Archive for the ‘Missouri’ Category

© 2008. The sign outside The Maneater's door in the old offices. Taken in Feb. 2008 on Fuji 800 film.

The Maneater — the official student newspaper of the University of Missouri — has deservedly encountered a lot of heat recently because of poor decisions made in the publication of its annual April Fool’s issue.

A lot of heat.

For those unfamiliar with background information, The Maneater is a student-run campus newspaper that’s (almost) financially independent of the university. Because journalism-major upperclassmen are usually engrossed in their sequence work and in the journalism school’s various affiliated newsrooms, the majority of the Maneater staff is underclassmen.

© 2008. News editor Elliot works in the newsroom in Feb. 2008. Taken on Fuji 800 film.

As a former Maneater photographer (2006-07) and photo editor (2007-08), I’m now reviving a belated defense that I drafted almost exactly two years ago, albeit for different reasons. I am also writing this as my own, personal response to a letter another former Maneater editor wrote in support not of the current editors or their decisions but, rather, in support of the newspaper’s status as an independent entity from the university.

Because the aforementioned letter, written by Derek Kravitz, will be submitted as a letter to the Maneater editors, I won’t re-publish large chunks of it here. So for now, I’d like to expound upon this statement:

But we would not be where we are today without The Maneater and we echo the sentiments of Maneater alumni who continue to support the paper and the best university in the country.

I’m not proud of the language used and decisions made by the editors who have since resigned. But I’m proud to have been a staffer and editor at The Maneater. What’s more, I count myself lucky for it: True to Derek’s words, I know I wouldn’t be where I am today if not for that paper.

I came to Missouri in 2006 fully intending to pursue reporting and joined the paper as a designer and reporter, but — to the chagrin of my parents — began picking up photo assignments. My editor Rae couldn’t have been more patient or helpful. I can say with absolute certainty that I was among the least technically proficient photographers on staff, but Rae challenged and encouraged me. I picked up more and more assignments; learned from fellow staffers about exposure, techniques, gear, composition and more; and eventually was hired to take Rae’s place as photo editor the next year.

If not for The Maneater , it might have been years before I picked up a DSLR camera or learned anything tangible about photojournalism or storytelling. If not for The Maneater, I wouldn’t have been offered my first internship. Who knows where I’d be now, had I not landed that first berth of professional experience?

© 2007. Ryan - Rae's predecessor as photo editor - takes over the photo desk as former copy chief Jamie peers over his shoulder during production night.

The Maneater has had its moments, good and bad, and most recently, it certainly crossed the line. But let’s not overlook the Maneater‘s inherent value as a learning, student-run newspaper:

  • As unprofessional as others — including journalism school faculty — may perceive the Maneater to be throughout the years, that was not at all my experience. Rae and the other editors were strict about staffers’ behaving professionally and respectfully in the field, and we were always expected to come back with a story or photos, no matter how difficult the circumstances or subjects were. When the 2007-2008 editorial board took the reins, we did our absolute best to carry that torch of professionalism.
  • The Maneater trains and helps underclassman journalism students in a way that no pre-sequence class did, at least when I was still in school. Even if it’s “just” a story about a student organization’s barbeque, staffers are learning how to report, interview, write, take photos, produce multimedia and more. They are learning all these things by doing them for public consumption (not just a class) — an incredible opportunity that the journalism school doesn’t afford most students until their third year of college.
  • Speaking from a photojournalism perspective, I believe that former Maneater photographers constitute the majority of in-sequence photojournalism students who are already good or above-average storytellers and who are technically proficient. Of course, many students are good at what they do without having worked at The Maneater. But my observation is that most of the students who enter the sequence already comfortable with themselves as proficient photographers are those who’ve worked as Maneater staff at some point.

I’m not saying that we at the ‘eater were always all business. There were impromptu wrestling matches in the newsroom, the copy desk kept a near-sacred toy dinosaur and I tortured my photographers by opening every production night in the photo cave with Old Crow Medicine Show’s “Wagon Wheel.” Maneater people worked together, lived together, studied together and went on adventures together. It was college.

© 2008. News editors Michael, Anna, Elliot and Roseann take a break during one of the 2007-2008 staff's last production nights in May 2008.

