Vinyl Record Sales Rise Among Young People

(Written January 2014)


Disc Jockey Emily Scholle has a passion for vinyl records, one that began with a pair of tiny, dirty toddler hands and a sense of rebellion.

“Vinyl always did have a little something extra for me,” Scholle said. “We had a couple of records when I was really little growing up, and I was never allowed to touch them, because when you’re little your hands are all grubby and stuff. It was this big forbidden thing, so that’s part of what the draw was for me.”

Scholle has DJed for KJHK in Lawrence and plays various gigs under the moniker DJ Modrey Hepburn, but you won’t find her simply plugging in her computer and watching two people on the dance floor do the electric slide; Scholle is a rare breed of DJ who plays exclusively vinyl at her shows, mostly from the 1950s and ’60s.

Scholle’s infatuation with vinyl is indicative of a larger trend in the music industry over the last five years in which sales of vinyl LPs have increased from 1.9 million in 2008 to 6 million in 2013, according to Digital Music News.

Kelly Corcoran, who owns Love Garden Sounds on Eighth and Massachusetts Streets and has over 2,500 records, says this vinyl revival isn’t the result of middle-aged people reliving their youth through old Rod Stewart albums, but young 20-somethings looking to rebel through music, just as Scholle was.

“A whole generation of people have been taught their culture is irrelevant and has no value because baby-boomers always say, ‘Well, The Beatles are the best,’ and that gets annoying,” Corcoran said. “Young people are buying records because they’re thinking, ‘This physical thing reinforces my taste and it means my taste has value. Look, they made a record, and it must be a big deal if they made a record.’”

To see how big of an influence young adults are having on vinyl sales, just look at Billboard’s top 10 best selling vinyl albums of 2013, a list that includes Daft Punk (“Random Access Memories”), Arcade Fire (“Reflektor”) and Vampire Weekend (“Modern Vampires of the City”), among other contemporary bands.

But there’s more at play here than just musical revolt when it comes to the increase in vinyl sales. From the light thud a needle makes when it’s dropped onto a record to having to physically flip it to continue to hear the music, Corcoran says listening to vinyl is a process people simply enjoy.

“It’s a learned process and requires an appreciation for stopping for a minute, that’s what people like about it,” Corcoran said. “I’ll literally sit there like some hippie in ’72 and look inside the gatefold and just gawk at the pictures and be really curious.”

In a time when sales of typical music mediums like CDs and digital albums are dropping, vinyl LPs are experiencing such unprecedented growth that the music industry is being forced to accommodate it. According to Nielsen SoundScan, 2013 saw CD sales dropped by 14.5 percent, and for the first time since the creation of iTunes, digital album sales dipped into the negative, declining by .01 percent. Juxtaposed to that are the sales of vinyl LPs, which grew by 32 percent in the past year.

“You definitely don’t run into any artists who aren’t on vinyl,” said Franklin Fantini, an employee at Love Garden Sounds. “Anybody that’s on a decently sized label is going to be releasing everything on CD, digital and vinyl, so there’s rarely anything new that you can’t find on vinyl now.”

However, as vinyl records continue their inevitable ascension from hipster niche to mainstream, they could face the same issue as the popular indie bands on their covers: Sellin’ out and losing the fans that were there from the beginning, man.

“There was a time when new music on vinyl was a rare thing,” Scholle said. “Maybe some indie bands would put out a vinyl just for the heck of it, but as it gets more popular, the price of vinyl has gone up too, and that really sucks.”

Photo by George Mullinix

Scary Larry

(October 2013)

An adulterer-governor and his dead, underage mistress. A Clyde Barrow robber. Sad Native American spirits. No, this isn’t an excerpt from a Stephen King blurb, these are the focus of three stories that help make Lawrence one of the spookiest towns not only in Kansas, but in the entire Midwest.

After speaking with paranormal experts in the state, we created a list of the top three locations in Lawrence with the strongest paranormal presence and most intriguing ghost stories. Among the top three, in no particular order, are the Sigma Nu Fraternity, Merchants Pub & Plate, and the Haskell Cemetery.

