volume 3 issue 1 fall 2009
It’s All About Location & Lifestyle
at American Collegiate Communities www.accathens.com
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Editor-In-Chief Shane Barnes
Publisher Susannah Sachdeva
Design Director Wendy Goldfarb
Photo Editor Pete Larson
Associate Editor Annie Beecham
Creative Director Alanna Geoghegan
Marketing Director Will Cooper
Managing Editor Emma Frankart
Web Editor Elizabeth Sheffield
Associate Managing Editor Niklos Salontay
Advertising Directors Robert Doll Keith Sluss
Assistant Design Director Alexander Helbach
Associate Photo Editor Erica McKeehen
Associate Copy Chief Tasha Webber
Assistant Editors Lauren Byrwa Kim Amedro
Associate Web Editor Alec Bojalad
Contributors Aadam Soorma, Mariel Tyler, Katherine Tyler, Adam Wagner, Bethany Cook, Rachel Nebozuk, Alex Menrisky, Ryan Joseph, Gina Kuzmik Designers Jacqueline Cantu,Stephanie Linson, Matthew Ware, Jane Mitchell, Jillian Bode, Marianne Simmons, Sarah Harris, Kelly Barry Marissa Schoonover, Melissa Brettell
LETTER FROM THE EDITOR: It’s funny—putting this issue together, we had no intention of featuring so many articles that turn the journalistic knife on the student body. But, that’s how it turned out. Fortunately, we’ve warped into a self-loathing society, a generation that seems to get gratification from mildly criticizing ourselves, so it shouldn’t go over too poorly. Stories of terrible landlords are more than abundant, filling kids’ heads the moment that lease is signed in the early weeks of fall quarter. But Rachel Nebozuk’s “At Your Service” tells instead of those rare landlords that seem to operate in the tenants’ best interests—something that can’t be easy to do with the way we treat these rentals. Adam Wagner’s “InActivism” shows the current state of activism as less than impressive, serving more as a way to get together with like-minded people rather than to make actual change. Perhaps most critical is Annie Beecham’s “Trophy Kids,” which examines the growing sense of entitlement in our generation. Known as Generation Y, we’ve become accustomed to getting everything handed to us, awarded an ‘A’ and a gold star for mediocre work. Some professionals see this as being detrimental to our future, but a few key students are making a case for the opposite. Still, we find a few light spots in “Trash Talk,” “First Class Male” and “Patch Work,” all of which highlight some of Athens’ hardest working men, and Backdrop’s take on the infamous Cosmo quiz, “What Brew Are You?” It’s an exciting time, beginning a new year of Backdrop, and we’ve made a few changes, some less obvious than others. Some might say they’re too ambitious, but we think they’re for the better. And if growing up in this generation has taught us anything, we’re sometimes always right.
Love and happiness, Shane Barnes
Photographers Patrick McCue, Dan Krauss, Tyler Sutherland, Conor Lamb, Phil Walters, Charles Yesenczki, Andrew Burkle, Loren Cellentani, KatieMcCue, Ricky Rhodes, Andy DeVelvis Copy Staff Caroline Luna, Gina Mussio, Melissa Weiler, Wendy Randquist, Kathryn Potraz, Maria Fabiano, Lauren Conover, Travis Boswell Adviser Mark Tatge
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Want to advertise with Backdrop? E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
table of contents 6
THIS & THAT
The Brew In You
Hot for Teacher
Professor Pet Peeves
Big League Bobcat
What cheap beer fits you best? Gawking at OU’s hot grad students How to stay classy in class Mark Krauss speaks on the big leagues
First Class Male
At Your Service
Who Needs Meat?
Guzzle & Flow
Athens’ happiest mailman opens up Wilson Burton tends bar, butts They clean up your messes The scoop on OU’s only writing group Choose your fate — party style Riding dirty with Waste Management
Stagnant state of Athens Activism Artsy abodes in Athens Two great meals minus the meat
SEX & HEALTH
A look at the sugary sounds of Peachfork Studio
Severing the Stigma
Fit to Play
Privileged kids are taking over Athens’ community bike effort In the search of Mountain Men
Society’s impact on depressed kids Working out with OU’s volleyball girls
EXHIBIT A Showcase
Ruthless Rant & Rave
The best of OU’s artists NYC through an OU photog’s lens The ugly truth of cute
backdropmag.com | 2009 | fall
this + that The
What low-grade beer are you? 4) When you get home after a long
day of classes, the first thing you do is: A. Chase the birds away and remove the tarp. B. Disarm the traps. C. Tweet about getting home after a long day of classes. Sigh! D. Get in that recliner. E. Remember to call (forget his/her name).
1) It’s your significant other’s
birthday today. You buy him/her: A. A birthday card on the way over. B. A Smith & Wesson J-Frame .38 Special. C. A hamburger phone. D. An off-brand robotic vacuum cleaner. E. A cat (he/she is allergic).
2) It’s the first warm weekend in
spring. Time to: A. Observe the scantily clad students from your window. B. Kill something with four legs. C. Display your acoustic skills in a high traffic area. D. Celebrate with a fresh-cut pair of jean shorts. E. Catch a wave (lose your swimsuit).
3) You spot a hottie at the other end of the bar. You: A. Load the roofie under your sleeve. B. Show off your tribal tattoo. C. Prepare a witty observation. D. Send nachos with all the fixings! E. Compliment his/her costume (It isn’t Halloween).
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you whenever possible. You’re a last resort and if someone calls on you, it’s only to fill space and pawn you off to strangers. You’re the last one to leave the party, and by the time people are getting acquainted with you, the party is basically over.
You’re Busch. You think camouflage is both useful and acceptable for everyday use. You’ve decided to present yourself to the world as someone who finds hunting, fishing and racing as the greatest sports of which man is capable. This comes naturally because you’re blander than your peers. You understand that not every fight requires a cause, and you are more likely to kill that kid by accident.
Mostly Cs You’re Pabst Blue Ribbon.
A. Everything. B. Your back. C. Your heart. D. Your class. E. Your groin (You pulled it while watching TV).
You’re the original batch, man. Your image is in constant struggle. You want more than anything for your peers to see you as an authentic classic by which others should follow. Unfortunately, you know the only way to stay popular in the niche you’ve found is to feign enthusiasm for indie rock bands and follow in the shadow of more capable hipsters.
6) If you get lost driving through the
Mostly Ds You’re living the High Life!
5) Thing most likely to hurt:
BY NIKLOS SOLANTAY
Mostly As You’re Natty. People avoid
Appalachian hills, it’s most likely: A. Because you couldn’t see past the engine smoke. B. A false alarm — there’s no way you’d ever get lost in the Appalachian hills. C. The beginning of a horror film. D. Time for a barbecue break! E. After you asked for directions (asked for directions).
7) If you could be any animal you’d be: A. A bottom feeder. B. A bald eagle. C. Something beautiful and eccentric. D. One of them talking fish. E.A baby seal (got clubbed).
8) If you don’t agree with the results
of this quiz, you intend to: A. Throw an unnecessary, partycrippling fit. B. Load that extra bullet into the chamber. C. Write a song about your frustration. D. Use this magazine to light the grill. E. Forward an off-color e-mail (to the entire company).
You pack more class into your Dockers shorts than anyone else on the block. Sure, it’s not the nicest block — occasionally there are shots fired at night — but where else could you get land this cheap? You live for those simple moments when it all seems to come together: Good friends, lawn sports and birthday cards that make an animal noise when you open them.
Mostly Es You’re Keystone. There
always is something a little bit off about you. Whether it’s yelling your best friend’s name in the heat of the moment or building your entire brand image around moments of incredible failure, everyone can always count on you to bring the party (to an end).
We’ve looked at some of the finest professors at OU, but now we’re checking out the hottest crop of grad students
BY ELIZABETH SHEFFIELD
Dave Gilli, 25, a former Californian, can cook, surf and wow you with his physiological vocabulary. Oh yeah, and he’s in really great shape. What is attractive about the subject you teach?
Have you ever been hit on by a student?
What makes you feel the most sexy?
Favorite beauty regiment?
The best part about exercise physiology is that it all involves the human body. As weird as it sounds, the human body is a form of art. I don’t wanna sound completely shallow. Part of the reason I’m in ex-phys is because I can learn how to take care of my own body, and I would say that when I am fully engaged in physical exercise is when I reach a level of true—a “positive body image,” if you will.
What are your hobbies?
I love to cook. Meals, for me, bring people together. I think that’s the reason I exercise so much. The more I work out, the more I can eat.
No, but I’m the most naïve person. If a girl came up to me and hit me in the face and asked me for my number, I wouldn’t know it. I used to have hair down to my shoulders and drive a Volkswagen bus. Girls would come up to me and ask me what kind of conditioner I used. I told them salt water. I would say the ocean is the most healing.
What did you want to be when you were a kid?
An astronaut. I still kind of want to be an astronaut, actually. I still kind of want to go to the moon. Planet earth is kind of capped out.
Are you Single?
No. She’s in school in Marietta. But my younger brother is single.
Alison Walker, 28, was born, raised and educated in Athens. This well-read, outdoorsy babe has the world at her feet. What is attractive about the subject you teach?
What did you want to be when you were a kid?
What makes you feel sexy?
Where have you traveled?
English attracts the really eccentric, eclectic characters out of the university. It’s the people who think outside the box. I’m attracted to the oddities of people. I love heels. You’ll probably never see me without heels on, but I’m only 5’1.’’
What are your hobbies?
Hanging out with friends, keeping up with reading.
Have you ever been hit on by a student?
No, actually I haven’t. My students are really polite. I’d probably just laugh.
Do you have a favorite beauty regiment?
I do my hair a lot. I do my hair in every different style.
I wanted to be a doctor. But I was really no good at chemistry. I quit pre-med when I was a junior here. I didn’t want to be the doctor who got Cs. I’ve been to Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Italy, France, Germany, Spain and Canada. I love traveling. I’ve been fortunate that I’ve gotten to do that.
Where would you like to travel next?
I haven’t been to Amsterdam. I heard it’s one of the best cities in the world.
Are you single?
Kind of. Yes. No. I guess I’m seeing someone, who, actually, doesn’t live in Athens. I think that’s why it’s working. My younger sister Whitney is [single] though. PHOTOGRAPHS BY PAT MCCUE
The can opener wasn’t invented until 48 years after the invention of the sealed can.
backdropmag.com | 2009 | fall
The good, the bad and the ugly –
professors tell how to stay classy in class BY AADAM SOORMA
he scenario plays out on a daily basis: That all too familiar buzz begins burning a hole in your pocket. Your gaze shifts downward, fixated. Your fingers begin dancing across keypad. You keep low and out of sight, so as to not get called out. On day one, the syllabus clearly read: “Turn cell phones off during class time.” But that doesn’t matter right now. Suddenly, an eerie feeling sets in; everyone around you falls silent and the professor has stopped lecturing. An embarrassing moment ensues.
