Wednesday, May 07, 2014

A Culture of War

By Benjamin Hatfield

The “Sand Box” in the Middle East may be thousands of miles away from Tulsa’s Route 66, but for a United States Marine and newly qualified member of the Marine Special Operations Committee, who asked not to be named for reasons of confidentiality, the realities of war are still fresh in his mind.

The uniform of the unnamed United States Marine

The 22-year-old from N.C. attended high school at the Marine Military Academy in Harlingen, Texas. He graduated in 2009 and his experience pushed him to enlist in the military. He began basic training in Paris Island, N.C., shortly after. “At the time, it was the hardest thing I’d ever done, physically and mentally,” he said. “Basic training instilled discipline, and self-confidence in terms of my abilities. The military teaches you there is nothing you can’t do.”

He completed basic training in the summer of 2009 and then spent 6 months at the Calif. School of Infantry. After he completed infantry school in 2010, he was immediately deployed to Afghanistan. “I was nervous to be deployed, not knowing what to expect,” he said. “However, I had completed several months of training and was ready to do my job.” 

However, within a few weeks his convoy was hit with an IED(Improvised Explosive Device) in Afghanistan’s Helmand Province and his unit took casualties. This is when reality set in and emotions ran high. As time went on, he began to have a constant fear and suspicion of local people, making the experience even more stressful.

During his deployment a large amount of boredom was broken up by tedious patrols and sporadic firefights. At the base, or “in the wire,” he downloaded movies, played video games, and worked out. When I asked him about the “Sand Box,” he said, “There’s no brief way to explain Afghanistan, but it shaped who I am as a person. Afghanistan hasn’t changed in decades, it’s a culture of war.” 

Here is a video of a firefight in Afghanistan. The marine featured in this story was actually part of this intense few minutes as his unit is pinned down and taking fire.

Although it was difficult for him to retell some of his defining moments in action, he was able to gather his thoughts and recall something he has had to live with after returning home.

“As far as something I’ve had to live with, it is the first time I had to use my rifle,” he said. “We were flanking this town and our job was to cover the guys in front. A man in black was running through a poppy field, an old man, but military age. We told him to stop, but he didn’t. I fired three shots and he went down. He added later, “I broke down and cried. It was hard. He died on the way back to base in the medevac.”

Another duty his unit performed was clearing houses in local villages. He said this was by far the most terrifying experience, especially when taking point.  Taking point entails being the first one in when securing an area.  The door is kicked down and from then on you are vulnerable to a wide variety of threats; gunfire, explosives, or men wearing bomb vests. One experience in particular stood out.

“I was taking point clearing houses. I didn’t want to give the responsibility to anyone else. My fire team leader decided to take my place…and the next house we entered there was a man with a vest.” His fire team leader would not survive. Holding back tears, he added, “He saved my life.”

He left Afghanistan after 8 months and returned to N.C. He then qualified for educational leave and came to the University of Tulsa while still remaining on the Individual Ready Reserve. After attending TU for 2 years he was called to deploy to Afghanistan again; back to the Helmand Province where many of his comrades lost their lives.

This time he was part of the VSP(Village Security Platform) to protect local villages and served attached to a reconnaissance unit as a ground liaison. For most of his second deployment, his unit was constantly under attack by an enemy they could not see until they went on the offensive.

In the 12 months he was deployed, there were six casualties in his unit. However, he received a metal for saving the lives of multiple others.

His convoy was in a tight spot amongst some buildings and he spotted men down a street peeking around a corner investigating his unit. He warned his comrades to fall back and took out the potential threats. Later, upon further investigation, the men had an RPG(Rocket Propelled Grenade) and intended to fire upon the marines.  He would receive the Navy and Marine Corp metal for Combat Valor.

