If you don’t find your space, make it.

My favorite place is in Athens wasn’t built by the university. It isn’t fiscally supported by the student activity fee, it isn’t on campus, and it isn’t even on Court Street. Probably about 99% of the student population doesn’t even know my favorite place exists.

It’s called the Hardcore House of Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

I know it sounds absurd, a hardcore house named after an 83-year-old Supreme Court Justice? It probably will more sound more absurd to you when you discover it is my own personal rental home off-campus. In addition to being the place I sleep, shower, do homework, and prepare my meals, it’s also a performance space for poets and artists from Athens, OH to Alabama to Brooklyn and more.

I probably should walk you through how I got here, seeing as you’re thinking about coming to Ohio University or have already enrolled, and I’m telling you that my favorite thing about OU isn’t even mildly campus affiliated.

When I arrived as a freshman, I was eager for something new. Laid at my feet was a fresh start, but I wanted to use my fresh start to experience the things I loved already in a new way. Music was a primary passion of mine, and I was already five+ years deep into a devoted relationship with DIY music, as I’d been playing and booking shows all through high school. I knew a little bit about Athens music scene through creeping the Athens, OH tag on Bandcamp, but I became fully immersed in it once I joined ACRN Media, OU’s student-run college rock radio station and media collective. The group of us headed out in droves to catch shows in living rooms, at bars, and in basements.

(Full disclosure, I became the General Manager aka head honcho of ACRN Media February of my freshman year, 3/4 because I am incredibly passionate about radio, 1/4 because I am an insane person who loves having no free time or sleeping.)  

Wolf Haus porch hangs after a show.
Wolf Haus porch hangs after a show.

DIY and ACRN provided a space away from the sporty party culture that bombarded me when I first moved in. I lived on West Green, a hub for student athletes, and I often found myself feeling a little isolated. A place to feel less isolated was surrounded by push moshing sweaty bodies in the basement of Castle Genesee. Standing on the sliver

Eating a family dinner of spaghetti at the Lodge.
Eating a family dinner of spaghetti at the Lodge.

of counter to watch bands in the kitchen of the Wolf Haus. Peering through the stair banisters to watch folks rip gigs at the Lodge. All of these house venues became transient homes.

The Lodge was especially important, as the people who lived there became our fast friends. While we went to lots of shows there, it became a destination on event-free week nights. My partner and I would trek over to the house with fresh groceries to make family dinners, and we’d all sit around and listen to music and laugh in good company. There was a family aspect, a community feeling that I really loved. I tucked that feeling in my pocket and saved it for later when the tenants all graduated and moved and the Lodge was no more.

It took me a long time to admit it, but the first two years of Athens DIY were a little frustrating for me, as many people around me were deeply focused on partying, and it got old quick. I got sick of watching people drunkenly disrespect each other’s personal space and safety, houses were getting trashed, things were getting stolen. It was a mess. I was drowning in an environment surrounded by peers who did not understand what it was like to work 25 hours a week while being a full-time student, who could bring six-packs of craft beer to a gig but not $5 to donate to the bands performing. I was getting burnt out on the one thing that made Ohio U feel like a place of adventure and promise, and I needed to do something about it.

(Reality Check: While everyone talks about the Bobcat Family and how they never want to leave OU, it is OKAY to feel unhappy here. There’s may be occasional moments where you just don’t know if you made the right decision or you are itching to graduate and move on to the next thing. This is normal, okay, and presents a chance to do something creative with your time here!)

It was at this time when I had reached my breaking point that we began planning for our move to the RBG. We had plans to have shows, but we started talking logistics, ideals, visions. The name came about because I’m obsessed with Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and I think she’s a bad ass. The hardcore edge came about because we liked hardcore music, but we also thought it would be funny to pair the two. Our logo represents the absurdity of such a name.

come and get em (at the LVL Up show tomorrow) also thank u @dan.manion

A photo posted by blair (@fruitbaby_) on

One thing that we all deeply cared about was having a strict “No drugs, no drinking, no exceptions” policy during gigs. We wanted the place to be as safe as possible for everyone, and any space that includes alcohol or drugs immediately becomes less safe. An unfortunate thing you’ll learn very quickly at OU that alcohol and drugs often reveal the nastier, scummier side of people, even within ‘alternative’ communities.