Professor of Journalism Bill Reader explains,“I expect students to do more than just listen to me talk and do the work.” He adds, “It’s hard to come up with an example of good behavior though, because good behavior is the norm.” Good students show up to class on time, participate, study for the exams and generally fare well. But being attentive
“Sometimes grades don’t even matter when the time comes for recommendations,” Ridpath adds. “Some things just stand out so much, they’re hard to ignore.” For Dr. Jeremy Webster, dean of the Honors Tutorial College, in-class feasts are those things. “I don’t mind when students eat a little something,” Webster says. “But when it’s like…spaghetti? Or something very
and engaging in the class, however, will only get you so far. “I think it all comes down to common sense,” B. David Ridpath, professor of Recreation and Sport Sciences says. “If you were on a date with a significant other, you wouldn’t be sitting there texting or picking up your phone or reading The Post. Why would you do that in class?”
aromatic and smelly; where everyone sits in a roundtable format and has to watch you eat. That’s when it becomes a distraction.” “Something small is all right. I understand you’re busy and this is your only chance in a hectic schedule. But that kid’s spaghetti incident was really over the top.”
The Ugly Ridpath has one instance of ugly behavior seared into his memory. “I was teaching a graduate course and there was a day when we were hosting an esteemed guest speaker,” Ridpath explains. “As he gave his speech I noticed some of the students were on their laptops and actually laughing at their screens. Turns out, they were all IMing each other about the guest speaker – Bananas are herbs.
right in front of him.” Ridpath bit his tongue for the next few moments, before unleashing on the unsuspecting students. “I allowed the gentleman to finish and pulled him in the hall to offer my sincerest apology. Then I marched back into the classroom and you could have heard a pin drop when I was through with them.”
BIG LEAGUE BOBCAT W
hen you think of Ohio University what do you think of? Court Street? Parties? Baseball is probably one of the last things that crosses your mind, wedged right between sobriety and flat land. Marc Krauss and his extended, polished piece of lumber (referred to by insiders as a “baseball bat”), is about to change that. After posting a batting average of .402, hitting 27 home runs, knocking in 70 runs and becoming the first player in OU baseball history to win MAC Player of the Year, Krauss was drafted in the Second Round of the Amateur Baseball Draft by the Arizona Diamondbacks. We decided to catch up with the now former Bobcat on his transition to the Major Leagues, his difficult decision to leave Athens behind and the economic crisis—just kidding: the dude is stinking rich now.
BY ALEC BOJALAD
PHOTO COURTESY OF OU ATHLETICS
☛ How did it feel to be drafted? Coming in, I had some expectations to go pretty high, based on what I had heard from different people, and I had a pretty good season. It was definitely a relief to hear my name. There had been so much hype and build-up at that point that I just kind of wanted to get it over with. ☛ How early into your college career did you realize that you had a chance to be drafted? It was always a dream. I didn’t realize it was a good possibility until I was done with my first full year at Ohio. I was a Freshman of the Year and also a Freshman All-American. I knew I had talent and the ability to play with the best of the best and that I had a chance professionally as well. ☛ Was it difficult to balance academics and athletics? It was, it was tough. You need to spend a lot of time on both. You’ve got to find that equilibrium and figure out
what works best for you. It was tough, but everybody helps each other out on the team and the coaches were good at working things out. It wasn’t too tough, but it definitely wasn’t easy.
just living out of a suitcase, which can get tough at times. It’s something you have to deal with. It’s definitely a different daily grind from when I was at Ohio though.
☛ Have you met any of the current Diamondbacks? I got a chance to meet most of the guys after I signed my contract. I got to take batting practice with the team before a game out here in Phoenix. It was a pretty surreal experience: being in a Major League clubhouse and being with all these guys that I had been watching on ESPN. They’re all pretty regular guys. They just told me to keep working hard so that I can get to that level.
☛ Are you satisfied with your performance so far? I adjusted pretty well. Everything from starting my professional career to changing from metal bats to wooden bats and jumping on a team midseason. Obviously the knee injury hit. It’s part of the game. It could’ve been worse. I’m focused on getting ready and getting healthy for 2010. But for my first season, I thought I did pretty well.
☛ How have you been adjusting to life on the road as a Minor Leaguer? It’s different. You can’t really settle in too much. I was in South Bend, Indiana, and we’d play at home for a week then head out on the road for another week. So you’re pretty much
Code of Federal Regulations, Section 1211prohibits Americans citizens from having any contact with extraterrestrials.
☛ What will you miss most about Athens? I love Athens just like everyone else. I’m gonna miss everything. Luckily, I still have the chance to get back. I can go back for one more year sometime. I’ll be around in the off-season, visiting. I had a great three years there. They treated me well. And it was a lot of fun. backdropmag.com | 2009 | fall
T E E SW DIO STU k s
Road ess: Addr Peachfork 69 7 6 3707 oy, OH 45 r e m Po hone: Telep 92-3724 9 om (740) ites: dios.c tudios u t s s k Web peachfor achforks . e m www ce.com/p os.co a p s studi k r my o f peach info@
r dio o f h c Stuides the a e P o prov tunes t iest c i ia u j h c la a p Ap NA BY GI
is wavy white hair is pulled back casually into a ponytail. His eyes kindly twinkle behind his glasses which a weekend. A combination of good are perched atop his nose. He has a equipment, a comfortable atmosphere and Nau’s musicality ultimately warm, rosy-cheeked smile and a merry laugh. He works diligently behind distinguish Peachfork’s outstanding an enormous screen- visuals of sound recordings. Nau has been accumulating statewaves dance across the display as he of-the-art equipment since 1975 and perfects the track. First he isolates the says it’s become his “obsession”; highvocals, then the full orchestration, then the percussion, then replays the whole quality microphones and instruments are abundant in the studio. Peachfork’s recording. He does not overlook any absorbent foam walls eliminate unwanted detail. He says he wants his work to be sound and ultimately contribute to high“undeniable.” Described by his clients as quality recordings. The studio uses both positive and mellow, Bernie Nau works hard to produce music and share it with digital and analog recording, and sessions the world. He owns Peachfork Studios cost about $50 per hour. However, Nau always tries to work with an artist’s in Pomeroy, Ohio, which hosts artists budget. For instance, a bluegrass group like The Royales, managed to record Wheels on Fire, Majesty and “The other night we were doing an album in a day with a $320 Blitzkreig. Nau sees a wide a recording and for the first time budget. While other variety of genres at in, I don’t know how long, I actustudio owners the studio. Styles range from Celtic ally saw the stars. You know, all have studied audio production, the to punk rock to Canton native bluegrass. “It’s fun the star.” Bernie Nau began his career to work with people and see what their Owner of Peachfork Studio during the 1970s as a musician and personalities are learned through and try to get the pure observation. After recording best recording we can,” he says. With clients recording music for HBO sessions with his band Brimstone, Nau would stay and ask the audio engineers or hosting the International Bluegrass Awards, Peachfork undoubtedly produces questions about the recording process. great work. “It’s the cream of the crop” His experience from being a musician says recording artist and OU student helps him relate to his clients and Mike Saig. His band, Majesty, recorded provide reliable advice for arranging and an EP at Peachfork over the course of editing tracks. “It’s really helpful to be
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a musician. You really understand the form. It makes [them] more comfortable. You’re not always talking with them from a technical point of view.” Nau moved to Athens because of its thriving music scene and opened a studio on Richland Avenue in 1995. However,
obnoxious trucks and screeching tires a coffeehouse feel to it: it’s warm, frequently interrupted the recording comfortable and cozy. Colorful Afghan process, so he chose to relocate to rugs adorn the floors, and soft lights make Peachfork Road (hence the studio’s for a relaxed setting. Nau tries to tend to name) in the remote hills of Pomeroy his clients’ needs and does not want them about five years ago. Situated on top of to feel intimidated at all. “Other studios a steep hill and in a completely isolated look a bit sleeker but [musicians] say it field, the location is extremely suitable feels like home,” he says. for recording. “We don’t have ambient Nau says his biggest challenge is getting noise [here],” Nau his clients to says. Mike praises relax. The calmer Peachfork’s solitary “As soon as the musician can stop an artist is, the location. “The worrying . . . you can get a good better the finished other night we were product. One of doing a recording performance because they’re not his techniques to and for the first fulfill this mission time in, I don’t preoccupied or second guessing is to tell an artist know how long, what they’re doing.” to practice a song I actually saw the immediately before Nau recording. stars. You know, all The the stars. Just being oblivious artist is, out there helps when you’re stressed.” in fact, being recorded the entire time. In addition to its tranquil outdoor Some may consider this technique a landscape, Peachfork’s internal manipulative trick, but the sound is atmosphere also calms the musicians. much more genuine and comfortable as The kitchen is available for any food opposed to staged. or beverage needs, and the place has Artists who record at Peachfork laud
Nau’s fantastic musical ear. He hears subtle flaws in music and can easily tell if something is out of tune, leaving the musicians worry and hassle-free. “As soon as the musician can stop worrying, you can get a good performance because they’re not preoccupied or second guessing what they’re doing,” Nau says. When asked about publicity, Nau says that most people hear about Peachfork via word of mouth. “Someone hears the results and that’s all they need,” he says. Lately, he is trying to get more people out to the studio by offering some demo sessions and other promotional things. Peachfork is a mere 20 miles from Athens, yet it feels a world away from the chaos of Court Street. In Mike’s words, the privileged musician steps out into “a field of complete beauty” at Peachfork.
who record at
PHOTOGRAPHS BY ANDREW BURKLE
The Rarely Herd hosted the International Bluegrass Awards in Nashville Hilarie Burhans recorded a track for the HBO series “Deadwood”, Ohio banjo champion Wheels on Fire recently toured in Europe Blitzkrieg local metal legends The Royales local dance/blues band Majesty local indie/ambient rock band Jane Rothfield one of the top fiddle players in the nation
Fun fact goes here Fun fact goes here Fun fact goes here
PHOTOGRAPHS BY KELLY BROWN
E L A M S S A L C T FIRS Charlie the mailman is a notorious figure on OU’s campus, but few of his customers know the story behind the man — until now. BY SUSANNAH SACHDEVA
snaking line of customers fills the office. It evokes Grand Central Station: everyone has places to go and people to see, things to do and packages to send. Echoes of tapping feet and fingers make the rush apparent, and the man behind the counter is silencing them one by one. It’s a busy if not stressful situation, but he’s in good spirits and has a grin on his face.
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“Hey! What can I do for you today?” he asks with his reliably cheery tone of voice. This is Charlie Tholin, the Santa Claus of postal workers. Charlie is the clerk in charge at the Baker University Center post office at Ohio University. And while he may not have Santa’s belly or full, white beard, he has all of Santa’s joyfulness and then some, including a great sense of humor.
Humans and giraffes have the same number of neck bones.
