the day she worked as a school psychologist at an inner-city international high school in Greensboro, North Carolina. The school served as an Immigration and Naturalization Service relocation site, and many of the students Waltz worked with had refugee status. “I was there in a school-based health center for six years,” she says. “It was wonderful because it was free mental health care and basically a medical practice based in a high school. I had the fantastic opportunity to work with people from all over the U.S., plus people who lived in Greensboro who were not refugees, and I learned so much.” Waltz says she learned many of the cultural norms involved in interacting with students, as well as the difficulties in relocating to a new country at a young age. “Some of my students who came to the country with their parents … had grown up here the whole time, and they were ready to go to college,” she says. “How do you go to college if you can’t apply for assistance? So, it was working through those issues with people and seeing if we couldn’t find resources. It was difficult.”


Kristen Waltz performs with her band, the Come On Come Ons, with backup singer and bassist Roman Warmke at the Gathering Place.

After 20 years in North Carolina, she moved back to Athens to be closer to her mother. Waltz learned of a job opportunity to run CPS' school outreach program, and although the application had to be sent by the next day, she met the deadline. Within a week, she got the job and sold her house in North Carolina. “Sometimes there’s big arrows that point,” she says. “It was like, ‘You need to go here,’ so that’s how I ended up back in Athens.” The other arrow pointing to Athens, she says, was the presence of Warmke, who had also chosen to come back to Athens. When Waltz told Warmke that she was ready to move back, he began putting together a new group. “[The band] was waiting for me when I came back,” Waltz says. “It’s the Come On Come Ons, and we have a really good time together.” Although the band has original music, it also plays covers with a spin. “The thing that makes it work is … when we cover somebody's music, we interpret it,” Waltz says. “It becomes our piece. We don’t try to play it exactly like whoever wrote it.” Warmke says Waltz chooses the songs the band covers, writes lyrics for original songs and brings “history, friendship and kinship” to the group. “She’s our mama; she’s our band leader,” he says. “… Just having 30 years with someone — whether you’re a musician or not — brings a certain level of comfort.” Waltz brings that same level of comfort to her current job with SAP. After two years with CPS, Waltz saw an opening with SAP and applied. Today, she works with college-aged students in crisis, and Warmke commends her for it. “I really admire her work at the university, the type of work

that she does and also the way that she does it,” Warmke says. “That’s tough stuff, you know, and we’re all real proud of her.” As an advocate with SAP, Waltz has a hand in all aspects of the program’s services. Lindsey Kasler, a graduate assistant for SAP, says Waltz is a “tireless advocate.” “[Waltz] is really passionate about what she does,” Kasler says. “She does absolutely everything in her power to help people in the way that they deserve to be helped.” Katherine Morua, another graduate assistant at SAP, emphasizes Waltz’s dedication and willingness to drop what she’s doing to help someone. “She always puts … the human that she’s interacting with in the present moment first,” Morua says. “So, even if she has a million things on her to-do list, if you say that you’re upset about something she’ll sit down with you, and that’s her priority for that moment.” Although Waltz enjoys her work, she says it can be emotionally taxing, and it is easy to experience “compassion fatigue.” However, she says it’s the only job for her. “I’ve been doing social work for so long, it’s very much a part of my identity,” she says. “… If I won the lottery, I would probably still do social work.” Waltz says music still serves as her outlet. Though her job is a large part of her life, music helps her distance herself from work when it becomes too stressful. “If you’re going to do this work, you have to know yourself and know your needs, and know how to separate your personal life from what you are working on during the day,” she says. For her, the core of that separation will always be music. “If I didn’t have musical outlets, I’m not sure I could do what I do,” she says. “It is my life force.” b

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THE DROP

Been There,

BY ANNIE GOINS PHOTO BY OLE JORGEN HAMMEKIN

F I L M ED T H AT Frederick Lewis brings a global perspective to the classroom.

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Lewis spent time in Greenland in 2011 on a research fellowship at Uummannaq Polar Institute.


F

rederick Lewis’ path into media wasn’t one he intended to take. Once a graduate student studying creative writing at Brown University, Lewis expected to become an English professor after finishing his education. However, life had a different path planned for him, and eventually Lewis found himself working as an associate professor in Ohio University’s School of Media Arts and Studies. “It’s ironic. I think I’m teaching something that [is more relevant to] most students,” Lewis says. “Not that literature is not important; I love literature. But if you had told me that I was going to take a 14- or 15-year detour and then wind up teaching something like this, I could not have predicted that.” Lewis’ venture into the media world began with a few television production classes and a documentary he produced about the history of the Boston Marathon. A former marathon runner himself, Lewis was encouraged to write what he knew, and he was very familiar with the history of the Boston Marathon. “And lo and behold, I won a regional Emmy in a very competitive market — in the Boston-New England market,” he says. “And I said, ‘I think I like this!’ ” And so began Lewis’ more than 30-year production career. Before he ultimately transitioned to academia, he was based in New England, producing a wide array of media, ranging from documentaries to commercials to NCAA Division I basketball coverage. The work he is most famous for is his three-hour documentary on Rockwell Kent, a controversial artist and explorer. The documentary was screened at the International Gallery of Arts for more than

400 people and was praised by The Washington Post. The experience gave Lewis the chance to see more of the world. “Before that, I was a pretty average traveler, you know?” Lewis says. “And over the course of several years, I wound up going to Greenland, to Newfoundland, to Denmark, Ireland, Alaska, Russia, sailing to Cape Horn. All of that was for that one project. I think that really changed my life.” Lewis brings that experience to his teaching. For 17 years, he has taught MDIA 4719 — affectionately called “419” — a two-semester class that teaches students real-world aspects of producing films. The class has resulted in 60 short films and two feature-length movies. It requires students to cast actors registered with the Screen Actors Guild, fundraise, write scripts and travel to film those movies. “I think the class is really based on an industry model,” Lewis says. “I think most film schools are kind of very small crews and it’s more of an artsy type approach, whereas what we do in 419 is always toward the industry model.” Students are expected to work cohesively in crews. The group environment allows them to experience different positions besides director and producer. Max Stepaniak, a senior studying screenwriting and production, says Lewis expects quality work from his students and treats them like adults. “There is that pressure where you can tell he’s not a laid-back professor,” Stepaniak says. “He very much expects you to put in the work, so there’s a certain stress that comes with it. But it’s sort of a good thing, because it’s preparing you for the real world and it’s a good feeling having people expect quality work out of you.” Annabelle Fisher, a junior studying media arts and studies, said in an email to Lewis in 2016 that there is no other media experience on campus quite like 419. “I had so many great mentors throughout this process,” Fisher said in her email. “I have to think that I would be at least a few steps behind where I am now if I hadn’t met so many great people who are so willing to help me advance.”

In addition to teaching 419, Lewis has also taken nearly 200 students to Morocco, Spain, Ireland, Malaysia and many other countries through various study abroad programs. He is an advocate of experiential learning and believes that bringing students abroad helps bring them out of their comfort zones. “I really enjoy watching students kind of open up to international travel,” Lewis says. “They’re seeing parts of the world they’ve never been to before. I like being the person who kind of facilitates that and gets to kind of show them these different parts of the world, creating those opportunities.” Leading study abroad programs is especially important to Lewis because he did not travel abroad until later in his life, after he arrived at OU and started teaching. “Spending time abroad for an academic program, I think it’s a good thing,” Lewis says. “Nothing wrong with just traveling on your own, but I think when you’ve got that structure and you’re traveling with other people, other students, I think that’s a really good combination.” For 15 years, Lewis also oversaw the 48Hour Shootout, an intense competition where students produce, shoot and edit a short film over one weekend. Recently, Lewis stepped aside and allowed a colleague to run the competition instead. He says his favorite part of the competition was how students’ work surprised him. “As a teacher, you try to get to know your students and you think you know your students, and then out of nowhere you suddenly find out that they play in a rock band, or they do stand-up, or they work with [The Lost Flamingo Theatre Company] as an actor,” Lewis says. Recently, Lewis finished a documentary on Paul Laurence Dunbar, one of the first African-American poets to gain international acclaim, and began another on Frances Benjamin Johnston, a photographer with many pieces in the Library of Congress. He won’t be stopping any time soon, either. “I think it’s important to be a practitioner and a teacher,” Lewis says. “I think it gives you credibility, but it also just keeps you vital.” b

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THE DROP

KEEP THE

CHANGE The Parkmobile app saves students time and coins. BY GRACE DEARING ILLUSTRATIONS BY MAGGIE WATROS

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lthough parking meters lined up on Court Street may display that threatening “00:00,” it may not mean all of those drivers will be ticketed. Parkmobile, a new way to pay for parking that doesn’t involve rifling through a change purse for quarters, has changed the way people park in Athens. Ohio University introduced the Parkmobile app to campus in 2014. A year later, the city of Athens parking enforcement also started using Parkmobile for off-campus parking meters. Ron Lucas, Athens deputy service-safety director, says Athens officials began to recognize the need for people to pay for parking without having to worry about carrying coins. “More and more people just don’t carry cash or coins,” Lucas says. “Parkmobile was the solution at the time to allow people to be able to pay for parking via an app with their debit or credit card.” Parkmobile allows drivers to pay for parking meters on their phones. After drivers enter their license plate number, car make and model and credit card information, the transaction is completed electronically. The app is available to download for free on Apple, Android and Windows. If drivers do not own a smartphone, a toll-free number is available to call to start or extend a parking session. Parkmobile accepts PayPal, Visa, MasterCard, Discover and American Express. Lucas says that another advantage of the Parkmobile app is that parking attendants are still able to do their job efficiently and effectively.

backdrop | Spring 2018


THE BENEFITS OF THE PARKMOBILE APP

Eliminates the need for pocket change.

