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by Natalie Krebs 07.30.2015 67 days ago
at 12:08 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Afternoon News and Stuff

Tensing pleads not guilty; ResponsibleOhio faces more problems; Kasich's super PAC raises more than $11 million

Hey everyone! As you probably know, there's lots going on in the city. So our morning news has morphed into the afternoon news! Here's a rundown of the today's top stories.

Former UC police officer Ray Tensing's has pleaded not guilty to the July 19 fatal shooting of Samuel DuBose. Tensing's bond has been set at $1 million by Hamilton County Common Pleas Judge Megan Shanahan. Yesterday, Tensing was indicted by a grand jury for the murder of DuBose during a traffic stop in Mount Auburn. Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters also finally released the body camera footage of the incident at a news conference. DuBose's family and their attorney, Mark O'Mara, stated they don't believe the bond was set high enough while Tensing's attorney, Stew Mathews, said he's going to try to get his client out of jail by next Thursday if he can post the required 10 percent of the bond money. Last night, the group Black Lives Matter held a peaceful protest through the streets of the city in response to the indictment. Beginning around 6:30 p.m. several hundred people marched from the Hamilton County Courthouse down to the District 1 Police Station. The story has made national headlines as the latest incident in a recent string of police shootings. 

ResponsibleOhio is facing more problems with their petition to create a constitutional amendment legalizing marijuana on the ballot. Ohio Secretary of State John Husted announced today that he is appointing a special investigator to look into possible election fraud on the political action committee's part. The group could face felony fraud charges if differences are found between the number of petitions and signatures of registered voters ResponsibleOhio says they have collected and the number submitted to Husted's office. Lawyers for the group accused Husted of using intimidation tactics to kill the petition. They were told 10 days ago that they were nearly 30,000 signatures short of putting the measure on the Nov. 3 ballot. They have until today to collect and submit the remaining signatures. The $20 million effort would legalize the drug for those 21 and over. The group's petition has faced criticism for potentially creating a monopoly on the industry by only allowing 10 marijuana farms around the state.

Governor and presidential hopeful John Kasich's super PAC, New Day for America, has raised more than $11 million between the end of April and the end of June. According to tax filings, more than $600,000 was raised in one day in June by two donors. Kasich announced his presidential run on July 21, and while it's early in the race, Kasich seems to need the support. A recent Quinnipiac poll put Kasich in eighth place for the Republican nomination tied with Texas Sen. Ted Cruz. Leading the poll was Donald Trump, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.

In response to the body camera footage which helped to indict former UC police officer Ray Tensing, Rep. Kevin Boyce (D-Columbus) says he will continue to work on legislation to require all Ohio police officers to wear body cameras. Boyce says he hopes to have the legislation done by September or October, when the House returns to session. The Cincinnati Police Department has long had body cameras in the works, and in a press conference on the shooting yesterday, Cincinnati Police Chief Jeffrey Blackwell said that body cameras were on the way for the department but did not say specifically when they would go into effect.

That's it for today! Email me at nkrebs@citybeat.com or tweet me for story tips!
by Nick Swartsell 07.30.2015 67 days ago
Posted In: News, Police at 08:51 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Photos: Response to Samuel Dubose Shooting Indictment

Hundreds took to the streets in peaceful remembrance of Dubose and to protest his death

Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters yesterday announced that University of Cincinnati police officer Ray Tensing has been indicted by a grand jury on murder charges for the shooting death of 43-year-old Cincinnati resident Samuel Dubose. Deters also released body camera footage of the shooting at a news conference yesterday.

Hundreds took to the steps of the Hamilton County Courthouse, and later to the streets of downtown, following the announcement. Tensing was arraigned on those charges this morning. He plead not guilty and is being held on a $1 million bond.

Audrey Dubose speaks to reporters immediately after the announcement of an indictment for officer Ray Tensing in the shooting death of her son Samuel Dubose.
Photo: Nick Swartsell
Body camera footage shown to reporters at a news conference shows Ray Tensing shooting Samuel Dubose within minutes of a routine traffic stop.

Hundreds rallied in the pouring rain at the Hamilton County Courthouse following the grand jury's decision to indict officer Ray Tensing for the murder of Samuel Dubose.
Photo: Nick Swartsell
Cincinnati Police Chief Jeffrey Blackwell speaks with a protester outside the Hamilton County Courthouse. CPD investigated the Dubose shooting. Tensing was a University of Cincinnati officer.
Photo: Nick Swartsell
Samuel Dubose's son, Samuel Vincent Ramone Dubose, speaks to protesters outside the Hamilton County Courthouse.
Photo: Nick Swartsell

Organizer Alexander Shelton speaks to protesters during a rally remembering Samuel Dubose.
Photo: Nick Swartsell

Protesters kneel in the middle of Central Parkway during a march remembering Samuel Dubose.
Photo: Nick Swartsell

Protesters march outside the Hamilton County Courthouse
Natalie Krebs
A protester marches away from the Cincinnati District 1 police station.
Natalie Krebs
Protesters proceed down Central Parkway during a march remembering Samuel Dubose
Photo: Nick Swartsell

Marchers participate in a prayer following a rally remembering Samuel Dubose.
Photo: Nick Swartsell

Protesters hold hands in prayer outside the Hamilton County Courthouse
Natalie Krebs


by Danny Cross and Nick Swartsell 07.29.2015 68 days ago
at 12:40 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Grand Jury Indicts Officer in Death of Samuel Dubose

Hamilton County prosecutor: Tensing purposely killed Dubose

Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters today announced that a grand jury has indicted University of Cincinnati Police Officer Ray Tensing for the killing of Samuel Dubose during a traffic stop on July 19. Tensing will be arrested and charged with murder. If convicted, he will face life in prison.

Deters had harsh words for Tensing, calling his shooting of Dubose “the most asinine act I’ve ever seen a police officer make” and stating that Tensing should never have been a cop in the first place. 

Deters repeatedly told members of the media that he could not speak candidly about his feelings, at one point calling the traffic stop itself “chicken crap.” Deters said he was shocked by the video and sad for the community.

“I couldn't believe it,” Deters said of the body cam footage. “I just could not believe it.”


Officials played a portion of Tensing’s body cam video at the press conference. The entire video will be made available, Deters said.

Deters’ description of the encounter sharply contradicts Tensing’s story. 

"This does not happen in the United States," Deters said. "People don't get shot for a traffic stop. ... He was simply rolling away."

During the press conference, Deters referenced a latter portion of the video showing officers after Tensing shot Dubose discussing what had happened. Deters expressed skepticism toward some of Tensing’s comments after the incident, including his arm being caught in the car. Police will investigate collusion with other officers, Deters said.

“He said he got his arm stuck in the steering wheel,” Deters said. “You just have to watch it.”

“I think he was making an excuse for a purposeful killing of another person,” Deters added. “That’s what I think.”

Tensing’s initial explanation was that Dubose started to drive off during a traffic stop in Mount Auburn over a missing license plate, nearly running him over. Tensing says he was then forced to shoot Dubose in the head because he was being dragged by the car and his life was in danger. Tensing said he suffered minor injuries when he fell to the ground as Dubose’s car rolled away.

Dubose's family said they were thankful for the grand jury's decision.

"I thank God that everything is being uncovered," said Audrey Dubose, Samuel's mother. "This one did not go unsolved and hidden."

Audrey Dubose pledged to continue fighting against police injustice, calling for body cameras for all police departments. She said many others have died at the hands of police unnecessarily.

"My son was killed by cop unjustly," she said. "I gotta know many more are killed unjustly. I'm going to be on the battlefield for them."

City leaders delayed a scheduled a news conference at 2 p.m. in order to let the Dubose family speak after Deters. Officials praised the grand jury's decision, saying that the city simply wanted truth about the incident to come out. Mayor John Cranley called for demonstrators to remain peaceful if they took to the streets. City Manager Harry Black said the Cincinnati Police Department will soon get body cameras similar to the one that played a pivotal role in the Dubose shooting investigation. University of Cincinnati President Santa Ono, meanwhile, revealed that Tensing had been fired from the University of Cincinnati Police Department. He also responded to an earlier suggestion from Deters, who said the school should disband its police force and let CPD patrol campus. Ono said the school has not yet considered that option.

More than 500 people including Mayor John Cranley, City Manager Harry Black and State Sen. Cecil Thomas attended Dubose’s funeral services at Church of the Living God in Avondale yesterday, where the father, musician and entrepreneur was laid to rest. His mother and other family members remembered him as a kind and loving man who nevertheless had a deep, sometimes complicated independent streak. Dubose was buried at Landmark Memorial Gardens in Evendale.

Until today, Deters had declined to release video footage, a decision that caused protests. Deters said the protests did not affect his decision to finally release the footage. He lauded the protesters for being peaceful and praised the Dubose family.

City Manager Black had been briefed on the video and called it “a bad situation,” saying, “someone has died who did not necessarily have to die.” Mayor Cranley met with the Dubose family this morning.

Tensing, 25, hasn’t had major disciplinary actions on his record and his superiors have spoken highly of him. He started at UC last year after serving with the Green Hills Police Department, where he started as a part-time officer in 2011. Tensing has retained Stew Matthews, a Cincinnati attorney, for his defense.

During the press conference, Deters called for the disbanding of the University of Cincinnati police department. He said he has spoken with UC’s president and Cincinnati police about disbanding the unit, replacing it with CPD.

“I just don’t think a university should be in a policing business,” Deters said. “I just don’t. I think CPD should be doing the entire campus.”

Black Lives Matter has scheduled a rally for 6:30 p.m. at the Hamilton County Prosecutor’s Office.

by Nick Swartsell 07.29.2015 68 days ago
Posted In: News at 09:52 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Morning News and Stuff

Deters to release Dubose shooting footage today; hotel on Purple People Bridge stalled; Boehner in trouble with House conservatives again

Good morning all. Here’s the news today. The biggest story is the possible release of a grand jury decision and/or body camera footage in the case of Samuel Dubose.

Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters has scheduled a 1 p.m. news conference about the death of Dubose at the hands of University of Cincinnati police officer Ray Tensing July 19. Deters has confirmed he will release the body camera footage of the shooting today, and may announce the results of a grand jury probe into that shooting. The University of Cincinnati will shut down at 11 a.m. in preparation for Deter’s announcement, suggesting something major will be divulged at the event. City leaders have scheduled a response news conference at 2 p.m.

""The University of Cincinnati will cancel all classes on the Uptown and Medical campuses at 11:00 a.m. today including all classes in session at that time," a UC e-mail to employees and students said. "Offices on these campuses also will close at 11:00 a.m. This decision is made with an abundance of caution in anticipation of today’s announcement of the Hamilton County grand jury’s decision regarding the July 19 officer-involved shooting of Samuel Dubose and the release of the officer’s body camera video. We realize this is a challenging time for our university community."

Questions continue over Dubose’s death. Tensing’s story is that Dubose started to drive off during a traffic stop in Mount Auburn over a missing license plate, nearly running him over. Tensing says he was then forced to shoot Dubose in the head because he was being dragged by the car and his life was in danger. Tensing suffered minor injuries when he fell to the ground as Dubose’s car rolled away. But Dubose’s family and some activists have expressed skepticism about that chain of events.

Yesterday was the funeral for Dubose. More than 500 people including Mayor John Cranley, City Manager Harry Black and State Sen Cecil Thomas attended the services at Church of the Living God in Avondale where the father, musician and entrepreneur was laid to rest. His mother Audrey Dubose and other family members remembered him as a kind and loving man who nevertheless had a deep, sometimes complicated independent streak. Some friends knew him as the man who started the Ruthless Riders, a black motorcycle club, and as a talented rapper and producer. The service and its immediate aftermath were at times somber, but devoid of anger. Family, friends and faith leaders called for answers to Dubose’s death, but also stressed they did not want to see violence or unrest in the wake of his killing. Dubose was buried at Landmark Memorial Gardens in Evendale.

Thus far, the prosecutor has declined to release video footage for the time being as his office presents evidence to a grand jury, causing protests. The grand jury could decide to indict Tensing on charges ranging from aggravated murder, which carries a potential death sentence, to negligent homicide, a misdemeanor. City Manager Harry Black has been briefed on that video and has called it “a bad situation,” saying that, “someone has been died who did not necessarily have to die.” Tensing, 25, hasn’t had major disciplinary actions on his record and his superiors have spoken highly of him. He started at UC last year after serving with the Green Hills Police Department, where he started as a part-time officer in 2011. Tensing has retained Stew Matthews, a Cincinnati attorney, for his defense in the event he is indicted.