The Navy and Marine Corp metal for Combat Valor

Working alongside a reconnaissance unit made him very interested in reconnaissance work, and while he was still in Afghanistan he applied for reconnaissance school.  He would be accepted and upon his return to the states he immediately went to Coronado, Calif., to begin reconnaissance training. His 3 months in reconnaissance school were very intense. “It showed me that it was an exercise of will power, pushing yourself every day,” he said. “I woke up and went to sleep wondering why I was there. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done in that it is a big deal to make it through.”

Following reconnaissance training, he went to Fort Benning, Ga., for jump school and received his jump certification. Then he attended combat divers school in Va. and received his divers certification. At that point, he had completed all the qualifications needed to serve on a reconnaissance team.

He recently came back to Tulsa to visit friends. However, he will deploy to an undisclosed location on May 12. This will be a tactical deployment lasting 3 to 4 months. He was recently promoted to Cpl. and now leads his own firing team. 

In a year and a half his service obligation will be completed and he will either reenlist or return to the Individual Ready Reserve. He has also been working on an online degree and may pursue officer candidate school after he returns from the “Sand Box” later this year.

Friday, May 02, 2014

BBQ Done Right by Will Noel

Tulsa may not be well-known for barbeque but Capp Crowder, former TU football player, brought his hometown knowledge and love for barbeque to Tulsa. Capp’s is located on East 11th Street just a mile away from the University of Tulsa.
Capp's on East 11th Street
Tulsa is known for many remarkable things, but barbeque was not one of its recognizable features or attractions. Capp grew up in Kansas City where barbeque was well-known and some of the best food in the country. Through Capp’s relationships developed in Tulsa he chose to open a BBQ joint close to campus and bring a bit of home to his college town.
                Capp’s offers your standard barbeque meats such as pulled pork, brisket, ribs, and turkey. Capp’s focuses on a casual atmosphere with delicious classic barbeque. The room is covered with football pictures of past Tulsa players and the other sports memorabilia that appeals to many Tulsa football players and coaches and encourages school pride.

                Great BBQ like this needed to be shared with the rest of Oklahoma. Capp’s just recently opened a new location in Okmulgee to expand his business and share the rich taste of Kansas City inspired barbeque.

A slab of Capp's ribs

Find out more at:

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

A Special Kind of Deco

by Yasmine Elbaitari

Tucked away in the heart of downtown, a special store has captured the soul of Tulsa. Located at 607 S Boston, Decopolis offers a little bit of everything, from vintage toys to modern Art Deco pieces. 

With a passion for Art Deco, owners William Franklin and Chris McDaniels wanted to make their mark on the revitalization of the downtown area. The shop, specializing in books, gifts, and toys, has several areas with unique items that Franklin and McDaniels specially selected.

The distinctive sections of the store are home to books, toys, kitchen items, Art Deco products, men’s products and more. Throughout the building there is a blend of old and new that come together wonderfully. Adorable teapots, sock monkeys and Etch-A-Sketches, and hand-crafted candles are just some of the products Decopolis holds.

Book Central
In a back corner are large paintings done by Franklin himself that showcase his talent and love for Art Deco. The pieces are done in black and white, and are placed just above the modern Art Deco items the shop has.

Franklin hopes in the future to focus more on the bookstore aspect, and turn a section of the shop that is now the "Atomic Kitchen" into the "Atomic Tiki Room"  having more fun retro inspired items of all types.

Whether you’re searching for a piece of your past, or a creative gift idea, Decopolis has a variety of pieces to suit your needs.

For a preview of Decopolis, watch the video below.


ONEOK Field: the other side of Tulsa nightlife

By Madison Price
Baseball isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when you think downtown Tulsa, but things are looking up for ONEOK Field.

ONEOK Field's view of downtown
Home of the Tulsa Drillers, ONEOK Field has had plenty to brag about since its opening in 2010. At the bustling corner of 2nd and Elgin and in clear view of the Tulsa city skyline, Drillers games have seen higher attendance rates and more community involvement than its old location at 41st and Yale Ave.

