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Youngstown’s regional culture magazine for loving life and living

Gd [The Yo* Magazine]


*the identity issue, fall 2008

grit in their blood


Using the tough Youngstown
image to get ahead

Race to the finish line: did skin color


affect Youngstown’s vote?
Letter from the editors Editors
Sarah Sole
Identity Issue
ssole@theyomag.com
Richard Louis Boccia
rboccia@theyomag.com
Fall 2008
Contributing Writers
Mariam Bshara
Cristina Cala

3
Doug Dierkes
Sam Marhulik
Todd Mounce
YOU ARE HERE

4
Sam Pysher
Sarah Sole Music
Emmalee Torisk The Zou, back in their
Dear readers, Jessica Woods natural habitat
Living in the Yo’ means dealing with grit. It’s part of the Copy Editor
city’s identity, and part of ours. Some people, like Omarosa Chelsea Pflugh

6
and artist Bob Barko Jr. have built a career around the tough Election ’08
Designers
image of Youngstown (pages 12 and 18), but identity can be an Richard Louis Boccia investigating race in
obstacle as much as a career starter. Cristina Cala color
Kristy Chen
For the women who work as exotic dancers, it’s a struggle to Adam Rogers
Sarah Sole
define themselves as something more (page 15). For the two
bands we get to know in this issue, identity is not restricting — Web Designer
The Zou is based in Youngstown but tours the country (page 4), Adam Rogers
and Family Force 5 isn’t your typical Christian band (page 14).

Pursuing your hobby of choice can mean breaking gender


expectations, like a woman who hunts and a man who knits
(page 19). And in this historic election year, racial identity was
on the minds of many in the Yo’ (page 6).

Identity can restrict or emancipate, clarify or confuse. What we


do know is that the grit of Youngstown is in our blood. We can
deny the city’s image or use it to our advantage.

12
Yo’ Celebrities
Richard Louis Boccia Sarah Sole how the city of grit
made them strong

More music

14
A mainstream
Christian rock
revolution

15 Exotic dancers
Getting under
their skin

Art
inspired by the Yo’,

18
these artists are
getting national
attention

19 Gender roles undone


She hunts, he knits

The Yo’ Magazine started in 2007 after provided content for an early issue. Profile
students at Youngstown State University asked YSU alumna and founding editor Cristina

23
journalism faculty to help them obtain more Cala shaped the concept for The Yo’ with
Phil Kidd makes the
experience writing and publishing magazine- early issues, the last of which won Best in case for Youngstown
style stories. Professor Tim Francisco taught Show from the Associated Collegiate Press
the first magazine writing class, which at its Fall 2008 Convention in Kansas City. Yo’ Diary
Coming to America:
fall 2008 the dream gone bad
Life’s a Zou
The band ran wild across America on tour, but here’s why they’ll
always come back to their native habitat in the Yo’.
By Doug Dierkes

A
s nice as life on the Tabbara as he recalls a story from Youngstown receivable to our
road has been for The the most recent tour. “We were music. I’ve never heard him say no
Zou this year, with the skateboarding at a gas station [to our ideas.]”
free meals, in Florida, just dickin’ around Tabbara adds, “We could never
songwriting and to stretch our legs ... we start a get to play in cities like Chicago
haunted hotels, the band admits it’s conversation with this skater kid, with the ease that we do now if
good to be home in Youngstown. and near the end of it he says, we lived in New York, either. We
The Zou has been on four “mini- ‘I’m housesitting for this mansion, got [shows in] Toronto, Cleveland,
tours” in 2008 alone, each lasting do you guys need a place to Pittsburgh, Indianapolis, Detroit
somewhere around two or three crash?’”

Still, it’s not quite the same ... all within our reach because of
weeks. During this time they’ve as the Yo’. Youngstown.”
filmed a music video waiting “I don’t think we could run our Besides letting them see the
on a tow truck, set their van’s band the way we do in any other world outside the Yo’, this touring
GPS to moo whenever a city,” admits bassist Murad Shorrab. schedule has solidified the band’s
Dunkin Donuts is close “We’ve all got part-time jobs with identity. Back in its early days,
enough, performed at two flexible schedules, and everything’s Tabbara admits there wasn’t much
haunted hotels, and still cheap here. I have this beautiful of a band behind the name. He was
had time to iron out some apartment for $350 a month that basically a solo artist recruiting
tracks for the new album would easily cost, like, $1,200 a one-night performers to help flesh
in basements and studios month in New York. I’d never be out his songs. “The current form has
across the country. able to leave as much as I do now really only been together for the
“You’d be surprised at if I had to pay $1,200 a month last two years, and we’ve only really
the kindness of people,” for rent. And then you have guys gelled together as a band this year.”
muses frontman Khaled like Phil Kidd, making downtown “You have no idea how much
you’ll miss your bed once you
leave,” Tabbara said.


In the middle of Youngstown
across from a U-Haul rental
center sits a giant monstrosity
of a building. One end proudly
proclaims itself a postal service
area — the lower sections show off
metalworking machinery from the
few windows that aren’t boarded
up. And if you’re willing to take
a ride up an old freight elevator
to the second floor, you can find
Ampreon Studios, a place that has
been the nesting grounds of The
Zou since 2004.
The atmosphere in the studio
is oddly relaxing as the prototype
version of “Forget My Name”
blasts from the speakers. Inside
The Zou’s the recording area, vintage guitars
frontman
Khaled line the wall over a classic piano,
Tabbara and posters from local concerts
# theyomag.com
and the movie “Falling Down” stand line, “Jenny was a furnace? Well,

of the Zou
out from the lime green paint. The now the song finally makes sense.”
production area is equally laid As laid-back as the mastering

Photos courtesy
back. The couch is comfortably process is, the band admits the
broken in, the walls are filled with music is a labor of love.
images of classic rock musicians, “You get out of it what you put
and the only thing separating the into it,” Tabbara says. “We just
digital mixer from the classic tape keep putting more into our music,
recorder is a wall of speakers, expecting it to plateau, but it
each one hand-wired by a former doesn’t. The more energy you put
member of the Dead Boys. into something, the more interesting
“We always record on tape first, it becomes. When you put as much
then transfer everything to digital,” time and effort into this as we have,
Tabbara says. “You can’t recreate when you finally get to that finished
that kind of distortion with anything thing, you’re in love with it rather
digital. It comes off sounding cold.” than just, ‘Oh, it’s cool.’”
As fans continue to catch the On stage, The Zou always
band in concert, or download their manages to get a crowd dancing,
“Pinebox EP” for free on MySpace, clapping, singing — completely
The Zou is hard at work finishing involved in the music. Off stage,
their latest album for its Nov. 29 they discuss what needs to be done
release. with their new songs as much as
“We’re calling it ‘Archaeopteryx’ how to make their old tunes better.
right now,” Shorrab says. “It was Guitarist Rob Thorndike condenses
one of those fossils that was found these talks into a 30-cent notebook
... it had the bones of a dinosaur, which the band uses to guide the
but there were remnants of feathers. recording process.
It was almost like a snapshot of a This devotion to their sound
transitory period, kind of like where comes at a price. Studio time,
we are now.” printing CDs and keeping the van
Tabbara also likes the image fueled during tours all have their
because evolution, like the band’s costs. Yet, The Zou comes out of this
songwriting, is a constant process. with another triumph. beard every year for a performance
“You’re out there trying new “We don’t have any financial of “How the Drag Queen Stole
things every night — sometimes it backers ... we’re the only band Christmas.” As a whole, the
works, sometimes it doesn’t. But our I know that’s completely self- members have also given musical
songs are always evolving, always sustained,” Tabbara says. “We pay contributions to a Beatles tribute
changing, and when we put out a for our own albums, all of our gear album and the Youngstown-made
record it’s almost like we’re taking and all the T-shirts we sell. We make movie “Fine Tune.”
a snapshot, as if to say, ‘This is what money as a band that goes back “Even if we had our instruments
it sounds like at this moment.’ But into the band. It’s a punk rock kind taken away, we’d still find some
we’re always experimenting with of way to run a band, but it works way to express ourselves,” Tabbara
our sound.” for us.” says. “We’re a bunch of creative,
Everything about this mastering Shorrab’s views are a little artistic people, and we’d find some
session shows how comfortable darker. “Getting to the point where way of getting our message heard.
The Zou is working together. we could give up our jobs and just If not through music, then poetry or
Conversations frequently switch be full-time musicians ... I don’t see painting.”
from, “What are we recording that happening for us anytime in the The Zou is also optimistic about
next?” to “I feel like Olivia-Newton near future.” the future of Youngstown.
John now that I’m wearing this But music runs in the veins of The “We have these great resources
headband,” without skipping a Zou as much as caffeine. Khaled has like Mill Creek Park and the
beat. Murad tunes in his bass guitar won a few awards for his solo work Mahoning River ... and we take
by playing an unplugged version as a singer/songwriter, Rob gives them for granted,” Shorrab states.
of the “Debbie Does Dallas” theme lessons at Hubbard Music when not “We have far too many people out
music, and Dean Anshutz tests the playing for YSU’s jazz ensembles, there still defining us as ‘Steel Town’
recording setup for his drum kit by and Dean conducts the drum line or ‘Murder Town.’ That’s in the past.
playing “Max Weinberg-style.” This of the YSU Marching Band in his off Once we find something to define
starts a ten-minute conversation on hours. Murad works for the Oakland ourselves in the present and in the
Bruce Springsteen, including the Center for the Arts, and shaves his future ... we’ll be unstoppable.” *

“I don’t think we could run our band the way we


do in any other city.” — bassist Murad Shorrab
fall 2008 #
It’s not a black-and-white issue.

