Wednesday, July 28, 2010

National Bikers Round-up

The forum

I have been looking for incoming bikers who would be willing to speak with me about their experiences with the National Bikers Round-up, their experiences as a biker, etc.

The event will bring a 35,000 predominantly "black" bikers to a 100,000 predominantly "white" college town, so I have been looking into the history of the event, the impact this is likely to have, and most importantly, real voices.

I found a forum that had some bikers on it and decided to make a post on it.

Here is my post:

Local photojournalist looking to speak with willing attendees of NBR
Hey everyone,

I am a reporter (and photographer) for The Columbia Missourian (a major local publication produced by fledgeling journalists).

I was given the chance to head up coverage of this year's NBR, will be there every day of the event, and am looking for interested riders who would be willing to speak with me at or before the upcoming event about their personal experiences as a rider, experiences with NBR, etc.

I am really excited to be covering the round-up and want to get to know some of you before you head out here.

I am originally from New Jersey and am out here finishing up my photojournalism degree at Mizzou. I've been here 6 years and so I will be able to answer most questions that you might have about the area.

Please feel free to respond if you are interested in speaking with me about the event, your experiences, biking in general.
(I need 5 posts before I can post my email address)

I want coverage of this event to be as comprehensive and interesting as I know the event will be.

I would love to hear your voices!

Please drop me a line and I'll see you there!

Here's the message I sent to another user

I saw your post to the forum and would like to know your thoughts on the upcoming rally.

My name is Gianna Volpe and my telephone number is 573-234-6566.

I am a reporter for the Columbia Missourian and would be interested (and very appreciative!) if I could ask you (or someone from your family) your thoughts on the upcoming rally.

I noticed that you are curious about the history of the group, but not biased.

I think yours is an important voice to include in the article preparing the community for the event.

Here's jangell's post that I referred to in the message

Please forgive the ignorance as I am fairly new to the bike rally thing. I have researched this and some sites call it the National Black Biker Roundup. Others say it's predominantly african american bikers at this event, and still others make no mention of anything other than it being a biker rally. Which is correct? Is anyone welcome to attend? One site I found called it the black sturgis. Personally, I could care less what color you are. If you ride, you're good in my book. Just curious on this particular rally, as I have family in Columbia and it would be a good excuse to go visit them.

Here's the return message that I received

Ok, so what do you mean "prepare the community"? Do you mean prepare them for a lot of black people, or for a lot of bikers? Either way, the only preperation needed is to prepare for business to be booming and lines/waits may be a little longer. If your question is, how do we prepare for a lot of black people, I'm not sure why you would ask this, but I would say you don't, just business as usual. If your question is, how do we prepare for a lot of bikers, perhaps you should call some businesses in Sturgis, Daytona, Laconia, or maybe Fayetteville, Arkansas. They have all been hosting bike rallies for years with little to no issues. And as for the combo, black bikers, I'm sure you will find that they are just like any other biker. In that sense I mean that you would be surprised, they are probably just like your neighbor, or brother, or grandpa, or your mom. Just regular people who happen to enjoy bikes. Basically, from what I read, Columbia needs to calm down. Your businesses will thank you for the influx of revenue.

Here's the first forum response I received from another user

The Columbia Missourian (a major local publication produced by fledgeling journalists).

NOT A MAJOR PUBLICATION!!! joke of a newspaper the ony reason the are still publishing is because they pay people to read this rag!

Here is my response to the insult

Originally Posted by Carl1924

"The Columbia Missourian (a major local publication produced by fledgeling journalists).

NOT A MAJOR PUBLICATION!!! joke of a newspaper the ony reason the are still publishing is because they pay people to read this rag!"

Absolutely untrue.

The Columbia Missourian is a newspaper that was established by the country's first school of journalism and teaches students of their practice how to do journalism by actually doing journalism.

Your claim that people are paid to read our paper is ridiculous.
If we had that kind of money, we would spend it on something that we need, like better equipment.

In any case, I am really excited about the rally and really hope to get in touch with someone who will be coming to Columbia for the round-up.

I invite anyone curious about our publication to google us (or whatever search engine you use)

Here are the two following posts


My wife and I will be attending the NBR in Columbia and would love to talk to you about it. We are vendors as well as bikers (VTX1300 mine, Shadow 750 Deluxe wife's) This will be our 9th NBR Ralley. Although the ralley did get it's start as a minority operated ralley it is open to all and all are welcome. In the early days Honda, Kawaski, Yamaha as well as Harley were participants. Through some misguided direction Harley was allowed to monopolize the sponsorship.

2) Careful guys

Here is the post following the above two that was written by the user who messaged me

???? careful of what??