Other news, real quick-like:

A $100 million hotel project on the Purple People Bridge between Newport and Cincinnati is likely off the table indefinitely, according to developers. In 2010, DW Real Estate made plans to build a 90-room hotel at the center of the 2,600 foot bridge. But disagreements about parking have kept the plan from moving forward. Developers say without the parking, the hotel is a no-go.

• Some Ohio state legislators are calling for the resignation of Ohio Schools Superintendent Richard Ross following the revelation that some Ohio charter schools aren't being held to proper state standards. You can read more about the controversy here. It's been a tough month for charter schools. Earlier this summer, it was revealed that a high-ranking Ohio Department of Education official responsible for holding charter sponsor organizations accountable had omitted a number of low grades for online charter schools because it would mask better performance from other schools. That official has since resigned.

• Looks like House Speaker John Boehner is once again in trouble with the more raucous members of his party. U.S. Rep. Mark Meadows of North Carolina has filed a motion in the House to remove Boehner from his powerful perch as speaker. It's not the first time a cadre of conservative GOPers has come at our spray-tanned hometown hero with torches and pitchforks, and it's unlikely the move will gain enough support to  shake Boehner from his post. But it's a reminder that his control over the fractious House is tenuous and best, and that deep friction continues between the staunchly conservative tea party wing of the GOP and more traditional Republicans.

by Staff 07.29.2015 68 days ago
at 09:26 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

This Week's Food & Dining Events

CityBeat's throwing a pork and whiskey party

Most classes and events require registration; classes frequently sell out. 

Grilling with Ellen: A Tuscan Dinner — Italian sangria with Chianti and prosecco; shrimp, lemon and garlic bruschetta; sausage-stuffed mushrooms; steak panzanella; and pressed chocolate cake. 6-8:30 p.m. $65. Jungle Jim’s, 5440 Dixie Highway, Fairfield, junglejims.com.

Burger Beer Wednesday at Fifty West — Every week Fifty West offers a Burger Beer Wednesday, which includes a burger and a beer for only $10. They also have BBQ Thursdays, with a different menu each week. 7669 Wooster Pike, Mariemont, fiftywestbrew.com.

WineCRAFT Dinner — A five-course meal at La Petite Pierre, with wine from a boutique wine importer. 7 p.m. $85. La Petite Pierre, 7800 Camargo Road, Madeira, lapetitepierre.com.

The Five Master Skills— Using salt, heat management, simple sauces, tools, and proper ingredients. Each skill will be discussed and put into practice; a light meal is served afterwards. Noon-2 p.m. $70. The Learning Kitchen, 7659 Cox Lane, West Chester, 513-847-4474, thelearningkitchen.com.

Wings and Trivia Night — Last Call Trivia and gourmet wings from Renegade Street Eats at Mt. Carmel Brewing Company. 6-9 p.m. Wednesdays. Prices vary. Mt. Carmel Brewing Company, 4362 Mt. Carmel-Tobasco Road, Mount Carmel, 513-240-2739.

5 Rabbit Pint Night — 5 Rabbit Cerveceria, a Latin American microbrewery from Illinois, features five Latin-infused craft brews at BrewRiver GastroPub. 6-10 p.m. Prices vary. BrewRiver GastroPub, 2062 Riverside Drive, East End, 513-861-2484, brewrivergastropub.com.

Bacchanalian Wine Society Summer Gathering — Bring a bottle of pinot grigio to Findlay Market for the Bacchanalian Society’s summer gathering. It’s a rare opportunity to spend time in the market after-hours, and raise funds for Dirt: A Modern Market, which will be a local-only year-round food market. 7-10 p.m. $15; $20 door. Findlay Market, 1801 Race St., Over-the-Rhine, bacchanaliansociety.com.

How to Properly Cook Scallops — Learn to prepare sea scallops with spiced corn and pickled red onion. 6-8 p.m. $30. The Learning Kitchen, 7659 Cox Lane, West Chester, thelearningkitchen.com.

Summer Passport to Beer and Wine — Sample craft beers and wines with hors d’oeuvres and live entertainment. 7-9:30 p.m. $29.95; $16.95 designated driver. Mill Race Banquet Center, 1515 W. Sharon Road, Springfield Township, greatparks.org.

Hops for Hippos — Head to Taste of Belgium in Corryville to drink beer and raise funds for the Cincinnati Zoo's prospective hippo exhibit. The day will be full of Belgian food, craft beer and special Cincinnati Zoo animal and staff appearances, including Thane Maynard. The restaurant will be tapping a special custom brew and West Sixth is taking over the taps at 6 p.m. 6-11 p.m. Prices vary. Taste of Belgium, 2845 Vine St., Corryville, authentic waffle.com.

WingFling — More than 40 different wing flavors with sauces ranging from mild, medium to stupid. Through Sept. 5. Prices vary. Washington Platform Saloon and Restaurant, 1000 Elm St., Downtown, washingtonplatform.com.

Date Night: Bacon, Bacon, Bacon — Make panzanella salad with crispy bacon vinaigrette, pan-seared shrimp with bacon corn cakes and pancetta risotto. 6-8 p.m. $155 per couple. The Learning Kitchen, 7659 Cox Lane, West Chester, thelearningkitchen.com.

Porkopolis Pig & Whiskey Festival — Some people say there’s nothing quite as American as apple pie, but it could be argued that the national cuisine of the good ol’ U.S. of A is barbecue. Ribs, brisket, pulled pork — there’s a million ways to make it and it’s all delicious. Saturday, CityBeat is partnering with Horseshoe Casino to bring all of the Queen City’s best barbecue offerings to one place for a day of pork, beer and whiskey at the inaugural Porkopolis Pig & Whiskey Festival. Restaurants, including Eli’s, Velvet Smoke, Barrio Tequileria and Huit Craft BBQ, will be featured, along with more than 40 varieties of bourbon, scotch and whiskey, with master distillers and a whiskey chatter area for education and sampling. Grub to the sounds of live Bluegrass and Americana bands playing at the top of every hour, with local and national acts including Young Heirlooms, Magnolia Mountain and headliners Swear and Shake at 8 p.m. Proceeds benefit the Bow Tie Foundation. 11 a.m.- 9 p.m. Saturday. Free; food and liquor price vary. The Shoe at the Horseshoe Casino, 1000 Broadway St., Pendelton, citybeat.com. 

Cincinnati Distilled — Try four selections from a list of 10 spirits made locally. Wine and mead also available for tasting. 2-7 p.m. $12. Woodstone Creek Winery & Distillery, 4712 Vine St., Saint Bernard, woodstonecreek.com.

Summer Dinner Party, Italian Style — A Tuscan-inspired menu for outdoor dining, paired with wine. Dishes include citrus-flavored risotto, grilled asparagus and vanilla-scented panna cotta. Noon-3 p.m. $65. Jungle Jim’s, 5440 Dixie Highway, Fairfield, junglejims.com.

Date Night: Triple Thrill — Create crab cakes, panko-crusted shrimp with avocado aioli and peppercorn-crusted filet mignon with a sauté of snap peas. 5-7 p.m. $165 per couple. The Learning Kitchen, 7659 Cox Lane, West Chester, thelearningkitchen.com.

Brunch at Gomez Salsa — A couple of weeks ago, Gomez Salsa and HalfCut teamed up for Sunday brunch. Try Gomez’s breakfast turtles, stuffed with syrupy waffles, eggs, meats and cheese, and wash it down with a Beermosa from HalfCut. And don’t forget Taco Tuesday night: a beer and two Gomez Salsa tacos for $10. gomezsalsa.com; halfcut.com.

Korean Lunch Buffet — A rare chance to dine on all-you-can-eat Korean favorites for one low price, benefitting CincyLiNK (Libery in North Korea). 11:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. $25; reservations recommended. Sung Korean Bistro, 700 Elm St., Downtown, sungkoreanbistro.com.

Just Another Craft Beer Festival — A craft beer festival featuring more than 25 Ohio breweries. More than 80 local crafts will be on tap, with a pig roast and live entertainment. Benefits ArtsWave. 2-6 p.m. $45. Thirsty’s Oasis, 5579 Ohio 741, Mason, justanothercraftbeerfestival.com.

Classic Indian with a European Twist — Fusion dishes with Indian, British and Portuguese influences. 6-8:30 p.m. $65. Jungle Jim’s, 5440 Dixie Highway, Fairfield, junglejims.com.

Homemade Ravioli Workshop—Make your own ravioli, then fill half with herbed ricotta filling with basil pesto sauce and half with fresh mozzarella and sundried tomato filling with mushroom cream sauce. 6-8 p.m. $75. The Learning Kitchen, 7659 Cox Lane, West Chester, thelearningkitchen.com.

by Nick Swartsell 07.28.2015 69 days ago
Posted In: News at 10:27 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Morning News and Stuff

Dubose family hires Zimmerman attorney; Tucker's closed by fire; U.S. Bank to get big renovation

Hey Cincinnati! I'm Natalie, a new staff writer here at CityBeat covering news. You may have already seen a byline or two of mine. Expect to see more! I'm giving Nick a little break today and taking on my first morning round-up of headlines. Here's what's happening.

The family of Samuel Dubose, the man who was shot a week ago by University of Cincinnati police officer Ray Tensing, has hired the former attorney of controversial neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman, who shot unarmed teen Trayvon Martin in 2012. Attorney Mark O'Mara has already begun to question officials on the release ofTensing's body camera footage. Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters has declined to release the footage at this time, saying it could jeopardize a fair trial for the officer. O'Mara says he plans to join the lawsuit filed by the Associated Press, the Enquirer and four local television stations, but could file his own suit as well. Dubose was shot by Tensing on July 19 in Mount Auburn when he was stopped for missing the front license place on his car.

• Cincinnati has a new Assistant Police Chief. Police Captain Eliot Isaac was sworn in to his position Monday afternoon. Isaac has 26 years experience with the Cincinnati Police Department and was chosen unanimously. He was promoted to captain in 2004 and his other previous positions include District 4 commander, criminal investigation commander, internal investigations commander and night chief. He's replacing Paul Humpheries, who left the department in June to head security at Coca Cola Beverages in Florida after nearly 30 years on the force.

• You’ll have to get your home fries and bacon elsewhere for a bit. Over-the-Rhine greasy spoon and 70-year-old community institution Tucker’s was damaged July 27 by a fire and is currently closed. The fire did extensive damage to the Vine Street fixture’s kitchen, and owner Joe Tucker says it’s unclear when it will reopen. Tucker’s parents opened the restaurant in 1946.

• After missing out on a huge political convention, Cincy's U.S. Bank Arena will be getting a huge renovation that could make the city more competitive in vying  for major events. Arena owners Nederlander Entertainment and AEG Facilities announced today that the renovation will increase the stadium's capacity by 500 to 18,500. It will also have up to 1,750 club seats — a vast improvement over current numbers — and add a new suite level closer to the stage. The lack of available suites was one of the major reasons that Cincinnati its bid lost the Republican National Convention to Cleveland. In addition to its increased capacity, the arena will also sport a new glass facade and other improvements. Cost for the renovations were not released by the owners.

• Covington is once again struggling to find ways to pay for its police and fire departments. Over the last 10 years, the city has reduced staffing for police and fire, and now some residents are worried there aren't enough to properly look after the city, which has a relatively small population for some of the challenges it struggles with including poverty and higher crime rates. The city's woes are long-running in this regard: Covington has been struggling to fully pay for basic services like law enforcement since the 1970s for a variety of social and economic reasons. Some there say it's time to raise taxes to make sure there are enough cops on the beat, while others have pushed back against proposed tax increases.

by Staff 07.27.2015 70 days ago
Posted In: Alcohol, Asian, Barbecue at 12:03 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
casey at taft ale house

Leftovers: What We Ate This Weekend

Asian, beer and barbecue

Each week CityBeat staffers, dining writers and the occasional intern tell you what they ate this weekend. We're not always proud — or trendy — but we definitely spend at least some money on food. 