“They changed my prescription,” he “I was out for two and a half years, said of his constant happiness. “I have and then I got hired here,” Charlie said. better drugs now.” “When you apply to the post office, Charlie’s fabulous funny bone and you pick three or four different offices infectious charm is not taken for to apply to. I got hired in Athens.” granted, nor is it new. He has been a That was back in 1986. Now, Charlie proud and friendly employee of the is an old pro at this postman game. United States He’s faster than Postal Service for any post office “I go as fast as I can. People clerk out there, 23 years now— with 13 logged many of his know I’m not standing here ascustomers at the Baker post can office where he attest. talking to somebody or sitting always has been, as “I go as fast as he likes to put it, I can,” Charlie in the back drinking coffee.” “the boss and the said. “People Charlie Tholin entire crew.” That know I’m not job description standing here includes public talking to relations, as somebody or Charlie’s made almost as many friends sitting in the back drinking coffee.” as letters he’s mailed. Although Charlie used to stress about “I like to keep a little running banter the constant out-the-door line, it going. I know just about everybody doesn’t bother him anymore. He knows who comes in here by name. A lot of people are on a schedule, and he tries these people aren’t customers,” Charlie hard to serve everyone quickly—but said. “They’re friends.” even Santa can get weary after a long Charlie recalls an OU student who day of work. visited him years after graduating. He “You guys overwhelm me sometimes. remembered her face instantly, though Mondays and days after holidays, it’s he couldn’t immediately recollect her just a line out the door,” he said. “It’s name. After chatting for a few minutes, exhausting sometimes. But, by the he recalled her name—first and last— same token, somebody will always as well as the fact that she spent time come in and ask me something that just in Samoa with the Peace Corps. That makes me laugh.” encounter occurred 10 years ago, yet Other times, people will come in and he still remembers the conversation in make him cringe. its entirety. Some students don’t know how Charlie is a postman with the memory to label a letter. Others don’t take of an elephant and the gratefulness Charlie’s advice on packaging, even of the Dalai Lama. He’s had ups and after specifically asking him for it. One downs in his career, and ultimately student came in to ask Charlie if he had those brought him to Athens. But any extra stamps. it was luck that brought him to the “Indeed I do,” Charlie replied, postal service. surprisingly devoid of sarcasm. The In 1975 Charlie was working student paid and went over to the construction in New York, where he table to put together the contents grew up. Once that fell through, he of his envelope. After watching the moved south to work at the oil refineries student struggle for three minutes, outside of Galveston, Texas. That, too, Charlie did it for him. The student fell through, and upon being given thanked the helpful postman and left. only $60 a week to live off of from “Stuff like this just boggles my mind,” unemployment, he made yet another Charlie said. change. He followed a friend of his who Any person employed at a university had come up to Parkersburg, W.Va., is bound to face some semi-dumb to help build a powerhouse in Willow questions and exasperating occurrences, Island. A few years later he was laid off but the way Charlie sees it, at least he again and began sending applications to gets to hear some interesting stories any place that would take them. along the way.
Jimmy Carter discovered a new proof for the Pythagorean Theorem.
“I get to meet people from all over the world,” Charlie said. “I actually get to talk to some of them on off times, and it’s really interesting to get a personal glimpse of Palestine, or Ghana or China.” Since OU has a significant international community, Charlie has sent mail just about everywhere: Mongolia, Siberia, Kenya, Ghana, the U.K. and many more. He’s even sent mail to Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso. Charlie has conversations with everyone and anyone, discussing anything and everything. One of the few things he rarely exposes, however, is the phoenix tattoo on his arm. “It just struck me. I had wanted a tattoo for a long time, and I looked and I looked,” he said. “There was just something when I saw that one and I said, ‘I really like that.’ I had it done a couple years after I had heart surgery.” Another thing most people don’t know: Charlie had an aortic aneurism in 2000. With endless relocations and layoffs earlier in life and a heart surgery to boot, Charlie has been through a lot. But, as his customers are able to tell, he doesn’t let it get to him. “You make your job,” Charlie said. “I don’t think anyone really enjoys working for a living. There’s no sense in being miserable, though. You don’t want me to be miserable. I don’t want you to be miserable. It just makes your day go a lot easier if you’re more positive.”
backdropmag.com | 2009 | fall
t c h a P
BY ELIZABETH SHEFFIELD
lways makes me think of fall when you smell that decaying, pumpkin smell,” he says, separating the wires of the deactivated, electric fence. He gestures toward a lame pumpkin, lopsided with rot. “They do not like to grow where the grass grows. They always go bad.” Gypsy examines Schoss and the pumpkin patch with an air of duty, then returns her nose to the ground in the pursuit of groundhogs — her favorite. Tyler Schoss is a White’s Mill employee of 11 years and is often referred to as “Gypsy’s owner.” Beginning mid-June,
the two of them work side-by-side on the bank of the hocking — Schoss tending to the pumpkin patch and Gypsy tending to, well, inspections of sorts. For many, October in Athens connotes Halloween and all-around drunkenness. For Schoss, along with the rest of the White’s Mill staff, this is just the onset of another season. Luckily, this is a change for the better. “[It’s] one of the reasons I really like it here,” Schoss says. “There’s always something different that changes with the seasons. It’s like having four seasonal jobs.”
White’s Mill — located on the junction of routes 56 and 682 — was, until the 1970s, a working mill, originally constructed in Meigs County, then later rebuilt in Athens in 1913. As we approach the attic, Schoss mentions the hearsay resident ghosts, but dismisses them quickly, redirecting his story to the postcard view from the riverside window. Today, part of the mill is used as a store — selling bulbs, seeds, decorative flowerpots and even Native American jewelry. All the pre-picked pumpkins from the adjacent patch rest on plywood bleachers. However, this year White’s Mill experienced a harvest of what Schoss estimates to be barely half of 2008’s harvest of 900 orange, carve-ready gourds. Many of the blossoms fell off early, Schoss explains as he examines the remaining orange flowers on the stalky vines. Those that survived were faced with the adversities of powdery mildew: a fungus that stunts, distorts and sometimes kills plant matter. “Next year is probably a year to take off, let [the land] kind of recuperate — plant something in there, like a cover crop,” Tyler suggests.
Jack Neal Floral
Fix it with Flowers
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We’ve heard enough college about the bad guys. landlord Backdrop’s favorite landlords work 24-7 to keep your place in one piece.
BY RACHEL NEBOZUK
t’s the day after Christmas. While children everywhere are admiring their heaping piles of presents, Michael Kleinman is receiving news of a considerably less exciting holiday surprise. The local mailman has discovered water gushing from one of Kleinman’s properties on Congress Street. Kleinman hops on Route 33 toward Athens, where the house’s seven female tenants — all Ohio University students — are missing, home for break. And this leak isn’t exactly a trickle; more a waterfall, crashing down the yard and into the one-way street. As a veteran college town landlord, Kleinman isn’t surprised at the news of the thriving Congress Street river. He begins moving furniture out of the house, using a system of post-itnotes to document where each piece belongs. This is a day in the life of an Athens landlord, one who owns 72 properties — 72 chances for something to go awry. Because there are so many houses and apartments to keep up with, a day at Kleinpenny Rentals is filled with trips around town to deal with the dramas of student leasers. Included in the daily escapades are problems like uprooted bushes, busted drywall, floors marred from stiletto heels and pipes clogged with tampons. It’s safe to say that Kleinman has seen it all, and so have the 120 other brave landlords in Athens. Mark and Marcia Shubert, of Amesville, Ohio, bought their first property in the 80s. They currently lease three houses and one apartment near OU’s campus. Marcia, the brains of the operation, and Mark, the brawn, run the whole shebang themselves. While many of the large student rental agencies in Athens have full crews of cleaners, landscapers, electricians and plumbers, Mark does all of the above himself. “Our good tenants definitely outnumber the not-so-good ones,” Marcia says, “But I would have to say that we got a bit hardened because even the best of tenants can be very hard on houses.” Landlords are the metaphorical moms and dads for students living on their own for the first time. It’s a landlord’s job to take care of students’ mess-ups. Of course, it’s a landlord’s number one priority to watch over properties and make sure precious investments aren’t going up in flames (Kleinman has only had
AT YOUR SERVICE two fires since he started renting in 1989.) But believe it or not, it’s also a priority of most landlords to make sure tenants are safe, comfortable and happy. For example, Marcia recalled one instance when a girl called in the middle of the night to ask if Mark would come over and kill a hairy spider that she had spotted in her bedroom. The couple also got a phone call during the wee hours from tenants who reported a heavily intoxicated stranger had wandered into their house and was sleeping in their living room. Like mothers and fathers, these college town landlords are there to scare away the monsters from under the bed — and chase the drunk people off the couch. While it may seem like a right of passage to trash college homes, it doesn’t usually occur to students that they may feel a little embarrassed about it after graduation. Zack Jones, a 2008 OU alumnus with a new “grown-up” job, who admits to trashing his former apartment at Riverpark Towers, says he has one or two regrets of his own. “I do regret putting holes in the wall by driving golf balls from the end of the hallway,” Jones says, “It was dumb, but I only regret that because I got fined for the damage.” Jones says that all the other damage he caused to the apartment with his two rommates was all in good fun. The roommates threw spaghetti on their white walls, spilled an entire bottle of hot sauce on the carpet, regularly threw patio furniture off their balcony and shattered their sliding glass door. Surprisingly, Jones said he even received some of his security deposit back at the end of the year. Still, looking back as an alumnus, he’s not embarrassed of his destructive behavior. In a profession that seems so stressful, it’s a wonder that people in the rental business like Kleinman and the Shuberts don’t have any regrets themselves. On the stresses of his job, Kleinman says that there is aggravation in any business where money is involved. To stay level-headed, he takes every individual renovation, repair and dispute and learns something from it with the goal of bettering his business. “I used to own a pizza shop,” he says with a laugh, “and being a landlord is easier.”
In the Caribbean there are oysters that can climb trees.
backdropmag.com | 2009 | fall
P U O GR BY ALEX MENRISKY ILLUSTRATIONS BY MATTHEW WARE
n an environment where creative writing classes are based on effort instead of skill—and the grade is the most important letter on the page—one fledgling group of writers is banding together in search of the perfect piece. Before anyone speaks, a young man stands at the head of the table, eyebrows raised quizzically behind his bookish glasses. His surprise at the large number of people filing into the room, however, does not betray him as he starts his spiel with enthusiasm and candor. Even as he finds himself interrupted again and again by the opening and closing of the door, the smile that covers his bearded face continues to grow wider and wider. Seth Lopez is more than happy to see the eager new members pour into the first meeting of The Group, his literary brainchild. The Group, a campus organization that explores all sides of writing creatively, spends its Tuesday and Thursday nights around conference tables in Ellis Hall room 113 and Baker University Center room 239, respectively, reading and critiquing the literary pursuits of its members. “I’d like to say that we’re a workshop outside of a workshop. A workshop without a grade,” Seth, the club’s president and founder, says. “[It’s] a workshop where you can kind of loosen up a little more, and it’s not about getting
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an A or a B or a C.” After realizing early last school year that no creative writing club existed on campus, he worked hard to bring appreciation and practice to the art. The junior communications major is pleased with the way his pet project took off, even if
"It's not a bout gettin g an A or a B o r a C ." few members regularly attend meetings. But fewer members make for a better workshop. Meetings start off with a nice appetizer of socialization, followed by a course of readings by the brave, and they finish off the meal with polite criticism (both positive and negative) by other members. At the first meeting of the year, however, the introductory appetizer was meatier
than usual—the new members practically spilled into the room, introduced themselves, gave quick quips about why they were there and overviews of their writing histories. As the names flew, Seth was quick to joke and laugh with his new acquaintances, welcoming them into the fold with the other execs, demonstrating just how open and informal The Group really is. In this case, too many cooks don’t spoil the gravy at all. Writers of all disciplines meet to discuss their pieces—anyone from poets to novelists to short story aficionados. There’s room for all shapes and sizes here. And The Group caters to this diversity, equally dividing its attention among poetry, short stories and chapters. “It’s really relaxed, and everybody can feel really comfortable reading their work,” Shelby Campbell, the de facto vice president of The Group, says. “And nobody’s going to say anything dream-crushing to each other about their work, so it’s really nice.” Shelby, one of the first to flock to Seth’s vision, was placed in a position of leadership
NERF is short for Non-Expanding Recreational Foam.