Inve s t i ga t i n g ra c e
IN COLOR By Cristina Cala
Photography by Juliana Cala

FAMILY PORTRAIT — Tina Fleisher,


a YSU social work student, holds an
Obama sign in protest of a campus
appearance by John McCain for a live
broadcast of “Good Morning America”
days before the presidential election.
Fleisher brought her children, including
son Darnell Jones, pictured behind her,
to the event.

6 theyomag.com
T
ina Fleisher is prepared to be judged. Aside from an odd glance or two, no one said it’s because Obama’s the right candidate.
She has a sweet softness about her seems to notice. The crowd neither dismisses “I feel more minority voters are coming out
once she gets talking, and though she’s nor acknowledges the black family who has because they feel that he would be a better
a good mom, she may be feeling a little come to Youngstown State University to protest candidate, someone who is going to bring
shy today about bringing her children an appearance by Republican John McCain four change to our country. That’s what we need,”
with her to a place she knows she’ll stick out like days before the end of his run against the first she said.
a sore thumb. The whites of her eyes flash bright black man in American history to secure a major Obama’s overwhelming support from 
against the beautifully dark skin on her round face party nomination in a presidential election.
minorities — and how much that support has to
as she gingerly leads her flock, single-file, into a The only recognition the family gets is an
do with race — coincides with the dismal state
gymnasium echoing with the sounds of patriotic “Excuse me, can I help you?” from a police
of the country and the need to fix it, in Democrat
marching band music and screaming cheers. officer who sticks his pale hand in front of the
The crowd that has gathered is ornamented with family as they try to pass. Fleisher’s opinion.
McCain-Palin signs and “Nobama” T-shirts, and As a black woman with seven kids in a world “Now that we have a black man running for
Fleisher, 36, stands behind it in a secluded corner, of stereotypes, Fleisher is sure to emphasize president, a lot of them [are] saying, ‘OK, here’s
inching closer to the outskirts of the entrance after that she’s married to a wonderful husband. In change. It’s time for change now, and we’re gonna
a few minutes. Her ducklings are as young as 6 or 7 that same world, she is looking for change. Four get out, and now we’re gonna vote,” Fleisher said.
and as old as 18, holding homemade Obama signs, days from the 2008 general election, Fleisher “It’s about what’s right, doing the right thing and
their brown faces studying the crowd, knowing acknowledged that more minority voters were electing someone that’s gonna come in and make
that they’re out of their element here. energized in this election than ever before, but a difference.”

The America that show. Mahoning County exit polls revealed the most
support for Obama in the area, and its county has
the greatest black population at 15.3 percent to 81.1
relative. Blacks make up about 13 percent of the U.S.
population, according to U.S. Census Bureau data,
but even if all blacks voters supported Obama, their
elected its first white, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
But Dr. Bill Binning, professor and chair emeritus
numbers wouldn’t have been enough to elect him.
In total, Binning offered, whites voted 43 percent
of YSU’s political science department, stresses that for Obama, blacks voted 95 percent in his favor, and
black president the reason Obama won overwhelmingly Caucasian
counties is because of “great organization” by
Latinos voted 66 percent for him.
Traditionally, a greater percentage of whites vote,
We all know what happened next. As a biracial the Obama campaign, not race. County elections and this year whites still outnumbered the other
candidate, Barack Obama was a contender whose boards’ exit polls don’t give data on racial ratios, and racial groups who cast a presidential vote, but by
two parts made whole for black and white America. Binning warns not to make assumptions about race considerably less, The Associated Press reported Nov.
But what about for the tri-county area? How did in the 2008 election. 4. An increase in black and Hispanic voting decreased
Obama win Ohio, and who is the America that “You take something away from Obama’s the number of white voters in the electorate from 81
elected a black man as its leader? brilliant campaign and massive victory if you make percent in 2000 to 74 percent in 2008, according to the
Obama turned Ohio blue for the first time the discussion of the election mainly about race,” AP report’s Harvard-professor source. There’s more to
since Bill Clinton’s presidency, but the state’s Binning said. it than just demographics, though.
voters are mixed, and though the steel labor days Though Mahoning and Trumbull reached “Race cuts both ways — it helps in some ways
of yore make the Mahoning Valley traditionally an Obama verdict, Binning said those counties for Obama and Democrats, and in some way it held
Democratic, final, unofficial county polls show underperformed on turnout. In Democratic Valley back votes,” Binning said. “But don’t lose sight of the
that one of three counties here did prefer the territory, voter turnout was 71 percent in Mahoning fact that the election was about economics and not
Republican from Arizona to the Democrat from and just under 70 percent in Trumbull. (Turnout was race. A majority of Americans wanted change.”
Illinois. Demographically speaking, the Columbiana 67.86 percent in Columbiana, where McCain won.) Though to some in Youngstown, the change
County that favored McCain has a mostly white, 43 “Obama made it up elsewhere in Ohio and won Obama offers is both for economic progress and the
percent rural population. Columbiana is 2.2 percent counties that Democrats seldom win,” Binning said progression of a race that has faced oppression. This
black and 95.2 percent white, the U.S. Census of how Obama won Ohio, with a 4 percent lead. is a country whose white founders brought Africans
Bureau reports. With a greater black population Obama‘s candidacy did increase black turnout to serve centuries of slavery and whose public was
than Columbiana, Trumbull County — 8.2 percent that benefited many other Democrats, in some segregated until only half a century ago. This is a
black and 89.7 percent white, according to the Congress races, he added. country where black culture and pop culture have
Census Bureau — favored Obama to McCain, It is true that blacks usually vote in favor of mixed, and now it’s a country that has elected its first
Trumbull elections board unofficial poll results Democrats, Binning said. But still, the discussion is all mixed-race president.
fall 2008 7
She’s been
waiting
Youngstown Obama supporter
Jacqueline Thomas, 58, predicted
he would win.
“We’re not into race so much
anymore as we’re into people,”
Thomas said, relieved that

RA
CE
“America has finally opened up.”
But the middle-aged black
woman can remember when race
significantly mattered. It was
a big deal when black people
were first on TV, a rare deal when
her dad was in the infantry in
World War II, a gruesome deal
when Jackie Robinson’s baseball
career began with boos and
heckling.
“On Sundays when Ed Sullivan
came on if The Temptations were
on, [or] somebody, we’d run
— you know, tell everybody in
the neighborhood — you know,
‘Black people gon’ be on TV
tonight!’”
Obama: represents change in a
damaged country whose
Now, it’s nothing to see blacks Symbol of the past, future is uncertain. That’s
on TV, and Thomas expected the enigma of the present, how Fleisher sees him.
To her young son, 18-
first black president to win over sign of the future
America in the Oval the way year-old Darnell Jones,
As progressive as his
Robinson did on the diamond. Obama represents hope for
election is on a historical
“At first they hated him; they the future, he says — hope that
timeline, Barack Obama is
booed; they threw paper at him. anyone can have, no matter his
somewhat of an enigma in
But once he went to winning background or skin color.
American politics. Certainly,
them games, they realized,
‘OK, well, we really don’t care
he is a symbol. Of what and to
whom is diverse. ‘Acting white’
what color he is,’” she said of To a middle-aged woman To New York Times blogger
Robinson’s debut as the first of color like Thomas, Obama Stephen J. Dubner, Obama
black Major League Baseball represents a shift in attitudes, represents diversity without actually
player in 1947. a chance for an abolishment of representing diversity’s reality. Three
“This is America: We have prejudices, a voice that went unheard days after Obama won the presidential
to quit caring about what color during her upbringing. election, Dubner posted a brief musing
people are. We’re all mixed up.” “In the younger generation, I don’t on the “acting white” theory, supported
think it matters so much anymore. You by scholars like Roland Fryer of Harvard.
look around this university, you see The theory suggests why some students
blacks and whites and Asians,” she said might avoid activities like education or
in front of YSU’s Beeghly Center after ballet: so that they’re not seen as trying to
an Oct. 17 Change We Need Rally, where act like a white person, which has penalties
Hillary Clinton stumped for the man to in some neighborhoods.
whom she lost the Democratic nomination. Twisting that theory, could it be possible
“They’re grouping together and playing that white people like Obama because they
together.” think he “acts” more white than black?
Whether racial prejudices will die off YSU senior Joe Iesue is a white American,
with the baby boomers depends upon if their a die-hard conservative and, as a student of
children and grandchildren still believe in what political science, an Obama campaign admirer.
their elders taught them, Thomas said. He thinks the notion is ridiculous.
“But a lot of those children, too, once they go “I don’t think Obama acts anything but himself.
off to college, they find out that that’s a bunch of … I think it’s sad when people feed into stereotypes
crap. Things are gonna change,” she said. of what a white person acts like and what a black
To a mother going to school and raising a family person acts like,” Iesue, 23, said. “It’s sad we want to give
in economically struggling Youngstown, Obama credit for his success only to his color of skin.”

