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Frank Tankard

Stories by Frank

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Lawrence's Original Weirdo

Hugh Cameron: Tree Hermit, Philosopher, and Civil War Veteran

Long before William S. Burroughs, and way before the That’s My Dillions guy, or the Mumbler, or Dennis, or any of town’s other widely recognized characters—Lawrence had a character who will top them all forever in the annals of eccentric lore: Gen. Hugh Cameron.

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BMXers crash campus (legally!), a sign of the sport's persistent popularity

On May 2, a mildly historic event will take place. BMX freestylers, a scourge for many a year to the KU campus along with their skateboarding and rollerblading brethren, will grind away without hassle from the fuzz...

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It’s National Poetry Month, and it’s your civic duty to write and read and think all the poetry you can before the month is through.

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Student art opening at the Spencer imagines the meeting of nature and technology

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Hope is the new fear

We’ve all heard the saying “uncertainty breeds fear.” What’s more uncertain than a crisis that the vast majority of Americans—even the most informed among us—finds difficult to grasp? Lucky for you, Joe Sixpack, we enlisted the most hopeful dude out there to give us some answers.

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Used to Be

The sound and the fury of the life of Kirk Rundstrom

For someone who died two years ago, Kirk Rundstrom has had a hard time exiting the limelight.

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The Reconstruction Will Not Be Televised

Unraveling Lawrence’s most explosive underground newspaper, 40 years later

Forty years ago this month, a group of Lawrence radicals published the first issue of what has to be Lawrence’s most incendiary newspaper to date.

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Can you spare some CHANGE?

Lawrencians’ 2 cents on "hope" and all that we heap on Obama

What some everyday Joe Six-Packs we yanked off the street had to say about the inauguration of Barack Obama...

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Stitch & Bitch

It’s not just for 5-year-olds (or 85-year-olds) anymore!

Knitting! Crochet! Crafts!!! For a few years now this has been the big trend, sweeping the nation, taking places by storm, et cetera.

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Iraq Chalk Jayhawk

A local soldier's perspective on waste and progress in the war

A few weeks ago our man in Baghdad, Paul VanCleave, returned to Lawrence after his second tour of duty with the Kansas Army National Guard. We caught up with him before he ships out again to talk about the insanity of the war, and then some...

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Mondo Santa

The mother of all bad Christmas specials screens in Lawrence

Scandinavian Santa versus the Ice Cream Bunny. Santa the Ambassador, teaching African children about the great United States. That’s the stuff of “Holy Yule: Santa in a Strange Land,” a film of mashed-up arcane video that’s touring the Midwest.

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Have Yourself A Miserly Little Christmas

A Gift Guide for the Financially Ruined

Economists say that to get the market running again we need to spend a lot of money this holiday season. But what money? We’ve all been laid off. Luckily, there’s a gift guide tailored to the financially ruined consumer.

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Birth of The Beats is Born, 64 years later

Thanks to Lawrence's James Grauerholz, the crime novel that launched the careers of Burroughs and Kerouac finally sees print

In August of 1944, a 19-year-old Columbia student named Lucien Carr killed 33-year-old David Kammerer, the man who had mentored him since he was a young, fatherless boy and had come to fawn over him to the point of obsession. Carr stabbed him with a Boy Scout knife during a fight and threw his body in the Hudson River. The first people he ran to were his friends Bill Burroughs and Jack Kerouac.

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Spy Candy

Local guys design 007 title sequence, save the world

Naked women and lazers... "that's how we pitch every title design that our studio's ever done." -Timmy Fisher, MK12's Title Design Director for the new Bond film "Quantum of Solace."

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Back in the Day

Billy Spears Band-legendary local act of the '70s-reunites for one more show

There was a time when Billy Spears was king. A food service worker at the Kansas Union with curly hair and, judging by the old pictures, an inscrutable and wild look to his eyes and all about him-when Billy Spears was playing his fiddle, people would not miss it. "He was a legend around town," says Chuck Mead of BR549.

