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by Nick Swartsell 07.27.2015 77 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 77 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 80 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.

Read More

by Nick Swartsell 07.24.2015 80 days ago
Posted In: News at 10:22 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Morning News and Stuff

Dubose incident report, dispatch calls released; Ziegler Park changes contentious; are state Dems still struggling with infighting?

Hey all. Here’s what’s happening in Cincy today.

University of Cincinnati officials yesterday released the police incident report and dispatch recordings related to the July 19 shooting of Samuel Dubose by officer Ray Tensing. Tensing shot Dubose after a traffic stop over the fact Dubose didn’t have a front license plate on his Honda Accord. The incident report claims that Tensing was dragged by Dubose’s car and says another UC officer witnessed the incident. You can read the report here and listen to the audio of the dispatch here. Dubose’s family has demanded that police body camera video and security footage from a nearby building be released to substantiate that claim. That footage is currently in the hands of Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters, who has said he will not release it yet because that could bias a potential grand jury. Family and friends of Dubose gathered yesterday outside Deters’ office to protest that decision.

• Meanwhile, UC police will no longer patrol areas off-campus, according to university officials. Starting Monday, the university police force’s patrol policies will be amended in light of the shooting. Questions were raised about why Dubose’s traffic stop took place at the corner of Rice and Thill streets in Mount Auburn, which is half a mile away from the university. According to university police, Tensing initiated the stop much closer to campus and followed Dubose to the location where the stop, and eventual shooting, took place.

• Remember those hilariously fraught public meetings in Parks and Recreation? I attended one last night. A meeting held by the Cincinnati Center City Development Corporation and architects Glaserworks to discuss proposed changes to Ziegler Park, a popular space on Sycamore Street across from the former SCPA building, got a little heated as neighborhood residents and advocates questioned the need for an underground parking garage and the efficacy of 3CDC’s outreach efforts to the park’s current users, who are predominantly low-income. The meeting took place a block from the park at the Woodward Theater, a move that raised eyebrows for some activists at the meeting, including Josh Spring from the Greater Cincinnati Coalition for the Homeless. Spring questioned why the meeting wasn’t taking place in the park itself so that it could more easily engage the park’s current users. At the meeting, 3CDC presented tentative plans for the park’s facelift, which will be funded in part by $20 million in Ohio new market tax credits. Those plans come from two past public input sessions, 3CDC says, as well as outreach to park users. Among the proposals: moving the existing pool to another location in the park, adding a splash pad, updating green space within the park, and tying the existing park facilities to green space across the street next to the SCPA. 3CDC’s concept includes putting a parking garage underneath this greenspace in order to free up land currently occupied by other lots. Also on the drawing board: maintaining a popular set of basketball hoops across the street from the park. Removal of hoops and the pool at renovated Washington Park on the otherside of OTR proved very controversial when that park underwent renovation in 2011. Some in attendance expressed concerns that two past meetings were not well-publicized. Other concerns were also raised about the green space neighboring the former SCPA building, which will soon be the site of luxury condos. That space once held structures used by Harriet Beecher Stowe as part of the underground railroad, and some at the meeting voiced wishes that the history there be commemorated and expressed anxiety about disrupting possible historic materials there. 3CDC anticipates holding another meeting to unveil more finished plans later this summer.

• The Ohio Democratic Party is still struggling with infighting, some say, despite new chairman David Pepper’s efforts to unify it following big losses in statewide campaigns in the last election. Democrats in Ohio lost major statewide races, including the race for the governor’s seat, by big margins last year. After that rout, former party chairman Chris Redfern resigned and was replaced by Pepper. Some of the internal tension that has hobbled the party has reemerged, critics say, in the party’s treatment of Cincinnati City Councilman and U.S. Senate hopeful P.G. Sittenfeld, who is running against former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland for the Democratic nomination to oppose current Senator Republican Rob Portman. Former Ohio Democratic Party Chair Jim Ruvolo, who served in that role from 1982 to 1991, has blasted Pepper for “sidelining” Sittenfeld in favor of the more well-known Strickland. Ruvolo, who is a consultant for Sittenfeld’s campaign, says it does the party no good to push down young talent like the 30-year-old councilman. Pepper has made statements some have read as demeaning to Sittenfeld, including a suggestion that local officials focus on the jobs in front of them and “put in the time.” Pepper says those statements weren’t meant to malign Sittenfeld or discourage him from running. Pepper says he’s working hard to unify the party in time for 2016, when a major battle between Dems and the GOP will take place over Ohio, which looks to be a decisive state in the presidential election and the scramble for control of the U.S. Senate.

That’s it for your truncated, Friday morning news today. As always, e-mail or tweet with news tips.

by Rick Pender 07.24.2015 80 days ago
Posted In: Theater at 09:40 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Stage Door

Hundred Days? Several hundred years? Theater has a lot to offer this weekend

Did you attend the Cincy Fringe back in 2011? If so, maybe you saw Abigail and Shaun Bengson perform a musical work in progress then called “Songs from the Proof.” They came back in 2012 to present a one-night concert of some of the songs. The work evolved into a show called Hundred Days, which had a staging in San Francisco in early 2014. It’s continued to evolve — and its next incarnation will be onstage at Know Theatre for the next month, opening on Friday and running through Aug. 22. It’s about a young couple who fall in love, only to have their time together cut short by a fatal illness. They decide to live the 100 days they have left as though it were 60 years they had hoped for. Lots of music and creativity have gone into this one, and it promises to be a powerful performance with some great tunes. (Read more in my Curtain Call column in this week’s edition of CityBeat.) Tickets: $25 in advance; rush tickets at the door ($10, if available). Free performances on Wednesdays, but reservations required: 513-300-5669.

Cincinnati Shakespeare Company’s 2015-2016 season is beginning as it has for several years with a light-hearted abridgement — but this time it’s The Complete History of America (abridged), opening Friday night and continuing through Aug. 15. The show is the creation of the same nuts responsible for the hilarious Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged). It’s the same format: Veteran comic actors Miranda McGee and Justin McCombs, along with newcomer Geoffrey Barnes, will take audiences on a whirlwind tour that sends up America’s greatest hits … and misses. It’s the kind of delirious summer entertainment we’ve come to expect the from our often-more-serious classical theater folks. Tickets ($22-$35): 513-381-2273

Last weekend I went to Stanberry Park in Mt. Washington to see The Complete Tom: 3. Abroad, presented by Queen City Flash, Cincinnati’s flash-mob theater company. It’s the third installment of its four-part play cycle of Mark Twain’s tales of Tom Sawyer, Huck Finn and Jim, the runaway slave. It was charmingly performed by Dave Powell, Rico Reid and Trey Tatum — plus some amusing puppets (aka wooden spoons) and a few sheets for ghost stories. This charming episode features the threesome on a trans-Atlantic voyage in a Jules Verne-like airship, meeting a number of interesting characters along the way — played in quick-change manner by the three actors. Free performances begin at 8 p.m. but don’t go to Stanberry Park — they’ll be elsewhere this weekend. In fact, the outdoor locations remain secret until 4 p.m. the day of performance when an email is sent to ticket holders with a map and parking instructions. The show is a lot of fun and great entertainment for kids, and part of the adventure is figuring out where you’re headed. Take a chance! Tickets — no charge — can be reserved at QueenCityFlash.com

This weekend offers the final performances of 1776 at the Incline Theater (513-241-6550) and The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (859-572-5464). Both are worth seeing.

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

by Sarah Urmston 07.23.2015 81 days ago
Posted In: Playlist at 11:55 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
monthly favs

Your Weekend Playlist: July

Monthly favorites I can't get enough of

Everyone gets hooked on a handful of songs they can’t seem to skip over during a period of time. Well, these are mine from the month of July.

“Crystals” – Of Monsters and Men

This song kicks complete butt. The heavy drum intro leads into the crashing of symbol waves throughout the entire track, while lead singer Nanna Bryndis Hilmarsdottir’s voice carries the powerful lyrics along the melody. This entire album is unique to their previous style, developing lyrics on a more honest and open level. Seriously, listen for yourself.

“Red Eyes” – The War On Drugs

This retro Indie Rock band from Philly wraps their beat around modern-meets-’80s music, especially their on this, their most popular jam. The impeccable beat is bob-your-head worthy, in addition to the powerful voice of the longhaired lead singer Adam Granduciel. Such a cool dude.

If you’re taking a long drive through the night with flickering highway lights passing your cracked windows and a chill in the air blowing through ever so slightly, you’ll easily feel like you’re racing back through time. It rocks so hard you’ll find it hard to skip.