Casey Arnold: Yesterday, my boyfriend and I went to Findlay Market to see some live music and check out the barbecue competition (aka Smokin' Hot Weekend). Brian got a sampler from the Velvet Smoke booth, which also has a brick-and-mortar at the market. Totally chosen at random for being the closest booth taking credit cards. Thinking ahead, he brought his own gluten-free bun and turned his sampler, which was two heaps of meat separated by coleslaw, into a sandwich. He was stuffed after one pile, which was reportedly delicious and smelled amazing. As a vegetarian person, I picked up some lime cardamom sorbetto from Dojo Gelato, which was particularly refreshing in Sunday's heat. Next time you're at Findlay, here's a hot tip: Colonel De's truffle salt is totally worth $10 an ounce. Put it on your potatoes. Also everything. Take a deep whiff when you're feeling sad.
After that, we wandered over to Taft's Ale House for a pint and people watching. We hadn't been before and ended up staying about an hour just soaking in a Nellie's Key Lime beer and the beautiful space. Neither of us were hungry, but we peeked at the menu and eyeballed other people's plates. It seems great for gluten free (more piles of meat) but not so great for vegetarians — aside from a few salads. 

Sarah Urmston: After the boyfriend got off of work on Friday, we strolled around Over-the-Rhine with time to kill and bellies to fill. Since we've eaten in OTR almost every weekend of our overall relationship, we decided to just pop in somewhere new — no questions asked. And we were so lucky to have chosen to stop in for Asian street food from Quan Hapa, off of Vine Street. Although our service was a little funky, the chardonnay (only $6) was super delish, and their Hapa Ramen was absolutely off the wall with zest and just the right amount of substance to fill you without overkill. It consisted of tonkotsu broth, a poached egg, pork belly, green onions, narutomaki and shiso (two things I have never heard of in my life), and burnt garlic chili oil. Every flavor worked together so well, and I knew it really was wonderful after looking away for one minute and finding Bryan holding my bowl up to his own face. Come on, buddy. 

Maija Zummo: I went to my favorite three-year-old's birthday party yesterday and mom and dad ordered pizza from Krimmer's Italianette in North College Hill for everyone. I had had the pizza from the Silverton location growing up, but didn't know they had opened a second spot (which I hope also delivers to my house because no one ever does…). The pizza was good. Most pizza is good (especially if you've been drinking) but I liked Krimmer's kind of thick crust and pully cheese — the kind that makes strings when you pick up a slice, like in commercials. It also comes in a big family size — smaller than an Adriatico's Bearcat, but bigger than a regular large — which was great for feeding a medium-sized party, or for binge-eating on weekends.
by Nick Swartsell 07.27.2015 70 days ago
Posted In: News at 10:11 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Morning News and Stuff

Protests continue over Dubose shooting; Ohio marijuana legalization drama; Kasich goes PoMo

Hey all! Hope your weekend was grand. Here’s the news today.

Today is the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. There are a number of events going on downtown to commemorate the historic federal law, which works to guarantee equal rights for those with disabilities. A rally and presentations about the history and impact of the law kicked off at City Hall at 9 a.m. this morning, followed by a march to Fountain Square, where ADA-related events will take place through this afternoon. We’ll have more on the events and the ADA’s legacy later.

• On the one-week anniversary of the University of Cincinnati Police shooting death of Samuel Dubose in Mount Auburn, protesters gathered yesterday outside UC’s Public Safety office to demand answers about the incident. More than 100 people showed up for the protest, many of whom later marched down Vine Street to the site of Dubose’s death half a mile away. Driving rain didn’t keep family members, friends and activists from gathering and remembering Dubose, calling for the release of tapes showing the incident, and the removal of UC Police Officer Ray Tensing, who shot Dubose. Officials say Dubose was stopped due to a missing front license plate on his car. His license was suspended at the time, and Tensing ordered Dubose to leave his vehicle. Dubose refused, according to police, and a struggle ensued. Police say Dubose started his car and began driving away, dragging Tensing with him. Tensing then shot Dubose in the head and fell away from the car. Family, friends and police-accountability activists, however, question this version of events. They say footage from Tensing’s body camera and possible security footage from a nearby building could tell a different story. At least some of that footage is now in the hands of Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters, who has said he will not release it at this time. City Manager Harry Black made comments today about the shooting, saying he's been briefed about the video and that "someone has died who did not necessarily have to die." Black refused to elaborate further on the situation.

• The head of Ohio’s chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, one of the nation’s oldest and highest-profile marijuana legalization groups, was ousted in June, and he says his removal is due to his support of another legalization effort. Rob Ryan, who lives in Blue Ash, was removed as president of Ohio NORML after he came out in support of ResponsibleOhio, a ballot initiative that is seeking to legalize marijuana use for anyone above 21 and establish 10 legal marijuana grow sites around the state owned by the group’s investors. Now Ryan says he was dismissed due to his support for that group. But NORML officials say his removal had more to do with his personality, charging that he has been rude and even abusive to NORML members who don’t support ResponsibleOhio. The ballot initiative to create a constitutional amendment legalizing marijuana has deep Cincinnati ties and has been very controversial due to its limitations on who can grow the drug commercially. The group is now also in a frantic, last-minute scramble to get more than 30,000 valid signatures from voters across the state after a past petition drive fell short of the 300,000 signatures required to land a constitutional amendment on the November ballot. The group has until next month to collect those signatures.

• Northside is getting a new spot for cold, sweet treats. Dojo Gelato, a Findlay Market fixture for years, will move to its first stand-alone store at the old J.F. Dairy Corner on Blue Rock Avenue right around the time it starts getting warm again next year. Owner Michael Cristner lives in the neighborhood, and has been looking to set up permanent shop there for some time. I do really love Dojo’s affogato with the Mexican vanilla and Dutch chocolate, but I’m also a big adherent of Putz’s Creamy Whip down the street. Blue ice cream with a cherry dip, y’all. I guess I’ll just have to double my ice cream/gelato intake.

• Gov. John Kasich, it seems, can be downright postmodern in his view on today’s big policy questions as he tries to convince Republicans he’s their man to run for president. At recent campaign stops, Kasich has shrugged off the tyranny of the solid, sure answer for an acknowledgement that the world is absolutely insane, knowledge is illusory and none of us can really know anything. OK, so that’s a pretty big exaggeration on my part. But the guv has been uttering the phrase “I don’t know” a lot on the trail in response to policy questions. Does it show he’s honest? Still formulating his positions carefully and with intellectual rigor? Or is he just kind of a wimp who won’t commit to an answer? Time will tell. In the meantime, John, can I suggest some real page-turners by this guy Baudrillard? There is more and more information in the world, Mr. Kasich, and less and less meaning, and we both know it.

• Speaking of the complete shattering of the fallacy that the world is a rational place, new polls continue to show real-estate magnate and hairpiece-addiction spokesman Donald Trump leading the field of GOP hopefuls. He’s sitting at 18 percent in the crowded contest, three points above next-best contender, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, and eight points ahead of the third-place contestant in this wacky gameshow, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker. Do I need to give another rundown of recent Trump events? He said former POW and Republican Arizona Senator John McCain isn’t a hero because he got caught by the enemy. He equated Mexican immigrants with criminals and rapists and received a death threat from notorious cartel leader El Chapo. Via Twitter. Give him this: the guy knows how to get attention and has never met a question he wants to answer with “I don’t know.”

by Anne Arenstein 07.27.2015 70 days ago
Posted In: Opera at 10:00 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Review: Cincinnati Opera's Turandot

The Opera's 95th season closes Friday

Cincinnati Opera winds up its 95th season in truly grand operatic fashion with an opulent production of Puccini’s Turandot. The singing is (mostly) sublime, the spectacle is lavish and all the production elements are executed with stylish precision.

The opera is a fantasy based on a play by the Venetian Carlo Gozzi. Turandot is a Chinese princess bent on revenge for the rape and murder of an ancient ancestor. If a prospective suitor fails to answer three riddles, off with his head. That doesn’t discourage Prince Calaf, who manages to solve the riddles and melt the ice princess’s reserve. Oh yes indeed, this is a fairy tale.

It’s also Puccini’s grandest opera with fabulous music incorporating romance, drama and Chinese folk melodies. The score was unfinished when Puccini died in 1924; composer Franco Alfano composed the final section using Puccini’s sketches. Despite Calaf’s signature aria “Nessun Dorma,” the best music belongs to the chorus and the two female leads.

Biggest ups to the chorus. They sing with power, precision and a remarkable dynamic control thanks to Chorusmaster Henri Venanzi, who celebrates his 41st year with the CO. Unlike most other operas that feature one big choral number and that’s it, Turandot’s chorus is onstage for almost the entire piece.

Marcy Stonikas is a formidable Turandot, physically and vocally. Her voice has the cold, steely edge for an ice princess but there’s a hint of warmth that fully emerged in the final scene to convey a sense of humanity. “In questa reggia” is Turandot’s big aria and Stonikas did not disappoint. Hers is one of the most exciting voices I’ve heard in a long time and I hope she’ll be back.

The role of the slave Liu usually steals the shows and this was no exception. French soprano Norah Amsellem sings with haunting delicacy and tremendous power. It’s a performance to savor, and she garnered the evening’s loudest ovations. And her limping on the stage was no act — she injured an ankle earlier in the week and was using a brace.

Frank Porretta’s Calaf was barely audible in the first act. He may have been having vocal problems because he powered up in the second act, but “Nessun Dorma” was under pitch and lagged behind the orchestra. Let’s hope he recovers for the remaining performances.

As the court officials Ping, Pang and Pong, Jonathan Beyer, Julius Ahn and Joseph Hu were genuinely responsive Puccini’s score, offering characters ironically comic and human as they sing of returning home. They also executed a vaudeville soft shoe routine with panache.

Bass Andrea Mastroni made an impressive debut as Calaf’s father, Timur. Tenor Chris Merritt sang the Emperor Altoum with poignant beauty.

Under the baton of Ramón Tebar, the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra gave a stunning performance of this magnificent score. There are so many gorgeous subtleties, from the loudest of gongs to shimmering woodwinds and strings, and they were heard to wonderful effect.

Red is the operative color for André Barbe’s sets and costumes, with black and white running close seconds. A huge red lacquer arch is the main set piece, punctuated by huge white heads on pikes, reminders of the executed princes. The chorus, mandarins and dancers are swathed in black and red. Ping, Pang and Pong sport sky-blue robes, and Turandot and Emperor Altoum are garbed in white. It’s opulent but never excessive.

Most impressive are Renaud Doucet’s staging and choreography. The huge cast of choristers, supernumeraries and dancers move with confidence and precision. Fortunately for us all, the leads are equally graceful and they respond to each other with more than outstretched arms. Doucet creates stage pictures that, for all their scope, never lose focus on the performers. The dancers are a special pleasure. Their costumes with multiple flags projecting from the back don’t make for easy movement, but they make it look effortless.

Go see it. And go hear it. There aren’t many opportunities to see spectacle like this, unless it’s Andrew Lloyd Webber, who mined Puccini’s melodies for inspiration. Puccini did it way better.

TURANDOT continues Wednesday and Friday. More info here.

by CityBeat Staff 07.24.2015 73 days ago
Posted In: LGBT, Life, Humor, Fun, Food, Events, Comedy, Concerts, Culture, Music, Performances, Arts at 02:21 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Weekenders: What We're Doing This Weekend

Each week CityBeat staffers share their weekend plans: from dinner and drinks or special events to out-of-town concerts and stories we're working on. And some of us just watch TV.
Maria Seda-Reeder: Friday night I will be checking out the work of Elise Thompson & Nathan Weikert at Boom Gallery in Evanston. I’ll head with the family to either MadTree’s taproom for some Catch a Fire Pizza or Mazunte Tacos because pizza or tacos are basically what we live on. Saturday I have a friend’s overnight bachelorette party in Batesville, Ind., so I will be lazing on a floatie in the middle of a lake all day with a bunch of ladies I adore — which sounds like heaven! But if I were still in town, I would be headed straight for C. Jacqueline Wood’s excellent continuing series of avant garde film screenings for her Mini Microcinema, Unbundled Detroit at People’s Liberty’s Globe Gallery.  The (FREE!) Saturday screenings have been way less packed than the Thursday evenings, and the films being shown are consistently awesome. If I get home in time on Sunday morning, I will be sure to attend Wave Pool’s Artist in Residence, Stairwell’s first two-hour Field Trip, “Head Over Hills”, a group walking tour exploring the steps around Eden Park and the Cincinnati Art Museum. I had a chance to meet and walk around town with the two artists, Sarah Hotchkiss and Carey Lin, this past week for several hours and they will be doing some really cool things to engage tour-goers with art, while they’re in town for the next few weeks.