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Don't Trust Anyone Over 30 18

Probing the mind of the youngest voters

Everyone said the world would change and it did. And the events that followed the tragedy-no need to list them here-were put into motion before she was a teenager. She turned 18 last week and now, in the midst of the economic crisis, she prepares to vote in her first election. As things fall apart, she can safely say that the mess of a country she inherits is one she did not help create through the electoral process.

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Back in the Day

Legendary Lawrence rebel George Kimball returns

George Kimball has been many things: rebel, novelist, journalist, boxing aficionado. He blew into Lawrence like a harbinger of change at the beginning of the 1960s on an ROTC scholarship to KU and stuck around off and on throughout the turbulent decade. He ran for sheriff of Douglas County in 1970, the year the Kansas Union was firebombed and riots swept through the city, and was seen as a spokesman for the counterculture.

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Lost & Found Art

Lawrence's found object artists

A normal schmuck might see these things and think, "Huh, that's interesting," and move on with the day. The curious-minded packrat might even take 'em to the garage for safekeeping. An artist, on the other hand...

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The Chain Gallery

Prison Poster Project showcases art from the inside

In the summer of 2004, the We Are Resisting conference was coming to Lawrence and it was expected to draw hundreds of anarchists from across the country. Chantel Guidry, who ran the local chapter of the Anarchist Black Cross, a prison abolition network, was helping organize a prisoner art show to coincide with the conference.

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Low Brew

An ode to cheap beer

As the sun of summer nears its final horizon, a free tip for those among us who are not yet privy to the trend sweeping fast through the gullets of the beer drinkers of this town: Hamm's with lemon.

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Cloud Factory

Local artists funnel magic from the sky

In 2004, a man from London named Gavin Pretor-Pinney started a group called The Cloud Appreciation Society, a project that was kind of silly and life-affirming in its exaltation of something so commonplace.

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Land of Odd

Busker Tales : The Thrilling, Revolting & Absurd!

":blowing big fireballs while unicycling, and stuff like that." When asked the standard question, "what is it that you do?" there are very few people who, like Trenten Coy Espinoza, a performer from Kansas City with gauged ears and scars branded into both arms, would be able to say this in your standard, matter-of-fact tone.

Q&A with The Wicked Liars (Land of Odd)

The Wicked Liars are Robert and Valerie Wolf. They juggle knives, do a bullwhip act, swallow swords, play with fire and a lot of other things. Valerie can move a double-edged razorblade around in her mouth. Robert once appeared on a stamp issued by the island of St. Vincent as part of a series commemorating great circus performers. They have been married for 13 years and live in Lenexa.

Q&A with Flying Debris (Land of Odd)

Flying Debris is Richard Holmgren. He has a routine in which he juggles two machetes and a Twinkie and eats the Twinkie. He performs fire breathing tricks and juggles children. His dad always asks him to balance a wheelbarrow on his head to impress his dad's friends. He's from Salina.

Q&A with Stephanie Roberts and Peter Lawless of BOOM! (Land of Odd)

Boom! is a five-person band. They march. They sing. They wear weird costumes. Their shtick is that they're sibling orphans-Lily, Neil, Boris, Peter and Paul-separated at birth and reunited after growing up all around the world. The instruments are ukulele, clarinet, bass drum, trombone, melodica, saxophone and accordion. They were assembled by Stephanie Roberts, who teaches physical theater at UMKC. They're from Kansas City, Mo.

Q&A with Jester Rejects (Land of Odd)

The Jester Rejects are twin brothers Kent and Kevin Mercer. They have traveled around the world, with the circus and on their own, to juggle and perform as clowns. They're from Independence, Mo.

Q&A with Richard Renner (Land of Odd)

Richard Renner has been making a living as a clown for close to 30 years and books other entertainers with his Vodvill Entertainment Company. He won't be performing at the Lawrence Busker Festival because he's got a gig out of town, but he's the guy who dreamt up the whole thing. He lives in Lawrence.