“Soul Is Fire” – Elliot Root

I dare you to play this at your desk and try not to tap your foot (I tried, and it’s pretty impossible).  Scott Krueger’s upbeat and unique voice is enough to turn any song into a party, especially this particular jam. It’s catchy, it builds and it’s just plain fun. Elliot Root got their own roots in the heart of Nashville, Tenn., but they’re not what you’d expect from the South. Give them a listen and dance around with your shoes off. It won’t be hard.

“Delilah” – Florence + The Machine

Delilah” is one of Florence + The Machine’s many singles sung by the beyond-badass Florence Welch and those incredible pipes of hers. This single, and two others that were released prior, are now featured on their latest album How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful. The entire album just continues to follow up with Welch’s tough-as-nails attitude and lyrics, giving women the sense of ability and power they should all possess. Not to mention it makes you want to dance.

“Wolves” – Phosphorescent

We all remember 2013’s “Song for Zula,” right? Turns out Phosphorescent has other hidden gems, and I choose to listen to this gentle tune before I close my eyes for the night. It’s simple, genuine and repetitive in a way that doesn’t feel that way. The unique use of a ukulele as a long introduction pieced together with a soft, electric guitar and the thick sounds of an accordion subtly enter into the center of the song. Matthew Houck’s sad and sincere voice has that “cabin in the woods” vibe to it, similar to Bon Iver’s For Emma, Forever Ago. It’s overall a beautiful piece, even if it took me this long to discover it.

by Nick Swartsell 07.23.2015 81 days ago
Posted In: News, Police at 11:13 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Protesters Demand Deters Release Dubose Shooting Video

Family, friends demand transparency in investigation of police-involved shooting

A group of about 30 gathered outside Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters' office today to demand release of tapes showing events that led up to the death of Samuel Dubose, who was shot and killed by University of Cincinnati Police July 19 in Mount Auburn following a traffic stop for a missing front license plate. Many of those attending were family or friends of Dubose.

"We are not going away," said his cousin, Ebony Johnson, as she stood outside the prosecutor's office with a license plate. "We are not going anywhere until we get satisfaction and our cousin can rest in peace. I'm sure he's not at rest, because we're not at rest. The sooner this investigation is done and justice is served, we can rest and you won't hear any more from the Dubose family."

The Cincinnati Police Department has finished its probe into the shooting, but Deters says he’ll hold much of that evidence, including multiple videos of the incident, not releasing it to the public despite public records requests from local media, including CityBeat. University of Cincinnati officials indicated a willingness to release those videos during a news conference yesterday, but Deters says making that evidence public would jeopardize the chances of a fair trial for the officer involved, should charges be brought against him. Deters released a statement soon after the protest saying the law is on his side.

"If you do not want to look at the law and just use your common sense, it should be clear why we are not releasing the video only a few days after the incident occurred," the statement said. "We need time to look at everything and do a complete investigation so that the community is satisfied that we did a thorough job. The Grand Jury has not seen the video yet and we do not want to taint the Grand Jury process.  The video will be released at some point -- just not right now.”

Deters plans to wrap up his investigation sometime next week and present his findings to a grand jury. University of Cincinnati Police officer Ray Tensing shot and killed 43-year-old Dubose after a traffic stop initiated because Dubose didn’t have a front license plate. Dubose was driving on a suspended license. According to the official police line of events, Dubose struggled with Tensing over his car door and attempted to drive away. Tensing shot him at that point and then fell to the ground, sustaining minor injuries from Dubose’s car, officials say. Since that time, information has trickled out about the killing, though not nearly enough for Dubose’s family, friends and activists who have staged a number of protests demanding answers about the death of Dubose, who was the father of 13 children.

Protesters outside the Hamilton County Prosecutor's office demand release of evidence in Samuel Dubose shooting
Nick Swartsell

Nygel Miller says he was a friend of Samuel Dubose's from childhood. "We want justice," Miller says. "We want the release of those tapes. We want the officer charged. We want him removed from his duties. We want the officer to be talked about the way our young black men have been spoken about by this prosecutor."

Recently, Deters has been embroiled in controversy over his statements calling people his office prosecutes “soulless” and “thugs" after unrest on July 4 that resulted in items being thrown at police officers and the beating of an Indiana man by several men near Fountain Square.

Meanwhile, protests around Dubose's death have been peaceful so far. But tension is mounting, some say, fueled by distrust in a grand jury system that has failed to indict several officers who have shot unarmed black men in places like Ferguson, Mo. and Beavercreek, Ohio. The tension has an especially profound history in Cincinnati, which suffered days of civil unrest following the 2001 police shooting of unarmed Timothy Thomas. Though Cincinnati Police have undergone reforms since that time, instituting a nationally renowned plan called the Collaborative Agreement, pain remains here. Thirty-one people have died at the hands of police since 2000 in Cincinnati, including three high-profile deaths this year.

"I'm not sure I can continue to hold the anger down," said State Sen. Cecil Thomas, who evoked memories of 2001 at the rally today. "I'm urging him. Release the tapes and let the evidence speak for itself. ... We need that to bring the beginning of some closure to the family."

Thomas pointed to cases in places like Beavercreek, where John Crawford III was shot in a Walmart by Beavercreek police Aug 5, 2014. Officials refused to release security tapes of the incident for months afterward, though the Crawford family and their attorneys were allowed to view them. A grand jury convened by Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine declined to indict Crawford's shooter, Officer Sean Williams. Thomas said that, given those events, it's hard for some in the community to believe justice will be served in Dubose's case.

"We want to make sure that the grand jury sees those tapes, unedited," Thomas said. "Right now there's a tremendous amount of distrust as to whether they're going to do the right thing. The prosecutor that was dealing with the Beavercreek situation was assigned from this office here. That begs the question — will this same prosecutor be assigned here if there is an indictment? We have to keep the pressure on, but we're going to be peaceful."
by Nick Swartsell 07.23.2015 81 days ago
Posted In: News at 09:54 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Morning News and Stuff

Deters won't release video in police shooting of Samuel Dubose; Graeter's flavor named among nation's best; Kasich flops on Facebook

Hey y’all. I’ve had the past couple mornings off, so my morning news output has been slacking. But I’m back with a big bunch of stuff to tell you about. Here we go.

Much of the news today is about the police shooting death of Samuel Dubose. CityBeat has been following this incident from the beginning. You can find our story on Dubose and his death here. An investigation into Dubose's killing is already finished after just a couple days, but you and I can’t see the evidence yet. The Cincinnati Police Department has finished its probe into the shooting, but Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters has said he’ll hold much of that evidence, including multiple videos of the incident, not releasing it to the public despite public records requests from local media, including CityBeat. University of Cincinnati officials indicated a willingness to release those videos during a news conference yesterday, but Deters says making that evidence public would jeopardize the chances of a fair trial for the officer involved should charges be brought against him. CityBeat will continue to push for the release of the evidence in question.

Deters, who has been embroiled in recent controversy over his statements calling people his office prosecutes “soulless” and “thugs,” plans to wrap up his investigation sometime next week and present his findings to a grand jury. University of Cincinnati Police officer Ray Tensing shot and killed 43-year-old Dubose in Mount Auburn July 19 after a traffic stop initiated because Dubose didn’t have a front license plate. Dubose was driving on a suspended license. According to the official police line of events, Dubose struggled with Tensing over his car door and attempted to drive away. Tensing shot him at that point and then fell to the ground, sustaining minor injuries from Dubose’s car, officials say. Since that time, information has trickled out about the killing, though not nearly enough for Dubose’s family, friends and activists who have staged a number of protests demanding answers about the father of thirteen’s death. The next is scheduled for 11 a.m. today outside Deters’ office downtown.

• Meanwhile, the university is mulling whether its police force should join the city’s collaborative agreement, a federally enforced community-police relations plan put in place after the city’s civil unrest in 2001 over the police shooting death of unarmed Timothy Thomas. That and possibly other reforms are moves the city of Cincinnati supports. UC will review training for its law enforcement officers as a result of the shooting, officials say. The university and the city will also form a committee on community-police relations, which will include city and university officials as well as other police use of force experts like State Senator Cecil Thomas, a former police officer and one of many people who helped push the city’s 2001 agreement.

“We have learned over a long period of time — having made our own mistakes — a pullover related to a license plate should not, in the normal course of events, lead to lethal force,” Mayor John Cranley said at a joint news conference with UC President Santa Ono yesterday. “Therefore, reform is in order.”