Allows parking attendants to do their jobs efficiently.

“[Parking attendants] are able to check the meter and if it expired they could quickly reference Parkmobile by the license plate and see if it’s paid,” he says. “Since it’s the same handheld device, it doesn’t take that much longer.” Lucas says he has seen a decrease in the amount of parking tickets issued in Athens off campus since introducing Parkmobile. Teresa Trussell, interim manager for OU Parking Services, says the same is true for on campus parking tickets. Trussell says that with the convenience of Parkmobile, students are more likely to pay for short-term parking, rather than walking. “They’re kind of using those metered spaces on campus to kind of hop from one area of campus to another,” Trussell says. Leah Maxey, a junior on campus, says she uses Parkmobile one to two times a week. “I use it for both [short-term and long-term parking],” Maxey says. “Typically short-term, but I will also use it for up to four hours at times.” In addition to offering alternate payment methods for parking, Parkmobile allows drivers to quickly find available street, oncampus and stadium parking. Parkmobile does not affect parking lots and garages that require a permit, Trussell says. “It’s just an enhancement for meters and hourly parking areas,” she says. “It just provides an alternative way to pay meters.” For students living off-campus and commuting, the app can be a quick and simple way to ensure they will be able to pay for parking. Parking lots that accept Parkmobile payments are easily identified by the bright green Parkmobile signs located in the lot. The signs state which zone number should be entered when paying for the spot and are critical for drivers using Parkmobile.

Easily accessible to all, including those without smart phones.

After scanning the QR Code on the parking meter, drivers can choose the amount of time they would like to park in the spot. Additional time can be added from the app, instead of having to return to the meter, and drivers will be alerted by text when their time is about to run out. Despite Parkmobile’s advantages, there are drawbacks. There is a 35 cent fee for every transaction in addition to the hourly meter rate. The additional fee goes directly to Parkmobile and the city does not profit from it, although Lucas says the city gets 25 cents for every half hour purchased. Maxey says the transaction fee is frustrating at times, but she would rather pay the additional 35 cents than constantly have to carry quarters around. Additionally, not everyone in Athens wants to use a mobile app on their phone but would still like to pay for meters with a debit or credit card, Lucas says. To combat the issue, the city of Athens has recently implemented a program that has SmartMeters on Court Street. Drivers can pay at those meters either with coins or with a credit card. “We do know that [SmartMeters] are being used and we do know that the ratio of credit card to coin is three to one, so there is definitely a desire for people that want that functionality,” Lucas says. However, the pilot program is separate from Parkmobile, and Athens officials are still working to create a solution that handles the disadvantage of the Parkmobile transaction fee. Lucas says seeing how the programs do is important. “That’s why we pilot, to see how it’s going to work out,” he says. b

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FOOD COMMUNITY

TOAST TO

FRIENDSHIP Shade Winery offers customers a welcoming wine-tasting experience. BY ALEXIS MCCURDY | PHOTOS BY MAX CATALANO

Neal Dix, Shade Winery owner.

E

very Saturday, two elderly couples come to Shade Winery together at 3:30 p.m. sharp. They sit in the wood-lined, rustic ranch house in Shade, Ohio, about 10 miles from Ohio University’s campus. The soft, yellow light in the house creates a welcoming atmosphere that accompanies their conversation. The space is small and quaint, so they arrive early to secure their seats among a handful of tables.

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They sit. They drink. They overlook the green goddess of a vineyard through the large windows. And they wait for the weekly live music to begin at 5 p.m. Like clockwork. “We start calling the hospital if they don’t show up,” Shade Winery owner Neal Dix says, laughing. The loyalty of those couples reminds Dix of one of the missions of Shade: to get more people in Southeast Ohio to care about wine. Dix has always been a nature lover. He grew up in Long Island and upstate New York, where he appreciated the beautiful nature but ached to escape the Lake Ontario snowbelt. He frequently visited Athens to see his brother, a student at OU at the time, and says the town always held a certain draw. “I just loved the ruralness and warmth of the people,” he says. The roots of Shade sprouted when Dix started making wine in the fall of 1986 after he moved to Athens. “I was walking one day, and I saw some elderberries. I thought, ‘Wow, that’d make some great booze,’” Dix says. Dix says making wine is a great way to connect with the earth. He started to learn the craft during an internship at a southern Ohio winery with a mentor who he says knows more about wine than

he ever will. “It was a bit of a tipsy internship,” Dix says. “But I got more and more into it and found out more about making wine than I should have to know.” Shade Winery was officially established in 2004 when Dix received his license to sell alcohol. The winemaker now works year-round in the vineyard with his wife, Oui, producing 17 household wines. “In Southeast Ohio, there’s not really a wine culture. So, we’re trying to develop one — or at least facilitate it,” Dix says. The wine industry in Ohio has surged in recent years. According to the Ohio Grape Industries Committee, the number of wineries in Ohio has increased from 175 to 265 between 2012 and 2016. Ohio is now the sixth largest winemaker in the country. Despite the state’s high standing, the state only produces about 0.74 percent of the overall amount of wine in the U.S. “There are at least three new wineries to open up in the next few years, and they will certainly help Southeast Ohio become a wine tourism destination,” Dix says. “That could do a lot of good for all of us.” Dix appreciates the small changes he has seen in his customers over the years. He says he’s seen people come in who only drink beer, but easing customers in slowly has helped “broaden the palette of


Southeast Ohio.” The majority of people in this region tend to like sweet wine, Dix says. A fan favorite at Shade is a sweet wine called the Bobcat Blush Niagara, which starts at $13 a bottle. But Dix also loves to introduce customers to the dry wines the vineyard also supplies, such as the Refresh Riesling. Dix says intimidation is never a part of Shade’s interaction with customers. Because the winery is situated in the tiny town of Shade, Ohio, which consists of a gas station, a pizza place and a community center, Dix can describe the atmosphere in one word: simple. They’re never haughty, Dix says. “We welcome everybody. Big time. We don’t care if you know anything about wine or not,” he says. Shade regulars Laura and Jim Mansfield have been coming to the winery for more than five years. On the second day of the season, they sit calmly at a high table, sipping gracefully from their glasses as they exchange jokes with Neal and Oui. Over the years, the two couples have built a rapport. “It was much like this when we [first] came in,” Laura says. “There weren’t a lot of people. Neal and his wife were just very warm and friendly. Their wine list was a lot smaller than it is now. But

we sampled all their wines and [Neal] explained what they were, and it was just a warm, friendly atmosphere.” Guests can sit at Shade and enjoy the scenery either inside or on the patio, which is open in the warmer seasons. They can buy wine by the glass, bottle or even sample all 17 wines for $10. This season Shade is introducing a few new wines, including Malbec, Merlot and Cabernet Franc and two new sweet wines, Traminette and Frog Hair. Guests can enjoy all of the wines with snacks such as cheese and crackers, olives, smoked salmon and chocolate bars. Different artists perform live music on Saturday evenings every week to add to the atmosphere. Food trucks are also stationed at Shade every Saturday starting at 5 p.m., April through October. Previously, Malvette’s Jamaican Food, a one-woman pop up shop, was featured. This season, the winery is mixing up the food selection by recruiting Dr. May’s Thai Kitchen, a food truck stationed in Athens that offers favorites such as pad thai, tofu, wontons and lemongrass shrimp. If a guest wants something different to accompany their wine, Shade also has a policy allowing them to bring their own food. Gas grills are supplied for guests to cook their own food while they drink wine, if they wish. Dix says he would not be offended if a guest chose to bring their

own food. Besides, he’s not in it for the food — just the wine and the people. Shade’s open atmosphere has allowed him to meet many people. Dix says the summer months are best to witness the open spirit that prevails at Shade. There’s no one type of customer, and he is appreciative of that. Whether it be a teacher from Meigs Eastern, a Navy officer or a pharmacist, Dix is happy to befriend them all. The winery is considering making some changes in the future. Dix says he would like to target more of the students by supplying his wines in the bars, but that could conflict with the hectic schedule of producing wine year long. Although that initiative is still in the works, Shade’s loyal patrons — like the Mansfields — are excited to come back each year to see what new development Shade has made. Although they’ve been to other wineries in the past, they always visit Shade consistently. Laura says it’s the most relaxed of them all. Now once a month, the Mansfields will make the trip up to Shade. They show up with a plate of food to share, ready to meet a group of friends for a late lunch potluck. They sit. They drink. They revel in that delightful experience. Like clockwork. b

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15


Rise& Dine RECIPE

BY ALLY LANASA | PHOTO BY MAX CATALANO

Freshen up your morning with Backdrop’s springtime brunch.

