No Escape is fine, I guess. It’s surprisingly better than I would have suspected, but I’m not recommending it. The action is tense but the story is flat. Its story is wildly boring and its perspective is probably xenophobic. Giving the filmmaking Dowdle brothers the benefit of the doubt as far as the xenophobic possibilities go, there’s still something wrong with this picture.
Star actor Owen Wilson isn’t the problem. Neither is star actress Lake Bell. Neither is star support Pierce Brosnan. Neither is the directing team of Drew and John Erick Dowdle. What’s wrong with No Escape is the uninspired writing team of Drew and John Erick Dowdle.
Unfortunately for the 40-something brothers out of St. Paul, Minn., their combined efforts behind the keyboard are far more tragic than the events we witness on camera. The filmmaking duo brings us Wilson as Jack Dwyer, a newly transferred employee of a large corporation. The international company has something to do with the water supply in an unnamed, apparently irrelevant Asian nation. And guess what? The native inhabitants of whatever country Jack is in don’t like the fact that a big, bad business is taking their water because things have apparently gotten worse since Americans began controlling the supply.
The well-armed revolt puts the Dwyer family in an unexpected scenario. The locals are violently rebellious, and they want American blood. Despite the film’s title, Jack and his wife Annie (Lake Bell) do everything in their power to bring themselves and their children to escape from the lethally unfortunate situation they have found themselves in.
The route of escape takes us from the inside of a hotel building to the top of a hotel building to the top of another building and down and through the unnamed city to the U.S. Embassy and to the Vietnam border. Along the way, British Intelligence Agent Hammond (Brosnan) assists the Dwyers. Hammond alludes to the fact that Western military intelligence operations are responsible for the mess in whatever country the Dwyers are escaping from. He helps the Dwyers and puts his life on the line out of some sense of guilt. It all adds up to a script that feels like its main mission is to apologize for its lack of any sort of brains and then shove us into a somewhat suspenseful moment.
But the cameras do the trick. Whether I like it or not, I found myself occasionally impressed with the stylistic delivery with which the Dowdle brothers prop up their mundane screenplay. It is a directorial display that gives heavy hints to their roots in horror films, from the pacing to the music to the title screen. The dialogue is mostly fluff, but the suspense is mostly well executed and even somewhat gripping. But it didn’t stop me from feeling uncomfortable with myself every time I caught myself enjoying a near-death experience of one of our on-screen protagonists. Just like the script seems to apologize for its non-story, I felt like I had to apologize to my brain for having some sort of fun watching it play out.
No Escape seems to be entirely the Dowdle Brothers’ creation, and with the paltry substance that they provide themselves to work with, they manage to satisfy us in some very basic ways. We don’t know if any of the Dwyers will make it or not until the very end. We don’t feel as though any of them are safe throughout, but we are also unsure of why we would really care if a main character were to bite the bullet. Of course, some level of tragedy is implied when we watch a anyone get shot or beat to death, but building up a struggling family with a weak script to serve as their infrastructure doesn’t do the Dowdles any favors.
The body count in No Escape is probably the most impressive thing about the movie. It echoes part of the appeal and much of the nonsensical aspects of 2008’s Taken. But instead of a man’s daughter being taken by foreign assailants, No Escape paints us a picture of a man who obliviously marches his family right into Hell’s gates, which are seemingly always located overseas. The fact that Jack’s ineptness in planning so sharply contrasts his ability to think on the fly in emergency scenarios is troubling. There’s no way someone — particularly someone so bright as the inventor Jack Dwyer — would relocate their family via global megacorporation job placement without looking into the company’s social standing in the impoverished, politically unstable region it inhabits. Right?
What we have here is not so much a disaster movie as it is a disastrous movie. No Escape is a fitting title for this predictably unexceptional, relatively low-budget Weinstein Company flick. Owen Wilson seems to have no escape from bad movies, despite his obvious talent exhibited in films like Bottle Rocket and Midnight In Paris. Lake Bell seems to have no escape from taking bland roles as “the-wife-of-so-and-so,” despite her directorial and creative talents. The Dowdle Brothers’ directorial talents galore have no escape from the toxic script that they penned themselves. And we the audience had no escape from No Escape. In the end, whether the Dwyers survive or not, everyone leaves the theater a loser.
Planned Parenthood of Southwest Ohio filed a federal lawsuit today against the state of Ohio, charging that "hostile policies" passed by the state in the last few years greatly restrict women's access to abortions.
The suit comes after new restrictions were slipped into Ohio's budget earlier this year. Among those restrictions was a clause that automatically suspends a clinic's license to provide abortions if the Ohio Department of Health does not respond to a license renewal application or request for variance to other restrictions within 60 days. In the past, ODH has taken a year or more to respond to applications from clinics in Cincinnati and elsewhere in the state.
New rules on abortion providers have come about in the past few years as conservative state lawmakers have sought to clamp down on abortion providers. Some lawmakers say the laws are about patient safety, while others admit they are intended to decrease the number of abortions performed in Ohio. Since the laws have been passed, the number of clinics in Ohio has dwindled from 14 to just nine.