The rest of the news today, in short order:

• An all-day tech conference is happening today in Cincy. NewCo Cincinnati features presentations from 50 big names in the local and national start-up and technology industries, including everything from breweries to Procter & Gamble. The unique part of the conference: Attendees go to the businesses, spending time touring their facilities and checking out where the magic happens. The conference is global in scale: 15 events are taking place in cities like New York City, Istanbul and Austin, Texas.

• Cincinnati’s own Graeter’s Ice Cream flavor Black Raspberry Chocolate Chip has been named one of the Top 5 flavors in America by the Food Network. Breaking news: It’s pretty good. I still evangelize for Aglemesis Bros. over Graeter’s, but I’m happy to see the other rad ice cream company in town get some national props.

• So a 19-year-old named Justin Buchannan jumped onto the field at yesterday’s Reds game against the Cubs, filmed himself trying to say hi to the players, jumped over a fence and escaped. That’s pretty epic. He totally made it all the way back to his home in Indiana, too, and probably would never have been caught except he tweeted his video and agreed to interviews on local news. But he says it was worth it and he’s kind of OK with whatever trouble he may be in. That’s the spirit.

• Gov. John Kasich on Tuesday finally officially announced he’s running for president. Want to know more about the GOP hopeful’s record? His long, often controversial policy experience when it comes to education is a good place to start, maybe. Here’s a pretty handy rundown of what Kasich has done for (or, depending on who you talk with, to) public education in Ohio.

• Meanwhile, did Kasich make enough of a splash with his announcement to get a much-needed boost to his national profile? Well, there were a bunch of articles in national media about how Kasich could be a contender if only he could get more attention nationally, which is kind of a weird way to frame giving him more national attention. But the gov kinda flopped on social media, which is where all political decisions are made these days. Kasich stirred up about 261,000 interactions of Facebook in the day following his announcement. Compare that to Donald Trump, another GOP presidential contender (and god help us, he’s the front runner in some polls). Trump’s announcement that he was running for president got 6.4 million interactions on the social media site. Another favorite, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, rustled up 1.6 million interactions. Advice for Kasich: Either get an outlandish hairpiece and make disparaging remarks about protesters and war heroes, or post a lot more cat videos.

by Jac Kern 07.22.2015 82 days ago
Posted In: Is this for real?, Humor, TV/Celebrity, Movies, Music at 02:13 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

I Just Can't Get Enough

Jac's roundup of pop culture news and Internet findings

To some people, “bad tattoo” is redundant (“You’re just so beautiful as you are,” cry moms everywhere). But tats like poorly translated Chinese script, eerie portraits fumbled by an apprentice, or straight-up misspelled words are in a league of their own. Everyone’s personal Hollywood BFF Jennifer Lawrence is so normal and down-to-earth, she got herself some erroneous permanent ink. JLaw says she got inked when out with Hunger Games co-star Liam Hemsworth’s family, who were all getting tattoos (you know those Hemsworths, always throwing family tattoo gatherings!). She picked “the color of a scar” (ew, why) and selected the molecular formula for water (you know, H2O) to remember to always stay hydrated. JLaw might have gone the practical route with her reasoning, but that shit is incorrect — it appears as "H2O" on her hand. Even lovable multi-millionaire Oscar-nominees get erroneous tats! Oh, JLaw. You’re just like us!

Miss Piggy performing Rihanna’s “BBHMM” is almost as perfect as the original.

Because of course Miss Piggy is a scheming diva!

The Emmy nominees are out! Go here for a full list and read this week’s TV column for details like big winners and snubs. Abbi Jacobson’s response to Broad City's lack of noms is perfection.

The MTV Video Music Awards nominees are also out now, and the announcement sparked a Twitter feud (gag) between Taylor Swift and Nicki Minaj. So, that’s happening.

Disney animated classic Aladdin is getting the live-action treatment with a prequel about a genie trapped in a lamp. It will be interesting to see the casting (Hollywood has a long history of white-washing characters), but as long as our real-life Aladdin doesn’t look like Steve from Full House, we should be good.

(Via BuzzFeed’s 19 Things You Might Not Know About “Aladdin”)

Apparently there are “leaked” grocery lists that supposedly belong to Britney Spears. (I love that we're referring to someone's kitchen trash contents as leaked documents.) We all know Brit loves her Starbucks and Velveeta, and according to these documents (i.e. girl handwriting on napkins and paper scraps that went for $60 on eBay), she also enjoys cereal, pop, "ham deli" and using the word “baby” in place of “little.” Discuss amongst yourselves.

Is it weird that whenever I discover a new hero, it’s almost always a little girl with killer dance moves? Don’t answer, just watch.

Researchers at Oregon State University have developed a new strain of seaweed that looks and tastes like bacon, which sounds like an event predicted by an episode of SpongeBob SquarePants. Kelp is the new kale!

Garrison Keillor’s magical voice will stop comforting people’s earholes soon — the longtime public radio staple is stepping down from hosting A Prairie Home Companion next year. 

FX’s Fargo, which follows an anthology format, is coming back for a new season with a cast of new characters this October. The season takes place in 1979 South Dakota and Minnesota and stars Patrick Wilson, Ted Danson, Jesse Plemons, Nick Offerman, Jean Smart, Kirsten Dunst, Bokeem Woodbine, Cristin Milioti, Brad Garrett, Kieran Culkin and Bruce Campbell. Check out the trailer here.

by Steven Rosen 07.22.2015 82 days ago
Posted In: Film at 01:19 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Cincinnati-Filmed ‘Miles Ahead’ to Premiere at New York Film Festival

The Miles Davis movie, directed by and starring Don Cheadle, will close NYFF Oct. 11

It continues to be a good year for movies shot in Cincinnati. First, Todd Haynes’ Carol premiered in competition at the Cannes Film Festival and was so well-received that its distributor, Weinstein Company, has scheduled a December release to showcase it for Oscar consideration.

Today, Indiewire is reporting that Miles Ahead, the Don Cheadle-directed movie about Jazz musician Miles Davis’ troubled final years, will be the Oct. 11 closing-night showcase for the prestigious 53rd New York Film Festival. The fest is presented by The Film Society of Lincoln Center. Cheadle also plays Davis in the film, shot in Cincinnati last year.

The Indiewire story, written by David Canfield, reports that “NYFF Director and Selection Committee Chair Kent Jones said, ‘I admire Don's film because of all the intelligent decisions he's made about how to deal with Miles, but I was moved — deeply moved — by Miles Ahead for other reasons. Don knows, as an actor, a writer, a director, and a lover of Miles' music, that intelligent decisions and well-planned strategies only get you so far, that finally it's your own commitment and attention to every moment and every detail that brings a movie to life.’”

In the story, Cheadle is quoted as adding, "I am happy that the selection committee saw fit to invite us to the dance. It's very gratifying that all the hard work that went into the making of this film, from every person on the team, has brought us here. Miles' music is all-encompassing, forward-leaning, and expansive. He changed the game time after time, and New York is really where it all took off for him.”




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by Staff 10.12.2015 18 hours ago
Posted In: Leftovers at 02:25 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
chili hut three way_photo chili hut facebook

Leftovers: What We Ate This Weekend

Several of us went camping.

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. 

Colleen McCroskey: Cincinnati’s love affair with Skyline is predicated upon our collective ability to ignore what it is we’re actually eating. It’s delicious, obviously, but where does that meat come from? Does it come out of a bag? Does the cheese have plastic in it, as I was told by multiple people in grade school? Probably not, and I’m still going to eat it (duh), but this weekend I was introduced to homemade Cincinnati chili in the form of The Chili Hut, a food truck that frequents hotspots around town (I tried it at City Flea). It was fantastic — it tastes exactly like what you would expect homemade Skyline to taste like, but better. You can actually taste the meat, as opposed to it basically just being a textural element in Skyline’s version, and it was really just lovely and fresh. Knowing that my three-way was covered in something homemade made my foodie heart very happy. I still love you, Skyline ... but you’ve got some competition. 

Anne Mitchell: Went on a last-minute impulse trip to Red River Gorge, and found that it was Rocktoberfest weekend. Miguel’s Pizza — climbers’ central — was crowded beyond belief, but we had a great dinner Saturday night at Red River Rockhouse. The Rockhouse is further up the road from Natural Bridge, and there are a couple reasons why it’s worth the drive: super nice staff, great food and they have beer! Oh, yeah! Since they’re outside of the dry county at the center of the Gorge area, you can have a tasty beer, a glass of wine or even a shot of Kentucky’s own bourbon with your meal. We had hiked the Skybridge trail, so I was massively hungry and had a side kale salad with my Heavenly Cheeseburger. It’s heavenly because it’s delicious, but also because the cheese comes from Heavenly Homestead Farm. Pretty much everything at the Rockhouse is locally sourced, organic, and non-gmo — and delicious.  

