Leo Hayden The Art of
Legends, Celebrities and Locals
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Lawrence resident Ben Tiemann, portrayed as a brave warrior dwarf, stands in front of the Lawrence Arts Center. Illustration by Torren Thomas.
Welcome to the spring edition of Lawrence Magazine! As a magazine devoted to covering our city, we are delighted to feature a cover portrait with layers of connections to the city. There is, of course, the art by Lawrence resident Leo Hayden, which Darin M. White discusses in his article; then there is Hayden’s fandom of KU Basketball and the March Madness–inspired art tournament that he hosts in Lawrence; and finally, there is the subject of the portrait, Fally Afani, a Lawrence-based writer/ photographer/musician (and Lawrence Magazine contributor). That local approach is also part of the spirit of the artwork we commissioned for another story, Amber Fraley’s exploration of the city’s resurgent Dungeons & Dragons culture. Lawrence artist Torren Thomas brought some classic character tropes of this roleplaying adventure game into Downtown Lawrence with his illustrations. A full-time digital artist since 2011, Thomas created drawings that reflected a watercolor influence. Though he used some of the same programs he would for his other digital work, Thomas rendered the D&D illustrations by following traditional watercolor techniques of painting from light to dark and leaving a lot of the line work visible in the final creation. “The watercolor felt more like it placed the characters in a fantasy realm,” says Thomas, “and it allowed me to leave enough of the environment so you knew it was Lawrence without taking away from the characters.” Adding more Lawrence connections to the work, Thomas brought in his friends Ben Tiemann, Shawn Tiemann and Brooklin Tetuan to model as his characters (the dwarf, the orc and the wizard, respectively). We hope you enjoy meeting familiar and new faces of Lawrence in these pages. Hope you have a wonderful spring.
Nathan Pettengill, editor facebook.com/lawrencemag twitter.com/lawrencemag
FALLY AFANI / SOUND AND BOOKMARKS Fally Afani has received several Kansas Association of Broadcasters awards as well as an Edward R. Murrow award for her online work in over 20 years of journalism. She is also the recipient of the Rocket Grant Award, which helped develop live music events for Lawrence.
EDITOR Nathan Pettengill
KATHERINE DINSDALE / PEOPLE
DESIGNER / ART DIRECTOR Shelly Bryant
Katherine Dinsdale has contributed stories to Lawrence Magazine for many moons, enjoying the fortune of hanging out with prairie chickens, contra dancers, bead artists and more. When she’s not writing, she loves spending time with the parents and kids of Family Promise of Lawrence, as well as her own five grandchildren.
AMBER FRALEY / FEATURES AND LAWRENCIUM
ADVERTISING Joanne Morgan (785) 832-7264 firstname.lastname@example.org
A writer, mom and wife, Amber Fraley earned an English degree from the University of Kansas. She has a background in journalism, loves Lawrence and is a giant doofus (if you ask her daughter). She has recently completed her first novel.
MARY R. GAGE / FEATURES A hiker, bookworm, traveler and writer, Mary Gage landed in Lawrence to attend the University of Kansas and never left. She relishes being part of the community and is always on the lookout for the next intriguing story.
CARTER GASKINS / PEOPLE Carter Gaskins developed a love for creating dramatic images as a tattoo artist from Charles Town, West Virginia. He has worked as a photographer in Lawrence since 2014 through his studio, Gaskins Photography Collection.
AD DESIGNERS Jenni Leiste Alex Tatro COPY EDITOR Leslie Andres
CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Fally Afani Lorraine Cannistra Katherine Dinsdale Amber Fraley Mary R. Gage Carter Gaskins Marsha H. Goff Thaddeus Haverkamp Susan Kraus Nick Spacek Darin M. White
CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERS Fally Afani Jason Dailey Carter Gaskins Brian Goodman Richard Gwin Susan Kraus
CONTRIBUTING ARTIST Torren Thomas DIRECTOR Bob Cucciniello
TORREN THOMAS / FEATURES A graduate of the University of Kansas, Torren Thomas’ illustration career has led to painting album covers, magazine illustrations and video game avatars for clients such as Staples, Pepsi Co, PBS, the New York Observer and various gaming companies.
PRODUCTION MANAGER Jenni Leiste
SUBSCRIPTIONS $ 30 for a one-year subscription 1035 N. Third Street, Suite 101-B, P.O. Box 888 Lawrence, KS 66044 (800) 578-8748 | Fax (785) 331-0633 EMAIL COMMENTS OR SUBSCRIPTION INFO TO email@example.com Lawrence Magazine is a publication of Sunflower Publishing, a division of Ogden Publications, Inc.
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The New Age of Lawrence D&D Once a counter-culture hobby, the role-playing game of Dungeons & Dragons goes mainstream
Where the Crops Grew and the Dragsters Roared A stylish, customized home in west Lawrence bears hints of its country heritage
smorgasbord 10 | Sound SOUND VENUES Creating halls and stations
14 | Bookmarks KANSAS AUTHORS BRING OTHERWORLDLY HEROES Amanda Sellet and Farooq Ahmed introduce young characters in difficult worlds
18 | Drinks SPRING DRINKS A young bar manager creates a novel drink for a new restaurant
26 | People 5 FASHION QUESTIONS WITH … Jamie R. Urban 28 | People THE SABRE MASTER For John Gascon, a good bottle begins with the slicing
places 31 | Places QUEBEC CITY With its walking routes, architecture and magnificent dining, Quebec City should be on your list for vacation possibilities
20 | Gallery THE ART MADNESS OF LEO HAYDEN Depicting champions and legends
23 | Lawrencium SPEED How fast do we go?
36 | Places THE ROCK CHALK SHIRKS One couple’s
people 24 | People HOMETOWN HEROES The Monarch’s Champion ON THE COVER Detail from Fally, acrylic on panel by Leo Hayden
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SOUND VENUES Creating halls and stations Story by Nick Spacek
Photography by Fally Afani
Mike Logan In 2002, Mike Logan was 22, fresh out of the University of Kansas with a business degree and managing the recently opened Abe & Jake’s Landing when the venue’s owner, Mike Ewell, let him in on what would become a life-changing opportunity. “[Ewell also] owned half of the Granada,” Logan explains. “He and his partner at the time had a falling out—a time for separation—and through a buy-sell, he bought out his partner and then I bought in the next day.” At the time, the Granada was primarily a dance club that hosted an occasional concert, but Logan wanted to move it more toward a concert venue. That required buying a PA system and doing structural renovations. Obviously, it didn’t all happen at once. “I had to go to the bank and borrow a bunch of money to put me in and get some permanent fixtures in the space to be able to host shows on a regular basis,” Logan explains. It was also a case of doing things by hand. Longtime Lawrencians might recall that the front bar of the Granada was formerly known as the Aqua Lounge, a carpeted and black-lit space filled with fish tanks, and that the sides of the venue’s stage were flanked by go-go cages. “One of the most disgusting things I’ve ever done was taking carpet out of the Granada in the Aqua Lounge and the stairs up to the original restrooms,” reminisces Logan, making a face. “It was the most ….” Here he pauses, as if he can still smell and feel it. “No one should ever put carpet in a bar, ever. I did that by hand one Sunday afternoon.” It was a rough start, but as Logan puts it, “I didn’t own a house, I had a car that was 10 years old, and the most expensive thing I owned was a big piece of PA. It was a lot for a 22-year-old or whatever, but I kind of ate, slept and drank it. I worked a lot, and put a lot of sweat equity in there, and I’m still here.” At the time, Logan was no stranger to the service industry in downtown Lawrence. In high school, he started at the Eldridge Hotel, where he worked at everything from bellman, room service, banquet service, front desk assistant and front desk manager. “You name it,” Logan says after rattling off the
positions. “I was the local kid working behind the desk, and if someone needed something—concert tickets or tickets to a football game or whatever—I was at least a phone call away. I could find stuff. So, the service industry always really interested me.” In recent years, Logan has become even more embedded in the Lawrence community. As he says, when he was younger, his favorite thing to do would be to turn you on to a new band or tell you what you’d missed the night before; now he chairs eXplore Lawrence (the city’s tourism bureau) and just finished a term on the Chamber of Commerce board. He has helped create the Lawrence Food Truck Festival, which benefits local charity Just Food, and had the Granada take over the local Fourth of July fireworks display in 2018 after it became costprohibitive for the Jaycees to sponsor the event. And this past year, Logan purchased another legendary Lawrence music venue, The Bottleneck. “Brett Moseman had it for 30 some-odd years,” explains Logan of his purchase. “He probably could have sold it to somebody who wanted to open their Chuck E. Cheese there or whatever, so I can only say good things about that effort to keep it a venue. I know how hard it is to ride that roller coaster.” In 2020, The Bottleneck celebrates its 35th anniversary, so Logan is looking to tie into the venue’s history with old fliers, show pictures, and more, so that the kids who weren’t even born when the club opened can have a sense of just how many astonishing acts have played the space. Given that there now exists the widest variety of venues the town’s seen in ages—Logan quips that he was able to name around 18 without even trying—the choices for music are seemingly endless. While that could seem like an abundance of competition, Logan sees it as a positive. “I always try to look on the glass-half-full side,” Logan says. “You come downtown, and sometimes there’s three or four tour buses, and then all these other venues have music coming out their doors? What a cool environment! I mean, it’s not Beale Street or whatever, but it’s a cool identity piece for Lawrence, so if we can help with that we certainly will.”