To the current Maneater staff, and other student journalists: You are still young, so make your mistakes now and learn from them. (I did.) You’ve got a lot of years ahead of you, so buckle up, take the wheel and enjoy the ride.

To everyone who’s jeering at and judging The Maneater: Stop. The editors who resigned have learned their lessons. They weren’t the first (student) journalists to err, but they won’t be the last. Life goes on.

This, from my prospective, is the ultimate takeaway: Maneater staffers and editors mess up sometimes. But more often than not, they get it right when it comes to helping along the next generation of student journalists and upholding the newspaper’s reputation as a passionate, forward-thinking place to work and learn.

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I think it’s safe to say that, after living and being a journalist in Columbia, Mo., for four years, I know the area pretty well. I wouldn’t dare to presume I know it better than anybody who’s grown up there or lived there for a number of years — but I’d like to think I got to know my way around.

So it’s odd that I never paid homage to the McBaine bur oak tree until recently.

The McBaine bur oak tree on Route K, south of Columbia, Mo.

Also known as “the Big Tree,” the bur oak tree is… well, big. Located between a soybean field and Route K, the tree measures 90 feet in height, its canopy stretches 130 feet and its trunk is almost 24 feet in circumference.

Almost 24 feet. Wow. Do you know of any other trees on whose trunks you can project the shadows of two people standing three feet apart and about five feet from the tree?

(Left to right) Me. Jeff.

On a somewhat related note: The light, when Jeff and I arrived at the tree, was gorgeous. But it was fading fast. Check out what are currently our Facebook profile pictures, below, which were taken five minutes apart.

(Left to right) Me. Jeff. The quality of light sure changed in five minutes

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Just about two months ago, in November, I was in Missouri to be with friends and Jeff. At one point, Jeff and I made a daytrip to a few small towns in central Missouri.

One of them was Arrow Rock. It was a weekday, so the town was still. But we did find a pretty cool tree (whose carpet of yellow leaves is featured heavily in our current Facebook profile pictures).

When I went driving around the Susquehanna River yesterday, I encountered another cool tree — err, its shadow, at least. Hence, another diptych.

A little outside of downtown Arrow Rock, Mo., on Nov. 19, 2010.

Near a boating deck along the Susquehanna River in Wrightsville, Pa., on Jan. 21, 2011.

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I’d been using the Canon 30D for almost two years — until recently. With it, I had the 16-35/2.8 lens, which paired well with the camera’s 1.6 sensor crop.

Now that I have a full-frame camera, my heart is set on the 24-70/2.8. (Yes, I love primes as much as anyone else.) Several people, including Jeff, have advised me to sell the 16-35, especially since its wide-angle spectrum becomes super-wide on a full-frame.

Well, I can’t and I won’t. I used my 16-35 on a full-frame for the first time while at Poynter this summer, and I absolutely loved it. As much as I want/need to add the 24-70 to my arsenal, I’m not doing it by selling my 16-35.

On a very related note, I tagged along with Jeff during one of his Columbia Missourian photo shifts last week while I was in Columbia. For one quasi-enterprise assignment, he went to photograph the two rather large cranes on campus.

These two industrial cranes are being used to help construct a new seven-story patient tower for the hospital. The path of a passing airplane adds a nice touch to this sunset silhouette shot. This was shot from the top of a parking garage.

While I went to the side of the parking garage to make the above picture, Jeff noticed a puddle and decided to try to make a reflection picture. His first attempts were not up to his (or my) standards, and he moved on.

After I made a few standard pictures, I went to the puddle to see what I could do with it. Quickly realizing that crouching down and pressing the shutter button wouldn’t work, I got down and dirty — by lying down on my stomach. And, careful not to get my scarf or jacket or camera in the puddle and using my 50mm, I got this shot:

Shot with the 50/1.8.

Then I changed lenses and used my trusty 16-35.

Shot with the 16-35/2.8, at 16mm (and later cropped from the top and bottom). Much more epic.

After I showed Jeff my results and told him not to be afraid of getting down and dirty, he immediately did the same and was able to make the picture he’d wanted to get.