B

runch season has arrived! Invite your friends over to try this Backdrop recipe that combines a fresh berry bruschetta with cinnamon brown sugar French toast. It’s fancy enough to be

served in a restaurant but easy enough to make in your own kitchen. Paired with a yogurt parfait and a fruitinfused, ice-cold glass of water, this combo makes for a perfect spring meal. b

Yogurt Parfait Fruit-Infused Water TOTAL TIME: 10 MINUTES | MAKES: 6 SERVINGS

INGREDIENTS: One 32-ounce container of vanilla yogurt 6 peaches 1 1/2 cups of blueberries 2 cups of granola

DIRECTIONS: 1. Slice peaches into thin wedges. 2. Layer yogurt on the bottom of each of the six mason jars or other containers of choice. 3. Top with granola, peach slices and blueberries. 4. Repeat a second layer of yogurt, granola, peaches and blueberries.

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INGREDIENTS: Leftover berries and additional ingredients such as mint, lemon, orange or kiwi 32-ounce pitcher of water Fruit of choice

DIRECTIONS:

1. Throw leftover berries and any additional ingredients into a 32 ounce pitcher of ice-cold water for a fruitinfused drink. Refreshing combinations include raspberry mint, blueberry lemon, strawberry kiwi and strawberry orange. 2. Refrigerate the mixture for at least two hours. For a stronger taste, refrigerate overnight.


French Toast Berry Bruschetta PREP TIME: 20 MINUTES | COOK TIME: 25 MINUTES | MAKES: 6 SERVINGS | SERVING SIZE: 2 BRUSCHET TA

INGREDIENTS: 4 eggs 3/4 cup of milk 3 tablespoons packed brown sugar One 8-ounce carton plain whipped (cream cheese spread)

1 French baguette 1 stick of butter 2 cups sliced fresh strawberries and raspberries 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon

DIRECTIONS: 1. Heat a lightly greased griddle or frying pan over medium high heat. In a large bowl, beat the eggs. Combine milk, eggs, 2 tablespoons of brown sugar and 1 tablespoon of cinnamon.

3. In a medium bowl, stir together whipped cream cheese spread, 1 tablespoon of brown sugar and 1 tablespoon of cinnamon until well mixed; set aside.

2. Cut French baguette into 12 diagonal slices, each a half inch thick. Dip each slice into the milk/egg mixture. Place in the frying pan with melted butter and fry until golden brown on both sides. The bread will quickly absorb the butter. Add more as needed.

4. Combine berries in a bowl. Using a potato masher or fork, very lightly mash berries. 5. Spread cream cheese mixture over bread slices while they're still warm. Divide berries among bread slices. Serve immediately.


INFOGRAPHIC

BUZZ

BY ELEANOR BISHOP | ILLUSTRATIONS BY JESSICA KOYNOCK

What’s true and what’s not? With the help of dietitians Deborah Murray and Angela Bohyer-Campbell and dietetic intern Jaque Perez, we broke down the facts about caffeine and coffee. b

Caffeine enters the bloodstream. Blood pressure and heart rate begin to rise due to increased blood level of epinephrine.

People who drink caffeine may develop a dependency and experience mild withdrawal if they cut back.

SYMPTOMS OF CAFFEINE WITHDRAWAL Headache Fatigue Irritability Lack of concentration

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Pupils dilate slightly and vision becomes sharper as the body produces more adrenaline.

While serotonin levels rise, the level of dopamine increases due to blockage of adenosine. Caffeine enhances dopamine, known for mood elevation.

Because caffeine is a diuretic, it causes frequent urination leading to dehydration. The body also loses essential vitamins and minerals.

Experts filter through the facts about caffeine consumption. IMPACTS OF A CUP OF COFFEE

The caffeine induces alertness by blocking your brain’s adenosine receptors. Adenosine is a neurotransmitter whose transmission is correlated with a need for rest.

The level of serotonin begins to rise, causing the perception of increased energy. Serotonin is one of the chemicals responsible for regulating mood.

Caffeine increases the body’s ability to burn fat as the rate at which cells release energy increases.


MYTHS COFFEE IS BAD FOR YOU. Because coffee comes from roasted beans, the drink contains phytochemicals: plantbased compounds that have natural health benefits. Most phytochemicals can act as antioxidants, which help reduce the risk of asthma, arthritis, Alzheimer’s disease and certain types of cancer. Tea and other natural caffeine sources include similar health benefits.

Take mental breaks; practice deep breathing and meditation.

Get seven to eight hours of uninterrupted sleep per night.

Be active. Exercising boosts energy levels.

GET ENERGY WITH NO CAFFEINE

Eat lots of fruit and vegetables during the day.

IT’S NOT HEALTHY TO DRINK CAFFEINE EVERY DAY.

The recommended daily caffeine dosage for an average, healthy adult is 400 milligrams of caffeine per day. That means people can safely drink about three to four cups of brewed coffee a day and avoid the negative health risks that come with overconsumption.

Stay hydrated. Dehydration often leads to fatigue.

WHAT DOES 400 MILLIGRAMS OF CAFFEINE LOOK LIKE?

CONSUMING CAFFEINE WILL MAKE YOU SOBER.

After drinking alcohol, coffee might make someone feel more alert, but it doesn’t do anything to clear the alcohol out of a person’s system. Caffeine will not increase the speed that the body metabolizes alcohol, but it will increase the severity of a hangover because like alcohol, coffee is a diuretic, meaning it causes frequent urination that leads to dehydration.

3-4 (8-OUNCE) CUPS OF BREWED COFFEE

2 NODOZ MAXIMUM STRENGTH CAFFEINE PILLS (200 MG/PILL)

16 (8-OUNCE) CUPS OF GREEN TEA

ABOUT 9 (12-OUNCE) CANS OF DIET COKE

ALL-NIGHTERS ARE OK IF YOU HAVE ENOUGH COFFEE.

Sleep is for more than just feeling alert. While a person sleeps, the brain transfers information into long-term memory, which is vital for retaining knowledge. Seven or eight hours of uninterrupted sleep can’t be replaced with a shot of espresso.

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FEATURE

BURIED HISTORY BY RYAN FLYNN | PHOTO BY CELIA SNYDER ILLUSTRATIONS BY JYLIAN HERRING & EMILY CARUSO

I

n The Plains, among the squat houses on Mound Street, a large mound protrudes from the earth. It stands 40 feet tall and 140 feet in diameter, about the size of a two-story home. It’s the Hartman Mound, a sacred burial mound built thousands of years ago by a group of hunter-gatherers who lived throughout southern Ohio. Hartman Mound is the largest remaining burial mound in The Plains. Paul Patton, assistant professor of anthropology at Ohio University and director of the archeology field school, says the mounds were built by groups of Native Americans who lived in several regions of the Midwest United States between roughly 1000 B.C.E. to 100 C.E. The collective term for those groups is Adena and does not refer to any one tribe. The Adena were descendants of the first prehistoric immigrants to North America. About 12,000 years ago, the immigrants made their way to the area known today as Southeast Ohio. Adena are distinguished by their earthworks, left over from a time termed the Early Woodland period by archaeologists. The Adena built mostly small, individual ridgetop mounds within the Hocking and Muskingum valleys. Their successors, the Hopewell, are categorized by much larger earthworks built in lower terraces. The earthworks in The Plains, Patton says, show characteristics of both Adena and Hopewell and are believed to mark a transitionary period between the two. They are labeled as late Adena, although those classifications can be tricky. “Adena, late Adena, Hopewell are confusing terms. … By calling them Adena, we’re acknowledging that they’re building mounds, we’re acknowledging that they had some larger tribal social network, but it doesn’t tell us a whole lot more than that,” Patton says. “If we want to get into what their life was like, we

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have to look at what the archaeological record shows us from this time period.” The owner of Hartman mound, Ralph Hartman, says his grandfather, Gilbert, bought the mound site over a hundred years ago, and it’s been in the family ever since. “I’ve always seen the mound. It’s always belonged to us,” Hartman says. “I think it’s kind of unique. It’s a liability, not an asset, to be honest with you.” Hartman pays for liability insurance on the mound and has the grass cut twice a year. Landscapers cut around two plaques and a seat that were placed in 2017 as a service project by Eagle Scout Bradley Ridpath. The plaques display information about the Adena and a map of local Adena sites. The map lists 13 sites, although most are built over. Houses or businesses have been erected where the earthen structures once stood. The mounds remaining in The Plains are mostly unmarked, interlocked by neighborhoods or overgrown with plant life. Ridpath says he built the plaques after a suggestion from The Plains Lions’ Club. “I didn't know info about the mound, but I knew it was an Indian mound, and I drove past it several times before,” Ridpath says. “I was a little surprised, since there is the Indian Mound Festival every year and there was nothing there to show info on that mound.” Each year on the second weekend in October, The Plains hosts a community festival to celebrate its Native American heritage. The festival events include live entertainment, an annual parade and mound-tour hayrides. The Adena built approximately 31 earthworks in what we now know as The Plains: 22 burial mounds and nine large “sacred


Discover the history of Native American burial mounds that still dot the landscape of The Plains.