OPPOSITE Mike Logan sits in The Bottleneck’s greenroom, the area where bands relax before going onstage.
Love and Lawrence Hits Brassy, bold and sassy, Ms. Amanda Love’s morning show on Lawrence Hits radio is definitely a bolt of energy for the A.M. hours. “I never thought radio would be my thing,” Love explains. But after two years of broadcasting, she has warmed to becoming a radio host, playing her musical picks and promoting community events through segments such as her “Theater Thursday,” a round-up of local theater shows. “I feel like I always end up missing things if nobody mentions them” continues Love, “so, I throw the idea for this show out there, to keep people informed.” Additionally, Love takes what she learns about the community from her radio show and integrates it into the banter for her Thursday night drag shows at the Jazzhaus. “I’m able to get up on stage and be like, ‘Did you know this happened this week?’” Love reflects. “It’s almost like doing research, and then I can have a conversation or talk about stuff with the audience. I don’t know if I’ve always seen it help, but it definitely ain’t hurting!”
This type of variety, from the community info to the music being played, is exactly what station owner Jay Wachs says was one of the key ideas behind his decision to open the online-only radio station six years ago. “Basically we wanted to put a variety station on the air that played the hits of the ’60s, ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s and that covered the genres of rock, pop, R&B and country,” Wachs says. A playlist on Lawrence Hits might include anything from Gladys Knight & the Pips’ “Midnight Train to Georgia” to the Canadian obscurity Chilliwack doing “My Girl (Gone, Gone, Gone).” “We wanted to play immediately recognizable hits— and there are a lot of them—but we also wanted some that were, ‘Oh, wow! I haven’t heard that in months (or years).’” Love, happy to be part of that variety, says she has learned to coach her drag show and radio show audiences to catch her two very different acts. “One show starts at seven in the morning, and the other starts at 10:30 at night,” she concludes with a laugh. “I joke about it: ‘Just take a nap, and you’ll be all right.’”
Ms. Amanda Love pre-records one of her Lawrence Hits shows at the Lawrence Public Library Sound + Vision studio.
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Credit: Gaskins Photography Collection Credit: Gaskins Photography Collection
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KANSAS AUTHORS BRING OTHER-WORLDLY HEROES Amanda Sellet and Farooq Ahmed introduce young characters in difficult worlds Story by Fally Afani and Nathan Pettengill
Photography by Fally Afani
‘Making her way in the world’ In a world where teens live much of their lives in the immediacy of social media, it’s uncommon to find one living in the past—but that’s where we find Mary, the 15-year-old hero of Amanda Sellet’s By the Book: A Novel of Prose and Cons (HMH Books for Young Readers, 2020). It’s perhaps Mary’s love of nineteenth-century classics that helps her navigate life in a new school (and a plethora of new relationships), bringing the familiarity of characters gifted to her by Jane Austen or Leo Tolstoy to this unfamiliar territory. But, as Mary learns, she can live in a book for only so long before modern, real-world problems start to surface. For Lawrence author Amanda Sellet, creating Mary’s indulgence for nostalgia allowed both a return to her natural habitat as a lover of classic literature and an exploration of works she had missed. “I leaned pretty heavily on books I knew well, like all the Jane Austens and the major Brontës, but there were definitely gaps in my knowledge—things I’d always meant to read—that I took
the opportunity to fill,” she says. “It was a slightly strange way to experience Tess of the D’Urbervilles and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall since in the back of my mind I was always thinking, ‘what kind of joke could I make about this tale of woe?’” While Mary may be more obsessed with the world of yesteryear, Sellet says the fictional teen’s priorities aren’t that far from her technology-obsessed peers. “On the surface, the world of Mary’s books is the polar opposite of a modern-day high school, from the clothes to the manners. You don’t see teens today worrying about things like white gloves and propriety … and yet reputation and social standing are just as important as they were then, and the social world is at least as stratified as a Regency ballroom,” she says. “The status symbols may be different, but the pressure to conform and the fear of judgment are as powerful as ever. I thought it was interesting to explore that contrast. What’s changed in the last 200 years for a young woman making her way in the world, and what hasn’t?”
THE SECRET OF THE MAGIC CRYSTAL Lawrence artist and Lawrence Community Nursery School teacher Mishea Obiji releases her first illustrated children’s book (Anamcara Press, 2019) about a fairy, an octopus and friendship.
DANCE WITH DEATH: A HOLISTIC VIEW OF SAVING POLISH JEWS DURING THE HOLOCAUST A member of the Polish resistance during WW II and former University of Kansas professor Jaros aw Pieka kiewicz provides an overview of Jewish communities in Poland and first-hand experiences in fighting Nazi occupation. (University Press of Kansas, 2019)
JAYHAWKER: ON HISTORY, HOME, AND BASKETBALL Former college basketball player and Lawrence native Andrew Malan Milward takes the heritage of KU basketball and his love of the sport as the touchstone for observations on national identity and personal exploration. (University Press of Kansas, 2019)
OPPOSITE Amanda Sellet stands near the classic books section of The Raven Book Store.
into a trilogy or a serialized television series. And Kansas native Ahmed occasionally does prompt the reader to imagine a backstory for his Kansastan. For example, a short sequence about an abandoned Christian outpost raises the prospect of rival settlements, or of New England emigrants as the occluded minority. But for the most part, Ahmed forgoes detailing an alternative history. In fact, even if Ahmed had wanted to supply expository chapters, his narrator wouldn’t have allowed them. Ahmed says he began the novel with multiple characters and voices, but that, after multiple drafts, “all these sections had to be whittled down once the narrator took over.” The other characters remain, but they exist only through the eyes of the unnamed minaret-squatter who mercilessly catalogues the shortcomings of all of them, such as the imam who wears bread crumbs in his beard, the treacherous “false Kansans” (who, of course, would be the Arkansans) and John Brown and his sons (who, without the ennoblement of abolitionism, become merely wool-suited warlords with a side hustle of peddling religious trinkets). The narrator’s voice, alternatively clever and clueless, is
‘Othering the Neighbor’ Imagine a steampunk Kansas settled by Islamic pioneers who erect mosques at the heart of each community, have already abolished (or at least seem to have contained) slavery, but continue to battle the eternal bad guys—Missourians. This premise of Farooq Ahmed’s Kansastan (7.13 Books, 2019) is so intriguingly bold that it risks overshadowing a novel full of clever writing told through the voice of a delightfully exasperating narrator. But Ahmed’s strength as a storyteller succeeds in elevating both the concept and the text while floating core questions about the Kansas experience. In Ahmed’s imagination, Kansastan lies between the enemy territory of Missouri and the heavenly lands of Colorado. The vaguely late-19th-century society is a hybrid of goat husbandry, mining and government bureaucracy, and its citizens are constantly poised for war with cross-border raiders. Fortunately, they have champions: John Brown, his battle-proven sons, a plucky goatherd, and a miracle-worker who is possibly the Sunflower State messiah. A more commercial approach to this book might have sketched out the history and contours of Kansastan—a type of world-building easily translated
This premise of Farooq Ahmed’s Kansastan is so intriguingly bold that it risks overshadowing a novel full of clever writing told through the voice of a delightfully exasperating narrator. also a delightful device for Ahmed to explore issues of linguistic innovation by first-generation immigrants, the melding of canonical religious text into modern lingo, how themes of sparseness overlap in the expressions of Midwest and Middle Eastern landscapes, and how historical Shiite expressions are mirrored in America’s literature of Manifest Destiny. “Would that our borders could constrain the telling of our tales!” laments Ahmed’s narrator. Constrained in the myopic concerns of the narrator, Kansastan is an enthralling read. But when also read across realities, Kansastan distills themes of how communities collapse. It becomes, as Ahmed says, an attempt to “get at this notion of why are we having border wars, what are we fighting for and why are we so committed—as people, really—to othering the neighbor, to this extreme where we are willing to go in and fight and kill and usurp resources.”
