SU Snapshot

Staffer shares strange (and smoky) summer ceremony of sorts

Posted on Monday, September 24, 2012

Story by: Annie Beckmann, Marketing Communications 

I'm cheating a little here because I didn't make it back to the tiny crossroads burg of Roxbury, Wis., this summer for the annual Solstice piano burning party at the Roxbury Tavern, where my old pal Tom Gresser is proprietor.

Another old friend of mine, Presbyterian minister and maestro Larry Collins, settles into a lawn chair each year and plays such thematic oldies as "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes" and "On Top of Old Smokey" until the flames start to lick the keys.

For the first time in a decade, Gresser had trouble finding a piano to burn in 2012, so I didn't want to commit to a plane ticket without knowing whether the event was a certainty.

AnnieBeckmannPianoBurning_SnapshotmainTypically, the pianos are decrepit, orphaned uprights Gresser finds at thrift stores that are pleased to part with them for the price of delivery. The fire marshal is in on the deal, and each year the tavern roasts a turkey in the piano just in case someone complains about the purpose of the fire. To date nobody has, though.

As the New York Times reported in July, old pianos these days are more likely to end up in trash dumps where their passing is a little less grand.

"At least we give them a dignified end," Gresser insists. 

Any ivory left on the keys goes to local artists prior to the burning and the large metal harp inside each piano is added to a fence around Gresser's vegetable garden.

The Roxbury Tavern is a true original that draws an eclectic mix of folks. One beer-quaffing writer called it "a hidden gem" and "an unofficial community/cultural center," which is fairly apt. Cussing and cell phones are frowned upon and it's not a place that takes debit or credit cards.

The tavern's tagline always makes me laugh. It reads, "Studying cognitive dissonance since 1989." That's when Gresser bought the bar and moved himself into the bachelor digs upstairs. Along with great local microbrews like Lake Louie Lager, he serves a mélange of creative dishes along with honest American eats, including a memorable burger. Another of our chums is a killer confection queen who whips up drop-dead delectable desserts. When she's not satiating a sweet tooth, she's also an ace private eye.

Gresser confirmed the Roxbury Tav did find a piano for the 2012 event, which took place Aug. 5. The event raises funds for the Northwest Dane Senior Services and brought in $2,000 this year. I kicked myself for not being there.

Click here to watch a video of the piano burning.

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On assignment

Posted on Monday, September 24, 2012

ChrisJosephTaylorThailand_SnapshotUniversity Photographer Chris Joseph Taylor, far right, is pictured here while on assignment at the Buddhist temple Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep in Thailand's northern city of Chiang Mai. From left are civil and environmental engineering student Alan Pani , English student Courtney Clark, civil and environmental engineering student Caitlyn Echterling and recent graduate Britt Traub, mechanical engineering student Kyle Vanderstoep. Taylor was in Thailand this past July, shooting images for an upcoming edition of SU Magazine.

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Stupendous summer shots

Posted on Monday, September 10, 2012

By the looks of these photos, SU's faculty and staff were up to some pretty amazing things this summer.

BethLyon_SnapshotSU's resident spiderwoman, Elizabeth Lyon of the College of Nursing, scaled a downtown Seattle building to raise money for Special Olympics Washington.










JohnPopkoStreetVendor400.jpgUniversity Librarian John Popko contributed these two shots from his summer travels. The top photo, featuring some very special watermelons, was taken in the village of Corrales, New Mexico. The bottom shot is at Arches National Park, Moab, Utah.














Stephen Rice of the Department of Criminal Justice contributed these photos of his family, taken in Barcelona, Spain.







Nursing faculty Maria Pettinato and Anita Jablonski at the start line of the STP July 14 (Seattle to Portland) bike ride. Susan Matt also completed the ride.





DougDuncannoah_grammpa_zoo_SnapshotDoug Duncan of the Office of University Counsel took his oldest grandson, Noah, to the zoo while visiting Madison, Wis., for Fourth of July, which, Doug adds, was the hottest Fourth in their history at 102 degrees.






KiGottberghikinginthemountains_SnapshotThe hills are alive with Ki Gottberg of Fine Arts.






File this one under "My mom has the coolest job!": Lyn Gualtieri of the College of Science and Engineering and four-year-old son Luke were on Adak Island in Alaska doing geology fieldwork, specifically looking at tephra layers from Aleutian Island volcanoes. 





JoyceAllen_VictoriaFalls_SnapshotBoth Audrey Hudgins (Matteo Ricci College) and Joyce Allen (Registrar) sent in photos from Professionals Without Borders' service trip to Zambia this summer. Pictured here is Joyce's team, which, she says, "helped dig trenches in preparation for pouring a cement footing and the subsequent brick and mortar security wall project at a medical clinic in Chipembele, Zambia. This photo is at Victoria Falls, located at the very southern tip of Zambia. What you see is the amazing joy of community and accomplishment." Students present in the picture are clockwise from the bottom in the white rain poncho:  Alex Tsway, Erin Flanagan, Madison Goverde, Shreya Shirude, Mathew Lane and Renee Vandermause.


Ryan Greene of the International Student Center sent this in from Mount Rainier. 





EddieSalazar_SnapshotAlong with two philosophy faculty, Jason Wirth and Elizabeth Sikes, and four SU students, Eddie (Daichi) Salazar participated in a five-day Zen intensive in Yokoji Japanese Zen monastery. The daily routine involved waking at 4 a.m. with many rounds of sitting meditation, liturgy, meals and work detail. The two-week tour also involved visiting many temples in Kyoto, and a visit to the Hiroshima Peace Museum. Here, Daichi is taking a moment of supreme enlightenment.





RobBourkeSummit Adams 2012 1_Snapshot

Rob Bourke of Albers, left, and climbing partner Mike reached the top of Mt. Adams (12,280), the culmination of a two-day climb, and the beginning of a seven-hour descent. The dormant volcano is the second highest peak in Washington.

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