I am curious as to why, as I read on websites, Columbia residents seem to be "freaking out" or worrying WAY to much about this rally. I got a message from the lady from the Columbia Missourian and they are very interested in this rally. My question is, are they worrying because there may be a lot of black people in town, or because there will be a lot of bikers in town? I live in Carthage Missouri and every year in the first week of August approximately 30,000 Vietnamese come to a Marian Days celebration, which is a religious "pilgrimage"/gathering of sorts for Vietnamese Catholics. All I can say about this is that the businesses in town, and the surrounding towns, are really booming during that time. As far as bikers being in town, I work in Fayetteville, AR and for years have seen the financial benefits of Bikes Blues and BBQ. I REALLY think that Columbia needs to chill, and sit back and watch the revenue pour into their economy and be thankful that this rally chose their town to host it. Theres my .02

And finally, here was my most recent response

Okay, well, I would like to say, first of all, I am not (personally) in the least bit worried or freaking out about this event.

If you're going the culture/race angle, I am from New Jersey, the most culturally diverse state in the country. (Coming to Columbia was a huge culture shock for me at first.)

If you're going the numbers angle, I am from the most densely populated state per square mile in the country. (Coming to Columbia was a sigh of relief for me)

So, any way you play it, I think I am going to feel pretty at home, though perhaps frustrated with traffic. Who knows, nobody's going to be showing up for another week.

Although, I have to say, that as the reporter for the event, I am doing what I can to inform myself about the history and culture of NBR and so perhaps my enthusiasm (which is really just my desire to be a good well-rounded and well-informed reporter) is being misinterpreted.

No worries, though, and pardon the vent.
I look forward to meeting all of you.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Family Fun Fest

Click here to visit Christina Stiehl and I's second audio slideshow

I don't have much to say about this piece except that it was HOT and that it took forever into the night to get exported correctly.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Identifying a good day

Today I am having a really good day and I am feeling pretty much the exact opposite way about being a part of the Missourian than I expressed a few entries back

(where I whined about feeling mediocre and abandoning my professional journalistic future)

Yesterday I had my portfolio review and despite being nervous, I knew that everything was going to be okay.

This is because, for the first time in maybe ever, I have been REALLY challenging myself against flight.

-Enter Tangent-

I hate to sound like a broken record about my accident, but it's really had an impact on my life and how I handle it.

I have really changed how I "deal."

I used to be a stubborn perfectionist-

I did things my way, if at all.
If there was opposition, or I felt like I had tainted my reputation somehow, I bolted.

I'm really a very resilient, strong chick- tough as nails, but I'm like Lancelot:

A talented and legendary knight, but when I got hurt, you'd be hard pressed to find me asking for help.

You'd be better off looking deep in the woods.
I healed myself, alone.

This is because of how I grew up.
We'll make a long story short here- I didn't have it easy.
I was the only person that I could really rely on for consistent help.

That's right, I used to substitute z for s sometimes.

Welcome to my nightmare.

Anyway, after my accident, my confidence was not only shattered

(how could I proceed as a perfectionist? My driving record now had a huge YOU ALMOST DIED IN A CAR WRECK slash through it)

I was also barely audible when I spoke because of the tracheotomy that I received.

Actually, for a month, I couldn't speak at all.

You'd think that I would have written out a lot of notes, but I mostly just mouthed at people constantly, expecting them to understand what I was saying.

I would like to thank Ashley Noelle Volpe here, my little sister, for understanding my mouthing the best.
She knew exactly what I was saying, everytime.

This experience drastically changed my life.

Having before been the one who talked loudly "even for someone from New Jersey," I was now the one who you cocked your head at.

People rarely understood what I was saying.
This entirely cowed me.

I started, -insert shocking music here- LISTENING MORE.

I realized that I really disliked most of the people who talked loudly because usually those were the people who were talking to someone for the benefit of some unknown third party.

Now, I say USUALLY, some of the loud-talkers were people that were like my former self- Exciteable people with LOUD personalities.

I could tell the difference, but was realizing during my time as a low talker that most people probably can't.

Being a low-talker unable to raise my voice, I began resenting even my previous in-group just because I couldn't get even one thought out without repeating myself or straining my vocal cords when they were around.

I resented them because I'd had my voice taken away and I especially resented the loud talkers with nothing to say.

Not being able to talk loud forced me to be a background figure, when before I was only one when I chose to be.

Before my accident, I did what I wanted, when I wanted, how I wanted to.
And if I couldn't, I was PISSED and I got MAD and I got LOUD and I am FIERCE and OBNOXIOUS and I suspect I got away with some things just because nobody wanted to deal with a self-righteous little brat.

After my accident, I got yelled at for getting out of bed without calling a nurse, for not telling someone that I was hungry or that I hadn't been given my sleeping medication and I had to prove to people all over again that I am not just some little idiot, I am Gianna, hear me roar WITHOUT BEING ABLE TO ROAR.