Make sure you check out his eventual photo — as well as his picture of my getting the shot.

Back to the issue of wide-angle lenses on full-frames. Yes, sometimes the results are slightly ridiculous. But as you can see, the frame with the 50mm wasn’t large enough to capture the tops of the cranes without losing the border of the puddle. Tally up one more reason for me to hold on to my 16-35.

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As I previously wrote, I’m taking a break from Houston. That doesn’t mean, however, that I’m taking a break from barbecue.

My flight on Sunday landed in Kansas City. Passing up on Kansas City barbecue would have been incomprehensible, especially since I’ve already sampled barbecue from two Texas establishments. After some heated discussion with Jeff, who’s very firm with his opinion of Kansas City barbecue, we decided on Arthur Bryant’s. Jeff’s first pick, Oklahoma Joe’s, is closed on Sundays, and I wanted Bryant’s over Gates because of the appeal of eating in an older location.

Arthur Bryant's on Boulevard Ave.

Jeff had already decided on our order: the beef and pork combo, with fries.

The beef is on the left, the pork on the right.

My informal barbecue tour so far had not featured shredded meat or a lot of sauce — until Bryant’s. Both of the above are why Jeff is not a fan of Bryant’s. While wolfing down the food, he mourned how the taste of the meat was lost in the sauce.

I didn’t mind it. It was tasty in its own right, and I didn’t think the meat was lost in the sauce. That said, I didn’t douse my portion in Bryant’s signature vinegar-based sauce, but rather ate it as it was served.

The remnants of another party's meal.

But, as I’ve written before, I’m no barbecue or meat expert. Bryant’s was good but not mind-blowingly good. I think generally I prefer a good steak over slow-cooked meats.

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I’m pretty excited that I’ve now shot college football on Texas soil. (Apart from last year’s Texas Bowl game…)

Members of the Missouri football team take the field for some pre-game drills at Kyle Field in College Station on Saturday, Oct. 16, 2010.

Jeff and I shot Missouri’s game against Texas A&M in College Station on Saturday. It was only my second time on A&M’s campus — my younger brother is a sophomore there — but I was looking forward to witnessing the Aggie spirit.

Also for the first time:

  • I used my new full-frame camera.

Texas A&M junior wide receiver Jeff Fuller catches the ball for A&M's first and only touchdown against Missouri on Saturday, Oct. 16, 2010, at Kyle Field. Note: This photo has been highly sharpened, due to some backfocusing.

  • I didn’t have a lens longer than my 70-200/2.8.
  • Which meant I shot a lot more features than I have ever before at a football game.

Will Lowe of Houston, right, is reflected on the side of a car as he watches the Texas A&M Corps of Cadets -- the university's student military organization of 2,002 members -- marching to Kyle Field in College Station, Texas, on Saturday, Oct. 16, 2010. Texas A&M is one of five U.S. colleges classified as a senior military college and, apart from the service academies, produces the most military officers of all U.S. schools.

  • It was a sunny, clear day. (With the exception of a cloudy daytime game, every other football game I’ve shot has been at night and/or indoors.)

Travis Nault, center, stands ready to sing the Aggie War Hymn as Wendell Nault, left of center, and Kevin Kenefic, right of center, remove their hats before the Texas A&M-Missouri football game at Kyle Field in College Station on Saturday, Oct. 16, 2010.

Largely because of all of the above, I had a blast photographing the game — but mostly, the game outside of the game.


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I forgot to mention this earlier… but I’m done.

Medal in my mouth.

I may not have walked alongside my fellow seniors in the Missouri School of Journalism commencement ceremony and received my fake diploma (the real one gets mailed out in mid-summer), but I’m done.

I did walk in the honors convocation on Saturday morning, since that still allowed me enough time to drive to Florida and arrive at Poynter on time. Yes, that’s right — honors convocation. Somehow, I graduated cum laude even though I was kicked out of the journalism school two and a half years ago for having an unsatisfactory GPA.

I’m not sure how that happened. The “cum laude” thing, not the “unsatisfactory GPA” thing. But it appears to be legit, and now I have a medal to show for it. I just don’t have a fake diploma and a lot of photos of my fellow seniors and me mugging for the camera with our tassels hanging from the left side of our graduation caps.