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“Depending on how ‘Virginia’ is feeling the cocktail can take anywhere between three to 15 minutes to pour through all the way.” –Mo Cox
SPRING DRINK A young bar manager creates a novel drink for a new restaurant Story by Thaddeus Haverkamp
Photography by Brian Goodman
o Cox is a self-described nerd, which is helpful in his role as bar manager at RPG (Restaurant, Pub & Games), the Mass. Street eatery that features 1,000 board and tabletop games in addition to its food and drink menu. For Cox, the journey to his position began when he arrived at the University of Kansas as a first-generation college student from Wichita. Describing his new home city as an “oasis for young, liberal, differentlyminded queer youths,” he chose to remain after graduation, taking a job as a doorman at Quinton’s Bar and Deli, then moving to Merchant’s as a server and then bartender and then to the Oread Hotel’s Bird Dog Bar. “I’ve had the awesome fortune to be surrounded by all of these great local talents,” Cox says. “They really helped to develop my sense of food and drink culture, and helped me realize that this thing that I happen to be good at was a passion, a pursuit, a lifestyle, a journey.” Taking over the bar at RPG, Cox
says he wanted to create an atmosphere reflective of the newly opened restaurant’s spirit. If people were celebrating the nerd culture of tabletop games, then they could also have the opportunity to “figure out what your nerd thing is” in terms of drinks. “I wanted the bar to reflect that,” says Cox. “I wanted the product to tell a story.” So, he began by creating his flagship drink, the Virginia Avenue. The cocktail starts with a foundation of Haku vodka (a rice-distilled vodka strained through bamboo and charcoal), mead from Olathe-based Black Labs Craft Meadery, saline and lemon juice. These ingredients are shaken and poured over saffron threads, cacao nib shell tea leaves and Earl Grey tea leaves in a slow strain. “Depending on how ‘Virginia’ is feeling,” Cox says, “the cocktail can take anywhere between three to 15 minutes to pour through all the way.” Those 15 minutes of waiting are part of the essence of the drink. “I’m looking to create an experience,” Cox says, “so the big part of the Virginia Avenue is that anticipation.”
THE ART MADNESS OF LEO HAYDEN Depicting champions and legends Story by Darin M. White
fter living in Nebraska and Colorado, Leo Hayden serendipitously landed in Lawrence just in time to watch the Kansas Jayhawks men’s basketball team enter the NCAA 2008 tournament. He watched the team advance through the brackets, and he sat alongside thousands of other fans to watch the live transmission inside Allen Fieldhouse of the semifinal game when Mario Chalmers sunk his legendary three-point shot to propel the team into an overtime victory and into the finals where they would emerge on top. Hayden commemorated the event with the painting The Chalm Before the Storm. The painting, and the event it represented, marked a turning point in Hayden’s life beyond becoming a Jayhawk fan. Hayden’s initial interest in art had been what he describes as an “escape-type exercise,” something that complemented his interest in music. “I was always working on some re-creation of an album cover or a drawing of a famous musician,” Hayden says. He would share this work with friends, and they began requesting that he draw out ideas or specific characters. This work, he believes, allowed him to become a decent copy machine. His next breakthrough came after he learned computer software and began creating digital art—a process that encouraged him to think more creatively in terms of combining themes and creating his own images.
Hayden’s introduction to painting began as a request from his sister to create some murals for her basement, which led to other mural commissions. He didn’t start working on canvas until he moved to Lawrence just in time for the 2008 tournament. Since then, Hayden has created digital and traditional paintings with many Jayhawk basketball themes. For Hayden, this basketball art represents a broader interest in how he wants to portray his subjects beyond traditional portrait sittings. “I much prefer images of people doing things they love to do, or images that really capture their inner essence,” he says. This preference for dynamic action can be seen in Hayden’s series of local musicians, silver screen legends and more. Actively involved in various art guilds and groups in Lawrence, Hayden has also recently begun curating his own event as an homage to the town’s love for basketball and art. A few years ago he had an idea to put on a 64-team art tournament, NCAA style, among individual artists. Each week, they would go head-to-head with another artist and jurors would select the artists who would advance into the next round. This process would repeat until the bracket ended and a champion emerged. Hayden held his first art tournament at the 1109 Gallery as part of the Lawrence Art Guild and then last year moved the contest as a gallery showing at Shaun & Sons Artisan Pub & Coffee House, where it is slated to continue in 2020 with a public showing throughout tournament time.
ABOVE E at the Starbar (oil on panel) by Leo Hayden OPPOSITE (Clockwise from upper left) Someday, and that Day May Never Come, I Will Call Upon You to Do a Service for Me (oil on panel), I Got Game and I’m Bringin’ It (oil on panel), The Chalm Before the Storm (acrylic on canvas), Fally (acrylic on canvas), Bill Self HOF (oil on panel) all by Leo Hayden.
“I much prefer images of people doing things they love to do, or images that really capture their inner essence.” –Leo Hayden
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The science of distilling one Lawrence theme into essential information ... Compiled by Amber Fraley
Lawrence Speed Limits If a speed limit is not posted on a residential street in the State of Kansas, and in Lawrence, the default speed limit is 30 mph.
Once upon a time, the Lawrence Dragway was a dragstrip located on what is now part of Wakarusa Drive. Lawrence High School auto teacher Bill Prince, his wife, Betty, and the Lawrence High Crusaders Club built the dragway, a half-mile-long asphalt strip, in 1958. Originally for quarter-mile racing, it was eventually shortened to eighth-mile racing for safety reasons. On August 24, 1958, 750 people watched 88 cars race, and top eliminator was won by Art Sommers, Rolland Hueston, and Don Baxter, of Lawrence, whose roadster reached 108.7 mph. The strip operated on weekends until 1986.
FASTEST TRAFFIC SPEED LIMITS INSIDE IN LAWRENCE
Free State High School
Kaw River River speed is measured in cubic feet per second (cfs). • 31st Street to south city limits • Wakarusa Drive to west city limits • Street FF to Franklin Road
Best speed for beginning paddlers:
5,000 cfs or less
Fastest speed recorded in 2019:
(June; a new record)
Speed Humps & Cushions
Fastest Animals around Lawrence Peregrine Falcon (air) 200+ mph (during dives)
A SPEED HUMP is a rounded, raised area of pavement typically 12 to 14 feet in length and often placed in a series 300 to 600 feet apart. A SPEED CUSHION is a SPEED HUMP with an unraised path through the hump for fire trucks and ambulances.
Lawrence High School
Southwest Chief The passenger train that runs through Lawrence is the Southwest Chief operated by Amtrak. With a maximum speed of 90 mph, and an average speed of 55 mph, it runs between Chicago and Los Angeles.