Grumpy jaded senior-citizen Meg comments aside, we really did want to create a space that was safe and intended to create community. I wanted to be somebody else’s Lodge. When we moved in and started facilitating performances, we were excited to see droves of kids coming to shows to hang out and make friends. I was starting to see students and community members I hadn’t known before, we were inviting poets to perform which brought in a fresh crowd of people to shows, and our home became synonymous with welcoming. We kicked off the year with a mixed CD/mix tape swap, and new Rock Lobsters crowded the floor and porch to share music. Bands started practicing at our house, we hosted shows for other people, we made friends, we gave people a place to go, and I think people have fun when they visit the RBG.

@divorcebandus was killer. So much energy packed into such a small space, fucking blown away.

A photo posted by Abigale Collins (@spacedemontia) on

Booking shows and facilitating community events without ever having to leave my home gave me a sense of purpose and a positive space to grow. My confidence in the OU/Athens community restored itself,  and I’ve had the pleasure of meeting so many wonderful people. It’s also something really cool and interesting to slap on a resume– “Events Coordinator at the Hardcore House of Ruth Bader Ginsburg” is sure to catch an employer’s eye! But let’s get real. I haven’t created this space and formed a sisterhood and music family just for resume-building purposes. The RBG was born because I needed it to exist in order to feel truly fulfilled in Athens.

Live recordings from some of our shows here.


Flyers from shows at the xxxRBGxxx:

[metaslider id=7314]

Here’s the moral of my long-winded journey and this e-scrapbook of memories. If you arrive at OU or are planning on coming here and can’t quite figure out what you want or what you like or what feels like home, try not to worry. There is nothing stopping you from being the creator of the space that meets your needs, accomplishes your goals, and brings you bliss. Athens and Ohio University are your canvas, so get ready to create. Your space may not exist yet, and that’s a-okay! If you can’t find your space, make it. 

A photo of The Hardcore House of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, which is nestled into an unsuspecting side road.

The Bobcat Buzz

Music & the Things You Should Know About It 

  • If you’re looking for something to do on the evening of Mill Fest that doesn’t involve puking into a garbage can on Court Street and has slightly more cultural value, consider heading over to Galbreath Chapel on College Green to check out Pinegrove, Palm, Warehouse and local folksters Wished Bone. The gig is $7 and has a nice, diverse line up.

Here’s an in-studio video of Pinegrove with OHIO’s college rock radio station, ACRN Media.

P.S. This band is very hype. Get on the train so you can say you dug Pinegrove ~before they were cool~

  •  According to the to the seconds clock on their website, we’re almost a month away from the infamous #Fest, 14th Edition. Since you can’t bring your own cases of beer this year, it looks like you’re gonna have to learn the actual music being performed. Here’s a helpful playlist provided by the fest:

[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/playlists/187997866″ params=”auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false&visual=true” width=”100%” height=”450″ iframe=”true” /]

  • If you’re paying attention to the buzzing world of pop music, Ke$ha is one step closer to being free from her creepy-ass producer, Dr. Luke. Sony has dropped him from his contract a year early. This is fun and exciting news and will be sure to light up the conversation at She Shreds Magazine’s SXSW panel about the industry and sexism.
    • Why is this relevant? Some of your very lucky classmates will be in attendance for the Media School and will hopefully check this panel out. Oh, and they might bump into the Obamas. No big. (Hot tip: Obama is skipping Nancy Reagan’s funeral for this hot music and tech festival. Who’s Nancy Reagan?)

Meg Fair

Commerce on Court

Tired of Goodfella’s running the by-the-slice pizza game in Athens? You’re in luck.