But — I’m done.

That is, I’m done with college.

I’m not done learning.

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I’m pleased to present my final capstone project — my last project as an undergraduate here at the University of Missouri.

In the House of Representatives press gallery.

You can view my video/photo project in one of two places:

My website


My Vimeo page

What exactly is this project, anyway?

As I’ve hinted previously in this blog, the scene is the Missouri state capitol building, and the characters are various statehouse newspaper reporters. As for the story — well, let’s just say that as the economy takes its toll and the journalism industry continues to shrink, state capitol bureaus are suffering.

Last spring, The American Journalism Review published a survey whose results showed a more than 30 percent decrease in the number of newspaper reporters covering state capitols full-time over a period of six years. This survey was released while I myself was reporting in Jefferson City, the capital city of Missouri, so it seized my attention and I kept reading similar reports (such as this March 2009 article in The New Republic). A month ago, as I was searching for a story idea for my capstone project, I remembered the survey and reports — and contacted a few reporters and asked if I could follow and interview them.

I’d like to thank Chad Livengood of The Springfield News-Leader, Virginia Young and Tony Messenger of The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Jason Noble of The Kansas City Star and Phill Brooks of Missouri Digital News for their immense help with this project.

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The Missouri State Capitol building in Jefferson City.

Here’s a (kinda) sneak peek at my final capstone project. It’s my last undertaking in the Missouri School of Journalism since, in exactly one week,  I’ll be graduating and hightailing it to the Poynter Institute as one of its 2010 College Fellows. So — what exactly am I doing for my project?

Well… I won’t disclose everything right now. But here’s the cast of characters.

Chad Livengood, a Springfield News-Leader reporter who is currently reporting on his third legislative session in Jefferson City.

Virginia Young, who directs the Jefferson City bureau for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and who's been reporting there for 20ish years.

Phill Brooks, director of Missouri Digital News...


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To be honest — I’ve lost track of this second 30-day challenge. One of the downsides of shooting film is that the date and time of the exposure aren’t recorded in the metadata, since there is no metadata.

Therefore, because I’ve been shooting on film since before spring break, I’ve lost track. But I think I’ve safely covered my bases for the 30-day challenge. Here are some film exposures I made before spring break. I’ll post the spring break film shortly. (Not all of it is ready yet — I still have about half a roll on both the OM-1 and Mamiya before they can be developed.)

Also, I feel horrible that this is my first post in almost a month. I was off the grid for spring break, and since then, projects and work have taken over my life. In fact, they are still taking over my life, but I’m fighting to take my life back — especially since I graduate in less than a month.

Without further ado, some snaps from the medium-format:

The first exposure on this roll of BW400CN. This is the sunset over the golf course near University Field (the Missouri softball stadium).

Stairwell in the Arts & Sciences building.


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My entire capstone class is finishing the group documentary project on Broadway.

Each of us has worked on an aspect of or place on Broadway — a street that is one of the oldest, if not the oldest, in Columbia and which represents so much diversity within the city. My part of the project? I’ve been working on development — specifically, a neighborhood on East Broadway/WW.

One thing that threw a curveball at quite a few of us in the project? A freak snowfall last weekend.

March 20, through the back patio door of the model home.

On Monday, the snow was melting — because it’d gone from 31 degrees to 65.

March 23.

Gotta love that midwestern weather.

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These are the shoes I wear most often:

In February.

They’re comfortable and light, and they’re usually what I wear when I do photojournalism.

XV: March 19.

On XV (March 19), I wandered around a developing neighborhood, which I’m covering for a capstone project. I’ll blog more about that project later, but that day took me about a quarter-mile out of the neighborhood, to make pictures of its proximity to East Broadway/WW.

Then a freak snowfall and some rain hit Columbia… but I still had to make some pictures.

XIX: March 25.

And when I went out yesterday (XIX), I got stuck in the mud.

And had to jump out of my shoes.

And then had to gingerly jump back into the mud to retrieve my shoes.

I spent the next few hours walking around in just my stocking feet — in a real estate office, in my car, on campus — because my shoes were so muddy and would have trucked still-wet clumps of dirt all over the place.