Pronghorn (land) 61 mph
• 23rd Street Franklin Road to east city limit This issue’s theme
Information courtesy: Coach Jordan Rose of Free State High, Coach Jack Hood of Lawrence High School, Friends of the Kaw, US Geological Survey, Lawrence Dragway Facebook page, dragstriplist.com, City of Lawrence, Public Works (MSO), Amtrak, Marty Birrell (director of Prairie Park Nature Center), Audubon.com and National Geographic. com, City of Lawrence Resolution No. 6482
HOMETOWN HEROES The Monarch’s Champion Story by Lorraine Cannistra
hip Taylor’s love of nature began when he was a boy spending summers exploring his grandmother’s 80 acres in Wisconsin. Arrowheads could be discovered in the dirt, and all sorts of creatures were hiding under rocks. “I explored every day,” Taylor recalls. “I learned a lot about natural things and had an interest in them just like my grandmother. I was primed to be a naturalist at a young age.” Taylor would grow up to become a biologist, earning his PhD at the University of Connecticut and then reshaping the focus of his studies at the University of Kansas by studying honeybees, silver butterflies and even coleus plants. But it was at KU in the early 1990s, while he was teaching a course on ecology, that he developed an interest that would shape the rest of his career. “As I taught that class, the monarchs were migrating through, and as I learned more and more about them, I realized that there were a lot of things that were not known about the monarch migration,” Taylor explains. “That made it a good species to study.” Shortly afterward, in 1992, Taylor cofounded Monarch Watch with his colleague Brad Williamson. “It was obvious from the very first year that we had a public that was interested in helping scientists to understand the migrating patterns of these butterflies,” Taylor says. Two press releases sent to major newspapers resulted in more than 1000 people who volunteered to tag butterflies for Monarch Watch. “The goal of the tagging program was that we needed to know where these butterflies came from and where they would go but also the relative survivorship and the dynamics of the migration pattern of the monarch. We have been conducting this research
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Photography by Richard Gwin since 1992 and in that time, we have tagged more than 1.8 million monarch butterflies.” Retired from the university, Taylor still works with Monarch Watch. “Most of the stuff I do these days is to promote the restoration of habitat,” Taylor says. “At this point we are working with five universities across the country to distribute milkweed plants to replace the milkweed plants that have been lost due to the intensification of agriculture and land use. The effect of this and other things like climate change is that the monarch population will continue to decline. We give away about 150,000 plants per year, many to elementary schools. It is not enough, but it is a start.” The plant-giveaways often take place during the Monarch Watch open houses, held in the spring and the fall. “It is a familyfriendly event,” Taylor says “and we give something alive to the kids. Usually it is a monarch chrysalis. The following week we have a tagging event that attracts a lot of attention. We have a large and dedicated following for both open houses and our tagging event. People come from all over the country, sometimes to start programs in their own communities. “We are a national resource, but we are also here to serve the people of Lawrence. We hope that the community finds our program interesting and participates. We work with Douglas County Master Gardeners, who do a great job in helping us to maintain our gardens. We also have way stations all over Lawrence,” Taylor notes. “People are kind of isolated these days and not very well connected to nature. Monarchs help to make that connection. They connect people with something large and amazing and magnificent in many ways.”
5 FASHION QUESTIONS WITH â€¦ an b r U . ie R
Story and photography by Carter Gaskins
erry-Lecompton native Jamie R. Urban first entered the theater as an actor but switched to designing and costuming as an undergraduate at Emporia State University. After graduating from Boston University with a masters in costume design and production, she took a job as Ballet Austin’s wardrobe mistress and then as costume shop manager for Southwestern University before taking her post as the costume shop manager for the University of Kansas Department of Theatre and Dance. In this role, she is responsible for selecting and often creating the stage costumes for the student and professional actors and dancers who perform in university productions.
OPPOSITE Jamie R. Urban creates costumes for theater performances at the University of Kansas.
What are the key differences between theater-style and runway-style fashion? Storytelling. In theater, the playwright gives you clues about the character in the text (education, class, etc.), and from there we do the research based on those clues and fill in the blanks. Runway, I feel, is more stylized based on what might be happening at the time. Who most influenced your sense of costume design? When I was a child, my mother made bridal wear (everything from the mother-of-the-bride dress to the bride’s veil), so I think she had a lot to do with me subconsciously gravitating towards sewing
and fashion. Once I got into college, I was really pushed by Susan J. Mai and Amanda Dura to try designing. How has working with theatrical costumes influenced your sense of personal style? It’s made me more aware of accessorizing (or lack of). I’m drawn to a more subtle palette in my personal life, with pops of color on shoes or a scarf, which is the opposite of what you’d want on stage. When I design, I tend to work from a very tight color palette, so I think my personal style is more reflected in my designs then the other way around. What are your favorite types of costumes to create for the stage? I really like designing historical garments with modern fabrics. I love the historical silhouette, but using edgier fabrics to make them more relatable to modern times is exciting. What is a type of theater costume that is surprisingly difficult to create? Undergarments. Items like corsets and bustles are very rewarding when they are finished, but then they get covered up with a garment (usually a stunning one). Undergarments are very time consuming to create. You need to have multiple fittings with your actor, and usually want to get them done quickly so they can begin rehearsing with them as soon as possible.
THE SABRE MASTER For John Gascon, a good bottle begins with the slicing Story by Katherine Dinsdale
ere’s a verb we all could use: sabrage. As in, “Sabrage the brut, John. I’ll get the flutes.” In English, we are more likely to apply the verb “saber” and call the process “sabering,” but whichever form we use, the term describes an art that Lawrence financial adviser John Gascon has mastered—using a saber to strike through a bottle of sparkling wine, severing the neck of the bottle, yet leaving it ready to pour. The genesis of sabering is uncertain, but in that void two stories have emerged. In one, postrevolutionary French townspeople, grateful at not being sacked by marauders, tossed bottles of champagne to Napoleon’s cavalry. To spare the inconvenience of climbing down from steeds and employing sommeliers, soldiers whacked the bottles with swords they had at the ready. In another telling, those same chasseurs, having been entertained by the young Madam Clicquot, the business-savvy heir of a sparkling fortune, sabraged the bottles of champagne she had given them. John Gascon’s introduction to sabering is more certain. In 2017, he and his wife, Erica, hosted a party to honor their friends and family who saw them through the peaks and valleys of the first year with their twins (who, incidentally, were not invited to the party). As a gift, the couple received a bottle of champagne. “I had heard of sabrage and I thought, ‘I can do that.’ At the party John drew high a chef ’s knife and landed its back hard against the neck of the bottle. “The attempt totally failed. There was no injury or accident, but the sabrage didn’t work,” he says. He was shattered. The bottle, likewise. “A little later that evening I took another bottle of champagne, went outside and tried again. This time it worked perfectly. A good sabrage feels a bit like a good golf swing. When you hit a ball well, it feels smooth.” Many bottles later, Gascon has his technique down. One essential starting point is the wine. Bottles of still wine will not work, only bottles of sparkling wine or
Photography by Jason Dailey champagne contain enough pressure, and even then a bottle of warm sparkling wine or sparkling wine that’s been shaken should be avoided because they can crack, shatter or explode during the sabering. Once Gascon has selected his bottle, he first removes all the foil from the bottle and then replaces the cage above the bottle’s collar to prevent the cork from prematurely shooting off. Pointing the bottle at a slight angle (and away from guests), Gascon gently swipes his saber up and down the seam of the bottle, creating suspense and honing in on the best point to strike, the place where the neck of the bottle meets the seam. Then, he strikes. Hitting the bottle at the correct point can release immense energy. Sparkling wines have a pressure per square inch of about 70 to 90 pounds, two to three times the pressure in a standard car’s tires. A single vertical stroke of the saber up the side of the bottle to the neck reliably blows off the collar of the bottle, carrying the collar 20 feet across the room along with the cork. The bottle is left ready to pour. When he began slicing bottles, Gascon didn’t have his own saber—perhaps a comforting fact—and he experimented with different sharp edges, successfully slicing open sparkling wine bottles with a hoe, a snow shovel, a DVR player, a brick and garden shears. Clearly, the tool was less essential than the technique. Eventually, though, Gascon was invited to perform his technique more frequently, including at a Lawrence Arts Center wine tasting, so he broke down and purchased an elegantly wrought silver saber. Together, the two of them have sliced many bottles. “There have been months-long stints when I’ve sabraged at least one bottle a week for some occasion or another. I guess, overall, I’ve sabered at least 500 bottles,” says Gascon. “The unexpected drama begins an evening on a high note. Most people have never seen it done and get a kick out of it. And of course, it’s champagne. It makes people feel special.”