Restrictions passed in 2009 required clinics to have admitting privileges at a local hospital, and a subsequent law passed in 2013 forbade publicly funded hospitals from entering into those agreements. That rule cost Cincinnati's last clinic providing abortions, the Elizabeth Campbell Medical Center in Mount Auburn, its transfer agreement with UC Hospital.
The center, run by Planned Parenthood, has since had to apply for variances to those rules, which it qualifies for because it has individual physicians who can admit patients to hospitals. Delays from the ODH granting a variance to those restrictions have put the future of Cincinnati's last operating clinic providing abortions in jeopardy. The center waited more than a year for its variance request, which the ODH finally granted after Planned Parenthood filed an earlier lawsuit against Ohio.
If the center were to cease providing abortions, Cincinnati would become the largest metropolitan area in the country without direct access to abortion services. If another, similarly endangered clinic in Dayton were also shuttered, Southwest Ohio would be entirely without a clinic.
Officials with Planned Parenthood say the state's new laws are about politics, not patient safety.
"Despite what these politicians claim, medical experts have made it clear that these restrictions don’t enhance patient safety — just the opposite," Planned Parenthood Southwest Ohio CEO Jerry Lawson said in a statement about the lawsuit. "Politicians in Ohio should be helping more women access health care — not making it harder."
Good morning all. Here’s the news today.
First, a man died last night after he was Tased by police in Over-the-Rhine. Cincinnati police responded to the Shell station on Liberty Street after reports the man was trying to rob a woman in a car there. When officers arrived, they say the man would not respond to verbal commands. He was Tased in the chest and detained. He later died from his injuries after going into cardiac arrest. Police rules prohibit Taser shots to the head, neck or chest areas unless officers or bystanders are in immediate danger. Police use of Tasers in Cincinnati has resulted in a number of deaths, including that of Everette Howard, who died after he was Tased by University of Cincinnati police in 2011. After Howard’s death, UC police banned use of Tasers.
UPDATE: In a news conferences about the incident, Cincinnati Police Chief Jeffrey Blackwell said that the deceased, James Carney III, 48, was actively assaulting a woman in a car parked at an ATM. He did not comply and was Tased first in the back and then in the chest. He fell unconscious at that point and had to be removed from the car window. Blackwell has said there is no ATM camera, gas station security camera or body camera footage of the incident. We will update as more information becomes available.
• Cincinnati City Councilman Chris Seelbach will not vote again to support an amendment to the city of Cincinnati’s charter that would allow Council to meet in executive session. That’s big news because it leaves supporters of the amendment on Council one vote short of the six votes they need to override Mayor John Cranley’s veto of that amendment. The change to the charter, one of five suggested by the non-partisan Charter Review Task Force, looked like a slam dunk after Council passed it 6-3 last week. Cranley subsequently vetoed the change, but even he admitted it was mostly a symbolic move. The amendment looked to be headed for the November ballot for voters to approve or reject, but now its future is uncertain.
• A number of affordable housing units in Pendleton are getting a $5 million makeover. Five buildings that are part of the eight-building, 40-unit Cutter Apartments will be renovated by new owners Over-the-Rhine Community Housing and Wallick-Hendy Development, who bought the buildings last month. The 32 units are being renovated with help from a city of Cincinnati eight-year property tax exemption and will remain subsidized housing. Federal historic tax credits should also help fund the renovations. The buildings date back as far as the late 1800s.
• Mayor Cranley today announced he will unveil at a 2 p.m. news conference a paid parental leave policy proposal (phew that’s a lot of alliteration) for city of Cincinnati employees. We'll update with details about that proposal as they're released. Currently, city employees can get up to six weeks of paid maternity leave depending on circumstances. Councilman Chris Seelbach has applauded the move while pointing out he and Councilwoman Yvette Simpson advanced a similar proposal this spring.
“While Councilwoman Simpson and I were excluded from the mayor's discussions and ultimate announcement,” Seelbach said in a post on social media, “I applaud him for coming around to support this important initiative for our workforce.”
• Let’s head south for a minute. The County Clerk in Rowan County, Kentucky who has refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, or really, any couples since the Supreme Court made same-sex marriage the law of the land earlier this summer is… still refusing to do so because, well, Jesus. County Clerk Kim Davis is standing her ground even after the nation’s highest court yesterday slapped down her request for a stay on a lower court’s decision ordering her to issue the licenses.
Why? Because issuing licenses to two people who love each other and wish to be treated as a legal couple by the state would somehow infringe on Davis’ religious liberty. Yes. A county employee denying rights to someone is an exercise of liberty somehow, according to Davis. You know, if I got a job at Chick Fil-A and then refused to serve people because my religious beliefs said that people shouldn’t eat chicken, I would be fired. Davis should probably also be fired. But that could take a long time as doing so would likely set off a renewed round of legal wrangling.
• Finally, while we’re talking about the Supreme Court, here’s a pretty interesting New Yorker article about some upcoming decisions the court might hand down that could be very dismaying for liberals. Cases on abortion, affirmative action and unions could turn out disappointing for progressives, the article argues, despite big wins for lefties over the summer.
I’m out. Catch me in the twitterverse or put a letter in my ole email box whydontcha?
