Last night I caught the opening of 4000 Miles at the Cincinnati Playhouse. What with today being Valentine's Day, this tale of a feisty grandmother and her hippie grandson — separated by a 70-year gap in age — might not seem like a very typical love story. But it's about understanding and finding common ground, and what else is that but true love? Actor Robbie Tann plays 21-year-old Leo and Rosemary Prinz is Vera, his 91-year-old grandmother. You'd think that seven decades might be an uncrossable chasm, but each is a lonely soul — she as the result of old age, he by virtue of the tragic accidental death of his best friend — and they find consolation and support from one another as the become better acquainted. Both actors are delightful in their roles, he kind of spacey but caring, she feisty and loving. If you're looking for a good date night for Valentine's weekend, you should give Amy Herzog's play a chance. It happens to be a very credible script, by the way, having been a finalist for the 2013 Pulitzer Prize. Through March 9. Tickets: 513-421-3888.
Tonight is the opening for Cincinnati Shakespeare's Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, Tom Stoppard's now-classic through-the-looking-glass take on Hamlet. Since Cincy Shakes just finished a production of the latter, it's the same cast, but with the royals in the background and two lowly minor characters moved to center stage. Their plight? They don't quite understand the intrigues swirling around them, and they wonder about the meaning of their own existence. There's a lot of dark humor, and actors Billy Chace and Justin McComb are just the guys to carry it off. Through: March 9. Tickets: 513-381-2273.
If it's darkness you crave, you might also consider Pluto at Know Theatre. No, it's not about the Disney dog, but rather about unexpected changes in life — like the demotion of the solar system's one-time farthest planet into something less — as well as the Roman god of the underworld. How does all that fit together in a modest contemporary kitchen? Steve Yockey's play is an absurdist study in contemporary angst, an instant of tragedy dissected and set in amber. It's not easy to watch (there's some extreme gun violence), but the show's strong cast, especially Annie Fitzpatrick and Tori Wiggins plus NKU student actor Wesley Carman, make it extremely watchable. You just have one more week to catch this one. Tickets: 513-300-5669.
If you thought you'd missed out on Tribes at Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati, you actually have a grace period, since the show about deafness and family strife has been extended to Feb. 22. It was originally set to close on Feb. 16; the additional dates should make it possible for anyone who's interested to get tickets. Watching the fine acting performances of guest actor Dale Dymkoski as a young man who has been isolated by deafness and Cincy Shakes regular Kelly Mengelkoch as a young woman, adept with sign language, who is losing her hearing, will make you glad you made the effort to see this one. Tickets: 513-421-3555.
State Rep. Peter Beck, a Republican from Mason, now faces 69 felony counts
and increasing pressure to resign. Beck is accused of helping mislead
investors into putting hundreds of thousands of dollars into an
insolvent West Chester startup company and putting some of the funds
from the company into his own campaign. Beck says he's innocent, but
that hasn't stopped top Ohio Republicans from calling for him to resign
to avoid a potential scandal and losing a seat in the Ohio legislature.
Ohio ranked No. 8 in the nation for solar jobs in 2013, with solar employment growing by roughly 31 percent over the year, according to the latest census from the Solar Foundation. The report found that U.S. solar jobs grew 10 times faster than overall employment across the country. Environment Ohio applauded the numbers, praising Cincinnati in particular for its own solar-friendly efforts. But the Republican-controlled Ohio Senate is looking into ways to weaken or undo the law that makes many solar projects possible across the state. A report from the Ohio State University and the Ohio Advanced Energy Economy indicates that repealing the law could end up costing Ohioans $3.65 billion on their electricity bills between 2014 and 2025.
The federal government reported slightly better enrollment numbers in January for Obamacare's once-troubled website, but Ohio and the nation still fell short of key demographic roles previously perpetuated by the federal government. Specifically, monthly enrollment actually beat projections for the first time since HealthCare.gov launched. But the cumulative amount of young adults signing up through January only reached 25 percent in the country and 21 percent in Ohio — far below the 39 percent goal the White House previously deemed necessary to avoid filling the insurance pool with older, less healthy enrollees who tend to use more resources and drive up costs.
With Obamacare's online marketplaces mostly fixed, some groups are now doubling efforts to get the uninsured, particularly young adults, enrolled. CityBeat interviewed Trey Daly, Ohio state director of one of those groups, here.
Republican Attorney General Mike DeWine rejected a Democrat-backed petition that would create a statewide ballot initiative for a Voter Bill of Rights, but proponents of the initiative say they'll come back with tweaked language. In a statement, DeWine said the proposal ran afoul of federal law in two places. Even if DeWine approved the language from a legal standpoint, supporters would still need to gather roughly 385,000 valid signatures before a July deadline to get the issue on the ballot in November. CityBeat covered the Voter Bill of Rights in greater detail here.
Following the large amount of charter school closures last year, State Auditor Dave Yost is launching an investigation into three Ohio charter school sponsors and the Ohio Department of Education.
The Cincinnati area could get 2 inches of snow.
A Ky. auditor says the former finance director of Covington stole nearly $800,000.
Hamilton County Auditor Dusty Rhodes posted pictures of downtown Cincinnati circa 1968 here.
Sam Adams is pouring millions into a Cincinnati brewery.
Grizzly bears could offer a better solution for weight loss.
Watch Dale Hansen, a Texas sports anchor, take on the NFL and Michael Sam’s anti-gay haters:
Following county commissioner’s Feb. 12 meeting, the dispute between Cincinnati and Hamilton County over contracting rules for Metropolitan Sewer District (MSD) projects appears to be heading to court.
The court battle comes after the county dismissed multiple concessions from the city and put MSD’s revamp of the local sewer system on hold in protest of the city’s rules. With a federal mandate looming, both sides agree a resolution is needed soon to avoid costly fines from the federal government.
For many across the city and county, the conflict is understandably confusing. The debate has often been mired down by biased media reports and political talking points that obfuscate the issue. Jargon referencing “responsible bidder,” “local hire,” “local preference,” unions, apprenticeship programs, a pre-apprenticeship fund and contractors make it even more difficult to grasp what is going on.
