Dana Angello - SHU - Political Science Blogger

Day 4 - 11/21/2010
Today was a much more relaxing day than the previous three. I am, however, still exhausted, owing to three days of non-stop action and a final day that involved visits to Kent State University, Brandywine Falls, and the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

At Kent State we visited the memorial for the four students who were fatally shot on May 4, 1970 in the midst of student protests against the Vietnam War. The memorial was not particularly imposing, but it is working on a trail that will highlight important spots on campus related to the shooting as well as a visitors’ center that will act as a mini-museum for the time period.

Following our Kent State visit, we went to a less somber place, Brandywine Falls, where I enjoyed the peaceful and gorgeous waterfalls while taking pictures.

We then headed to Cleveland for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. We only had a couple hours to roam the six-floor building, but I managed to get through everything. By far, my favorite part of the museum was a special exhibit entitled “Elvis 1956: Photographs by Alfred Wertheimer.” There were some candid photos which I found fascinating. My favorite photo was set in Elvis’ living room. The musician had just gotten out of the shower so he still had his shirt off and his hair was still messed up. He was lounging in a chair while his high-school girlfriend listened intently to his recording from the day before. No doubt, he was looking for her critique of his music. It is so unusual to see someone so famous in a relaxed state. According to the exhibit, this was the only time in Elvis’ short life when a photographer was allowed such personal access.

The rest of the Hall of Fame was fantastic, too! They had another special exhibit on Bruce Springsteen where he had donated copious memorabilia, including the notebooks in which he wrote lyrics and jotted down ideas for his albums. The rest of the museum outlined the progression of Rock and Roll and paid tribute to the many artists who have contributed to the genre.

Now, we’re off to Detroit for our flight home. I’m so excited to sleep in my own bed tonight and maybe even get more than five hours of sleep. At the same time, I’m not looking forward to getting back to the daily grind of class and homework. This trip has been an incredible experience. I have learned so much about political campaigns, history, art, and music and have developed closer relationships. I already can’t wait for our big trip next semester, whenever and wherever that will be.

Day 3 - 11/20/2010
Dana Angello Blog, Day 3 (Saturday, November 20, 2010)
12:50—We got somewhat of a late start this morning—mostly because the guys wouldn’t get up—but we eventually got energized with our not-so-healthy breakfasts from McDonalds. Soon, we were off to Canton for a visit to the McKinley Presidential Museum.
The Museum was not was I was expecting, though I enjoyed the parts that I toured. It was a combination of Stark County’s history, science exhibits, a planetarium and just a small section about the McKinleys.

Unfortunately, we were short on time, so we mainly looked through the history of Stark County. It was fascinating, though, to see how the steel, locomotive, and the medical industries were the livelihood of the town. McKinley’s presence in the community also had an impact, even before he became President. During the Civil War McKinley fought in the same regiment as President Rutherford B. Hayes. Also, he was a great leader in the community as a prosecuting attorney, the YMCA president, and a Congressman before running for president.

After the museum, we decided it was time for lunch and went to a small restaurant called Arcadia Grille. The food was decent, but the waiter was incredibly entertaining. She was slightly grumpy and we could hear her arguing with the kitchen staff from our table. When Professor Yawn asked if he could get mushrooms on his spaghetti she said, “Sure! Anything’s possible, but you’re gonna pay for it!”

11:00—It’s been nearly eleven hours since I last wrote and there is so much more to write about. We drove through Steubenville, the home town of Dean Martin, and saw a mural with members of the Rat Pack as well as a mural symbolizing that Ohio was the passageway into the West. We also passed by an operating steel mill, which was the first one most of us had seen and the first one I remember seeing. Growing up in Pittsburgh, I only saw dormant steel mills on a daily basis.