I tried to watch last night's Video Music Awards on MTV, but it was such an awkward and confusing clusterfuck, I couldn’t take much of it, flipping through for a few moments before moving on out of embarrassment for the people on the screen. I usually like when awards shows are a little chaotic (and the VMAs are known for their often-desperate attempts to be “not your mama’s awards show”). And I actually have always enjoyed the pop-culture pageantry of awards shows in general. But on last night’s VMAs, the annoyance factor was so high, I couldn’t even watch it on a “so bad you can’t look away” level. It made me anxious and uncomfortable, like watching someone fumbling over their words and breaking down while giving a speech in public (kind of like Kanye on last night's show).
It wasn’t really even the performances that made it so unwatchable (most were pretty solid for what they were). It was all of the in-between absurdity that made it so cringe-worthy.
Speaking of performances, some Cincinnati artists did well on the big stage. Walk the Moon has become so experienced with these kinds of high-profile appearances that it wasn’t surprising the band’s umpteenth performance of “Shut Up and Dance” was flawless. Airing during the opening of the pre-show “rainbow carpet” portion, I found myself thinking (as I do whenever I hear the hit on the radio), “You know, they have other songs, including a new single?” “Shut Up” was considered a “song of the summer” contender, though it’s been on the radio for like 15 years (OK, it was released as a single in September of 2014, but still). Then the band played the new single, “Different Colors”! And MTV promptly cut them off. (Even “Shut Up” was interrupted mid-song so the pre-show hosts could introduce the program, the clumsiness of which ended up being indicative of the overall mess the VMAs turned out to be.)
The weirder Cincinnati-related appearance came during Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’ performance of their new single, “Downtown.” I was not aware of the guest artists on the song (OK, I was not aware they had a new song), so I turned it on just as Hip Hop legends Melle Mel, Kool Moe Dee and Grandmaster Caz were rapping while walking down the street, thinking it was some cool old-school tribute the awards show was presenting. Then Macklemore came on and I reached for the remote, still unable to figure out what was going on. Then Eric Nally from late Cincinnati greats Foxy Shazam joined in, singing the chorus and doing some of his trademark stage moves and I officially thought I was just having a dream.
Nally did a great job and he caused a lot of buzz online, mostly of the “Who was that guy?” variety (when the single was released last week, a bunch of idiots rehashed the “Eric Nally is racist” stories from back in 2013 when Foxy Shazam released the single, “I Like It.”)
It’s weird mash-up of a song, parts of which I like, while other parts I find tremendously aggravating. Which is kind of what the VMAs were. Is this the present state of popular youth culture? Throw a bunch of unrelated stuff together, put it in a blender and then just stare at the blender, not caring or knowing what the end result is?
MTV/Viacom had something called the O Music Awards for a few years recently, honoring things like “Favorite Fuck Yeah Tumblr,” “Favorite Animated Gif,” “Best Tweet” and “Best Artist With A Cameraphone.” The O Awards ceremony seemed unscripted and filmed without any director whatsoever. It doesn’t appear the O awards are still a thing; perhaps last night’s VMAs were a sign that the network is turning its long-running awards program into the Os?
The VMAs were largely just a big WTF moment that people would talk about/complain about/make fun of online. Which is probably exactly what MTV was going for and, scarily, perhaps the shape of youth-oriented entertainment to come.
Good morning y’all. I’m still super-drowsy from the weekend, which means it was a good one, right? Hope yours was also great. Let’s talk about that news stuff, shall we?
A new report released today from the Greater Cincinnati Urban League highlights what a lot of folks already know, even if they didn’t have the specific numbers in front of them to prove it: The disparities between blacks in Cincinnati and the city as a whole are huge. The report’s in-depth data further buttresses findings CityBeat published last week in an investigation into the city’s deep racial and economic divides, which you can read here.
The study, called “The State of Black Cincinnati 2015: Two Cities” details some of the disturbing realities for residents of the Greater Cincinnati area. According to the report, 76 percent of the city’s 14,000 families in poverty are black. Black men here die an average of 10 years sooner than white men, and black women die an average of six years sooner. The infant mortality rate in Hamilton County for black infants, 18.4 per 1,000, is more than triple that of white infants in the county. Black-owned businesses in Cincinnati are far rarer here than in other cities. We have 6.9 per 1,000 residents. Raleigh, North Carolina, on the other hand, has 18.8 per 1,000. The study is the first of its kind the Greater Cincinnati Urban League has released since 1995, and while it shows that the city has made great strides in police-community relations, it has much work to do in terms of economic segregation.
• Was training on the way for University of Cincinnati police officers that could have prevented the Samuel DuBose shooting? At least some officials with the department think so, The Cincinnati Enquirer reports. DuBose was shot in the head and killed July 19 by UC police officer Ray Tensing. Tensing has been indicted on murder charges for the incident after his body camera showed him shooting DuBose with little warning after a routine traffic stop.
The department was in the process of buying new firearms training equipment in the weeks prior to the shooting, officials say. That training equipment could have prevented DuBose’s tragic death, UC Police Chief Jason Goodrich has said. In addition, more changes to training protocols could prevent a similar situation in the future, Goodrich and other UC officials say. These include more thorough monitoring of body camera footage, “contact cards” that better track the demographics of those officers stop and a new data system that tracks officers’ use of force. Records reported by the Enquirer show that UC police have increased their activity around the university campus in recent years, that officers have stopped and ticketed black motorists disproportionately and that officers have drawn their guns more frequently than in the past. Goodrich, however, says that some of that data is more complex than it might first appear — university officers have been called to respond to more felony warrants, which more typically involve drawing a weapon. The university has also increased the number of officers it employs, which has led to an increase in stops overall, officials say.