this year as numbers continued to grow up time slots for open mic nights at the and opportunities for activities began to Front Room Coffee House. present themselves. “I feel like the more people we get Not only do these budding literary involved, maybe we’ll get something artists critique one another’s work, they where we have a tangible thing we can also offer a strong network of writing put our names on,” speculates group resources. When a piece reaches the point member Kevin Tasker, a junior majoring of stunning quality, Group members in creative writing. “Some kind of zine or encourage one another to publish with a book or an anthology or something like campus literary journals and even that. I don’t know what exactly Seth had legitimate national outlets, such as online in mind. He’s always scheming, so I don’t literary magazines. know what the deal is for sure.” “I think everyone in The Group is With all the incoming members The really pushing towards not even just Group has been campus publications,” Seth receiving, says, “but publication especially online, [in] literary freshmen, l fee n a magazines, stuff things are c y od like that. I think looking "Everyb le b orta f everyone really up. One m o c really ." tries, and a few of the most k r o w g their members have anticipated readin actually been byproducts of successful.” this influx is the But Seth and added publicity, fueling Shelby have been a machine that will bring in even cooking up a lot more than stories more new material. recently. Seth’s newest quest is to spread But for now, the members of The word of his organization to all corners of Group are content to give one another the university. His target: the new crop of advice and praise in regards to their freshmen. Schemes of recruitment aside, work. The absence of any other creative Seth is confident he’s starting to get the writing group on campus makes this publicity he’s searched for—the large organization a rare jewel. turnout this fall as evidence. “It’s great to see such enthusiasm for “I do believe it is becoming fairly well- literary conversation,” faculty adviser known,” Seth remarks confidently. “In Mark Halliday says. “This kind of the English department, especially. But I informal shared focus on creative work is would like to expand a lot more, so the one of the best ways to get the most out campus knows more about it.” of college.” “We’re trying for more social activities,” But for the students, it’s all about Seth says, his voice quickening with sharing their work and exploring the excitement at the prospect of fine-tuning writing they love. “It gives everybody that his organization’s community outreach. is interested in writing a place to come “I had a plan for an outdoor literary together and meet and talk about writing magazine, where I would print out and their own work,” Shelby says. “For people’s work … and I would post them me, it gives a really nice environment all over the place.” to get together with other people with a The Group has brainstormed plenty of similar interest. [You] get to be inspired other ideas as well, and already has set by everyone else in The Group.”
The name Wendy was not made up for the book Peter Pan.
backdropmag.com | 2009 | fall
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Guzzle & Flow
Your neighbor wanted to get his band in on the gig. He walks in around 8 to set up the amps and the speakers. Unfortunately, the crowd ramps up around midnight and the band goes wild, destroying your eardrums, but feeding the party.
Noise Violation (Friday and Saturday after 12 a.m.)
BY KIM AMEDRO
Everyone is outside on your lawn, with nowhere to “go.” Literally. A golden stream catches your eye and you follow it back to its origin.
You know about two-thirds of the faces at the party and everyone seems to be staying in the boundaries and keeping trash off the sidewalks. You overhear some odd questions and notice a stranger. Your gut feeling says…
First, line your yard in caution tape. Next, pin up the “No One Under 21 Allowed” sign. Now, call a few friends and tell them to invite as many people as they want.
Eh, you worry about everything. Why would they pick your house anyway? You go to smoke with your buddies…
You also underestimated the amount of liquor your friend could tolerate. She stumbles ahead of you and is screaming at passing groups. She’s under 21. Why did you bring her? It’s not like she can buy the beer or even help carry it back in this state.
You underestimated your supply. Beer run!
Eh, it’s the weekend before Halloween. You decide to take it easy. Only your usual group is fortunate enough to get your invite to drink last weekend’s leftovers.
You’ve settled into your new digs at OU and decide it’s time to throw a party. With alcohol involved, there’s a fine line between having fun and getting busted. So what do you do?
Kick it off Animal House style: pen kegger! Toga, toga!
backdropmag.com | 2009 | fall
s) olo cup tipped s on of d n a s t lk c ti wa du mp ing side erly con r consu • Disord ntainer (includ , dispensing o e person. g o or g • Open c l sale, furnishin r to an undera toxicating liqu o fu in u r w q o eer • Unla ting li tion of b intoxica beer or ion or consump s • Posses erage person r or refuse of nd u n a of litte onsent y b deposit ithout c l w fu y t w r e la rop • Un cy tion of p indecen • Public age or destruc m c e flow • The da rty owner ular traffi bstructs the fre edes ic h e e v p r the pro l pedestrian o ehicles that o lks or that imp v a fu • Unlaw g or parking of eets and sidew tr • Standin on the public s rgency services e y inconof traffic y to render em ns injur red to te a re it il th e that the ab d nois y decla ondition fully lou is hereb • Unlaw er conduct or c roperty which p • Any oth or damage to isance. e u c n n c ie li n b ve pu nlawful be an u
If you rack shut down as a “Nuis be party can
Busted for possession. You shouldn’t have blown off that odd situation. Now you might lose your right to federal financial aid and, despite living off campus, you may also face judiciaries.
That’s another offense. She’ll have to appear in court and will automatically face two to five days in jail.
Whips out her fake ID that couldn’t even get her into The Junction. But, she is only a day away from turning 21.
An Athens officer locks eyes on your adorably inebriated friend. He charges straight for her as she starts to lose her balance. When asked to identify herself she…
Luckily it’s her first offense, and she goes through the diversion program. Unfortunately it costs her close to $250 and twelve hours of community service.
Gives only her name and address and shows only her student ID. Even though she’s under arrest, the officer can’t convict her as long as she doesn’t admit to being underage.
This is aside from the court fee costs, fines, jail time and driver’s license suspension. Plus, with all the reinstatement fees and increased insurance costs…
Undercover. So you approach the conversation and try to feel the situation out with your own Q and A. However, so long as it isn’t entrapment, the officer can lie his/her way out of identification, just like any other underage partier.
! rget ses below, your o F 't four of the listed offen Don an .” ance Party up more th
You get slammed for furnishing alcohol. Wave goodbye to next quarter’s books. Mandatory $500 fine on top of the court fees.
Public Urination. For 100 buckaroos you could’ve gotten public toilets and saved yourself the legal trouble.
cleaning up the dirt on garbage men
BY RYAN JOSEPH PHOTOGRAPHS BY CHARLES YESENCZKI
vhe back end of the garbage truck diligently whipped the edifice’s waste devours the old, brown couch like a into the butt of the monstrous green five-year-old massacres a celery stick. The vehicle. Hollingshed—a former Waste sofa—a nostalgic, ’70s blast-from-the-past, Management driver—didn’t miss a beat in helping Beasley, even cracked, splintered and though he now works exceptionally withered— “It’s funny what kind in Waste Management disappears as the garbage Corporate. truck uses its awesome of misconceptions “It’s funny what kind of power and rear-end loader misconceptions you’ll hear to shove it into its mouth. you’ll hear about Waste about Waste Management From a safe vantage Management drivers drivers and garbage men, in point inside a 1998 general,” Beth Schmucker, Oldsmobile Intrigue, and garbage men, in Waste Management watching this dismantling general.” Community Relations is cathartic. Manager, says from the The Waste Management employees—driver Rick Beth Schmucker, back seat. Beasley with assistance Waste Management Community “They’re capable men who have been rigorously from Route Manager Relations Manager interviewed and trained to Ted Hollingshed—
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drive our company trucks.” From watching and talking to Beasley and Hollingshed, any misconceptions about sanitation engineering seem moot. “When people see garbage men they think it’s much dirtier of a job,” Beasley says. Beasley mentions this before I follow him on his Athens route. He had been picking up trash since 4 a.m. His uniform is barely scuffed from the five-and-a-half hours of work he had already put in that day. “People think it would smell bad—I was one of those people—but it’s not near as bad you think,” he says. Beasley is a well-kept man in his early 40s. He’s donning a neon-yellow vest and brown boots. His sunglasses reflect my image as he affably explains the areas where he picks up trash. “On Mondays I serve Greenfield, Tuesdays I serve Athens, Wednesday I go into Nelsonville, Thursday I go into Albany and Friday I serve The Plains.” While serving each community, Beasley says there are differences between collecting trash in rural settings as compared to urban areas. “Really when it comes to picking up trash, there isn’t a whole lot of difference,” he says. “It’s just when you’re in the city, it’s just so much more quicker. In the country, it’s more driving and you’re trying to fit on these narrow, country roads. In the city it’s all about trying not to hit anything, so safety is the most important aspect about collecting trash in the city.” In the matter of an hour-and-a-half I know more about sanitation engineering than any journalist should.
Bubble gum is pink because the inventor didn’t have any other food coloring.
Athens’ favorite locally owned gift store
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“People think it would smell bad—I was one of those people—but it’s not near as bad you think.” Beth Schmucker, Waste Management Community Relations Manager Waste Management, based in Houston, Texas, is the largest waste management company in North America. Its signature green “W” and golden “M” can be found roaming the streets from Los Angeles to Toronto to San Juan (although, ironically, they do not service the Ohio University campus). Waste Management is leading the way in transforming waste usage in the industry. The company is starting to employ methods to not just store our waste, but also put it to use. “Waste Management is very involved in waste energy,” Hollingshed says. “We’re one of the leaders in waste energy. We use the waste that we pick up to power homes and to power electricity. ” Schmucker adds, “Four of our landfills here in Ohio have gas-to-energy plants where the methane gas is converted into usable energy. That’s really the future of renewable energy.” Along with being the largest processor of waste in North America, Waste Management is also the largest recycler. Coupling with the company’s sustainability goals, Waste Management hopes
to double its processing of recycled goods from seven million tons to 14 million tons by 2020. Re-using landfill sites are also a top priority of the company. “We are also involved with the Wildlife Habitat Council,” Schmucker says. “We’ve got 49 of our sites that are certified by the council, so we’re providing habitats for local, native wildlife and we’re reusing our land for uses other than what people conventionally think landfills are used for.” Before following Beasley on his route, Hollingshed and Beasley recount tales of routes that have garnered odd discarded items. Although Waste Management collects and processes a myriad of objects, some things Waste Management cannot handle. “The oddest thing I saw in the trash was a college student,” Hollingshed mentions. “Lucky for him, it was a rear-load dumpster, so we saw him. If it were a front-load dumpster there’s a good chance he would’ve ended up in the truck.”
Non-dairy creamer is flammable.