Jen Hoffman: I made gourmet bagel pizzas and avocado toast on a campfire!

Maija Zummo: I went to Zip's on Friday. As always, it was incredibly crowded, but we found some space in the back bar. Zip's is known for its burgers, obviously, but I don't eat meat so I have no idea what they taste like; they smell good though. I'm actually a huge fan of their veggie burger, which I'm pretty sure is just a frozen Garden burger or Boca burger, but it's topped with all the things a regular cheeseburger is topped with — mayo, cheese, lettuce, onion, pickle, tomato — so it is super satisfying in a burger-and-fries way. I also had fries and several beers. They had Southern Tier Pumking on tap. I don't drink much beer (or pumpkin-flavored things), but I love Pumpking. Also the service at the bar was great and very casual even though they were totally slammed. Sometimes, if you're a weirdo like me, it's easy to feel claustrophobic in Zip's and I appreciate chill people. I have no chill.

Casey Arnold: The only place I went out to eat this weekend was Mellow Mushroom in Hyde Park. It's the one place my family can agree on eating at with all of our different food hang-ups. So we go there all the time. I'm not mad about it.

Tony Johnson: Saturday night, at about one in the morning, I ordered Topper's Topperstix with banana peppers on them. They arrived an hour and fifteen minutes after I ordered, about twice as long as they said it would take. The driver was also apparently eating something because there was barbecue sauce all over my pizza box. 

by Natalie Krebs 10.12.2015 22 hours ago
Posted In: News at 10:09 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Morning News and Stuff

Democrats endorse park tax levy; UC Health to repay millions in fraudulent Medicare claims; outside reports find Tamir Rice shooting justified

Good morning Cincinnati! Here are today's headlines. 

• City Democrats got together Saturday morning in Northside and voted 41-17 to endorse Mayor John Cranley's proposed permanent income tax levy to support the city's park system. If passed on the Nov. 3 ballot, the tax would be written into the city charter and would cost homeowners $35 for every $100,000 in home value. It would bring in an estimated $5.5 million annually and allow the mayor to propose projects to the park board, bypassing City Council, which has some concerned it could lead to the commercialization of the city's parks. Some say the money could be better spent on other citywide issues, like poverty. The Democratic precinct executives who gathered on Oct. 10 generally said that while the proposal wasn't perfect, it would be beneficial to set aside extra money to maintain the city's parks in the future. 

• Speaking of parks, today city officials are considering naming two parks after a fallen police officer and two firefighters. The city's Law and Public Safety Committee is considering renaming the East Hyde Park Commons after CPD Officer Sonny Kim, who was shot in June while on duty. The Queensgate Recreation Area would be renamed for firefighters Daryl Gordon and Oscar Armstrong III, who died in fires in March of this year and in 2003. 

The U.S. Department of Justice announced Friday that UC Health and West Chester Hospital will have to pay back $4.1 million in fraudulent Medicaid and Medicare claims. According to the U.S. Attorney's Office, Dr. Abubakar Atiq Durrani, a former surgeon at the hospital, brought in $7.125 million in Medicare payments from 2010 to 2013 when he performed medically unnecessary spinal surgeries — and botched many of them. Durrani, who is a Pakistani citizen, fled the country for Pakistan in 2013 after facing a 36-count federal indictment and hundreds of lawsuits, leaving his wife and three children in the area. The allegations against Durrani include failing to read or ignoring x-rays he ordered, falsely telling patients they were in danger of grave injury without surgery and pre-signing prescription pads for patient Oxycodone prescriptions to be later filled out by a member of his staff. 

• Kroger, the largest traditional grocer in the country, with 400 stores and 400,000 employees, has agreed to extend its health benefits to its transgendered employees. The locally based corporation is the nation's seventh largest employer. The Enquirer reported that a Kroger employee had posted the news on her Facebook page. The extended benefits will cover surgery and drugs for gender reassignment starting at the beginning of 2016. 

Two outside reports found that the Cleveland police officer who shot 12-year-old Tamir Rice last November was justified in his actions. Rice was shot in a Cleveland park by officer Timothy Loehmann after he and his partner responded to a call that a black boy was waving a gun at people in the park. Rice was fatally hit in the torso and was later found to be holding a pellet gun. The Cuyahoga County prosecutor’s office released reports last night from a retired FBI agent and a Denver prosecutor that concluded that the officer had used a reasonable use of force, as Rice was perceived as a serious threat.

Feel free to email me with story tips, questions and possible Halloween costumes at nkrebs@citybeat.com.
by Steven Rosen 10.12.2015 23 hours ago
Posted In: Visual Art at 09:58 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tom Wesselmann Street Banners Offered for Sale

If you’re looking for a way to honor Cincinnati-native Pop artist Tom Wesselmann in your front yard or in your home or office, you might be interested in one of these 30-by-89-inch museum street banners from the popular Wesselmann retrospective, Beyond Pop Art, that came to Cincinnati Art Museum last year. They have just been offered for sale at betterwall.com for $499 each; there are 74 available.

Alas, the banners are not actually from the Cincinnati stop on the traveling show. They are from the previous one at the Denver Art Museum. Our art museum did not use street banners to promote the show.

The banner features a reproduction of a very lovely large painting — oil on shaped canvas — that Wesselmann created in 1967, “Seascape #22.” It is based on his observations of women sunbathing in Cape Cod. He concentrated on the foot kicking up from the beach.

Wesselmann, who died in 2004 at age 73, studied at both University of Cincinnati and the Art Academy of Cincinnati before going to the Cooper Union in New York City. He began showing his work in New York in the early 1960s and became most famous for his Great American Nude series.

Better Wall specializes in selling surplus street banners from art institutions, such as Denver, Art Institute of Chicago, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Seattle Art Museum and more.

by Staff 10.09.2015 3 days ago

Your Weekend To Do List (10/9-10/11)

Bourbon festival, barbecue festival, sauerkraut festival, pet festival and the premiere of The Walking Dead



The AYE Music & Art Festival — founded in 2006 to raise money for various charities — returns for its biggest fest yet this Friday-Sunday. Held at several venues in Over-the-Rhine, proceeds from the 2015 edition of AYE (which stands for “Adjust Your Eyes”) will go to Boys Hope Girls Hope (bhghcincinnati.org).This year’s AYE will again showcase elements of visual art, as well as comedy (in MOTR Pub’s basement each evening) and a wildly diverse lineup of music, with a heavy dose of local acts as well as some notable touring artists. The music runs the gamut from Electronic and Hip Hop to AltRock and Punk, plus most points in between. Read more about the festival in this week's Spill It. Three-day passes for AYE can be purchased through cincyticket.com for $20 or day-of-show for $35. One-day passes are $15; single shows cost a cover charge between $5-$10. For more AYE info (including the complete schedule), visit adjustyoureyes.com.

Helado Negro (Roberto Carlos Lange) presents a special multi-media show at the CAC this week.
Photo: Provided
Roberto Carlos Lange’s music, performed under the moniker Helado Negro, celebrates his Latin heritage in ways both obvious — he often sings in Spanish and there’s a breezily funky vibe to his textured electronic soundscapes — and subverting — his lyrics tend toward personal ambiguities and his song structures frequently jump off in unexpected directions.The child of Ecuadorian immigrants, Lange grew up immersed in the culture clash that was South Florida in the 1980s. He’s been writing and producing music under various guises since the late ’90s, but it wasn’t until he began recording as Helado Negro that Lange became more widely known, releasing four increasingly nuanced full-length albums since 2009. His most recent record, 2014’s Double Youth, was another satisfying refinement in his ability to create computer-generated music that is simultaneously intimate and otherworldly. Read CityBeat's interview with Lange here. Helado Negro performs Friday at the Contemporary Arts Center. Tickets/more info: contemporaryartscenter.org.

Cincinnati Craft Breweries' Oktoberfest
Photo: Listermann
The fourth-annual Cincinnati Craft Breweries’ Oktoberfest returns to the Listermann Brewing Company. Your favorite local brewers — Blank Slate, Fifty West, Christian Moerlein, Rivertown, Mt. Carmel and more — will descend on the brewery for a weekend of fall brews, food and a ceremonial keg tapping of Listermann’s Oktoberfest lager (the only official Oktoberfest beer at the party). Listermann has teamed up with Cincideutsch to give an authentic German feel to the festivities. Kids and dogs welcome. 5 p.m.-midnight Friday; noon-11 p.m. Saturday. Free admission. 1621 Dana Ave., Evanston, listermannbrewing.com.