• In some lighter news, Kroger will begin installing beer taps and holding tasting sessions in some of its regional locations in order to, uh, tap into (ugh sorry) increasing demand for craft and local brews. Among the first stores to get the amenity this fall will be the new, enormous Kroger location in Oakley. The chain’s replacement for its current Corryville location will also get the taps when it opens in 2017.
• If you’re anything like my friends, you’ve probably worn at least one pair of Tom’s shoes in your lifetime. The company promotes a “buy one, donate one” model: For every pair you cop, a pair gets sent to people in a less-fortunate country. Tomorrow, the company’s so-called chief giving officer, Sebastian Fries, will be in town giving a keynote speech on Tom’s social enterprise model at the Cincinnati Museum Center, kicking off the city’s Social Enterprise Week. The series of events, created by Flywheel Cincinnati, is designed to celebrate and promote companies that have a social service dimension to their business model. Several locals involved in social enterprise businesses will join Fries in a panel discussion, and a range of other activities will take place throughout the week.
• The Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber has announced its support Mayor John Cranley’s proposed Cincinnati parks revamp funded by a potential property tax hike. But, uh, they’d rather you don’t try to spark up a joint in a future revamped Burnet Woods. The Chamber has also announced they’re opposing state ballot initiative Issue 3, which is ResponsibleOhio’s proposal to legalize marijuana in Ohio. That proposed constitutional amendment would make it cool in the eyes of the law for anyone 21 and up to smoke weed, but would limit commercial growth of the plant to 10 grow sites across the state owned by the group’s investors. The chamber says it’s concerned about the proposed constitutional amendment’s effect on workplace safety, saying it will negatively impact business’ ability to maintain a drug-free work environment. Both the state marijuana proposal and the county property tax hike will be on the November ballot for voters to approve or reject.
• Ohio Gov. John Kasich is moving on up in the GOP presidential primary. D.C. politics publication The Hill ranks Kasich number three on its August list of Republican primary contenders, a serious jump up from his previous spot at number 10 last month. Some polls put Kasich ahead of former Florida governor and presumed frontrunner Jeb Bush in key primary states. Kasich, however, still trails real estate dude and hair piece model Donald Trump, who is somehow lodged in the number one slot in the GOP primary circus sideshow, err, race. Kasich has some big challenges ahead, however, including some staunchly conservative primary states coming up he’ll have to do well in despite the fact many rabid conservatives perceive him as a moderate. Which is pretty weird and terrifying, given the guv’s pretty conservative record in the state.
• Finally, one time this guy from Ohio got a mountain in Alaska named after him right before he even became president. Turns out, that peak would later become the tallest in the country when Alaska became a state in 1959. But President William McKinley never visited Alaska, and the state officially changed the name of Mount McKinley back to its original indigenous moniker, Denali, in 1980. Now the federal government has also announced it will begin officially recognizing the mountain as Denali, not Mount McKinley, which really makes a ton of sense, given that naming it after McKinley was a decision made by some rando adventurer traveling with a couple prospectors who really seems to have done so on a whim. But the change has Ohio lawmakers, including House Speaker John Boehner, all in a huff. Many Republican lawmakers and even Democrat or two in the state have called the renaming a “political stunt” and a “constitutional overreach” by President Barack Obama, because of course they would say that. Meanwhile, there are some who believe that the mountain was named after McKinley in a sublime act of trolling against silver prospectors. McKinley, after all, was running on a platform advocating the gold standard.
That’s it for me. Tweet or email me with news tips or Mount McKinley-inspired rage.
Good morning all! Hope your Friday is starting off well. It’s gorgeous outside, so maybe cut work a little early if you can, eh?
In the meantime, here’s the news. A new study by the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center suggests that living in high-poverty areas might lead to more sickness among young children. Hospitalization rates for maladies like bronchitis and pneumonia among young children are very different across Hamilton County, the study found, with children in high-poverty areas making many more hospital trips for such problems than kids in better-off neighborhoods and suburbs. The study tracked hospital visits by census tract and found so-called “hot spots” with high hospitalization rates in low-income inner-city areas. Those areas often correspond with areas that have lower life expectancies and higher infant mortality rates.
The Children’s study illustrates just one of the many consequences of Cincinnati’s deep economic segregation, a set of dynamics we explore in depth in this week’s cover story. If you haven’t already, give it a look.
• This is pretty messed up: A Hamilton County Sheriff’s bailiff has been accused of stealing tenant property during evictions, selling it and pocketing the money. Deputy Bailiff Michael Garvey was arrested yesterday and faces charges of theft in office after officials say he took money and jewelry from the site of an eviction. He later tried to sell the jewelry. He’s currently being held in the Hamilton County Justice Center. Garvey has been a bailiff with Hamilton County for at least eight years.