OPPOSITE Using his silver sabre, John Gascon slices the top off a champagne bottle in one, clean attempt.
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QUEBEC CITY With its walking routes, architecture and magnificent dining, Quebec City should be on your list for vacation possibilities
Story and photography by Susan Kraus
ow’s this for cultural heritage: it’s the oldest walled city in North America; it’s a UNESCO World Heritage site, only one of three “lived-in” such sites across the world; settled in 1608 as the first permanent settlement of New France, it’s as close to France as you can get without crossing the Atlantic. Quebec City is one of the most exciting, rewarding destinations in North America—and with reasonable lodging, affordable flights and a range of times to visit, it could easily be on your list of 2020 getaways. For me, a trip to Quebec City begins with a walk along Terresse Dufferin, a boardwalk along the edge of the cliffs with magnificent views. The backdrop is dominated by the Chateau Frontenac, an imposing and elegant landmark hotel dating to 1893. Below the Terresse lies the Le Quartier Petit-Champlain, a photogenic pedestrian zone of twisting mini-streets lined with boutiques, art galleries and bistros in 16th- and 17thcentury buildings. Here, you can discover one of the challenges Continued on page 35
Outdoor Seasonal Attractions As an urban destination, Quebec City can be enjoyed at any time of the year. It is also a wonderful escape during Kansas’ warmer months. In July and August, Quebec City’s average daytime temperature tends to the mid-70s. Imagine how good that could feel. There are several great outdoor sites to visit, particularly if the sun is shining. Learn about the military conflicts around the city’s history at The Plains of Abraham, a sprawling urban park and site of the 1759 Battle of Quebec (the French lost the city to the British). Adjacent is La Citadelle, an active military installation where you can see the changing of the guard (seasonal, check for times). A band plays, guards precision march, all very British. Tours follow (English available) and guards will pose. IIe d’Orleans, a small island that evokes rural 18th-century Quebec, features farm stands, vineyards, artisans, cheese and chocolate. Montmorency Falls, which is higher than Niagara, but much narrower, is most impressive in the spring but offers year-round attractions such as a zipline for the daredevils, as well as gondola and suspension bridges for more modest adventurers like me. Here, you can also take a bike tour along a level route with stops for the guide to share tidbits of history and nature. For best views of the city from the river, try a short ferry ride to Levis rather than a pricy boat tour.
Getting There Flights to Quebec City are often much more expensive than to Montreal, which is just a three-hour drive south along the St. Lawrence River. So go with round-trip MCI–Montreal tickets, which can be less than $250. From there, you can rent a car or hop on a comfortable express bus running regularly from downtown Montreal to downtown Quebec City. Parking is problematic, and there is no need for a car in either Montreal or Quebec City, so I recommend the bus.
Family Fun While architectural touring and gourmet dining might not be a hit with younger kids, Quebec City has plenty of family attractions to balance out the fun for all ages. • Musee de la Civilisation has exhibits of global artifacts and a wide range of North American Indigenous art that will appeal to the whole family. • Aquarium du Quebec has walk-through/walkunder aquariums, plus walruses, seals, polar bears and 10,000 animals in all. You can sign up in advance for behind-the-scenes experiences. • The Place de l’Hotel de Ville was a market site, in the shadow of the Town Hall. Now it is often jammed with tourists listening to musicians or watching buskers. Kids adore buskers. (While Lawrence has its own BuskerFest, Quebec City has buskers as a feature of daily life.) • Village Vacances Valcartier, outside of the city, is pure play: two waterparks (the indoor park open 365 days a year); an Ice Hotel (seasonal, of course); and a winter playground for all levels of fitness (you don’t have to ski; try tubing or snow rafting or brave the Tornade).
Lodging and Dining In Quebec City, your lodging is part of your experience. We stayed at Monsieur Jean, a brand new hotel on a renovated corner smack in the center of Vieux Quebec. It is both elegant and outrageous, modern and artsy, with unique and distinctive colors, décor and overall style. The rooms all have fully equipped mini-kitchens hidden behind floor-toceiling lacquer doors, Nespresso machines, heated bathroom floors and a doting staff. What we couldn’t figure out is why rates for Monsieur Jean on popular websites are often the same as boring chain hotels (but we’re not complaining). For families, Airbnb lists some wonderful 2 BR places at under $100 a night. Choosing where you will stay will also help you plan where you want to walk, explore and eat. We frequented restaurants along the Rue Saint Jean, just at the foot of our hotel. We were fortunate on our first day to stumble across Paillard, a bakerycafé with croissants and pastries so delectable we made it a daily stop. Sapristi, a bistro with a back patio (many locations have hidden back gardens), is a cozy, friendly spot for dinner and wine. Wherever and however you make your way across the city, you will find local cafés and restaurants waiting to become your personal favorite.
and delights of Quebec City: what appear on a map to be adjacent locations may be separated by cliffs and walls. Taking the funicular to return to the top of the cliff at the end of an afternoon of walking is well worth the fee. After spending a day exploring the streets on foot, you might also want to consider the city’s Double-Decker Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tours. True, this is a quintessentially “tourist” ride, but who isn’t a sucker for double-decker buses and charming views? We rode the city route full-circle (about two hours), saving museums for an anticipated rainy day. With earphones, we could listen to a tour (choice of language), feel like a kid again with the wind in our hair, and enjoy the architecture as we shifted perspective up close to it. Gawking at architecture is one of the most satisfying things to do in this city, whose French and Anglo history is reflected in its shops, walls and particularly in its cathedrals and basilicas. A few of my favorites are the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity, modeled on St. Martin-in-the-Fields in London (pews are oak from Windsor Castle’s Royal Forest), and the Sainte-Anne-de-Beapre Shrine, where for generations pilgrims have come for healing. Often overlooked is the Ursuline Museum with the adjacent Ursuline Chapel (dating from 1723), which describes the education of girls and the history of the order of nuns who came from France in 1639. They were, it appears, some pretty tough women. I also happily spent a drizzly afternoon at MNABQ (Musee National de Beauxarts du Quebec). Its four pavilions contain works, including Indigenous art, from the 17th century to the present. Outstanding. Quebec City is a place you can continually rediscover. Both Fodors and Lonely Planet are releasing 2020 guides to Quebec City and surrounding Montreal this spring with full listings of other attractions that didn’t make my list. I also suggest Exploring Old Quebec: Walking Tours by M. Bonnenfort and Urban Guides Canada: An Insiders Guide to Quebec City by P. MacNaughton. After a quick read of any of these, you’ll appreciate how much Quebec City changes dramatically with each season, for each visitor and for each visit. While you can see much of Quebec City in three to five days, there is always something that will call you to return.