Sounds in the Art at Chase Public
Photo: Richard Scheltz
Nashville-based, College-Conservatory of Music-trained percussionist Colleen Phelps presents an evening of percussion, spoken word and visual art at Chase Public. Aided by painter Drew Yakscoe, Phelps’ current project combines music and visual art and includes classical compositions by famous composers such as Bach, as well as more conceptual-based art practices like John Cage’s “Composed Improvisation For Snare Drum” and Antoine Saint-Exupéry’s “Je Demande Pardon aux Enfants.” 7 p.m. Friday. Free. 1569 Chase Ave., Suite 4, Northside, facebook.com/chasepublic.

When it comes to native spirits, there are few that excite as much as Kentucky bourbon. This weekend, the Mainstrasse Village Association and Wellmann’s Brands plan to bring the very best in micro, craft and large-scale distillery representations to keep the bourbon flowing at Oak, Toast & Two Aging Barrels. But there’s more to the bourbon festival than just drinking: Patrons will have the opportunity to attend a variety of seminars, presentations, paired family-style bourbon meals and meet-and-greets with master distillers. 6-10 p.m. Friday; 1-10 p.m. Saturday; noon-3 p.m. Sunday. Prices vary. Mainstrasse Village, Covington, Ky., mainstrasse.org.

The River Grill Before the Big Chill
Photo: Provided
If you ever thought you could win a Kansas City Barbecue Society-sanctioned cooking contest, now is your chance to prove it. If you could care less about a cooking competition and would rather enjoy eating barbecue at your leisure, this is your chance, too. The River Grill Before the Big Chill hosts barbecue competitions in categories including chicken, pork rib and pork butt with cash prizes and bragging rights. Following the competition, the “Big Chill” portion of the event features dozens of participating food vendors, live music and beer. Following the competition, the “Big Chill” portion of the event features dozens of participating food vendors, live music and beer. 5-11 p.m. Friday; noon-9 p.m. Saturday. $5. Sawyer Point, 705 E. Pete Rose Way, Downtown,cincyrivergrill.com

Joe Tucker
Photo by Cameron Knight
Tucker’s, the comfort-food breakfast and lunch café and Over-the-Rhine landmark, has been a Vine Street institution for 50 years, opened by current owner Joe Tucker’s parents in 1957. In July, the restaurant’s kitchen caught fire and the resulting damage devastated the building, closing Tucker’s for now. However, the community is rallying to help the family raise money to rebuild by hosting a fundraiser at the Northside Tavern on Friday, featuring live music on three stages, plus food-for-a-donation from Joe himself. Donate online at gofundme.com/5w2jfk2t98r. 6 p.m.-2 a.m. Friday. Free. Northside Tavern, 4163 Hamilton Ave., Northside, northsidetav.com/cincy.

Set just after Columbus’ discovery of the New World, Charise Castro Smith’s satirical and often anachronistic historical play covers a lot of territory. In 1504, Spain’s Queen Isabella is fretting about her empire and dying of some horrible plague, and she’s likely to be succeeded by her bratty daughter. Meanwhile, Isabella’s brilliant sister — a reclusive, atheist hunchback — is stuck in her bedroom thinking about cats, math and a Muslim lover. It’s a wild tale — just what you expect to see at Know Theatre — but this production comes to Over-the-Rhine from the drama program at the University of Cincinnati’s College-Conservatory of Music. Through Oct. 24. $20; $10 rush seats. Know Theatre, 1120 Jackson St., Over-the-Rhine, 513-300-5669, knowtheatre.com

Photo: Jesse Fox
CityBeat’s inaugural PET-oberfest celebrates Adopt a Shelter Pet Month by bringing hundreds of adoptable dogs, cats, puppies and kittens from local rescue and adoption groups to the Bertke Electric Warehouse in Northside. The goal of this festival is to find loving, permanent homes for pets from rescue agencies including Tails of Hope, Dream House Rescue, League of Animal Welfare, Luv Fur Mutts and more. Come and you just might meet your new furry family member. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday. Free admission. Bertke Electric Warehouse, 1645 Blue Rock St., Northside, citybeat.com.

For the fifth year in a row, the City Flea showcases a variety of regional vendors, from vintage dealers and hair stylists to coffee shops and book sellers. Find anything and everything you need, all while enjoying the great social atmosphere of Washington Park. A live DJ provides music and trucks serve food all day. 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday. Free. Washington Park, 1230 Elm St., Cincinnati, thecityflea.com

Great Ohio River Swim
Photo: Provided
Grab your goggles for the eighth-annual Great Ohio River Swim. Starting at the upstream end of the Serpentine Wall, this 900-meter course goes straight across the river to Kentucky and angles back to finish at Public Landing. A 30-minute swim clinic starts at 7:30 a.m. and will give nervous participants a rundown of the basics of open-water swimming in the Ohio River. Proceeds benefit Green Umbrella, a sustainability alliance for Cincinnati. Check-in begins 6:30 a.m.; race begins at 8:15 a.m. Saturday. $20-$25. Serpentine Wall, 705 E. Pete Rose Way, Cincinnati, greatohioriverswim.com.

Don’t fear the walking dead — dance with them at the inaugural Zombie Ball: Dance of the UnDead on Pyramid Hill. Come dressed as a zombie, vampire, mummy or your favorite ghoulish character and enjoy creepy cocktails, haunted hayrides and more with fellow specters. For a particularly stylish spook (and a few extra dollars), guests can be escorted to the event’s red carpet from the entrance of the park in a hearse. Dance “Thriller”-style with a DJ after imbibing an open beer-and-wine bar, and preserve the moment in a zombie photo booth. 7-11 p.m. Saturday. $30; $50 couples. 1763 Hamilton-Cleves Road, Hamilton, 513-868-8336, pyramidhill.org. 

Photo: Lauryn Sophia
The first thing you see on the website for Portland, Maine quintet SeepeopleS is the pronouncement that the group plays “Anti-Genre-New-Music.” One listen to the group’s 2015 release, the two-disc, 25-song epic Dead Souls Sessions, and the description makes perfect sense. The band’s kitchen-sink Alt Rock is a psychedelic swirl of influences that makes it blissfully hard to pin down, rolling from ambient, acoustic Indie Folk to quirky Electro Pop to driving, trippy AltRock with an infectious sense of adventure that never slows down. It’s a head-trip of a listen in recorded form; it should be fascinating to see and hear the band pull off the ambitious album in a live context. 9 p.m. Saturday. $5. Stanley’s Pub, 323 Stanley Ave., Columbia Tusculum, facebook.com/stanleys.pub

Greater Cincinnati Kitchen & Bath Show
Photo: Provided
Whether you’re in need of some renovation inspiration for your kitchen or bath, or you just get a thrill from looking at the latest in tiled backsplashes, the Greater Cincinnati Kitchen & Bath Show has what you need. The show features vendors that specialize in the latest trends and products in cabinetry, flooring, hardware, plumbing, general remodeling and more, including green upgrades and energy-efficient retrofits. Noon-8 p.m. Friday; 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Saturday; 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday. $8 adult; free for kids 12 and younger. Duke Energy Convention Center, 525 Elm St., Downtown, cincinnatikitchenbathshow.com.

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

Ohio Sauerkraut Festival
Head to Waynesville, Ohio for the annual Ohio Sauerkraut Festival, featuring more than 30 nonprofit groups selling all sorts of sauerkraut dishes: pizza, pies, cookies, rolls, soups, pork and more. 9 a.m.-8 p.m. Saturday; 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday. Free admission. 10 N. Main St., Waynesville, Ohio, sauerkrautfestival.com.

Photo: Kathy Newton
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.

Cincinnati Chocolate Festival
Photo: Provided
It’s paradise for your sweet tooth: an entire afternoon of tastings, contests and demonstrations centered on nothing but chocolate. The sixth-annual fest features more than 20 vendors — including Aglamesis Bro.’s, Macaron Bar, Three B’s Sweets and Gigi’s Cupcakes — who will give out treats throughout the day in exchange for tasting tickets. The event also incorporates several cooking demos, including a lesson on using sweet flavors to encourage your kids to eat healthy foods. At 1:30 p.m., Food Network host Ben Vaughn — an award-winning chef and restaurateur — will demonstrate a chocolate recipe from his new book Southern Routes. Noon-5 p.m. Sunday. $10; free 12 and younger. Cintas Center, Xavier University, 1624 Herald Ave., Evanston, 513-745-3428, cincinnatichocolatefestival.com 

Lauren Groff
Photo: © Megan Brown 
Lauren Groff’s Fates and Furies focuses on two charismatic characters, Lancelot (Lotto) and Mathilde, as they navigate the peaks and valleys of their seemingly idyllic matrimony. The depths and intricacies of these two protagonists are revealed separately in two sections, with Lotto recounting their lives in Fates, and Mathilde often offering divergent takes and revealing new truths in Furies. It’s a bold, nakedly honest, deeply sensual novel filled with literary references from Greek mythology to Shakespeare. Fates and Furies has been long-listed for the 2015 National Book Award. Groff is also the author of two other novels and a collection of short stories. She has won the Paul Bowles Prize for Fiction, the PEN/O. Henry Award and the Pushcart Prize. Read CityBeat's interview with Groff here. Lauren Groff will read from Fates and Furies 5 p.m. Sunday at Joseph-Beth Booksellers in Rookwood Commons. More info: josephbeth.com.