The thing is, these are my most waterproof shoes. Which means, I should really invest in some good photojournalism-y shoes. Soon.

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If you know me, you know I love puppies, small children and anything cute.

But especially the puppies, dammit.

Two Scottish terriers.

So when I heard that the Columbia Missouri Kennel Club Dog Show was this weekend at the Boone County Fairgrounds, of course I had to go.

When Jeff and I arrived yesterday on the second and last day of the show, the first thing I noticed was the smell. Then I saw that there were dogs everywhere (of course), and that just made everything so much better.

Dog handler Sarah Riedel with Jetta the standard poodle during the Best in Show round. Jetta won Best in Show.

I just had a blast with making pictures. This was my first time at a dog show, so I was a little overwhelmed by all the breeds at first. But everything started falling into place, especially once I learned about how the different categories (sporting, toy, etc.) worked.


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In capstone, we’re all working on a a group documentary project about Broadway.

That’s Broadway the street, mind you.

I campaigned heavily for Broadway to be our project topic because I think Broadway epitomizes the city of Columbia. It’s got the eclectic/trendy downtown, City Hall, historic residential neighborhoods, student apartments, developing neighborhoods, big commercial strip malls and it’s the oldest street in the city.

My contribution to the project? I’ll be working on the development aspect. Broadway “began” where downtown is now, and ever since, it’s been expanding and developing on its western and eastern ends. So I’ve been exploring those two “ends” of Broadway.

Today, I went to the eastern end — past Hwy 63, where I’ve never been before. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I was hoping to find a developing neighborhood whose growth has been stunted by the economic crisis and recession. Sure enough, I found that neighborhood.

The sales office at The Vineyards, a partially-developed neighborhood on East Broadway/East Hwy WW.

The speed limit on East Broadway past Hwy 63 is 45; I was going at 35 because I wanted to look around as I was driving. But it’s a two-lane road, and when I saw that the two drivers behind me were getting impatient with me, I threw on my turn signal and drove into a neighborhood. After a quick drive around, I observed that:

  • each lot was fairly large and not every lot had a house built yet,
  • mailboxes were completely identical to each other (much like those in the Village of Cherry Hill), and
  • quite a few houses had signs indicating they were for sale or sold.

I parked at the clubhouse near the neighborhood’s entrance and approached a woman who was walking with her young son. After introducing myself as a photojournalism student looking into development in Columbia, I was pleasantly surprised when the woman — Becky — said she was a builder before the economic crisis hit.


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I have a big, fat radical idea for the MU School of Journalism:

Start early.

Do more journalism.

In other words: Instead of only one or two required semesters for students at any given newsroom  — how about three full years?

Click on the image to view/download the full PDF file.

In light of recent discussions and in anticipation of tomorrow’s forum (flier above), here are the facts, the problems and my totally radical ideas.

The facts

Don’t know how the MU School of Journalism works? Here’s a fast run-down:

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Yesterday was a pretty atypical Tuesday, since on Tuesdays I go straight from my last class to my photo-editing shift at The Columbia Missourian — and I’m in the newsroom until the last assignment comes in.

But yesterday, the Avett Brothers were in town. And Jeff had given me tickets for my birthday. So I arranged not to have to edit at The Missourian all night.

The Missourian at dusk.

Instead, Jeff and I went down the alleyway between the Tin Can and the Missouri Theatre (where the Avetts were to perform)…

Graffiti in the alley.

…and ate for the first time at Ingredient, which features gourmet, customizable salads and burgers.

Waiting for our food at Ingredient. Yes, the light above our table was that harsh/stark.

Then we went to the concert. I didn’t take my camera — because frankly, I was there to enjoy the music.

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More than two weeks ago, I spent my entire weekend at the Mizzou Aquatics Center, where the fourth annual Missouri Grand Prix was going on for four days.

Eric Shanteau swims the championship heat of the 200-meter individual medley finals on the second day of the fourth annual Missouri Grand Prix.

I was there to help the assigned Columbia Missourian photographers — most of whom had never before shot swimming, which I think is one of the more technical, difficult sports to photograph — and edit and submit their photos to the newsroom. But I also had plenty of time to make pictures, so I made full use of this opportunity.

