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by Maija Zummo 08.28.2015 88 days ago

Your Weekend To Do List (8/28-8/30)

The season's first Oktoberfest, Mothersbaugh Mania, Taste of OTR, Taste of Blue Ash and more



Mothersbaugh Mania officially kicks off in Cincinnati on Friday when Mark Mothersbaugh — the co-founder of the great Post-Punk band DEVO, as well as an accomplished visual artist who studied his craft at Kent State University — appears at Woodward Theater for a concert sponsored by the Contemporary Arts Center. (The CAC is opening a highly anticipated retrospective of his artwork, Myopia, on Sept. 25.) Friday’s show will begin with a small orchestral group playing DEVO covers and Mothersbaugh’s scores for Wes Anderson movies, followed by a short “onstage dialogue,” and will conclude with him conducting an ensemble in “Music for Six Sided Keyboard” (pictured). 8 p.m. Friday. $60 seated; $30 standing. Woodward Theater, 1404 Main St., Over-the-Rhine, contemporaryartscenter.org

Third Eye Blind
Photo: Big Hassle
Ever wondered what Blue Ash tastes like? Find out this weekend. Celebrating its 30th anniversary, Taste of Blue Ash features food from more than a dozen area restaurants (Delicio’s Coal Fired Pizza, Alfio’s Buon Cibo, Café Mediterranean, Mama Mimi’s and more), a craft beer tent, festival rides, strolling entertainers and special headlining musical performances from Third Eye Blind (’90s nostalgia, please never end) on Saturday and Thompson Square on Sunday. 6-11 p.m. Friday; 2-11 p.m. Saturday; 2-9 p.m. Sunday. Free. Summit Park, 4335 Glendale-Milford Road, Blue Ash, blueashevents.com

Joel Sternfeld’s photo accompanies Kathy Y. Wilson’s piece.
Photo: Cincinnati Art Museum, FotoFocus Art Purchase Fund
Art After Dark celebrates the Cincinnati Art Museum’s new exhibit, Unknown Elements, which highlights anonymous photographs from the museum collection, paired with contemplative writings from local authors. The evening includes docent-led tours, a Hip Hop dance performance from Elementz, spoken-word and Short Order Poetry from Chase Public in the courtyard. 5-9 p.m. Friday. Free. Cincinnati Art Museum, 953 Eden Park Drive, Mount Adams, cincinnatiartmuseum.org/artafterdark. 

Germania Society Oktoberfest
Photo: Provided
Get your fill of cream puffs, dirndls and Warsteiner at the Germania Society’s 45th-annual Oktoberfest — Cincinnati’s “original and most authentic Oktoberfest,” full of the best parts of local German culture, crafts and cooking. Tents serving an array of dishes like strudel, sauerkraut, schnitzel and sauerbraten will line the streets (and your plate), with more than 60 taps of both authentic and domestic beers, along with Bavarian schnapps. Guests can enjoy live music, German dance groups, carnival rides, games and a vacation raffle. Guten appetit! 6 p.m.-midnight Friday; 2 p.m.-midnight Saturday; noon-10 p.m. Sunday. $4. Germania Park, 3529 W. Kemper Road, Colerain, germaniasociety.com

Lily & Madeleine
Photo: Julien Bourgeois 
Lily & Madeleine might be considered Indianapolis’ answer to Over the Rhine. Though there is an obvious age and experience difference  — Lily & Madeleine were just teenage sisters when their first records, the EP Weight of the Globe and a self-titled album, came out in 2013 — there is striking similarity in other ways.  Both acts are primarily Americana-oriented singer/songwriter duos whose female singers deliver hauntingly lovely, introspective vocals on melancholia-tinged ballads and mid-tempo compositions. Lily & Madeleine play Madison live with Shannon Hayden and The Mitchells Friday. More info/tickets: madisontheateronline.com.