Weeki Wachee Mermaids
Photo: Provided 
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. 

Old West Fest
Photo: Mikki Schaffner
If you have a pair of cowboy boots laying around that you’ve been meaning to break out, you’re in luck — Old West Fest is back for its eighth year, featuring an authentic recreated Old West Dodge-City-style town, with gold panning, covered-wagon rides, kids activities, live entertainment (including trick riding and a saloon show) and more. 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. Through Oct. 18. $12 adults; $6 ages 6-12; free under 12. 1449 Greenbush Cobb Road, Williamsburg, oldwestfestival.com.

Ohio Renaissance Festival
Photo: Will Thorpe Photography 
The Ohio Renaissance Festival is back and bringing fall weekends filled with costumes, turkey legs, mulled mead, jousting, games, glass-blowing demonstrations, choirs, crafts and tarot readings inside a 30-acre, recreated 16th-century village. This weekend is opening weekend, so tickets for adults are buy-one-get-one, and kids under 12 get in free. Be sure to check the website for themed weekends and different deals. Nerds of all kinds welcome — just remember that any medieval weapons you might bring need to be tied in a sheath at all times. 10:30 a.m.- 6 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays (and Labor Day). Through Oct. 25. $21.95 adult; $9.95 child; $119.95 season pass. 10542 E. State Route 73, Waynesville, renfestival.com. 

Season 6 begins with a 90-minute premiere followed by Chris Hardwick’s Talking Dead. Here’s what we know: Morgan and Rick will finally have a chance to catch up (hopefully we’ll get a dedicated flashback scene/episode that shows how Morgan transformed from his condition in “Clear” to his current state of badassery); comic character Paul “Jesus” Monroe will be introduced; Ethan Embry, Merritt Wever and Corey Hawkins (Straight Outta Compton’s Dr. Dre) join the cast; and the group — currently living in the safe-ish community of Alexandria outside Washington, D.C. — will face multiple threats from outside the walls and within. Season Premiere, 9 p.m., AMC.

Ruth’s Parkside Café celebrates two years in business with a special dinner to benefit Churches Active in Northside. 5-8 p.m. $40. Ruth’s, 1550 Blue Rock St., Northside, cainministry.org.

The Fall Floral Show at the Krohn Conservatory hosts an event to highlight everyone’s favorite fungus: mushrooms. Chef Ursula will prepare exotic mushroom bruschetta, triple mushroom barley soup and fall flavor-infused beers from Queen City Brewery. 1-3 p.m. $4 adults. Krohn Conservatory, Eden Park, cincinnatiparks.org.

by Nick Swartsell 10.09.2015 3 days ago
Posted In: News at 10:15 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Morning News and Stuff

Former Drop Inn Center reopens in Queensgate; free health screenings offered throughout city on Sunday; U.S. House slips further into chaos

Good morning all. It’s news time friends.

Today marks the opening of David and Rebecca Baron Center for Men, the homeless shelter in Queensgate replacing the Drop Inn Center that was located in Over-the-Rhine for decades. The shelter, located in a renovated Butternut Bread factory on Gest Street, has 150 beds and more than 79,000 square feet of space. The shelter, operated by nonprofit Shelterhouse, is one of five operating as part of the city’s Homelessness to Homes plan overseen by Strategies to End Homelessness. The move marks the end of years of fighting by advocates for the homeless to keep the shelter, the region’s largest, in Over-the-Rhine.

• Cincinnati’s chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists yesterday hosted a panel discussion on media coverage of the July shooting death of Samuel DuBose by University of Cincinnati Police officer Ray Tensing. The panel, staged at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, included Cincinnati City Manager Harry Black, attorneys for both the DuBose family and Ray Tensing, a representative from Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters’ office and news directors from The Cincinnati Enquirer and Channels 9, 19, 12 and 5. Topics ranged from the portrayal of both Tensing and DuBose in the initial reporting of the incident — many outlets showed a mugshot of DuBose and referred to him as a “suspect” in their early reports, while showing Tensing in uniform — to the media’s responsibility to report accurately without further inflaming community tensions. I live tweeted a lot of the discussion, as did many other attendees, under the hashtag #wordsandimages. Check out the discussion.

• First Lady Dena Cranley and a number of faith leaders will announce the first step in a major health initiative today at City Hall at 1 pm. Cranley, national executive director of the First Ladies Health Initiative Tracey Alston and the wives of a number of church leaders will unveil the first-annual health day, which will take place Sunday Oct. 11. The event, which will offer free health screenings for a number of conditions from diabetes to HIV, will take place at 18 locations throughout the city. You can find these locations and hours they'll be open here.

• A landmark historic building in Walnut Hills is on its way to renovation. Last week, the Walnut Hills Redevelopment Foundation purchased the iconic Paramount Building on Peebles Corner for $750,000 and plans a full-scale redevelopment of the property. The foundation estimates that work will cost at least $3 million and is currently raising funds to complete the effort. The 80-year-old Paramount long served as a theater in the neighborhood and is one of Walnut Hills’ distinctive landmarks with its turret-like front façade.

• How much does health care cost in Cincinnati? Well, it depends, and it’s kinda arbitrary. That’s especially true when it comes to care for women, a new study released by castlighthealth.com finds. Costs for procedures like mammograms diverge wildly in the Cincinnati area, running anywhere from $123 to nearly $300 depending on where you go. HPV tests are similarly wide-ranging in their costs. Healthcare outlets charge anywhere from $24 to $208 for the routine test. Some other, non-gender specific health services, such as a preventive primary care visit, also vary wildly in price, but the ranges are especially wide for services for women. The price differences reflect the varying deals insurers are able to strike with hospitals and other healthcare providers, as well as a number of other factors that Castlight researchers say show how dysfunctional America’s healthcare system is. You can see the full study and how Cincinnati compares to other cities here.

• So this is just really cool. Officials and community advocates in Akron shut down a highway to hold a 500-person dinner and community conversation. On Oct. 4, Akron police shut down a section of the city's Inner Belt Freeway while volunteers set up 63 tables for guests. Attendees, led by facilitators, then had a meal and discussed the city's future, delving into a number of contentious issues while taking notes and sketching out ideas. Among the topics of discussion: what to do with the freeway they were sitting on, which cut through low-income neighborhoods and separated them from downtown when it was built in the 1970s. That freeway will soon be shut down  — it serves only 18,000 cars a day, a far cry from the 120,000 for which it was designed.

• Could John Boehner’s resignation from the House of Representatives and the ensuing chaos it has caused (more on that in a minute) have repercussions in the Kentucky governor’s race? It’s looking like it. Republican gubernatorial candidate and tea party dude Matt Bevin has been waging a tough-fought campaign against Democrat candidate Jack Conway. But now, at least some prominent Republicans in Kentucky are turning their backs on Bevin in favor of Conway as a result of distaste for the tea party movement that has caused deep fissures within the GOP. Part of the lingering bitterness is from Bevin’s 2012 primary challenge of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky. Bevin ran a nasty campaign against McConnell, marshaling tea party anger and attempting to use it against the veteran lawmaker. Bevin failed in that race, but has been seen as a viable candidate for governor. But with the divide between establishment Republicans and radical tea party conservatives growing wider, it may be hard for him to pull together the support he needs to defeat Conway.

• Finally, speaking of all that, I just want to talk really quick about how fascinating things are getting in the House of Representatives. A couple weeks back we told you about how the resignation of House Speaker and Greater Cincinnatian John Boehner could bring more power to hardline rightwingers in the GOP. At the time, this was an arguable point, considering House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy was all lined up to take Boehner’s place. Now, it’s not that McCarthy isn’t conservative, but like Boehner, he has no interested in shutting down the government or engaging in some of the more radical tactics tea party conservatives in the House have championed. Welp, hate to say I told you so, but yesterday McCarthy dropped out of the running for speaker, and now Republicans are scrambling to find a willing replacement who isn’t part of the three dozen or so tea party radicals in the GOP. Party leaders, including Boehner, who just wants to get the hell out of there at this point, are reportedly begging U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, former Vice Presidential candidate in Mitt Romney’s last run, to step up and take the job, but Ryan’s all like, nah, that’s cool I’m good.