So, I've had to try much harder.
And I've had to compromise.
I've had to play nice.

In other words, I've had to start over.

And now I'm remembering that that's all I've ever asked for- a new start.

Learning how to listen is the most important lesson that this accident has taught me.
(Oh god, I'm choking up, stop it, stop it now)

Almost dying has taught me that, despite what I previously wanted to believe, I am mortal.
I can disappear and sometimes, even heroes need help to survive.
And if you want help, you better be on peoples' good sides.

Asking for help and accepting the terms that getting help sometimes has has been the most emotional experience I've had since I moved out of my mother's house when I was 14.

Before I used to take criticism, stick it in a deep hole inside me, and hold grudges or allow the hurt it has caused to screw with me forever.

Now I meet it, I work to understand it, and I try.

I try really hard.

I also recognize that I am a human with needs and instead of treating myself like a superhuman, I treat myself as a person.

I forgive myself.

I try to let it go- I try not to take things personally.

And I keep trying to put myself outside of my comfort zone.

I used to never have a problem being outside of my comfort zone because I couldn't think of what made me uncomfortable.

Now I know what makes me uncomfortable and I am trying to face the challenge head on.

I am uncomfortable with my peers.

I have never felt truly part of any team and I have never been able to relate to people my own age.
Excellent at putting myself in anyone else's shoes, but couldn't tell you my own size.
Get me?

So at my portfolio review, I allowed myself to be nervous, but I also allowed myself the knowledge that
IT WILL ALL BE OKAY, whatever happens.

What made my portfolio session such a HUGE release and catalyst for change was Jeanne Abbott's presence at the meeting.

Jeanne was my editor during my first attempt at reporting.
She was the one who I had to disappoint when I withdrew following Tim and I breaking up the first time.
She was the one that made the perfectionist inside of me sob to see. I was afraid that I could never make my failure up to her.

And when I said at my review yesterday that I had been commenting a lot in lecture in the beginning of the class, but no longer felt comfortable, Jeanne's eyes lit up and she said that she remembered that and I could see that she wasn't mad at me at all and when I talked about how I tend to bolt when stress builds to a certain level, I could see that, at the very least, that she understood.

(Ugh, crying again)

This was like lifting a bus off of my bones.

I could have flown if my wings weren't invisible.

And when Katherine agreed with me on a point about time usage in lecture-


it was like eating the best steak of my lifetime.

I realized from that that I can take ANYTHING you have to throw at me, as long as there's even a hint of validation.

If there's one thing someone can agree with me with, I can deal with just about anything else they have to say.

Liz told me that she's just been having to lasso me in pretty much constantly throughout our experience here and I admitted that that was absolutely true and thanked her for doing it.

And really, what a great way to put it.

That's exactly how I am.

I just. float away if allowed.

The moment I'm not held in place, I'm gone.

(example: this entry getting away from me RIGHT NOW)

After my review, which, I gotta say- I now think Liz, Jeanne, and Katherine are three of the most honest, forthcoming, fair, and insightful women that I've had the honor to meet and work with, I felt PHENOMENAL.

I sat down at my computer and that afternoon, I talked to everyone.

And I don't know what kind of magic pixie dust effect could have caused this, but I almost instantly felt a part of the team and that I am going to be okay, and that I am not a huge fuck-up, I'm just a little socially under-developed.

And that's okay. That's something I can work on.

This morning, another reporter from my class held his umbrella over my head as we walked into the building.

I participated in class and I didn't end up regretting it.

I confirmed my interview appointment because I thought that would be very professional and I didn't let my nerves get to me.

I had a GREAT interview and my courage is rising fast.

Katherine approached me and gave me props.

I feel prepared for the planning meeting about my story on Les Bourgeois on Thursday, I have been crossing things off my to do list like it's going out of style, I have a multimedia project planned for tomorrow evening, an interview from today to transcribe with plans to talk again on Saturday.

-Biggest exhale-

I'm well on my way to finding myself again.
Exponential growth, here I come.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Coyote Hill Christian Children's Home for neglected and abused children

If you want to watch the video BIGGER, CLICK HERE

So, Christina Stiehl and I got out on the road at 8 am two days ago (Saturday) in order to get to the location of our article in Harrisburg and set-up early.

We snagged an interview with the organization head when we first arrived and then spent time switching off with the still camera and the marantz so that we could get interviews without losing out on visual opportunities.

The biggest challenge of the assignment is that we were NOT ALLOWED TO SHOOT ANY OF THE KIDS.

This, to me, was a total deal breaker.

"wait, we aren't allowed to take pictures of the kids," I asked Christina, "what are we even going to take pictures of now? Some adults standing around?"

Luckily, we were allowed to include them provided they weren't entirely identfiable. Score.

We were given a tour of one of the working homes by one of the house parents there, which was really exciting.