8 theyomag.com
A Campus
In a pre-election appearance thinks the choice is specific to sat at YSU, guitar in lap, hoping to
Conservative
on MTV, Obama said, “Brothers the demographics of an area, and shuttle a maximum of Ohioans to
should pull up their pants,” and stop might be less obvious in one like the Mahoning County board of
showing their underwear: something Youngstown, where he says racial elections to register and/or vote
a white politician like John McCain divisions occur. Hoelzel, 20, spoke to early. By the second-to-last shift of
would not get away with on national The Yo’ Magazine before Sen. Clinton the fourth day of a Youngstown stint
television during an election. If took center stage at her campus at Vote Today Ohio, a self-dubbed
Barack Obama’s family dynamics rally two-and-a-half weeks before nonpartisan, voter outreach effort,
were swapped with Sarah Palin’s, it the election. In Hoelzel’s opinion, a only three people had jumped on the
wouldn’t take much imagination to Youngstown bias and ethnic roots bandwagon with shuttle driver De
conceive Americans’ perception of a to the area were making Valley Lecori, of Los Angeles.
black First Family with five children, voters “feel racist.” He said these De Licori was optimistic in his
one an infant and one an unwed
pregnant teen.
ethnic identities — his nice way of
saying why racial divisions here
cause, and in his support of Obama,
but general on the race issue.
... Going Blue?
If Obama were white as opposed occur — make Youngstown one of He described the organization’s
to biracial, YSU freshman K’rin Simon, the few areas where Democrats successful recruits as a “mixture” of Let’s talk change. With Joe Iesue.
18, is unsure whether it would have were opting to vote for McCain races, and the target demographic He’s a senior political science and
made a favorable difference for him because of something like race. as “obviously” college students, and sociology major who’s been known
Not speaking for the whole state as a conservative on YSU’s campus
in his run for president. even some professors. Meanwhile and in its student newspaper, The
“I don’t know. … The people of Ohio and careful not to blame AP reports were calling Vote Jambar, for the last four-and-a-half
that I know would probably look Youngstown, Hoelzel says the city Today Ohio’s efforts unmatched years.
differently at him,” said Simon, an just “happens to be” one of the areas by a Republican counterpart, and But four days before Election
where racial divisions could matter Day, Iesue told The Yo’ Magazine
Independent Pennsylvania voter published photographs, in cities like that he was still undecided. Iesue
who said she knows people who enough to cost a minority candidate Columbus, of inner-city black voters supported George W. Bush through
vocalized that Obama’s skin color an election. And yet, Youngstown as part of the outreach endeavor. both terms.
elected a black mayor — the first “My campaign is against
disqualified their vote. De Licori’s view on race on the liberal ideology,” Iesue said over
A white Obama would probably here — in 2004. presidential ballot is that it’s been background cheers from a “Good
have had an easier time getting the Mayor Jay Williams spoke to The made into one invariable. Morning America” crowd at YSU,
votes of more whites, Republicans Yo’ Magazine four days before the “You can’t help but see the where John McCain was making an
election, at a Bill Clinton rally for appearance for the live broadcast.
and Democrats, in Simon’s opinion, color of the skin,” he said, his own Yet Iesue, 23, was considering
“because there’s a lot of racist Obama at Campbell Memorial High paling in the bright afternoon sun. Barack Obama.
people, still.” School. Williams reminds that if Despite that inevitable recognition, “When the party even goes
Barack Obama won America’s your audience is mixed, you have to “Barack and his campaign have not against its own loyalties, it could be
appeal to more than one group. Race time to sit there and say its time to
approval with a traditional, nuclear campaigned on that.” go shopping,” he said, suggesting
family, degrees from Columbia and is something that Youngstown and In Time magazine’s Nov. 17 list of that he might be doing some of
Harvard, a Harvard-grad wife, a 10- Ohio struggle with, the mayor said. “10 Things That Never Happened his own on the left side of the
“The message I’ve tried to take is, spectrum.
year teaching position at University Before” the 2008 campaign, No. What had the student who
of Chicago Law School, according to ‘Youngstown has been here, and done 6 calls the past four decades calls himself a “conservative first,
the Chicago Tribune, and a career as this.’ The fact that I was elected the first in American politics “truly Republican second” considering
a community organizer. He’s been African-American mayor of the city revolutionary” — citing greater voting for Obama, ranked by
of Youngstown — it wasn’t because the National Journal as one of the
regarded as eloquent and compared numbers of minority elected most liberal senators? For one,
to JFK by the media and peers. Youngstown is [a] majority black. I officials, greater voter participation McCain was not his first choice.
Pop culture has even had had to appeal to blacks, obviously, but of nonwhites, and Shirley Chisholm, But what’s worth marveling is the
I also had to appeal to whites. So to notion that Obama’s ubiquitous
something to say about the GOP’s Jesse Jackson and Alan Keyes slogan of “change” was at work in a
last two presidential nominees, me, Youngstown can set the stage of running for president. And now with conservative.
too. Oliver Stone gave an almost- breaking those molds and breaking the U.S.’s first black president-elect, “We keep going to our safe
empathetic look into the life of the those paradigms and send a message Time adds Obama to the list of the areas … going to only that party
to the greater Mahoning Valley and to and pulling only that party’s lever.
Bush-family black sheep with the revolutionary, with one exception to That’s not bringing about a positive
2008 film “W.” — a tale of alcoholism, the state of Ohio.” the previous political progress by change,” Iesue said.
Was he considering achieving
party days at Yale, job-jumping
and a misguided presidency. The Listening minorities: “Not only was race not
Obama’s signature dimension by any
that change by voting for a
Democrat for the first time?
blogging community has swirled measure, but — with the exception of “I like to vote for what I feel is
with allegations that McCain finished
in the bottom of his United States
for color the Rev. Jeremiah Wright controversy
— it was barely an issue at all.”
the most important to American
people and if that means to vote for
One month till Election Day, a Democrat, if that means to vote for
Naval Academy graduating class, Responding to a Time magazine a third party, if that means to vote for
cheated on his first wife, left her Early Voting in Ohio, article on the Obama camp’s cool- a Republican, then so be it, I’ll do it,”
for a younger woman, displayed YSU campus man strategy to avoid portraying an Iesue said.
By the end of the interview, he
discipline problems, crashed several If you can hear it, it’s over “angry-black-man image,” De Licori had come back to home base.
planes during his military career, whispers, inside private living pooh-poohs the magazine’s assertion “Right now the principle of
and publicly exhibited a hot temper. rooms, among inner circles ... or as an “old stereotype.” conservatism goes most in line
In a lineup of three with those “Martin Luther King Jr. got it right with the Republican Party so that’s
it’s nowhere to be found. The voting where I stay right now.”
respective characteristics and the motive of race is, in reality, barely when he said judge a man by his The postelection verdict:
same skin color, would a choice be audible at all. character, not the color of his skin.” John McCain.
more obvious? Open Obama supporters were As a landmark, De Licori is sure, Iesue said it was “close down
to the wire,” but McCain’s “war
A philosophy and sociology optimistic about a party victory Obama “is here for the content of his experience and compassion for our
major, YSU sophomore Mark Hoelzel on sunny Oct. 6, as Siri De Licori character.” men and women in uniform was the
deciding factor for me.”
fall 2008 –Cristina Cala #
10 “[A classmate] was just
completely yelling at me
1 for voting for McCain
because he was white, and
he called
9 me several
names for
“There is still that.”
racism, and that — Christa
Parks
needs to be on political
addressed. ... But intolerance
I think those num-
bers are in the
minority, and you
can’t overstate
those.”
— Mark Hoelzel

1. Mark Hoelzel, 20, Independent


Is race a factor? Yes.
2 Should it be? It’s a testament to progress.
OK to cross party lines? Yes. But not in 7. Joni Koneval, 20, Democrat
instances where racism is what’s pushing Is race a factor? It has been in the past, 8
Democrats to McCain, which is a phe- but it’s shifting. There are racist people
nomenon for this area. out there, but it’s not the major factor.
2. Casey Fitch, 18, Republican Should it be? No.
Is race a factor? Yes. OK to consider race as a factor? Yes.
Should it be? No. 8. Russ Waller, 23, Democrat
OK to cross party lines? No. Is race a factor? Yes.
Main motive should be: Issues. Should it be? No.
OK to consider race as a factor? No. OK to cross party lines? Not if it’s ra-
3. Justin Blair, 18, Democrat cially motivated.
Is race a factor? Not at all. Anybody can 9. Christa Parks, 19, Republican
run for president. Is race a factor? Yes.
Should it be? No. Should it be? No.
OK to cross party lines? If you liked the OK to cross party lines? Not for her,
other party’s candidate’s policies. personally.
3 Main motive should be: Issues. Main motives should be: Issues, content
OK to consider race as a factor? Yes. of character.
4.Andrea Armeni, 20, Republican OK to consider race as a factor? It
7
Is race a factor? No. should be about the issues.
5. Stephen Cline, 21, Republican 10. Darnell Jones, 18, Democrat
who crossed party lines Is race a factor? Yes. They won’t vote for
Is race a factor? Yes. who they want to vote for. They only vote
Should it be? No. Vote for the best for their skin color.
candidate. Should it be? It’s good that Obama’s race
OK to cross party lines? Everybody has brought record numbers of minorities
the right to vote for who they want. out.
Main motive should be: The best Main motive should be: Change.
candidate. OK to consider race as a factor? Yes.
OK to consider race as a factor? No. If you vote for who you want to vote
6. John Jerome, 20, no affiliation for and who you know is right.
Is race a factor? Yes. Hopefully not in –Cristina Cala
Youngstown but it is down South.
4
Students on race’s 6 “People who are not

