Magazine and features

Crime and punishment: BGSU Alumnus is first female international prosecutor in Sierra Leone BGSU Magazine, Spring 2013

WITH HUNDREDS OF PEOPLE FORCED TO WATCH and wait their turns, a soldier would calmly ask, “Which of your hands would you prefer to be removed?” before a comrade would slice it off.

International prosecutor Brenda Hollis ’68 heard eerily similar accounts of such horrifying experiences from survivor after survivor of the war in West Africa. Those victims who didn’t bleed to death or develop a fatal infection as a result of the maiming by the child soldiers or rebels would spend the rest of their lives struggling to remain independent and relearning how to maintain daily tasks without one or both of their hands, feet or limbs. One man told Hollis that he needs his young son to dress him, after bargaining to sacrifice both of his hands in order to spare injury to the boy.

For nearly two decades, Hollis has worked to investigate, indict and prosecute high-ranking officials involved in war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide all over the world. She is the first female chief prosecutor for Sierra Leone, and her work on behalf of the United Nations and the Special Court for Sierra Leone has been instrumental in each of the ad hoc war crimes tribunals in the 1990s, which were the first tribunals established since Nazis were tried at Nuremberg.


Study program pairs inmates, UT students
Toledo Blade, 12/12/2010

There was nervous laughter and escalating chatter as high-profile visitors to a college course held at the Toledo Correctional Institution were asked an unexpected question: “If you were an animal, what would you be?”

With students in a small inside circle facing their visitors in a larger outside circle, a 22-year-old man in prison blues prodded Warden Kevin Smith. He was slow to answer.

“From the obvious standpoint, you’d want to be something that is in charge of something, that’s fearless,” the prisoner, Shannon, said.

An eagle, the warden conceded, because it owns the sky. A three-toed sloth, the prisoner said of himself, “Because they’re in the jungle and all they do is hang out in trees all day. There’s a lot of rough stuff, panthers and stuff. And I’m just sitting up there, far away. They’re not into that stuff.”

This was the community’s first glimpse of the Inside-Out Prison Exchange Program — a course that introduces prisoners and college students as equals in the classroom to discuss social and political topics for university credit. The first program of its kind in northwest Ohio, the idea started at Temple University in 2002. Now, several colleges in Ohio have embraced the concept, including Xavier University, the College of Wooster, Ohio University, and Ohio State University.


Versatile piano man can range from takes on hip-hop to softer side (Ben Folds)
Toledo Blade, 4/10/2008

Piano man Ben Folds doesn’t shock easily.

After 10 years of touring first as the front man for Ben Folds Five, best known for the 1997 hit ballad Brick, then going solo when the band split in 2000, Folds thrills audiences by embracing the unexpected.

Scheduled to appear at Adrian College Wednesday, the 40-year-old singer-songwriter typically slams sometimes stomps songs out of the piano while coaching the crowd to cheer him on by singing along or adding a harmonic ba da da.

Gasping fans interrupted the song Jesusland when a stunt tricked them into believing a drunk guy dropped from a balcony during a concert for in Nashville in October, 2006. Folds even feigned open-mouth shock during the staged thud, when his crew dropped a dummy from the balcony during the soft miles and miles interlude of the song.

Not that Folds needs a stunt man to keep things interesting.

Before his special appearance with the Boston Pops last May, what should have been a study in good manners became a real brawl. A fist fight erupted in a balcony when one concert-goer told another to pipe down as the symphony performed before being joined by Folds.

On stage, Folds doesn’t flinch when it comes to surprises. But when college administrators tried to censor his performance last month in Mount Berry, Ga., he was the one caught off-guard.


Black Keys resists star status
Toledo Blade, 7/31/2008

Don’t always believe what you read about the Black Keys.

Since the Akron-based duo Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney first started jamming together in high school, they’ve risen to reign over the indie rock scene with their trademark gritty blues-based recordings that play like dusty 1970s B-sides.

They’ve resisted rock’s ultimate sin of selling out by avoiding major record label manipulation. Until their fifth and latest album, Attack and Release which was recorded in Painesville, Ohio, and coarsely polished by producer Brian Danger Mouse Burton of Gnarls Barkley the pair defended their affinity for recording in basements and warehouses by producing their own cuts.

Maybe that’s why they get a kick out of faking out the mainstream media. Prepare to be laughed at if you ask about the piles of retro jogging suits they told Maxim magazine in June they collect on tour.

“We like to make up stories when we talk to the magazines. Usually when we do interviews together, we totally lie,” Auerbach said in a recent solo phone interview.

They’ll stop at Toledo Civic Theatre at the Erie Street Market downtown Saturday, on a tour that has them selling out clubs in New York City and Chicago and playing major summer music festivals like Lollapalooza. Tickets for their Toledo show are $25 at the door.


Grey’s Anatomy was on Ingrid Michaelson’s road to success
Toledo Blade’s Peach Weekender, 11/20/2008

If you don’t know the name, you probably know the tune.

Ingrid Michaelson emerged from musical obscurity last year after her playful, acoustic declaration of love, The Way I Am, was featured in the ABC television show Grey s Anatomy. An agent who pitches music for the prime time drama propelled Michaelson s rise after discovering her page in late 2006.

There were other network shows, a Chevrolet commercial. But the cutesy tune wasn’t truly recognizable until Old Navy picked it up as the soundtrack of their holiday sweater campaign last year.

Try to hear it: If you are chilly, here take my sweater … Cause I [clap clap] love the way you call me baby. And you [clap clap] take me the way I am.

After several more of her tunes landed on Grey’s, her self-produced album, Girls and Boys, started to move. However one may measure musical success in the digital age selling more than 700,000 single downloads, climbing to No. 53 on iTunes charts, making the Billboard Top 200 Michaelson had it covered. She showed up on Good Morning America in February and shared several summer stage dates with the Dave Matthews Band.

But if you want to make nice with this bespectacled indie rock heroine, don’t use the f-word.

“I’m not famous,” she told The Blade in a recent phone interview, in anticipation of her sold-out show at The Ark in Ann Arbor tonight. “I have not made it. It’s so fleeting, believe me. It’s depressing but it’s true.”


Heavy Metal Rules the World BGSU Magazine, Fall 2012

The lead singer pumps her fist and tosses her head back and forth, flanked by two guitarists who power through the gritty opening riffs. The Canadian metal band Diemonds dedicates the same energy on stage whether playing for a modest audience of about a dozen fans at Frankie’s, a bar and concert venue in Toledo, or a crowd of thousands in remote India. During their first and only overseas tour three years ago, the rockers trekked rural northeast India for more than 50 hours on rudimentary roadways. Audiences of as many as 20,000 fans overwhelmed them. “We had armed guards. It was kind of surreal,” said Priya Panda, lead singer of Diemonds.

Such a phenomenon is a source of academic interest for Dr. Jeremy Wallach, associate professor in the Department of Popular Culture. The new book he co-edited, “Metal Rules the Globe: Heavy Metal Music around the World,” is a collection of research and field observations exploring the worldwide impact of the pervasive musical genre written by many of the most renowned academic scholars in popular culture and ethnomusicology.

The popularity of the heavy metal genre in such developing nations as India may indicate social change or a response to globalization, Wallach asserts.

“Metal seems to embody the ideology of freedom and independence,” Wallach said. “Looking at these bands and their historical presence in places like Poland, Belarus, Estonia and Lithuania and all the former Soviet republics, I think we’re underestimating their significance.”