Zack Hatfield: After reading CityBeat's article on iced coffee brews, I might have to head out to Trailhead or Deeper Roots and see what the fuss is all about. Then I'll migrate on my caffeinated iceberg over to By This River, the semi-new exhibit at the Weston gallery. Since I'm visiting my folks on the Westside this weekend, I'd like to visit Habesha, an Ethiopian restaurant I've never been to before. Jesse Fox: Saturday I'm heading to Columbus to CD102.5's Summerfest to see FIDLAR and Bully with a few friends.  We'll be making the most important stop of all beforehand at Dirty Frank's, where I'll probably eat too many veggie dogs to even be able to have fun at the show. Other than that, I don't have a lot going on ... lazy weekend for me!Sarah Urmston: Since Friday is my sweet friend Alexa's birthday, we will be having brunch at Collective Espresso in the beautiful Contemporary Art Center, celebrating with mimosas, pretty scenery and great company. Later that night we will be dancing our butts off all over OTR, most likely shakin' it to John Lennon's Twist & Shout at Japp's Since 1879. Saturday I'll be spending money I don't have at the City Flea (!!!) because we're lucky enough to have it TWICE this month! The rest of the day I'll be paintballing, something I'm still really confused about. Either way, I'm ready to kick some ass and pray to God we're getting drinks afterward. Finally, Sunday afternoon will be dedicated to packing because I move to the beautiful heart of Covington only a week from today! This weekend is a busy one, but exciting nonetheless. 


Grace Potter 
Photo: Hollywood Records
Grace Potter’s rise in the music world has been steady. She has toughed it out with tour after tour for years, opening for and collaborating with artists like Derek Trucks, Warren Haynes and others. But now Potter is entering a new phase in her career; after years of being billed as “Grace Potter and The Nocturnals,” Potter is now a solo artist. And she’s jumped right into the role. In June, she opened two stadium shows for The Rolling Stones. And on Aug. 14, Potter is set to release her first solo album, Midnight. Grace Potter plays Friday at Taft Theatre. Tickets/more info: tafttheatre.org.

Jill Scott
Photo: Atlantic Records
Founded in 1962 as the all-Jazz Ohio Valley Jazz Festival, Cincinnati’s popular “Jazz Fest” has gone through a lot of changes in its half century-plus history. In more recent decades, the festival shifted focus to R&B and Soul acts and, even more recently, moved into the Bengals’ Paul Brown Stadium. This year, the fest also has a new name — Cincinnati Music Festival (the past few years it was called the Macy’s Music Festival) — but it is providing the same high-quality R&B acts over two nights. This year’s lineup features modern favorites like Maxwell, Jill Scott (pictured) and Jennifer Hudson, plus old-school crowd-pleasers Maze featuring Frankie Beverly and The O’Jays. This year’s fest also features up-and-comers like Avery Sunshine, Mali Music and Luke James. 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday. $55-$125. Paul Brown Stadium, 1 Paul Brown Stadium, Downtown, cincymusicfestival.com

It seems today that all you see are sex-crazed talking teddy bears in movies and lewd cartoons on TV. But where are those good, old-fashioned crooners on which we used to rely? Luckily, there’s Seth MacFarlane.The creative mind responsible for the Ted movies, A Million Ways to Die in the West, American Dad and Family Guy (among myriad other contributions to film and television) is now on a limited tour of the country, showcasing his vocal talent as the frontman of a swingin’ Big Band; in Cincinnati, he’ll be backed by the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra, conducted by John Morris Russell. Seth MacFarlane performs with the Cincinnati Pops Friday at Riverbend’s PNC Pavilion. More info: cincinnatisymphony.org.

It’s a rare opportunity — or should we say medium rare — that carnivores can delight in $5 gourmet and off-menu burgers throughout their city. Through Sunday, Cincinnati Burger Week pays homage to the American-cuisine staple by having chefs prepare burgers with their unique spin. Local restaurants from Anderson to Covington will participate in the beef extravaganza, organized by CityBeat, stamping your Burger Passports for special prizes. Don’t eat meat? Some places, like Nation in Pendleton, also offer a delectable black bean patty. Through Sunday. $5 per burger. Find participating restaurants at cincinnatiburgerweek.com.

Hot on the heels of SCOTUS’ landmark decision to legalize gay marriage nationwide (s/o to Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg), cincygayweddings.com, a compendium of LGBTQ+-friendly wedding vendors in the area, decided to turn their launch party into an entire weekend of activities, featuring eight parties over three days with more than 40 different sponsors. Events include Cocktails & Couture at Bromwell’s, a Sunday Jazz brunch at the Hilton Netherland Plaza, a dance party at Ivy Lounge and much more. Weekend events open to everyone; Scalia fans maybe stay away. All proceeds benefit Pride Cincinnati, Equality Ohio and the Human Rights Campaign. Friday and Saturday. Various prices; $40 weekend. Details at lovewinscincy.com

Joan Jett
Photo: Roger Erickson
For all the grumbling about the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the induction ceremonies can often be revelatory and moving, occasionally serving as a way to view an artist from a different perspective and remind everyone why an artist is receiving the honor in the first place. The 2015 Rock Hall inductions had its fair share of goosebump-worthy moments. But it was inductee Joan Jett’s acceptance speech that made me most emotional, reminding me of my own deep-rooted passion for music in general, and Rock & Roll specifically. Joan Jett & The Blackhearts play Friday at the Lawrenceburg Event Center (Hollywood Casino). More info/tickets: hollywoodindiana.com.

Amiable Strangers
Photo: Provided
Painters Elise Thompson and Nathan Weikert exhibit new work at Boom Gallery in Evanston, which demonstrates their move away from figurative painting toward something more abstracted, taking cues from the American AbEx tradition. Thompson’s paintings are done on unconventional materials — forgoing canvas for chiffon, for example — and the painter hangs her work on walls, some pieces extending onto the floor or leaning on themselves in unlikely ways. Weikert, for his part, creates atmosphere and mood through the use of layers of stormy grays. Opening reception: 7-9 p.m. Friday. Free. Boom Gallery, 1940 Dana Ave., boomgallery.us

Fasten your seat belt — here comes the 2015-2016 theater season. Know Theatre gets bragging rights for being first out of the local theater gate with Hundred Days, a Rock & Roll show it played a significant part in developing. The Folk Rock odyssey was created by and features the husband-and-wife duo of Shaun and Abigail Bengson. It premiered at Z Space in San Francisco in February 2014. Hundred Days is the story of Sarah and Will, who fall in love only to have their time together cut tragically short by a fatal illness. Their romantic, defiant response to their fate: Compress the 60 years they had envisioned together into the 100 days they have left. Kate E. Ryan assembled the script for this powerful piece, which is an unconventional musical, Indie Rock opera and tragic romance. Hundred Days runs at Know Theatre July 24 to Aug. 22. knowtheatre.com.

Death from Above 1979
Photo: Pamela Littky
It’s easy to see why bands with lengthy histories and voluminous catalogs would consider getting back together, but those rationalizations don’t hold much water for Death from Above 1979. The Canadian duo featuring bassist/synthesizer-player/backing vocalist Jesse F. Keeler and drummer/vocalist Sebastien Grainger got together in 2001 and released a sole album of original material, You’re a Woman, I’m a Machine, in 2004. The pair considered breaking up in the wake of tours with Queens of the Stone Age and Nine Inch Nails, but held off for a year to appease their rabid fans, label and inner circle. They did and a decade later they're back with a new record and new tour. Catch Death from Above 1979 Saturday at Riverbend. More info/tickets: riverbend.org.

The Cincinnati Opera closes its season with Puccini’s Turandot, the tale of Princess Turandot, an enigmatic beauty in ancient China who reigns with an iron fist and cold heart. All of her wooers must answer her riddles to win her hand in marriage, or face certain death. When a mysterious man passes her impossible test, will she finally open her heart to love? This kaleidoscopic production features stunning sets, costumes and choreography. 7:30 p.m. Saturday, July 29 and 31. $35-$175. Music Hall, 1241 Elm St., Over-the-Rhine, cincinnatiopera.org

Greater Anderson Days
Photo: Provided
Just because Independence Day is over doesn’t mean the fireworks are. The 17th-annual Greater Anderson Days, a July jamboree consisting of music, games, rides, food and an “Anderson’s Got Talent” competition, will culminate with Rozzi’s Famous Fireworks on Sunday night. The pyrotechnics are a perfect way for the family to celebrate the summer, but also the community, as money raised benefits the Anderson Parks and Recreation Playground Fund. 5-11 p.m. Friday and Saturday; 5-10 p.m. Sunday. Free. Beech Acres Park, 6910 Salem Road, Anderson, andersonparks.com.

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by Nick Swartsell 10.05.2015 17 hours ago
Posted In: News, Cycling at 12:33 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
to do_bright ride_photo urban basin bicycle club facebook page

Cincinnati Among Top Cities for Growth in Bicycle Commuting

Commuting by bike increased by 350 percent last year, the third-biggest increase among major cities

You may have seen recent 2014 American Community Survey data released by the U.S. Census Bureau showing that bicycle commuting continues to rise.

Cincinnati has been one of the cities leading the way in that growth, it turns out.

The League of American Bicyclists recently analyzed those ACS numbers and came up with data showing where cycling and bike commuting are biggest and growing fastest. While Cincinnati ranked 31st among the 70 biggest U.S. cities in terms of share of cyclists commuting to work (we’re at just under 1 percent), the number of bike commuters here is growing faster than just about anywhere else in the country.

Bike commuting in Cincinnati increased by 350 percent last year, according to the ACS. That’s more than any other major city besides Detroit, which saw a 403 percent boost, and Pittsburgh, which saw bicycle commuting go up by 360 percent.

Cincinnati easily beat out other Ohio cities, including Columbus (ranked 36th with .8 percent of commutes happening by bike) and Cleveland (ranked 40th with .7 percent).

The city with the top percentage of bicycle commuters is, predictably, Portland, Ore., where more than 7 percent of commutes are taken by bicycle. The city has more than 23,000 cyclists. Oregon is tops in terms of states when it comes to bike commuters, as well. Ohio is well down that list, ranking 36th.

As a bike commuter, I'm excited that I have more company on the roads. You can read the whole League of American Bicyclists report here.

by Nick Swartsell 10.05.2015 19 hours ago
Posted In: News at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Morning News and Stuff

Enquirer story on historic conservation board appears, disappears; Cranley to deliver state of the city address this evening; Kasich zeroes in on New Hampshire, where he trails

Hello all. Hope you enjoyed your weekend. Yesterday was the ideal day weatherwise, so if you stayed inside all day, well, that sucks for you. I went to a pumpkin festival at Lobenstein farms in Indiana, where I got a strange white pumpkin that I believe is probably haunted. I also had the best pumpkin pie I’ve ever eaten and some amazing fried chicken. So I’d say it all balances out. Anyway, none of that is news. This is news.

First — it’s the last day to go register to vote for the November election. Go do that now. Though there aren’t any major public officials to weigh in on this year, there are several very important ballot issues, including changes to the redistricting process for Ohio’s State House seats, whether to create a state-sanctioned,10-farm weed monopoly to legalize marijuana and whether to pass a levy that would provide millions to new park projects. So. Go register. I’ll wait.

Back? OK.

• Over the weekend, The Cincinnati Enquirer posted, then took down, a story about changes to the city’s urban conservator office and Historic Conservation Board, which help decide questions of historic preservation, demolition permits and the like. Basically, these bodies help mediate the push-pull between developers who want to build buildings at maximum profit and community members and historic preservation advocates who want to save old buildings that contribute to the character of Cincy’s neighborhoods.

Lately, there have been shake ups on both the board and with the urban conservator, who was unceremoniously removed from his post in late August. Meanwhile, four of the board’s six members are newcomers who have contributed to Mayor John Cranley’s campaign. Some, including some Over-the-Rhine community leaders, see this as a politicizing of these decision-making bodies and a possible weakening of the city’s historic preservation safeguards to the benefit of developers friendly with Cranley. But others defend the changes, saying rotation on the board is healthy to get fresh perspectives on historic conservation. The Enquirer says it took down the story because it accidentally posted an unedited version a couple days ahead of schedule. You can read the original version, which does contain some errors, in this Facebook post by transit activist and OTR resident Derek Bauman. It will be interesting to read the final version of that story when it finally comes out.