Both Christina and I would be incredibly interested in going back there and seeing the real dynamic of the households- perhaps even getting permission to stay over one night.

Apparently all house parents get one night off that they call "date night" and an overnight babysitter is brought in for the kids.

In any case, we definitely more than gathered enough content for our multimedia project.
Too much, in fact.

We came back to the newsroom at around 12:30 and weren't finished until late late late in the evening.

We didn't use many of the vertical shots we had because they needed to be resized individually in order to fit within the parameters of the program, but I still think that we produced a great multimedia piece.

I, personally, am enormously proud of the piece.

I put a painstaking amount of work into the editing.

Multimedia work is my favorite that exists within journalism.

George Washington Norman Sr.

I wrote this obit on Monday and then, pursuing a life story, went to the home of some of the listed surviving because I couldn't seem to get in touch with anybody.

Nobody was home, but when I was leaving, a car passed me and when I saw them pull into the driveway, turned around and pulled up.

I talked with two of the surviving sons about George and they were more than willing to share their memories of their father.

They were even willing to help me back into my car when, in my excitement, I totally locked my keys in the car.


Here's the obit:

George Washington Norman Sr., 81, of Columbia died on Sunday, July 11, 2010, at his home.

He was born April 15, 1929 in Dumas, Ark. by parents Robert and Mary Frances Berry Norman.

Mr. Norman is survived by two brothers, Rainy Huggins of Star City, Ark., and Samuel Peterson of Pine Bluff, Ark.; two daughters: Lisa A. Turner and Lori A. Tatum of Columbia; seven sons, Peter A. Norman, George W. Norman Jr., Edward W. Norman and Jason O. Norman of Columbia, Wendell E. Norman of Tulsa, Okla., Robert B. Norman of Milwaukee, Wis., and Octavius D. Norman of St. Charles; 46 grandchildren and 44 great-grandchildren.

Visitation will be held 5 to 7 p.m. on Friday at the H.T. May and Son Funeral Home, 2207 Holly Ave., Columbia. Services are planned to be at 11 a.m. Saturday at Progressive Missionary Baptist Church, 702 Banks Ave., Columbia. Burial will be at Memorial Park Cemetery.

-- Gianna Volpe


And here's the life story, which wasn't even up for some reason.
I just had that fixed over at the copy desk.
I plan to go and visit the family and give them the link to the story.

George Washington Norman Sr., of Columbia, died Sunday, July 11, 2010, at his home. He was 81.

Mr. Norman was born April 15, 1929, in Dumas, Ark., to Nancy Huggins, whose brother and sister-in-law, Robert and Mary Norman, raised him on the family's agricultural farm.

He met and married his wife, Joyce, when the two were about 17.

George and Joyce Norman operated a hamburger stand called Jay's from 1975-1979 in Dumas, Ark. The restaurant was named after their son Jason.

The family then moved to Tacoma, Wash., where they remained until 1983.

George Norman Jr. wanted to open a barbecue place in Columbia in the early 80s, but didn't want to proceed without the help of his father. George Norman Sr. was known for his talent with cooking barbecue.

In 1983, George Norman Sr. moved to Columbia to work at Norman's BBQ as head cook and operator. Norman's BBQ was located at Garth Avenue and Business Loop 70.

George Norman Sr.'s granddaughter, Stephanie Bonaparte, 26, said that every Fourth of July her grandfather had a gathering where he would cook barbecue for the family. She said her grandfather was not only someone who loved cooking, but was also a self-taught piano player with a passion for jazz music.

Bonaparte described George Norman Sr. as someone who took care of everybody.

Last year the family gathered in Columbia to celebrate George Norman Sr.'s 80th birthday. Forty-six of George Norman Sr.'s grandchildren and 44 of his great-grandchildren were present. A sheet was handed out at the event that depicted the family's lineage dating back to Austin Batchelor, who was born in 1805.

George Norman Sr.'s fifth son, Robert Norman of Milwaukee, 56, described his father as someone who loved people and telling old stories.

"He was a beautiful person and was incredibly generous," Robert Norman said. "He gave everything of himself."

George Norman Sr. is survived by brothers Rainy Huggins of Star City, Ark., and Samuel Peterson of Pine Bluff, Ark.; daughters Lisa A. Turner and Lori A. Tatum of Columbia; sons Peter A. Norman, George W. Norman Jr., Edward W. Norman and Jason O. Norman of Columbia, Wendell E. Norman of Tulsa, Okla., Robert B. Norman of Milwaukee, and Octavius D. Norman of St. Charles; 46 grandchildren and 44 great-grandchildren.

His wife died earlier.

Visitation will be held 5 to 7 p.m. on Friday at the H.T. May and Son Funeral Home, 2207 Holly Ave. Services will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday at Progressive Missionary Baptist Church, 702 Banks Ave. Burial will be at Memorial Park Cemetery.

