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Wingless Angels

Wingless Angels published on 2 Comments on Wingless Angels

This post was edited to add an additional link and a correction on 3/19/08.

I looked at my referrer logs for the first time in a while the other day (as, you know, I mentioned…). One of the things I noticed was that I was getting more hits than usual on this entry, and the people getting to it were doing so by searching for “denison wingless angels.” This refers to a secret society called “The Wingless Angels” at Denison University, my former college.

(Somehow, I just can’t bring myself to type “my alma mater.” I guess it’s that primal fear that the act will instill in me an intense interest in tax evasion, boats, and drinks with names like “The Debauched Cub Scout.”)

I was thinking about that during lunch today, and a small light bulb flicked on above my head. I went back to look at the logs again when I got home. As I’d suspected, the spike started in November, when several incidents of racial tension (I seriously can’t think of a less wussy way to describe that; I think that means I’m a wuss) took place at Denison.

I tried googling for the Wingless Angels myself to see what came up, and mostly only found some blog posts to the effect that they were “just some idiots playing pranks.” This isn’t exactly correct. Since people looking for information on them apparently keep ending up here, I’ve decided to type up what I know.

– The Wingless Angels’ hobbies include breaking dishes in the cafeteria and releasing confused animals into crowds. Turn-ons: throwing stuff at the least-threatening-looking person they can find, preferably female. I described one of their pranks in detail in a post I made year-before-last.

They also frequently carve or paint their “WA” symbol (a “W” with a line drawn in the middle to make an “A”) into doors and desks. My supervisors at the library felt that we were targeted particularly, and though I’m sure they’re kind of paranoid about that, I did see quite a bit of graffiti on the lower floors. Also, during a period of my junior year when they were putting out more fliers than usual, someone used some sort of a catapult or sling to put a large rock through one of the second-floor windows.

– They’re an all-male group and claim to have existed at the university since 1905. Their purpose, according to the fliers they drop in public areas around campus, is to “right the wrongs of the Denison campus.” They are usually vague about what these “wrongs” are – “the cafeteria food gives you diarrhea” is the most specific I ever saw them get – but claim that “everyone knows” what they are. Aside from the Wingless Angels themselves, the fliers explain, everyone on campus is either pretending not to see them, or is too lazy or afraid to “actually do something.” (I paraphrase heavily because my collection of these things is either somewhere in a box in Kentucky or got tossed at graduation.)

There tends to be about three paragraphs worth of text containing a lot of scatological language – I almost called it “scatological humor,” but there actually usually aren’t any jokes. Whoever was writing them when I was at Denison was clearly very sincere in his distaste for the student body.

The fliers also sometimes include photographs of a masked Wingless Angel in some physically menacing pose. Though the fliers are photocopied and in black and white, they’re usually stamped in red ink with some sort of seal, though I regrettably have no recollection whatsoever of what the seal actually looks like.

Though they leave these out less often, they also have custom-made business cards, stickers, and beer bottles (usually empty, I think?). These all always have a picture of the Wingless Angels’ mascot on them, though I think the fliers do only sometimes.

– According to several people on this message board thread, they were originally somehow affiliated with Denison’s Alpha Eta colony.

– They have a fixation on the color white. They wear white hoodies and white death’s-head masks and throw white flour on people. The animals they release are mostly white – the ones I know of are a rabbit in the library, pigs in the cafeteria, and pigs and a horse at football games. They have a white van.

– Their mascot is a person in a white hood with eye-holes cut in it holding a bone. They may at some point have definitely once dressed like this themselves – see photograph in this article (edited 3/19/08).

– According to the same staffers, the Wingless Angels at one point burned “some wooden furniture they’d taken apart” in the lawns in front of some of the dorms. I suspect a bunch of guys in white hoods burning stuff in the yard know what they look like. (The “WA” in the rendition of the logo I linked to earlier is also formed from burning wood.)

What I want to make clear, basically, is this: these guys are not “just pranksters.” They use the imagery of the Ku Klux Klan, and their pranks are designed to make people afraid. Their fliers consist entirely of abuse of the rest of campus for failing to combat a problem that “everyone knows is there.” This is the language of a white power group. They are not trying to amuse you. They’re trying to scare you.

Link roundup

Other people’s stuff:

* Added 3/19/08: Article in The Denisonian about Prof. Fred Porcheddu’s study of the Wingless Angels’ history. As is standard for the Denisonian, the article’s pretty mumbly and nonconfrontational. I never had Prof. Porcheddu for class, but given what other people have told me, I’d imagine that the relative paucity of direct quotes is because the writer was cutting some harsher stuff. If you’re reading this and for some reason need more details, you might want to email Porcheddu himself.

* Thread on, a Greek message board, discussing the Wingless Angels, including one post from someone claiming to be a Wingless Angel

* Photo of pigs released at a ball game

* Article in The Denisonian about possible Wingless Angels vandalism last October

* Columbus Dispatch article about Denison noose incident, racism forum

* Newark Advocate article about same

My stuff:

* My post describing a Wingless Angels incident in the Curtis Dining Hall

* LiveJournal mirror of the post in which I call the Wingless Angels a white power group – someone with a writing style similar to the person in the thread above shows up in the comments here

* My photo of a sticker of their logo on a library study carrel

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It is not fear, but a very thin line between respectful play and activism that the most recent band attempts to fulfill. While resembling the KKK prior to the 1960’s, it can be assured that this is not a group with a satanic, racist or unnecessarily violent outlook. This is not a group to fear, for certain reasons, but they have lost their way from decent folks to misfits in many aspects. A change may be in the process, but it is a long process. Look for the band to help form change that is necessary at an institution such as Denison University.

I remember that back in the fall of ’92 or early ’93, they beat a residence hall supervisor so badly that he was in the hospital for a while and nearly lost an eye. Why? He was gay. I transferred schools after that year, to a bigger university, and couldn’t have been more happy.

It always killed me when Denison would call my parents to ask for more money on top of full tuition. How about NO? Especially when they let stuff like that happen.