• A group of activists will take to City Hall today to protest the pending closing of Cincinnati’s last women’s clinic that provides abortions. More than 100 people are confirmed for the rally on a Facebook event posted by the group, which says it is protesting to get city officials to express support for abortion rights and opposition to the clinic’s closure. Several Democratic city officials have already expressed support for Planned Parenthood.

The Elizabeth Campbell Medical Center in Mount Auburn, which is run by Planned Parenthood, was denied a license renewal by the Ohio Department of Health last week. It is staying open pending an appeal of that decision, but could close immediately if federal courts find in favor of the state. That would make Cincinnati the largest metropolitan area in the country without direct access to abortions. The Women’s Med Clinic in Dayton faces a similar situation with the ODH; if both shut down, the entirety of Southwestern Ohio would be without direct access to abortion services. Today’s rally begins at 5:30 p.m. at City Hall.

• Meanwhile, most city officials will be away from City Hall at Great American Ball Park this afternoon for Mayor John Cranley’s second state of the city speech, where he’ll unveil his priorities for the coming year. Among those priorities is a task force aimed at lifting 10,000 children and 5,000 adults out of poverty. The task force will be expected to deliver a set of action steps by June 30 for that goal. In 2012, more than half of the city’s children lived in poverty. That ratio has gone down to 44 percent since, but it’s unclear why that is. Whatever the reason, city officials say that’s still far too many kids without basic needs. Ohio’s childhood poverty rate is 23 percent and the nation’s is 22.

Cranley will likely talk about other priorities he has for the coming year, including an initiative to raise millions for Cincinnati parks by putting a permanent property tax levy into the city’s charter so the city can issue bonds for capital projects in the parks. Projects such as the Wasson Way bike trail, a redevelopment of Burnet Woods and other money-intensive efforts are on the slate should that levy pass in November.

Here are some quick notes about state and national politics/other news:

• The state of Ohio is getting tons of money for charter schools, despite recent scandals about data-fixing in the Ohio Department of Education and generally lagging performance from those schools. The U.S. Department of Education is awarding eight states money for their charter programs, and Ohio is among them. Despite being the lowest-performing of the eight, the state could receive more than $70 million for the privately run, publicly funded schools, the most of any of the eight states. The story linked above has more information and is definitely worth a read.

• U.S. Sen. Rob Portman has raised a big old mountain of cash from Republican donors in his re-election bid. Portman will face either former Ohio governor Ted Strickland or Cincinnati City Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld in the general election next year, both of whom trail Portman’s $2 million quarterly fundraising haul significantly. That’s not the whole story, however. Democratic primary frontrunner Strickland is polling dead even with Portman and in some polls surpassing him, despite the fundraising deficit. Many political observers predict the race to be among the most costly in the country as Dems and the GOP battle it out for control of the Senate in a presidential election year. Outside groups are already pouring money into Ohio against Strickland.

• Ohio governor and GOP presidential primary contender John Kasich has called New Hampshire, an early primary state, essential to his bid for his party’s nomination and indicated this weekend that a bad showing there would be the end of his campaign. Unfortunately, he’s also lagging there, dropping from second behind Donald Trump in a poll last month to seventh in a poll taken this month. The guv just opened his campaign headquarters in the state, which has its primary in about four months.

• Probably not a surprise, but Republicans are still fighting over who will replace U.S. Rep. John Boehner of West Chester in his powerful speaker of the house role. Boehner resigned from Congress recently amid infighting over a possible government shutdown by hardline right wing Republicans. His second-in-command, Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California, seems to be the favorite for the position, but recent slip-ups by McCarthy and an announcement that Utah’s Rep. Jason Chaffetz is also running for the role have increased the uncertainty about who will take the reigns for Republicans, who control the House of Representatives with a large majority.

• Finally, stock up on those solid color neon hoodies now. American Apparel announced bankruptcy today. The company, which sells basic clothing items that are made in America, has lost money every year since 2010. It suffered a blow last year as founder Dov Charney was ousted amid widespread allegations that he engaged in sexual harassment against employees. The company says its retail locations, including the one in Cincinnati, will remain open amid the bankruptcy.

by Nick Swartsell 10.02.2015 3 days ago
Posted In: News at 10:18 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Morning News and Stuff

Will the Freedom Center get a charter school?; Sheriff Jones won't run for Boehner's seat; Vatican clarifies on Kim Davis visit

Hey all! Here’s a brief news rundown for your Friday. Let’s get to the weekend already.

Is a charter school coming to the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center? It could happen, The Cincinnati Enquirer reports. Carpe Diem is a charter sponsored by Cincinnati Public Schools that operates out of Aiken High School. The school has expressed interest in opening up another CPS-sponsored charter in the Freedom Center, though nothing official has been planned yet. The charter’s CEO has said he’d be interested in having the school open as soon as next fall, though CPS has yet to make a decision about whether it wants another charter, saying such a school would need to perform as well or better than traditional public schools in the city. CPS currently sponsors two charters. Charters in Cincinnati and Ohio in general have a mixed record over the past decade, with some performing as well or better than public schools while many others have lagged and been shut down for performance issues or ethics violations.

• What’s the most Instagramed spot in Ohio? It’s the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden, according to a review of social media data by travel website busbud.com. The site looked at which attractions in every state generated the most hashtags on the popular, Facebook-owned image-posting social media app. The zoo joins the Grand Canyon in Arizona, the White House in D.C. and the Space Needle in Seattle as one of the most popular spots for ‘gramming in the country. I would have guessed Washington Park, but yeah. Pretty cool for the zoo.

• Apologies in advance for fans of Butler County Sheriff Richard K. Jones, because I have some disappointing news for you. The staunchly anti-immigrant sheriff, who has gained a national profile due to his aggressive stance on conservative issues and appearances on talk shows discussing those views, won’t be running for U.S. Rep. John Boehner’s congressional seat. As we reported last week, Jones had indicated he was interested in campaigning for the spot, which Boehner vacated Friday after years of fighting with congressional conservatives as speaker of the house. But Jones has since announced that, while Congress could “use someone like him,” he’s better off staying in Butler County.

• A Chicago-based investor in ResponsibleOhio’s plan to legalize marijuana in the state has backed out, according to the group. Meanwhile, Youngstown-based Brian Kessler, whose father invented the Hula-Hoop, is in to take his place. Kessler is now one of the 22 investors who have gone public about their role funding ResponsibleOhio’s drive to pass an amendment to the Ohio constitution that would legalize marijuana and create 10 constitutionally mandated grow sites across the state. The identity of another 30 investors has not been made public by the group.

• So everyone got all riled up about the Pope’s visit with Kentucky county clerk Kim Davis last week. Now the Vatican is clarifying that meeting... kind of. Davis, you’ll remember, refused to issue marriage licenses even in the wake of this summer’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling legalizing same-sex marriage across the country. Davis was eventually found in contempt of court and went to jail for her refusal on religious grounds to issue the licenses. Fast forward a bit. Davis recently revealed that when the pope was here in the U.S. a couple weeks back, she was granted a 15-minute visit with the religious leader. This was something of a shock to many progressives, who were still applauding Pope Francis' statements before Congress on climate change and income inequality. Many, of course, took the visit as a signal that the pope agreed with Davis on her stand. Now, however, the Vatican is saying that the visit was requested by Davis and doesn’t mean that the pope supported her point of view or her actions. Annnnnd… that’s about all the church said. So. Hm.

• Finally, you’ve certainly already heard about the horrific school shooting in Oregon yesterday, but it seems strange not to mention it in a news round up. So here’s a story with what we know so far. As your humble morning news blogger, can I suggest we simply pause to feel for those involved and not instantly begin fighting about this? No? OK.

That’s it for me. Twitter, email, etc. You know what’s up.

by Kerry Skiff 10.02.2015 3 days ago
Posted In: Literary at 09:50 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Beyond the Books

Headlines and Deadlines at the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County's main branch

It was a dim and smallish room I entered for my third library event, and at first I thought I was lost. I was in the main branch of the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County, and after searching unsuccessfully decided to follow someone, who mercifully led me to the right room. “Headlines and Dead Lines”, the title of the class, promised to teach me about a library database that would research local history, and as the program began, I contentedly settled in for a good history lesson.

The class, taught by Reference Librarian Cindy Hill, mostly focused on Newsdex, a database that holds listings for local Cincinnati history. As I listened, Hill rattled off various fun facts about the system. “It’s the longest-running publicly available database for the Cincinnati area,” she announced proudly. “It’s a really great place to start.” 

According to Hill, Newsdex is often used for genealogies, but also provides information on companies, neighborhoods, historical sites and local events. You can find death notices, obituaries, wedding announcements, murders, addresses, local events and advertisements. The database includes articles from multiple Cincinnati publications, both current and discontinued, like the Cincinnati Post, Times-Star, Gazette, Commercial and the Western Spy. “[Newsdex] has a totally wide-range of newspapers, but it’s not complete,” Hill said. “It’s being updated all the time.”

As I listened to her, I began to see why Hill sounded so excited about the database.  “As far as we know, there’s not another library that’s done this,” she said. “Many of our databases require a library card, but Newsdex is used all over the world…it’s used across this country and beyond.” She added that people from as far away as Japan have requested information from the index, and that local companies and news organizations have also used the site.

Later I talked to Steve Headley, president of the Genealogy and Local History department of the public library, who told me that the database has been around in one form or another for a long time. According to Headley, Cincinnati librarians began to index newspapers into the library’s card catalog in 1927. In 1940 a concentrated effort began to index obituaries, as well as death notices, and in 1990 the system was digitized and named Newsdex. “There is no other real source [like] it, especially for the number of newspapers that it covers,” Headley said.

However, as great as Newsdex is, it doesn’t contain everything. Hill explained one reason is that some people wanted to live private lives, so nothing was printed about them in the paper. “Not everyone can be traced,” she warned. “There were people back then that didn’t want to be out there.” According to Headley, the information might not be indexed yet, since information is added as librarians have time. “The further back you go, the less complete it gets,” he said, “simply because when the librarians were doing the indexing they were using the individual cards, and it was pretty time consuming.”

One thing I appreciated about Newsdex is that it’s easy to use. Instead of having to weed through newspapers pages, Newsdex tells you what paper the article is in, what day it printed and what page it’s on. Then you simply work with the genealogy librarians to get that paper. At the end of the hour, I found myself wishing I had something to research, because I wanted to use my newfound knowledge. Instead of being intimidated by the wealth of information in Newsdex, it amazed me how much local history one city could hold. Cincinnati has so many facts to be discovered, and while I know I could never dig through them all, Headlines and Dead Lines made me want to try.

Did this event sound interesting? Check out similar workshops at the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County:

Book a Librarian: Get help with job searches, research or resume writing.
Date with an iPad: Learn the tricks to using this Apple device.
Technology Appointment: Schedule a one-on-one workshop to learn basic computer skills.


by Staff 10.02.2015 3 days ago
Posted In: Arts, bikes, Benefits, Comedy, Culture, Concerts, Fun, Events, Music at 09:06 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Your Weekend To Do List (10/2-10/4)

Bengals, Sunflower Festival, HallZOOween, Motoberfest, musicals and more


Louis conducts LOVE FORBIDDEN

The Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra rules when it comes to mashing up live music with images. But this week, the orchestra takes on a more formidable challenge: performing Arnold Schoenberg’s symphonic tone poem Pelléas und Mélisande with visual accompaniment of projections and video created by innovative young director, production designer and visual artist James Darrah.“This is nearly 40 minutes of continuous music, so it’s more like a cousin of Lumenocity,” says CSO Music Director Louis Langrée. He had not seen any of Darrah’s previous productions, but Langrée knew of his work with the San Francisco Opera and the Los Angeles Philharmonic. And there was another connection.Last year, Darrah staged Don Giovanni for the Milwaukee Symphony, where Isaac Thompson, an alumnus of the University of Cincinnati’s College-Conservatory of Music, served on the artistic operations staff. In January, Thompson assumed the position of the CSO’s director of artistic operations. He arranged for Langrée and Darrah to meet, and in May the two artists sat down in Langrée’s East Walnut Hills home to discuss potential projects. Read the full feature here. Love Forbidden opens Friday and continues Saturday at Music Hall. More info: cincinnatisymphony.org

Photo: Provided
Break out the bike for MOTOBERFEST

Formerly known as the Queen City Mods and Rockers Rally, “Motoberfest” is a weekend celebration of café and vintage motorcycles and scooters themed around Cincinnati’s German brewing heritage. The festival features motorcycle stunt shows, an opportunity to show off your ride in a judged bike show, group rides, art shows, live music, brewery tours and more for bikers and bike-enthusiasts. 6 p.m.-11 p.m. Thursday; 6 p.m.-midnight Friday; 8 a.m.-midnight Saturday. $30 all-access pass. Various venues around OTR. More info at motoberfest.com.