That’s it for me. Hit me up on Twitter or email me with news tips or your favorite Halloween haunted houses. I’m trying to hit up several before they close for the season.

by Rick Pender 10.09.2015 4 days ago
Posted In: Theater at 09:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Stage Door

Sex and violence, plus an irreverent take on history

I gave a Critic’s Pick to the Cincinnati Playhouse’s production of Sex with Strangers, a new play by Laura Eason (who’s written scripts for House of Cards on Netflix). Ethan, an arrogant 28-year-old blogger has turned his writing about sexual conquests into a best-selling book, while Olivia is a serious, introspective writer who, at 39, is hiding behind a teaching career, discouraged by negative reviews and weak sales of her first novel more than a decade earlier. He’s addicted to his cell phone, while she prefers to have her nose in a book. But they have chemistry that’s both physical and driven by aspiration and envy of one another’s careers. The Playhouse production features two actors who are totally believable in their roles, and extremely watchable. It’s an entertaining tale that doesn’t tie everything up in a neat ending. Through Oct. 25. Tickets: 513-421-3888

William Mastrisomone’s Extremities (running through Oct. 18) is not an easy play to watch. A woman is attacked by a stalker, turns the tables on him and becomes as much a bloodthirsty animal as the man who thought he could have his way with her. She has two roommates who try to defuse her violent intentions, but she’s almost as harsh with them as with the bad guy. It’s a harsh story that’s not easy to watch, and it’s a departure for Cincinnati Landmark Productions, which is known for more mainstream fare, musicals and classic comedies. But the company’s artistic leaders are hoping that the new Incline Theatre can be a venue for more serious work, and this show, written in 1982, certainly signals that. Solid individual acting jobs by the four-member cast will keep you on edge. There are a few rough edges, but I give CLP props for getting serious. Tickets: 513-241-6550

Know Theatre is playing host to a production from the drama program at CCM, directed by faculty member Brant Russell. Charise Castro Smith’s The Hunchback of Seville is an irreverent and raucous comedy that turns historical atrocities — it’s set in Spain in 1504 — on their heads with storytelling that might remind you of Quentin Tarantino’s movies. Russell says the playwright “weaves history and anachronism. The subtle variances of tone, the frequently less subtle humor and the savoring of the language all speak to me. In terms of content, this play is very much about anyone who’s ever been marginalized. This is the story of a woman who is denied so many privileges that others enjoy because she was born in a body different from those around her. Ultimately it’s a story about privilege, ethics, power, and the way we tell the story of our shared history.” It opens tonight and continues through Oct. 24. Tickets: 513-300-5669 

Advance notices: I’m really looking forward to seeing Pippin, the next touring Broadway musical at the Aronoff, kicking off on Tuesday. It’s by Stephen Schwartz (Godspell and Wicked are two of his best-known works), and this is a production that won a 2013 Tony Award as the season’s best musical revival. It’s a cool concept, integrating Cirque du Soleil-like performers into the story of a young man’s quest for meaning in the Middle Ages. It’s here for just one week (through Sunday, Oct. 18), so if you hope to see it, get your tickets now. … Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati will open its production of Buyer and Cellar on Wednesday (it continues through Nov. 1). It’s a very funny one-man show about an out-of-work actor hired to manage Barbra Streisand’s collections of stuff, set up like a shopping mall. There’s enough reality to make it hilarious, and enough truth to make it meaningful. I suspect it will be a hot ticket: 513-421-3555 

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

by Mike Breen 10.08.2015 4 days ago
Posted In: Local Music, Live Music, Music Video, New Releases at 12:15 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

WATCH: Alone at 3AM’s “I’m Dying” Music Video

Greater Cincinnati roots rockers reveal clip for track off of new album ‘Show the Blood’

Over the past year or so, Northern Kentucky’s SofaBurn Records has risen to become one of the more notable independent record labels in the region. The imprint has helped draw national attention to locally-produced gems like singer/songwriter Jeremy Pinnell’s amazing OH/KY album, and it has also released various singles featuring area artists like Buffalo Killers and R. Ring (featuring Kelley Deal and Northern Kentucky’s Mike Montgomery). Tomorrow (Oct. 9), the label is putting out the latest from former SubPop recording artist and Kentucky native Daniel Martin Moore; you can listen to Moore’s Golden Age (produced by My Morning Jacket’s Jim James) now via the Wall Street Journal’s website

Another great local band that is part of the SofaBurn roster is Alone at 3AM, the soulful and melodic Roots Rock crew fronted by singer/songwriter Max Fender that has been kicking ass for the past decade and a half-plus with consistently excellent releases showcasing Fender’s compelling songwriting abilities. 

Alone at 3AM’s fantastic new album, Show the Bloodwas released by SofaBurn last month and it has already scored some glowing reviews, including one from Roots Rock/AltCountry bible No Depression, which called the LP “a superb album from the first to the last track.” 

This Saturday, Alone at 3AM is playing a free show at Northside’s Comet to support the new release. The 10 p.m. show also includes sets from Northern Kentucky’s A City on Fire and Joliet, Ill.’s Death and Memphis. 

Ahead of the show, the band has unveiled a new music video for Show the Blood track “I’m Dying,” a Heartland Rock ear-worm that Springsteen/Petty fans should instantly fall in love with. (The track was premiered on Guitar World’s website back in July.)  

The “I’m Dying” video is a no-nonsense clip shot in Northern Kentucky. "This video is just a little window into what life is like in Dayton, Ky., where I wrote the album,” Fender says. “(We) had lots of fun shooting it with Sarah (Davis, Alone at 3AM harmony singer and keyboardist).” 

After the show at The Comet, Fender is setting off on a European solo tour with labelmate Pinnell. Click here to keep tabs on the latest Alone at 3AM happenings. 

by Tony Johnson 10.08.2015 4 days ago
at 11:29 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Spoonful of Cinema: Sicario

You can feel it. Under the suspense, the action, the tension — fear. The fear of the unknown. The fear of death. The fear that you don’t amount to anything more than the dirt you tread on. The fear that your efforts to do what is right only contribute to the very evil you fight. The fear that you are horribly wrong. The fear that you are as alone as you think you are.

This unrelenting fear bubbles viciously beneath the surface of Sicario, the crime-and-punishment thriller that brings our greatest nightmares to the Mexican border drug wars. Emily Blunt stars and shines as plays-it-by-the-book FBI Agent Kate Macer. When Kate is recruited by Matt Graver (Josh Brolin) to search for the men responsible for the killing of two police officers and dozens of immigrants, she agrees. But almost immediately, the motives behind the mission become less and less clear. A mysterious Colombian partner of Graver’s, Alejandro Gillick (Benicio Del Toro), is heavily involved in the operation, which troubles Kate, and she begins to wonder who she is really working for, who she is helping and who she is fighting against.

Kate’s journey to Juarez and back and throughout the border is as tense as it gets. Director Denis Villeneuve (Prisoners, Enemy) holds nothing back in keeping us on the edge of our seats, squeezing our sodas and shoving popcorn into our faces. Kate never seems safe. Alejandro barely seems human. Graver hardly seems genuine. If Sicario were a roller coaster, it would be in our best interest to buckle up and strap in.

The story and visions that flash on the silver screen throughout Sicario are gritty and unnerving, fraught with uncertainty and discomfort. Villeneuve’s camera is unafraid to intrude upon our characters. We see every mark of desperate frustration on Kate’s face. We are thrust into a shootout in the middle of a traffic jam. We witness Alejandro’s interrogation methods. It isn’t pretty, but it makes for a strikingly suspenseful trip along the tracks of the Mexican drug cartel’s trade routes and the U.S. government’s efforts to mop up the mess.

If a plot is only as good as the actors that bring it to life, it should be safe to say that there are no shortcomings with the players who provide the pulse of the story. Emily Blunt seems ready to take her place amongst Jennifer Lawrence and Scarlett Johansson in the upper echelon of A-list Hollywood-actress badasses. She is as much as anyone can ask for as agent Kate Macer. We find ourselves rooting for Kate not only to survive, but also to find some legitimate meaning or purpose or silver lining to the work she has given herself to — even if we doubt that it may be there. She lays her life on the line, not without questions, but without a trace of cynicism. Blunt nails the character, creating an overwhelmed hero who pushes her private life aside for the sake of an idealistic pursuit of bringing those to justice who most require it.