BY ADAM WAGNER
ometimes inspiration to stand up for a social cause of which decry the downfall of Western civilization comes in the wake of watching a large, passionate that will be brought on by Communist-leaning, flagrally—other times it’s the nudging persuasion of a burning college students. It may seem like a quaint friend, or a moving documentary. For Ohio University generalization, but the fact that the most recent of graduate student Erin Dame, the decision to become these books was published in 1975 indicates that an active participant in reforming marijuana laws America’s way of thinking about activism is outdated. came during an event at Purdue University called The sit-ins and fiery confrontations between police and Cannabash—a music festival calling for drug reform citizens are no longer the norm. Instead, activists are hosted by the Purdue University chapter of Students likely to work with the establishment to enact some for Sensible Drug Policy. form of change. But Erin, now 24, wasn’t always That does not mean that the goals of activism have opposed to harsh drug policies. In fact, changed, as many modern activists have the same ideals she wasn’t completely aware of the as their angrier predecessors— policies in existence. Herself a marijuana their methods have The more involved only user since her freshman year at Purdue, changed, moving toward I got, the more I loved negotiation instead of hostility, she found herself at Cannabash on April 20, 2004, listening to a lawyer orate facts it. Honestly, I get a high and receiving more than a during a break between bands: 825,000 yearly touch of modernization. “I marijuana arrests, 85 percent of which are solely from doing it because think at the core they’re the for possession. The numbers “literally shook” I’m not only helping same priorities,” senior Molly Erin to her core. After the lawyer’s speech, other people, but I’m Shea, an active member of she promptly became involved in the quest Students for a Democratic helping myself. for drug reform, temporarily dropping out of Erin Dame Society, said. “[We still want] school to work for the National Organization Graduate Student a just, equal society where for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. people are treated with respect Erin dedicated the next year of her life to fighting for and have equal opportunities. But as far as specific drug reform, traveling from campus to campus around issues, I think it’s totally different.” the nation, debating Drug Enforcement Administration The way activists communicate has not totally agents about the merits of reform and helping people changed, as they still rely on word-of-mouth or set up local chapters of the organization. Erin’s is an flyer campaigns to spread the “good word.” E-mail, example of a new kind of activism, one predicated however, has become the preferred intra-group mode on discussion and patience as opposed to anger and of communication. Molly believes that this has had action. The common perception of activism, however, mixed results. “The advantage is definitely that you can has not yet caught up to its realities. reach more people quickly,” she said. “But at the same Type “activism” into the subject field on any one of time that message becomes impersonalized.…It’s way Alden Library’s computers, for instance. The search less effective.” doesn’t return any specific results, instead directing you Erin agreed, but also said that the best way to to “student movements” and a subset of 27 books, many convince people to become involved is to make them
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The glue on Israeli postage stamps is certified Kosher.
“understand [that] the activism that they do, whether it’s them passing out flyers or whatever small things, contributes to the movement.” “It’s less angry. I hate to generalize that, but in a university setting, especially here at [Ohio University], it’s less angry,” Erin said. “We find that sit-ins may not be as appropriate as going at it from an inside view and trying to change things by working with the administration, instead of alienating them or working against them.” This placid face of activism may be affecting the number of people who join the movement. Instead of disrupting newscasts with violent protests demanding change, today’s activists work on taking baby steps forward, accepting that they finally may reach their end goal one day. Although, for many amateur activists, these gradual changes rarely make them feel like they are actually making an impact, leading to a general feeling of helplessness. “People don’t think their voices count, so they go to clubs and they make these connections, and then the clubs might try their hand at activism and things might not work out,” Erin said. “People get discouraged.” The way to convince new activists to stick with their causes of choice seems to be to tie them into the community—an idea that is fundamental to most activists’ goals. It is by interacting with communities, both locally and nationally, that activists develop a sense of how to convey their messages and, more importantly, just what those messages should be. “If you don’t feel connected with the people around you, you have no reason to act in solidarity with someone who lives in West Virginia and literally has black water that they’re supposed to be drinking,” Molly said. “You have no reason to care that a generation from now people won’t have woods to hike around in. You don’t have a reason to care unless you have a sense of community and a
Mr Potato Head was the first toy advertised on T.V.
sense of connectedness to different people.” Erin emphasized the necessity of a community in terms of making a point, citing the idea that a single person marching to Washington, D.C., would have little effect, but that a million undoubtedly would cause an uproar. A sense of community amongst people in general, let alone in the realm of activism, is proving more difficult today. This apathy has proven to be even more of a plague to activism than it is to politics. “It seems like back in the ’60s or ’70s, the general youth culture was activist, and now it seems to be more a select few that are activists,” Molly said. Erin, who helped register voters last fall with the Power Vote campaign, reiterated that point saying, “People didn’t know how to register to vote, and a lot of people didn’t care to know. People don’t think these issues concern them when they really do.” Ending apathy and jumpstarting activism can come from the most unexpected place, though— like Erin’s revelation at Cannabash. Erin found that beginning her career as an activist provided her with a sense of pride that nothing else could give her. “The more involved I got, the more I loved it. Honestly, I get a high from doing it because I’m not only helping other people, but I’m helping myself,” Erin said. “I’m making these connections and I’m seeing how this kind of activism helps other people…It’s taken over my whole life. I’m kind of addicted to activism. It really is what I do almost all day, every day, and the people I work with are my family and all of my friends.” Molly said she sees a positive future for activism, as the state of the environment, in particular, is leading to “more of youth culture…getting back into activism and organizing, building communities, because things have gotten to a place where people realize that it’s important again.”
backdropmag.com | 2009 | fall
Artsy Abodes BY BETHANY COOK
PHOTOGRAPHS BY ERICA MCKEEHAN
hile some Ohio University students would sacrifice a right hand to be able to call a Palmer Street estate “home,” this isn’t the case for all. Senior Dani Fulmer chose her abode atop the hill of Mound Street for its serenity. Dani and her roommates, seniors Brooke Shanesy and Brandy Hayes, used their creative abilities to turn a typical college rental house into a home.
Homemade To save money, the girls went the DIY-route with many aspects of the room. Psychedelic tie-dyed sheets hanging on the wall and ceiling are products of the girls’ handiwork, as are the curtains. Dani, using a special paint from The Home Depot, painted a chalkboard along one of the walls for visitors to draw on at their leisure.
Lounge Gear Dani’s favorite room is the “pillow room.” True to its name, the room’s only pieces of lounge furniture are pillows, with the exception of a small futon. “We didn’t have any furniture, so we used a bunch of pillows,” Dani said. The unique space provides an escape where the girls watch movies and hang out.
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Approximately two gallons of water are used to brush your teeth.
BY SHANE BARNES
ecked out in whites, creams and grays, junior Kait Orr’s West State Street apartment is a sort of serene refuge on campus. With homemade decorations, secondhand furnishings and splashes of color in unexpected places, this is one of the most livable student houses we’ve ever seen.
Chairs, chairs, chairs Kait’s chairs hearken back to an almost Kubrick aesthetic, back when ergonomics were big and burnt oranges and olive greens were chic. Along with the futon in her living room, there’s plenty of seating for painting parties, or whatever it is that artsy people do.
Intellectual Installations Being an art major, it’s not a surprise that most of what makes Kait’s apartment stand out is homemade. “I bought 11 books at a garage sale for $1. I didn’t really think about how to do it, I just did it. I wanted them to hang from the ceiling, but here they are,” Kait said. “I’m going to burn them one day.”
DIY Shelving Kait’s apartment is lined in what is perhaps the most ingenious standby solution for shelving: cinderblocks and particleboard. “My parents gave me $60 and told me to figure out shelving. So I went to Lowe’s. The wood was only $1.16 per slat.” It’s a good thing it was so cheap; she used it as a small table in her living room, as well as a nightstand in her bedroom. A jiffy is an actual unit of time for 1/100th of a second.
backdropmag.com | 2009 | fall
Who needs meat? WRITTEN AND PHOTOGRAPHED BY MARIEL & KATHERINE TYLER
Our road to vegetarianism was a mildly smooth one. Aside from our love of Hebrew National hot dogs, our dad’s barbeque and a sandwich or burger here and there, our diets were never heavily meat-based, and withdrawal has been almost nonexistent. But being an almost vegetarian is nothing like being a vegetarian, and we’re learning that meal-by-meal. Living off-campus has actually helped this new lifestyle stay afloat. Having to rely on our cooking skills has made us quite savvy in the kitchen, and experimenting with new vegetarian dishes has become a hobby. Here are a few of our favorites, inspired by The Chubby Vegetarian blog. Try them out on some of your friends—vegetarian or not—these dishes can be enjoyed by all.
Ingredients 2 medium sized potatoes 2 cups of grated potatoes or frozen hash browns 2 large eggs 1 medium onion ½ teaspoon white pepper ½ teaspoon salt 3 tablespoons flour ¼ cup of vegetable oil
Makes 10 latkas
Directions Set the oven to 350 degrees. Poke holes in peeled potatoes with a fork, wrap in foil and bake until soft. While potatoes are baking, lightly beat three eggs with salt and white pepper, and set aside. Once potatoes are done, mash and thoroughly combine them with the hash browns. Chop the onion and add to the potatoes until well mixed. Add the eggs and the flour, and mix until well combined. In a pan, heat oil to 250-320 degrees (about medium heat). Form the
mixture into palm sized patties. The patties need to cook for about five minutes on the first side and two on the other. If they brown too quickly, the oil is too hot, but if the latkes don’t sizzle when you put them in the pan, the oil isn’t hot enough. Once dark and golden, place the latkas on a plate with a paper towel to absorb the excess grease. These are best directly after frying. Serve with sour cream and applesauce.
12 cherry tomatoes 1 can of Cannellini beans 2 cups of frozen spinach 1 cup of polenta Âź cup of milk 3 cups of vegetable stock 8 cloves of garlic Olive oil Italian seasoning Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 415 degrees. Cut tomatoes in half, and place in an oven safe dish. Drizzle in olive oil, salt and pepper. Peel the garlic, drizzle with olive oil and wrap in foil. Put tomatoes and garlic in the oven for 40 minutes, or until the skin of tomatoes begin to darken. Melt butter in a pot with a palm full of Italian seasoning. Add polenta to the pot and mix. Warm the vegetable stock and add to the polenta mixture in three parts, mixing to ensure no clumps form. Once all stock is added, cook on stove for 30 minutes. Mix eggs and milk in a separate bowl. Stir the
Serving Size: 4-6
egg and milk mixture into the heated polenta for two to three minutes or until well mixed. Put polenta in an oiled dish and place in oven for 15 minutes or until firm. Once tomatoes and garlic are done, remove tomatoes and set aside. Sautee garlic in olive oil, and add the beans to the saucepan. Add salt and pepper to taste and set aside. Sautee spinach. Remove polenta from oven and let cool. Melt butter in a pan, and pan fry the polenta. Cover in mozzarella or provolone cheese. Plate the polenta, and top with sautĂŠed spinach, beans and tomatoes.
backdropmag.com | 2009 | fall
For the members of a generation devoid of hard knocks, the only thing certain about their future is that they’re not ready for it. BY ANNIE BEECHAM
PHOTOGRAPHS BY RICKY RHODES
Erica Cohen will graduate early, after fall quarter 2009. That’s two quarters premature of the traditional four-year plan. She’ll have an online journalism degree from the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism, with dueling minors in business and political science. She has a job and apartment already secured in Manhattan, and she will move there in December. She will spend this winter applying for law schools and working full time. And one year from now, if things go as planned, she’ll be enrolled in law school. Though she hasn’t yet taken the LSAT, not a doubt exists in her mind that she will be admitted to one of the schools on her short list. She knows this because she doesn’t fail. “I don’t lose. I refuse to lose,” she says. If Erica wants something, she does everything in her power to get it. If Erica’s name sounds familiar, it’s
because last spring she organized a bone marrow drive at Ohio University that attracted the largest number of people of any bone marrow drive ever in the U.S. Because of the drive’s success, Erica Cohen is in the Guinness Book of World Records. So, until law school begins next fall, and while the rest of her senior class is still in Athens scrambling to finish on time, she’ll be working as a donor recruitment coordinator, organizing college bone marrow drives nationally in New York City for the same nonprofit agency that sponsored the drive at OU. Erica Cohen is the prototype of Generation Y—those born between 1980 and 2001—and while her foresight and early success are impressive, she’s typical of this developing demographic. Generation Y, Generation Next, the NetGeneration, the iGeneration, the millennials—they’re all names for the largest generation of
The largest diamond that was ever found was 3106 carats.