• The Cincinnati Police Department is adding more officers to street patrols in a number of city neighborhoods starting next month. Twenty-four additional officers will patrol Districts 2 and 4 starting Sept. 13. District 2 includes East Walnut Hills, Evanston, Hyde Park, Madisonville, Pleasant Ridge and other East Side neighborhoods. District 4 includes Mount Auburn, Corryville, Walnut Hills, Avondale and other central neighborhoods. Chief Jeffrey Blackwell called the reassignments “phase two” of a safety plan that began with a 90-day summer initiative designed to curb an increase in gun violence in some city neighborhoods.
• U.S. Senate hopeful and Cincinnati City Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld is going on the offensive against his Democratic primary opponent Ted Strickland, slamming the former Ohio governor yesterday at a news conference on the steps of City Hall for his lack of opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline. That project is a contentious oil and gas conduit that would stretch between oil-rich areas in Alberta, Canada and Texas oil refineries. Environmental activists have decried the pipeline’s potential effects on the local environments it will pass through as well as its overall potential to increase oil consumption. President Barack Obama might soon deny a permit to build the pipeline after years of controversy over the project. Strickland earlier this week commented that he wouldn’t weigh in on the “divisive” subject because it didn’t impact Ohio. Sittenfeld has taken issue with that.
“Leaders lead,” Sittenfeld said at the news conference. “They don’t bob and weave and evade and equivocate.”
Sittenfeld also used the 15-minute press event to challenge Strickland to a series of six debates leading up to the Democratic primary. Strickland thus far has not agreed to any public debates between the candidates, probably because he’s in a very strong position and doesn’t need to. Polls show him neck and neck, or even slightly ahead, of incumbent Republican Senator Rob Portman, despite Portman having a heavy fundraising advantage. Sittenfeld trails a distant third, and polls show him with little name recognition outside the Cincinnati area. Sittenfeld, however, says the race is still young and that his poll numbers and fundraising are improving.
• Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred said yesterday that the MLB will decide by the end of the year whether or not to reinstate Cincinnati Reds hit king Pete Rose into the league, opening up the doors for Rose to be included in the MLB Hall of Fame. Rose was ousted from the league indefinitely in 1989 after an investigation showed he had bet on baseball while he was a manager of the Cincinnati Reds. He denied those allegations for a decade and a half. More recent revelations show Rose may well have bet on the game as early as 1984, while he was still a player-manager. Rose and his supporters argue he’s paid his debt for the wrongdoing and that he deserves to be re-admitted.
• Finally, state lawmakers are continuing to weigh a measure that would bring more accountability, and possibly funding changes, to the state’s charter school system. That system has come under fire lately after criminal investigations into charter school operators and revelations of data manipulation by the Ohio Department of Education’s charter school accountability arm. House Bill 2, which is currently being hashed out by state lawmakers, would put new accountability measures in place. Meanwhile, educational advocates, including the state’s teacher’s union and many local school leaders, are pushing lawmakers to address funding disparities as well. The way charter schools are funded now unfairly siphons money from public schools toward private, sometimes for-profit schools that don’t produce better results, advocates argue. Funding changes aren’t on the table yet for reform legislation, however, and it seems unlikely that the Republican-led Ohio General Assembly will take up suggested changes to the state’s charter funding mechanism.
That’s it for me. Email or tweet at me with news tips or fun stuff to do this weekend. I’m out.
Comic book fans are a colorful lot, quite like the books themselves. This Saturday, the St. Bernard branch of the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County is honoring a historically underrepresented group in comic book culture: black writers, illustrators and readers. It’s part of an event called Queen City Black Comix Day, which was organized by Aiesha Little of the Midwest Black Speculative Fiction Alliance (MBSFA). “We’re focusing on indie creators and illustrators because there’s a vibrant world outside of ‘the Big Two’ of DC and Marvel,” Little says. “Indie comics offer a larger variety of narratives, genres and viewpoints, and I think kids and adults alike need to see that.” Black Comix Day takes place Saturday at the St. Bernard branch of the public library. More info: midwestbsfa.wordpress.com.
EVENT: RAISE THE HEIGHTS PARADE AND FESTIVAL
The Kennedy Heights Arts Center, one of the best and most ambitious in the region, takes a great leap forward this weekend when it opens its new 10,500-square-foot annex in a portion of an old Kroger grocery store. The overall site has been christened the Kennedy Heights Cultural Campus because the building also holds the Kennedy Heights Montessori School in addition to the arts center’s Lindner Annex. “This expansion will allow us not only to expand our programs to include digital art forms, but also to have a big open space for different kinds of performing arts and to host performances and concerts,” said Ellen Muse-Lindeman, the arts center’s executive director, during a recent tour of the addition. The Raise the Heights art parade and festival takes place 11 a.m-5 p.m. Saturday. More info: kennedyarts.org.
EVENT: STARLIT PICNIC
Romance will be waiting at the Cincinnati Observatory’s first adults-only Starlit Picnic. Grab a blanket, packed picnic-dinner, drinks and a date and settle in for a special night. “This is kind of a little bit fancier, more adults-only, where people can bring their own drinks,” says Dean Regas, outreach astronomer at the observatory. “They can watch as the sun goes down on one side of the sky and watch the moon come up on the other side.” Telescopes are available, and astronomers will guide guests through a viewing of the heavenly lights. Bring flashlights and candles to set the mood. 7-10 p.m. Saturday. $30. Cincinnati Observatory, 3489 Observatory Place, Mount Lookout, cincinnatiobservatory.org.