MO UN

D R D Y R A G

www.backdropmagazine.com

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HOCKING VALLEY SITES

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SOUTHEASTERN OHIO

Lancaster

4 2 19

13

City Burial Ground Site (1) Allen (2) Balwin (3) Boudinot (4) Bremen (5) Bruce Chapman Mound (6) Chesser Rockshelter (7) Clark (8) Conard (9) County Home (10) Daines Mound (11) Diamond

3 17

11 15

Nelsonville (12) Gabriel (13) Graham (14) McCune (15) Parks (16) Rock Riffle Run Mound (17) Sims (18) Swinehart Village (19) Taber Well (20) 33AT 467/468 (21) Walker (22) Wise

circles,” according to The Emergence of the Moundbuilders: The Archaeology of Tribal Societies in Southeastern Ohio. The purpose of those sacred circles, which range from 110 to 210 feet in diameter, is unknown to anthropologists. Today, most are unrecognizable. Different landowners over centuries have plowed them nearly flat, but Patton says they were once shaped as rings. “You would have had a mound in the center and then they would have constructed earthen walls surrounding it,” Patton says. “It almost looks kind of like a stadium with a platform surrounding it.” There are more than 1,200 archeological sites in Athens County, more than 200 of which are burial mounds. Construction has destroyed nearly all of them; many of the sites are too small to be discerned by the untrained eye. Patton says the dirt in the mounds was mostly brought over by the Adena in baskets from other sites. According to The Emergence of the Moundbuilders, an average mound took anywhere from six to 96 “person-days” to build. Person-days refer to the length of time it would take one person to build each mound. An 18 person-day mound, for example, would take six to 10 people working for two to three days to build. To put that into perspective, the Hartman mound required approximately 2,612 person-days of work, nearly 100 times that of the average mound. According to The Emergence of the Moundbuilders, The Plains served as a sacred location for Native Americans, a spiritual hub where surrounding communities came together for religious ceremonies and celebrations. The people living throughout the Hocking Valley likely did not live in The Plains because there is

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9

12

The Plains

22

21 20 8

14

16

Athens

10 1

Ohio R iver

Logan

5

Hockingport

7

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no permanent flow of water. Chair of OU’s geography department Dorothy Sack says The Plains, geologically, is a terrace surrounded by natural ridges. It is a remnant of glacial movement during the Pleistocene epoch, commonly known as the Ice Age. Hundreds of thousands of years ago, the Hocking River was directed and redirected by the advancement of the Illinoian and Wisconsin glaciers, which created “a highly dissected valley with steep slopes and rugged hills,” according to The Emergence of the Moundbuilders. Due to the relatively soft bedrock of the region, when the Hocking River was redirected to its “current southeastern direction, and left a series of outwash soil deposits that formed several terraces of the valley.” “When the ice was there in the summer, it would melt, particularly at the edge is where it’s going to melt and expand,” Sack says. “And as it melted, there’s a lot of water available. It moves all this sediment around and so it deposits terraces. The streams made terraces with all this load in various places along the pathway. And the Plains is mostly one of those terraces.” The Plains, according to The Emergence of the Moundbuilders, is one of the largest and flattest of those terraces, having only three natural passageways through the ridges that surround it. In the time of the Adena, burial mounds swept the landscape like a form of braille for giants. The main purpose of the mounds was most likely for religious practices and burials. According to The Emergence of the Moundbuilders, funerals are believed to have involved shamanism. Shamans served as liaisons between indigenous people and the spirit world. Their involvement is inferred by findings of remains of animals such as eagles, bears and wolves at burial sites.


Mound

GARY DR

ADENA DR

Hartman

MOUND ST

HARTMAN MOUND MOUND ST

Mound excavations from OU’s archaeology field school have also uncovered log structures or what Patton POSTON RD calls “eternal houses” built around the bodies found within the mounds, similar to modern crypts. Due to evidence of several layers of different types of dirt and charred remains, The Emergence of the Moundbuilders speculates that the Adena likely honored their dead by returning to those mounds every year to add soil and celebrate the lives of their ancestors with a feast. The Adena lived throughout Athens county in the regions surrounding The Plains, along creeks and on terraces near sources of water. Patton says the Athens County Dog Shelter was once the site of an Adena community. Fittingly, the Adena domesticated only one animal: dogs. Communities were based around family life and were very small, consisting of 10 to 15 people. Neighboring communities likely shared bonds through family lineage, creating a larger network of communities that contributed to the peaceful state the Adena lived in and ultimately allowed the construction of The Plains mounds. However, a lack of evidence of violence doesn’t necessarily mean the Adena were free from conflict. “Humans, rivaling communities, that’s just kind of part of the nature,” Patton says. “… Certainly, a place like The Plains is intended to bring people together in a network, and it does offset some of those levels of violence.” Adena crops and the system for growing them were very different from the concept of modern agriculture. They harvested zucchini, squash, maygrass and marshelder, a plant similar to a sunflower. Adena families kept small gardens near their homes. Unlike the sweeping fields of one crop seen in agriculture today, they practiced polyculture: the use of one space for multiple crops. That left a smaller environmental footprint and allowed them

to harvest year-round. They hunted wild turkey, deer and fish and collected nuts and berries. The Adena had no currency, but Patton says their ideas of kinship amongst local groups allowed for a system of trading, in a way. “If one year you’re having a bad year, you go downstream to your neighbor and say, ‘Hey we’re having a rough year, we don’t know if we’re going to get through winter,’ and you borrow food,” Patton says. “In the following year, maybe that neighbor, maybe that community is the one that’s struggling. So, there’s a reciprocity that exists between those communities and they would have been trading with each other and that helps to essentially build a safety net.” Everything known about the Adena has been discovered through field research by archaeologists, as they left no written records. According to Tom O’Grady, executive director of the Southeast Ohio History Center and part-time astronomy teacher at OU, that job is getting harder to do. “Mounds are built over. This is common around Ohio. There has been no real legal protection for native earthworks. Any that have been saved are by good planning or by accident or benign neglect,” O’Grady says. “… There were over 10,000 earthworks recorded in Ohio around 1900. Today, there are nowhere near that many.” Despite Ohio’s rich archaeological history, little has been done to preserve those historic locations. O’Grady says most earthworks have been leveled for economic development projects or plowed over for farming. Many artifacts from those sites have been kept by the finders, sold or lost. Although the field school owns some and a few have been turned over to the Ohio Historical Society, many will never be recovered. That is because there are few, if any, laws protecting remnants of the Moundbuilders. “If you own the property where a mound is located, the law supports your ownership of the earthwork. Nothing prevents you from grave robbing or developing the site,” O’Grady says. Despite the lack of legal protection, the Hartman Mound isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. Ralph plans to preserve the mound and do whatever he can to keep it in the family. His grandfather’s dying wish was for him to do so. “He was 89 years old. … He was sitting in a chair and he had his foot up on the end of the bed and I was up seeing him,” Hartman says. “Of course, as a teenager, you don’t think of death. I never did. But I talked to him and he said, ‘Ralph,’ he said, ‘I’d like you to make sure that that mound is always taken care of. And keep it.’ And I said, ‘Grandpa, long as I’m alive, or my kids — if I can talk them into doing it — it will be preserved.’ ” Hartman could easily sell the mound’s dirt and the lot it’s located on for a profit, but he refuses. He says an Arizonabased Native American preservation group contacted him to buy the mound, but he declined. Hartman is also opposed to archaeological excavation at the site. “[It’ll] never happen long as I’m alive, and I hope as long as my son’s alive. And maybe even my granddaughter,” Hartman says. “Yeah, I guess since it’s a burial site it’s kind of sacred to me, because I’m not a dyed-in-the-wool religious person, but I do believe there’s a higher being than us, you know?” b

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FEATURE

Portrait of Grace BY LIZ HARPER | PHOTOS BY BAXTER TURAIN

A cluster of Bananaquits feed on sugar water in "Bananaquits." Behind is Cabana and Beach, Dickenson Bay, Antigua, an unfinished painting Sweeney was working on at the time.

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Journalism professor Mike Sweeney uses painting to cope with a terminal illness. www.backdropmagazine.com

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"Home from Pasture."