Unfortunately, my portable hard drive crashed just 10 minutes after I’d submitted the photographer’s photos in my last editing shift on Feb. 14. This meant I lost all these photos, and more — until I sent the drive to the data recovery company. Hence, the delay in posting these Grand Prix photos.

View from the diving tower.

Of course, there were many other photographers there, so trying to find angles and content that nobody else was getting was practically impossible. But it was a good challenge, and considering this was my first time at a big swim meet, I’m pleased with how my photos turned out.

This year was also the first year — in my memory — that Michael Phelps, Katie Hoff and a few other big names were not in competition. Due to the snowstorms that were pummeling the east coast at the time, the North Baltimore Aquatic Club swimmers scheduled to compete (including Phelps and Hoff) were unable to attend. Almost every other photographer I know was disappointed about this, but I frankly didn’t mind. I even tweeted, “Oh boo hoo, no Michael Phelps at the MO Grand Prix. There will still be incredible swimmers in the pool too, you know.”

So I, for one, enjoyed not having to stress about getting Michael Phelps photos. And I had fun. Enjoy some photos:

Missouri swimmer Jowan Qupty prepares to compete in the second heat of the 200-meter breakstroke finals.


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MANHATTAN, Kan. — I’m in the Bramlage Coliseum media room after the Missouri Tigers lost 63-53 to the Kansas State Wildcats.

Kansas State senior forward Luis Colon shoots against Missouri sophomore center Steve Moore during the first half at Kansas State on Saturday, Feb. 27, 2010.

Two points of interest. The first: It’s unusual for a Columbia Missourian photo editor to cover a basketball game, but none of the staff photographers could or would volunteer to travel with the writers to Manhattan.

The second: I shouldn’t have worn a purple top for a game at/against Kansas State.

During the final 30 seconds of the game — which lasted about five minutes of real time — I was bored at my place at the endline. One of my camera batteries had died, so I was switching between lenses on the other camera, and I was pretty dissatisfied with my situation in general.

So I went into the stands, where I saw a young boy whose emotions were very much invested in the game: He was crying, shouting and, at some points, turning away from the court as if he didn’t want to watch the Tigers lose. I started making some pictures.

Ten-year-old Jack Kropf of St. Joseph, Mo., watches the Tigers lose to the Wildcats during the last 30 seconds of play at Kansas State.

Then I heard, nearby, voices shouting: “She’s taking pictures of their son, and they don’t want her to!”


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Yesterday while I was photographing the March March parade, two individuals in the parade stood out to me.

The first was Carolyn, who is a professor-adjunct at the University of Missouri.

I’d spotted her while the marches were still parading (or, while the paraders were still marching?), but found her again after everyone was gathered on Ninth Street.

On Ninth Street between the Missouri Theatre and the Missouri United Methodist Church. Guess which one is Carolyn!

Then she turned in the other direction.

Now guess which one is Carolyn.

And then I approached her and asked if I could take a portrait. She happily agreed.

Carolyn, complete with a 'stache!

I think it’s great that so many people came out with their own costumes and just had a great time marching around downtown Columbia.

I’ll blog about the other individual who caught my attention… later. Today I’m traveling with two Columbia Missourian sports reporters and Jeff to Manhattan, Kan., where the men’s basketball team is playing tonight — so it’ll be a busy day!

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This evening, a few hundred bicyclists, unicyclists, hipsters, musicians and more marched through downtown Columbia to kick off the seventh annual True/False Film Fest.

It was the March March parade.

March March participants and onlookers gather in front of the parade's destination, the Missouri Theatre on Ninth Street.

Erin and I were editing at The Columbia Missourian when we decided to take a break and make some pictures of the parade. Accompanied by David and every other photographer in town, we went downtown and, I’m confident, had a great, fun time.

David (left) looks a little too happy to see a Teletubby at the corner of Locust and Ninth Streets.

For those of you who may not know, True/False is a three-day documentary film festival that showcases dozens of pieces and that has steadily developed a reputation as a solid film event. The festival attracts visitors from all over the nation and the world, and it tends to bring out even the more reclusive residents of Columbia.


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