role in voting voting for Barack


Obama are going to
justify why they feel
5 people may not be
voting for [McCain]
instead.
I don’t think it’s
necessarily rac-
ist that minorities
are supporting
Barack Obama. ...
You could say that
McCain supporters
are only voting for
“I’m a Republican voting for Barack Obama. McCain because
... I can identify with him more.” he’s white.
— Stephen Cline — Joni Koneval
President of YSU College
10 Democrats
YSU Dems on Race it’s more prominent, probably, in the ethnic voters than it is in the white
voters, only because they are the ethnic race,” she said.
Two-and-a-half weeks till Election Day To Fitch, the only voting motive should be platform issues.
Change We Need Rally with Hillary Clinton While the majority of those interviewed agreed with Fitch that issues
ought to be the overriding factor, several said it was OK to factor in race,
YSU Beeghly Center
gender and likeability, if voters wanted to feel represented. In other
Before Obama won Ohio and the presidency, Time’s Oct. 20 issue
words, why women might support Clinton or Palin, why war veterans
published poll results that reported the majority of polled voters saying
might support McCain or why minorities might support Obama.
race is not a factor in their vote but it still matters to others. Forty-four
While waiting in line for “Good Morning America,” YSU student and
percent said they knew someone less likely to vote for Obama because
McCain supporter Christa Parks recounted a pre-election encounter
of his race; 54 percent said they didn’t.
where she experienced intolerance from a classmate. She said the
In a crowd anticipating main speaker Clinton, stumping for Obama at
“ethnic” person yelled at her, incensed that she planned to vote for
YSU, 18-year-old Justin Blair would have fit into the majority polled by
McCain, and demanding why.
Time. He said he didn’t believe people were voting based on race. YSU
“I’m conservative; I’m from the country; my dad hunts; my boyfriend
freshman Blair, who is black, said he didn’t know anyone who had said
[is] in the Marine Corps. — he’s going to be going to Afghanistan this
they wouldn’t vote for Barack Obama because of his race.
coming year before the summer’s over. I’d feel a lot more comfortable
On why he backed Obama, he said, “I feel that he could bring more
with John McCain in office while he’s over there … seeing that he’s had
jobs to this area, and my parents can get better health care.”
experience, whereas Obama wants to pull everybody out. My boyfriend
Blair said he doesn’t think there’s a difference in the way that blacks
has just gotten back from Iraq, and he said there’s no way that we’re ever
and whites perceive Obama.
gonna be completely out of there, unless they start coming over here,”
“I think it’s the same, about the same. Most people like Barack,” Blair
Parks said.
said, describing which groups might be more likely to vote for Obama
In turn, the reasons Parks’ classmate gave for supporting Obama
regionwide, statewide and nationwide.
were, in Parks’ eyes, insufficient.
Standing with Blair, YSU grad student Russ Waller offered a more
“‘I’m voting for Obama because he’s black, and if McCain gets
moderate view on race’s affect on the vote. Waller, who is white, agreed
elected I’m gonna go back to Africa,’” Parks quoted her classmate
that race is not the overriding factor though it plays a role.
as saying, “that, and that he agreed with the taxes Obama was gonna
“I know a few people who won’t vote for Obama because of his race,
impose.”
who are — who call — themselves Democrats,” the 23-year-old said
“And he didn’t have any other argument, and he was just completely
before the election.
yelling at me for voting for McCain because he was white, and he called
“Most people who would not vote for a black candidate would not be
me several names for that,” she said, laughing uncomfortably, with a
a Democrat to begin with,” Waller said.
wounded look in her eyes and an insulted look on her face.
Waller did agree with Blair that blacks were not just voting for
Parks is confident that this encounter shows a Youngstown trend of
Obama’s skin color — because Obama didn’t have most of the black
racial voting.
vote “when he first threw his hat into the race, and I think he really
Does she see something wrong with that?
earned their vote” based on issues, Waller said, bringing to mind a
Drawing a breath as if to choke back a sigh, Parks settled on the
Democratic-primary turning point when Obama won Iowa, 95 percent
answer, “You should look at the actual candidates — how they feel about
white, over Clinton.
issues as opposed to what color they are ...” she stumbled off.
YSU Repubs on Race Conservatives Parks and Fitch stood by their belief that minority
Obama supporters were supporting him because he shared their race.
Three days till Election Day, Their Republican ideals simply really aligned with those of McCain, who
‘Good Morning America’ with John McCain appearance, happens to be white.
YSU Beeghly Center Inside Beeghly Center, Fleisher’s eldest son, Darnell Jones, was
But McCain supporters rivaled Waller and Blair’s views, on the bashful but proud about protesting McCain and voting for the first time.
reverse side of the black-and-white color coin, at the YSU segment of The 18-year-old Chaney High senior knew why he was planning to vote
“Good Morning America.” Student Casey Fitch, like Waller, said that for Obama, and it wasn’t because of the color of the politician’s skin, a
while she’s sure race is a factor, it shouldn’t be. But 18-year-old Fitch few shades lighter than Jones’.
alleges that it is the black demographic that is doing so. “I’m voting for Barack Obama because I’m just lookin’ for change, in
“You have a lot of people who normally don’t vote who purposely do our schools, our jobs. [I] wanna better the future, for my future, my kids’
go to the voting polls for Barack Obama, in particular, because of their future — just want to help look out for my little brothers as they [are]
race, and they blatantly say it, so how can you say race isn’t a factor in growing up [so] that they won’t have it so hard,” said Jones, four of his
voting?” said Fitch, who is white, in the 6 a.m. chill of a long line curling siblings standing close by.
outside of the “GMA” broadcast site. If Obama can solidify his promise of change to young voters like
On the flip side, Fitch, a registered Republican there to see McCain, Jones, they may become the force behind an end to America’s long
supposed that some whites were planning to vote for McCain to avoid Republican run, professor Binning says. And while for some voters race
electing a black man as president. mattered against Obama’s favor, his promise to heal economic wounds is
“I think you will see a little bit of that, but a lot of it is overcompensation what prevailed in his election, however historic.
for the fact … that black voters are going out and doing that. But I think “Obama did not make it about race, and that is why he won,” said Binning.*

“Obama did not make it about


race, and that is why he won.”
–Bill Binning, YSU poli-sci professor

11
murdered. In her junior year, one her two trash-talking spots on lot further than my body wanted to of Youngstown, where he spent his and zip codes of every homicide
of her classmates was shot in the reality show “The Apprentice,” go sometimes,” he says. teenage years, did O’Neill realize that happened during his time in
head. Another classmate was killed where she soon attained a pop While Mancini was achieving it was possible to get in trouble office.
and thrown in the trunk of a car. culture status of the sort that is fame, holding the World for a crime. There were no DUIs in The city’s Web site carries
Despite the danger she faced, forever immortalized on YouTube. Boxing Association lightweight the Yo’ when he was young. O’Neill the same distressed aesthetic,
the Yo’ native wouldn’t change her “I did not play the girl next door championship for two years, the knew people who shot others in boasting an unofficial name
upbringing, which she describes in for sure on that show,” she admits. condition of his city better matched bars and got away with it — the change for the city — “Braddocc”
her new book, “The Bitch Switch,” For her book, the reality show that of his beaten opponents. city would move the charge down — and a shout-out to creative class
as an education in “the school of star put the straight-talking “The stigma was that we were a to manslaughter and eventually, it members everywhere. There’s also
hard knocks.” negotiating skills that she honed town that ... didn’t know how to get would be completely forgotten. A a page called “Ruins” that features
“I’m a strong tell-it like-it-is, in the Yo’ to work in writing and back up,” he says. priest he knew was a bagman for a pictures of abandoned buildings,
don’t-take-no-for-an-answer kind of marketing. Even now, stereotypes still gangster. hauntingly beautiful in their decay.
girl. And I would not have been that stand. When Mancini mentions “You kind of get a thick skin,” Braddock also put its
way had it not been for growing up Youngstown, comments of “Oh, O’Neill says. abandoned spaces to creative
in Youngstown,” she says. Standing up and that’s a rough area,” follow. Still, the The actor later made his fortune use. An outdoor brick oven sits
While the Yo’s crime has fighter remains fiercely loyal to his on a 10-year run playing Al on their main street with a blast
Omarosa Manigault Stallworth
spawned the term “Youngstown punching back Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini
hometown. Bundy on show “Married ... with
Ed O’Neill
furnace as a backdrop. The practice
Learning to talk Tune-Up” and won the city the titles
Murdertown, USA and “the armpit of When former boxer Ray “Boom
In the early ’80s, unemployment
was high, and as Mancini puts it,
“We’re survivors in Youngstown.
We’ll always survive,” he says.
Children,” indirectly channeling
the pessimism that permeated
You can’t market grittiness — is something Kidd thinks could be
replicated in Youngstown, and the
rather, people attuned to that
tough the state,” celebrities like Omarosa, Boom” Mancini was a young child in “the town was on its ass.” People
were looking for something to hold
Youngstown in his youth. atmosphere want to discover it city may already have a parallel:

I
Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini and Ed the Yo’, the steel mills were thriving. His Al Bundy character on the an abandoned church now has
t was a late walk home when O’Neill have used their hometown’s While he admired the blue-collar onto and Mancini became their guy. Laughing in the show was based on his uncle Joe’s
on their own as an escape from
smothering commercialism. This is independent films shown on its
grit to fuel their own powerful blood that ran in his family, he “My style was emblematic of the self-deprecating humor. This sort of altar.
Omarosa ran into some
girls looking to pick a fight. personas. knew from 5 years old that he didn’t city,” Mancini explains. “Take a few face of crime negative expectation that Joe had
Phil Kidd’s theory, one that got him
a job as Youngstown city director of With Braddock embracing its
Though her life in Youngstown fit that mold. He never thought shots, but I’m gonna give you more was evident in the locals based on tough image and finding ways to
Counting five of them and one events and marketing. He became
often included trips to her uncle’s of another future except that of a shots than I take.” Ed O’Neill admits that the Yo’ what they saw every day. make do, Kidd sees that the Yo’ can
of her, the future reality show the Yo’s mouthpiece by creating the
farm, it’s the city’s intimidating fighter. The people back home lived was not the easiest place to make Bundy representated people
diva quickly realized that talking Defend Youngstown movement, and embrace what it has rather than
By the time Mancini achieved vicariously through Boom Boom as a living, but it was a good place
rather than fighting was her way out. image that’s stuck to Omarosa. who, as O’Neill puts it, were “just has found an example for the Yo’ to striving to get a Starbucks, Bed Bath
“Oh, that explains why you’re so professional lightweight boxing he fought his way around the world. to get away with a crime. The Yo’ keeping their heads above water.” & Beyond and white picket fences.
“Really, is this going to solve follow.
status in 1978, Youngstown was in a That support from the Yo’ was a often lived up to its nickname of
anything?” she asked her enemies, tough,” they’d say of the girl who While his character was a blue- Enter Braddock, Pa., a city of “You don’t want McCitizen living
grew up in the former West Lake shabby state, its abandoned steel large part of his success. Mobtown, USA. collar caricature, O’Neill admits that in McCity,” he explains.
refusing to show the fear she knew 2,500 that lost nearly 90 percent
projects. mills blemishes in a decaying town. “The people helped carry me a “There was nothing you couldn’t the Yo’ has always been similarly Youngstowners know their scars
they craved. of its population when steel towns
Before the cameras started This was a persona that landed do and get away with if you knew stereotyped. rusted over. The city’s creative well. They appreciate the fight here,
rolling, before the Donald, Omarosa the right people,” O’Neill says. The city itself may soon capitalize rebirth started when it elected a he says, and remain fiercely loyal to
Manigault Stallworth was already a Only by leaving the north side on its gritty image, though less gritty mayor who resembles a biker. their hometown.
negotiator. More often than not, she overtly. Braddock’s political leader sports The Yo’s future, according to Kidd?
talked her way out of becoming a tattoos on his arms with the dates “It’s attracting people who
statistic. By Sarah Sole create versus people who want to
While attending The Rayen High consume,” he says. *
School from 1992 to 1996, about
20 of Omarosa’s classmates were Read more about Kidd and how he
Illustration by Sarah Sole and Richard Louis

sees Youngstown bouncing back on


Boccia, photos courtesy of the subjects

page 23.

How growing up in the city of grit made these celebrities strong


12 13
C
squeaky-clean reputation. or break up. For the members of and it always puts me in a good
hristian music has come
a long way from the Drugs and alcohol have become Family Force 5, it may be even mood,” said Mount. “On a more
days of DC Talk’s song increasingly popular vices for harder due to the fact that three of serious level, though, sometimes I
“Jesus Freak.” Christian bands that need inspiration. Kenny the members are brothers. just like to escape and maybe dress
bands today often write Vasoli, formerly of the band “The For Olds, touring with his family like an alien.”
their songs while subtly hinting to Startling Line,” has stated in several means having a great time with his Olds, like most other band
their religion. interviews that he writes his best best friends. “Sometimes it’s hard, members, often cites the fans as
Family Force 5, previously known music when he is high. For Family but you definitely learn how to his source of inspiration. “I believe
as “The Phamily” is proud to be Force 5, being a Christian band in a tolerate each other and you always that the kids are the root of our
part of the transition. mainstream world is important and have your family with you when you inspiration; they come to see FF5
“There is a major revolution exciting. need it,” he said. for the experience. They know
taking place in this thing that we Drummer and backup vocalist Mount also has had some it’s not going to be a typical show
call ‘Christian music,’ and Family Jacob Olds, said, “I think it’s great experiences while touring. where we just stand around and
Force 5 is honored to be a part of important for Christian bands “It’s incredible. We’ve met great play music, but what they are going
it,” said guitarist Derek Mount, who to be in the mainstream media. bands and we have made some to get is a good time and a lot of
is better known by his stage name We feel like if we only played in great friends in the process. Our booty shakin.’”
“Chap Stique.” churches we would not be able to Christian views are never put out For a Christian band, faith is
Family Force 5, or simply FF5, get our message out. Sometimes for people to make jokes at, and something that is important to each
consists of Solomon “Soul Glow as Christians we need to play at there is never any peer pressure member. FF5 looks at their faith as
Activatur” Olds, Jacob “Crouton” bars so that everyone can at least when we hang out with the other the glue that holds them together.
Olds, Joshua “Fatty” Olds, Derek hear about our message and our bands,” he said. “We are just normal people.
“Chap Stique” Mount, and Nathan religion.” Mount also added that if Humor is a big inspiration for We are going to make mistakes
“Nadaddy” Currin. they limited themselves to churches the band. Mount said he likes to do regardless of what happens. That’s
Being in a Christian band often they would be missing out on a lot. crazy, random things to get himself the beauty of faith in that when
comes with the territory of having a Touring life has exhausted other in his happy place. something bad happens, you know
bands, and in some cases it has “I like to watch crazy videos that you can and will be forgiven. Our
caused bands to lose members put me in a good mood. Lately I faith leads us and because of it we
have been watching the Star Wars want everyone in this band to do
Holiday Special to get a good laugh well in all aspects of their life,” said
Mount.*

Story and photograph by They’re mainstream.


Sam Marhulik They perform at bars.
Welcome to the
Christian rock
revolution.

14 theyomag.com
H
er eyes are her
most bewitching
feature. Golden-
green, witchy
and glittering.
They lure,
entrance. She speaks volumes
through them but few are smart
enough to listen and see the
calculating hate behind them.
She walks through the
dark, gently avoiding chairs
and customers. The strobes
frequently hit her lips, eyes, and
shiny black hair. People say,
“that’s Maria.” And she keeps up
the pretense. Never let them see
you down.
Always smiling. Always
captivating.
She stares at the wall while he
gratuitously palms her hips, as
though $220 is justification for

lonely
his actions. He grabs her head
and tries to suck her earlobe.
She smells onions, alcohol,
cigars and sweat. It takes all
her willpower to stay put, keep
dancing, feign the moment, not
hit him and cry and yell and

performance
vomit.
And he isn’t even the worst
one.
Not just anybody can be
a dancer, an entertainer, or
an enchantress. Anyone can
take their clothes off on stage,
bounce their ass and spread
Baring their skin their legs. It takes an artist to
keep them coming back, to keep
but not their souls, them enthralled. And the energy
it expends is maddening.
these dancers have This is just a taste of their
world. Not even a glimpse, but

their reasons to more like a cinematic snapshot


on a continuous reel that has
taken over their lives and
keep men coming perpetuates the self-loathing,
the hate and disgust, the
back for more. contempt and the insanity.
The few of them who hold it
By Jessica Woods all together without drugs, who
Illustrations by Kristy Chen keep their kids in nice clothes,
who buy patio sets to entertain
friends, who shop for Steve
Madden shoes and get their
nails done are a rare breed.
Ariel, blond and curvy who
returns home to her husband
and little boy Tori, who loves her
daughter but is compulsively
fall 2008 15
drawn to black, thuggish types.
She is gorgeous, all dark hair
and high cheekbones and
toned legs from running track
in high school. She goes home
Maybe one
to her drug-dealing boyfriends.
Maybe that’s all she thinks
day I can like
she deserves after five
years in the business.
myself again.
“My head absolutely
aches and I have
stomach pain all
the time, from the
drinking, mostly,
but also the late
nights and lack of
sleep. My wallet is
usually fat and so that’s
what I have to show for it. It is
positively addicting. The rush
of going home with four, five,
six hundred dollars per night,
stuffed in my red lace Victoria’s
Secret bra, trading in the eight-
inch heels for another night,”
sighs Maria, dragging
deeply on her Marlboro.

T
hese are the entertainers
of Tiffany Dolls Cabaret in
North Lima, Ohio. They do
Is this what I’m worth? Is this what I am?
not like to be called strippers.
Some of them have been
dancing for years. And they are
wildly successful.
But what their clients do about having money to spend None of these girls can away,” Maria said, humiliation
not know is that they are also than supporting a family or perform at maximum capacity, evident on her face. “This one
students. And their peers and paying student loans. act, deceive or hustle without time on stage, there were a
professors do not know they She perks up, counting her help from a little something. bunch of guys, a bachelor party,
dance. money. She has just worked “day She defies gravity, hanging I think, all sitting together. I
“It’s definitely a double life. shift” from about 1 p.m. to 8 p.m. from one shapely thigh, or remember it was an Ohio State
It’s an interesting dichotomy to “I made 400 dollars today,” she spinning upward, blond hair game night and they were all
be all these personas wrapped brags, orthodontia glistening whipping around her face to the wearing jerseys. The Bucks lost,
into one package. A mother, a under the fluorescent lights of sounds of raucous applause or and I guess this one guy felt
girlfriend, a student, and then the dressing room, flashing her catcalls. compelled to belittle strippers
you come here on the weekend Cheshire-cat grin. Her feats and style are worth as consolation. I remember
and have to turn it all off and be But so empty inside. much more than the five or eight crawling over to him, sexy-like,
something completely different, Naomi flies around the pole, dollars she collects from the his friends were sort of cheering,
a fantasy that you don’t always moves akin to something from floor, and they all know it. but he started shaking his head