Sigma Nu

The Sigma Nu fraternity house makes for what may be the most compelling and spookiest haunting of this list.

“Sigma Nu has a great story,” said Brenda Mason, the founder of the Kansas Paranormal Society. “It’s a romantic story with tragic loss, and the spirit in the house is extremely present there too.”

The spirt Mason speaks of is one named Virginia, the fourteen year-old love interest of the old Kansas Governor Walter Stubbs. The house that now belongs to Sigma Nu was once the home of Governor Stubbs, and one night upon returning to his house from Topeka, Stubbs found Virginia hanging from a chandelier on the third floor. Rocking gently in a chair next to Virginia’s body was Stubbs wife, who was later committed to a mental health asylum.

As far as paranormal activity goes, investigators and the boys who have lived in the house say Virginia makes her presence known. Former residents have felt light touching on their feet while laying in their beds, and the Paranormal Society had a mounted camera in the building thrown and left swinging from the ceiling. But one of the more eery tales says Virginia’s ashes are kept behind a plaque near the fire place, and that those ashes are responsible for a piece of wood paneling on the opposite side of the wall refusing to stay attached.

Nevertheless, visitors of Sigma Nu shouldn’t be scared for their safety. Virginia doesn’t seem to be out for blood, but just a little attention like any teenage girl.

“I don’t get an evil vibe at all from her,” said registered metaphysical practitioner Lena Townsend. “There was a love story there that wasn’t shared at the time, and she’s there to make her self known because she loved him so much that she just couldn’t leave.”


In this haunted bank-turned-restaurant, another juicy story helps raise the spookiness from “Hm, that’s kind of weird,” to “Get me the hell out of here, now.”

Merchants, which used to be the First National Bank of Lawrence, is believed by many to be the first robbery of Clyde Barrow, one-half of the infamous outlaw duo known as Bonnie and Clyde.

While Barrow himself does not haunt what are now buffet tables, the historical significance of the place is enough to keep some spirits around.

“The thing with these haunted places is is that you’re usually going to find out they’re related to historical events and Lawrence has that,” said Mason. “What we’ve found is that it’s never really related to current stuff, it’s connected to the land and all that energy that is now there.”

One of the spirits that has apparently connected to that energy is that of an old poker player who was caught cheating and killed, according to Townsend’s psychic pick-ups.

Now that spirit will toy with the workers at merchants by moving chairs on and off the tables and move noisily up and down the stairs of the building, giving off an understandably creepy vibe; a far cry from his alcohol-fueled poker-cheating days.

Haskell Cemetery

In what has to be without a doubt the saddest ghost story in Lawrence, the cemetery near Haskell University serves as the final resting place for many Native American children.

As one of the stops along the Lawrence ghost tours, many people have reported seeing small apparitions roaming the grounds. These are, according to Lawrence Ghost Tour Guide Beth Kornegay, the spirits of long-dead Native American babies.

“This definitely represents one of the saddest parts of Kansas history,” Kornegay said. “Children who were buried here died when they were taken from their families to help assimilate. Unfortunately, these children died because they had no immunities and were exposed to the white-man’s disease.”

Townsend added that you don’t need the third eye to pick up on the sad spirits at the cemetery.

“If you just go stand in the gazebo area of the campus, even if you’re not an attuned psychic, you can almost get a visual sense of the things that happened there so man years ago. You can see children, not college-aged, just kind of wandering, and there’s a very strong presence of sad children.”

American Outlaws Pre-Game Hype

(March 2014)


This is a game about opportunities.

23 specifically.

This matchup allows Coach Jurgen Klinsmann to scout Yanks based abroad who are vying for an opportunity only 23 guys will get: a nine hour flight to South America and a chance to sink their boots into a Brazuca this summer. USMNT staples like Timmy Howard, Jozy Altidore and Clint Dempsey will look to cement their place in the final World Cup roster, while the young gunners like Juan Agudelo, Aron Johannsson and John Brooks are hoping to impress Klinsmann enough to add a Brazilian stamp to their passports. A wise, famous and fictional police officer by the name of Roger Murtaugh once said, “I’m too old for this…” but you know who isn’t? Oguchi Onyewu and Jonathan Spector, two guys who will also be champing at the bit in this fixture for an opportunity at World Cup glory yet again.