Once we got to Pittsburgh, Stephanie, Ryan & Professor Yawn went to the Carnegie Science Center while Cameron, John & I stopped at the Andy Warhol Museum which was featuring a special exhibit on Marilyn Monroe. Apparently, the legendary actress is the Junior Fellows theme of the semester because she was also the subject of our Film Festival just a couple weeks ago. My nieces met us there and were able to walk the exhibit with us, although I’m not sure some of it was appropriate for them to see. I was surprised to see so many nude photos of the actress! Nevertheless, the exhibit was fascinating.

Once the museum closed and we finally got our GPS working, we visited the Cathedral of Learning, a gothic revival building on the University of Pittsburgh campus. The building is so magnificent it is almost impossible to describe except to say that it is almost like walking into a castle. The wrought iron railings, stone walls, and dimmed lighting provide an excellent historic atmosphere. The building holds great memories for me because I recall spending much time in the empty classrooms playing school while my mom was attending graduate school classes at the University of Pittsburgh. I enjoyed spending time in the building again and seeing from the perspective of someone admiring the architecture.

The next leg of our time in Pittsburgh was definitely the best part of my trip! (No offense to my fellow travelers.) I had dinner with my sister and her husband at Spaghetti Warehouse. That’s right, I broke the “no chain restaurant” rule, but I had a blast doing it. I hadn’t seen the two of them in over four years, so it was great to catch up and take some pictures with them. Plus, I got a black and gold balloon hat, which I am hoping to manage getting on the plane without popping!

After dinner, the three of us said goodbye and I met up with the Junior Fellows once again. We topped off our day trip to Pittsburgh with a trip up the Duquesne Incline on Mount Washington. The ride provided a gorgeous view of the city. The most picturesque was the Christmas tree at The Point, where the three rivers (Ohio, Allegheny & Monongahela) converge and the way it reflected in the water. The sky line and the lit-up buildings are gorgeous by themselves, and the Christmas tree was a welcomed bonus.

And that’s how it got to be 11 o’clock. I am exhausted and ready to take a short nap in the car during the two-hour drive back to our hotel in Akron. Then, tomorrow I will be ready for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and the flight back to Houston.

Day 2 - 11/19/2010
Miraculously, I woke up on time this morning, despite being so exhausted last night. In fact, we even arrived early to the Association of Political Consultants (AAPC) conference, which was full of interesting panels, all having to do with political campaigns. There were quite a few successful panelists throughout the day—people from John McCain’s campaign, a former Oklahoma State Senator, presidents and founders of media and consulting firms, and various pollsters. In fact, one panelist was Ray Strother, who wrote the famous “Daisy” ad for Lyndon Baines Johnson in 1964. These panelists had worked for some important campaigns.

Lunch was designated as a “mentoring event.” The conference matched us by party affiliation and campaign interests with a campaign “mentor.” I ate lunch with fellow Democrats who were also interested in polling as well as a Democratic pollster from Global Strategy Group, Jeff Plaut. I was excited to hear what he had to say about the profession. Not surprisingly, the profession is fairly rigorous and has a high burn-out rate. He spoke about how difficult some clients can be and the difficulties of losing a campaign. But he also spoke about the exciting and interesting career of a pollster. Plaut promised to follow up with me, so perhaps I’ll be able to intern for the firm this summer.

My favorite panel of the day was titled “Ethical Speaking and Spending.” Former Oklahoma State Representative, Rick Farmer spoke about the importance of negative advertisements in a campaign, but he emphasized that the claims made in such ads must be documented and should not be false or misleading. Farmer had done research on the public opinion of negative ads. I was expecting to hear that the electorate hated negative ads, but Farmer said that voters do not mind negative advertising as long as the claims seem fair. Of course, what is fair and what is not is sometimes disputed. The other panelists continued the talk about ethics by essentially saying that voters have a right to know where the money is coming from and by knowing that all the information coming from a campaign is true.