SureFire Jugglers (Land of Odd)

The SureFire Jugglers are Jason Smith and Trenten Coy Espinoza. They juggle objects between each other, perform a two-person cartwheel, blow fireballs while unicycling, etc. They're from Kansas City, Mo.

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Things to do in Lawrence if You're Not Quite Dead

The stuff the sleeping mule misses, but we, the opossums, see.

If you, dear reader, like to do things. And you find yourself in this place, Lawrence, Kansas, U.S.A. Then munch on this cowpie, my friend:our first (last) annual guide, coinciding with the seasonal return of the college students:a special presentation:Things to do in Lawrence if You're Not Quite Dead.

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Revolving Door

Bring 'em in, bond 'em out, the grueling life of the bail bondsman

On a hot Monday afternoon, Steve Robson was driving toward a row of apartments on Redbud Lane. He had received a tip that the guy he was looking for might be there. "This kid is not the best-natured kid in the world," he warned the two other men in his Ford F-150, license plate BAIL. "He might be a cupcake. He might be a jerk."

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Search and Destroy

Gearheads prepare for metal mayhem

Stained blue jeans and leather boots, 95-degree heat, a rusty '76 Chevy Impala. Jay Armbrister is in his shop and has work to do. Friday night, at the Douglas County Fairgrounds, the Impala might last 30 minutes. It might last 45. Try and kill the other cars, try and keep yours going. It'll be a blur, and then it will be over.

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Pros & Cons

Matt Pryor releases his solo effort 'Confidence Man'

There comes a time in a man's life : a time when he turns 30. Oh, they say it is a sad day. The saddest of all birthdays, perhaps, because, for the first time in a decade, he is not in his 20s. As 30 approached, and Pryor had to do something. That something turned into his first solo record, "Confidence Man."

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Last Defense

For some convicts, KU's Defender Project is the final hope

By the time a prisoner's letter reaches the mailbox of the Paul E. Wilson Defender Project, the hope of freedom has generally diminished to the level of pipe dream. Many of the letters come from prisoners complaining that their attorneys-often appointed by the court-didn't meet with them often enough, didn't show much interest in their cases, didn't introduce key evidence, generally didn't fight for them. In other words, the prisoners complain of being shortchanged in the shuffle of an overtaxed system.

Meter Maids

A Display of Poetic Fireworks in the Dead of Summer

Four Lawrence women-a practicing witch, a daughter of illiterate Tennessee sharecroppers, a bisexual anarchist and a poetry professor-are reading poetry in the same room on Friday, and they're afraid that if you attend, you might explode.

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Master of Chaos

Local writer David Ohle's new novel hailed as black, rich and fecund

The Pisstown Parasite has transformed masses of people into stinking, decaying wanderers. An all-powerful leader, Reverend Hooker, American Divine, is continually shifting people all over the place, from Pisstown to Indian Apple to Bum Bay to Permanganate Island, at random.

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Field Notes

Reports from the Badlands

A man walked back from the Kwik Shop to his car, an old boat of an Oldsmobile with scuffed blue paint parked at pump number two. The smell of gasoline was strong. Unleaded was going for $3.82, $3.80 with a Dillons Plus card. The man swung open the driver's side door, revealing a burgundy Holy Bible planted on the dash, and exited out the south entrance of the 19th and Massachusetts service station. An aqua green car driven by a young woman playing R&B music at a high volume quickly replaced the vacated spot. The young woman walked into the convenience store. All four pumps were occupied. Three minutes later all but one were empty. This was Lawrence.

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Local business connects unknown artists, customers through the power of the interweb

On August 25, 2003, a couple of guys from Lawrence named Devin Walker and Ladd Epp launched a small company out of Walker's house called It worked like this: Artists would upload images of their work. Orders would be placed. Using magic software that could turn a one-megabyte image into a high-resolution print as big as a building, Walker would print digital images onto posters.