ONEOK Field’s sponsors include News on 6, KVOO, Tulsa’s Channel 8, Reasors, and Osage Casino, to name a few. These Oklahoma-based sponsors hold special promotions during games such as t-shirt giveaways and fireworks. “We have things going on for every home game that bring people out,” usher Steve M. said. “We’ve hit attendance records the last two years; it’s looking good for this season.”

Diana and friends, raising money for Union Band at ONEOK
concession stands.
Concession deals are usually going on as well, including $2 Tuesday and Thirsty Thursday (admission, drinks, and food at around half price). The concession stands at ONEOK are typically ran by volunteers, raising money for their own organizations. Diana works twice a week with a few friends to raise money for Union High School Band. “I love it,” she said. “such a fun place, the time flies.”

Tickets start at $2 (for seats on the Primeaux Kia Lawn) and max out at $35 for club seats.
View of home plate from the Primeaux Kia Lawn

“We go all summer,” Ben, a longtime Drillers fan said. “It’s friendly entertainment, and, it’s cheap! All of this,” he said, motioning to a pile of kids next to him. “for 20 bucks. Can’t beat it.”

Whether you want to catch a game, an excuse for a beer with friends, or just enjoy the weather, ONEOK Field is local, outdoor fun for everyone. Go Drillers!

The Drillers' next home game is against the Arkansas Travelers on Thursday at 7:05. To view the season schedule, promotion nights, or to buy tickets, visit:

Authentic Mexican On Route 66

By Otto Harrison

The city of Tulsa may be filled with Mexican restaurants throughout the city, but Tacos Don Francisco stands out not just because of the authentic taste, but also because of the location.

Tacos Don Francisco is located on the historic Route 66. It’s unique from others because of its hole-in-the-wall feel and the “gracias” you receive after placing an order. It’s also one of Tulsa’s few places to grab a late night meal, staying open until 4:00 a.m. on the weekends, which is convenient for all the University of Tulsa students a short mile away.
When I visited, I ordered the wet burrito, which was suggested to me by one of the workers. Tacos Don Francisco has been voted one of Tulsa’s best ten-dollar eateries in the past, according to one of the few English posters they have framed on the wall.

There was very little English to be heard at all when I stopped by in fact, and that’s partly why Tacos Don Francisco is set apart from the others in Tulsa. When I left it felt like I had visited Guadalajara
Tacos Don Francisco is located at 4008 E. 11th St, Tulsa OK 74112.

Vintage Treasures Found in Tulsa

"Vintage Antiques"

Located on Route 66 in the heart of Tulsa is an antique "mall" filled with treasures and trinkets from the past. Generations Antique Mall is one of Tulsa's largest antique stores with booths from vendors that come from all over Oklahoma to sell their antiques. 

Generations Antique Mall has been locally owned by the Buser family for generations, however up until 2006 it was an antique furniture store. Today the store is a collection of much more than just furniture. While browsing the store, one can find toys that bring you back to your childhood, jewelry that was once worn by members of an Oklahoma Native American, dishes that remind you of your grandparents home, and much more. 

Vintage Cups, Barbies and Toys

Native American Jewelry
Judy, an employee and vendor of Generations Antique Mall says that the best part about the store is there is a little something for everyone. Whether you are looking for a unique gift or something special for your home, there are countless booths full of vintage items waiting to be discovered. 

Mr. Buser, the current owner, is frequently found in the store, and his extensive knowledge on vintage items is impressive. He is able to tell the year and value of almost every item brought in the store. He loves that something that, when originally made, was sold for only a few dollars can be sold for hundreds or thousands today. 

Generations makes a point of collecting local, historic items such as vintage post cards from Tulsa and Route 66, Cherokee tribal artifacts and much more. Next time you are searching for something unique and special, be sure to check out this hidden gem of a store, located just blocks from The University of Tulsa's Campus. 

I AM Yoga Bring Community to The Pearl District

by Caitlin Pond

I AM Yoga is a studio located at 6th and Peoria, right in the middle of Tulsa’s historic and developing Pearl District, but unlike other Yoga Studios in Tulsa, I AM not only focuses on yoga, but also focuses on creating a community.