Cutting through the politics, here is what the responsible bidder rules actually do and why the city and county seem incapable of compromise.
What is responsible bidder?
It’s a city ordinance that essentially forces MSD contractors to adopt job training measures known as apprenticeship programs and pay for a pre-apprenticeship fund. By requiring the training options, the city hopes workers will be able to improve their skills and successfully transition to other jobs once their MSD work is finished.
Apprenticeship programs take workers through extensive on-the-job and classroom-based training in which they can hone their skills in a specific craft, such as electrical or plumbing work. Because workers get paid for their work while participating in an apprenticeship, the programs are typically characterized as an “earn-while-you-learn” model.
The pre-apprenticeship fund will put money toward programs that will teach newcomers basic skills, such as math and reading, so they can eventually move up to an apprenticeship program.
The rules don’t apply to every MSD contractor. Contracts worth less than $400,000, which make up roughly half of MSD’s sewer revamp, are exempted.
What about local hire and local preference?
Those are ordinances separate from responsible bidder that give preference to Cincinnati-based businesses. They try to keep MSD contracts within local companies.
What’s the conflict about?
The conflict is between Cincinnati and Hamilton County, which jointly run MSD. The Democrat-controlled city supports the rules, while the Republican-controlled county opposes them.
The city and county also dispute which governing body can set policy for MSD. Under a 1968 agreement, the county owns and funds MSD, and the city operates and maintains it. City Council argues the agreement allows the city to set policy for MSD, but the county disagrees. Both sides acknowledge the set-up is far from ideal.
So, did the city’s rules halt MSD projects?
No. Nothing in the city’s ordinances forces MSD projects to stop. County commissioners singlehandedly halted MSD projects in protest of the city’s rules. If it were up to the city, work would continue today.
Why are these projects so important?
By federal decree, the city needs to revamp the sewer system to bring it up to environmentally safe standards. The project will cost $3.2 billion over 15-20 years, making it one of the most expensive in the city’s history.
If the city and county don’t carry on with the revamp soon, the federal government will begin issuing fines. By some guesses, the fines could begin rolling in by the end of the year.
Why does a majority of City Council support responsible bidder?
Councilman Chris Seelbach, the Democrat who championed the rules, says they will boost local employment and create more job training options for the city’s struggling workforce.
Other Democrats on council agree, although some, like Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld, believe the ordinance is “imperfect.”
Does responsible bidder benefit workers?
Some research suggests it would.
The left-leaning Center for American Progress (CAP) in a December report argued apprenticeship programs provide an opportunity to revitalize the U.S. workforce.
“By 2020, America is projected to experience a shortage of 3 million workers with associate’s degrees or higher and 5 million workers with technical certificates and credentials,” the report claimed. “Compounding our inadequate workforce development system, research shows that employers are now spending less on training than they have in the past. At the same time, industry surveys show that a lack of qualified workers is a top concern for many employers.”
Citing a 2012 study from Mathematica Policy Research, CAP estimated apprenticeship programs alone can boost a worker’s lifetime earnings and benefits by more than $300,000. Over 36 years of employment, that’s an average gain of nearly $8,400 a year.
Why do county commissioners oppose the rules?
In terms of policy, county commissioners say the responsible bidder rules favor unions and burden businesses.
On a legal basis, the county argues the city’s responsible bidder rules conflict with state law and the local hire and preference rules enforce unconstitutional geographic preferences.
Does responsible bidder actually favor unions?
Since unions tend to offer better and more apprenticeship programs, yes.
But the rules don’t exclude non-union businesses from participating. For example, Ohio Valley Associated Builders and Contractors maintains some non-union apprenticeship programs that would qualify under the law.
Still, most of the union favoritism debate centered around a regulation the city actually offered to give up. Specifically, under current rules employers are only eligible to contract with MSD if they have apprenticeship programs that have graduated at least one person a year for the past five years. In October, Seelbach offered to strip the mandate and replace it with an incentive program. The county seemed unmoved by the proposal.
What about businesses? Does responsible bidder burden them?
By requiring businesses to adopt apprenticeship programs and put 10 cents for each hour of labor into a pre-apprenticeship fund, the law certainly places more regulations on businesses. Whether the requirements are a burden is subjective.
John Morris, president of the Ohio Valley Associated Builders and Contractors and an opponent of the law, told CityBeat the pre-apprenticeship fund’s requirement will increase business costs by $2-3 million over 15-20 years.
Citing MSD estimates for the cost of labor, Rob Richardson, regional manager of the Laborers’ International Union of North America, said the fund will cost businesses $1.5 million.
Even if someone accepts Morris’ estimate, the requirement adds up to at most 0.1 percent of the $3.2 billion project.
More broadly, some supporters of the city’s rules question whether placing a burden on businesses is innately a bad thing. The basic point of government regulations is to make the economy and businesses work better for the public. In that sense, regulations are always going to burden businesses to some extent.
For example, financial regulations burden big banks and financial institutions. But many Americans agree the regulations are necessary to avoid another financial crisis like the one that plunged the country into the Great Recession.
Still, critics argue the extra regulations would increase the cost of business, and the impact could ultimately be felt by MSD ratepayers.
Why don’t the city and county just compromise?
They kind of tried, but it seems the philosophical split between Hamilton County Republicans and Cincinnati Democrats is too strong to reach a substantial agreement.
The city, for example, has offered multiple concessions to the county. In May, City Council modified the law to ease some requirements and add an exemption for contracts worth less than $400,000, which covers half of the contracts involved in MSD’s sewer revamp. In October, Seelbach offered to replace a strict mandate with a looser incentive program. Seelbach also told CityBeat on Feb. 6 that he would consider raising the contract exemption from $400,000 to $750,000.
In return, the county rejected the concessions and instead offered to establish aspirational inclusion goals and some funding for local job training programs — as long as the city repealed its rules altogether.
Which side would win the court battle?
It’s hard to say. Both sides — and their lawyers — seem pretty confident about their legal standing.