Watch people sing about cannibalism in SILENCE! THE MUSICAL
Of course you know The Silence of the Lambs, the creepy movie about “Hannibal the Cannibal.” It was a big hit in 1991 with Anthony Hopkins as the brilliant, manipulative serial killer and Jodie Foster as the young FBI cadet who recruits him to help her catch a different psychopath. Well, wouldn’t you know that someone turned it into Silence! The Musical, an award winner at the 2005 New York International Fringe Festival? It’s become a cult favorite, and the parody-loving folks at Falcon Theatre have landed it after several years of hot pursuit. Bon appetit! Through Oct. 10. $15-$20. Monmouth Theatre, 636 Monmouth St., Newport, Ky., 513-479-6783, falcontheatre.net

The Kentucky Wool Festival
Photo: Provided

Buy some yarn at the KENTUCKY WOOL FESTIVAL

The Kentucky Wool Festival: a celebration of sheep and the fleece we shear off them. Wander through tables of crafts with local pottery, accessories, homemade soaps and candles and wooden items of every kind. Stop by the wool tent for demonstrations of combing, wet felting, sheep shearing and Turkish spindling. Then grab a chocolate-dipped pie and check out the Queen City Cloggers and other live entertainment all weekend. 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Friday and Saturday; 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday. $5; free for children younger than 5. 48 Concord Caddo Road, Falmouth, Ky., kywoolfest.org.

Reckless Kelly
Photo: Provided
Austin's RECKLESS KELLY plays Southgate House Revival

All things Austin, Texas, have been coming to a head the last few years in the music world. Always a great music town, the scene has blown up to almost too-big proportions, with the South By Southwest festival growing to seemingly unsustainable levels. Reckless Kelly, however, has been walking the streets of Austin since the band migrated there from Idaho in the late 1990s. At the heart of the group are brothers Willy and Cody Braun, who grew up in a family of musicians that included their bandleader father, who fronted a Western Swing outfit. In essence, Reckless Kelly is a Roots music band that almost perfectly fits the mold suggested by the Americana genre tag. Read more about the band in this week's Sound Advice. See Reckless Kelly with Noah Smith Friday at Southgate House Revival. More info/tickets: southgatehouse.com.

Photo: Kathy Newton
Watch animals eat pumpkins at HALLZOOWEEN

Kids and animals alike are in for a special treat during the Cincinnati Zoo’s HallZOOween festival. This family-friendly Halloween celebration features trick-or-treat stations for the kids, costumed characters, a Hogwarts Express train ride and special pumpkin playtime for elephants, otters, meerkats and more. Bring your own treat bag to stuff with goodies and hunt for the Golden Frisch’s Big Boy. Two golden Big Boy statues will be hidden around the zoo each weekend; whoever finds them wins a special zoo/Frisch’s prize package (with tartar sauce). Follow clues on the zoo’s Twitter page: #BigBoyClue. Noon-5 p.m. Select Saturdays and Sundays in October. Free with zoo admission ($18 adult; $12 child/senior). Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden, 3400 Vine St., Avondale, cincinnatizoo.org.

Sunflower Festival
Photo: Gorman Heritage Farm
Pick your own sunflower at the SUNFLOWER FESTIVAL

This annual festival, hosted by Gorman Heritage Farm, includes all the fun of fall with a few twists. Jump on a mule-drawn wagon ride through the sunflower fields. Don’t just pick a pumpkin; fling it from a pumpkin launch. Gather your own bouquet of sunflowers, or wander a corn maze, get your face painted and meet the animals on this working farm. Food trucks will be available both days and local crafts highlight homemade products. 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. $8 adults; $5 kids; free for 2 and younger. Gorman Heritage Farm, 10052 Reading Road, Evendale, gormanfarm.org.

Weekend of Fire
Photo: Provided
Kick up the spice at Jungle Jim's WEEKEND OF FIRE
A great hot sauce can really put the right kick in your dish, and that’s what Jungle Jim’s Weekend of Fire is all about. Whether you consider yourself courageous enough to test the hottest varieties available or if you can’t stand anything beyond “mild,” Weekend of Fire has that sauce you’ve been dreaming of — along with rubs, salsas, snacks and any other edible you can kick up a notch. More than 55 vendors and 300 mouth-watering samples from around the country await your taste buds, with prizes going to fest favorites. Game booths and contests will keep the weekend spirit burning strong. And the very brave can face off in the Arena of Fire, where aficionados battle it out to see who can eat the hottest fiery food. 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Saturday; 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday. $10. Jungle Jim’s Oscar Event Center, 5440 Dixie Highway, Fairfield, junglejims.com. 

'Light Strikes'
Photo: Rob Wolpert
LIGHT STRIKES closes at the Kennedy Heights Arts Center

To celebrate the opening of the new Kennedy Heights Cultural Campus annex in September, the Kennedy Heights Arts Center debuted Light Strikes, an exhibition of large-scale installations within its newest 9,000-square-foot gallery; it closes Saturday. Two artist collectives — Intermedio and Team B — as well as three individual artists — Sean Mullaney, Karen Saunders and Rob Wolpert —created site-specific installations to fill the vast room with light-based artwork. Some of the work is interactive and, according to curator Jonathan Sears of PAR-Projects, one of the main goals for the show was to balance the way each artist uses light to help viewers travel through the space. Closing reception: 7-9 p.m. Saturday. Free. 6620 Montgomery Road, Kennedy Heights, kennedyarts.org.

Mikki Schaffner
Incline Theater presents EXTREMITIES — a bit more serious than their standard fare

This will be a test. Following a sold-out summer of musicals, the Incline Theater turns to far more serious fare with William Mastrosimone’s searing and controversial drama about the victim of an attempted rape who gets the upper hand on her attacker and contemplates vengeance. It’s not the kind of show that Cincinnati Landmark Productions is known for, but they’re hoping to broaden horizons and attract new audiences. Farrah Fawcett redefined herself as a serious actress on Broadway with this show and repeated the role of Marjorie in the 1986 movie version. Will Cincinnati audiences turn up? We’ll see. Through Oct. 18. $23-$26. Warsaw Federal Incline Theater, 801 Matson Place, E. Price Hill, 513-241-6550, cincinnatilandmarkproductions.com

CCM takes on David Edgar's PENTECOST

Theater programs at our universities in Greater Cincinnati often produce shows that not only offer educational opportunities for students, but also expose us to works we have lost track of or missed. David Edgar’s Pentecost is such a work, and it accomplishes what Richard Hess likes to do — challenge audiences. The head of the drama program at the University of Cincinnati’s College-Conservatory of Music is directing Pentecost at Patricia Corbett Theater Thursday-Sunday. “There is theater that lets you escape by making you forget,” Hess says, “and there is theater that makes you escape by going deeper into yourself. Pentecost is one that takes you in.” Read a full review of the play here. Pentecost is staged Thursday-Sunday at CCM's Patricia Corbett Theater. More info/tickets: ccm.uc.edu.

Weeki Wachee Mermaids
Photo: Provided
See some magic at the Newport Aquarium with the WEEKI WACHEE MERMAIDS
Mermaids are no longer a myth — they are a limited-time attraction at the Newport Aquarium. Watch the graceful and finned Weeki Wachee Mermaids as they swim underwater with sea creatures daily inside the aquarium’s tanks. The Weeki Wachee Mermaids, a classic roadside attraction from Weeki Wachee Springs State Park in Florida, have been swimming for more than 60 years, delighting visitors with simple magic. Through Oct. 12. Free with admission. Newport on the Levee, Newport, Ky., newportaquarium.com

Celebrate Nigeria at NAIJA FEST
The Nigerian Association of Greater Cincinnati Area presents Naija Fest, a celebration of Nigeria’s independence. This year marks Nigeria’s 55th year as a free country, and this fest highlights the art and culture of the country with Nigerian dances, music, food and fashion. Noon-10 p.m. Saturday. Free. Fountain Square, Fifth and Vine streets, Downtown, myfountainsquare.com.

Watch the BENGALS take on the Chiefs
Fresh off an epic back-and-forth battle on the road against the division-rival Ravens, the undefeated Who Deys return to Paul Brown Stadium to host Kansas City. Can Andy Dalton and all his cool skill players score on the Chiefs’ D? Will Kansas City be angry after getting whomped by the Packers on Monday Night Football? Will Adam Jones do anything crazy? There’s only one way to find out — play the game! 1 p.m. Sunday. $40-$270. 1 Paul Brown Stadium, Downtown, bengals.com.

Tannahill Weavers
Photo: Provided
The TANNAHILL WEAVERS are one of vintage Celtic music's greatest torchbearers
If you are a fan of Celtic music, this week’s visit by Scotland’s greatest purveyors of the traditional sound, Tannahill Weavers, is a serious must-see event. The group formed in 1968 in Paisley, Scotland (near Glasgow) and has since become an international ambassador for the Scottish-slanted brand of Celtic music. While certainly dependent on the traditions of the centuries-old music (using classic instrumentation like bagpipes, bouzouki, flutes, bodhran and fiddle), the Weavers are also often lauded for injecting their translation of the sound with a dose of modern vitality — not quite on par with, say, the Punk-fueled Dropkick Murphys, but there is often a distinct Rock & Roll spirit behind the group’s approach and live energy. Tannahill Weavers are one of vintage Celtic music’s greatest torchbearers and deserve to be mentioned in the same breath as contemporary legends like The Chieftains. 7 p.m. Sunday. $12; $15 day of show. Molly Malone’s Covington, 112 E. Fourth St., Covington, Ky., 859-491-6659, covington.mollymalonesirishpub.com.

Tri-State Antique Market
Photo: Provided
Buy something cool at the final TRISTATE ANTIQUE MARKET of the season
The final Tri-State Antique Market of the season takes over the Lawrenceburg Indiana Fairgrounds with more than 200 antiques and vintage-only dealers. From estate jewelry and Civil War tintype to 19th-century primitives and Pop Art, everything must be at least 30 years old and out of production. It’s a show for collectors and casual shoppers alike. 7 a.m.-3 p.m. Sunday. $3. US 50, Lawrenceburg, Ind., queencityshows.com/tristate

SuicideGirls Blackheart Burlesque
Photo: Provided
The SUICIDEGIRLS get sexy at the 20th Century Theater
Avid Instagram users might recognize SuicideGirls as the adult lifestyle brand that catapults pierced and tattooed models to social media fame (or you just might be a member of their online community), but the company also produces a burlesque show, which will be making a stop here in Cincinnati. Their tongue-in-cheek humor, choreography and provocative tributes to pop culture and music all combine to make it unlike any other burlesque act you’ve ever seen. As VICE called it, “Comicon meets burlesque nerd orgy.” 18 and up. 8:15 p.m. Sunday. $25-$85. 20th Century Theater, 3021 Madison Road, Oakley, suicidegirls.com.  

'Sounds of Simon and Garfunkel'
Photo: Provided
The Cincinnati Pops tackles the SOUNDS OF SIMON AND GARFUNKEL
The Cincinnati Pops frequently perform Pop music — they take on live orchestrations of popular film scores, bring in celebrity guests (like Seinfeld’s and Broadway’s Jason Alexander in March 2016) and collaborate with musical groups like Pink Martini. This weekend, they’re going Folk and performing the Sounds of Simon and Garfunkel. Guest vocalists and guitarists AJ Swearingen and Jonathan Beedle perform a tribute to the duo, covering songs like “Mrs. Robinson,” “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” “Cecilia” and other hits. 7 p.m. Sunday. $20-$90. Music Hall, 1241 Elm St., Over-the-Rhine, cincinnatisymphony.org.