-- Gianna Volpe

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Turtles race against alcohol and substance abuse

First, let me give you the link because I can't seem to embed this video from the website to this blog:


Second, it was raining.

Thankfully I brought a plastic bag to cover my camera.

Unthankfully there was a KOMU reporter standing in the MIDDLE of the turtle racing circle for most of the races.
Kids weren't even allowed inside of the circle.
She moved for the last two races so I was able to actually get overall time lapse shots.

Thirdly, the ONE computer that we have in the photo bubble with final cut express is horribly insufficient.

We're considered by some to be the -BEST- program in the country as far as photo-journalism and we have ONE computer set up for doing multimedia and it doesn't even have final cut pro????

Please, someone tell me what's wrong with this picture.

Three times during my editing of this movie, final cut express straight up quit. No "do you want to save," no "spinning wheel of death" no NOTHIN', just straight up cutting out.

Granted, I should have been saving more often (meaning, incessently, every five seconds, every time I blinked, but when you're a few hours into editing audio and photos and blah blah blah, you get the picture.

So, I had to re-do a bunch of work a few times over (cutting clips, rearranging them, etc etc) AND THEN-

Sometime in the afternoon, after having been working on the project since 8 that morning, Final Cut Express froze.

I tried to quit the program and open it back up, having made peace with the fact that I was now going to be set back even an hour in editing, but no, it's not that easy. Nothing is never that easy. Not for me.

Final Cut Express REFUSES TO QUIT.

I tried to force quit the program.

It won't be forced.

It is frozen and un-forceable and I have a mini-meltdown.

I don't have my external hard drive, so I realize that I may possibly end up losing the ENTIRE PROJECT.

You see, when you log out of a computer in the news room, you lose anything saved onto the hard drive.

I called my boyfriend and was fortunate to find out that he was home from work by that time and was able to drive my hard drive down to me while I hawked the computer like a gargoyle.

Thankfully I wasn't forced into the alternative situation:

Speeding home to retrieve my hard drive and then back to the newsroom, obsessing over every single thing that could go wrong/ could have gone wrong while I was gone.

By some tiny miracle, which on a positive note my life is also pretty familiar with, final cut express unfroze itself and I was able to finish working on the piece.

It's no masterpiece by any means, but it's my favorite thing that I've done for the Missourian so far because, well, I've never done time lapse photography before.

So this was a learning experience and I like those.

Well, sometimes.

Usually people use that term to put a positive spin on something really kind of crappy, or annoying, or uncomfortable that happened.

"Well you learned something, didn't you?"
"Yes, yes I did, but somehow that doesn't help the fact that I'm on fire."
(Or the fact that I tend to make the same mistakes four and five times)

Honestly, I hate having things being referred to as "learning experiences."
To me, they're just mistakes.
Learning is what you do in order to avoid making them.

This is a flaw of mine because I'm a perfectionist.

But I'm a perfectionist that does things to my standards.
Being a reporter is unfulfilling to me in that way.

I do everything to other peoples' standards.

I don't like it.

I don't know how to act or what to do because I am realizing that it doesn't -really- matter what -I- want to know or what questions I want to ask or what I want to write about.

It's about whether or not I can frame my ideas in a way that the person I am appealing to about my story will respond to- which is impossible to predict.

There's always a different person and their response to anything that has to do with me is made entirely in a matter of moments and has a ridiculous amount of variables- whether they're in a good mood, what their opinion of me (or my outfit) is, whether or not I spit out an answer to a question they have in a way that they can understand or appreciate.

This ties my tongue to my shoes.

"What's your story about" becomes, to me, the most difficult question in the world and the fact that I have, well, only seconds to say everything and anything that I need/want to makes it that much worse.

I feel insignificant, unappreciated- pretty much just like a huge fuck-up that nobody wants to deal with or talk to.

I know this is unwarranted, but I'm sensitive and I'm going through the weirdest, most stressful year of my life.
(and I'm far too honest for my own good. I don't laugh at jokes I don't think are funny. I don't lie about what I've been doing or plan on doing next, I don't lie, period. And I don't fake.)

I know that faking it till you make it is probably really really good advice- but it's not for me.

I am literally incapable without feeling sick inside.

I'm a journalist down to my bones, I guess.
Maybe that's what brought me to Mizzou in the first place.

(To quote myself, which is obnoxious, "There's so much truth in the world, why lie?"

I have wanted to be a journalist since I was a tyke, so it's honestly very sad to me to be that I now don't see myself going into it in the future.

I don't want to write on a seventh grade reading level and I don't want to feel like I'm a failure or mediocre or unimportant because that's how I feel.

This isn't the fault of anybody else. It is my flaw.

