Westerville is not Nirvana

by Maureen McCabe on July 30, 2007

“Load up on guns
Bring your friends
Its fun to lose
And to pretend
Shes overboard
Myself assured
I know I know
A dirty word”

Those are the lyrics to Nirvana’s hit song ‘Smells like Teen Spirit’ from the early 90′s.  

After making a CNNMoney.com list as one of the top US small cities recently Westerville made the news (at least locally) for two troubled teens plans to bomb, burn down and kill everyone in two unidentified local restaurants and St. Paul the Apostle Catholic Church.

I read about “the plot” Thursday online.   I was Googling for Westerville and I saw a discussion  about “the plot”, which made me go find what the Columbus Dispatch had on the story.    

Wednesday in the Columbus Dispatch

I forgot all about the Westerville story until Sunday morning, walking into church. 

It would be real easy to get on the roof of St. Paul the Apostle Church.  I never noticed that before.  I wonder if teens have done it before.  Climbed up on the roof of the church. I am sure the planting pipe bombs idea was novel.

The Nirvana  song ‘Smells like Teen Spirit’ was inspired by graffiti about the smell of a deodorant…  the song written by Kurt Cobain however was about teen age angst though, anarchy, rebellion.   I had heard that he did not realize there was a deoderant named ‘Teen Spirit’  until after the song was recorded….  Wikipedia has that story… including:

“The song was dubbed an “anthem for apathetic kids” of Generation X.”

The two boys were born about the time Nirvana recorded the song… The Wikipedia has files where you can hear snatches of the song, first as recorded by Nirvana, then a Tori Amos cover and then a Paul Anka recording of it… talk about generations.

There is no connection between the song, ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’, the group Nirvana and the Westerville boys.  ‘Smells like Teen Spirit’ is just was a song that popped in my head at church Sunday morning.   That was not one of the songs the St Paul the Apostle organist played.

I’ve heard the lyrics to ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ changed when Nirvana performed live and they were hard to make out….

“Police: Teens Plotted To Bomb Church | July 25, 2007″ – Channel 10 Slideshow of the story 

The boys families are members of St. Paul Church, one went to school at St. Paul (the school goes through eighth grade.)  I did not read the Thursday article in the Columbus Dispatch, which says the boys families belong to the parish. I read the Thursday Columbus Dispatch article on  Sunday night.  Thursday in the Columbus Dispatch

 ”Robin Miller, director of communications for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Columbus, said both boys and their families are parishioners at St. Paul’s. “

The  statement at church surprised me, it was hard to make it sink in, reading it in the Columbus Dispatch convinced me.   

Two kids reading about the plot on MySpace.com reported it to the police.   Whatever it was, a real plot or troubled teens trying to get attention the story is it was planned for August 2007.  Westerville is a great place… but like all communities there are troubled individuals, in this case teens.  Westerville is not Nirvana. 

Westerville and Gahanna in Top 100 US  Cities (Small Cities)

Westerville is a Great Place

A video about Westerville from Real Living HER


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1 buckblog July 30, 2007 at 08:03 pm

The kids that reported this plot may have saved a lot of lives. Too many times after tragic events it is found the perpetrators blogged about them, wrote letters, or told someone about their plans.

Those writings have to be taken seriously now. It is too bad that Westerville, an otherwise nice community, gets tied to this.

Everytime I read about these things I wonder about the parents but I won’t go there now.

2 MaureenMcCabe July 31, 2007 at 07:46 am

I think you are right about “Those writings have to be taken seriously now.”

The Thursday Dispatch article says: “The other informant, a 16-year-old boy, said teens had started a chain of calls warning others not to attend church at St. Paul’s.”

You have to wonder how many other teens got a call, text message, email, IM saying don’t go to church at St. Paul’s and passed the info on to friends but did not talk to their parents or even consider contacting the authorities. I have to admit as a teenager that would have been what I would have done, enjoying the drama but not really believing it could be real.

I want to believe it was just “pretending” by troubled boys to get attention, even now as an adult.

I hope that the story would have become widespread by August if kids were warning one another and some kids would have told parents but I agree if the boys weren’t just pretending the kids that reported what they read on MySpace may have saved many lives.

At 15 or 16 or 45 or 72 we can’t determine when we read stuff like that online or get an email, text message etc. if it is a hoax, looking for attention or real, so the best thing to do is report it to authorities.

