Superb cover from Dickinson, for an interesting cover story by Lauren Davidson about a couple of artists named Todd Arsenault and Ward Davenny, who chase storms not for science or adrenaline, but for art. They drive thousands of miles in Tornado Alley, take pictures, shoot video, talk to people, then go home and produce art influenced by what they have witnessed. (Davenny’s art is on the cover.)
“This subculture of tornado chasing was something we had no idea about,” Arsenault explains. “There’s this whole subset of people who are obsessed with these storms. A lot of people can’t even verbalize why they’re drawn to it: It’s a quasi-religious experience for them, and they leave work and travel in convoys or caravans. And it’s interesting how they can clash with the scientists sometimes—it’s what they call a convergence when everyone descends on the same storm at the same time, and it gets dangerous. And this was before reality TV, so after that started, it just got totally out of hand.”
Davenny nods and adds, “What’s interesting about the subculture is that we then became part of it. People would see us and say, ‘Oh, those guys are the artists.’”
Found another entry for my list of alumni magazines with quirky names: The Colonel. This one is published by Nicholls State University in the splendidly named Thibodaux, Louisiana, and Nicholls State’s sports teams are known as the Colonels. (I’d like to see this catch on, if only to begin receiving The Banana Slug from the University of California, Santa Cruz, The Fighting Camel from Cambell University, and The Eph from Williams College.) Nicholls State also publishes an annual magazine with the assertive title Voilà! Stephanie Detillier edits both.
I have a well-documented low tolerance for stories about university presidents, past or present. So when I saw by its cover that Occidental had a feature on past president Remsen Du Bois Bird (which, I’ll concede, is every bit as splendid a name as Thibodaux), I groaned. But the story—a series of journal entries made by Bird during the 1928-29 academic year, is a pleasant surprise. Not only are some of the entries entertaining—”Miss Hutchison reports that Janet Hoit, taking some mother with her daughter through Orr Hall, received this statement from the same mother: that the daughter was registering at Occidental because all the better colleges were full! In the words of Nehemia, ‘Oh God, strengthen thou my arm.’”—but Bird illustrated is own journal, and some of the drawings are great.