I talk too much, I think too much, I hate answering to anyone but myself, I am bi-polar and misunderstood. I either fly under the radar or I'm the only thing on the screen. I am difficult, though I do try really hard not to be.

And I'll keep trying, as long as I'm here, though the likelihood that I apply for a position at a newspaper are slim to none.

How do these people get jobs writing wittily or descriptively?

I can't even seem to get a word aside from "said" applied to a quote that I'm using in a story.

This is a big deal to me.

I will not be able to live happily if I am not allowed to say that someone responded this or quipped that.

I'm told that there is connotation to saying "according to" that it's official.


-Sigh-, anyway, let's not have a discussion about this.

I'm just being whiny and venting frustrations and who knows, I might just be a journalist one of these days- far in the future, once I've published a few books or I'm encouraged to.

Hopefully both.
That would be nice.

Part-time superman

I hoped to write a simple construction update about confusing and incorrectly painted bike lanes on Windsor Street, but this proved a more difficult task then I originally intended.

However, during the time that I slogged through getting my story published, I noticed that a meeting about the murals to be put up on windsor and east ash was scheduled on the city website for Thursday, July 16th.

Wait a minute, I thought, and truth be told, Thursday was the 15th!

When I met with Ted Curtis of GetAbout Columbia on Monday (the 12th) I mentioned this fact to him, asking when the meeting would be taking place, Thursday or Friday.

Talking to him on Tuesday I found out that the story would actually be taking place that night.

So, I wrote a brief that afternoon to let the public know that the meeting would actually be held that night, not that imaginary Thursday, the 16th.

(Unfortunately it didn't end up going up on the website until ten minutes before the meeting began. This is my fault because I put it in the ACE hold as being a 1 in importance because it would be happening later that evening, but I didn't notify an ACE to let them know the story was there.)

GetAbout Columbia to hold public meeting on murals Tuesday night
Tuesday, July 13, 2010 | 4:49 p.m. CDT; updated 8:16 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 13, 2010

COLUMBIA — GetAbout Columbia will hold a public meeting to discuss the fall painting of murals on Windsor and East Ash streets at 5 p.m. Tuesday at the GetAbout Columbia office, on the corner of Seventh and Walnut streets.

Two of the six designs submitted by local artists are scheduled to be chosen to adorn the upcoming Bike Boulevard. The meeting will review the votes that have been collected thus far.

The designs will be drafted by the artists this fall. However, the community will be painting them. "It'll be like a paint by number," said Ted Curtis, head of GetAbout Columbia.


Bike Boulevard stripes to be repainted
Thursday, July 15, 2010 | 2:49 p.m. CDT

Here's the construction update that I ended up with days later:

COLUMBIA — Bike lane striping on Windsor Street will need to be repainted because the north side markings were misplaced by 4 feet when initially painted in May.

The company that was hired to paint the lines on Windsor and East Ash streets, Park Mark Inc., will pay for the mistake. The bike lanes are being installed for the Bike Boulevard project, which was approved by the Columbia City Council in October.

Ted Curtis, head of GetAbout Columbia and the Bike Boulevard project, said the repainting will occur within the next two weeks, depending on the weather. Park Mark will need to wait for the city's chip sealing of Windsor Street next Tuesday to settle and dry.

Both Curtis and Columbia Public Works spokeswoman Jill Stedem confirmed Park Mark will pay for the repainting. The $28,800 of federal grant money budgeting the project will not fund it.

Greg Rodgers, who has lived on Windsor Street for about 20 years, supports the project but said he is annoyed with the mistake.

“My frustration is that it has to be redone — that’s what upsets me,” Rodgers said.

Once the lines are repainted, sharrows — an icon depicting a bicyclist — will be put in place within the three dotted lines on the roads, making cyclist priority on the roads more clear.

The Bike Boulevard is planned to include the addition of a median on College Avenue, separating Windsor and East Ash streets. It is slated to be constructed by the city within the next month.

Rodgers called the proposed median, “a nice showpiece, more of a visual reminder.”

The median will provide an island for crossing pedestrians and bikers. It will also prevent northbound traffic on College Avenue from turning left onto Ash Street and southbound traffic from turning left onto Windsor Street.

Vehicles will still be welcome on the streets, but the median will reduce traffic from College Avenue to the two streets. The decrease in vehicular use coupled with the bike lanes will encourage bicyclists to travel more freely down the center of the roads. Although bicycles will have priority on the Bike Boulevard, courteous bicyclists should move to the side of the road to allow cars to pass them, Curtis said.

“I don’t expect high bike traffic in the near future,” Rodgers said. “But as people find out about it and realize that it’s there, my hope is that usage will increase.”

The Underground Cafe closes, reasons unknown

This was the first story of the semester that I wrote and I was able to get better acquainted with what I am told is 75% of trying to write a story- not getting called back.