Thursday the reaction of a friend who is a parent of a grown child and a member of St. Paul’s Parish was to blame the parents. By Sunday he was more forgiving but incredulous that the family is part of the Parish. The Parish is being very supportive of the families and the teens.

3 ag August 1, 2007 at 09:53 pm

I am a citizen of Westerville, a parishioner of St. Paul’s Catholic Church, a mother, wife, daughter, sister and friend. Most importantly, I am a person with a valuable life.

When I read about the two teens who planned to destroy so many lives, I was deeply saddened and horrified. My young son, my husband, friends and neighbors could have been murdered by these disturbed teens.

Then I read that they are only being charged with delinquency counts of conspiracy to commit arson. What about conspiracy to commit murder? If they had succeeded in their plan to murder people at our church and community restaurants and lived, would they then be tried as adults? What message does this send to others who plan such terrorist acts?

I am outraged and dismayed that this is not being taken more seriously. I am now fearful to attend my own church. I will worry more about my child’s safety at school. I will hesitate before I go to a favorite restaurant in downtown Westerville, or anywhere else. Who will protect us from such criminals?

~ A.G.

4 MaureenMcCabe August 2, 2007 at 04:01 am


Thanks for the comment. I would hope the police will add more charges if evidence shows there was ‘conspiracy to commit murder.’ I assume they are investigating this further. I had not given the charge much thought. It still feels unreal to me. Again thanks for the comment.

5 Reality-Check August 8, 2007 at 10:06 am

>>Everytime I read about these things I wonder about the parents but I won’t go there now.

Please don’t! Too many people have ‘gone there’ and proven that they don’t remember their own teenage years all that well – except nostalgically. Seems that they all had nice dinner conversations like the Cleavers did (ala Leave It To Beaver for you younger folks) _before_ they made any decisions that would affect their lives.

To anyone who would reflexively blame the parents, I ask you: Did _your_ parents approve of all of your friends? Did they even know or meet all of your friends? Did _your_ parents know everything you did/said/thought when you were a teen? When someone offered you your first cigarette/beer, did you run home and discuss it with your parents over the dinner table, soliciting their wisdom _before_ you accepted or rejected it? Perhaps you lived this idealic life and your parents were saints as well as mind-readers. But somehow, I doubt it.

And A.G., I’m sorry that you’re outraged and dismayed that these boys are still alive and without life-sentences, but we’ve come along way from just being able to point and cry ‘Witch!’ and seeing someone swing from a noose. The reason why the authorities aren’t taking the situation more seriously is perhaps they realized that they _shouldn’t_ be taking it more seriously because the situation just doesn’t warrant it. Read: It’s not as terrorist-like as the media would like to portray. So go to church, your restaurants or anywhere else outside of your home with courage.

6 Reality-Check August 8, 2007 at 10:11 am

Oh, and before anyone plays the ‘easy for you to say’ card, I should point out that I am also a citizen of Westerville, a parishioner at St. Paul’s (married there too!) and frequent many Westerville businesses and restaurants.

7 MaureenMcCabe August 8, 2007 at 11:20 am

Thanks for the comment “Reality-Check.” I want to believe that wondering about the parents and their involvement with their teens is not so bad since I did it. Mea culpa?

Blaming the parents without evidence that they were neglectful or worse is going too far…

While I am not going to confess my response when first offered a cigarette and /or a beer here, my parents were not Ward and June. I kept more secrets from my parents than either Wally or The Beaver would have, your comment made me reflect on being a teen.

Thanks again for the comment, see you around Westerville.

8 Bill August 9, 2007 at 06:57 pm

It doesn’t really matter what charge the police filed against the two teens, in the end its up to the Delaware County Prosecutor regarding what the boys are charged with.

9 MaureenMcCabe August 9, 2007 at 07:33 pm

I suppose that is how it works, but why would it be Delaware County?

I guess you are right, Bill! Thursday’s article says: ” Delaware County Prosecutor David Yost said tonight that…”

I thought the boys both live in Franklin County…. Maybe they do not live in the neighborhood I was thinking they do. St. Paul Church is in Franklin County isn’t it, just south of County Line Rd? They are not disclosing the restaurants… I guess I just assumed it would be Franklin County, I had to go re-read it.

Does that mean the restaurants are in Delaware County?

Thanks for the comment!

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