Franco’s Pizza opens today (Thursday) in Kiser’s BBQ’s former location at 42 S. Court St. Its owner says the draw for students will be freshly-ground tomatoes and hand-sliced pepperoni.

The shop’s 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. hours mean Franco’s will largely miss out on drunken foot traffic. A slice of cheese pizza here will set you back $2.50.

If you’re not a pizza person, you might think twice before heading across the street to Chipotle, as the chain this week had up to four employees test positive for Norovirus. None of those were in Athens, but this is the latest of a spate of health problems for everyone’s burrito go-to.

Know Your Netflix

Most-Importantly-Tina-Fey-Guest-StarringFuller House made its debut exclusively to Netflix on February 26, and has already received enormous feedback and reviews – successfully picking it up for a second season. The 90’s sitcom spinoff has fans in love with the nostalgia, but that concept doesn’t hold the same with critics. In a recent episode of Late Night with Seth Meyers, John Stamos (aka Uncle Jesse) spoke out about the negative feedback from the reviews. His response was simple but direct: “How f*%king rude!” Bringing back a popular catchphrase from the show in a more adult light.

See the full story from Decider here.

If humor is your thing, then the Netflix original show, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt is for you. The show has received several Emmy nominations and holds the “comedic brilliance” perfect for the college-aged crowd. The most exciting news of all for fans of the show: a second season will begin streaming on April 15. PopSugar shared a summary of 8 things to expect from the new season, including the appearance of the show’s producer, Tina Fey herself. It’s going to be just what everyone has been waiting for.

Leah Rake

Food For Thought

All students at OU are required to live in residence halls for their first two years here, most sadly lacking kitchens.  By the end of the first semester, many students complain about dining hall food becoming stale – pun intended. Check out what Buzzfeed, Delish, and Greatest suggest you do to replicate momma’s homemade cooking using the simple tools lying around your dorm room for less-than-gourmet, but tasty treats.

For those living off campus who love to cook, but are in need of some new ideas, definitely think about following Food on Instagram.  You might be struck by the undeniable urge to eat while scrolling in class, but the appetizing ideas are surely worth the occasional inconvenient rumbly stomach.

Tim Hurst

Redefining hOUme

As residents in Athens, OH we all reside in Appalachia, a region full of depth and layers besides just the mountains and hills.

Soul of Athens is a collaborative project between the different School of Visual Communication tracks here at Ohio University that explores the stories beyond the the stereotypes and focuses on why people continue to call Appalachia home.

From the land to the people, and every piece of history that has led to its existence today, take a look at this extensive region many of us Bobcats call home. There’s no place quite like it, after all.

Follow Soul of Athens on on TwitterFacebook and Instagram to watch the journey around Appalachia unfold. Soul of Athens 2016 launches April 19, 2016.

Hadley Savoldi 

A Designated Space for Exploration

The cozy, windowless back room of Donkey Coffee and Espresso is warmly lit. The current decor of paintings of birds accents the eggshell walls and dark wood paneling. On most evenings, you’ll find this section filled with friends snuggling on couches, people buried in computer assignments, people on first dates and folks curled up on cozy chairs reading and writing for pleasure.

This warm, inviting haven is a fitting location for creative expression, and every Tuesday night at 9 p.m. it transforms into an open mic for reading poetry, essays, and narratives. Sometimes people even showcase performance art. This weekly session holds the fitting title of Designated Space, a home for poets new and old to gather and share their art.

I would be lying if I said that every poet who climbs onto that stage and takes the mic on a Tuesday night is good. Not everyone can be Maya Angelou, after all. On the other hand, it takes real bravery to share such personal art, and seeing people share, regardless of the topic or quality of content, is inspiring.

Regulars present new work like they would present their prized possession or a younger sibling. Olivia Cobb, an English major, began her set with a new poem. “I just wrote this one a few days ago,” she said. “I can’t wait to share my baby with you.”