I hunted down and attempted to contact all three of the current owners of The Underground Cafe several times to no avail. At one point I even tracked down Laurie's facebook trying to get a response.

I was told by three different former employees that I would probably not receive a call back.

They were right. Sigh.

The Underground Cafe closes, reasons unknown
Friday, July 2, 2010 | 6:12 p.m. CDT; updated 10:28 p.m. CDT, Saturday, July 3, 2010

COLUMBIA — The Underground Cafe in downtown Columbia closed Wednesday night.

Jason Schrick, one employee, received the news of a need to close one week ago in a text message sent by the son of the cafe's owner, Laurie McAllister.

The remainder of the cafe’s lease for 111 S. Ninth St. might be to rent out the space for private events, Schrick said.

The reason why the Underground went under is unclear. It appears that financial issues might have been a contributing factor. Two benefits were arranged for June 26 and 29 to raise money for the cafe, which closed its doors the day after the second benefit.

Schrick, who was a sound technician at the Underground for about seven months, organized the benefits, which had more than 15 acts.

"(The artists) were excited to try to help out because the Underground had always treated them like gold whenever they had performed there," Schrick said.

McAllister and her two children, who have been helping run the business since September, did not returned calls about the nature of the close, the amount of money made by these benefits or how that money is going to be used.

Word about the closing of the business appears not yet to have leaked to the majority of the community. Thursday, four separate would-be patrons approached the door to the cafe within 15 minutes of one another, before asking if the place was closed.

Previously called The Cherry Street Artisan, the coffee shop was frequented by people looking for a place to study and hold small meetings.

Performance opportunities in the evenings encouraged start-up musicians and poets to get a feel for the stage on open mic nights, though some disliked becoming background noise to a distracted coffee-shop audience. Many patrons frequented the Artisan for the environment, coffee and food, rather than the acts themselves.

The business went through a metamorphosis in September when McAllister's son, Ryan, and daughter, Katelyn, began helping her run the business.

The result was The Underground Cafe, which included the expansion of both the cafe’s food menu and the business's operation as a musical venue.

According to Schrick, he was hired during the inception of The Underground, when a night staff was being sought. Hoping to change its previous image as a coffee shop and study area, The Underground Cafe sought to bolster its reputation as a venue to attract a night crowd.

The cafe increased the frequency of musical events and began charging cover at the door. This attracted bigger acts and music lovers, but it discouraged some other patrons.

The Underground also began carrying Intelligentsia, a pricier brand of espresso. However, former employee Katy Bauschke, said this decision was short-lived — the cafe stopped carrying Intelligentsia after two or three months.

Much of the cafe’s setup remained the same, including, but not limited to, the sizable metal tiger statue standing next to the cash register and counter space.

All that remained outside of the previous downtown landmark on Thursday was a few empty beer cans strewn about the gated patio and a plethora of cigarette butts leading down the concrete steps to a locked cafe entrance.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Articles that I wrote for the Missourian before this summer

I am going to copy and paste the articles from the Missourian web-site, but create a hyper link between the titles of the articles and the article on the Columbia Missourian website. I heavily encourage you to visit the link for additional media (like photos!) Maybe I will update the blog with some of the photos that I took for the Missourian when I was a staff photo-journalist. That would be lovely, I think.

15-year-old assaulted by masked suspect
Saturday, December 27, 2008 | 6:00 p.m. CST
— Police responded Friday night to an assault reported in the 3100 block of Alpine Drive.

According to a Columbia Police Department news release, the victim, a 15-year-old male, said an unknown male wearing dark clothing and a dark ski mask entered his apartment before assaulting him.

The teen couldn't provide further information about the suspect’s description. He told police he was able to chase the suspect out of his residence, according to the news release.

Police think the suspect was able to enter the residence through an unlocked front door. Police found no signs of forced entry, and are asking those who might have any additional information concerning the incident to submit tips to the CrimeStoppers Web site,


Flooding forces Humane Society to relocate eight dogs
Sunday, December 28, 2008 | 5:31 p.m. CST; updated 5:41 p.m. CST, Sunday, December 28, 2008

COLUMBIA — Flooding forced the Central Missouri Humane Society to relocate eight dogs out of the stray dog wing Saturday.

Rainwater, aggravated by malfunctioning drains, began to flood the area at around 10 a.m. The wing consists of cages with small doors that lead to adjoining outdoor structures. Moving the dogs became necessary after flooding of the uncovered outdoor areas spread to the inside of the building.

Heather Duren Stubbs, the shelter’s relations coordinator, said staff began working at 10:30 a.m. to keep drains functioning and move water outside. The affected pups were later relocated to crates inside of the "puppy and kitty room," she said.

Duren Stubbs said the amount of water that flooded the building seemed unusual.