I

n Logan Canyon, Utah, a small cluster of sheep makes its way up a lush green hillside. The sheep are being taken into the mountain meadows for the summer by a group of Ecuadorian shepherds. The tall grass grazes the sheep’s knees, and the wind rattles the aspens along the edge of the valley. “When I saw [that], I thought, you know, this looks like going to heaven,” says Mike Sweeney, an artist and journalism professor at Ohio University. “I just like the mood of that a lot.” He sits in his Schoonover office, a room with a large window overlooking College Green, as he recounts the story from beside his paper-laden desk. He witnessed the scene while writing a book for National Geographic. When he decided to make a painting of that moment in 2016, he was getting back to painting for the first time since college. Sweeney credits his wife, Carolyn, with opening the door for him to paint again after he was diagnosed with terminal cancer. Sweeney, a tall man with grey hair and glasses, sits back in his chair and periodically closes his eyes as he talks, recalling his memories. In January 2013, Sweeney was diagnosed with renal cell carcinoma and underwent surgery to remove a tumor about the size of a mango on one of his kidneys. Despite being told the tumor would be extremely tricky to remove due to its growth into his circulatory system, the doctor was able to extract all of it. But a year and a half later, he was told the cancer had returned, and it was terminal. That was Aug. 1, 2014. Through the Cleveland Clinic, he joined a trial for a new experimental drug. He was put in the control group and given Sutent, an oral chemotherapy. The medicine slowed the growth of the tumors significantly, but not without a price. Sweeney dealt with a slew of side effects, including inflammation, headaches, fatigue and the loss of his sense of taste. “It really made me miserable, as chemotherapy often does,” Sweeney says. “I was so miserable that I was very depressed, and I was even suicidal. Because my thinking was this: I have a disease that will kill me. And the only thing that is keeping it

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Sweeney showcases "Brainard Whitfield Hines, Confederate Veteran" and "Shoreline, Baltic Sea" with Carolyn.

www.backdropmagazine.com

27


from killing me is this medicine, which is making me miserable.” After a couple months, Carolyn stepped in. She saw her husband’s struggle and made three suggestions to help him through his adversity. She wanted him to go to counseling and suggested he start taking an antidepressant. Then, as an early birthday present, she bought him a set of oil sticks and recommended he start painting again. Sweeney had painted for a time in college. That’s where Carolyn first met him, in an English class during their freshman year. “He was such a dork,” she says. “He would sit on the floor outside the classroom and do crossword puzzles. And I was like, I would never have anything to do with a guy who does crossword puzzles. … We went out on a date toward the end of our freshman year." Sweeney ended up giving up painting to focus more on school and work. Given the chance to start painting again after his diagnosis, he fell in love with the new medium. In college, he painted mostly with acrylics. While using his wife’s gift, he discovered the oil sticks were a much better match for his impressionistic style. The bright colors blend easily and lend themselves to a soft, expressive feel. Because it is easy to overwork the medium, he jokes that he can make a good painting in two hours and a bad painting in four. “What I’ve found is, when I paint, I don’t think about cancer. And when I teach, I don’t think about cancer,” Sweeney says. “So, I like to do a lot of both of those.” Sweeney estimates he’s created 300 or 400 paintings since 2014, averaging about two a week. He paints landscapes, animals, people and still life, most based on pictures he’s taken or some that he finds. His goal is never to create an exact replica of a photo, but rather to express what he was feeling when the picture was taken. “If I want a picture, I’ll take a picture,” he says. “I like the fact that the art reflects something. When we’re talking about impressionism, it reflects a lot about how the artist feels. Every piece of art reflects how the artist feels. But to me, impressionism is just pouring your heart out on canvas.” His painting of the sheep climbing up Logan Canyon is among his favorite paintings to date. In addition

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Every piece of art reflects how the artist feels. But to me, impressionism is just pouring your heart out on canvas.” MIKE SWEENEY, JOURNALISM PROFESSOR AND ARTIST

to painting for himself, Sweeney also paints for friends and family. He likes to give his paintings away, deeming them “tokens of love.” Such acts are typical of Sweeney, says Aimee Edmondson, Ph.D., an associate professor in the school of journalism. He painted a picture of her farmhouse for her and her husband, as well as a picture of their rooster, Four. “There’s going to be so much of Mike Sweeney to live on forever because of these really beautiful pieces,” Edmondson says. “We’re all the richer for it.” She describes Sweeney as a Jeffersonian personality, always working on

something, whether it be a book or a painting or some task that needs done within the school. He tends to take on the jobs that need to be done but no one wants to do, she says. Having cancer has not slowed him down much, though he does get tired more quickly than he used to. Through it all, Sweeney still teaches a handful of undergraduate and graduate classes while remaining actively involved in the journalism school. Katherine Jellison, a professor and chairperson in OU’s department of history, has known Sweeney since he was a graduate student at OU in


Left Page: "Sunset, Temple Fork, Logan Canyon" Below: "Millville Game Fence, Cache Valley, Utah"

the early ’90s. When he returned as a professor, the two reconnected and became friends. “He really is a portrait of grace under pressure,” Jellison says. The sentiment is echoed by others who know him well, including Bailey Dick, a graduate student who has Sweeney as her adviser. “He’s very self-sacrificing,” Dick says. “I feel like you never hear him complain.” Dick has had many conversations with Sweeney about religion. The conversations are often related to her thesis, but discussing religion can quickly become personal. Dick sees

Sweeney’s faith, which he doesn’t talk about with students unless asked, as a contributing factor to his ability to stay calm even when life becomes stressful. “I don’t know that he would be able to do all he does if he wasn’t spiritual,” Dick says. “I don’t know if you could face years of having terminal cancer if you were not a spiritual person. It would be super hard to do.” Before his cancer diagnosis, a serious back injury in 1991 gave Sweeney ample reason to contemplate the purpose of life and his place in the world. Between that and his cancer diagnosis, Sweeney has wrestled with what he calls “the big

questions” and has emerged with a fresh perspective on life. He tells his students to “squeeze the juice out of every day” and strives to do the same himself, while still considering those big questions. “What’s my purpose in life? What should I be doing? How do I know if I’ve done a good job?” Sweeney asks. “And for me, part of that is, what does God want me to do? I believe in God because I just can’t imagine a world without, a world where everything is just mechanical and there is no purpose." When pondering those questions after his back injury, Sweeney realized what he really wanted to do was teach. “That’s my purpose in life,” he says. “I want to teach people how to handle all the big questions. But I want to do this, even though I have religious motivation in doing it, I want to do it in a secular way at a public university.” Sweeney’s plan is to continue teaching and painting for as long as he can. He is honest and upfront with his students about his medical condition. He wants them to understand what’s happening, and he doesn’t want them to be afraid. “I want them to know what my experience is and why I chose to keep teaching and painting while I have cancer,” Sweeney says. “... In a small way, I’m going to model what it’s like to live life with cancer. ... [And] when it comes time, what it’s like to die with it.” Sweeney wants his ashes scattered in Tony Grove, an area in Logan Canyon, Utah, that is usually covered in snow. But during the summer months, the meadow is covered in “the most riotous wildflowers you have ever seen,” he says. Due to the change in elevation, the dominant flower species changes as the ground slopes steeply upward. Orange Indian paintbrush, yellow mule’s ears and blue penstemon are just a few of the species that populate the meadow during the summer. Sweeney says the view when the flowers are in full bloom is more beautiful than the wildflowers at Yellowstone. “It’s probably illegal to scatter [his ashes] there,” Carolyn says. “Hush, woman,” Sweeney tells her, and she laughs. “I really want my ashes scattered there because I love the place, but I also … kind of had this weird idea that if people want to honor me, they should go someplace beautiful.” b

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PHOTO STORY

SIGN &

Tell

The Ohio School for the Deaf educates and connects the Deaf community. PHOTOS BY SARAH WILLIAMS

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he Ohio School for the Deaf, located in Columbus, Ohio, is a kindergarten through 12th grade school for Deaf children all throughout the state of Ohio. Ohio University lecturer Cheryl Prusinski is both an alumni of the school and served as its director of student life for more than 20 years. At the school, students can learn sign language, interact with other members of the Deaf community and openly express themselves.

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The school also offers students the opportunity to engage in creative expression, such as the Deaf Culture Fairy Tales, a collection of adapted fairy tales written by Roslyn Rosen. In those versions of the well-known stories, certain characters are Deaf and encounter problems or experiences typical to the Deaf community. In Rosen’s version of Snow White, the princess is unable to communicate with the prince because he does not know sign language. b


Students of the Ohio School for the Deaf reenact Deaf Culture Fairy Tales, written by Roz Rosen. In this version of Snow White, the princess is Deaf and the Evil Stepmother does not accept her use of American Sign Language (ASL) and hires a man to teach her daughter to speak.

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PHOTO STORY

RIGHT Following the classic ending of Snow White, a prince finds the princess in the woods after she has been poisoned and wakes her with a kiss. Unlike the classic tale, when Snow White finds out the prince doesn’t know ASL, she goes back into her coffin until someone who knows how to sign wakes her up.

ABOVE Members of Ohio School for the Deaf’s Special Education class run a coffee shop on Thursday mornings for the rest of the students and faculty. The shop allows the Special Education class to apply life skills they have learned in class and for other students and faculty to connect.

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ABOVE Prince Charming (left) falls in love with Cinderella at the ball, and when she has to leave by midnight she accidentally leaves something behind. It’s not a shoe, though. Prince Charming finds Cinderella’s hearing aid and decides to travel throughout the kingdom to find the owner.

