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  • Adrienne Frank 4:02 pm on April 29, 2013 Permalink  

    heavy lifting 

    The May issue—which hits mailboxes this week!—required some heavy lifting.

    Wide angle of a male kayaker going off of a waterfall with dark, ominous clouds overhead.Writer Mike Unger and editor in chief Linda McHugh both saw a stunning photo of Great Falls in AirTran’s in-flight magazine last fall (which is why the image might look familiar to some of you). Since AU’s long been home to weekend paddlers and hard-core kayakers, we just had to have Trevor Clark’s moody image for our May magazine.

    Mike soon discovered that AU has connections on both sides of the Potomac. But since Trevor’s photo of a daredevil kayaker was taken in Virginia, we featured Ahmad Toure, Kogod/BA ’09, whose “office” is on that side of the falls.

    A National Park Service ranger at Great Falls Park in Virginia, Ahmad told me he uses his marketing degree every day, talking up the scenic 800-acre park to thousands of visitors. I’m sure his winning smile is good for business, too.

    D13_404_047Since we had to take Ahmad’s photo in March, long before spring sprung in the Washington area, we added a little color in the form of kayaks. Photographer Jeff Watts got them most of the way to the falls in his truck, and designer Maria Jackson and I hauled them from the parking lot down to the rocky shoreline.



    D13_381_002Though “heavy lifting” is not in our job descriptions, I’m happy to report that no ankles were twisted, no kayaks were nicked, and no one fell in the falls. And we got a fabulous picture.


  • Adrienne Frank 8:04 pm on April 27, 2013 Permalink  

    Columbia Heights crew 


    We kicked off Metrocentered last issue at Gallery Place/Chinatown. This time, we hopped on the green line and headed to Columbia Heights, where AU has a plethora of neat connections:

    • Farhang Erfani who, when he isn’t teaching Western Democracy or Theories of Democracy in the Department of Philosophy and Religion, is baking baguettes and brioche at his family-owned Le Caprice D.C. Cafe and Bakery on 14th Street
    • Chris O’Brien, AU sustainability director, who keeps bees in the yard of his Victorian house (Chris also brews his own green—eco-friendly, not Irish—beer)
    • Sophomore Vanessa Moyonero, who interns at D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray’s Office on Latino Affairs, where she works with business owners in Columbia Heights
    • Alumnus Daour Diawara, Kogod/BSBA ’05, business development manager with the Washington, D.C. Economic Partnership, who lives in the neighborhood and plays soccer at Harriet Tubman Elementary School
    • Alumna Lauren Ober, SPA/BA ’00, who rides her bike, Colonel Mustard, from nearby Mount Pleasant to the Columbia Heights Metro station

    And those are just the folks we included in the picture. Did you know that Rose Donna, owner of The Wonderland Ballroom, and Constantine Stavropolous, owner of The Coupe and three other D.C. eateries, are both Kogod alums? Or that AU students volunteer at more than a half dozen sites across Columbia Heights, including CentroNia, Next Step Public Charter School, and the Central American Resource Center?

    Digging up the AU connections that criss-cross Columbia Heights was easy. Actually taking the photograph was trickier.

    Since the magazine hit mailboxes in late April, we didn’t want Vanessa, Daour, and the others to be wearing winter coats. But Mother Nature had different plans. We postponed the shoot at least three times due to cold and rain. Finally, we scheduled the shoot for the first Saturday in April—rain or shine. Thankfully, we got lots of the latter and Jeff Watts’s photo turned out beautifully.

    Oh, and there’s one more person I’d like to point out in the photo: my 10-month-old Owen (AU Class of 2034), whose stroller is angled such that you can’t see him in the black and white photo. But here he is with the rest of the gang in front of the historic Tivoli Theatre on 14th Street after we got our shot:


  • Adrienne Frank 1:18 pm on April 26, 2013 Permalink  

    the story behind our cover story 

    The only thing worse than losing a story two weeks before your magazine goes to press is losing a cover story. That’s what happened with the May issue of American.

    We gave ourselves an evening to freak out (and, in our designer’s case, scream a little) before we set to work finding a replacement not only worthy of our feature well, but worthy of the cover.

    We recalled that alum Mark Lijek, Kogod/MBA ’78, had an interesting—and timely—story. Mark and his wife Cora were among the six foreign service officers whose 1980 escape from Iran was depicted in Argo. Just a month earlier, the Ben Affleck-directed film took home Best Picture honors at the 2013 Academy Awards.

    Freelancer David Reich quickly landed an interview with Mark, who now lives outside Seattle, and we began wracking our brains for a cover image. A Google image search turned up an illustration by London artist Jonathan Burton, who was commissioned by the British Academy of Film and Television Arts to reimagine movie posters for the five nominees for best picture. We loved his illustration of a child sitting atop a mountain of shredded paper, resembling an image of one of the six Americans who escaped the embassy. (Fun fact: while some of the more thrilling scenes in the movie are Hollywood fiction, the Iranians did actually “hire” children to piece together documents and photographs.)

    The same day we came across Jonathan’s illustration, I found Mark’s Canadian passport on his website (the six escapees pretended to be a Canadian film crew scouting locations for a low-budget, sci-fi flick, Argo). Turns out, they had to turn over their fake passports to the CIA as soon as they landed in Switzerland, but Mark’s son, a Photoshop whiz, recreated the passport (even AU’s own Photoshop whiz, designer Maria Jackson, was fooled).

    Maria printed out Mark’s photo from the fake passport on a couple different printers (as any cubicle dweller knows, every printer has its own “personality”), cut them into strips, and mounted them on grey paper. She even crinkled the paper and curled the ends for authenticity’s sake. Our photographer, Jeff Watts, shot the photo straight on, and Maria removed strips one at a time, until we were happy with the image. An accidental rip turned out to be a very cool touch, so we added a couple more intentional tears.

    In order to connect the cover with the inside art, we used Mark’s fake passport (Joseph Harris was his Canadian pseudonym) to open the spread, and Maria created an Iranian passport stamp with the date of his escape from Tehran: January 28, 1980. Warner Bros. also granted us permission to use a photo of the actors on the Argo set. Christopher Denham, who plays Mark, is front and center. As Maria said, it was serendipitous.


    Though we were all disappointed—and, if we’re being honest, a little frantic—when our original cover story fell through, we’re so pleased with the May issue of American. Mark’s story is fascinating and the cover is my favorite to date. (And, as an editor, I’m tickled any time I can sneak a reference to handsome Ben Affleck into our publication.)

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