THE ROCK CHALK SHIRKS One couple’s personalized collection of KU memorabilia testifies to the university’s lasting influence on their life Story by Marsha H. Goff Photography by Jason Dailey
awrence resident Nancy Yonally has never attempted to count all the Jayhawk memorabilia she inherited from her parents. Her mother, Margaret Shirk, and her father, David Shirk, were graduates and devoted fans of the University of Kansas, where David represented the Jayhawks in track, wrestling and football. After leaving the university, Margaret and David held season tickets to KU basketball games, where Margaret was often seen dancing near her seat with Baby Jay. The couple saved most everything KU-related that they had or that would come to them, including ticket stubs to games and dances dating from the 1930s and countless mascot memorabilia. The oldest mascot statuette in their collection is a 1914 chalk Jayhawk whose tail Nancy remembers using to draw when she was small. “It worked well for hopscotch games,” Nancy notes with a laugh. Other Jayhawk mascots come in all sizes. The tiniest mascot of the collection is a blown-glass Jayhawk charm that decorates a necklace, and the largest is a four-and-a-half-foot “Sandy” Jayhawk that Dan Besco, owner of Kansaw Carvings, carved into the trunk of a wind-felled 200-year-old white mulberry tree that remains in the Shirks’ yard. What Nancy calls the “lots of Jayhawks” portion of the collection also includes a Jayhawk for nearly every holiday: a Santa Jayhawk, a bunny Jayhawk and even a Jayhawk for Halloween. There is a Jayhawk in a chef ’s hat advertising Wildcat Stew as the Soup of the Day; there is a Jayhawk garden gnome prepared to protect the Kansas land. Beyond Jayhawk mascots, the Shirks also gathered memorabilia such as two game balls from the same 1938 KU-Texas football game that David played in. He received one of the balls for being team captain, and then years later family friend Bud Jennings gave them another ball from the same game; this one had been stamped with a large “KU.” Many items in the collection have equally strong personal connections. One of the
couple’s favorite items was a drawing of James Naismith and Phog Allen by Ed Elbel, a physical education professor and Kansas Relay’s longtime meet manager. When Naismith and Allen signed this drawing for David, they referred to him as “a noted athlete, a splendid gentleman and a true friend” and “a great athlete and a prince of a fellow.” Works by family artists also appear in the Shirks’ KU collection. Nancy created a prized Jayhawk quilt and about 30 pairs of Jayhawk earrings for Margaret. “Mother would put those earrings in her pocket and give them away at games,” Nancy says. So she kept on making them and kept on giving them to her mother. She also made her parents a Jayhawk flag and crocheted Jayhawk flowers, one of which Margaret liked to wear on her hat to KU basketball games. David, who died in 2005, and Margaret, who died in 2017 at age 100, continued collecting throughout their lives. Nancy notes that KU meant more than just a sports team to her parents. Her father, for instance, was recruited to the school while attending a Civil Military Training camp at Fort Leavenworth in the early 1930s. This was during the Depression, and David had been sent there primarily because the camp provided growing young men three meals a day. When fall came, David hitchhiked from his home in El Dorado to Mount Oread, with all of his possessions in a paper sack and with high expectations for being the first person in his family to attend university. “They didn’t give scholarships then,” says Nancy, “but he was told he would be guaranteed a job. So he worked. He laid bricks in the streets around campus, he stoked fires at one of the fraternity buildings and he helped set up for the Sunday night outdoor films.” Nancy said the university promised her father he would have free tickets “to any KU athletic event for the rest of your life”—and for many years David and Margaret had their tickets, bringing Nancy along, who would sit at the children’s 25-cent seating section where she would witness basketball history and remember forever the first time that Wilt Chamberlain passed by the crowds of Lawrence kids and caused them all to gasp with wonder at his height. Nancy says the university reneged on their commitment of lifelong tickets in the early 2000s, but David and Margaret continued to attend games. And after David died, Margaret—who had by then retired from her work at the KU Alumni office—came alone or with family and friends, walking into the Fieldhouse without a wheelchair until her very last year. Recently, Nancy has begun taking one item from her parents’ collection each month and framing it. Among those framed items are her father’s K letter sweater, a KU blanket inscribed with his name designating his role as a 1938 football team captain, a collage of David’s photo and his 1939 K letter, and another old Jayhawk sweater featuring the Fighting Jayhawk mascot (1941–1946) that Yonally’s son wore to school on KU game days. Nancy continues to be a fan of the University of Kansas and of Jayhawk sports. Occasionally she will even buy a new souvenir. But she says the collection was never meant to be a chronology of KU athletics bound for a museum or archive. In a way, it is something better than that, at least for her family—it’s the personal collection from a family who lived, rather than just assembled, a Rock Chalk life. “It’s a Jayhawk collection,” says Nancy, “and a Mom-and-Dad collection. They loved their Jayhawks, and they loved their education.”
Coming soon to Theatre Lawrence February 28 - March 8 Lyrical music enhances the story of Anne Frank
April 17 - 26 The empowering story of astronomer, Henrietta Leavitt
June 5 - 21 The popular musical that follows the story of strong-willed matchmaker, Dolly Gallagher Levi
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Fly A. J. Hawk Fold
Here is an item from the David and Margaret Shirk Jayhawk collection that we have reproduced to share—a 1922 paper plane with the name of “A. J. Hawk.” The original plane came from the scrapbook of Margaret Shirk’s uncle and KU graduate, Pete McCall; it was part of a Lawrence Chamber of Commerce promotion for the university and the city. We have left the original wording and coloring on the plane, but have found that it flies best if you attach a paper clip to the nose after folding it into position.
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the new age of lawrence
Once a counter-culture hobby, the role-playing game of Dungeons & Dragons goes mainstream Story by
Illustrations by Torren Thomas
oward the end of an enjoyable night out at a local brewery, we learned some shocking news: the reason that the local animals and wildlife were behaving so aggressively was because a curse had been unleashed by a group of goblins who had taken over a circle of magical stones not too far from the edge of the city. Of course, this caused me, my husband and our friend Sarah Tolbert to set off in hopes of freeing the animals from this cruelty. We found the magical stones with little difficulty, got in a bit of a scrap with a goblin patrol but came out on the better end of it, and then descended into a cave that the bad guys (anyone who does this to animals were bad guys in our book) had been guarding. Inside the cave, a menacing statue loomed over us. We were pretty sure this was the manifestation of the goblin curse. It held a bowl of bright flames that seemed to emanate pulses of pure evil. And, of course, it was guarded by giant spiders. After fighting off the spiders, we positioned ourselves close enough to see Ghukliak-language script carved into the statue’s base. Fortunately, Sarah read Ghukliak (goblin language) and translated for us: “A Goblin steals only with his right hand, and pays tribute with his left.” You would think this might be the easy part, but we were stumped. We tried various things, some simple and some elaborate. For some reason, I thought the script meant we had to cut off the left hand of a goblin and throw it into the statue’s flame. I’m given the side-eye when I suggest this. We move on to other ideas, and eventually my husband stumbles on the solution by using his right hand to remove the statue’s right eye—a large ruby—and the source of the statue’s power. The curse immediately wanes, and we become heroes for saving the animals (sorry, spiders, but you bit us)—not bad for some middle-aged friends out on their first Dungeons & Dragons adventure.
Dungeons & Dragons, the massively popular 1970s and 1980s role-playing game for basement-dwelling teenage boys, is enjoying a revival across all categories of age, demographics and gender. If you are not familiar with D&D, the game falls under the category of “cooperative role-playing game,” meaning a game in which players pretend to be characters, and their interaction, rather than the progress on a board or the playing of cards, determines an open-ended development of events. Generally, a group of three to six players participate in a campaign (or quest or adventure) that’s overseen by a Dungeon Master (DM), the name for someone who has either dreamed up a scenario or is using a pre-made set of instructions. Each player interacts through their character and keeps track of their character’s vital information (traditionally their skills, powers, weapons and armor, but it can also include their pets, childhood stories, fondness for desserts or anything else that enables them to better bring their character into the story). Campaigns may be battle-oriented, puzzle-oriented, or a mixture. Each player’s character has a particular “class,” such as barbarian, fighter, monk, rogue, sorcerer, wizard or some
other type of specialty. Characters may be of any gender. There’s also a variety of races in D&D, including dwarf, elf, human, gnome or halfling, though that’s not an exhaustive list. It’s generally a good idea to have a variety of fighters, magicmakers and healers in your group, since D&D is a collaborative game and a range of strengths and skills makes a group stronger. Most consequences to any battle or action in the game are determined through the roll of dice, but a good DM will also follow the lead of the players, giving them pivotal moments where their fate depends on crucial throws of dice if that is what they want, or allowing situations to evolve through interactive role-playing if the group prefers. A good DM will set the stage for adventure, but also accommodate the twists and turns the players add to the game, since the DM never knows exactly how the characters will behave during gameplay. Since its debut in 1974, the rules of D&D have gone through several variations. D&D enthusiasts can tell you which editions they’ve played over the years and which is their favorite. Everyone I spoke to for this article overwhelmingly agreed: The latest edition, Fifth Edition, is a clear favorite, because its rules and setup allow it to be the most diverse, the most inclusive, the most imagination-driven, and therefore, the most fun. I would say that Fifth Edition D&D gatherings in Lawrence are approaching the equivalent of social bridge games in the 1960s or poker parties of the 1970s. There are Gen X-ers skyping into their weekly meetups, Millennials gathering at restaurants and Zoomers congregating around library tables to play the game, or some variation of it. And, Boomers, if you’re looking to play, chances are there is a grandkid willing to teach you.