It’s an opportunity to prove something as a team too. To prove 2014 will continue to come up all red, white and blue. We passed our first test against South Korea last month, but it only gets tougher from here. Our Ukrainian foes may have failed to qualify for the World Cup, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t our stiffest competition of 2014 yet. The Yellow and Blue are ranked 18th by FIFA, making them the highest ranked team who won’t be in Brazil, and a team we have never defeated. That changes Wednesday.

This is also an opportunity for us to prove that the beautiful game can transcend. In a time of political unrest and awful violence, our boys have a chance to don the Stars and Stripes proudly along side the Yellow and Blue and be beacons of hope together in a time that may seem hopeless for many Ukrainians.

Men of Merit Help Define Masculinity

(Written March 2014)

Fifteen men on campus were recognized this week as the 2014 University of Kansas Men of Merit for their contributions to the University and community.

The sixth-annual honor went out to students, staff and faculty who were recognized at a reception at the Kansas Union on Monday who positively define masculinity in their work.

For Michael Detmer, an honoree who works as a coordinator for the LGBTQ Resource Center and is a graduate student in Music Therapy, the recognition could help bring attention to issues surrounding male sexual orientation, he said.

“I think a lot of stereotypes are made off of sexual orientation,” Detmer said. “We often make assumptions on gender expression or sexual orientation based off one or the other, so I think being honored as a Man of Merit helps break down those assumptions and barriers and helps with really getting to know people regardless of just their sexual identity or gender expression.”

The project is organized by the Emily Taylor Center for Women & Gender Equity with the support of the Commission on the Status of Women, who together help sponsor a poster featuring the recipients.

The award also seeks to bring attention to problems with men in higher education, like declining enrollment and involvement in volunteer activities, and rising rates of underperformance in school.

According to a 2013 study from the journal “Gender & Society,” men underachieve in school compared to women because they have less involvement in extracurricular activities like music, art and drama, which can often be labeled as un-masculine.

Bret Koch, a junior recipient who works with the KU Dance Marathon, the Community Outreach Program and serves on the board for the Multicultural Scholars Program, said his heavy involvement at the University has been crucial to his success not only as a student, but as an individual as well.

“I feel like I’ve excelled more as a person since I did start getting involved more,” Koch said. “My freshman and sophomore year I wasn’t that involved, and to know once I did get involved I got honored with something like this, it just solidifies and validates that fact that I am doing a lot of things outside of being a student.”

Bryne Gonzales, who works as a Hawk Link Guide, an organization that assists new students and students of color with their transition to the University, said that the honor serves more as recognition for the groups they all represent, rather than the individuals themselves.

“I think this award is aimed to recognize men who challenge the status quo and work with groups trying do good in the community, so I think by lifting us up and showing the good deeds we do, it helps reaffirm the people we work with and the work they do.” Gonzales said. “For me, working with underrepresented populations, obviously it says good things about me, but it says even better things about what we’re doing in the community and we’re making an impact that people are noticing.”

But even though Gonzales says the attention should go to everyone, seeing your face on a poster is still pretty neat, he said.

“It’s a little uncomfortable for all of us, because we’re all guys who like to work behind the scenes and help push other people forward,” he said. “But anyone who tells you they don’t feel good about this and getting recognized, they’d be lying.”

Students Build Ramp to Aid Lawrence Family

(Written September 2013)

Two University students are volunteering their weekends to construct a wheelchair ramp for one Lawrence family, but they’re getting back just as much as they’re putting in.

Taylor Monsees, a fourth year architecture student from Overland Park, and Matt Reilley, a third year Aerospace Engineering major from Overland Park, have spent every Saturday for the last month volunteering at Henry and Mary Perkins’ mobile home in east Lawrence.

Monsees was given the project by Freedom by Design, a program in the American Institute of Architecture for Students that focuses on providing better living conditions for low-income and disabled individuals.