In all, I loved the conference, and the day went by quickly. Before I knew it, it was time to drive back to Cleveland to visit the Museum of Art. They had contemporary art all the way back to Picasso and Van Gogh. My favorite piece in the museum, though, was entitled “Lot’s Wife” by Anselm Kiefer. This postmodernist painting depicts an abandoned railroad and is surrounded by mud, rain puddles, and a dark cloudy sky. It was textured with all kinds of material such as dust and aluminum and truly gives the admirer the impression of looking down an old, neglected railroad following a big rain. The artist had been a survivor of the Holocaust and decided he would paint sites left empty by the Nazis in order to deal with the trauma he experienced. Not only is Kiefer a talented painter, but he was also a true hero who survived the torment of Hitler’s Nazi Germany.

Afterward, we went to a delightful neighborhood called Shaker’s Square and ate soul food at Zanzibar. The restaurant had only been opened for 20 days, but the chef did not have a lack of experience. We ate fried catfish fingers and a dip with collard greens and artichokes. The food was delicious and I’m sure the restaurant will be extremely successful!

What an exciting day we had and I’m gearing up for tomorrow when we drive to Pittsburgh. I’m looking forward to seeing the Andy Warhol Museum and to do some sightseeing in my hometown, but I am, by far, the most excited about seeing my big sister and her husband!

Day 1 - 11/18/2010
Howdy! My name is Dana Angello and I am the Vice President of the Political Science Junior Fellows. I am so excited to take a four-day whirlwind trip to Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania. And it all began this morning at 4:00 am when we left Huntsville for Houston in order to make our 6:30 flight to Detroit. The travel went surprisingly well, and I even was able to enjoy a cup of hot chocolate while stretching out on the plane!

Once we got to Detroit, we were able to do some sightseeing. We visited the Mariners’ Church of Detroit, which commemorated 29 seamen who died when their ship wrecked after being caught in a storm on Lake Superior.

The wreck was made famous by Gordon Lightfoot, who paid tribute to the sailors and the surviving families. The church was a beautiful gothic structure that was originally built a couple of blocks from where it now sits. The relocation process was so significant, that traffic in the area stopped for twenty-one days! The church was magnificent, but I was also captivated by a statue of George Washington which was donated by the Free Masons of Detroit. The Mariners’ Church was a fantastic place to begin sightseeing.

Once we had taken a significant number of pictures, Professor Yawn grew tired of my laments about how hungry I was, so we decided to find a place to eat. We made the long, very cold walk to Greektown and ate at Laikon, which has been serving delicious Greek food since the 1920s. Before this lunch, my Greek food experience only consisted of gyros, so I decided it was time to expand my knowledge of Greek food. It was a wise choice: the pastitsio, with lamb, macaroni, and a Greek sauce, provided to be just the ticket to satiating my growling stomach.
Once we had sufficiently stuffed ourselves, we drove to the Motown Historical Museum, the record company created by Barry Gordy. The museum was fairly interesting and it was certainly quite a feeling to stand in the studio where the likes of Diana Ross and Michael Jackson spent so many hours recording their groundbreaking albums. In fact, Martin Luther King, Jr. even recorded his “I have a Dream” speech as well as his speech entitled “Why I am Opposed to the War in Vietnam” in the very same studio where we were stood. It was exciting to learn about a company that paved the way for so many African-American musicians.

After our exploration of the Motown Era, we headed toward Cleveland to eat and sightsee, but not before our unsettling experience at a KFC where bullet-proof glass was protecting the workers behind the counter. We got out of there as soon as we could.

The more time we spent in the car on the way to Cleveland, the more excited I got about tomorrow. Most certainly, it will be a long day, but I can’t wait for the American Association of Political Consultants Conference in Akron. There are many great panelists, including high-level political consultants and university professors. But the education and fun will not stop there. After the conference, we will head back to Cleveland for the evening, eating at yet another intriguing restaurant and visiting the Cleveland Museum of Art.

Hopefully, tonight we will get enough rest and take our vitamins so that tomorrow we are ready and rearin’ to go for more fun!

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