So what’s next?
At the current rate, it looks like the city and county are heading to court. Whether the process involves a full-on legal battle or mediation between the city and county’s lawyers remains uncertain, but it’s clear something will eventually have to give.
This blog post will be regularly updated as the situation develops.
Just in time for Valentine’s Day shopping, Amazon.com released a list of the 20 “most romantic” cities, based on sales data of romance novels, sex and relationship books, romantic comedy DVDs, Barry White CDs (seriously) and sexual wellness products (per capita) since Jan. 1, 2010. As your aunt, boss and childhood neighbor probably already shared on Facebook, Cincinnati made the list — we’re the 15th most romantic city, guys.
Lists like these are generally an attempt to quickly grab a mass audience with some kind of marketing motive. Positive or negative, when a city is mentioned on a national list, there’s a built-in readership that will talk about and share the story on social media. Do they spark “debate?” Sure. Are these useful, proactive conversations? Rarely. But hey, we’re No. 1 (or, in this case, 15)!
The Queen City landing on some arbitrary sales-based list is nothing new. For some reason, a 2010 Daily Beast list that dubs Cincy the "craziest" city is making its rounds again as of late. The criteria used to create this list include “psychiatrists per capita, stress, eccentricity and drinking levels,” all quantitative data, no doubt.
Here are a
few other examples of how Cincinnati stacks up on recent national countdowns:
2011: Most Social via Mashable
2011: Most Bed Bugs via Orkin
2013: (10th) Most Polluted via Time
2013: Trendiest (on Twitter) via Washington Post
2013: (72nd) Most Livable City (but
the only Ohio city on the list) via Livability.com
we miss any? Which pointless Cincinnati list is your favorite — or least fave?
Beginning Feb. 27, Northside’s The Listing Loon will host a new onstage series called Folk & Fiction where music and writing will be interwoven to bring together the audiences of various genres.
The monthly event, each final Thursday, was created in collaboration with Brooks
Rexroat, Matt Mooney and Margaret Darling. The trio was at an acoustic show
when they began talking about the limited places available for Folk musicians
and fiction writers to share their work.
“The two groups have the same audience, so that was kind of an ‘ah-ha’ moment for us,” Rexroat says.
They decided to create a place where these musicians and writers could connect, as well as their audiences. Thus, Folk And Fiction was born.
Folk & Fiction is open to any genre of writing and music, but has a heavy focus on, well, Folk music and fiction writing. This gives prose writers a chance to share what they are working on as well as Folk musicians who take just as much pride in their lyrics.
"There is a limited audience for any artists endeavor,” Rexroat continues. “Even those excited only have a percentage of time for support... It's much more efficient to share an audience, rather than battle for it.”
The first event, at 8 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 27, will double as the Cincinnati launch party for the book, Best of Ohio Short Stories Vol. 1. From hundreds of submissions, 18 were chosen to be featured in the book. Four of those writers will be on stage sharing their work in conjunction with musicians.
For the first event, each musician will have two 15-minute sets with the writers reading their works in between. The second event will feature Jacinda Townsend, the author of Saint Monkey, which will be released Feb. 24.
Feb. 27 Lineup:
Brad Pauquette (Columbus, Ohio)
Brooks Rexroat (Cincinnati)
Lin Rice (Columbus, Ohio)
Heather Sinclair Shaw (Newark, Ohio)
Ohio ranked No. 8 among states for solar jobs in 2013, with solar employment growing to 3,800 from 2,900 over the year, according to the Feb. 11 census report from the Solar Foundation.
Still, the state actually dropped five spots to No. 23 in per-capita rankings, which measure the amount of solar jobs relative to a state’s overall population.
The U.S. solar industry employed more than 142,000 Americans in November, representing an increase of nearly 24,000 over the year, according to the Solar Foundation. At nearly 20 percent growth, the solar sector grew more than 10 times faster than the overall economy, which on average increased employment by 1.9 percent.
Advocacy group Environment Ohio applauded the latest numbers.
“The sun is an unlimited energy source that could provide all of our energy without the air and water pollution associated with coal, oil and gas,” said Christian Adams, state associate at Environment Ohio, in a statement. “This report shows that the solar industry is putting people to work to meet a growing percentage of our energy needs with a pollution-free energy source that has no fuel costs.”
Environment Ohio praised Cincinnati in particular. In 2012, Cincinnati became the first major city in the nation to support 100 percent renewable energy through electric aggregation. Last year, City Council adopted a motion to put solar panels on one in five city rooftops by 2028 and develop new financing programs to support the goal.
In a 2012 report, Environment Ohio found Cincinnati could become the solar capital of the region and lead a boom of solar jobs.
Under a 2008 state law, utility companies must meet benchmarks that require them to get 12.5 percent of their electricity from renewable sources, such as wind, hydro, biomass and solar, and save 22 percent of electricity through new efficiency efforts by 2025.
A 2013 report from the Ohio State University and the Ohio Advanced Energy Economy found the law will save Ohioans $3.65 billion on their electricity bills between 2014 and 2025.
Pressured by Akron-based FirstEnergy and the ultra-conservative American Legislative Exchange Council, the Republican-controlled Ohio Senate is currently looking for ways to weaken the renewable energy and efficiency standards. The renewed effort comes after attempts to dismantle the law by State Sen. Bill Seitz, a Cincinnati Republican who often compare Ohio’s energy law to Stalinism, failed to gain support.
Meanwhile, Environment Ohio says the state should actually increase its standards to help combat global warming and boost renewable energy jobs.
The federal government reported slightly better numbers in January for Obamacare’s once-troubled online marketplaces, but Ohio and the nation still fall far short of key demographic goals.
For the first time since HealthCare.gov’s glitch-ridden rollout, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) numbers show the amount of new enrollees actually beat projections. About 1,146,100 signed up for Obamacare in January, slightly higher than the 1,059,900 previously projected by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
More importantly, a small boost in young adults means 25 percent of 3.3 million enrollees across the nation and 21 percent of 60,000 Ohio enrollees were aged 18 to 34. That’s up 1 percentage point for the nation and 2 percentage points for Ohio.