Jeremiah Tolbert—the DM of the game described above— is a D&D veteran, having played the game since he was six years old in 1983. He recalls that 1980s D&D was a fringe game that often elicited suspicion. “It got really entangled in the Satanic Panic stuff,” he says. Tolbert encountered this reaction during a family trip to visit his aunt and uncle. “They were very religious. They found out I had D&D books, and they wouldn’t let me in the house,” he recalls. “I had to leave the books on the front porch because they were ‘possessed by the devil,’” an idea Tolbert dismisses as ridiculous. “There’s nothing remotely risky or dangerous about it,” he says. “It’s playing pretend with rules. It’s something every child inherently knows how to do.” Now, Tolbert is an experienced DM who’s involved in three online D&D games, and one in person, which he hosts for kids, including his son. “For me, it was probably a boy-dominated game until high school. It wasn’t until I was in college that I met a lot of women who were into role-playing games. By that point, it was fifty-fifty,” Tolbert says.
WHAT WOULD A WOMAN OFFER HER COUNTRY? Elizabeth Dole’s Ground-Breaking, Trail-Blazing Life of Service
“Starting with Fifth Edition, they made a big push toward inclusion in the published materials, of the art and pronoun usage, and that helped a lot. But there was just this perfect storm of influences that opened the hobby up from being this very nerdy, niche thing, to practically being mainstream.” Tolbert cites the YouTube show Critical Role and television show Stranger Things with pushing D&D into mainstream culture. Suddenly, his friends began asking him to teach their kids how to play. The release of Fifth Edition D&D in 2014 dovetailed with D&D’s higher profile in popular culture. “The artwork started to include people of color,” Tolbert says. “You started seeing illustrations, for instance, of a fighter with a darker skin tone. You’d see Asians. Whereas the fantasy genre has been mired—and D&D is an aspect of the fantasy genre—in a white, Euro-centric view for a long time.” Tolbert’s take on Fifth Edition is shared by Gareth-Michael Skarka, a Gen-X Lawrence resident who creates game scenarios for impressive franchises such as Star Trek, Star Wars, Doctor Who and Dungeons & Dragons. Skarka says a lot of the positive streamlining and cultural inclusivity in Fifth Edition comes from fellow Gen-X kids who grew up as D&D fans and are now industry insiders. “Nerds are now calling the shots,” Skarka explains.
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For Skyler Rehm, a strong part of the appeal of Fifth Edition D&D is the LGBTQ+ inclusion. Rehm notes that the game’s main rule book “very specifically spells out that A) You don’t have to play whatever gender you identify as, you can play literally whoever you want, and B) You don’t have to be male or female. It’s by far the most diverse. Not just for LGBT, but in all aspects.” Nationally, there has been a lot of discussion about the extent to which changes in Fifth Edition dynamics attracted the LGBTQ+ community, or whether the LGBTQ+ community was itself more responsible for the shift by creating fan communities and playing groups that expanded the game’s base and shaped the game’s rule books, artwork and online presence. Regardless of the source of the change, the new version sits well with Rehm, who began playing the game in high school with a previous rule book system he describes as “still fun, but very much math-based.” The Fifth Edition, he says, is “so much more streamlined, with a lot less rule-reading and a lot more role playing, which is what I like about it. It’s very easy to get into.” In all, Rehm has been playing the Fifth Edition for about four years, and he always has at least one campaign going with friends, and sometimes several per week. Though his generation might be digital natives, he plays all of his games in person.
Mattie Bell learned to play D&D in 2014 with her friends Ethan Graham, Helen Gent, Ian Gent and Stephanie Ziegler, a one-time event that grew into regular sessions and a podcast, Stoat Party. Their D&D game takes place in the fictional city of Aerial, where the group serves as the Civilian Defense Squad. The squad members, all elves, help local citizens in need and keep an eye out for a shadowy figure committing murders around the city. “I specifically didn’t want them to be police officers, but they do play a role in society with issues that can’t be solved interpersonally,” Bell explains. Whereas traditional D&D games embrace a lot fighting, Bell strives to create a game where players use their wits to battle evil. “In my campaigns it’s more about ‘Can you talk your way out of this?’”
Though the game started in person, now that some of the group of twenty-somethings has moved away from Lawrence, the friends play via Discord, a video and text platform specifically for online gaming.
Theater of the Mind with T.J. Olson
Dungeon Master T.J. Olson has been playing the same D&D campaign with the same seven friends for almost two years now. They try to get together weekly, around a table in Olson’s garage. Next to this table is a large whiteboard, where players record data about their campaign. With a mix of text and sketches, anyone can see how much money the group has, how many animals and wagons they’ve acquired, and even a sketch of an airship they travel in. For tonight’s game, Olson has set the scene for a heist the group must pull off on a fancy gambling ship. She plays saloon music, complete with the clink of coins, in the background to set the mood. As Olson describes the scene, Jesse Ochs (whose D&D character goes by the name of Badger) sketches out a diagram of the ship on the whiteboard, so everyone can see its layout. Around the table sits Jacoby Zielinski (Berek), Scott Olcott (Theren), Michael Childers (Kerzel), Mathew Robb (Lorelei), and Tyler Kothurtz (Timothy). In this group of late twenty-somethings, three people opt to play a character that doesn’t correspond to their personal gender. Role-playing is very much part of this group’s focus. As the night moves on, the players are each in situations that show off aspects of their backstory. Somehow, the group never gets around to carrying off the heist. Instead, they keep their characters inside the ship, having a great time gambling, interacting with one another, and riffing off scenes that Olson imagines for them. Everyone has their character sheet in front of them. The table is littered with candy and drinks, D&D books and notebooks, but the real action is intangible. There are no physical props for game-play because this group engages in total theater of the mind—and that, precisely, is one of the biggest appeals of Fifth Edition D&D according to its dungeon masters, players and new parties such as ours—the heroes to small animals and liberators of the great goblin curse.
Where/How to Play D&D in Lawrence
CIRCLE OF SALT is a northeast Kansas gaming organization that organizes events at various locations, including in Lawrence, several times each month. Beginners and veteran players are welcome. For more information and a schedule of game sessions, go to their website, circleofsalt.org. DM FOR HIRE has become a real profession in the past years. Nationally, dungeon masters can be hired out for several hundred dollars per hour, but in Lawrence highly experienced dungeon masters usually charge more competitive rates. Jeremiah Tolbert, mentioned in this article, accepts bookings via jeremiah@ jeremiahtolbert.com and currently charges $200 for a 3-hour session with 5 players. DRAGON’S HOARD is a board game store in East Lawrence that hosts regular Dungeons & Dragons games. For more information, call (785) 766-9608 or go online at dragonshoardllc.com. GAME NUT is one of the city’s most established game stores and sells Dungeons & Dragons books and miniature game figures in their upstairs showroom. For more information, call (785) 856-1540 or go online at imagamenut.com. LAWRENCE PUBLIC LIBRARY frequently hosts sessions and learning seminars for students grades 6–12. The library also has the Fifth Edition manuals available for loan. For information on the next youth sessions, call the library at (785) 843-3833 and ask to speak to the Teen Zone or librarian Centi Clogston. RPG LAWRENCE is a tabletop game–themed downtown Lawrence restaurant that hosts regular Dungeons & Dragons game nights. For more information, call (785) 330-5079 or go online at rpglawrence.com.