Napoleon Maddox and Aiesha Little of the Midwest Black Speculative Fiction Alliance
Photo: Jesse Fox

Comic book fans are a colorful lot, quite like the books themselves. This Saturday, the St. Bernard branch of the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County is honoring a historically underrepresented group in comic book culture: black writers, illustrators and readers. It’s part of an event called Queen City Black Comix Day, which was organized by Aiesha Little of the Midwest Black Speculative Fiction Alliance (MBSFA).  “We’re focusing on indie creators and illustrators because there’s a vibrant world outside of ‘the Big Two’ of DC and Marvel,” Little says. “Indie comics offer a larger variety of narratives, genres and viewpoints, and I think kids and adults alike need to see that.” Black Comix Day takes place Saturday at the St. Bernard branch of the public library. More info: midwestbsfa.wordpress.com 


The Kennedy Heights Arts Center, one of the best and most ambitious in the region, takes a great leap forward this weekend when it opens its new 10,500-square-foot annex in a portion of an old Kroger grocery store.  The overall site has been christened the Kennedy Heights Cultural Campus because the building also holds the Kennedy Heights Montessori School in addition to the arts center’s Lindner Annex. “This expansion will allow us not only to expand our programs to include digital art forms, but also to have a big open space for different kinds of performing arts and to host performances and concerts,” said Ellen Muse-Lindeman, the arts center’s executive director, during a recent tour of the addition. The Raise the Heights art parade and festival takes place 11 a.m-5 p.m. Saturday. More info: kennedyarts.org.

Starlit Picnic
Photo: Even Noga


Romance will be waiting at the Cincinnati Observatory’s first adults-only Starlit Picnic. Grab a blanket, packed picnic-dinner, drinks and a date and settle in for a special night. “This is kind of a little bit fancier, more adults-only, where people can bring their own drinks,” says Dean Regas, outreach astronomer at the observatory. “They can watch as the sun goes down on one side of the sky and watch the moon come up on the other side.” Telescopes are available, and astronomers will guide guests through a viewing of the heavenly lights. Bring flashlights and candles to set the mood. 7-10 p.m. Saturday. $30. Cincinnati Observatory, 3489 Observatory Place, Mount Lookout, cincinnatiobservatory.org.

Jane Decker
Photo: Provided


Jane Decker is just barely into official adulthood, but she’s lived a virtual lifetime of experiences, both personally and professionally. Her supportive mother and father encouraged her musical pursuits, and she was writing songs by age 10 — about the time both her parents received cancer diagnoses. Two years later, her father passed away and Decker recorded her first songs. Three years after that, the Cincinnati-based vocalist joined her first band, a blistering Punk outfit called Formulas, but she began therapeutically writing distinctly non-Punk songs. Her brother John offered to pay for her to record those artier songs and enlisted friends to help. Formulas broke up, Decker’s mother’s cancer went into remission and the stage was set for a fresh chapter. Read a full feature on Decker here. Jane Decker plays a free 1:30 p.m. show Saturday at Washington Park’s Taste of OTR. More info: tasteofotr.com. 

Taste of OTR
Photo: Tender Mercies


The third-annual Taste of OTR is a family-friendly day of food, craft beer and live entertainment in Washington Park to benefit Tender Mercies, a nonprofit in the heart of Over-the-Rhine that provides housing to homeless adults living with mental illness and a variety of supportive services. Things kick off at 11 a.m. with a performance from Mamadrones and continue well into the night with more local music from the likes of Jane Decker, the Comet Bluegrass All-Stars, Multimagic and more. And fill your belly with food from an entire slew of local faves, like Eli’s BBQ, Kaze, Cincy by the Slice, The Chili Hut, Dojo Gelato, Taste of Belgium, MOTR Pub — the list goes on and on — while sipping on local craft brews. VIP tickets include deck seating and select special tastings. 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Saturday. Tastings $1-$6; VIP $50; $60 door. Washington Park, 1230 Elm St., Over-the-Rhine, tendermerciesinc.org. 

Red Bull Soapbox Race
Photo: Provided


Red Bull — known for hosting relatively creative and dangerous events like their Flugtag, where people build their own flying machines and participate in a competition involving flinging themselves off of tall things — has been bringing the joys of soapbox derby-ing to Mount Adams for several years. The competition consists of both design and creativity judging panels for the derby contestants’ vehicles and a daring timed race through Eden Park, routinely loaded with epic crashes and glorious triumphs from the charmingly unique homemade vehicles, built from materials ranging from cardboard to steel. 11 a.m. Saturday. Free. Eden Park, 950 Eden Park Drive, Mount Adams, redbullsoapboxrace.com. 


Grab the kids and head to the Cincinnati Museum Center for Mini Maker Faire, a celebration of creativity and invention spread across the rotunda, the center’s three museums and outside. This two-day show-and-tell features “makers” ranging from techies and crafters to homesteaders, scientists and garage tinkerers, all with the goal of entertaining, informing, connecting and growing community. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday; 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday. Museum admission required. Cincinnati Museum Center, 1301 Western Ave., Queensgate, cincinnatimakerfaire.com.