A
feel like playing,” said Maria, Cirque du Soleil. Her body has fter a while, a dancer isn’t and tossed a dollar on the stage
24, a Spanish student and single been likened to Shakira, itty- able to turn it off just as and was like, ‘yeah, okay, I see
mother who has been dancing bitty waist and large, lush hips well, and begins to judge you, that’s great, go away.’ I had
for 18 months. and thighs. She is an English her self-worth by how much about two minutes of a song left
But they aren’t all single major, 28, and has been in the money she makes a night. With but I was so stunned I just walked
moms. Jayden has just turned business for seven years. the economy on a downturn, no off. I barely made it to the back
19 and still wears braces on her She is articulate and well- one feels it as much as a dancer. before the tears came. Is this
teeth, a feature that can both spoken, with a penchant for Their money comes only from what I’m worth? Is this what I
work with her or against her. consuming large amounts of how much a man is willing to am? We all have these moments.
She waits tables in Boardman at white wine and champagne, part with on a particular night, But they hurt. And sometimes
Buffalo Wild Wings and majors vices to turn off her student’s and men are fickle creatures. the bad outweighs the good
in business at Youngstown State brain and see her through a There are no paychecks here. moments, at least where self-
University. Her dancing is more successful night. “I’ve had men pay me to go esteem is concerned.”
16 theyomag.com
D
ancers are battling living,” she said, “but he doesn’t “I can’t wait until the day to feel some element of respect
stereotypes and work and hasn’t for years.” I leave this all behind,” said for myself, to assuage the guilt
boyfriends, and it is very The underlying theme with Maria, unplugging her curling and shame that comes with
easy to feel alone in this industry. many dancers is their isolation, iron. Her black hair hangs in the territory of the industry, at
Naomi has had a boyfriend for despite the camaraderie of the her face and catches on her least for some girls. But when
five years. “It is definitely harder girls. Though they are constantly lip gloss. She slips into Guess I go home, I don’t want to be
to find dates. Men are reluctant. being touched, hounded for stilettos and grabs her keys. touched. I’m touched-out. I’m
They see you as immoral, or dates and pressured for “more,” “I can’t wait to have a normal sexed-out, tired of always being
inadequate,” she said. She and their loneliness is evident in life with a job I can be proud this erotic creature who exists
her boyfriend have had “trust their eyes at the end of the of, a home I own and leave the only to satisfy. Maybe one day
issues” but they’ve reached night as they change back into past where it belongs. Maybe I can like myself again. Be the
a “compromise” and he is their “street clothes” and pack meet someone I can hold onto, woman I want my daughter to
“supportive” now, she added. the six or eight-inch stilettos someone who will actually emulate.”
When asked if she feels and sequined gowns into their love me back. That’s been the But for now, there is money.
trapped in the world of dancing, lockers. hardest thing, for me, is trying And that will have to do.*
she said, “I don’t ever feel
trapped. I can have the lifestyle
I want and can still go to school,
whereas with any other job, I
couldn’t. And by lifestyle, I mean
being comfortable, having a
car that runs, eating something
besides hot dogs and Ramen
noodles.”
She said she saw dancing as When I go home, I don’t
“an opportunity I gave a chance
and ended up being successful want to be touched.
at.” She said she has no plans to
“retire” as the girls call it, but I’m touched out.
rather, “I’m happy to do it as
long as I can.”
Naomi has no children and
plans to be an English professor
and earn her master’s degree.
Santana is long, lean and
stunning. She is all finely-tuned
legs and sharp angles, with
cheekbones that could cut glass.
Looking at her, one would never
guess she has two girls under
the age of four.
She dances to rap or R&B,
her mahogany hair and endless
legs luring men to the stage. She
reminisces over nights where
she and Tori used to make “two
or three grand” and “over one
hundred thousand a year,” but
have nothing to show for it now.
“We spent it all, buying clothes,
cars, going out to eat every
day, it was ridiculous,” she said,
laughing. She is finishing school
to be a dental hygienist and has
worked in the business off and
on for five years.
She and her children’s father
have a volatile relationship, one
that is on-again off-again with
serious downs all the while. “It
doesn’t help that I do this for a
fall 2008 17
Yo’- i n s p i re d a r t t o r y
n g s t ow n ’s s
Ar tists tell You
By Samantha Pysher

In a back room of an art studio on Federal Plaza, carefully researches the basis of the painting, such as the
Youngstown artist Ray Simon is hard at work. With a steady history behind the story and a four-week airbrushing
and sure hand, he carefully cuts a black matboard frame frenzy begins.
with an X-acto knife and places it atop one of his many “All of my artwork has a reason,” Simon said humbly.
prints, which have been seen by everyone from President “We love to tell stories with paintings.”
Bush to Katie Couric. Simon’s inspiration is simple — Youngstown artist Bob Barko Jr. also draws inspiration
growing up in Youngstown. from the Yo’.
“Our paintings are everywhere,” said Simon proudly. “I get so mad when people say bad things about
“Every year, the president passes out my paintings at the Youngstown,” Barko said. “The truth is that we have a great
police memorial in Washington, D.C.” place, and I want to show that.”
Simon has made prints from a Kelly Pavlik tribute to an One of Barko’s most recent creations, a brightly painted
“Operation Iraqi Freedom” print that features the toppling traveling mural 24 feet wide by 6 feet tall called “Here in
of Saddam Hussein’s statue, a little Iraqi girl waving an Simon Youngstown,” depicts a visual history of Youngstown, from
American flag, a jet and a group of soldiers and tanks. Idora Park to the the Chevrolet Centre. The mural took
With the Pavlik “Forged in Fire, Iron, and Steel,” over 100 hours to complete.
tribute painting, Simon said he wanted to replicate the “I designed the traveling mural to a scale that could be
environment that Pavlik grew up in. produced onto a building,” Barko said.
“I wanted to show the tough roots of Youngstown,” said Although he didn’t major in art, Barko found a way to
Simon, who has worked out of his Federal Plaza studio leave his signature on YSU turf. Though it took him 10
since 1989. years, he painted every single fire hydrant to look like a
One year, Simon said he got the surprise of a lifetime penguin.
when he received an e-mail from one of President Recollecting his past prints, and leaning back in a 1950s
Bush’s agents explaining that Bush wanted the “Fields of style office chair, Barko said he released his first print,
Freedom” painting for the White House. “Youngstown Skyline,” in 1996.
“Fields of Freedom,” one of Simon’s favorite paintings, Diligently drawing with colored pencil and ink for his
shows an eagle with a light red, white and blue eye flying Barko smaller prints and paint for murals, Barko spends 20 hours
over a field that has a lightly airbrushed flag flowing on average per piece after extensive research.
over it. “The people that live here have a great nostalgia for the
All of his hard work takes time, though. Simon city,” said Barko, “and we have a great history.” *

18 theyomag.com
blurring gender roles
Youngstown residents redefine stereotypes
By Emmalee Torisk

Photo courtesy of Alyson Cadman


Alyson Cadman, karate instructor, does forms at the Las Vegas Spring Nationals in February 2008. She placed third in the that part of the competition.

shooting down upon meeting her fiance, Eric, Bechtel really


got into hunting and went out in the woods
member of their sex. They’ve metaphorically
gone back to the drawing board to rewrite

stereotypes for the very first time. The experience was


transformational, and Bechtel loved it.
the roles and identities of both males and
females, but are also disassembling old,

A
“I like being outside and seeing and dying and outdated stereotypes, some they
shley Bechtel knows a lot more hearing all of the things that you normally feel never really made sense in the first
women who would rather save wouldn’t get a chance to see or pay attention place.
Bambi than shoot him. to,” Bechtel said, adding that, in addition Bechtel’s passion for such an unlikely
Nonetheless, the latter better to deer, she’s seen foxes and coyotes while feminine pursuit is what differentiates her
describes this YSU freshman hunting in southeastern Ashtabula County. from many of her gender. According to
and accounting major, who has participated “It might seem like it would be boring, Bechtel, although her guy friends don’t really
in whitetail deer hunting for around three or but you’re constantly on edge when you’re have a problem with her hobby and her male
four years. hunting. You have to be aware of everything family members find it “kind of neat,” her girl
So what inspired this otherwise traditional that is going on around you — every sound friends think that it’s amusing, to say the least,
female to take up a sport so dominated by and every movement. There is nothing more but don’t really get it.
males? While growing up, Bechtel’s best exciting for me than having a buck come Additionally, her female family members
friend’s parents were big hunters who took within range and getting a shot at him.” joke and kid around with her about such a
her and her friend to a hunter’s safety course. Like Bechtel, other Youngstown-area nontraditional pastime, but Bechtel readily
Through shooting their crossbow and her men and women are breaking free from the admits that everyone supports her hunting.
grandfather’s guns, Bechtel discovered she traditional restraints of their gender and Perhaps this is because of the attitude of her
really enjoyed target practice. And later, reinterpreting what exactly it means to be a small hometown of Andover where hunting
19
percent since 2001. This number is
increasing every year. Additionally, reinventing
the survey found that women ages
18 to 24 represent the fastest- a craft
growing group of female hunters
and shooters. This idea of gender role
Despite feeling that it has reinterpretation also applies to a
become more acceptable for most basic and traditional craft:
women to take up hunting today, knitting. By taking a once very
Bechtel acknowledges that men domestic pursuit, loaded with
do have some advantages within gender specificity, and turning it
the sport. For instance, Bechtel into a structural form of art, YSU