Americans ever—92 million. Their parents, the baby boomers, often referred to as omnipresent “helicopter parents,” are a strong 78.3 million. Millennials are classified as technologically savvy perfectionists, multitaskers and driven individuals who work well in teams. It’s clear that a segment of the generation possesses Erica Cohen-like drive toward school and their fledgling careers, but these occasional overachievers are the recipients of both lavish praise and harsh criticism—increasingly the latter— from older generations. And as the eldest batch of the millennials makes its debut into the workforce, those critics are forced to deal with them mano a mano — that is, if the young college grads actually get jobs. A meager 19.7 percent of 2009 college grads reported jobs upon graduation, down from 26 percent in 2008 and 51 percent in 2007, according to a survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers. That the job market is poor is not news to anyone, but for a generation that hates to lose, it’s frustrating on a deeper, more personal level, but who’s to blame for this generation’s stunted ability to accept loss? It’s easy to blame helicopter parents. They coddled and cared for their children, and worried about something called “selfesteem,” a quality that became as fragile as glass—it would surely shatter with the impact of the tiniest of criticisms. The millennials grew up familiar only with success, and failure became a dirty, impossible outcome. Pampered childhoods colliding with a poor economy can lead to bad things for the millennials heading out into the world. “I think parental pressure from my generation is intense for some, but I also think that anyone who’s at all aware of what’s happening in the world knows it’s the most difficult economy in a generation since the ’30s probably,” Thomas Korvas, Director of Career Services at OU, says. If less than 20 percent of 2009 college grads left school without a job, then senior accounting and business pre-law major Jeffrey Peterka is bucking the trend for the 2010 graduating class. The
Minnesota native had signed — before his senior year—with Deloitte accounting firm in Minneapolis to begin full time in fall 2010. Like Erica, he represents the finer traits of a millennial, and likely won’t feel the effects of a poor job market in the foreseeable future. He spent last summer as an account executive for Hays Companies in Minneapolis. On campus, he’s the President of the business fraternity Delta Sigma Pi, and he’s involved with the Student Leadership Development Program. His studying habits are finely tuned, with about three hours a day devoted to out-of-class work. His dream job, to own a company in the medical industry, does not seem far out of reach. Jeffrey is the type of student that Korvas usually encounters in OU’s Career Services Department. Discussing the issue of students acting entitled to the perfect job out of school Korvas says, “I’ve seen those statements and read the literature. With the students I’ve counseled, advised and so on, I have not seen that. I think they’ve been very hard workers, and I really haven’t felt the entitlement issue.” he adds, “I think students have to break away and learn to think for themselves, speak for themselves and make decisions for themselves—which might be a little harder for students in that generation,” Trophy Kids, too, is another term for the millennials. It’s a reference to the fact that millennials grew up playing games of soccer and basketball, at dance class and other sessions, that were rewarded with trophies for both the winning and losing teams (“I have a big collection of trophies, all on my mantle,” Jeffrey says). It also refers to the idea that members of this generation are the metaphorical “trophies” of their parents, who’ve spent countless time and money to pave an easy, effortless path to success for their precocious children. Erica and Jeffrey both attribute their collegiate success to personal drive rather than parent-induced pressure. “My parents were very supportive and pushed me to do my best,” Erica says, “but they’ve always been more likely to say, ‘Look, Erica, slow down.’”
In a day, kids in the U.S. that are between the ages of 2 - 8 spend 28 minutes of their time coloring.
Professor of English Mark Rollins is a firm institutional environment, if you sit at a meeting, believer in positive reinforcement, but he sees and somebody asks you what you think, ‘What how too much can be destructive. “On the one are your thoughts on this?’ and you sit there, ‘Gee hand, our societies and our families have tried to I don’t know,’ they don’t give you an F—they say reinforce students with positive reinforcement ‘Goodbye, you’re out.’” with a trophy or reward: everybody who goes Rollins has observed an inability to communicate home from the birthday party gets something,” and express ideas, but doesn’t find it to be exclusive Rollins says, “but maybe that’s counterproductive to this generation. Rather, the expression of ideas because sometimes you just have to say, is a skill to be learned during the college years, ‘you know, you didn’t move fast enough at which is why he operates his class in a Socratic, musical chairs.’” discussion oriented manner. Even Erica recognizes this Korvas, one of the illustrious phenomenon: “There’s a level of baby boomers, finds that students competition in our generation may lack certain communication that I’m not sure exists in other skills—thanks to the pervasiveness generations. There’s almost this of technology like the Internet cutthroat mentality that it’s either millennials have never lived I think students that you or me because one person has to without. “One concern we’ve had, be on top. It’s just this general idea even as a university, is students have to break now that people can’t stand to lose.” being too involved with their games away and learn and technology, and not really And when it comes to grades, millennials like their As. “People will getting out and developing those to think for go nuts if they don’t get an A. A is communication skills. They aren’t for excellence—above and beyond. as engaging as some generations— themselves, I think B is honorable, that’s great,” they tend to rely more on speak for Rollins, who has a 2.3 out of 5 for technology as entertainment, as average easiness on ratemyprofessors. to people. I think that’s themselves and opposed com, says. “Believe me, when you something to at least be aware of read evaluations, ‘he grades too and think through,” though he make decision hard, he expects too much’—I just says, “it’s certainly not a label on live with it.” for themselves.” every individual.” Older generations are grappling Alsop notes in his book that Thomas Korvas to understand the nuances of millennials possess a special mix Director of Career millennials, as the generation enters of endearing and not-so-endearing Services, OU qualities that result in an “intriguing the working world. Author Ron Alsop’s advice book, The Trophy and potentially explosive brew.” Kids Grow Up, offers tips for those managing While some are critical of the generation, many millennials in the workforce, such as: “Millennials others view them as a viable population of eager require careful handling when their performance employees with new perspectives. When the isn’t up to par. Harsh criticism can provoke tears— economy rebounds and hiring picks up, several or even resignation,” and the one that might classes of unemployed, fresh college graduates will make this generation the most uncomfortable, be fighting for the same job positions—several “Managers need to provide millennials with an million young adults, known for their competitive unusual amount of hand-holding, reminding streaks, on a simultaneous job hunt makes for an them of project deadlines and telling them such interesting frenzy. Korvas, however, is optimistic elementary things as the importance of turning off that millennials will flourish outside of their cell phones during client meetings.” Obviously, protective environments but warns, “There’s Alsop paints a portrait of a severely ill-prepared always a pebble in the road, and that’s something young adult. you’re going to have to deal with and become Rollins, too, sees certain characteristics that may comfortable with yourself and your skills.” hamper the millennials in the workforce. “When you go into a corporate environment, or an
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The odds of having quadruplets are 1 in 729,000.
R e C yc l i n g
With the popularity of bikes on the rise, high-end cycles are becoming a commodity. The Athens Bike Co-Op keeps things grounded, though, and provides real-world knowledge to those bike enthusiasts willing to learn. BY SHANE BARNES
PHOTOGRAPHS BY TYLER SUTHERLAND
n a garage under a house and down perpendicular alleyways, there’s music, but the old rabbit-ear radio is breaking in and out so often that the instruments begin to stutter. With five people, the Athens Bike Co-Op is packed. Bike parts clutter the floor space: frames, chains, handlebars, derailers, stripped naked and ready for reassembly. Sixtyseven wheels, some bent like Dali clocks, hang from the ceiling. “Low flying cyclecraft,” a nearby sign reads. Then, another, hand-painted: “Be Patient, We’re Busy Trying To Save The World”—a lofty statement that captures the Co-Op’s mission perfectly. The thing about the Co-Op is that all of the bikes, all of the dozens of rusted chains, broken Above: Eric Cornwell finally gets a moment to enjoy a Killian’s after working for the Co-op pedals and crimped derailers, the entire day, putting on both a bike sale and a workshop, on September 22, 2009. are donated or rescued. Operating under a basic, “build two, keep one” rule, the Co-Op encourages experimentation as The Co-Op’s ultimate goal is to promote a sort of sustainability, a way of learning how to upkeep bikes, and every time someone holding up an ethos along the lines of the “teach a man to fish” learns to make a bike for themselves, the Co-Op gains the other proverb, and these teachers are all volunteers. There’s a definite intimidation factor in the world of bikes, working one, which it later sells or keeps as a spare to loan to anyone who needs a way to get around. And, for getting but the Co-Op’s three regulars—Jon, Eric and Cusi (Ku-zay— around, there’s no doubt that bikes have become more popular it’s Incan)—are more than happy to extend a grease-stained in Athens: recent numbers indicate that 46 percent of residents hand and the knowledge of almost 20 collective years to even travel to work by some form other than automobile. But for a the most uninitiated, wannabe cyclists. These are the guys that place that wants to change the world, 46 percent isn’t enough. make the Co-Op work. “We don’t fix peoples’ bikes for them,” Cusi says. “We show
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Forty percent of Americans iron their clothes while wearing their underwear or being completely naked.
them what to do, but they have to fix it themselves. Then they Eric Cornwell, Athens native and longtime Co-Op volunteer, can come back and use the space and tools whenever they want.” is the perfect example of a successful bike convert. When he A Cincinnati native, Cusi Ballew has been back and forth first came to the Co-Op he was barely able to change a tire, and between Athens and Anywhere Else for the past 10 years—and now he’s improvising a grip-removal tool from a spare pipe. He he’s been at the Co-Op for nearly six, since way back when it was measures the angle roughly, then saws at the pipe, showering a facet of the now-defunct community the floor with sparks. He checks his center, The Wire. He’s a world-wary The Co-Op’s ultimate goal is to work, measures again and then cuts traveler, having learned most of what some more. Rinse and repeat, until he knows about bikes in a co-op in promote a sort of sustainability, the small space smells like the Fourth Madison, Wisconsin. Since then, he’s holding up an ethos along the of July and the stubborn yellow made Athens his base, initially coming handlebar grips have been removed. here to join his brother, who was a lines of the “teach a man to fish” Then Jon, who had been waiting in the student at Ohio University. While wings, straddles the bicycle’s frame and Cusi has recently noticed that the Co- proverb, and these teachers are shimmies the brake controls onto what Op is concentrating more on selling all volunteers. is soon to be a BMX-ready bike. This bikes (both in-house for $30-50 and teamwork, this cooperation, is what also in designated bike sales, often held on College Green, for the Co-Op hopes to encourage others to do. roughly $30-100) than teaching bike skills to newcomers, he “We don’t just want to get people on bikes—we want to get still sees knowledge as the Co-Op’s main product. “Speaking them involved,” Eric says. strictly numbers, there are more people. But there’s a big “The best thing about bikes is that generally everyone can at difference in the use of the space,” Cusi says. More and more least maintain a bike pretty well,” Cusi says. “With modern cars people are coming to buy bikes rather than learn. you can’t even change the oil unless you’re a mechanic.”
Top Left: Kent Weber, a senior audio production major at OU, repairs the chain on his bike at the Co-Op on September 24, 2009. The bike was given to him by a roommate and needed a few repairs. Top Right: Jack Martin and Ryan Ford bike around Athens as part of Critical Mass on September 26, 2009. Critical Mass is a monthly bike ride held on the last Friday of the month. Bottom Left: Trevor Raymond Davis waits for Critical Mass to start on September 26, 2009. Bottom Right: All the participants of the Critical Mass ride on September 26, 2009, before the ride.