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Waiting for his Shot

Haskell Boxing Club star Marcus Oliveira toes the line of the big time

Where the four ropes enclosing the ring are frayed, duct tape does the job. The canvas is stained with blood and dirt. A fan blows loudly somewhere overhead. Harsh fluorescent lights shine. Mirrors on two sides of the ring broadcast Marcus Oliveira's punches to a dozen kids sliding side to side, gloves up, honing their footwork along the red carpet of the humming Topeka gym.

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Passing Permanence

Jody Wood and the power of the temporary

You can tell a little about Jody Wood's disposition toward her art from the way she handles her air mattresses made of pig intestines. Removing one of the two brittle mattresses from a corner of her studio in KU's Art and Design Building, she handles it not exactly gently, like most people do with a piece of art they once slaved over.


:Playboy edition!!!

And now, for the latest installment of the semi-regular Breaking News feature QUOTATION OF THE WEEK.

T'd Off

Uncertain days for the city's public transit system

Sign #367 that Lawrence is a strange place: Gas prices are rising, signs of the metalocalypse are running crazy, you can hardly plug into the news without being deluged with stories like one The New York Times published last week-"Americans are giving up their gas guzzlers, making fewer trips to the mall and even riding public transportation." Meanwhile, in Lawrence, money is tight at City Hall. And city commissioners, getting ready to plan next year's budget over the next few weeks, say many things may get cut, including the bus system, the T.


...A Breaking News special report!!!

An item caught Breaking News' attention last Tuesday, spurring an investigation, when the Lawrence Journal-World printed the following in its daily law enforcement report:

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Rails, roads, and wilderness: the endless search of the tramp

Two days passed in northern British Columbia. Then three. Cricket was in desolate country waiting for a freight train, stuck at one of those crossroads that most folks experience only in metaphor. The question was inevitable. Do I want to keep doing this?

Q&A with Alyssa Kelly

A couple of years ago, Alyssa Kelly left Houston, the city she grew up in, for the road. Today, she is married and living in Lawrence. In a bedroom of the Haunted Kitchen, the punk house on the corner of 19th and Louisiana streets, Kelly, 21, offered a beer, lit a cigarette and detailed her two years on the road.


:storm from the shelter edition!!!!

Trees shook. Rain fell. Thunder crashed. The electricity went off. It was the earliest hours of Saturday, May 24, in Lawrence, Kansas, U.S.A.

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Living Proof

Our occasional reminder that not all people are bastards

Look at the photo with this story. It's heartbreaking. It's of Addison Whitenight, who's now 19 months old and has been waiting to receive a liver transplant for a year.

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Off the Fairway

Vinland Natural Nine takes golf from country club to country

Richard Morantz lives in an old trailer. A couple of holes have worn their way through his blue trousers, which are held up by a pair of suspenders. His curly, overgrown hair is thick with humidity. Pulling up the gravel driveway to his 80-acre spread south of town on a warm spring day, you get the feeling this would be a good place to hole up when the rapture arrives, but about the last place you would think to go for a round of golf.

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Kickin' the Truth to the Youth

Local rapper Richard "GQ" Thomas schools Lawrence High hip-hoppers

Who is that rapper poisoning the delicate minds of our youths with the hippity-hop? After searching low and high, we found that it's none other than local rapper and BombSquad member Richard "GQ" Thomas.


: blase edition!!!

Congratulations, reader! You've checked in at just the right time, for this is the first semi-regular installment of a new feature, WORDS OF THE DAY.

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Kids in the Stall

Exploring the seedy underbelly of Lawrence: the public bathroom

I don't wanna sound like a queer or nothin:but I think unicorns are pretty kickass!- black marker, women's room, Replay Lounge It was nearing 10 p.m. last Wednesday night on the patio of the Replay Lounge when a woman named Al returned from the bathroom with a stencil freshly blackened by spray paint in her hand and a grin on her face.