Blunt is supported by the macho pairing of Brolin and Del Toro, each in prime form. Brolin is spot-on as the ethically dismissive Graver. Rather than being up-front with Kate about their objectives, Graver keeps her in the dark, laughing off most of her concerns with country-boy quips and tasteless witticisms. Del Toro turns in an ice-cold performance. His commanding brevity accentuates the frozen stare he gives anyone and everyone, and there isn’t an ounce of trustworthiness to be found upon his face. Whether Alejandro’s loyalties exist or not is a total mystery, and the only thing that we are sure of with him is that he gives nothing up — he has no tells. Del Toro gives us a relentless portrayal of a man with nothing to lose, little to gain and motivations shrouded in stoic ruthlessness.

But once the film finishes — once the curtain is drawn back and the gears of the murderous machinery are revealed — we are left feeling as hopeless as when we are oblivious to the inner workings of the border conflict at hand. There is no saving grace. No relief. No future. Only more of the same. More empty hands, more empty promises, more empty homes — all of which fuel the fire of the drug trade to grow stronger and more sure of itself with each passing day, week and military operation.

With twists and turns throttling our sense of security along the way, Sicario eventually reaches its stunningly bleak conclusion with a sobering impression left on the audience. The notion is suggested that violence and war and vengeance are not chosen. They are evils that are learned, inherited and bestowed upon those unfortunate enough to experience the effects of the evil that they are afflicted with. They are a collective plague, a virus impossible to end — an epidemic unable to be curbed. War, violence, and betrayal never end. It only reimagines, redistributes, and recreates itself. Somewhere between the militaristic sabotage of Zero Dark Thirty and the desert-heated tension of No Country For Old Men, Sicario is a stunning knockout of a picture that pulls no punches, provides no apologies and leaves even the most romantic of all of us asking: Are there “good guys” anymore? And if there are, how different are they from the “bad guys” they’re after? Grade: A



by Natalie Krebs 10.08.2015 4 days ago
Posted In: News at 10:10 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Morning News and Stuff

City Council votes to preserve Kings Records building; Study finds Cranley's park tax levy will bring $117 million; Half of Ohioans on board with legalizing weed

It's almost Friday, Cincy! Hang in there with me. I've got plenty of studies and polls to keep you going this morning. 

• City Council voted unanimously yesterday to designate the old Kings Records building a historic landmark. The future of the building has been controversial as city leaders and activists have fought to save the building. They hope that it renovation along with a nearby educational facility could revitalize Evanston. However, the building's owner, Dynamite Industries, has other ideas. They would like to demolish the building and may sue the city over its decision. Kings Records saw its heyday 1940s to the 1970s when it was the sixth largest record label in the world. Famous musicians like Otis Redding and James Brown spent time at the Evanston studio, and Brown recorded some of his greatest hits with the label.                

• A report commissioned by the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber and Cincinnati Business Committee found Mayor Cranley's proposed tax levy for city parks would have an economic impact of $117 million in the first ten years. Cranley has proposed a permanent property tax levy to revamp and maintain the city's parks with 16 different projects, like increasing hiking and biking trails to attract commuters. Some worry about the lack of oversight in Cranley's proposal and that his plan, which he has referred to as "park-o-nomics" could lead to the commercialization of public parks. 

• A just over half of Ohioians--53 percent to be exact--are on board with legalizing marijuana for recreational use compared to 44 percent who said they are not. The Quinnipiac poll found that 65 percent claim they would definitely not use marijuana it if it were legalized, however. The poll didn't specifically ask about Issue 3, but posed general questions about legalizing the drug. The survey found men were overall more supportive of it then women as were younger people more so than older folk.  

The same poll found that Democratic U.S. Senate candidate and former Ohio governor Ted Strickland at 46 percent support is slightly ahead of GOP candidate Rob Portman, who had 43 percent support. 

• While it might not yet have the tech reputation of San Francisco or Austin, website ValuePenguin.com ranked Cincinnati ninth on its list of mid-sized cities for web developers. According to its data, Cincinnati has about 910 web development jobs with an average salary of $65,390 and the cost of living here definitely beats that of San Francisco and Austin. The cities are placed into three categories based on population: large, mid-sized and small. You can check out the full list here. 

• Volkswagen of America CEO Michael Horn will be answering some tough questions from Congress this morning. The executive is scheduled to go before a U.S. House subcommittee investigating the discovery that VW has been cheating on their U.S. emissions tests. U.S. inspectors found nearly 500,000 cars starting with the 2009 models were equipped with software to distort the emissions produced during government tests. Horn is planning on telling Congress that he had only learned of the software a few week ago. VW and U.S. official have not yet announced how they will fix the recalled vehicles. 

• I went to my first Cincinnati Reds game against the Chicago Cubs last Wednesday. The Reds lost their last home game pretty badly, but the game redeemed itself slightly in the eighth inning when they managed to strike out the 11th Cubs batter. For this, I won a small LaRosa's pizza as did everyone else with a ticket to that game. So how many free pizzas has LaRosa's given out in the four years that they've offered this promotion? According to the Cincinnati Business Courier, 640,000. But this year they gave away one-third less pizzas as compared to last year. Attendance was down as Reds didn't quite do so well. Better luck next year, Reds! 

As usual, my email me at nkrebs@citybeat.com. Any story ideas or happenings are welcome.

by Kerry Skiff 10.07.2015 5 days ago
Posted In: Architecture, Visual Art at 01:08 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Beyond the Books

The Robot Zoo at the Boone County Public Library's main branch

I must confess, driving by a library and seeing a silhouette of a rhino through a window is pretty cool. But that was nothing compared to the large giraffe that nodded its head at me just a few feet inside the entrance of the main branch of the Boone County Public Library, in Burlington, Kentucky. Both are part of the 18-station Robot Zoo that moved into the library just six weeks ago, and will be staying for the next five months.

The Robot Zoo, a 5,000-square-foot traveling exhibit, displays a variety of huge robot animals including a giant squid, bat, platypus, rhino, chameleon, grasshopper and giraffe. Finding all the stations takes a bit of exploring since they’re scattered around the library, but after watching the large creatures move, I have to say it’s pretty cool. As I walked around I marveled at how each exhibit showed the unique traits of the animal, highlighting fun facts about their anatomy. “You kind of watch and see everything going on and then read how that ties in,” says Shawn Fry, assistant director of the Boone County Public Library. “That’s where the kind of learning is snuck in.”

Becky Kempf, Public Relations Coordinator, says the exhibit provides a lot of fun for kids. “It’s not going to be quiet here for the next few months,” she jokes after handing me the list of stations. Fry says the library is always trying new ways to engage the community. “[We’re] always looking for new ways to use our space, to bring people in, to excite people,” he says. “Right now STEM programming — the science, technologies, engineering [and math] — is the thing, a very exciting thing. This is a way to incorporate that.”

According to Kempf, the Robot Zoo exceeds the library’s wish list for a new program. “Our mission is to provide life-long learning opportunities for all ages,” she says, “so whether it’s through books or the research help that we provide or bringing something like this in…it’s right down our alley. It fits perfectly with what we’re trying to do.” Fry says the branch is lucky it’s big enough to house the exhibit, and describes the challenges of moving the parts inside. “The giraffe, I think, was the hardest,” he laughs, “and it’s kind of the entrance for the whole thing.”

“It’s been really interesting… seeing, in all kinds of ages, the enthusiasm in watching them build it,” adds Fry. “There were kids that came in today [Monday] that were all excited; they’d been waiting…and they were excited.” I don’t blame them; it was almost like walking through a quiet, indoor zoo, without having to dodge wayward geese or worry about sunburn. I observed the grasshopper twitching its antennae and peeked in its open side at the glowing innards, revealing the 10 sections of the abdomen. The rhino, a declared work-in-progress, pursed its large lips, emphasized to show how their texture helps trim its grassy food while the bat creaks from its upside-down perch in the corner.

Fry may say the exhibit is geared toward kids, but he and I both saw adults exploring too. “We kind of didn’t know it would be this cool,” Fry says, laughing. “Regardless of age, we’ve gotten lots of positive feedback.”

The Robot Zoo will be at the Burlington branch through Feb. 28, 2016. Admission is free, thanks to community sponsors, and the exhibit is open during library hours.

Other Boone County Public Library Events:
Ghosts of Rabbit Hash: Oct. 10 – Get a tour through the tiny town and hear about its haunts.
Herbs and Supplements: What’s right for you?: Oct. 13 – Learn about what natural healers and supplements are healthy or harmful.
Concert at the Library: Oct. 23 – Whiskeybent Valley performs at the Main branch.