Wait, Wait

You’ve been through this before. There is a valuable object that you must physically attain, but it’s going to take a little bit of bureaucratic interaction to make it happen. An indeterminate amount of waiting may be involved. In this case, the treasured item is a West Campus parking pass for The Ohio State University, a necessity that your daughter ordered online. Armed with a day off, you are charged with the task of picking up the pass in the morning so that she may use it to attend her first college class that evening. You take the precaution of calling ahead to confirm that you are permitted to retrieve the pass on your daughter’s behalf. You look over a map of West Campus and find the small visitor lot where you’ve parked before, the one that is a short stroll from the Traffic and Parking offices. You double-check to make sure that you have your daughter’s university ID card and a printed receipt for the parking pass. Then, satisfied that you have taken all reasonable preparatory measures, you embark on your journey.

Your destination is a popular one on this first day of Winter Quarter, but several spaces open up after you circle the visitor lot once. There is a “Pay and Display” system in place that requires the purchase of a timed pass from an automated machine. You approach it and fish out the coins you brought along for this purpose, depositing three quarters and three dimes. It’s 9:00. There are more coins in your pocket, but the machine says that you have just bought 42 minutes of parking time, which seems more than adequate for the purpose of picking up a previously purchased parking pass. You chastise yourself for the wasteful habit of padding parking meters with unnecessary time simply due to an irrational aversion to the unlikely prospect of purchased time elapsing. Next time, you think, you’ll spend a little less instead of fattening the coffers of Traffic and Parking. Read More

Focus Study

The photograph was a surreal, black and white portrait, just the sort of clumsy stab at art that one might expect from a college student in an introductory photography course. Its subject was a young woman whose eyes were obscured by the pair of oranges she held before her face. Perhaps it was its humor that earned it a spot on the wall of Haskett Hall, where I stopped to regard my handiwork each day after class. Passers-by might have mistaken my look of concentration for the solemn focus of critique, but my motivation was shallow. The truth was that I had something of a crush for the model, and standing for a moment in front of her portrait allowed me stare at her captivating image and daydream of impossibly good things.

Making films and videos interested me far more than capturing stills, but having declared my major as Photography and Cinema, I was obligated to learn the rudiments of picture taking and photochemistry. The lecture section of my introductory class was taught by Tony Mendoza, who was known at the time for a whimsical series of black-and-white photographs featuring his cat, Ernie.  His artistry was inspiring, but as I was to discover, creativity was only a fraction of what was required to produce good photographs.  The technical side of it – everything from light meter readings to focal lengths to maintaining the proper temperature for photochemical solutions – was daunting.  I was long on ideas but short on technique. Read More

I Once Was A Man Who Lived In A ‘Shoe…


It was the only campus dorm in which every resident was suspended.  Literally.

Ohio Stadium is not quite what it used to be.  Though its tradition of hosting Buckeye football games continues unabated and the structure itself remains an unmistakable landmark for sports fans and aircraft pilots alike, a piece of it that thrived for six decades is missing.  You might be forgiven for walking within it and failing to notice this omission.  Even when it existed, few people seemed to be aware of the Stadium Dorm.
Make that The Ohio Stadium Scholarship Dormitory, as it was officially known.  Its genesis was a spartan facility constructed inside the southwest tower in 1933, a mere eleven years after the stadium itself was built.  From that humble beginning as a no-frills campus residence for 78 men of limited financial means, the dorm gradually expanded along the west concourse into a much larger, coed residence hall.  The additions were elevated structures, their three floors of rooms suspended from the underside of the stadium seating.  In its final form, the Stadium Dorm was comprised of five major sections accessed by tiny entrance foyers featuring a flight of stairs leading up to the “first” floor.  Up to thirty students lived in each of the fifteen gender-segregated floor units, sharing communal bathrooms, taping posters to the paper-thin walls, and taking meals in the dorm cafeteria.  Meanwhile, throngs of Buckeye supporters sauntered beneath these quarters on many a football Saturday without noticing that a vibrant and lively dormitory was hanging above them.
By the time I lived there in the late eighties, its longevity had done little to raise its profile, nor to rectify popular misconceptions. Read More

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