LEFT Young students at the Ohio School for the Deaf learn how to read in a similar fashion as hearing students. High school volunteers sign the stories to them as they read along, and then assist the young students in taking a comprehension quiz.

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33


CALENDAR

OONN TTH THE HHEE Check out the best events this spring. The Life and Times of Women at Ohio University, Past and Present Exhibit FEBRUARY 16 - MAY 7 Alden Library recognizes the female Bobcats who were essential to OU’s history in a special exhibit. Featured women include Margaret Boyd, Gladys Bailin, Francine Childs and more. Check out the scrapbooks, photographs, biographies and other documents belonging to the influential women before heading home for the summer. 24th Annual Seabury Quinn Jr. Playwrights’ Festival APRIL 19-20, 25-27 AT 8 P.M. APRIL 21, 28 AT 2 P.M. Head to Forum Theater to take part in a festival celebrating the works of OU's Master of Fine Arts playwrights. It will feature three fully produced plays as well as additional semi-staged readings.

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BY JESSICA DEYO

#16Fest APRIL 20-21 Say farewell to fest season with the biggest fest of all: Number Fest. Number Fest is the nation's largest college music festival and will feature 26 different artists over the course of two days. Take advantage of overnight camping opportunities and two-day passes to be sure you won't miss artists such as Marshmello, Lil Uzi Vert and R.L. Grime. Day Hike at the Ridges APRIL 25 FROM 2-4 P.M. Get in touch with the great outdoors during a scenic hike through The Ridges, hosted by the Environmental Wellness Workshop. The hike, led by campus recreation staff, is the final event in the Spring Wellness series. Public Telescope Nights at Ohio University Observatory APRIL 27-28, MAY 19 FROM 9-11 P.M. Astronomy faculty and students provide an opportunity to see the night sky up close at the OU Observatory at The Ridges. The free event will give the public a chance to admire Jupiter, Mars and distant galaxies.


How can the Alumni Association

help you NOW?

THE OHIO UNIVERSITY ALUMNI ASSOCIATION helps students make the most of their college experience and stay connected with OHIO after they graduate.

BB T O

BobcaThon is a dance marathon on campus to raise awareness and funds for seriously ill children and their families staying at the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Ohio. BobcaThon culminates in a 12 hour Dance Marathon in February. You can sign up to be a dancer or volunteer today! www.bobcathon.com

STUDENT ALUMNI BOARD (SAB) SAB is a professional organization that strives to connect students to the University and Bobcat alumni through exciting programs and initiatives. SAB has passionate, creative, and hardworking undergraduates who make a difference on campus. Look out for Homecoming Events including the Yell Like Hell Pep Rally. More information can be found at www.ohiosab.com

QUESTIONS? Contact Katrina Heilmeier at heilmeik@ohio.edu or 740.597.1216

OHIO

ALUMNI ASSOCIATION


SEX & HEALTH CLOUDY WITH A CHANCE OF

HEALTH RISKS It's time to clear the air about cigarette alternatives. BY MARIE CHAILOSKY | PHOTO BY MAX CATALANO

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hen Dan Carsey decided to give up 16 years of smoking cigarettes, he turned to vaping. He’s been vaping for five years. “Since I quit [smoking], I have not gotten bronchitis, which I had almost on a yearly basis since the last four or five years that I was smoking. [My] lung capacity has actually been tested and improved,” Carsey says. “I spent a better part of six months hacking up all kinds of crap just from the cigarettes’ damage [to] my lungs.” Carsey, owner of Glass City Vapor in Athens and Heart of It All E-Liquid, has steadily decreased his nicotine intake levels since switching to vaping. “I’ve been able to be more active,” Carsey says. “Being able to be active with my kids is important to me. It’s a big part of why I quit, why I switched.” Although Carsey’s switch from cigarettes to vaping drastically improved his health, the Food and Drug Administration groups e-cigarettes and vape products in the same category as regular cigarettes. The physical makeup of vaporizers and e-cigarettes is essentially nicotine, water, propylene glycol, glycerin and flavoring. The cocktail of chemicals in vaping devices and e-cigarettes doesn't contain nearly as many carcinogens as cigarettes, because cancer-causing chemicals are only found in the ingredients of some flavors. Certain cigarettes contain a combination of cancer-causing chemicals, such as formaldehyde, ammonia, lead, arsenic and carbon monoxide, among others.

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However, those chemical differences do not make vaporizers and e-cigarettes healthy, says Terry Koons, Ohio University’s associate director of health promotion. Koons warns that even though e-cigarettes and vaping devices don’t contain carcinogenic chemicals, there are still health concerns due to nicotine content. When nicotine enters the bloodstream over an extended period of time, it can lead to cardiovascular disease, heart attacks and strokes. “People who smoke say that they get that kind of rush. They feel like they’re relaxed,” Koons says. “They feel like they can calm down because they’re addicted to the nicotine, and after time goes on people get withdrawal symptoms.” Carsey credits vaping with helping him to stop smoking cigarettes and eventually kick a nicotine addiction, but Koons says that vapes and e-cigarettes are not an effective way to stop smoking altogether. Although they do help some people quit smoking cigarettes, they do nothing to stop people from ingesting nicotine. Some people who vape and smoke e-cigarettes did not previously smoke cigarettes. OU junior Hunter Kightlinger started vaping December of his freshman year. “All my friends were doing it,” Kightlinger says. “And I would come home and hit theirs, and someone gave me one for really cheap so I just got it and started using it.” Kightlinger says he kept upgrading his devices to get “bigger clouds” of vapor. He upgraded his vaping device twice, never increasing the amount of nicotine, before he got a JUUL last


Carsey, owner of Glass City Vapor and Heart of It All E-Liquid, works in his store at 11 W. State St.

year. A JUUL is a sleek e-cigarette that looks more like a flash drive than a nicotine-delivery system. A JUUL delivers “way more” nicotine than vaping devices, Kightlinger says. It is composed of two parts: the JUUL and the disposable JUULpods. According to the JUUL website, each JUULpod has the nicotine equivalent of one pack of cigarettes. Kightlinger got rid of his JUUL when the habit got too expensive, but in the heat of his usage, he was going through almost one pod a day. The situation is the same for cigarette smokers, but OU hopes to deter that on campus. OU’s Tobacco Free Initiative, which went into effect in August 2015, bans “all nicotine, tobacco-derived or -containing products, and plant-based products including cigarettes (e.g., clove, bidis, kreteks), e-cigarettes/vaping, cigars and cigarillos, hookah-smoked products, and oral tobacco (spit and spitless, smokeless, chew, snuff)” on campus, according to the policy. The policy's section on e-cigarettes will be revisited should the cigarette alternative receive FDA approval. A Healthy Campus Survey administered to OU students in the fall of 2017 revealed that 12 percent of respondents smoked cigarettes and three percent smoked cigarettes daily. Six percent said they use e-cigarettes. Research conducted in December 2017 by The Jama Network found that as students increased the levels of nicotine in their vaping devices, they were more likely to keep increasing their nicotine intake and even switch over to smoking cigarettes. That is a problem for college students like Kightlinger who started smoking

three milligrams of nicotine from vaping products, but increased to 700 milligrams of nicotine when he switched to JUUL. To combat addiction among youth, the FDA is working on developing a tobacco product standard to set the maximum nicotine level for cigarettes, according to its website. Currently, the organization requires all newly regulated tobacco products, including JUULs and e-cigarettes, to have a warning about the possibility of addiction on each package. Although FDA warnings may dissuade potential users, Carsey says tobacco-free initiatives create a conflict between prevention efforts and local businesses. The Tobacco 21 ordinance, which makes it illegal to sell tobacco to anyone under the age of 21, has been adopted in major Ohio cities such as Cleveland and Columbus. Carsey says the ordinance is too restrictive as local businesses, including Glass City Vapor, rely on student customers under 21. “That’s kind of been a fight,” he says. “There have been shops that moved to get out of [the] city of Columbus area and likewise with the other big cities … just to stay alive.” Carsey says smaller cities such as Parkersburg and Lancaster will feel the impact, too. There, he says, teenagers use smoking as a way to mentally remove themselves from tough situations. “Maybe it’s away from stress, maybe away from not smoking at all, maybe to get away from a couple of years that they’ve smoked,” he says. “And our government essentially trying to take away that option is BS." b

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37


ENTERTAINMENT

Salopek, also known as DJ Trail Mix, plays a set at a house party during Mill Fest.

THE LOCAL SPIN Athens DJs set the record straight about what it's like to keep the party going. BY HALEY RISCHAR | PHOTOS BY MAX CATALANO

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ulti-colored lights flash across the stage of Casa Nueva as DJ B-Funk performs his set for the “Trust Me” dance party. Guests scream along the words to “Cyclone” by Baby Bash featuring T-Pain, not even realizing the song has transitioned to “B.O.B.” by OutKast. Time is seemingly endless for those on the dance floor. DJ B-Funk, an Athens native named Brandon Thompson, was introduced to DJing his junior year of high school when he was on the prom committee and begged to DJ the dance, even if he had to do it for free. “They let me DJ, and I just loved it. To get to play music you love and create a party atmosphere, it was just really intoxicating,” Thompson says.