Photo by Mark Reis/Colorado Springs Gazette/MCT


said men have more strength in catalog librarian Kevin Whitfield
dragging deer out of the woods. not only breaks the stereotypes of
Also, men would likely have the craft, but also that of knitters.
an easier time actually gutting Originally hailing from Canada,
the deer, something Bechtel Whitfield is a man who has knitted
“definitely” doesn’t like to do. for nearly 20 years. He has a
Additionally, Bechtel usually background and degree in art and he
wears a lot of layers under her knits and exhibits highly-sculptural
camouflage while hunting because textile art objects that bring knitting
she gets cold easily, and sometimes far beyond the production of
has problems finding good gloves garments. Some of his most recent
Jamie Beyerle competed in the Beijing Games on the U.S. shooting team in the that are small enough. Bechtel pieces, shown in Maag Library at
Women’s 3 Position Rifle competition June in Colorado Springs, Colo. can’t use a compound bow this year’s university-hosted Summer
because she is not strong enough Festival of the Arts, are actually knit
is just a part of life, Bechtel said, trip is a prime example of this.
suits — a combination of body and
remembering days off school on Although looking for something for to pull it back, and said it’s also
garment — that join true-to-life
the first day of gun season. her bow, the salesman “pretty much more difficult for women to prepare
for hunting since everyone, both personal histories with actual figural
“If I was from somewhere that ignored” her and spoke mostly to
representations.
hunting wasn’t so important to her fiance, who actually wasn’t even males and females, should wash
with special scent-free soap and According to Whitfield, these
everyone, then people probably trying to buy anything for himself.
shampoo. This, at least for Bechtel, pieces (regarded as a veritable
wouldn’t accept me as a female Even so, Bechtel just laughed the
“second skin”) both represent
hunter so much,” Bechtel said. “It’s experience off and said she doesn’t eliminates good conditioners and
styling products, resulting in “hair identity, gender and the possible
kind of expected of males from my blame the salesman. If she were
that goes nuts.” blurring of lines between
town to be hunters. People would a saleswoman in a kitchen store,
Crazy hair and too-big gloves masculinity and femininity. Although
probably find it odder if I was she would obviously try to make
aside, that’s really it. Bechtel his “skins” possess elements of both
a male who never went hunting the sale to the woman, and not her
says she has just as good of an genders, they were created through
rather than a female who does hunt. husband, Bechtel said, adding that
aim as other men and proudly a traditionally feminine art. In this
Everyone seems to support me, so if she was that bothered by being
noted that she has even been way, an “interchangeability between
it’s never been a big deal being a one of the few women in a male
a more successful hunter than sexes” exists — the switch is “as
female in a male sport.” sport, she probably never would
some men she knows. Although simple as putting on a new suit,”
Still, people usually seem have even began hunting.
she completely understands the Whitfield said.
surprised when they find out she’s Although female hunters are
reasons for hunting being a more Despite using knitting to
a hunter, said Bechtel, who notes still in a clear minority, they are
masculine pursuit, Bechtel thinks primarily create art pieces,
that women usually seem more no longer a complete oddity,
it’s worth it, regardless of gender. Whitfield began knitting basic
surprised than men. Some don’t according to recent statistics.
“You have to sit in the cold, items like sweaters and mittens
even believe it when she first tells This leads many to believe the
sometimes rain or snow, with the soon after his sister taught him
them about her hobby, and Bechtel portrait of the typical hunter is
possibility of not even seeing a the elementary steps of the craft.
also admits that it is common for changing. In fact, according to a
deer. I don’t blame a lot of women He became “hooked” on knitting.
people to adhere to time-worn survey conducted by the National
for not wanting to do that,” Bechtel However, Whitfield eventually
stereotypes, whether they do it Sporting Goods Association,
said. “However, I would definitely began to notice something
consciously or not. 2.4 million women hunted with
encourage other women to give intriguing about his work.
A Gander Mountain shopping firearms in 2005, an increase of 72
hunting a shot. I know that it sounds “My knitted items began to
boring and uncomfortable, but I suggest body parts,” Whitfield
“When you do actually get a can honestly say that when you do said, as he leaned forward over his
actually get a deer, there is nothing desk in Maag Library. “A sweater
deer, there is nothing more more exciting. Plus, it’s pretty cool resembled a torso, while a glove
exciting. Plus, it’s pretty cool to to be a girl and get a bigger buck looked like a hand. Even cabling
than a lot of other guys for the was like muscle or bone structure.
be a girl and get a bigger buck season.” This led to my reinterpretation of
than a lot of other guys for the knitting to create figurative items. I
wanted to expand knitting and make
season.” — Ashley Bechtel things people didn’t expect to see.”
It was in Japan in the early ’90s
that Whitfield began knitting

20 theyomag.com
figures and rethinking knitting as some integrate DNA patterns into They range from absolute between the years of 2002 and
an actual art form. While living otherwise traditional scarves. In this fascination to complete hostility, but 2004, the number of women knitters
there, Whitfield observed the way, knitting has become an almost what are you going to do? There are in the USA increased 150 percent.
significance of fiber, especially silk infinite and limitless medium. going to be people who love what “Knitting has been in decline for
and more crude elements like rice “Knitting is so versatile that you do and those who dislike it,” a very long time,” said Whitfield.
stems, in the Eastern art world. you can do anything you want to,” Whitfield said. “Most everything in the art world
He managed to translate these Whitfield said. “Both females and According to the Craft Yarn has its ebbs and flows, but knitting
ideals and influences into a more males can interpret knitting in any Council of America, an industry will always have its place. It will
Western interpretation. This began way. It depends upon the individual. group that does knitting trend never fade out completely because
as the churning out of numerous There are no gender restrictions to research, the number of men there will always be die-hards like
knit body parts that actual garments it, at least to the individual. Society who knit has increased to myself.”
suggested, including a male torso teaches us to behave according approximately 2.6 million from 1.5
of jute, but eventually evolved to certain restrictions, but we can million. This makes male knitters
into the creation of complete knit
figures representing the entire
Reclaiming
body.
Now, guided by these concepts,
“Society teaches us to a role
much of this contemporary artist’s
behave according to certain
Just as knitting was once a manly
work questions the permanence of restrictions, but we can cross art, so was cheerleading; lately, this
identity, including sexual identity,
by taking the personal histories
those boundaries as we see fit.” has lead some male cheerleaders
to — surprisingly enough — return
and thoughts of his subjects and — Kevin Whitfield to their roots. The first cheerleader,
rendering them and their stories in 1898 at a University of Minnesota
into knit sculptures that represent football game, was a man.
each subject’s individual body. Presidents Dwight D. Eisenhower
The words Whitfield embroiders and George W. Bush were male
or knits into the garment have dual cheerleaders and each were
meanings: first, they stand for the cross those boundaries as we see about five percent of the entire deemed by the collegiate crowd as
“things people had to say about fit.” knitting population. Additionally, future “Most Likely to Succeed.”
themselves and their lives,” he said. Despite the feminine label
Second, they represent the degree knitting has developed over the
of insignificance words have on the years, this belief is just a construct.
vast majority of current, machine- It was only during the 19th century
manufactured clothing. and the advent of the Industrial
“In this way, I could exhibit Revolution that knitting became
people’s stories and take it a associated with women who found
step further by actually knitting themselves with additional leisure
their body,” Whitfield said. “Each time. Prior to that, knitting was
garment is the size of that person’s started by and belonged to men.
body with the words they said. And now, in spite of its gender
They’re not necessarily as pleasant stereotypes, men — including
as I would have liked, but I was true Whitfield — are taking knitting
to them [in my work].” back.
Whitfield’s work throughout Modern knitters are an
the years has earned him much interesting bunch, coming from
acclaim, both in the country, at the all ages, all walks of life and both
Butler Institute of American Art and genders. Whitfield attributed this to
the Museum of Contemporary Craft, the idea that perhaps knitting is not
and abroad in Canada and Japan, at all a gender-specific activity, and
where he won a prize. cited the existence of a “gender
Through his passion for and spectrum or continuum.” On this
reinvention of the craft of knitting, continuum, Whitfield said, everyone
Whitfield has elevated from an is made up of both masculine and
almost necessary, utilitarian act to feminine traits, but some people
Photo Courtesy of Jeneane Crago