MUSIC: JANE DECKER
Jane Decker is just barely into official adulthood, but she’s lived a virtual lifetime of experiences, both personally and professionally. Her supportive mother and father encouraged her musical pursuits, and she was writing songs by age 10 — about the time both her parents received cancer diagnoses. Two years later, her father passed away and Decker recorded her first songs. Three years after that, the Cincinnati-based vocalist joined her first band, a blistering Punk outfit called Formulas, but she began therapeutically writing distinctly non-Punk songs. Her brother John offered to pay for her to record those artier songs and enlisted friends to help. Formulas broke up, Decker’s mother’s cancer went into remission and the stage was set for a fresh chapter. Read a full feature on Decker here. Jane Decker plays a free 1:30 p.m. show Saturday at Washington Park’s Taste of OTR. More info: tasteofotr.com.
EVENT: TASTE OF OTR
The third-annual Taste of OTR is a family-friendly day of food, craft beer and live entertainment in Washington Park to benefit Tender Mercies, a nonprofit in the heart of Over-the-Rhine that provides housing to homeless adults living with mental illness and a variety of supportive services. Things kick off at 11 a.m. with a performance from Mamadrones and continue well into the night with more local music from the likes of Jane Decker, the Comet Bluegrass All-Stars, Multimagic and more. And fill your belly with food from an entire slew of local faves, like Eli’s BBQ, Kaze, Cincy by the Slice, The Chili Hut, Dojo Gelato, Taste of Belgium, MOTR Pub — the list goes on and on — while sipping on local craft brews. VIP tickets include deck seating and select special tastings. 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Saturday. Tastings $1-$6; VIP $50; $60 door. Washington Park, 1230 Elm St., Over-the-Rhine, tendermerciesinc.org.
EVENT: RED BULL SOAPBOX RACE
Red Bull — known for hosting relatively creative and dangerous events like their Flugtag, where people build their own flying machines and participate in a competition involving flinging themselves off of tall things — has been bringing the joys of soapbox derby-ing to Mount Adams for several years. The competition consists of both design and creativity judging panels for the derby contestants’ vehicles and a daring timed race through Eden Park, routinely loaded with epic crashes and glorious triumphs from the charmingly unique homemade vehicles, built from materials ranging from cardboard to steel. 11 a.m. Saturday. Free. Eden Park, 950 Eden Park Drive, Mount Adams, redbullsoapboxrace.com.
EVENT: MINI MAKER FAIRE
Grab the kids and head to the Cincinnati Museum Center for Mini Maker Faire, a celebration of creativity and invention spread across the rotunda, the center’s three museums and outside. This two-day show-and-tell features “makers” ranging from techies and crafters to homesteaders, scientists and garage tinkerers, all with the goal of entertaining, informing, connecting and growing community. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday; 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday. Museum admission required. Cincinnati Museum Center, 1301 Western Ave., Queensgate, cincinnatimakerfaire.com.
TV: FEAR THE WALKING DEAD
With the undeniable success of AMC’s The Walking Dead, it makes sense that the network would produce a spinoff. Fear the Walking Dead promises zombie-apocalypse action in the fictional universe fans have come to love, with a different setting, cast and timeline. So we move from years into the outbreak in Georgia (or, more recently, Virginia) to the very beginning in Los Angeles. Last week’s pilot might be deemed “slow” by some because the action and bloodshed was so minimal compared to the original series, but this companion is all about exploring the early days of this zombie virus — what happened right before the world turned upside down. That’s a huge chunk of the apocalyptic timeline we missed out on in TWD, as we experienced everything via Rick Grimes, who was in a coma for about a month when the fallout began. And Fear’s vision of the first cracks in society is intriguing. The show focuses on a blended family: High school counselor Madison and her children — Alicia, a laidback college-bound intellectual, and Nick, a troubled drug addict — and her English-teacher boyfriend Travis (whose ex-wife and son made a short appearance last week). Clearly this modern family dynamic will present realistic problems, like where to go when the world ends and your family is scattered across the city. 9 p.m. Sundays. AMC.
ONSTAGE: THE COMPLETE TOM: 4. DETECTIVE
Some theater al fresco? Queen City Flash is a flash-mob theater company working its way through Mark Twain’s adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn with imaginative, pop-up performances in local parks. This month they conclude their spirited four-part adaptation with Detective. Huck and Tom’s adventure involves solving a murder to clear an innocent friend. Tickets are free, but reserved in advance for a date and time. On the performance day, ticket-holders are emailed a map and parking instructions. Getting there — maybe to a Cincinnati park you’ve never visited — is part of the fun. As is the lively show. 7:30 p.m. daily. Through Monday. Free; reservations required. Locations vary, queencityflash.com.