I AM Yoga is a studio and a community all at once, and even offers the I Am Yoga Festival once a year in Centennial Park, also located in the Pearl District.

I AM is owned by Instructors Melissa Cameron and Joe Pictorale. The owners are passionate about Yoga and bringing a yoga community to Tulsa. The two have studied yoga all over the United Stats, but see potential right here in Tulsa.

Yoga has been on the rise in Tulsa in the past few years, and many studios have emerged, but none have seemed as passionate as I AM Yoga with their sense of community and lively festivals. I AM Yoga offers classes in their renovated historic Tulsa building, located next to Tulsa’s up and coming restaurant, The Phoenix.
I AM Yoga also hosts the I AM Yoga Festival in Centennial Park. The festival includes lots of free Yoga classes, discussion groups of topics that range from God to time and space, and various special activities, like Glow Yoga.

I AM Yoga brings a great sense of community to the Pearl District, which is a great aspect for a developing and historic district in need of a community effort.

Learn about the I AM Yoga Festival here:

Tally's Cafe: More Than Just "Good Food"

By: Olivia Lyons
Tally's Cafe located on Historic Route 66
Tally's Cafe, located on the South West corner of 11th and Yale, along the historic Route 66, has been thriving and "proudly serving Tulsans and Route 66 enthusiasts for 25 years."

Tally's serves anything from breakfast all day, cinnamon rolls that could feed four, to chicken fried steak and mashed potatoes that will take you down memory lane directly back to your mothers home cooking. Its dishes like the ones listed that bring people from all over Tulsa to this hot spot. 

Tally's is open from 6am-11pm everyday
Voted "absolute best diner" at the ABoT awards, it is no surprise to find a full house at Tally's, especially on Sunday mornings and afternoons. Students at the University of Tulsa visit Tally's frequently to enjoy a good southern home cooked meal at a very reasonable price. Also, the fact that Tally's stays open till 11pm is a huge hit amongst the college community.

The atmosphere takes customers back in time
The atmosphere at Tally's Cafe is warm and inviting, as well as the employees that work there. It is easy to see from the moment you walk in that Tally's is the place to have frequent regulars, like Bob Stuart, shown in the image above. When I asked Bob about his impression of Tally's he said, "I have been coming to Tally's for the past 15 years with my wife Susanne and since she died two years ago I still visit frequently because Tally's has become some sort of a second home to me, with the kind staff and wonderful home cooking."

Tulsa's Haunted Mansion

By Israel Avila
Designed by noted Tulsa architect Nobel B. Flemming
The beautiful Italianate-style mansion that is home to the Tulsa Garden Center, is said to be haunted!

On my visit to the Tulsa Garden Center, 2435 S. Peoria Ave., I was given a private tour by the center's education and marketing manager, Michael Blake.

In 1923, J. Arthur Hull purchased the home. Soon after moving in, Hull’s wife, Mary, became increasingly ill and died. Her spirit is said to be responsible for haunting the estate.

Blake explained that, “because this was such an elaborate house, they did have her body lay in state so that friends and family can visit her before the funeral.”

It is said that the room stays cold throughout the year, despite its large windows

“I have to be honest, I personally don’t believe in ghosts,” admits Blake. “But I’m not going to make fun of people who do believe in them because everyone is entitled their opinion.”

Blake said that teams of paranormal investigators have toured the mansion finding evidence that the house might be haunted. The team used specialized tools to measure paranormal activity in the home.

Shadowy figures have been seen in the ballroom and upper elevator areas of the home.

While the Tulsa Garden Center is home to 30 affiliated organizations for horticultural and environmental activities, the Center can now include the exhilarating paranormal activities and history of Mary Hull.

Since 1954, well over a million people have visited Tulsa Garden Center.

Spooky Halloween decoration found in the attic.