an art form. are further on certain sides of the


Whitfield, however, is just one spectrum than others. Additionally,
of a plethora of knitters working Whitfield acknowledged a lack of
to distort the traditional face of exposure to males in the knitting
knitting. He named artists who, world, but also mentioned that
instead of knitting socks and in Canada, when men do knit, it
sweaters, are creating knit plates is rather “normal and accepted.”
and teacups, knit weaponry — Interestingly enough, while knitting
including guns and landmines in public, Whitfield has received
— and knit cozies for everything many positive — and some
from houses to tanks. Additionally, negative — reactions.
other knitters are basing sweaters “Sometimes I knit in public to YSU cheerleader Scott Rouan performs a shoulder sit with partner Jeneane
on mathematical formulas, while deliberately provoke a response. Crago during a Fall 2008 football game.
fall 2008 21
Regardless, World War II “The reactions I have seen have gymnastics and technique. honors, including the title of Ohio
depleted American universities of never been negative. It’s hard to Typically, Rouan cheers at all State Champion in 2002, 2003, 2004
many young men, and it was then believe, but most people who find football and basketball home and 2008, and Top Ten in 2002 and
that cheerleading became almost out I’m a cheerleader think it’s games (and some away games), 2007.
exclusively a feminine domain, and pretty amazing. Other reactions as well as at various events where Cadman is a certified instructor
the image of the pert, perky and have been that of neutrality or the cheerleaders’ presence is at Austintown ATA Black Belt
popular female cheerleader who surprise, but never insult,” Rouan requested. Academy through attending
rarely, if ever, exhibited any athletic said. Despite his hectic schedule, numerous certification clinics
skills was born. In the 20-member YSU Rouan said the perks of being around the world. She has been a
All of this was long before cheerleading squad, three a cheerleader far outweigh any teacher for five years and practices
cheerleading became the highly cheerleaders including Rouan are negative aspects. karate six days each week.
athleticized, gymnastics-based male. “You’d be surprised how fun Since starting karate, the
sport it is today. Contemporary According to American it is to just try something new reactions of her family and friends
cheerleading is a far cry from what Sports Data, Inc., 97 percent of sometime,” Rouan said. “I suppose haven’t changed all that much,
it once was in the decades past; all cheerleaders are female, but it’s something like gymnastics. except to perhaps realize how large
cheerleaders today build human nearly 50 percent of collegiate Though someone may find it odd of a role karate plays in Cadman’s
pyramids, throw their teammates cheerleaders are male. Although that a guy is attending a gymnastics life. Whenever anyone finds out
through the air and balance other the guys are outnumbered by class, once they see what he can do, about Cadman’s passion for the
cheerleaders on their legs, arms women, Rouan said this gender their opinion changes.” sport, the response is typically,
and shoulders. Cheerleading disparity does not stop him from “Better not mess with you.”
today is definitely about strength, having fun, although it does cause While women don’t tend to react
which is a characteristic YSU male
cheerleader Scott Rouan believes
a “lack of communication on both
sides because most of us have
Raising the bar as much, men often want proof that
she can beat them up, which, with the
is absolutely necessary for all nothing in common.” Alyson Cadman, a YSU skills Cadman possesses, including
cheerleaders. Even so, since the start of his sophomore and physical therapy punching, kicking, board breaking,
Rouan, a junior chemical cheering career, Rouan has been major, probably felt similarly at her sparring, self defense and the use of
engineering major, is originally able to see things and meet people first karate class 12 years ago. The weapons, is very possible.
from Mineral Ridge and likes he never would have imagined, 19-year-old taekwondo instructor Cadman has even inspired
listening to music and hanging out but he has also gained a great from Struthers first began taking some to take up the sport as well,
with his friends on the weekends. deal of strength, he said. Rouan karate classes at the age of seven regardless of their gender. Cadman
However, unlike most other also noted that in the sport, men when her mom had a coupon. said most of the time when men
21-year-old guys, Rouan is a male must concentrate more on the At the time, Cadman thought sign up for classes, they primarily
cheerleader and has been cheering physical aspects, like their strength the sport “looked like fun.” Little want to learn how to fight; women
on the YSU Penguins for about and height, in order to be able did she know that in the years that are more interested in self defense
three and a half years. Although it’s to perform lifts and throws, while followed she would earn a fourth- or physical fitness.
more common today to see men women tend to focus more on degree black belt and numerous “Even so, there is not much of
playing on the field than cheering a difference between men and
on the sidelines, Rouan thinks it women in this sport,” Cadman

Photo courtesy of Alyson Cadman


is becoming more acceptable to said. “You need to have control,
be a male cheerleader, especially discipline and determination.
with depictions of them in the films As long as you have the will to
“Bring It On” and “High School improve, we can help anyone
Musical.” develop the skills you need to be
“When I first started, I was successful in karate.”
incredibly nervous about my first Male or female, karate can be a
game. I was worried about what great stress reliever and workout,
people would think of me and how I but it can also test your limits,
would react,” Rouan said. “However, Cadman said. Although she said
I was surprised at how many people many sports probably start out as
were cheering me on when I did male activities, karate is slowly
stunts and how everyone was beginning to even out. In fact,
shocked when we put up pyramids. more and more girls and women
After that day, I was much less are taking classes than ever,
worried about how people would according to Cadman, who said the
react to my cheerleading.” girls’ locker room is beginning to
Introduced to the sport by a get too crowded. However, there
step-cousin who encouraged him are still times when she feels as
to attend a cheerleading practice though she’s one of a small group of
a few years ago, Rouan admitted females in a male-dominated sport.
initially his friends found it “odd” “Usually it helps me challenge
he would try something like this. myself a little more and it makes
Now, his friends come to games to men realize that women can do
watch the Penguins and see Rouan everything they can,” Cadman
cheer. Additionally, Rouan said his said. “I think it’s great to be able
family, among others, has always to have a choice; if you’re good at
been supportive of his choice to Alyson Cadman spars with another competitor during an August 2008 something, it shouldn’t matter if
cheer. tournament at Slippery Rock University in Pa. She placed second in sparring. you’re a man or woman.” *
22 theyomag.com
[A Yo* Diary] [Yo* Profile]
Coming to America: By Todd Mounce

a dream gone bad W


ho would have
thought that a
guy who grew
Immigrating to a country at social war with Arab and Muslim up outside Weirton, W. Va.,
cultures after 9/11 was the wrong time to come to America. would be leading a charge
to defend Youngstown? For
By Mariam Bshara were about the quality of life, lack Phil Kidd, what started out as
of racism and freedom of speech, a slogan on a sign and T-shirt

C
oming to the United States and the unmet needs of my life has turned into a movement.
was such a great relief in Palestine. We came here in Weirton is not that
to me, moving from an December 2001, right after 9/11 different than Youngstown,
occupied country to the country of — the worst timing to come to the a small steel town where
freedom, from Palestine to America. United States. In the airport we had Kidd’s family worked. Kidd
But it wasn’t too long until I noticed to go through elaborate security. It’s became fascinated with
how wrong my expectations were, so hard on one to move from one Youngstown as a student
or how much misunderstandings house to the other, but it was harder serving in the ROTC at
turned my dream into a nightmare. to move from a country to another. Youngstown State University
In Palestine, we got to a point I thought that representing in the late ’90s. The Yo’s

Photo by Andrew Berry


where it took us about an hour my country and being a proud eerie infrastructure — an
to get to school on foot, and we Palestinian would be appreciated, apocalyptic, industrial ruin
were always in danger at the but instead, I was spit on and — drew him back to found
checkpoints. I got slapped once, cursed out for wearing my “Right Defend Youngstown as the
and when my uncle came to talk to to Return, 1948 Palestine” shirt at grassroots compliment to
the soldier who hit me, he got hit on Youngstown State University. the city’s revitalization plan.
the shoulder with the side of a gun
and injured pretty badly. We ended
up living in my uncle’s house next
People have literally walked away Though the Yo’ was left for dead
from me after finding out I am Arabic, after the closing of the mills, Kidd Making
the case for
considering me a terrorist walking believes the city has the potential
to the school for about a month, and around with a gun at my side. for unique redevelopment.
that was even harder. After that we I’d like to clear a few things up. “The Youngstown 2010 plan
decided we were leaving.
My only thoughts of America
In the Middle East there are two
main faiths, Islam and Christianity,
and in Palestine both
brought me back,” Kidd said.
“People were looking for answers,
and they didn’t know how to solve
Youngstown
religions lived together. the problems of a city in peril.”
We shared the same Criticism came with international How Phil Kidd
culture and traditions praise for the city’s efforts to get is defending the Yo’
with the exception of a back on its feet.
few rules.When it comes In 2008 Forbes named Youngstown not because they have to be. They’re
to clothes, Palestinian one the 10 fastest dying cities in here because they accept the
Christians dress just like America, and Rolling Stone has challenges but want to make a direct
women here in the United ripped into Youngstown as being difference,” says Kidd. “We are giving
States, but with a few the armpit of Ohio. people reasons to come back now.”
restrictions, like nothing “Ten years ago ... we might have Kidd served as the city’s
from under the clothes. said, ‘Oh well, another black eye for director of events and marketing
Men wear whatever they Youngstown.’ Today, because of our until recently taking a job with
like. Muslim women wear fight for change, you’re going to get the Mahoning Valley Organizing
a scarf covering their hair return fire,” Kidd said. Collaborative, which seeks to
and sometimes their faces.  “At the end of the day we don’t organize neighborhood cleanup
While the United give a shit about what a pop culture and renewal. He sounds like he’s
States is known for magazine says about Youngstown. planning to stay for good.
peace, justice, equality The opinions of national urban- “One day, I want to be sitting at
and fairness, this only policy experts speak for us.” the Royal Oaks Bar when I’m 75,
applies to its natives, Kidd took to the streets downtown, doing a shot, and I want to hear
not foreigners, in my just him and his slogan on a sign. It some young person my age say,
experience. It’s my hope didn’t take long for the idea to catch ‘How was Youngstown ever that bad?
that more Americans on. T-shirts with the slogan came I don’t understand how it ever could
try looking beyond a next, and Kidd says shirt sales have have been that bad. This is a cool
Photo Courtesy of the writer

foreign name, unfamiliar topped 10,000 worldwide. little city,’” Kidd says smiling. “If I
language or different The next step was the hear that, I’ll do my shot with a grisly
religion. By the way — I Defend Youngstown Web site, smile. I could walk out that door and
am a Roman Catholic.* which promotes Youngstown’s get hit by a bus, but I would be fine
advancement efforts. with that because I’d die knowing
“People now are here by choice, we won.”*
fall 2008 23
Calling all writers, editors,
designers and photographers

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