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A self-described “full-fledged townie,” Thompson decided to stay in Athens for college and graduated from Ohio University in 2003 with degrees in philosophy and audio production. A DJ is a person who plays recorded music for a live audience, generally at a party or a nightclub. Most DJs use equipment that can play at least two sources of recorded music simultaneously and mix them together. Mixing the two songs creates seamless transitions between recordings. The process usually involves the aligning of beats in the music to prevent a clash when played together. Michael Salopek, a junior studying music production and the recording industry who goes by the name DJ Trail Mix, says a good DJ makes it difficult to tell when one song ends and the next song begins.


“People think DJing is just pressing play on songs and stuff like that,” Salopek says. “If you’re DJing, I want to hear you actually DJ, like actually mix it. If you have a controller in front of you, don’t just be pressing play; actually try to work songs in and out of each other.” There are several common methods for creating such transitions. One technique is called “beatmatching,” when the DJ shifts the tempo of a song to match the beat of the upcoming song; another technique is called “time stretching,” when the speed or duration of a song is changed without affecting its pitch. Those techniques match the tempo or pitch of the song currently playing to an upcoming track to ensure the beats are synchronised. “There’s a lot of rhythm involved,” says Michael Oettinger, a junior studying music production and an Athens DJ known as DJ Hex. “You have to know different beat and time signatures because you’re overlapping them on the songs, so if the beat’s not matching up it’s going to sound like garbage.” Oettinger and Thompson use a computer program called Serato to make that process easier. The program analyzes songs, marking the key and speed of each one. “You don’t only want the speed to be the same, you want the key to be the same so the harmonies sound good and they complement each other,” Oettinger says. Thompson says DJing is more than a technical talent, but also an understanding of the crowd and its preferences. “I’ve been doing it for so long I kind of know what people like,” Thompson says. “After playing a few songs I can kind of feel the crowd out, figure out if I need to go harder or softer, stuff like that.” For Salopek, it’s the opposite. He understands DJing at parties means catering to an audience, but he likes to showcase his own taste in music and enjoys when other DJs do the same. “Maybe it’s just because I’m a DJ and go to shows with this mindset, but I want to hear what they have to offer,” Salopek says. “I want to hear what their taste in music is and what they think is cool, what they think people should be dancing to that night. I mean, you’re the one with the aux; play something dope.” Oettinger, who works at Red Brick Tavern and Pyramids Hookah Lounge, loves putting his own twist on the music he plays. He says he often sticks to hip-hop and trap when he plays at the bars, but he throws in some mashups, too. “A lot of the mashups I find out are on the spot things that I try, and some of them work out really well, and then some of them are just awful,” Oettinger says. “I’ve combined 'Yeah' by Usher and the bassline of 'Fade' by Kanye West, that was a godsend.” As a freshman, Oettinger always wanted to DJ at the bars but never had the connections. He says DJing is exclusive and it’s important to be friendly with your competition. Thompson had the same experience, so he started the Athens DJ Showcase to facilitate a DJ community. “I started the showcase maybe four or five years ago [because] all those people were like, ‘Hey man how can I get all these shows? I’ve never DJed around,' ” Thompson says. “So, I was like let me start this show where they can all come to The Union and play on this giant sound system to a crowd.” Now, the social group of Athens DJs is closer than people realize. The group communicates regularly through social media and texting, which Oettinger says encourages them to help one another. “There’s a little bit of competition, but it’s really just to make

Oettinger, who goes by the stagename DJ Hex, works on his music in the Schoonover audio studio.

everyone better and just kind of push each other to do better gigs,” he says. Thompson says DJing is hard work, and there is a big difference between an average DJ and a good DJ. “I feel like people should appreciate what DJs do more,” Thompson says. “... I don’t know if you’ve been to a party with a really good DJ, but it’s the best. The party doesn’t end at a time, it could keep going as long as the beer is there.” Salopek says producing and creating sets requires different mindsets. When he’s producing, he likes to be relaxed, but he has to be hyped up when creating a new set. “Production is kind of like writing a paper, and DJing is giving a presentation,” he says. “It’s much more physical and exposing in the moment because people can hear if you mess something up while you’re doing it, but with production you can hear if you mess something up and fix it before you ever publish the song.” As a DJ, Thompson says he has a special appreciation for music culture in Athens. Unlike bigger cities around the country, he feels a connection to the audience he says is unique to OU. “OU DJs, we’re all kind of in it together because we only have so many parties to feed from,” Thompson says. “…We’re all friends, and I think that’s what’s really cool about Athens. We all understand each other, and we understand how people party — nowhere else parties like Athens and I think that’s really cool.” b

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39


SPORTS

SADDLE UP The OU equestrian team doesn't horse around. BY MICHAELA FATH | PHOTOS BY MADDIE SCHROEDER

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wo times a week, about 40 Ohio University women zip up their black leather boots, buckle their helmets and trot along with their freshly brushed, fourlegged friends at Stonegate Farm. The OU equestrian team is no stranger to the hard work necessary to make their rides look impeccable. Once arriving at the privately owned barn, the riders are assigned at random to one of Stonegate’s horses, a foreign concept to experienced riders used to building a strong relationship with one particular horse. The rider then preps their horse of the day: they groom it, equip its tack (saddle, bridle, stirrups, harness, etc.), pick its hooves and assemble it for a practice’s worth of work. “We do work really hard, and I think that horses are a thing that a lot of people don’t understand,” sophomore Paige Scott says. “I guess it’s something you can’t really explain; we’re just horse girls.” Each member of the team followed a different path to equestrianism. Team President Gina Knoll, a senior, was introduced to the sport after tagging along with a friend to a barn at age 10, while Scott was riding her family's horse in her backyard as soon as she could walk. The team follows all guidelines for the club sports at OU. Any student is able to join the team, regardless of experience. Although the majority of the team has grown up around the sport, others join without any prior knowledge of riding horses. “Everyone has different habits, strengths and weaknesses when it comes to riding,” Knoll says. “Our coach just tries to pinpoint them, and everyone works on different things.” With such a large team, there are many factors that contribute to deciding who gets to compete in the hunt seat equestrian shows. Knoll says although the team takes riders who are the most skilled, riders who have “good standing” with the team by regularly attending events and paying dues on time may attend. Equestrian riding has a general reputation of being on the pricey side, but Knoll says it is much less expensive to ride on the club team compared to showing on an individual basis. “I’m a poor college kid, so I work at the barn as much as I can and then I get it off of my team dues,” Knoll says. “We never want money to be a problem, but horses are expensive. Everyone knows that going in, especially with riding experience.” The team’s funding is directly correlated with the community

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Spring 2018 Paige Scottbackdrop trots during| practice at Beckett Run.


Freshman Kelsey Locante holds two horses before a group lesson.

service its members complete, and each rider is required to complete 10 hours of community service and attend two fundraisers every semester. The team participates in shows throughout the year at Otterbein University, Ohio State University and Miami University. It also hosts its own show at Stonegate Farm before heading to regionals at OSU in early March. Each show is divided into two days, allowing different members of the 44-person team to show on each of the days. Each rider competing in a horse show is assigned a horse to ride at random, similar to practices. Scott says although riding random horses is out of her comfort zone, it is a helpful experience because she focuses solely on herself when competing. Shows are judged both individually and as an entire team. A point-rider is chosen as a representative for the team by the coach and is then scored a certain amount of points that carry throughout the season. “Throughout the entire year you have to have 36 points to move up to the next division,” Knoll says. “So, you can be in the same division for four years, or you can ‘point-out’ in one year, and then that is when you would go to regionals.” Knoll describes OU’s team as “the underdog” because of the amount of highly competitive teams in the region. After going through what Scott describes as a few “lack years,” the team received exactly what it needed in order to improve: a new

coach, Jim Arrigon, and assistance from his wife Gwen. Jim comes with a variety of equestrian experience; he rode for the University of Kentucky, served as the national secretary for the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association and coached NCAA National Championship teams. This year he coached the OU team to its first award at the national level. “[Jim] has kicked our butts into shape,” Knoll says. “We kind of started lower of the pack, but we are working our way up and making a name for ourselves. I’ve been able to see lots of positive changes within the team.” Gwen contributes a wealth of knowledge to the group as she was the former coach for the Beckett Run, a storied equestrian facility and team located in Butler, Ohio. She also served on the National Board of Directors of the Interscholastic Equestrian Association. As for the future of the OU equestrian team, Knoll remains positive. She hopes she has led by example as president, and the younger riders will continue to go the extra mile with every show and practice. Jim is optimistic about the future of the team, too. “With many of the key athletes returning next year, plus some key recruits we hope to get, we believe we can turn the corner next year and become competitive within the region and on a national level,” Jim says. b

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VOICES

CRASH

C URSE Two Backdroppers manage to skate by as they learn roller derby basics.

