"Titan Makes Trouble" boulder on Tappan Square

Titan Makes Trouble: Dirk and I visit my alma mater… 20 years later

A couple of weeks ago, Dirk and I attended CLAW (Cleveland Leather Alliance Weekend) in Cleveland, Ohio. We had a little downtime between promoting our upcoming film Mr. Benson and attending the various CLAW-related events, and Oberlin, my alma mater, is only 30 miles west of where we were staying! Of course we had to go visit! I graduated in 1995 and haven’t been back since 2000, so I was eager to check out my old stomping grounds again, and see how things had changed.

It had changed some, but really not much at all. There are some beautiful new buildings (the new science center and the Conservatory extension are standouts) and a couple of new stores in Oberlin’s tiny downtown, but a bunch of the old standbys are still there… like one of my favorite Chinese restaurants on the planet, the Mandarin! That was, of course, our first stop, for the best sesame chicken on the planet.

The library, named Mudd, seemed like it had been frozen in time. It still had that really cool pile of sofas in the middle of the second floor (I wonder if they’ve ever been cleaned), the Falling Man painting was still on display (although moved to a new location), and the womb chairs were still way too small for me:

Alternate link (YouTube)

Womb chairs are funny things, definitely a product of the ’60s. (Or maybe the ’70s.) People like to curl up and read, study, or just plain nap; I guess for those people, it’s a kind of regression therapy. I rarely ever used them, though; I didn’t quite fit in them back when I was a student 20 years ago, and I’m an even worse fit now.

But by far the weirdest thing we saw were the infamous Tappan Square boulders. The giant rocks — there are two of them located on the edge of the public square — have traditionally served as giant billboards for the students to paint messages on. Heck, I even once painted one of them to try to get people to come to watch an ice hockey game. I was the treasurer of our club team, the “Plague” … our slogan was “Catch the Plague!” (yeah, I know). Anyway… one of the first things we noticed when we drove into town is that one of the boulders had been painted with the giant message TITAN MAKES TROUBLE… in blue and white, the colors of the TitanMen logo! Dirk and I laughed so hard, amazed at the coincidence… or was it a coincidence? Cue the X-Files music…

It turns out it was a coincidence after all, which we surmised after finding related fliers posted all over the campus. As best as we could tell, the TITAN MAKES TROUBLE message was part of a student’s marketing/social media experiment in which they staged fake clinical trials of a cure-all drug made by a company called Titan Engineering. The student even set up a fake website for the company, complete with marketing materials and testimonials. But the fliers revealed a darker secret… the “company” had covered up some disastrous results during their early trials, and the messages around campus sought to warn prospective trial participants off of the dangerous drug, called Panacea. It was an interesting, if strange, project for the unnamed student to have undertaken, and Dirk and I wish him or her the best.

Food was a big part of my college existence — I’m a real foodie, and I really wanted to revisit my gastronomical past — so later in the day (even though we were still kinda full from lunch) we had a pizza at Lorenzo’s and grabbed a cookie at Gibson’s… both old haunts of mine. (I can’t tell you how many late-night pints of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream I bought at Gibson’s when I was in school.) But since when did the Feve become so yuppified? We used to go there for a plate of super hot wings (called “maso wings”) and a coffee. And now it’s all bistro-y. What gives?

All in all, it was a wonderful day… I’ve posted a bunch of pictures below, including shots of me standing in front of two of my old dorms (Johnson House and Dascomb) and a visit to the Oberlin College weight room… where my physical transformation began. It was such a great trip down memory lane, and I really enjoyed sharing that big part of my life with my hubby. And I still wonder if I’ll ever find a restaurant that serves sesame chicken as delicious as the Mandarin’s.

Probably not.

6 replies
  1. Jack McNulty
    Jack McNulty says:

    Oberlin has one of the finest music conservatories in the country. That you graduated from there explains the attraction to Dirk in my estimation. His artistic nature and musical prowess is tremendous. And I enjoyed seeing you two at CLAW> Always welcome.

    Reply
    • Jesse
      Jesse says:

      Nice seeing you too! Yeah, music has always been a big part of my life (see http://jessejackman.xxx/2013/11/30/tickle-and-blow) so it stands to reason that I’d be attracted to musicians. My second boyfriend was a wedding musician who was so gifted that he could basically pick up any instrument and learn to play it within a couple of days. Dirk had that reputation in high school too, which is why the tuba was thrust upon him… nobody else wanted to play it! He hated it at first, then grew to love it.

      Reply
  2. Frank Knottyfor
    Frank Knottyfor says:

    Other than Jack McNulty, did anyone else recognize that they had a famous porn god in their midst? And, if so, how did they react?

    Reply
    • Jesse
      Jesse says:

      Nah… Dirk and I occasionally get recognized in parts of San Francisco and NYC, but for the most part nobody recognizes us (unless we’re at events like IML). And when we do get recognized, by the way, the best thing anyone can say to us is “thank you for your activism” and/or “Dirk, I love your music!” 🙂

      Reply
      • Frank Knottyfor
        Frank Knottyfor says:

        I was, of course, sort of teasing but in retrospect I think it’s interesting that no one recognizes you on Main Street, USA. On the other hand, different people photograph differently–one time I was sitting almost beside Harrison Ford and didn’t recognize him—frankly, in “real life” he’s nowhere nearly as handsome as he appears in the movies. Jim Palmer, former Orioles baseball player…..well, he’s another story—stunningly, mouth-droppingly, traffic-stoppingly handsome.

        Maybe someday Oberlin College will honor you, much as they did with COLT’s John Pruitt aka Jim Yount at Drury University, when they for awhile bragged about him.

        But I’m ramblin’….

        Reply

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