The White House previously said 39 percent of enrollees need to be young adults, who tend to be healthier, to avoid driving up health care costs by filling the insurance pool with older, sicker people who typically use more resources.
HHS’ numbers only reflect people who signed up for a health plan, not people who paid for their first premium, which is widely considered the final crucial step to getting covered.
Nearly nine in 10 single, uninsured young adults could qualify for financial assistance through the health care law or free Medicaid, which expanded eligibility in Ohio through Obamacare, according to HHS.
Nick Dellaposta is a graphic designer, web developer, guitarist, vocalist and songwriter for Cincinnati/Dayton band To No End. If he did brain surgery on the side, he'd be Buckaroo Banzai.
And for a guy with little discernible local profile, Dellaposta has a metric ton of history that begins with learning guitar and writing songs at age 14. His father Bob fronted the Broken String Band and the pair gigged together when Dellaposta the younger was a college student, which led to eventual studio experiences.
Dellaposta formed To No End in 2012, leaning more toward an emphasis on the Dayton market; shortly after the band's first gig, Dellaposta took them into the studio to record their debut album, last year's Curio, a rootsy, Blues-drenched work that tapped into the Kenny Wayne Shepherd/Black Crowes/Gov't Mule end of the spectrum.
To No End's sophomore album, Peril & Paracosm, comes almost exactly a year after the band's debut, trumpeting a slight change in line-up and a new and darker sonic vision. Along with original drummer Patrick Lanham, new bassist Eli Booth and contributing guitarist/now full-fledged member Grant Evans, Dellaposta has invested TNE with an expansive and moody vibe that mines '70s Hard Rock like Budgie and UFO ("The Afterlife," "Bad Apple") while sharpening everything to a contemporary razor's edge.
Peril & Paracosm finds Dellaposta exploring darker lyrical themes which naturally results in a brooding and muscular soundtrack that is both an extension of and departure from Curio's brighter sonic perspective. There's also a slightly more psychedelic feel to some of the tracks on Peril & Paracosm, and when TNE drifts into a rootsier Gov't Mule direction this time out ("Good Intentions," "When the Time Comes"), there seems to be a greater conviction, a more desperate passion and a deeper understanding of both the influence and its translation.
We can only hope that the release of Peril & Paracosm signals To No End's expanded local presence because this kind of loud is always welcome.
Below is Peril & Paracosm track "Good Intentions." For more on To No End, click here.
Besides being rid of this depressing winter weather, there's another great reason for local music fans to be excited about the coming spring. One of the more celebrated and acclaimed bands in and outside of Cincinnati, Wussy, will release its new album, Attica, on May 6. The recording will be the band’s fifth full-length of all new material and is once again being issued on the local label Shake It Records.
Below is a “rough mix” of the Attica track “To the Lightning.”
Shake It has also announced that Wussy — which scored both Artist of the Year and Album of the Year (for Strawberry) honors at the 2013 Cincinnati Entertainment Awards — will have its excellent 2007 album Left for Dead re-issued on “baby blue” vinyl in honor of 2014’s international Record Store Day (April 19).
Click here for Wussy’s comprehensive website for more info and to sample music from throughout the band’s entire career.
Know Theatre formally introduced its incoming artistic director, Andrew Hungerford, before a full house on Wednesday evening. He might not approach the boundless energy of his predecessor Eric Vosmeier (more on his half-dozen years at the helm here), but Hungerford has a kind of boyish enthusiasm for the job he's taking on that feels fresh and infectious. The crowd of supporters seemed enthusiastic about his engagement and were especially pleased as he filled in details about coming productions for the months ahead in 2014.
Dining Out For Life is an annual event to raise funds for licensed AIDS service agencies in 60 cities across the nation. Started in 1991 by ActionAIDS in Philadelphia, today more than 3,000 restaurants donate a portion of their proceeds from one day to the aforementioned service agencies; more than $4 million is raised each year which goes directly to the agencies (except for a $1,150 licensing fee).
Cincinnati's Dining Out For Life event benefits Caracole, a nonprofit that provides housing and supportive services to individuals and families living with HIV/AIDS in eight counties across Southwest Ohio. Caracole currently serves more than 1,400 clients and their families.
Area restaurants participating include Arnold's Bar & Grill (donating 25 percent); Below Zero Lounge (donating 100 percent); Blue Jay Restaurant (donating 25 percent); Green Dog Cafe (donating 25 percent); Kitchen 452 (donating 25 percent); Tom+Chee (donating 25 percent); and more. Find a full list of participating restaurants and how much they're donating here.
Dining Out For Life is easy. Just follow three steps:
If you would like to participate or would like more information, please contact Megan Green, Caracole Community Investment Coordinator, at 513-619-1483 or at email@example.com.
After launching last year locally at the MidPoint Music Festival and nationally at New York’s CMJ conference, the intuitive and comprehensive music industry e-book Musicians’ Desk Reference has relaunched with a new format. Created in Cincinnati by longtime local musician and promoter Brian Penick (also the founder of The Counter Rhythm Group, which has helped numerous local acts garner national attention and work), MDR is moving from its original, one-time-purchase approach to a monthly (or annual) subscription plan.
For those who may have been cautious about its upfront cost, Musicians’ Desk Reference, which is customizable to the user’s needs (no matter where they are in their career) and features information, templates and advice relating to everything from touring, promoting and recording to radio and press campaigns and well beyond, is now available to test-drive for free. The no-cost 30-day trial doesn’t even require a credit card; click here to get started.
Artists serious about pursuing a career in music will likely become more interested in MDR as they dive in and look at all it has to offer. After the 30-day trial, MDR can be accessed for $10 a month or $100 for the year.
Visit musiciansdeskreference.com for complete info.
I’m a huge fan of locally-produced commercials-gone-viral. Cincinnati’s Fick Chiropractic Centers current ad might not be up there with Jamie Casino, but it does feature a killer beat that deserves some attention.