ART: UNKNOWN ELEMENTSIn art, as in life, context is key. An image that would otherwise be treated with contempt — or worse, blithe indifference — can be illuminated with only a few facts. Likewise, stripped of its context, a piece of art can become something else entirely as the viewer imagines a contextual framework for the art. This is the premise of a new photography exhibition at the Cincinnati Art Museum, Unknown Elements, which features 26 photos from the museum’s collection “about which some details are unknown.” Displayed in Gallery 212, the photographs range in date from the mid-19th century to the present day and are accompanied by written works from local writers — poems, short stories and other responses paired to selected images to serve as a “prompt” for viewers’ own reflections. Unknown Elements is on display at the Cincinnati Art Museum through Nov. 8. More info: cincinnatiartmuseum.org.
ONSTAGE: A HUNDRED MINUS ONE DAY
For two summers, John Leo Muething has presented Stone on a Walk, his low-budget theater company offering “short, sweet and cheap” shows. His goal is for you to walk away after an hour’s performance saying, “That was sweet.” 2015’s final production is the U.S. premiere of a touching comedy by Idgie Beau, an Edinburgh Fringe hit in 2013 about youthful innocence and living in the moment. The title — A Hundred Minus One Day — is from A.A. Milne: “If you live to be a hundred, I want to live to be a hundred minus one day, so I never have to live without you.” Through Aug. 29. $10. Simple Space, 16 E. 13th St., Over-the-Rhine, stoneonawalk.com.
Queen City Flash’s performances of The Complete Tom, from Mark Twain’s tales about Tom Sawyer, are both outside-the-box and — literally — outside, popping up in different area parks for each evening their final romp with Tom Sawyers, Detective, is being presented. In this installment (the fourth of four), Tom and Huck Finn set out to clear a friend implicated in a murder. To catch one of these free performances, you need to reserve a ticket at queencityflash.com. At 4 p.m. on the day of the show, you’ll receive an email with details of the “secret” outdoor location. The production, creatively staged by Bridget Leak, features six actors who play multiple roles using puppets and quick costume changes.
Another outdoor adventure is in store for you if you track down a FREE Shakespeare in the Park performance of a modern-dress staging of Romeo and Juliet this weekend. You’ll find one at Seasongood Pavilion in Eden Park on Friday, another at the McDonald Commons Park Shelter in Madeira on Saturday and a third at Keehner Park in West Chester on Sunday; all performances are at 7 p.m. This series is produced by Cincinnati Shakespeare Company, and it will be toured (as will a production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream) to local schools, community centers and other venues through May 2016.
If you prefer to sit in a theater, head to Covington where The Carnegie has a head start on the theater season with its mid-August production: Stephen Sondheim and George Furth’s innovative Company, onstage through Sunday. Even though the show has been around for 45 years, its outside-the-box approach — no beginning-middle-end story, in particular, but rather a central character, Robert, who’s turning 35 but remains disconnected, despite his married friends pushing help toward relationships — seems timely. Although the Carnegie’s actors are a tad young and don’t really feel like the New Yorkers who Furth’s script portrayed, they do a good job with the songs, and Zachary Huffman does a fine job with the central role. Here’s my CityBeat review. It’s onstage through Sunday. Tickets: 859-957-1940
Serena was in town competing in the Western & Southern Open; Drake came to watch. The two celebrated Serena’s finals win with dinner at Sotto downtown and, apparently, a little mouth-on-mouth action. Drake also supported Serena at Wimbledon earlier this summer. NORMAL.
The brothers Hanson, the objects of my adolescent affection after my JTT phase ended, are now in the beer business. The still-dreamy-to-me trio of Zac, Isaac and Taylor have produced a pale ale appropriately called Mmmhops. It’s not available in Ohio, but you should be able to buy some online next month.
If you’re still following
the Fat Jew on Instagram or Twitter, here are some reasons why you should
consider cutting that shit off.
Play Cincinnati I-Spy as you watch the trailer for Carol:
I spotted Maury’s Tiny Cove (the restaurant in the very first scene) and various Downtown streets, and those Christmas shop scenes were filmed in Eden Park. The movie is expected to be released Nov. 20.
Do you ever wake up in the
middle of the night with pressing questions, like “What ever happened to
Rayanne from My So-Called Life?”
Well, don’t worry, because A.J. Langer is doing fine — much better than how her
iconic ‘90s character probably would have fared (All that sex! Drugs! Wild
hair!). In fact, she’s a damn countess. Step aside, LuAnn.
A.J. met British Lord
Charles Courtenay in 2002 and they married in 2005. They have two kids. Real-life
Rayanne swapped her title of a Lady for that of a Countess when Charles’ father
passed away last week, making her husband an Earl. In other words, boring,
boring, boring, Rayanne now has a castle. The title includes a 14th-century
estate in Exeter, England. Get it, Rayanne!
Wanna attend the Gloss book release party that Marc
Jacobs is hosting next month during New York Fashion Week? Well, first you have
to be fabulous enough to get an invite — but that’s not all. The invite features
a lengthy, descriptive dress code that includes "fur coats over lingerie," "Grace
Jones butch realness," "riding in on a white horse" (literally?) and sequins —
three times. Read
my wedding dress code the full description here.
Highly specific talent: This woman sounds exactly like Beyoncé. If Beyoncé did commercial voiceovers.
Rumors about a Sons of Anarchy spinoff were circulating before the seven-season show even concluded last year. The idea was a prequel focusing on SAMCRO’s origins with Jax’s dad John Teller and the rest of the Redwood Original. But FX is instead moving forward with a spinoff about the Mayans, a rival motorcycle club.
