- ABOUT US
Megan Rossman, Associate Editor
Photo by JOHN JERNIGAN
By Megan Rossman
December 27, 2012
With the end of 2012 rapidly approaching, you’re bound to see a lot of lists in the media. Editors love lists, myself included. They’re easily digestible; simple and to the point. As this year winds to a close, I’ve been reflecting on my favorite Oklahoma Today editorial pieces, and the time has come for me to share them with you.
PDFs of our 2012 issues will appear on the website in early 2013. If you’re not a subscriber, you can read some of these online, but you’re missing out on the rest.
It’s not often you’ll see a hulking werewolf within the pages of Oklahoma Today. Steve Walker’s opening illustration for “Lights! Camera! Oklahoma! (page 41)” by Phil Bacharach delighted my soul. In fact, this entire feature was a personal favorite of mine. From makeup artist Matthew Mungle to directors like Bradley Beesley to the Oklahoma Film Enhancement Rebate program, this story acts as a survey course in Oklahoma film.
In this same issue, Oklahoma Today featured Tulsa’s Mary Beth Babcock as its 2011 Oklahoman of the Year. Although she is the owner of Dwelling Spaces in Tulsa and a new satellite location in Oklahoma City, the word entrepreneur doesn’t quite encompass Babcock’s role in the state’s creative scene. She’s got her hands in a little bit of everything. Working with her on this story, particularly the photos, was a fun undertaking. For one portrait, Babcock slathered on gold body paint, donned a sequined dress, and struck her best Tulsa Driller pose for photographer Evan Taylor. For the cover shot—equal parts Breakfast at Tiffany’s and film noir—Babcock took a seat in the Mayo Hotel lobby wearing high-dollar baubles from Bruce G. Weber Precious Jewels in Tulsa while Taylor again worked his shutter. The result is an image that is lovely and fun, just like Mary Beth Babcock.
Perhaps no story we’ve published about Western Oklahoma depicts the area’s wide-open allure as well as the “The Other Trail (page 42).” Jim Logan’s well-researched and sparsely poetic history of the Great Western Cattle Trail—a lesser-known counterpart to the famous Chisholm Trail—is beautiful without being unduly romantic. Shane Bevel’s photos capture the lonely but serene feeling of the Plains. And let’s not forget the issue cover, photographed by Bevel, picturing Brett Davis and his dog Howdy. It was popular with the ladies, because who doesn’t like a handsome cowboy? If you didn’t catch this story in print, you can read it online.
Nothing gets between the staff of Oklahoma Today and a good pie. Give us five, and our ravenous enthusiasm will make some people ill at ease. So, you can imagine the atmosphere when we photographed the Key lime, coconut cream, berry, and many more pies made by Pie Junkie in Oklahoma City for Marketplace (page 14). In fact, our art director Steven Walker had to shoot this twice, which meant we had to request more pie. And that’s why this is a favorite story of mine: because I ate delicious pie.
Photographer Mark W. Nault’s portfolio of grain elevators, “Plain & Tall,” opens with one of my favorite Oklahoma Today images from 2012. The ominous, billowy backdrop of sky brooding above a bucolic field in Okarche is pure Oklahoma spring. You can check out this lovely portfolio—along with web-exclusive images—on the Oklahoma Today website.
If you aren’t familiar with the art of Roy Boney Jr., you might want to acquaint yourself. This man can draw. And paint. I visited him at his Tahlequah home earlier this year to write “Graphic Content (page 36),” an artist profile that appeared in our Indian Country issue. If you’re a fan of comic books, graphic novels, or neat art in general, check him out. If he ever makes prints of Our Father, a pen-and-ink interpretation of Andrew Jackson on the opening page of our profile, it will be my mission to purchase one.
Another story I love in this issue is another that I wrote, “The Guardian (page 58).” It’s not actually the story I like as much as it is the subject of the story: Towana Spivey. I talked to him for hours for this piece. Our fact checker talked to him for hours. Over the years, prior to writing this story, I had amassed hours talking to him and emailing him questions about Oklahoma history. This state couldn’t ask for a better ambassador.
I highly recommend is Nathan Gunter’s “Origin Stories (page 51).” Typically, when I hear the word genealogy, my mind involuntarily wanders to any other place. So, it was with surprise and gratitude that found myself completely captivated by this subject and Nathan’s nimble reporting. Shane Bevel and John Jernigan also deserve a shout-out; finding compelling shots at research centers is no easy task, but they managed.
I love, love, love the portrait of David Miller, a.k.a. the Marble Man, on page 35 of this issue. It’s perfect. Miller gave me a marble when I went with John Jernigan to photograph him at his Norman home. He told me it’s good luck to carry a marble. It fell out of my purse in my car, so that’s where it now resides, and that’s probably where I need the best luck, so it all works out.
“Friday Night Fights (page 45)” was a beast of a story to put together. I’m not a football fan, but good storytelling prevailed in this case. The high school football rivalries around the state have an intense history. I had no idea just how intense until I read this piece. Throwing bricks through windshields and jumping fences to fight with players is pretty hardcore sports fandom. Of course, there’s a lot more to local sports culture, and these days, fans seem to be a little more civilized.
It’s hard to pick favorites from this issue, because it’s all so good. The feature well in this issue is my favorite, ever. Michael Hardeman’s ten-page portfolio of winter and fall scenics, “The Quiet Season (page 44),” is beautiful. His photo of Beaver Dunes Park encapsulates my personal mental image of winter. Nathan Gunter’s “Jurassic Oklahoma (page 54)” is a great read, and Debby Kaspari’s accompanying illustrations are icing on the prehistoric cake (yum). And then you have “Working Group (page 62)” by Shane Bevel, a portrait series of dogs with their owners and handlers. Bevel shot several of these pictures on summer days that would make hell seem cold in comparison. Fortunately, the sweat paid off. And finally, Jim Logan’s piece on Kate Barnard, “Saint Kate (page 70),” recounts the tale of an uncompromising woman whose sole ambition was to make life better for Oklahoma’s most needy citizens.
Outside of the feature well, my favorite story was “Talking Turkey (page 32).” Tom Luker’s photograph of Gary Greenwood and the turkey with the accusing stare makes me smile every time I see it. The story also contains the quote most beloved and repeated by the editorial team in the latter half of 2012: “These turkeys can go to Tulsa if they want to.”
And that concludes my list. If you’d like to share your favorite stories of the past year with us—or even your least favorite—feel free to email me or anyone else at Oklahoma Today. We like to hear your feedback.
Happy New Year.