Is anyone else just tickled by the concept of a local doctor employing a beatmaker for a commercial? It totally caught me off guard while watching Fox 19 Morning News (aka the Jacki Jing Variety Hour — bitch has more devoted fans than Lady Gaga, just peep their posts on her Facebook page. Locals — including my boyfriend — are totally enamored by her beautiful glamour shots, bubbly attitude and penchant for cosplay. How are the rest of us supposed to compete, Jacki?!).
Are you sick of Beyoncé yet? Trick question: If you answered “Yes,” please get out of here immediately. NO ONE is sick of Beyoncé ever, in fact, parody videos and choreographed routines to her songs are still pouring out of the woodwork four months after the release of her self-titled album. The latest tribute of note comes from self-proclaimed “star on the rise” Chanel Carroll, who’s serving up student loan realness in her take on “Partition” called “Tuition.” ‘Cause we all just want live that debt-free life.
Everything about this is flawless, from her JLo-circa-2000 vibe to the clip art to the cameo by Ashley from Sallie Mae. I would crown her as winner of the Internet for the week, but she shares the title with this dude who’s been reviewing fast food and other grub from his car since 2012. Check out one of Daym Drops’ most popular videos, featuring Five Guys Burgers and Fries.
I want this guy to narrate my life or at least read my eulogy because dude describes a plain drive-thru burger with the eloquence of a poetic preacher. And of course there’s a musical remix. OH MY DAYUM!
Avril Lavigne continues her assault on our earholes with the confusing, excruciating “Hello Kitty.” The Canadian singer responsible for 80 percent of ties bought by young women in 2002 apparently has a massive Asian following, but the Japanime-style video is more of a cringe-worthy misstep than cultural tribute. Hey white pop stars, stop using Asian women (or any women for that matter) as props!
Lily Allen, another 2000s pop relic, is also coming out with new music and a record that automatically gets my support by taking a dig at Kanye West. Sheezus drops next month; the album’s titular new single is a total lady anthem with praise for the Lorde and rhymes about…periods. Whatever, I’m digging it.
This week in movie remake fuckery: A Mrs. Doubtfire sequel is in the works, because nothing from your childhood is sacred! Mara Wilson, who starred as the youngest child in the film (as well as Matilda in the ‘90s Roald Dahl film adaptation) revealed on social media that she wouldn’t be a part of it, as she’s been out of the acting game for several years — which, according to over-each headlines, translated into Wilson “slamming” the sequel, making the private former child actor a trending topic. While we may never see a grown-up Natalie Hillard or Matilda 2 (thank sheezus), you can enjoy Wilson’s musings on her blog. And just because: Mrs. Doubtfire as a horror film.
Also, Goonies 2 is also officially a go. Thanks, Spielberg.
Hey, that’s not Pit Bull, it’s Amy Poehler!
Orange Is The New Black is back on Netflix for a second season June 6 and the new trailer is here. The whole gang’s back, with a few additions, but the lingering question remains: Where is Pennsatucky?!
It was recently reported that Laura Prepon signed on for Season Three as rumors circulate about her being the future ex-wife of Tom Cruise. This is what I like to call Scientology Sads: When you think you like someone — a famous person, obviously, because the group might as well be called Celebentology — but it turns out they’re a Scientologist. Such a shame.
The city’s cost of a long-planned piece of cycling infrastructure could more than double if City Council approves a motion Vice Mayor David Mann planned to introduce on April 23.
Mayor John Cranley successfully paused the Central Parkway Bikeway Project for public discourse in response to a handful of business owners and residents taking exception to it, and a spokesman for Mann shared his suggested compromise with CityBeat today.
In response to an April 21 special Neighborhoods Committee meeting, Mann seeks to alter the bike route to appease people who don’t want to see parking spaces removed, but the updated plan will cost an additional $110,00 on top of the $82,600 the city would pay under the original plan, which would create the beginning of a cycling corridor running from Elm Street downtown to Ludlow Avenue in Clifton. The project was supposed to break ground next month and could lose $330,400 in federal money if the contract isn’t awarded by May 1.
“We routinely spend hundreds of thousands of dollars as a city to create new jobs in our community,” Mann said in a statement. “We should not approve a new project that places 60 newly created jobs in jeopardy when such a sensible accommodation is available.”
The planned bikeway is an innovative piece of cycling infrastructure meant to better protect cyclists along a critical thoroughfare that would connect a number of inner-city neighborhoods and business districts. The lane will be protected, meaning cyclists will have their own lane with a buffer separating them from traffic; in some areas plastic bollards will separate the bike and automobile lanes. The street will not be widened, so traffic lanes will be impacted through restriping, and parking will be restricted during peak traffic hours in the morning and evening.
Opponents of the project are concerned about losing public, on-street parking for parts of the day as well as potentially encountering traffic issues from shaving lanes from Brighton Place to Liberty Street. They also worry the bollards will become a blight issue and emergency vehicles will be impeded during one-lane hours.
Mann’s motion supports an alternative plan for a section running from Ravine Street to Brighton Place that would preserve 23 parking spaces full-time, alter 4,300 square feet of greenspace and remove 15 trees at an estimated cost of $110,000. The parking spaces would benefit a building owner and his tenants at 2145 Central Parkway.
City Councilman Chris Seelbach and others demonstrated frustration with the administration’s interest in stepping in at the 11th hour.
“I think we have reached a new era in Cincinnati: two steps forward, pause, lots of long meetings, two steps forward, and I’m convinced after the pause and lots of long meetings, we will continue to go two steps forward today,” Seelbach said at the April 21 meeting.
Mayor Cranley requested City Manager Scott Stiles delay awarding a contract after meeting with local business owner Tim Haines, who purchased a vacant building located at 2145 Central Parkway in 2012 for $230,000. His building now houses 65 employees from 12 different businesses including his own, Relocation Strategies. Haines has become a mouthpiece for the opposition to the bikeway — though he adamantly states he is not against the lane; he is just against the project’s current incarnation as it affects Central Parkway near his business, which utilizes 500 feet of on-street, unmetered parking, which translates to 30 parking spaces.