If you can’t wait for another Kurt Sutter series, tune into The Bastard Executioner, premiering on FX Sept. 15. The medieval war drama stars Sons’ Gemma (Katey Sagal, Sutter’s wife), True Blood’s Bill (Stephen Moyer) and, naturally, the multihyphenate Sutter as a prosthetic-covered character called “The Dark Mute.”
And speaking of spinoffs, Fear the Walking Dead, a companion series to the similarly-titled The Walking Dead, is now on AMC. See this week’s TV column to read more about the new series and other shows to watch this week.If you find yourself in the Chicago area and need a new gig, this Craigslist gem is searching for a tour assistant for a cat circus. MUST LOVE CATS!
Happy Thursday, Cincy! Better yet, tomorrow's Friday. So here's today's headlines to make the week pass a little quicker.
• Mayor John Cranley vetoed a Nov. 3 ballot-bound charter yesterday that would allow city council to meet in secret about certain topics, including property sales, the city manager's performance and some economic development deals. The charter amendment ballot initiative was passed by council on Monday with a vote of 6-3, with Councilmembers P.G. Sittenfeld, Charlie Winburn and Christopher Smitherman voting against it. Despite Cranley's veto, the amendment isn't dead. The mayor admits it could very well end up back on the ballot as council appears to have the six votes needed to override his veto. The mayor said he vetoed the amendment allowing Council to use executive session for transparency reasons. The special executive sessions would have been restricted to items like assessing the city manager's performance, buying or selling property, disputes possibly ending up in court, security arrangements and items required to be kept secret by law.
• Have trouble paying your bills on time? So does the city of Cincinnati! A city audit from January 2014 through July of this year found that taxpayers spent an additional $130,000 from late fees on the city's electrical bills. Taxpayers have been shelling out just under $7,000 on average per month for late fees for the first half of 2015. The city previously escaped Duke Energy's late fees as the company didn't charge them to the the government until a crackdown in 2014. City Manager Harry Black says a fix has reportedly come out of the City's Innovation Lab, but Councilman Kevin Flynn has expressed anger over the fees saying it shouldn't have taken a year to catch.
• Ian James, executive director of ResponsibleOhio, the political action committee trying to legalize marijuana, has accused Secretary of State Jon Husted of intentionally putting confusing language on its Nov. 3 ballot initiative. James accused Husted, who opposes the legalization, of using the word "monopoly," which he calls a "loaded term"
on the ballot to confuse voters. The term has been floating around the
group's initiative a lot, which would enact a constitutional amendment to legalize the plant, but restrict its growth to just 10 commercial farms in the state owned by the PAC's investors. State initiative 3 as of now will read, “Grants a monopoly for the commercial production and sale of marijuana for recreational and medicinal purposes.” ResponsibleOhio
says it's actually unfair to call it a monopoly when the amendment
would allow for 1,150 retail stores that are not operated by investors.
In other weed news, gazing upon ResponsibleOhio's new mascot, Buddie, might make you feel like you've already smoked a couple Js. He has a marijuana bud for a head. Just gonna leave it right here for you to check out. The mascot has caused controversy because critics say he/she/it is too cartoonish and could be viewed as an attempt to entice kids to smoke weed.
• A Columbus charter school has abruptly closed its doors just after the start of the school year leaving 300 students stranded. FCI Academy was suspended by its Toledo sponsor, Education Service Center of Lake Erie West, for mismanagement, but apparently things had been going downhill for the charter school for awhile. The Columbus Dispatch reports that it found the school was keeping afloat for so long by deferring debt, borrowing money and not paying federal withholding and Medicare taxes. The school also received Fs from the state report card on things like graduation rates, gap closing and overall value-added. But despite these setbacks, the school is still determined to keep fighting, according to a note left on the school's locked door in front of its deserted parking lot on Wednesday. In the summer of 2014, FCI Academy laid off 17 employees, and a 2013 state audit showed a $700,000 operating deficit.
• Former Ohio state deputy treasurer Amer Ahmed has been extradited by Pakistan to the U.S. to begin serving a 15 year sentence for bribery, wire fraud and money laundering. Amer was sentenced to prison by U.S. District Judge Michael H. Watson of Columbus late last year. He and three co-conspirators were ordered to pay $3.2 million to the feds. He plead guilty to federal charges in 2013 then fled to Pakistan using fake travel documents. Ahmed served under Democratic state Treasurer Kevin L. Boyce until his defeat in 2010. During his tenure, he devised a plan to direct Ohio state brokerage business to a Canton securities broker.
• One thing I noticed when I moved to Cincinnati is that people here love their chili. Cincinnatians flock to the nearest Skyline after a long night of drinking the way the rest of the country flocks to IHOP. So with that, I am truly sorry to report the passing of the final surviving founder of Skyline, William Nicholas “Bill” Lambrinides on Tuesday at the age of 87. Lambrinides worked with his father, Nicolas, a Greek immigrant, and his two brothers, Lambert, Jim,
Christie and John to open the first restaurant in 1949. The store has
since grown to 110 locations to bring late-night happiness to folks in
That's it for today! Email me with story tips!