After receiving the project, it was up to Monsees to win the bid for the job from the city and secure more funding for construction, which he says provided him with a more fulfilling experience than his architecture classes.

“We’re actually getting real world experience here,” Monsees said. “With studio, you’re in a classroom setting and you don’t really gain experience working with a client. I would rather be doing this than building big foil buildings. There’s just a better sense of giving back with this.”

Prior to the construction of the ramp, the Perkins’ mobile home was not handicap accessible. Mary suffers from multiple sclerosis and Henry is diabetic and will soon be wheelchair bound, and their home also houses their son and daughter as well as their seven year-old granddaughter. Monsees says one of the most rewarding aspects of the project is being able to help out a good family in need.

“I feel bad that they’re living in the situation that they are,” he said. “He’s helping raise his grandkid and he’s doing a lot for his family, so it’s nice to be able to do something for him too.”

Monsees and Reilley have not been completely on their own in building the ramp, however. Curtis Calkins, a recent architecture graduate, has assisted with the project. The city of Lawrence awarded a grant for the construction and Independence Inc., a local organization that provides assistance for the disabled, provided resources as well.

Monsees and Reilley have gotten help from surrounding residents in the mobile home community too. A neighbor who is a concrete finisher has offered to help finish the sidewalk of the ramp, the Perkins’ have made their tool shed available for the boys to use and the young neighborhood girls who Reilley calls their “cheerleaders” even come dance to their music while they work.

Reilly says this kind of encouragement and response from the community has made the construction much more enjoyable.

“Everyone has been so friendly and so nice, it’s just great to work around positive energy. ” he said. “Watching [Henry] come out and you see his face light up, and he’s always telling us we’re doing a good job and offering help, that’s great.”

The boys plan to have construction completed by next weekend, and Mary Perkins says the hours they’ve spent volunteering to help her family has reaffirmed her optimism in the community.

“I always believe there’s more good people than bad in the world, and this is proof of it,” Perkins said. “I know they’re working hard out there in the heat, but when it’s done they can have a really good feeling about what they’ve done for our family, and when you do something good for others you will never regret it.”

Overland Park Shootings Resonate in Lawrence Community

(Written April 2014)

The deadly shootings at the Jewish Community Center (JCC) and a nearby Jewish retirement home in Overland Park hit close to home for many University students and Lawrence citizens.

Frazier Glenn Cross Jr., 73, of Aurora, Mo., was arrested and charged Sunday evening for the shooting that left three people dead at the JCC and Village Shalom. Although none of the victims were Jewish, authorities are investigating the shootings as a hate crime.

The shooting was especially worrisome for Becca Berger, a senior from Overland Park who went to school at the Hyman Brand Hebrew Academy, which is located inside the JCC, and whose grandmother lives in Village Shalom.

“It didn’t just hit close to home, it hit my home,” Berger said. “We’re a very sheltered community. I never really thought that this would happen to such a small town, a small community.”

The shooting, which occurred on the eve of the Jewish holiday Passover will be charged as a hate crime, according to Barry Grissom, the U.S. attorney for Kansas. Cross is a well-known white supremacist and allegedly yelled a Nazi salute after the shootings.

Berger, who is also involved with KU Hillel, said when she came across the location of the shooting on Twitter she did not suspect it was a coincidental event.

“When I saw that it said Jewish Community Center, and Village Shalom, it was automatic. There was no question in my mind it was a hate crime,” Berger said. “The timing of it was just terrible, because today is Passover and we’re celebrating our freedom [from] slavery in Egypt, but how free are we when we’re in 2014 and still having prejudiced people attack us?”

The crime hit close to home for Rabbi Moti Rieber of the Lawrence Jewish Community Center too, whose children were at the center at the time of the shooting.

Rieber said the LJCC’s Passover celebration on Monday would go on as planned, but they did request a police presence outside the synagogue just in case. Nevertheless, Rieber said the shooting won’t affect how they live their everyday lives going forward.