“If parking wasn’t an issue, I would open up my arms and welcome the bike path,” Haines says. “Parking for my 65 tenants is in jeopardy. As a business owner I have to fight for my tenants. … Could they park and walk a quarter of a mile? They could, but that’s not what they signed up for when they moved in.”
Haines has a 16-space parking lot adjacent to his building that some of his tenants use and also owns a parking lot across the street that is in disrepair. Haines says he already cleared it of underbrush to cut down criminal activity and disposed of dozens of tires and beer bottles. He says it would cost up to $300,000 to upgrade the lot.
During the April 21 presentation, Department of Transportation and Engineering (DOTE) Director Michael Moore presented the committee with an alternative recently developed with Cranley’s office that he said would appease Haines and his tenants but would cost more money. Moore pushed the notion that the alternative creates a more balanced bikeway plan.
The original plan, passed by council last year, restricts parking in front of Haines’ building from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. Moore’s alternative, which Mann is on board with, is to ramp the bike lane over the curb adjacent to a sidewalk where there is currently a tree-lined area in front of Haines’ building and another business in order to preserve public parking full-time.
At the meeting, council member Young took exception to the suggestion of changing the project at this point.
“For the life of me, I don’t see where the reasonableness and the balance is with people who come so far after the fact that want us to make these changes and the dollar amount it’s going to cost the taxpayers to get it done,” Young said. “I am appalled that people can come after the fact and tie up all these people down here to simply want accommodations for them.”
Mann shared another perspective.
“There’s a gentleman who has brought 60 jobs to the city, including some folks who have Parkinson’s and use the building, and the proposal that’s being made seems to me to represent balance,” Mann said. “We spend millions of dollars, typically, to support development, to support jobs, and you’re saying that the proposal that was originally approved by this council without a hearing like this is so pristine that it cant be adjusted in any way, and if it’s adjusted that is a statement of imbalance? I just don’t follow that.”
For the past year and a half, DOTE conducted surveys, sought public input and developed plans for the bikeway. After a strong consensus, the department chose the protected bikeway plan. The bikeway is estimated to add just three seconds of motorist commute time by 2030, though some naysayers suggest that delivery trucks will clog the lanes and the turn left from Ravine Street will create an even longer lag.
Community outreach for the design began in March of last year with eight community council meetings. Letters were mailed to residents, businesses and property owners, but Haines and several other business owners stated they didn’t receive any and weren’t aware of the project until late last year.
A website designed for public feedback also garnered about 600 messages mainly supporting the bikeway project. DOTE held an open house last September and the Over-The-Rhine and Northside community councils, Findlay Market and Northside Business Association endorsed the project.
Simpson expressed frustration with halting progress for a last-minute meeting.
“I don’t think that’s an appropriate process,” she said. “Really, technically you can go over everything over the past two years. The reality is we need to look forward. If we want to be less auto-focused and more focused on other types of transit, we’re going to have to ruffle a couple of feathers.”
Supporters — some who biked to the April
21 meeting and utilized a bike valet setup in front of City Hall —
represented various groups of the community from health and community
councils to business owners and cyclists. Their number doubled opponents
— mainly business owners along Central Parkway in the West End and the
West End Community Council, though some West End residents and business
owners supported the original bikeway plan.
There are several good theater choices south of the Ohio River this weekend.
The theater (and dance) program at Northern Kentucky University presents a truly varied array of programming — this season has included a play by Orson Welles, the legendary musical South Pacific, Shakespeare's As You Like It and more. The academic year's final production Monty Python's Spamalot, opened last evening, and it seems to be a perfect vehicle for a lot of onstage clowning. (In case you haven't been tuned in, the show is subtitled "A musical lovingly ripped off from the motion picture Monty Python and the Holy Grail," and many of the show's most hilarious moments are reproduced wholesale onstage.) But clowning can be serious work, and if you catch NKU's production, pay attention to the choreography (the work of NKU grad Roderick Justice) which is complex, amusing and very well executed by the cast of 25. Director Ken Jones keeps things moving; the actors get into the tomfoolery from start to finish, especially Kat Moser as the diva who's the Lady of the Lake and Bradley Goren as long-suffering Patsy (he's the one who clicks the coconut shells to simulate King Arthur riding on horseback, among other amusing moments). The show is a fine entertainment, if you're a fan of the low but articulate humor of the Python troupe. Through April 27. Tickets ($8-$14): 859-572-5464.
Comedy of an entirely different sort is available at another Kentucky venue, the Carnegie in Covington, where Mary Chase's 1945 Pulitzer Prize winner Harvey is available through April 27. This is a piece of gentle humor from the past, about a slightly off-kilter guy who sees a six-foot-plus rabbit — he calls it a "pooka" — named Harvey, much to the dismay of several family members who are embarrassed by his behavior. Their efforts to get him committed to a local asylum go awry to much merriment and a message about being, well, gentle and sweet. This is good, old-fashioned fun. Tickets: 859-957-1940.
If you prefer a well-written contemporary drama, this weekend is your last chance to see A Delicate Ship at the Cincinnati Playhouse. Anna Ziegler's new show (this is its world premiere) is a memory play that explores an unexpected chain of events triggered by a love triangle. It's beautifully staged by Michael Evan Haney with a cast of three actors who are just right for each of their roles. I gave this one a Critic's Pick when it opened; it's as good as anything I saw recently at the much-respected Humana Festival of New American Plays at Actors Theatre of Louisville. Tickets ($30-$80): 513-421-3888.
Comedian Rajiv Satyal was born and bred in Cincinnati — Fairfield to be exact. He’s gone from being an intern on Capitol Hill to brand manager at Procter & Gamble to full-time comedian living in Los Angeles. Satyal has worked with Dave Chappelle, Kevin James, Tim (the tool man) Allen, Kevin Nealon and Russell Peters. Heard of the University of Cincinnati’s Bearcast? He named the school’s radio station-turned-media group. He runs a consulting business called StandPoint Agency and is a regular at all the L.A. comedy clubs, but he got his start at Montgomery’s Go Bananas. Satyal’s unique way of viewing the world continually draws in more fans. He refers to himself as the funny Indian, but he’s really just a funny — and nice — dude from Ohio. Satyal performs his first one-man show No Man’s Land Saturday to a sold-out audience at the Aronoff Center, and he squeezed CityBeat into his schedule for a quick rundown of all things Rajiv.