Photo: Mikki Schaffner
The Cincinnati Shakespeare Company stages CYRANO DE BERGERAC
Edmond Rostand’s play, like its hero, seems to have fallen unexpectedly from the moon. Cyrano de Bergerac was a surprising instant hit in Paris late in 1897. Its premiere received an hour-long standing ovation, and it was subsequently performed for 200 consecutive nights. The heroic comedy about the romantic swordsman and poet was an anomaly in late 19th-century France, when literature was rife with realistic tales by the likes of Émile Zola and Alexandre Dumas, fils. Read the full review of Cincy Shakes' production of Cyrano here. Cyrano de Bergerac is staged at Cincinnati Shakespeare Company through Oct. 3. More info/tickets: cincyshakes.com.

'Fear the Walking Dead'
Photo: Justin Lubin, AMC
Watch the finale of FEAR THE WALKING DEAD
The military moves out, the dead begin to gain numbers and our survivors work to keep their families — and bodies — from being ripped apart. And your prayers have been answered: a new episode of Talking Dead follows the finale. Season Finale, 9 p.m., AMC.

by Rick Pender 10.02.2015 3 days ago
Posted In: Theater at 09:04 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
stage door -

Stage Door

Sex and its various outcomes

Sex is pretty much a constant presence in life as we know it, and it’s often a driving force in plays, taking on many shapes and outcomes. That’s particularly the case with two shows that just opened locally, Laura Eason’s new play, Sex with Strangers, at the Cincinnati Playhouse on its Shelterhouse stage through Oct. 25, and William Mastrisimone’s 1982 script, Extremities, at Cincinnati Landmark Productions’ Incline Theatre, through Oct. 18.

Eason’s script is about two writers who seem as opposite as can be — he’s an arrogant 28-year-old blogger (Nicholas Carrière as the charming and ebullient Ethan) whose writing about sexual conquests has been turned into a best-selling book, while she’s a serious, introspective novelist, 39, (Nancy Lemenager as introverted and self-conscious Olivia) who’s given up because of bad reviews and weak sales of her first book more than a decade earlier. But they end up together in a Michigan B&B due to a snowstorm (and some serious interest on his part in meeting her) and they discover a powerful mutual attraction that’s also driven by aspiration and envy of one another’s careers. Eason writes great contemporary dialogue, and director KJ Sanchez keeps things hurtling along down a road of desire and tentative trust. It seems evident that things could go off the tracks, but when they do there’s some more interesting sparks — and a lot of conversation about the state of writing and literature today. While the show’s title is titillating and they are strangers who steam things up — repeatedly — it’s really the title of his blog, and a past that he might or might not want to move beyond. There’s both humor and real emotion to be appreciated in this finely crafted production. Tickets: 513-421-3888

Mastrisimone’s off-Broadway script from three decades ago (Extremities also became a 1986 movie starring Farrah Fawcett) comes at issues of sex and attraction from a far more serious and brutal angle. It’s a significant a departure for Cincinnati Landmark, best known as a producer of safer, more mainstream fare, musicals and classical comedies. Raul (Will Reed) has been stalking three young women who share a house. He bursts in on Marjorie (Eileen Earnest), who we meet lounging around in a state of undress; he overpowers her, knowing her roommates won’t be back for hours. But she turns the tables on him, and when Terry (Katey Blood) and Patricia (Rachel Mock) return, they find Marjorie menacing and torturing her foul-mouthed attacker, hogtied and imprisoned in a large fireplace. They are shocked by her violent turn, and their perspectives — Terry is shocked and fearful, while Patricia is pragmatic and overly analytical — provide various takes on the situation and its potential resolution. Their four-cornered battle unfolds in harsh, often unhinged arguments about motives, likely outcomes and fears. Some of these feel a tad dated in 2015, but that does not diminish the story’s power. Earnest’s searing performance as Marjorie and Reed’s manipulative portrait of an intelligent, twisted man she insists on calling “The Animal” fuel the pounding pulse of this production of Extremities, staged by Tim Perrino. You’re never sure how the battle will end, and that makes for good theater. Tickets: 513-241-6550

CCM Drama head Richard Hess calls David Edgar’s Pentecost the British equivalent of Tony Kushner’s Angels in America. Both are big-cast plays, stuffed full of language and contending philosophies. The discovery of a 13th-century mural in an Eastern European church threatens to upset the world of art history, but it also lights the match on conflicts that go well beyond — to geopolitics, religion, history and more. It’s a heady script, with 26 roles speaking multiple languages, utterances that audiences have to intuit, just as the characters need to try to grasp one another’s motives. Read more about Pentecost in my recent Curtain Call column. Like most CCM productions, this one (at UC’s Patricia Corbett Theater) has a short weekend run; the final performance is a matinee on Sunday. Pentecost is an important play, an essential experience for serious theatergoers. Tickets: 513-556-4183

One more interesting piece of theater this weekend, inspired by Titus Kaphar’s Vesper Project at the Contemporary Arts Center, a multi-part installation in which paintings are woven into the walls of a 19th-century American house in New England, the home of a mixed-race family. His exhibit there involves a true/false backstory and familiar/unfamiliar environments. The massive exhibit invites conversation, and that’s what writer (and occasional CityBeat contributor) Stacy Sims has created after several discussions with the artist. She invited five local actors to work with her to respond to the piece, and the result, RETRACED: A theatrical conversation with the Vesper Project, will be performed three times this weekend at the CAC on Sixth Street in downtown Cincinnati, at noon and 3 p.m. on Saturday and at 1 p.m. on Sunday. Sims says, “While I have a strong idea of how the actors will move in and out of the space and intersect with each other, each of their individual stories will be deeply informed by their own personal narratives of race, power, privilege and home.” Performances are free with gallery admission.

This weekend is your last chance to see the Cincinnati Playhouse’s beautiful production of The Secret Garden, NKU’s rendition of the comedy Moon Over Buffalo and New Edgecliff Theatre’s well-acted staging of Frankie and Johnnie in the Clair de Lune.

Rick Pender’s STAGE DOOR blog appears here every Friday. Find more theater reviews and feature stories here.

by Nick Swartsell 10.01.2015 4 days ago
Posted In: News at 09:57 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Morning News and Stuff

City passes paternity leave plan; Denise Driehaus to run for county commish; state passes "ban the box" legislation

Hey hey! Good morning Cincy. How’s it going? Here’s what’s up in the news today.

Yesterday the city officially announced the results of a long-awaited study about disparities in the companies it hires to take on taxpayer-funded projects as well as several measures it plans to take to address those inequities. According to the Croson Study, only about 2.7 percent of the city’s contracts went to black-owned businesses and only about 6.2 percent went to businesses owned by women. This despite the fact that black and women owned businesses in the city have the capacity to do 20 percent of that work, the study says. You can read more about the study and the city’s proposed solutions, which include race and gender-based contracting requirements, in our online story yesterday. City contracts represent more than $1 billion in spending, and city officials say getting that pie split up more equitably could go a long way toward addressing the deep economic inequalities in the city.

• Cincinnati City Council yesterday passed legislation that gives all city employees six weeks of parental leave after they have or adopt a baby, including 28 days at 70 percent of their pay. Council members Chris Seelbach and Yvette Simpson proposed the new paternity leave policy, which the city administration estimates will cost about $225,000 a year. Council voted 7-2 to pass the proposal. Seelbach, Simpson and other backers say the slight cost to the city is worth it, saying it’s the right thing to do and that it will help the city recruit the best and brightest employees. Council members Kevin Flynn and Amy Murray voted against the measure, in part because they believe leave offered to employees should be decided through negotiations with the city employees union.

• One of Cincinnati’s iconic but currently empty churches will be born again as an event center, developers say. Towne Properties, which has its headquarters in a portion of the building, will redevelop the former Holy Cross Monastery, which overlooks the city from its lofty perch in Mount Adams, turning it into an upscale space for weddings and other events.  The church has been empty since 1977, and Towne has owned it since 1980. The developer has been puzzled over what to do with the property, considering a hotel or office space for the building. But none of that worked out on paper and so the historic 12,000-square-foot church, built in 1873, has remained empty except for some pretty amazing art exhibits that have popped up from time to time there. I remember seeing Shinji Turner-Yamamoto’s beautiful Global Tree Project at the monastery back in the day. It’s an incredible place.

• Democrat State Rep. Denise Driehaus has officially announced she’s running for Hamilton County commissioner against sitting Republican commish Greg Hartmann next year. Driehaus, a Clifton resident with a long history of service in local and state politics, is prohibited by term limits from running for another stint as state rep. Hartmann first got the commissioners job in 2008 when he ran unopposed for the post, replacing outgoing commish Pat DeWine. Before that, he mounted an unsuccessful bid for Ohio Secretary of State.

• The Ohio General Assembly yesterday passed so-called “ban the box” legislation that strikes questions about prospective employees’ criminal records from public job applications. The state struck a similar question from its job applications in June, but now an application for any public job in Ohio won’t have questions about an applicant’s criminal history. Proponents say that will help ex-offenders get a new start and decrease the chances they’ll end up in prison again. You can read about the ban the box effort in our in-depth feature story on the subject published in June.

• Finally, in national news, U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont is raising nearly as much money as former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as the two duel it out in the Democratic primary for the 2016 presidential nomination. Sanders raised $26 million in the last fundraising quarter to presumed frontrunner Clinton’s $28 million. That’s kind of crazy because Sanders is an independent, not a Democrat, and he’s been running around for years telling people he’s a socialist. Not exactly the most obvious path to the White House. Clinton, meanwhile, is named Clinton and has the vast fundraising network of her former president husband Bill and plenty of backers from her time as a senator. But then, when the top GOP contender for the presidential nomination is Donald Trump, all the rules we all thought were well understood and set in stone go flying out the window.

That’s it for me! Email or tweet at me and let me know if Washington Park is open to us commoners (aka the public) today. You know what I'm talking about if you passed by yesterday.

by Nick Swartsell 09.30.2015 5 days ago
Posted In: News at 02:02 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

City Unveils Efforts to Address Contracting Disparities

Croson Study reveals that minority and women owned businesses receive few contracts, have capacity to do much more

City of Cincinnati officials today unveiled the final draft of a long-awaited study of gender and racial disparities in the city’s contracting practices, as well as ordinances that might address some of those inequalities, including race and gender based requirements for contractors.

The so-called Croson Study shows that between 2009 and 2013, black-owned businesses were awarded only 2.7 percent of the city’s contracts, totaling about $5 million, despite blacks making up more than 45 percent of the city’s population. Businesses owned by women fared only slightly better during the study’s time frame, getting only 6.2 percent of the city’s contracts. Eighteen percent of busineses in Cincinnati are owned by blacks, and nearly 30 percent are owned by women.

Mayor John Cranley cast the report as a positive step toward more equitable contracting for the city.

“We’re finally here after a long amount of hard work,” Cranley said during a ceremony today at City Hall featuring a wide array of about two dozen city officials, faith leaders, members of the business community, activists and others. “We have a lot of great things happening in the city, but we’re not perfect, and, clearly, the city’s procurement process has not reflected the diversity of our city.” 

Councilman Wendell Young also praised the study, but sounded a much more somber note.

“Since we’ve confirmed what we already know, how hard are we willing to work to address the problems?” he asked. “It’s true that the city of Cincinnati is making great progress. It’s also true that a significant part of this community is not feeling that progress. Cincinnati has many distinctions that we’re not proud of."

Young citing the city’s sky-high infant mortality, childhood poverty and black unemployment rates.

“Today we’re at the point where we have the road map and the confirmation. From today on we find out if we have the political will, the ability, the skill and whether the work we do can make a difference. We won’t be the first, but we’re going to find a way to make this work. And if we can’t do that, heaven help us all.”

The report also revealed that 70 percent of the city's $1.2 billion in prime contracts went to a small group of businesses, a fact that many on city council found disturbing.

Councilman Christopher Smitherman said that fact should make not just minority and female-owned businesses angry, but anyone who has competed for a city contract.

"That's one hell of a country club," he said.

Cranley touted steps the city has already taken toward diversifying its contracting, including recently establishing the city’s new Department of Economic Inclusion and making changes to its Small Business Enterprise (SBE) program. But he also said the Croson Study and its suggestions are huge parts of the solution.