“The Jewish community is certainly not going to be cowed by this kind of thing,” Rieber said. We’re going into Passover and it adds a somberness to the holiday and a sobriety to it, but it certainly doesn’t change our determination to continue to live as we’ve always lived as Jews in America.”

Rabbi Zalman Tiechtel of the Chabad Center at KU said he is encouraging more students to take part in Passover celebrations as a way to deal with a tragedy that affects so many Jewish students at the University on a personal level.

“In Judaism, we believe the way you fight darkness is with light, so when you face hatred, you have to respond with love,” Tiechtel said. “Many of the Jewish students here at KU have been shaken with this story because so many of them grew up with the JCC being a part of their life, but what we’re trying to do is change our anger and bitterness into positivity by reaching out to others, by increasing togetherness in our community and increasing unity.”

A special service is being planned at the LJCC early next week, and a walk will be held to honor the victims this Friday in Overland Park, starting from the JCC to Village Shalom and ending with a prayer service at 7 p.m.

Student Spends Summer Working on Curiosity Rover

(Written October 2013)

Curiosity, the NASA rover exploring Mars, may be over 50 million miles away, but one University student’s work has brought it a little closer to Lawrence.

Ryan Endres, a junior aerospace engineering student from DeSoto, spent the past summer in Pasadena, Calif., interning at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab and working closely with Curiosity.

Despite being offered an internship at one of the most prestigious scientific institutions in the world, Endres spent much of his time proving to people why a kid from a small town in Kansas deserved to be there.

“The most awesome thing is that people would doubt me,” Endres said. “They would be like, ‘Kansas? That’s not a top 25 school.’ I heard that so many times. Well no, but there are so many good things about it. KU holds its own very well, and we’re producing just as good students.”

Endres worked with the Integrated Planning and Execution team for Curiosity, where he helped compile a database for the information the rover was sending back to NASA from Mars. He learned of the internship through a family friend who was impressed with his work at the University, primarily his work outside the classroom.

Endres’ extracurricular activities include being president of Engineers Without Borders at the University, involvement with the Self Engineering Leadership Fellows Program, and even running marathons. He said it was these experiences at the University that made him feel qualified to work at the JPL and appreciative of his roots.

“I felt like I belonged there,” Endres said. “I felt like there were aspects of KU that are vital and essential to being a well-rounded person that made me fit in. It was humbling to be there, but it made me realize

I’m just as good as everyone else there too, which is pretty cool because there’s people at KU who are better than me, so it shows you just how good the University of Kansas is.”

Endres’ work with Curiosity required difficult and complicated tasks, like learning to write in the programming language Python. He said the strain of the job could feel overwhelming at times, but the importance of what he was working on served as inspiration for him.

“The cool thing about the aerospace engineering industry right now is, for us, when we’re at the peak of our careers at 35 or 40 years old, I think we will be sending people to Mars,” Endres said. “I want to change the world, and working there gave me the idea that I could be on that front line of going out and expanding the capacity of humanity.”

Bob Lyon, faculty advisor for Engineers Without Borders, has worked with Endres since he was a sophomore. He said the qualities Endres displays within their organization, such as traveling to Bolivia to help make latrines in mountain villages, make him an obvious candidate for such a prestigious internship.

“He really wants to make a difference and build a better world in whatever capacity he can,” Lyon said.

“He’s a real people person who’s a real visible member in the School of Engineering, and he’s just a real leader and a real servant, too.”

Charles Neiss, the program coordinator for the SELF program, reiterated that it shouldn’t come as a shock to see Endres working on something like Curiosity.

“He’s definitely a student who seeks out and maximizes opportunities and wants to go above and beyond the norm, so it doesn’t surprise me he sought out something unique and individual like the experience he had,” Neiss said.

Even though his internship and work on Curiosity ended in August, Endres knows it will serve him for much longer.

“It really did open up a lot of opportunities for me,” he said. “There’s internships I’ll apply for this year and my opportunity of getting them, or at least an interview, is definitely greater. It looks really good when I can write ‘NASA,’ ‘Jet Propulsion Lab’ and ‘Curiosity’ on my resume. That’s just – wow.”