BY ABBEY KNUPP | PHOTOS AND ILLUSTRATION BY MADDIE SCHROEDER

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tepping into Dow’s Rollarena in Nelsonville, it was hard not to be intimidated. The roller derby players were chatting and armoring up for what seemed like an intense battle. We checked in with Brüzer von Hammerstein, the league’s vice president, and she loaned Alex Greenberg and me all of the protective gear we needed to participate in the contact sport — pads for our knees and elbows, wrist guards, a helmet and a pair of skates. We brought our own mouth guards, a necessity to protect our teeth in the case of a collision or fall. While getting strapped up to give it a try, I wrongly fastened a pair of elbow pads around my knees. I was incredibly nervous after making such a rookie mistake before I even finished lacing up my skates. Nevertheless, two of the players encouraged Alex and me to get off the bench and skate to the middle of the rink. We were hesitant but eventually stood and attempted to get there. My knees shook with each movement and the skates constantly slipped forward, threatening to throw me off balance. The Appalachian Hell Betties skated warm-up laps around us before meeting in the middle of the court to stretch. Then, they introduced themselves with their derby names and their preferred pronouns, welcoming any new players — deemed “fresh meat” — and members of other teams who share their practice space. Nicknames such as Brüzer von Hammerstein, Scary Gherry and Maim Squeeze allow players to take on different personas when they roll onto the rink. Despite the intimidating quality of their names and the rough-and-tumble aspect of the sport, the players are incredibly welcoming of new recruits. Throughout practice, different skaters removed themselves from the group to teach us the basics. First, we practiced getting into the derby stance. They told us to bend our knees like we were sitting in an invisible chair, without leaning back too far or letting our knees

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go in front of our skates. The next step was learning how to skate. They taught us to skate forward by moving our feet in and out, creating a football shape. That method of skating allows the players to keep their feet on the ground the whole time, which helps maintain balance. Seasoned players skated around the outside of the rink at shocking speeds, doing squats and other exercises in sync. Their movements were so smooth and graceful that it was difficult to focus on my own clunky feet as they sped around us. As the derby players practiced blocking exercises, large crashes echoed through the rink as bodies connected with bodies and knee pads smacked together. I was moderately concerned that we were going to end up deeply embedded in the tangle on accident, but thankfully we were contact-free. Participants have to pass a basic skills test before they are able to officially join the league and participate in the contact aspect of the sport. Each skater must successfully demonstrate more than 20 skills, and Alex and I could barely move 5 feet in five minutes. Scary Gherry, who has been skating since 2016, taught us some of the basic skills that are required to play in the league. Because roller derby is a contact sport, it is essential for players to understand how to skate and stop efficiently to avoid injury during the game. Scary Gherry showed us how to do a plow stop, which involves bringing both feet in toward each other at an angle. In gameplay, the plow is often used to slow players down instead of jolting them to a complete stop. We also practiced walking sideways in skates, both crossing one leg over the other and taking small steps to the side, weaving in and out of cones, and a t-stop, which is when one skate forms a right angle with the other skate, bringing the skater to a complete stop. Though the moves were just basics, they required muscles in my legs that I didn’t even know existed. It


Top: Knupp (left) and Greenberg strap on elbow and knee pads. Middle: The Appalachian Hell Betties practice a jam drill. Bottom: Sweet N. Lowdown teaches Knupp how to skate backward.

was as though I was learning to walk again, except this time I had wheels strapped to my feet. Alex and I sat out while the Hell Betties scrimmaged with some members of a visiting team, the Silver Bridge Bruisers. They split into two even groups, one team wearing white and the other wearing black. The players wrote their numbers on their upper arms in Sharpie so that the referees could easily call fouls and the players could communicate. While we watched, Maim Squeeze sat out, explained the rules to us and told us about her experience in roller derby. She works for the research department at Ohio University and joined the team two seasons ago. Just 12 weeks ago, she donated a kidney to her sister, so she stood with us — the women don’t normally sit during practice, which she says builds endurance — to let her body rest. Maim Squeeze explained that derby is divided into twominute rounds that are often shorter, in which a player on each team, called the jammer, attempts to break through the other team’s blockers and skate laps around the pack. Each time the jammers manage to make it past the blockers and do another lap around the opposing team, they score a point. The jammers can be told apart from other players because they have a sleeve — called a “panty” by derby players — on their helmet with a star on the side. The rest of the team consists of blockers and another player called a pivot, who can be distinguished by a panty on their helmet with a solid stripe running down the middle. The pivot calls the shots for the team during the jam and can take over for the jammer if the jammer subtly passes the star off of their helmet to the pivot. Maim Squeeze refers to the move as a “panty pass.” The players make the moves look effortless, as though they have been playing derby since they were old enough to walk. However, the people on the team have differing levels of experience. Some joined at the beginning of the season and just passed their basic skills test, while others, like the team’s captain, Sweet N. Lowdown, have been playing for more than a decade. Sweet N. Lowdown has played for three different teams since she started derby in 2005. Although many join derby for the fitness aspect, the cool names and the toughness associated with being a derby woman, most stay for the family that derby creates. That is true with the Appalachian Hell Betties, who made Alex and me feel at home after only two hours. At the end of practice, all of the players stacked their hands and did a small cheer, pushing Alex and me to the center of the circle for our entrance into the group as fresh meat. Then, the team did a sweat-soaked group hug. When we arrived, we were scared and skeptical, but when we left, the players thanked us for coming and told us that they would see us soon. We realized that they just might. b

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43


VOICES

After trying every burrito on the menu, one Backdropper shares his favorites. BY ADAM MCCONVILLE | ILLUSTRATIONS BY MADDIE KNOSTMAN

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wo years ago, my best friend brought me to Big Mamma’s to eat dinner, and since then, I have been hooked. That year, I ate my way through every item on the menu and have been giving burrito advice to anyone who will listen ever since. There’s just

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something about Big Mamma’s that draws me in. It’s casual, it’s eclectic, and best of all, the food is delicious. Baby sized burritos are $4.25, and regulars are $6.75, making my top five picks not only yummy but affordable, too. b


TOP PICKS Loaded Mamma So deliciously bad for you, and it’s heavenly. Potatoes and bacon and sour cream and melted cheese. Just… wow.

Chipotle Ranch Mamma with Chicken It’s hard to beat a classic, and there’s a reason this burrito gets top billing on the menu. It’s both a favorite for lunchtime or when coming home from a night out. But take my advice and skip the onions if you’re going to meet someone afterward.

Chili Mamma If Skyline Chili is your thing, this is the burrito for you. If not, you might want to pass. The chili and sour cream go well together, and the hot sauce packs a modest but noticeable punch.

Mamma Mia It’s strange to imagine a burrito with Parmesan cheese and marinara, but the results work surprisingly well. This has been the introductory burrito I recommend for my friends who have never had Big Mamma’s before, and now it’s the only thing some of them will order.

Mamma Grande As the name implies, the Mamma Grande has it all. If you’re ambitious or feeling masochistic, try the hot salsa. It packs enough heat to make your mouth go numb but is countered nicely by the sour cream and beans. The cilantro also gives this burrito a crisp, fresh taste, rounding out a grand delight. CHOOSE BETWEEN

CHOOSE BETWEEN

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Exhibit A. Mike Sweeney's impressionist style puts a personal touch on his paintings. PHOTOS BY BAXTER TURAIN AND ART BY MIKE SWEENEY

"WELLSVILLE MOUNTAINS" This painting is of the western rim of Cache Valley, Utah. Sweeney says according to local lore, it forms the steepest mountain range in the world.

"LEAPFROG"

Sweeney painted this from a tiny black-and-white photo he found in a photo album that belonged to his parents who lived in Kansas. The reference photo is from the late 1800s.

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1. Lime green laptop is now hot pink 2. Man in background is gone 3. Woman in background’s shirt is now yellow 4. The word “NOW” has disappeared 5. Bottom left girl's eyes are open.

5 4 3 2 1

ORIGINAL PHOTO BY BAXTER TURAIN

Spot the five differences between these photos of people at the Athens March for our Lives.

PHOTO HUNT


Jackie O’s Pub & Brewery first opened its doors in 2005. Since then, we’ve expanded to include 3 unique Athens locations. Stop by our original Brewpub, located at 24 W Union Street, and sample 18 exclusive drafts made with locally grown ingredients. Right next door, our Public House restaurant features 30 different draft lines and a delicious, locally sourced menu that offers something for everyone. Public House 22 West Union Street Daily 11am-11pm

Court St. Carpenter St.

ve. Stimson A

Taproom & Brewery 25 Campbell Street Mon-Thurs 2pm-9pm Fri-Sat 11am-10pm Sun 12pm-7pm

House N. Congress St.

W. Union St.

BrewPub 24 West Union Street Tues-Thurs 7pm-2am Fri 4pm-2am Sat 2pm-2am

BrewPub & Public

Taproom & Brewery

Just a mile from our uptown locations is our Taproom and Production Brewery, located at 25 Campbell Street. With 16 additional taps, food cart, and a large outdoor patio, it’s a perfect retreat at the edge of town.

@jackieosbrewery

www.jackieos.com

Vol. 11 Issue 4  
Vol. 11 Issue 4  
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