A female ferret can die if she goes into heat and cannot find a mate.
backdropmag.com | 2009 | fall
In the aftermath of the civil war, as American technology and society moved westward, someone decided that Appalachia was too damn stubborn to deal with. Rural America modernized; Appalachia stayed old. A stereotype of backwardness was born, reinforced and then accepted.
BY NIKLOS SALONTAY PHOTOS DAN KRAUSS
eave Athens, the only blue fortress in a sea of conservative mores, and it’s clear that after all these years there are still strongholds of the old Appalachia. Knowing this, it’s still hard to believe that there are men living in these forgotten hills. They’re fairly common though—just another facet of rural poverty in this old and impoverished land. Today, a photographer, writer and editor trudge through woods of Athens to find one.
The map is beginning to show wear
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from the constant act of unfolding as we stop for a minute to catch our bearings. After hours of hiking over dried streams and past towering cliffs, to the southern point of the second ridge—we’re getting close. I press the compass to my gut, spin the dial and study the map. The second ‘x’ is less than a quarter inch away now, resting on the highest point of the wooded ridge where the topographic marks come to a head. We received the map from Kevin Lustic, a recent OU grad who used to scour the hills of Athens for rocks to climb and boulder. It was on these trips that they
discovered two separate men living alone in the wild, one near a cave and the other atop a hill. To reflect their dwellings, Lustic and his friend nicknamed them “Cave Man” and “Mountain Man,” but despite visiting their camps several times, the pair had never spoken with either of the men. “It’s very eerie to find someone who is trying hard not to be found,” Lustic wrote. Lustic observed that the Cave Man had moved on from his site months ago, but his directions were too enthusiastic not to look for him. “If you decide to look for it, I made a
The strike note of the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania is E-flat.
little marking in a tree on the left side of the trail,” he wrote.“The mark is a simple three inch long horizontal line at eye-level on a smooth-barked tree. If you depart the trail to the left there, you’ll run right into the area. There is a big ravine, and if you follow it upstream you’ll arrive at a small waterfall/large cave. [The man] lived just north and west of the cave (not in it), less than one hundred yards away.” After passing several marks like the one described, we decided to take a chance and stray off the beaten path. Our efforts turned up little more than a box turtle. If there ever were a man living in this area, the forest had advanced to cover any trace. We take a moment to investigate a faint beating in the distance but we lose the sound as we emerge far down the wrong end of our trail. We’ve failed at our first endeavor completely, which means we have no choice but to walk directly into Mountain Man’s camp. We need the pictures. We need the proof. As we walked towards the second camp, I imagined our encounter with the Mountain Man, just as I had done hundreds of times in the weeks leading up to the trip. It usually played out like this: We finally reach the top of the hill an unkempt quarter-acre lot in the middle of nowhere. The field is bordered on all sides by trees, tall grass and darkness that form the borders of my imagination. On the far side of the field is a gray tent with blue accents, and I often wonder how that tent doesn’t mold after so much time in the clearing. There’s a rope line hanging between two trees, along which is an assortment of pots, pans and utensils drying in the sun. In the center of the field there is a bearded man in a plaid shirt, boots fixed over faded overalls. He’s tending a fire quietly until he suddenly turns his head in our direction and there’s nothing I can do about it. Our eyes meet. Sometimes I imagine we enter the clearing before he spots us, and sometimes he confronts us before we get to the camp. There’s always something in his hand, and if there isn’t he’ll retrieve it from his tent soon enough. It’s one of four things: a shotgun, a rifle, a machete or dynamite. There’s a brief exchange of words before I run. Whether or not my teammates join me in flight is unimportant because the same thing always happens. Someone gets hurt—gets shot, gets stabbed, gets blown
apart—and it’s usually me. “The best thing to do is act casual—I think,” I scribble into my notepad as we leave the path and begin to climb. I’ve been trying hard to avoid acting like we’re conducting an investigation— like we’re going to surprise this hermit by rolling into his camp and expose his existence to the world. He’s not hurting anyone, and I don’t want to give him the impression that he’ll have to. Instead, I’m inclined to act as if we’re spying on him because the only scenario in my mind that we ever walk away from unscathed, is the one where we can take the pictures without him turning his head.
There are five years in a quinquennium.
We’re all wound up on the trek to the second ‘x’: A peripheral glimpse of a cyclist causes my heart to waste an otherwise vital adrenaline rush. It shows that I’m scared of what can happen out here. When you’re attempting to sneak up on a man who lives in these woods, being an Eagle Scout means nothing. In my mind, the Mountain Man has complete control. I’m joined in this fear by so many people that I hesitate to call it irrational. In a society where Deliverance was selected for preservation in the Library of Congress’s National Film Registry for its “cultural, historical, or aesthetic significance,” nearly every single person who knew of our intent was worried about our safety. backdropmag.com | 2009 | fall
Matthew Greenwood, a filmmaker who was once introduced to an Appalachian mountain man, put it bluntly, “Not in a million years would I consider just wandering into their domain without the accompaniment of some kin or relative or friend,” he said. It takes a great deal of finesse to climb these hills quietly, and our team is lacking as we pull ourselves up using branches and rocks. There’s an almost unrecognizably white can of Milwaukee’s Best on the ground, faded by the elements. The first real sign of the guy is a pipe in the brush—a thick, rusted one with a kink in the middle. The photographer enters the clearing and gasps, turning around to face us with wide eyes and a motioning palm. “It’s good to know where the machete is,” I say. The machete is as rusty as the pipe, and rests on a three-foot-high wall of stones that separates the ashes of a fire pit from the brush. To the right there are 13 bottles of Wild Cat Malt Liquor propped upside down to dry out. As we wade through the camp the photographer begins to snap photos as quickly as she can focus her
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lens. The clearing is smaller than in my dreams, but the camp is no less ambitious. His shelter is a large green tarp slung over a rope, and storage crates hold canned food and supplies. Cups are gathered around the camp to gather water from the rain and a clothesline supports a funky green canvas jacket, a single glove and other drying items. Rustles in the brush keep us alert as we examine the site with amazement. Once we got our pictures, we returned to the trail and headed straight to the car that would take us back home. One large watermelon slush, a shower and a fresh change of clothes were waiting back in town. Several weeks later, two Backdrop photographers would enter the camp to take more pictures. They’d scale the hill as we had, and come through the trees to find not just the camp, but the creator himself. He’d sit there in the clearing, with clean-shaven cheeks and a blue t-shirt, smoking a hand rolled cigarette and looking entirely unalarmed. He’d let them take pictures of the camp and of him, and tell them calmly
in a voice devoid of country drawl that he didn’t understand why anyone would be interested in his life. A lot of people live like this, he’d say. Then he’d lie and tell them he was 30, even though his tired eyes and birth records sat him in his late 40s. He’d tell them he’d been living here on and off for years now, this stint lasting six weeks already. He’d tell them how he’d paint to pass the time, and handle odd jobs for cash, descending upon the Sunocco in the morning to purchase supplies. One photographer would return to the camp twice more, but the man would never act so receptive again. He’d say he feels sick and doesn’t want to be photographed today. He’s climbed this hill, built this camp, and chosen this life for a reason—he wants to live alone, just trees, this clearing and this camp. It’s the last stronghold from a paranoid culture—a place where not every stranger is dangerous and not every machete is a weapon.
A dime has 118 ridges around the edge.
Stigma BY ALEC BOJALAD
PHOTOGRAPHS BY CONOR LAMB
sex + health
PERCEPTIONS ABOUT DEPRESSION
he squints through the sun, gazing at the The room got quiet. The group looked toward its surrounding landscape, eyes settling on the counselor. He calmly explained that this group was not cluster of Victorian buildings that are now, for necessarily a “support group,” but rather a collection the most part, abandoned at the top of the hill, staring of like-minded individuals who would like to stop the at the place that used to attempt to understand people stigma often perceived with mental illness. like her—not fully comprehending the irony. It was too late, though; by outing herself as different, “Where should I sit?” she asks. she had already been stigmatized. I gesture towards the two chairs closest to the door. She didn’t know where the Front Room Coffee House was. Undoubtedly, this is her first time he National Institute of Mental Health estimates taking in the view from the back porch of the Baker that 26.2 percent of Americans 18 or older have University Center. some form of diagnosable mental disorder in a given “Good. I like corners,” she says. year—that translates to about 80 million people. It is the type of throwaway But only 15 percent of the comment that anyone uses mental health “They’ve advocated for the mentally population would say merely to show treatment of any sort in a given you that they’re comfortable ill for three years. They’ve helped year, according to the Surgeon with what you’ve chosen. General. That is nearly 34 But she has borderline depressed souls find their direction. million Americans who need personality disorder—an help, but will not seek it. They’ve sat in clinic waiting rooms imposing, scary phrase that SOS exists to bridge that could mean anything to the just to understand what it means to gap between those who need uninitiated. “I like corners.” professional mental health What does that mean? A be perceived as ill. They care.” care and those who seek it. Freudian desire to crawl “Just the idea of someone back in the womb? She can’t having hard times and not just like corners, there has to be a reason. going to find help just because of the stigma that they I ask her if she wants to talk about yesterday. She sighs have … that scares me,” SOS President Derek Zeigler and giggles a little. (Deflection? Denial? Delirium? Or said. just dry humor?) Derek and SOS aim to increase the public awareness Yesterday was the first Students Overcoming Stigma of the nature of mental illness and decrease the stigma meeting of the quarter. She arrived before almost surrounding it. anyone else. The room, with eight tables and 32 chairs, Through a concert at Donkey Coffee and Espresso revealed lofty expectations. Even more chairs lined the last spring, the members raised around $250 for The walls of the immense room like soldiers at attention Gathering Place, an organization for people with waiting for the general to give an order. mental disabilities. They’ve advocated for the mentally It never came, though. And most of the seats were ill for three years. They’ve helped depressed souls find never filled. Thirteen people showed up. She sat two their direction. They’ve sat in clinic waiting rooms just seats removed of anyone else, which is more than to understand what it means to be perceived as ill. enough to be removed of conversation and interaction. They care. One of the counselors-in-residence began to pass out “You join the group because you want to help—you chocolate, a sort of communion. Everyone accepted the have some sense of passion for people with mental offering, except for her. Then the counselors wanted to illness,” junior SOS executive Jade Martin said. know why each new face had decided to join SOS. Oftentimes things are just too deep for mere students “I wanted to help people.” to take care of. Actual diagnosis and treatment of “I love psychology.” mental illness must come from a professional or a “I could use the credits.” graduate student. So if the untrained cannot fight the “Uh. Please come back to me,” she said with a voice disease itself, they must fight the stigma that surrounds as meek as her body. it—which often can be deadlier than the mental They did, and after hearing another round of illness itself. psychology-related answers, she had no choice but to “My best friend was bipolar,” Martin said, “He got own up to the truth. ridiculed. He committed suicide in March. It’s crazy “I think I misunderstood,” she admitted. “I thought how people label others with problems. I look at it this was a group for people who were having trouble, now as an inspiration to try to stop people from being um, adjusting.” so cruel. Even if you help one person, it is worth it.
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Rats can survive up to 14 days without any food.