CityBeat: Since you’re from Cincinnati I have to ask, what high school did you go to?
Rajiv Satyal: Totally fine, a very Cincinnati question, but I went to Fairfield High School and I got an undergrad at the University of Cincinnati in materials engineering.
CB: I read that you worked on Capitol Hill, what did you do there?
RS: I was at the University of Cincinnati at the time and I went out to Capitol Hill to be an intern for a representative, Steve Chabot. So I just worked in the office and it was for fun, I got to live in DC and explore that town and did whatever tasks around the office, but it was mostly getting the feel of Washington.
CB: Do you have a funny family or what sparked your interest in comedy?
RS: Actually I have two brothers and, well, two parents, and everybody has a sense of humor. It was a super fun household to grow up in. We were all pretty positively reinforced, we weren’t really a tough crowd, like, we definitely encouraged each other to say funny things and we laughed a lot. I know a lot of comedians’ families would be like, you know, “boo” or whatever when they told a joke and were a tough crowd, but we were a really good crowd for each other and just kind of encouraged each other to be funny. My brothers and I never really fought a lot growing up, which is so strange, but we all got a long and we had a good time.
(Check out Rajiv’s dad going Bollywood last Monday on The Bob & Tom Show here.)
CB: Does Cincinnati or growing up here inspire any of your stand-ups?
RS: Oh, definitely. I feel like growing up in Ohio, it made me kind of more of an everyman being able to relate to people in the heartland of the country and people who grew up on the coast. I think people on the coast have their own sensibility, but it’s hard to know what works inland. A lot of comedians are like hurricanes; they knock it out on the coast, but when they come inland they die. I feel like being from the Midwest gives me an advantage.
CB: What inspired you to pursue comedy seriously?
RS: When I turned 30 I really flipped out, I was like, ‘Man, I’ve lived in Ohio my whole life and I need to do something different.’ So I left Procter & Gamble and moved to Los Angeles, I was a brand manager at P&G Water for only about 3 months and then I jumped shipped and went into it [comedy] full-time. I guess I felt like I really enjoyed speaking in front of people and I love being funny and those two things lend themselves well to being a famous comic, ya know.
CB: So basically just turning 30 did it for you?
RS: Yeah, I felt like life’s too short and, you know, why do something you don’t want to do? Why not go for it. I guess I thought when I turned 30 I felt like, “Man, I don’t want to turn 40 and watch TV and go, ‘Man I could have done that.’” I think given all the privileges, if I don’t try it…I’m born in the United States, I’m American, I have all these opportunities, it’s the land of opportunity, you got to self-actualize, man, go for it.
CB: How has your comedy evolved from where you first started to now?
RS: I would say that just getting deeper. As comedians do it longer and longer you start to go from jokes to more of a point of view. You start to realize what makes you funny. You have these weird beliefs and you stand out a little bit. You don’t really have to do jokes anymore, you just tell people what you think and they think it’s funny because they are like, ‘Wow, that’s a weird way to look at it.’ Being able to make people laugh at the way you look at the world, I think that’s kind of cool.
CB: Do you have any stories about opening up for or working with various comedians?
RS: I actually opened up Dave Chappelle’s very first show when he came back from Africa in 2005, so that was really cool. I had opened up for him at the University of Cincinnati in 2000 before I even started doing stand-up — I started doing stand-up in 2002. So people in the student senate and student government and programming board at UC were like, ‘Hey, you’re a funny guy, you’ve done a little bit of stand-up, would you want to do?’ So I opened for Dave Chappelle at UC and got booed off the stage in front of all these people. Then five years later I opened Dave Chappelle’s first show when he comes back from Africa and I did really well, I killed and it was really redeeming.
CB: Did he remember you from 2000?
RS: Yeah, he did actually, that’s what’s crazy about it — that he remembered that. It’s funny. He was really encouraging and complimentary. I talked to him for two hours by myself that night in 2005, after we were done, just he and I were in the room and for two hours we were just talking about politics and religion and the world…I know that he was happy that I stuck with it and everything.
CB: Who would you like to work with in the future that you haven’t worked with?
RS: I would like to work with Bill Burr. He is not an extremely well-known person, but he is a genius and he is from Boston. I think it would be awesome to work with Louis C. K., of course, he is like the biggest guy in comedy right now. I mean, I don’t know, I think Jerry Seinfeld would be pretty awesome. I love Ricky Gervais, I’m a big fan of Ricky Gervais, a guy from England. Chris Rock, I love Chris Rock. I actually met Chris Rock when he performed at Ohio State and I told him someday I am going to open for him and he goes, ‘That would be something man, you never know.’ So I have to make good of my promise. I told him one day I was going to open for him, so I better do.
CB: What kind of topics or themes can audiences expect from No Man’s Land?
RS: It’s mostly about dating and relationships. The central questions of the show are: Why am I single and how would you define manhood in modern society? So I’m a single, 38-year-old man out there trying to figure out the evolution of manhood and what does it mean now, how does the definition of manhood change and I try to define it. It’s not a show about men versus women, it’s a show about men versus guys.
CB: What do you miss most about living in Cincinnati?
RS: Well my family, obviously, my family and my friends. I have a really good friend who lives in Seattle, but he is thinking about moving back here and the only reason is his family; it’s not for the weather, it’s not for a better job and it’s not for anything else other than the fact that his family is here. I think family is a big thing.
CB: I feel like if I moved away I would miss three-ways too much.
RS: I do miss Cincinnati food. I love LaRosa’s, I love Graeters’, I love Skyline and I do love Cincinnati food. You know, there is something about the Midwest. The people are super nice and, you know, just walking down the street you can say hi and the person will say hi back or the person will initiate or whatever — that doesn’t really happen in L.A. as much, at all, and people are not as nearly as friendly as they are here.