The study makes several suggestions for improvements in the city’s contracting process on four different monetary levels, from under $5,000 to more than $250,000, on both the prime contract and subcontract levels. Some recommended solutions are based on race and gender categories, while others are neutral.

On the subcontracting level, Cincinnati City Council will consider ordinances which create a Minority Business Enterprise program and a Women Business Enterprise program, allowing such businesses to compete with each other for certain set-aside contracts.

On the much larger prime contracting level, businesses will be given points on some bids if they are at least 51 percent owned by minorities or women.

Some council members, including Councilwoman Yvette Simpson, want the city to go farther in ensuring better equity in awarding contracts at the $1 billion prime contracting level. Both Simpson and Councilman Chris Seelbach offered pointed questions about what more could be done at the prime contracting level to ensure a greater piece of that large pie goes to minority- and women-owned businesses.

The city usually awards prime contracts to companies, which then hire subcontractors. City Manager Harry Black pointed out that the city will make requirements for businesses winning prime bids as to the level of minority subcontractors they should hire. Businesses winning contracts with the city of more than $50,000 will be required to subcontract 17 percent black-owned businesses for construction work and 14 percent black-owned businesses for other services, and 14 and 16 percent businesses owned by women for those categories respectively.

One recommendation made by the Croson Study that the city has not yet considered is ending so-called master agreements, or contracts with companies that can be used by multiple city departments on separate projects and which can be subject to multi-year renewals without re-bidding.

“The city should eliminate the use of master agreements and follow the competitive bidding standards for all contracts,” the study states in its conclusion.

One point that every city official agrees upon, however, is that minority- and female-owned businesses are up to the task of doing more projects on taxpayers' behalf.

The study shows that black-owned businesses in the city have the capacity to take on up to 20 percent of the city’s contracts. Businesses owned by women see a similar capacity gap: The report shows female-owned businesses have the ability to tackle another 20 percent of the city’s contracts.

“To all my colleagues here, please do not use the word ‘capacity,’ " Smitherman said.

Though the report is clear, the details involved in increasing minority contracts awarded by the city are complex. Part of the complication comes from the legal realities around what the city can and can’t do to increase minority contracting.

The Croson Study gets its name from a U.S. Supreme Court case, City of Richmond v. J.A. Croson, in which the Virginia city was sued by a contractor over its contract diversity initiatives. The Supreme Court ruled Richmond’s setbacks of contracts for minority businesses unconstitutional and set a standard of strict scrutiny, the highest legal standard, for municipal contracting diversity programs.

That means that cities risk lawsuits if they don’t demonstrate a very clear need to enact gender- or race-specific contracting guidelines and cannot show that those guidelines are narrowly tailored to address disparities without discriminating against other businesses.

Cincinnati has already been through such a lawsuit in 2004, when Cleveland Construction Company unsuccessfully sued the city over its contracting diversity policies. The company claimed that the city’s Small Business Enterprise (SBE) program, which was used in part to score the bids from Cleveland and other companies, created unconstitutional racial and gender classifications and violated its rights to equal protection under the 14th Amendment. An initial decision from the Hamilton County Court of Common Pleas agreed with that claim, and the city amended the race- and gender-related parts of its SBE program. The case went all the way to the Ohio Supreme Court, which eventually ruled in favor of the city.

The Croson Study offers some protection from future lawsuits, say city officials and representatives from Mason Tillman Associates, which conducted the 338-page report. The report quantifies the extent of Cincinnati’s contracting diversity problems and puts forward recommendations, many poised to be passed by council, that are tailored to address them.

“It gives us a legal basis to do what we need to do to be a city that will work for everybody and not just for a few,” Cranley said.

by Natalie Krebs 09.30.2015 5 days ago
Posted In: News at 10:26 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Morning News and Stuff

Campbell County Schools superintendent retires after domestic violence charges; child poverty still a problem for Cincy; Kim Davis meets the Pope?

Good morning, Cincinnati! Here are your morning headlines. 

• Campbell County Schools Superintendent Glen Miller abruptly announced his retirement after he was charged with domestic violence. Miller has been on paid administrative leave since he was arrested last Wednesday night at his Erlanger home after his daughter called 911 to report that he has struck his wife in the head and neck. Miller told police his wife's injuries were a result of an accident, but his story didn't quite match his wife and daughter's versions. He was booked into Kenton County Detention Center and charged with domestic violence that same evening just after midnight and released the following afternoon. Miller has been superintendent of Campbell County Schools for four years. His retirement will go into effect November 1. In the meantime, Associate Superintendent Shelli Wilson will be placed in charge of the district. 

• Cincinnati State is considering a partnership with private testing and consulting firm Pearson to attempt to boost its enrollment and retention rates. The college seems to have hit a rough patch. Current enrollment is just below 10,000, 10 percent lower than a year ago, it faces a state-mandated tuition freeze and president O'dell Owens recently departed after tensions with the board of trustees. Cincinnati State is reportedly discussing a 10-year contract with Pearson that would give the company control of its $550,000 marketing and recruiting budget in exchange for 20 percent of students' tuition recruited above the college's quota of 4,000. If it goes through, this contract would be the first for the New York-based company, which earns much of its revenue through K-12 standardized test preparation. Given the college's not-so-great reputation for relying heavily on test scores, the college's faculty senate has urged the administration to wait on the contract until the results of spring recruitment are in. 

• Child poverty is down in Cincinnati, according to new figures from the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey, but the rate is way above state and national averages. According to the survey, child poverty is down to 44.1 percent from 51.3 percent in 2012, but it's double the national average of 21.7 percent and near double the state average of 22.9 percent. City Health Commissioner Noble Maseru has suggested targeting the poorest zip codes first to begin to further bringing that number down, but no concrete plan has been put in place. 

• Infamous Rowan County clerk Kim Davis apparently secretly met with Pope Francis. According to Davis's lawyer, officials sneaked Davis and her husband, Joe, into the Vatican Embassy in Washington D.C. last Thursday afternoon where the Pope gave her rosary beads and told her to "stay strong." During his first visit to the U.S., Pope Francis did not publicly support Davis by name but instead stated that "conscious objection is a right that is a part of every human right." Davis spent time in the Carter County Detention Center for refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. She and her husband were conveniently already in Washington D.C. to accept an award from conservative group, the Family Research Council. 

• Cincinnati is a travel hotspot, or at least, "on the verge of a hip explosion," according to Forbes Travel Guide. According to the magazine, Cincinnati has a hilly landscape much like San Francisco's without the San Francisco prices, and the newly gentrified, or "revitalized," Over-the-Rhine is like Brooklyn before the hipsters took it over. Other reasons the third-largest city in Ohio makes "the perfect weekend getaway" include Skyline cheese coneys, a ton of German beers and Kentucky whiskeys to choose from and a "surprisingly impressive array of luxury hotel options." 

That's it for today! Email is nkrebs@citybeat.com, and I'd love to hear from you!            

by Tony Johnson 09.29.2015 6 days ago
at 04:02 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Spoonful of Cinema: The Green Inferno

Whether or not you like The Green Inferno probably depends on whether or not you can put up with the guy at parties who says, “I don’t want to be that guy, but…” and then suggests something inconvenient (usually they want your food). This gore-fest of a horror film knows it’s being “that guy.” But does acknowledging one’s faults make them automatically forgivable?

Director Eli Roth’s latest effort to gross us out is propped up against the backdrop of the Amazon rainforest. Like many of his films before (Cabin Fever, Hostel), it focuses on a naïve protagonist venturing to unfamiliar territory. When Justine (Lorenza Izzo) finds herself teaming up with a social activism group at college aiming to end the destruction of the rainforests inhabited by indigenous tribes, she doesn’t just sign up to hold a rally at a capitol building or egg a corporation’s headquarters. She signs up to go into the jungle, which is currently a warzone between industry and indigenous tribes. Justine ignores the risks because she thinks the leader of the student activists is really, really hot. One of their planes eventually crash-lands, leaving them in the middle of the jungle with no sense of direction and no GPS. In a turn of events soaked with irony, the students who are attempting to save the indigenous people from neocolonial expansion are mistaken for workers of the aggressive enterprisers and are brought in as prisoners by the unnamed tribe. Once the students are locked in a cell, we quickly learn that the students are not so much captives as they are cattle. The tribe is cannibalistic, and it seems that the only thing they revel in more than eating human flesh is the ceremonial torturing of it.

The Green Inferno knows exactly how wrong it is, and Eli Roth is laughing all the way. It is a campy, tongue-in-cheek, refreshing throwback to the likes of the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre, although its premise does directly call back to Cannibal Holocaust, even if the film at hand doesn’t match up to either of the two grindhouse horror classics. Roth wastes no time trying to get us to genuinely care for any of the characters, most of whom cannot help but exude privilege even in the most typical of conversations. Rather than try to get us to root for the survival of a group of heroes, he gets us to pity Justine along the way. Roth hopes that we become overwhelmed not only by the buckets of blood spurting from victims’ severed limbs or heads, but also by the insurmountable misfortune that Justine attracts. She serves as a sort of doppelganger to the unsuspecting moviegoer that unwittingly finds themself in a showing of The Green Inferno. Way in over her head, constantly shocked by the brutality of her apparent fate and always trying to plot ways to escape when she isn’t trying to contribute to another prisoner’s plan, Justine may represent that weak-stomached tag-along in the group of friends who shouldn’t have come to this movie. And I am warning you: Any popcorn you eat is coming right back up if you aren’t ready for Roth’s demented exposé. Better yet, Justine might be seen as the squeamish piece in all of us that we can’t help but hear in the back of our minds saying, “Get me out of this theater.” And that’s where The Green Inferno really burns brightest — in its ability to make us cringe, make us looks away from the screen for brief moments, make us wish were brave enough to keep watching.

It differs in an essential manner from the all-out seriousness of last month’s similarly plotted No Escape. But while the Owen Wilson-led action flick felt heavy-handed and unapologetic in its possibly xenophobic premise, The Green Inferno is packed with enough despicable victims that it doesn’t feel like the American college students are helpless against foreign customs. It just feels like they’re getting what’s coming to them. They are a carefully crafted crew of stereotypical archetypes with foul mouths and insensitive opinions. Some are homophobic. Some seem racist. One smokes pot, one plays guitar and two of them are partially along for the trip to the Amazon in an attempt to eventually get laid. Before our characters get captured, tortured and perhaps killed, we are given ample reason to wish it upon them.

Despite any of the premise’s inherent faults, Roth understands that if we want to celebrate the relentless cannibalistic carnage that he so desperately loves, the deaths must not be tragic, but a release. That’s where the unlikable characters become so useful. I caught myself grimacing as much at what the characters said as when I witnessed their respective dooms, but I also caught myself occasionally laughing at the grotesque images of severed limbs, gauged eye sockets and impaled skulls. There’s no getting around the uncomfortable dull-mindedness of its protagonists, but for all of its bumps and bruises, The Green Inferno mostly slashes, burns and bleeds its way to a good time. And it’s not in spite of how unlikable the characters are. It’s because of how unlikable they are.

But just because I mostly had a good time doesn’t mean I was mostly impressed. The Green Inferno delivers where it should and comes up short where you might expect. The dialogue serves its purpose but drags its feet, and I’m not sure that the attempted commentary on globalism hits its mark. None of the actors shine — although to be fair, this is an Eli Roth film, where acting is but a mechanism to eventually get your head chopped off. The most troubling conceptual piece of the movie comes with its script’s big “reveal” moment. Underlying hidden motivations for their trip are eventually unveiled to the students upon their capturing and it absolutely reeks of a “ghost in the machine.” Even though the twist tries to serve as an anti-neocolonial statement, it comes across as just a hollow plot device that could have been solved somehow else.

Still, the point isn’t to be impressed with a social commentary, stellar acting or a remarkable plot when you walk in the theater for a cannibal horror flick. The point is that the subtext, performances and story amplify the fear of intense physical pain, the fear of a slow tortuous death and the fear that the worst things can happen to people who believe that they are working to create a better world. In that regard, The Green Inferno is definitely worth a viewing for horror enthusiasts despite its missteps and it is also a must-avoid for the weak of stomach. If it were any bloodier, you would have to bring a bib. If it were any better, you would have to see it to believe it. Grade: C