People’s words hurt a lot, so reducing the stigma is worth a lot. You want to know why, you know?”
themselves without the pressures of the outside. Post 1950, treatment became more realistic with the effectiveness of Thorazine-based drugs. And by 1994, enough people had moved to outpatient residential options that the massive facility no longer was needed. Today, perceptions have changed. Mental illness no longer is equivocated with horror. Every college student who has taken a Psych 101 class can define depression. Knowledge is creeping into the mainstream. But still, stigma exists. To witness the second floor of the Behavioral Healthcare center, you have to sign two documents: one hospital-policy, one governmental decree—both promising silence. You have to agree not to take any recording equipment to the second floor. You cannot divulge the names of anyone you meet. Their lives are secret and their names are unknown, just like the headstones that litter the landscape of the Ridges. But unlike those headstones, they are very much alive. You just wouldn’t know it. Confidentiality dictates that you cannot see them. Stigma dictates that you cannot know them.
elcome to the Ridges of 2009,” George Eberts says as he flings the double doors of the second floor open. Eberts has been working in the mental health field in Athens since 1979, when he signed on with the original facility in the Ridges—he is as much a fixture here as the walls are. The scene looks no different from a college dorm room on a lazy Sunday. A bearded man carries clean laundry toward an open room furnished with a bed, television and an array of Philadelphia Eagles posters. A small group of people line up against a wall and hold an animated conversation with one another. A woman reclines in a chair while a man in sweatpants and a dirty T-shirt lies on a couch next to her as they watch the communal TV. The Ridges of 2009 contrasts sharply with the image of the old Ridges. For one: it isn’t in the Ridges. This is the Appalachian Behavioral Healthcare building, and it is located in the shadow of its predecessor, nestled safely between the Hocking River and Union Street. The facilities in the Ridges were closed for Behavioral Healthcare in 1994, and the in-patients were relocated he’s back on the rear porch of Baker. Everything is to the new, smaller and less imposing center. A handful different this time. It is the end of the day instead of patients from the merger still remain in the facility, of the beginning, the weather feels like autumn instead going about their day-to-day business as if they of summer, and the tables surrounding her are mostly never moved. empty instead of full. But she says that she feels the same. Secondly, “The Ridges” never existed—at least not “Nothing’s really changed since the last time I talked the way it does in the Athenian to you, you know,” she said. imagination. A beat passes. “You have to agree not to take any The Ridges of Athens’ “I did see someone at imagination is synonymous recording equipment to the second Hudson…He was supposed with pain, suffering and to be pretty good with horror. It’s filled with souls floor. You cannot divulge the names borderline personality of the damned wasting away of anyone you meet.” disorders. I came into his until judgment day—where office, and I started talking to spirits of the mistreated him about serious stuff. And and misunderstood mentally ill cry out for justice at the end of the session he said, ‘I don’t see that you have in the night, sharpening their scythes in the name much hope.’ ‘Do you want to treat me?’ I asked. ‘Not if of vengeance. you’re going to come here and whine everyday,’ he said.” But the Ridges of Athens’ reality resembled Christmas She has seen this psychologist twice. And she is going at grandma’s house more than the medieval torture orgy to see him again. She doesn’t know if she has any other most believe it to be. options. He says he can help, and she knows she needs “The creation of the Ridges was a joyous thing,” it. She wants it. Eberts explained, “The mentally ill had the dignity of The interview is over. She stands up to leave. I ask her raising their own food and providing for themselves. if I can publish her name along with her mental illness It was a glorified group home. They did potlucks, for my story. interacted with each other and watched movies.” Her first name is Alex. Her last name is lost to stigma. Potlucks and movies don’t scream “eternal damnation.” Pre-1950, the Ridges was a community for the mentally ill of southeast Ohio. It was a place for them to grow their own food and take care of
A snail can sleep for 3 years.
backdropmag.com | 2009 | fall
Fit to Play
How OU’s volleyball girls stay in fighting condition
BY AADAM SOORMA
PHOTOGRAPHS BY PHIL WALTERS
It’s inevitable. One day late into the quarter, after consecutive weekends of beer-drinking and drunk-food binges, you step out of the shower and see skin lumped up in bad places. Mortified by your reflection, you gather up some odds and ends and scramble to the Ping Center, only to be met with rows of
students splayed out on exercise mats, contorting and thrusting their bodies in strange positions, all with one goal in mind: Rock. Solid. Abs. Fear not. When it comes to getting and maintaining a flat stomach, quality over quantity is key—which means you don’t have to spend every waking hour at Ping.
Though we may not all be genetically inclined to have those bulging biceps or slender legs, one thing we all can strive for is less belly fat. With a little help from Coach Ryan Theis and his Mid-Atlantic Conference Champion Ohio University Volleyball Team, getting a solid core has never been easier.
Superman Focus: Lower back (erector spinae) Interval: Two sets of 10 for beginners, increase sets for advanced
Caution: A sudden thrust into this
position can cause back spasms and soreness. Take it slow, both on the up, and the down.
Trunk Rotation Focus: Obliques (internal/external obliques)
Interval: Side-to-side twists for 30
seconds without med-ball for beginners. Increase to one minute with added resistance (med-ball) for advanced.
Caution: It’s important to keep the head
up so the back remains erect throughout the duration of the twists.
fall | 2009 | backdrop
In North America there are approximately 618 roller coasters.
Suitcase Sit-up Focus: Lower Abs (rectus abdominis, transverse abdominis), Hip Flexors
Interval: Three sets of 10 for beginners, increase sets and repetitions for advanced
Caution: Your glutes will thank
you for choosing a soft surface on this one.
“The core connects the arms and legs, which is our game,” he said. “[But] having washboard abs doesn’t matter. It’s more just brute force and strength.”
Ryan Theis OU Girls’ Volleyball Coach
Athens’ only brew pub! Offering a full menu, dozens of handcrafted beers, and an atmosphere that screams “Athens!”
Focus: Upper Abs (rectus abdominis)
Interval: Three sets of 50 for beginners, increase sets for advanced
Caution: Using the hands to
exert force on the neck can cause injury. Cross the arms over the chest or to place the hands next to the head for balance.
Leg Raise Focus: Lower Abs (rectus abdominis, transverse abdominis)
Interval: Three sets of 10 for beginners, increase sets/add resistance for advanced
Caution: Place hands flat
underneath the buttocks to reduce lower back stress.
Open Tuesday–Saturday 11:30a.m.–2a.m. Sunday–Monday 4:30p.m.–2.a.m.
Guaranteed to cure whatever “ales” you Buckingham Palace has over six hundred rooms.
Showcasing the university’s creative minds...
Math Book BY: LAUREN MALIK My fascination with antique books fueled my creation of this sculpture; I wanted to show how all of the complex facets of this book can be displayed in a composite image and still encapsulate the entirety of the text in a manner that forces the potential readerto maneuver through the book’s visual presence.
Homage to Wassily Kandisky
BY: KERI BAUGHEM
“Wouldn’t Be the First Time” BY: J.D. ADKINS
I sit Feeling young and tired. Tired of the steps, Tired of learning, Tired of the fresh Faces that smile With ease. I didn’t brush my Teeth this morning. Whiskey and smoke Sit on my breath As two week flings Sit on my chest.
The hum. It is constant in summer As is cold in winter. The sheets are sticky Even with the lack Of play. Smell of dull laundry And smokes to see me through The day. Lure me out of these old ways. Shut my mouth and stop these old sayings. Broken aches heal broken limbs. I’m up for the taking.
fall | 2009 | backdrop
The world’s only museum of phallology (the study of the penis) is in Reykjavik, Iceland.
NYC STREETS A
BY ANDRE W SPEAR
S A SENIOR PHOTOGRAPHY STUDENT, I DECIDED TO TAKE A TRAIN TO NEW YORK CITY THIS SUMMER TO HELP ME FIGURE OUT WHAT COMES AFTER GRADUATION.
I had meetings and portfolio reviews with a number of editors, so needless to say, it was a busy week. I find that when my photography doesn’t follow a narrative thread, the images I create come from the inside—a visualization of my thoughts and emotions. These photos aren’t meant to represent more than a moment in my life shared amongst those in my viewfinder. They represent a busy week in New York City. There’s an overwhelming feeling of isolation that comes through in these photos—the feeling of traveling from Athens, Ohio, to New York City.
Coney Island, New York City backdropmag.com | 2009 | fall
Grand Central Station, New York City
Union Square, New York City
Baltimore, Maryland backdropmag.com | 2009 | fall
ruthless rant + rage
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O V E R L O A D I
have a confession: I use the word cute when I don’t mean it. This catchall adjective peppers and plagues conversations everywhere, and I won’t pretend that I’m not a repeat offender. It’s one of the defining words of the times, and it’s inescapable. I use it when something really is cute, when it’s not, when I don’t really know what I mean and when I’m BY ANNIE BEECHAM just trying to fill a conversational void. He’s cute, that’s so cute, you look cute!, it was cute—what are we even trying to say? People, animals, cars, clothes, ideas—they’re all susceptible to cuteness. The leading expert in all things etymological, The Oxford English Dictionary, doesn’t have much to say about the matter: “Used of things in same way as cunning,” and “applied to people as well as things, with the sense ‘attractive, pretty, charming,’” Perhaps the OED is most helpful when it suggests that the word originated from “schoolboy slang” — although I’d suggest schoolgirl slang, instead. Scientists have studied the qualities that trigger cute associations in our brains, and this is what they found: a round, soft body, associated with the physical traits of an infant make a mammal cute, along with a disproportionately large head and big eyes — the very portrait of something terribly frightening. These studiers of cute have made some kind of debatable contribution to society, but they haven’t cleared up the reason why I’m abusing the word like I would a coffee pot in an office. During my own extremely unscientific field studies, I determined that “that’s cute” is the most frequently used phrase with the word in question. Some have tried to coin their own version 2.0 of the phrase, like Ms. Paris Hilton. Hilton upped the ante with her patented “that’s hot,” but the rest of us wear well the beaten path of cute, conversation after vapid conversation.
fall | 2009 | backdrop
My affair with the word has roots that trace to gradeschool recess—when professing my adolescent crushes meant bashfully confessing that I thought a young lad was cute. Cute was replaced in some circumstances as I grew wise in the ways of the world with its illicit cousin, hot. The problem with hot is that one can’t say “that’s hot” without sounding like Hilton, and its double meaning—to describe the weather— makes it more complex During my than our simple four-letter fallback. own extremely Hardly a dialogue unscientific goes by that I don’t find myself using the field studies, I efficient, one syllable determined that descriptor. I don’t "that's cute" is the have a problem with the actual word cute most frequently (how could I—it’s so used phrase tiny, convenient and well, cute), I’m just with the word in chased by a sense of question. w a s t e f u l n e s s — m o re than 250,000 words make up the English language, but I keep coming back to this simple, overused adjective. Synonyms exist. But nothing is so quick and to the point—no other adjective can be so easily combined with “that” and “is” to create a vacant compliment like the word cute. Charming? Too many syllables. Neat? Too hokey. Handsome? Antiquated. I’ll keep using cute for lack of a more acceptable term, and I’ll forever be the gracious recipient of a compliment including the word cute (so keep them coming). But my newschool-year resolution: I’ll only use cute when I mean it—according to my personal observation that will reduce my serial cute-use by 50 percent. A cute idea, right?
The largest ketchup bottle in the world is a 170 feet tall and is located in Collinsville, Illinois.