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Crops Grew and the Dragsters Roared A stylish, customized home in west Lawrence bears hints of its country heritage
Mary R. Gage Photography by
“I love gardening,” says Beverly, “and the yard is a great size for us. We have lots of hostas and hydrangeas. It’s kind of like an aviary out here sometimes because of all the plants. Bob hangs feeders up in the trees, and we have two fountains. The birds love it.” –Beverly Morgan
In northwest Lawrence,
tucked away behind apartments, businesses and a hectic intersection, lies Bob and Beverly Morgan’s serene green oasis. It is the last footprint of a country farm, former agricultural land swallowed up in the city’s westward expansion and then cobbled together under new city classifications. Originally, the Morgan’s house, near Sixth Street and Monterey Way, was a tenant dwelling on what was known as the Jenny Wren Farm, and later, the Davenport Orchards. Old photographs show the 650 square foot house, built c. 1900, standing near a bigger two-story farmer’s residence and a large barn. In the early 1970s, Bob Morgan purchased the house and some surrounding land from C.W. and Mary Davenport, who moved to a farm east of Lawrence where their grandson, Greg, and his wife, Charlee, now run Davenport Orchards and Winery. As the Davenports set up that farm, the Morgans began the first of what would be three extensive remodels to the old tenant house. Over the years, the barn and the larger residence would need to be razed and removed, but the old tenant home kept standing and expanding. In 1976, the house grew both up and out. An entryway, bedroom closet and porch were added to the front, and a family room was added above the kitchen. Additionally, a fireplace was built in the kitchen to replace a woodburning stove. “It was a real mess,” says Beverly, “because the original parts of this house, with the plaster and lathe and blown-in insulation, are over a hundred years old.” In 1983, the Morgans expanded down and out to accommodate their growing family. They added two bedrooms and a bathroom on the main level and excavated a basement. It had become a cozy home, and it was still on the outskirts of the city, just west of what was then known as “Drag Strip Road,” a stretch of dirt road where hundreds of cars would race on weekends. For the next three decades, the Morgans stayed in place, raising their children and operating their business, Morgan Concrete Services, as the city grew up around them. An apartment complex was developed to the north, duplexes and houses to the south, and businesses to the east. When a major thoroughfare, Monterey Way, was constructed on the west end of their land, the Morgans had to pay for curbing and were integrated into the city residential listings—though their official address remains a matter of debate.
“We own all the way down to Monterey Way, so the city made us put the 800 on it,” Beverly explains. “The county lists us at the Morgan Lane address. But, there’s a little piece of property between us and Comet Lane that the city owns, so if and when the rest of that is developed, we’ll connect to Comet Lane, and then that will probably be our address.” While they have been waiting for the city to tell them exactly where they live, the Morgans have also kept busy with renovations. In 2015, they contacted Allen Belot Architects to rethink their home and garage. The redesign gutted most of the interior and built additions to the north and south. New windows, siding, roof, and a great room with vaulted ceiling open to the kitchen were added. A deck was built along the east and south sides, and the main part of the construction garage was now screened from the back yard, while the far end of it was integrated to blend with the house and serve as the residential garage. Bud Hunt of Hunt, Inc. came in to reconstruct the garage, adding windows and siding, and Matt Griffin of Griffin’s Home Improvements finished the interior cabinets and doors. With the house completed, Preferred Lawn Service & Landscaping created a backyard retreat for the couple.
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“I love gardening,” says Beverly, “and the yard is a great size for us. We have lots of hostas and hydrangeas. It’s kind of like an aviary out here sometimes because of all the plants. Bob hangs feeders up in the trees, and we have two fountains. The birds love it.” The house is now airy and open, modern and beautifully appointed. Granite countertops, new cabinets with glass fronts and built-in wine holders, as well as a gray teardrop tile backsplash enhance the bright kitchen. That look was helped along by expert family advice. “My daughter, Hayley, is an interior designer in Dallas. She said, ‘Mom, I know what you’re going to put up in here.’ She did a lot.” The clean lines, fresh interior and exterior surfaces, and new finishes make it hard to find any vestige of the old tenant home, but there is a sense of place throughout the home and property that conveys its farm heritage far away from busy city life.
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Contact me today! Diane L. Fry Branch Manager, NMLS #522202 Mobile: 785-423-6721 • Office: 785-842-2443 email@example.com www.dianefrywebsite.com 4104 W. 6th Street, Suite B Lawrence, KS 66049 Copyright©2020 Fairway Independent Mortgage Corporation. NMLS#2289. 4750 S. Biltmore Lane, Madison, WI 53718, 1-866-912-4800. All rights reserved. This is not an offer to enter into an agreement. Not all customers will qualify. Information, rates and programs are subject to change without notice. All products are subject to credit and property approval. Other restrictions and limitations may apply. Equal Housing Lender. 258900
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FOR A FULL CALENDAR OF COMMUNITY EVENTS, GO ONLINE AT UNMISTAKABLYLAWRENCE.COM
Ongoing–June 21 | spencerart.ku.edu Spencer Museum of Art presents a retrospective showing of the works of Lawrence resident and globally acclaimed artist Roger Shimomura.
April 24, 30 and May 1 | watkinsmuseum.org The Watkins Museum of History continues its months-long exploration of the events in 1970 Lawrence that shaped the community, such as the rise of the poetry community, racial tensions and the Lawrence curfew and the return of Vietnam war veterans. The event also includes a May 1 walking tour.
Lawrence Arts Center Benefit Art Auction and Exhibit March 13–April 11 | lawrenceartscenter.org The Lawrence Arts Center celebrates 40 years of its annual benefit auction with an anniversary showing of the works of past featured artists such as Roger Shimomura, Chris Wolf Edmonds, Hong Chun Zhang and more. The show opens with a preview for Imagination Society members on March 12 and public showing on March 13; auction on April 11.
St. Patrick’s Day Parade
March 17 | lawrencestpatricksdayparade.com Lawrence’s biggest, greenest charity parade benefits Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, Positive Bright Start and Tenants to Homeowners. Downtown parade begins at 1:00 pm.
KU Powwow and Indigenous Culture Festival April 11 | lied.ku.edu Free and open performances beginning at noon to celebrate First Nations cultures represented at KU and in the Lawrence community.
Lawrence Farmers’ Market April 11 | lawrencefarmersmarket.org Summer Saturday market season opens for state’s oldest continually operating farmers’ market.
Kansas Food Truck Festival
Silent Sky April 17–26 | theatrelawrence.com Theatre Lawrence presents Lauren Gunderson’s drama about the life of Henrietta Leavitt, a groundbreaking educator and astronomer who overcame late 19th-century gender discrimination to make a lasting impact in her profession and our understanding of the universe.
May 2 | ksfoodtruckfest.com Approximately 25 food trucks converge at the Warehouse Arts District for celebration of food, stage concerts and community.
Art in the Park May 2–3 | lawrenceartguild.org Lawrence Art Guild hosts annual juried competition and South Park display and sale by local artists.
Haskell Commencement Earth Day April 18 | lawrenceks.org/swm/earthday Annual parade, celebration and educational booths honoring ecology, land-stewardship and the fight to address climate change.
Colson Whitehead April 24 lplks.org/ross-marianna-beach-author-series Pulitzer-winning author provides a free lecture at Liberty Memorial Central Middle School Auditorium. Whitehead’s appearance is part of the Lawrence Public Library’s annual Beach Lecture and is supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Hall Center for the Humanities, the Commons and the Paper Plains Literary Festival.
May 8 | Haskell.edu Graduation ceremonies and community inter-tribal powwow; public welcome.
Lawrence Busker Festival May 22–25 | lawrencebuskerfest.com One of Lawrence’s largest events, this year’s festival expands to four days of street performers and musicians throughout Downtown Lawrence.
Art Tougeau May 22–23 | arttougeau.org Lawrence’s annual parade of art on wheels. Preparade party on May 22 with Downtown parade on May 23.
FROM TOP Lawrence 1970s Walking Tour by Austin Childs and courtesy Watkins Museum of History; American Hello Kitty, Roger Shimomura, courtesy Lawrence Arts Center.
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