“Occasionally we’ll get a little bit, but in the three years I’ve worked here I’ve never seen it like this,” she said. Despite the increased amount of water in the building, Duren Stubbs said the situation had not escalated to the point of needing outside assistance.

However, the Columbia Fire Department visited the shelter in response to a call about the flooding — a visit that came as a surprise to the shelter. The call is believed to have been made by a concerned adopter who noticed the flooding during a visit to the shelter Saturday.

The outside kennels were under about a foot of water when firefighters arrived, according to a department news release. Firefighters set up a pump to drain the water into a ravine behind the shelter where it would run off into a nearby creek..

Duren Stubbs said she wasn't sure when the displaced dogs would be returned to their wing.


Hi, hello, how's it going? What's the word? What's the scoop? Who's on first? How did we get here? Why did you cut the line? When are the fireworks? Where have all the cowboys gone?

I know it's been a while since I've written in you, web log.

You know how scattered my energies are (I mean, don't you?)

You see, I haven't been writing on the internet lately, aside from on the Columbia Missourian website and in their printed publication as a newspaper reporter (which is connected to why I haven't been writing on the web), the occasional facebook post here and there, and even less occasionally on any number of the other blogs I have scattered across the cyber-universe.

I have been mostly pen and paper these days because I got into a vicious car accident in New Mexico in November of 2009 (It's actually the 8 month anniversary of the accident today).

Enter tangent

You see, I had driven down there with fellow Missouri University's School of Journalism student, Sean madden, in order to gather video interviews and the like at the International Drug Policy Reform Conference.

I have no memory of the accident and little of the conference (aside from the footage and journal entries that I have), but I do know the following things according to eye-witnesses:

I was driving and wearing a seatbelt, which saved my life because the driver's side of my car was demolished.

Apparently (I say this because I don't remember it) I received my very first speeding ticket on the drive home from the conference and the accident occurred in front of an upcoming speed trap.

I was traveling in the left lane with a smaller white SUV in my blind spot. When I slowed to move over to the right lane, I saw the car, jerking the wheel back into my lane.

The officer up ahead at the speed trap said that I fish-tailed for a while and he was hoping that I would pull out of it, however this was not to be- my car went to spin out and the white car (that instead of falling back, seeing me fishtail, attempted to speed ahead of me) t-boned mine. My car flipped over theirs and then six more times into the desert of Moriarty, New Mexico.

My guess is that the people in the other car were probably as distracted that I imagine I was at the upcoming speed trap.

I say this because I had never gotten a speeding ticket before the one I am told that I had received on that trip and knowing myself, this upset me incredibly and I was probably of the opinion that there "was no way I would get another one."

I also say this because apparently the people in the other car had a whole mess of clothes, but no suitcases?
They also tried to claim that Madden's ipod was theirs before my sister confirmed the fact that the phone was, in fact, his.

Whatever the case, a combat army medic named Rafael Garcia was happening through the area with friend, Danny Lopez, just after my accident and decided to turn back in order to see if assistance was needed.

Luckily, he did so because he assisted in locating me (apparently they didn't know that I was even in the vehicle at first).
My car was upside down, my passenger was wandering around obviously in shock, and the driver's side was so crunched that Garcia said the only reason that he could recognize that there was a person inside was from my brown cowboy boots sticking up in the wreckage.

Garcia aided in stabilizing my cervical neck (is that what they're called?) as they removed me from the car in order to keep me from becoming paralyzed.

This is incredible because I did sustain a fracture to the C2 of my neck.

I also broke all but one of the ribs on my left side, my scapula, lacerated my spleen and liver, and punctured my lungs, which collapsed.

Garcia performed CPR on me as I wasn't breathing and I began shallow breathing on my own, but the officer present provided me with critically needed oxygen.

I was helicoptered to the University of New Mexico hospital and would, days later, receive a tracheotomy for my repeatedly collapsing lungs.

Exit tangent

So, why is this important?

Aside from the fact that I almost died, my accident is the reason that brings me to "blog" (I will forever hate that word) to you today.

When I got into the wreck, I was getting ready to report for the Missourian over Thanksgiving Break and afterward, I needed to spend the next semester healing my ass up, which I think that I've been doing a great job of.

My bones healed like the Wolverine and I no longer have a hole in my throat (though I do have a gross scar) and I am on schedule to graduate this December from Mizzou with my photo-journalism bachelor's granted I pass all of my classes this upcoming semester and finish the four incompletes I have from this past falls' classes by November.

This brings me to what I am doing right now- Completing my newspaper reporting incomplete.

As part of the class, I will need to have an e-portfolio of the work/blogging that I do of/about my experience at the Columbia Missourian and THAT BRINGS ME VERY FINALLY -taking some big breaths- (those are important according to my editor, Liz Brixey......she is right) to my business here tonight. I am going to start officially on building that e-portfolio RIGHT HERE, RIGHT NOW.