Tag Archives: The Ohio State University

How Firm Thy Friendship


by George Wolf

It might be more fair for someone who wasn’t an Ohio State graduate and/or rabid Buckeye fan to review TBDBITL 141.

But no one fitting that description lives in my house, so…

For the sadly unwashed, “TBDBITL” stands for The Best Damn Band in the Land. 2018 brought the Ohio State Marching Band’s 141st edition, and director Joe Camoriano takes us inside that memorable season with unprecedented access. (Camoriano’s role as the University Communication Director of National Broadcast Media might have helped.)

From summer practice to tryouts, headline-grabbing halftime shows to the Macys Thanksgiving Day Parade, Rose Bowl and Disneyland, we get a captivating look at how hard Band Director Dr. Christopher Hoch, his staff and band members work to achieve a status that is – in the words of former football coach Urban Meyer – “elite.”

Camoriano is wise to humanize the experience via three engaging band members. There’s Konner, who is realizing a lifelong dream as Drum Major; Sydney, a charming trombone player with boundless enthusiasm; and Thomas, the lucky sousaphonist who gets the honor of dotting the “I” in the incomparable Script Ohio.

These three are likable personalities and easy to root for, which naturally increases our investment in the entire process, and is especially helpful for anyone coming to this film wondering what the hype is all about.

Despite an over-reliance on video fades and some rough patches in the background sound mix, Camoriano’s footage is always informative and engaging, even occasionally thrilling.

And for those of us always ready to answer a cry of “O-H!” there might be a goosebump or three.

TBDBITL 141 is available now on Vimeo.

Wheels on the Bus

Free to Ride

by Hope Madden

A movie about bus stops, eh? It may seem like a trivial topic for a film, but Free to Ride does what many solid documentaries do: it points to the profound relevance of the seemingly ordinary.

With their impressive debut as feature length documentarians, director Jamaal Bell and writer/producer Matthew Martin craft an even-handed but powerful tale of a modern civil rights victory.

In 2009, the Dayton community activist group LEAD decided on their next cause: three bus stops between Dayton and Beavercreek, OH.

After the building of I675, Beavercreek hit a bit of an economic boom. This meant jobs, many of which were filled by residents of nearby Dayton. Public transit commuters found themselves in the unfortunate situation of walking the 1.1 mile trek from the nearest RTI stop, across a busy overpass not meant for pedestrians.

Commuters wanted more bus stops. LEAD wanted more bus stops. RTI wanted to put in more bus stops.

Beavercreek said no.

Why? A lot of reasons were given about crime and traffic and listening to constituents. LEAD felt that these reasons were coded. Beavercreek’s population is less than 5% African American, while Dayton’s is about 40% African American.

Regardless of reason, rejecting the new bus stops did two things. It endangered the people commuting from Dayton to Beavercreek and it limited the employment opportunities, among others, of the citizens of Dayton.

What follows is a provocative look into small town politics, discrimination and community activism.

Free to Ride offers a surprisingly balanced, thoughtful documentation of an issue much larger than it might appear. Through city council meeting footage and in-person interviews, the film sheds light on the bigger picture without feeling preachy or sensationalistic.

The solution to the problem was not only clever but groundbreaking, offering the film a historical heft that it might not otherwise have. More than that, we not only glimpse the tenacity and passion of community activists, we actually get to see corporate executives and government officials tear up. Nice!

Credit the filmmakers, both researchers at The Ohio State University’s Kirwan Institute, for approaching the topic with a clear eye and a background in research. Free to Ride finds more power in fact and understatement than it could have with sensationalism or sentimentality.