CB: What advice do you have for people who are trying to break into the business?
RS: I think they should just start. They need to start…The Internet is such an opportunity to reach the people you want to reach. I think it’s possible more than ever to go down to the local comedy club and enter the open mic night and start. Get to know the people and get up and do it. Write material, start a group up that supports each other. It is difficult, but you know there is a way in. Comedy is more accessible than ever.
Get a glimpse of some of Satyal’s funny stuff here.
This evening at its Jackson Street headquarters in Over-the-Rhine, Know Theatre of Cincinnati revealed the lineup for the 11th annual Cincinnati Fringe Festival to a crowd of nearly 100 enthusiastic supporters and performers. The two-week festival begins Tuesday, May 27, with the CityBeat Fringe Kick-Off Party; it winds up 12 days later on Saturday, June 7, having presented 32 productions — 17 plays, two musicals, seven solo performers, and six dance presentations. In addition, there will be four FringeNext productions (selected from 11 applicants — a record number), featuring original material produced and performed by local students from the School for Creative and Performing Arts, Newport Central Catholic High School, St. Xavier High School and Highlands High School.
Performance Gallery is kind of the alpha and omega of the Cincinnati Fringe: They’ve been in all 11 festivals, including the 2008 hit show fricative. Producer Eric Vosmeier calls them the inspiration for much of what the Fringe is about: They were doing “fringe-like” work before the festival began, and they’ve returned annually with work that pushes the envelope. This time they’ll offer Heist, about three crooks of questionable ability. Vosmeier also cited Pones Inc., the dance-based company that returns for the seventh time with Traffick, a piece of audience engagement that explores issues of human trafficking. Vosmeier says, “This is the kind of work the Fringe was built to exhibit.”
“We had a great mix of new producers and returning favorites in the applicant pool,” Vosmeier says. “The word continues to spread about our Cincinnati Fringe Festival, which has a national reputation for being the most artist-friendly festival. We’ve worked very hard on this over the years, and I believe that we’ve created something special for our artists and for our region.”
The Cincinnati Fringe differs from festivals elsewhere in that productions are screened and handpicked by a committee of local theater artists. Drawing from a large pool of applicants, comparable to last year’s record-breaking number, this yielded a balanced mix of local vs. out-of-town producers: 15 from Greater Cincinnati and 18 from beyond. The latter number includes three international shows, the most ever for the festival: Around Dark Matter, a Holocaust memory piece by Mica Dvir, is from Tel Aviv, Israel; A Brief History of Beer by Wish Experience from London, a company that has performed at festivals from Edinburgh to Adelaide; and Prefer Not to Say, an interactive piece by blueDragonfly Productions, another U.K. group, the presenter of And All the Rest is Junk Mail a year ago.
For Wednesday evening’s announcement event, members of the Fringe staff mentioned the shows they were most looking forward to. They named:
· An Unauthorized Autobiography of Benny Hill by Four Humors Theater (Minneapolis), the creative minds behind such past Festival favorites as Lolita: A Three Man Show, Bombus and Berylline and Harold. This will be their sixth consecutive Cincinnati Fringe appearance.
· Blogging Behind Bars by Unity Productions, creators of two past Fringe hits, The Wave and Nothing. This time it’s a true story about a young, nonviolent criminal who wrote a blog while incarcerated in a maximum-security prison.
· Papa Squat’s Store of Sorts by solo artist Paul Strickland from Indianapolis, whose Ain’t True and Uncle False was a “Pick of the Fringe” last year. His new show is a music-filled memorial for a guy who “once filled the emptiness in Big-Fib Cul-de-sac with his insightful songs.”
· Something Something New Vagina by Rebecca Kling, a transgender artist and educator from Chicago with a follow-up show to her 2012 production, Beneath Her Skin.
· The Ultimate Stimulus by Felipe Ossa, a Brooklyn-based playwright and a new artist to the Cincy Fringe, is presented in the form of a TED Talk that argues for concubinage as a way to address the problem of income inequality.
The festival is also a chance for Cincinnati’s local theater companies to show off. Clifton Performance Theatre will present Sarge, a piece by Kevin Crowley about the wife of discredited Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky. Untethered Theatre has prepared Where Edward Went, a new play by Ben Dudley and Adam Sievering about a screenwriter’s effort to make a documentary about Edward, the late fiancé of Elyse, a painter. They don’t quite agree about the portrait. New Edgecliff Theatre will offer TRAGEDY: a tragedy, described as “one of the funniest apocalypses of our time.” And Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati’s intern company always offers a fine showcase of young talent. This year it’s two one-act plays: Sheila Callaghan’s Crumble (Lay Me Down, Justin Timberlake) and Itamar Moses’s Authorial Intent.
In addition to the productions offered nightly, artists, audience members, staff and volunteers flock nightly at Know Theatre’s Underground and headquarters for the Fringe Bar Series, with a reasonably priced bar, some free food inside and offerings for purchase from food wagons on Jackson Street. Each evening after the Channel Fringe Hard Hitting Action News Update, everyone has a chance to be a performer with activities such as the Fringe Olympics, Fringe-A-Oke, Fringe Prom, Segway Night and the Night Without Technology. This year the Bar Series night adds Fringetoberfest, an evening of German-inspired food and brews from local craft beer creators.
Vosmeier expects the festival to attract more than 8,000 visitors this year. If you’re someone who tries to see as much as possible, your best bet is a “Full Frontal” Fringe pass ($200) providing access to every event in the festival. Know also offers “Voyeur” passes ($60) good for six shows of your choice. If you can only make it once, a “One Night Stand” pass ($25) is available — admission to any two performances in an evening plus one drink at Know’s Underground bar. Single tickets to Fringe shows continue to be priced at $12; they’ll go on sale in mid-May.
There will be lots more — and the lineup can change. Hey, it’s the Fringe, so be ready for anything. You’ll find details on all these shows and more at cincyfringe.com.