First Ride

FINALLY! The weather has warmed up enough that I can creep from hibernation and go biking again. And, what’s an inaugural ride without a GoPro to shoot all of the photos I can’t be bothered to stop and take myself? In retrospect, it was probably counter-intuitive to convert all of photos of the glorious, spring ride into black and white, but I feel like I had to do something to set them apart from all of the other biking pictures I post.

I’ve set a personal goal to bike 1,000 miles this year, and today’s 20 mile trek was my first step.I just hope I can keep up the momentum,

Down the Esplanade

Anyone around Kent State will have noticed that both the university and town proper have been undergoing a somewhat dramatic overhauls over the last couple of years. The centerpiece being a new esplanade that starts at the student center on campus, and connects directly to the downtown business district. And, with me having both a GoPro and a bike to which to attach it, I decided to do the university marketing department’s job for them and shoot some time lapse.

An Open Apology to Westboro Baptist

Last week I wrote a piece about the Westboro Baptist Church’s “picket” at Kent State. If you missed it, Kent State University suspended a wrestler Sam Wheeler after he made some highly derogatory, anti-gay tweets, WBC threatened to protest, never showed, but Photoshopped themselves into a photo at Kent State, and claimed they were there. A few hours after I posted my piece covering the whole thing, I received this message from Westboro Baptist’s Timothy Phelps in response to said piece.

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At first, I dismissed the comment as the WBC blowing hot air. That is until I followed Phelps’ link to his site, GodHatesTheWorld.com. I browsed a bit, and was blown away when I saw these photos from his site.

 

And so, I would like to formally apologize to the Westboro Baptist Church. Given the amount of time all this globe-trotting must take, it’s completely reasonable that the WBC wouldn’t have the time to come to the Kent Campus in person. After all, traveling to countries as diverse as Madagascar, Bangladesh, and Tanzania, and posing for stock-quality photos, must leave them so spread out and funds too low to travel to a lowly campus, no matter how much of a “bully” that school may be.

That being said, I do need to offer a small correction to this image, which was Tweeted at me.  

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See, this monster here in this image is, in fact, Godzilla. Fagzilla was a creature from Nigel Crumpington’s series of anti-smoking films released in the United Kingdom back in the 80s (see below). It’s an easy mistake given that both have purple spiky bits.big-ben fagzilla

As far as the rest of the image is concerned, we can’t let that setup go without some sort of resolution. So, I present to you, Godzilla and Sign Face…

Politely discussing their differences over tea and scones.

Tea and Scones

The Impossible Protest:The Westboro Baptist Church At Kent State

I had one of my more interesting post-graduation journalism experiences yesterday, and it was almost too surreal not to type up. I’ll get to exactly how in a minute, but we’re going to have to take a step back and give some context first.

Last week, University of Missouri football player Michael Sam came out as gay. While this was well received by his teammates, family, and America in general, it’s the unfortunate truth that some backlash was to be expected. One of the more vocal detractors was Kent State wrestler Sam Wheeler, whose Twitter feed looked a little something like this:

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Unsurprisingly, the higher-ups at Kent State were none too pleased about those and suspended Wheeler from the wrestling team. And that’s when the Westboro Baptist Church got involved. True to form, WBC took to Twitter and put out a press release denouncing Kent State as “bullies,” and announced a picket of the university in protest. Because, well, that’s pretty much what these guys always do.

After a brief internal debate on whether or not to give this group any more attention, I decided it was better to be shooting than staying home, and made tracks to the university. I found a place to camped down on the eighth floor of the library overlooking the two most likely protest spots on campus and kept all my social media open in case they showed anywhere else. I didn’t have much faith that they would show though. See, when an organization as hungry for attention as Westboro didn’t bother to put a date, time, or location on the press release, it made my journalism spidey-sense go all tingly that something isn’t right. And, my hunch was correct, the WBC never showed. Dejected counter protesters sulked away with their signs and rainbow flags like Linus missing the Great Pumpkin.

But then I got home and my buddy Phil sent me this:

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At first, I was worried that I had gone home early, but then I actually saw the thing full screen. I don’t know what bothers me more, the fact that they didn’t show, that they then Photoshopped one of their protestors into an old photo and then claimed they were there, or that it s just such a bad Photoshop. But it didn’t stop there. Oh no. This went on for most of the night. It only became a more inexplicable decent into madness.

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Now you, like me, are probably thinking that this has to be a joke, probably a fake account trying to mess with the WBC. But no, I can confirm after extensively reviewing this page and where it connects to, this is 100% the official Westboro Baptist account. I just don’t know what to say. There is a bus. That is a goddmaned hot air balloon! Do they expect anyone to believe this? Are they that far off in their own little world? Was the whole thing a joke to them? Did plan to get the entire campus into an anti-protest and news frenzy, only to pull the rug out from under us, and then pour salt into the wound with bad Photoshop? I’m just too baffled to know at this point. In the end, I decided that the only way to fight crazy is with more crazy, and responded with in the best way I could.

Rainbow Lasers!

For, what better way to fight bigotry than a Godzilla firing fabulous, rainbow lasers? Or, perhaps, you know a better way. I strongly encourage everyone reading this to save the screen-caps and shopping them again in the most awesome way you can. Link them back here by next Sunday (3/2/14), I’ll post them, and we’ll have a contest to see which one reigns supreme.

 

May 4th

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As a former Kent State student, I felt the need to come observe the anniversary of the May 4th 1970 shooting. I missed all the events because I was stuck at work, but I still made time to visit the grave site and take some photos.