The beauty of Designated Space is that it showcases a mix of regulars and pop-in poets, people who have been religiously pouring their work out every week since they discovered the weekly event juxtaposed with people who had no idea that Designated Space was even a thing—they just happened to be in the room when it started.

Allman performs an original piece at Designated Space.
Allman performs an original piece at Designated Space.

One such performer was Bobby Walker, a junior studying women, gender and sexuality studies. “I didn’t even know this was a thing until it started happening two hours ago,” they chuckled. Walker treated the audience to a piece read in their Guyanese accent, an accent they often choose to Americanize because they feel self-conscious. It was a special window into their personal world and upbringing, insight not provided but the casual passing conversations we have with strangers and acquaintances.

While some simply read at the microphone, others choose a more complex performance. Griffin Allman is a freshman studying integrated media. His readings were performed with intense energy, and at points he grabbed his hair, threw his arms out and nearly broke into a shout. Allman is a prize-winning member of OHIO’s Forensics Team.

Kara Guyton, the usual host of Designated Space and a senior studying commercial photography was unable to host the whole event, but she popped in at the end of the night to read some of her favorite poems about animals. Guyton was charming and funny, interspersing her humor between serious poems. Her voice was soothing and inviting, and her readings of two Charles Wright pieces entranced the audience wholly.

Over the course of the two hours, 16 people read poetry. Some chose to read original pieces, others read from poets past, while others chose to talk about everything from depression to self-exploration to vaginas to missing old lovers.

When I returned home to pick out my favorite bits of tape and outline this article, I couldn’t help but feel the pull to come back next week and explore the spoken word that fills the cozy back room with life every Tuesday.

Youth in Athens

You live where?: A look inside The Hardcore House of Ruth Bader Ginsburg

The walls are a wonky, aged and twisting wrap of wood paneling, the wood floors scuffed and scratched from furniture and equipment being moved around a few times a month. A strange assortment of holiday decorations litter the shelves and wrap around the Christmas lights dangling over the corner of the room.

Enter my personal Athens gem. On an average day, it’s a normal, cluttered and cozy living room. On its best days, however, it’s a live music venue packed with the warm excited bodies of students and community members who convene to see local and touring acts perform intimate sets in the living room of two college students. On the days in between it serves as a practice space for newer bands and a gathering space for ACRN Media.

Nicole Pompei of Boston-based Bat House rips it on the drums during our first show of fall semester.
Nicole Pompei of Boston-based Bat House rips it on the drums during our first show of fall semester.

I moved into The Hardcore House of Ruth Bader Ginsburg in May, and we have been hosting art and music events there since June. The house earned its title during a coffee date in which we mused over what feminist icon we wished to bestow upon the home’s namesake. Because of RBG’s universal likability and total bad-assery, we settled upon The Hardcore House of Ruth Bader Ginsburg because it was clever and fun, and we commissioned local artist Bailey Kretz to make a logo in the style of classic hardcore band merchandise.

Bailey Kretz designed this logo for us to use. We have a screen printed poster of it in a glamorous frame in the hallway.
Bailey Kretz designed this logo for us to use. We have a screen printed poster of it in a glamorous frame in the hallway.

During shows, our home is dry. This means absolutely zero drugs, zero drinking. We have set it up this way to maximize all music lovers’ comfort levels, as well as attempting to make our home a safer space for the community. In a town where drinking culture is pervasive and nearly unavoidable, my home is a haven where my homebody, sober-leaning self can enjoy live music and a sense of community.

In the uneven hallway to the kitchen, there is a screen-printed RBG logo in an elegant Ikea frame, and just around the corner there is a map of the United States. We ask every band who plays in our home to sign their name on their hometown geographic location. We have hosted performances from bands as far South as Alabama and as far west as Missouri. By the time I move out, I hope our little gem has been visited by bands far west and perhaps from countries off our map of the U.S.

Kara Guyton snapped this photo of Blair and I perched outside our humble punk house.
OHIO student Kara Guyton snapped this photo of Blair and I perched outside our humble punk house.