'Fear the Walking Dead'
Photo: Justin Lubin, AMC


With the undeniable success of AMC’s The Walking Dead, it makes sense that the network would produce a spinoff. Fear the Walking Dead promises zombie-apocalypse action in the fictional universe fans have come to love, with a different setting, cast and timeline. So we move from years into the outbreak in Georgia (or, more recently, Virginia) to the very beginning in Los Angeles. Last week’s pilot might be deemed “slow” by some because the action and bloodshed was so minimal compared to the original series, but this companion is all about exploring the early days of this zombie virus — what happened right before the world turned upside down. That’s a huge chunk of the apocalyptic timeline we missed out on in TWD, as we experienced everything via Rick Grimes, who was in a coma for about a month when the fallout began. And Fear’s vision of the first cracks in society is intriguing. The show focuses on a blended family: High school counselor Madison and her children — Alicia, a laidback college-bound intellectual, and Nick, a troubled drug addict — and her English-teacher boyfriend Travis (whose ex-wife and son made a short appearance last week). Clearly this modern family dynamic will present realistic problems, like where to go when the world ends and your family is scattered across the city. 9 p.m. Sundays. AMC.

'The Complete Tom'
Photo: Provided


Some theater al fresco? Queen City Flash is a flash-mob theater company working its way through Mark Twain’s adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn with imaginative, pop-up performances in local parks. This month they conclude their spirited four-part adaptation with Detective. Huck and Tom’s adventure involves solving a murder to clear an innocent friend. Tickets are free, but reserved in advance for a date and time. On the performance day, ticket-holders are emailed a map and parking instructions. Getting there — maybe to a Cincinnati park you’ve never visited — is part of the fun. As is the lively show. 7:30 p.m. daily. Through Monday. Free; reservations required. Locations vary, queencityflash.com


In art, as in life, context is key. An image that would otherwise be treated with contempt — or worse, blithe indifference — can be illuminated with only a few facts. Likewise, stripped of its context, a piece of art can become something else entirely as the viewer imagines a contextual framework for the art. This is the premise of a new photography exhibition at the Cincinnati Art Museum, Unknown Elements, which features 26 photos from the museum’s collection “about which some details are unknown.” Displayed in Gallery 212, the photographs range in date from the mid-19th century to the present day and are accompanied by written works from local writers — poems, short stories and other responses paired to selected images to serve as a “prompt” for viewers’ own reflections. Unknown Elements is on display at the Cincinnati Art Museum through Nov. 8. More info: cincinnatiartmuseum.org.

'A Hundred Minus One Day'
Photo: Provided


For two summers, John Leo Muething has presented Stone on a Walk, his low-budget theater company offering “short, sweet and cheap” shows. His goal is for you to walk away after an hour’s performance saying, “That was sweet.” 2015’s final production is the U.S. premiere of a touching comedy by Idgie Beau, an Edinburgh Fringe hit in 2013 about youthful innocence and living in the moment. The title — A Hundred Minus One Day — is from A.A. Milne: “If you live to be a hundred, I want to live to be a hundred minus one day, so I never have to live without you.” Through Aug. 29. $10. Simple Space, 16 E. 13th St., Over-the-Rhine, stoneonawalk.com. 

by Rick Pender 08.28.2015 88 days ago
Posted In: Theater at 07:00 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
shakespeare in the park crowd - photo provided by cincinnati shakespeare company

Stage Door

Park your theatergoing outdoors

At this point in the summer you have to look a little harder for theater productions. Most of our local companies are rehearsing for shows to open their 2015-2016 seasons. But that doesn’t mean there’s nothing to see, especially if you’d like to enjoy theater in the great outdoors.

Queen City Flash’s performances of The Complete Tom, from Mark Twain’s tales about Tom Sawyer, are both outside-the-box and — literally — outside, popping up in different area parks for each evening their final romp with Tom Sawyers, Detective, is being presented. In this installment (the fourth of four), Tom and Huck Finn set out to clear a friend implicated in a murder. To catch one of these free performances, you need to reserve a ticket at queencityflash.com. At 4 p.m. on the day of the show, you’ll receive an email with details of the “secret” outdoor location. The production, creatively staged by Bridget Leak, features six actors who play multiple roles using puppets and quick costume changes.

Another outdoor adventure is in store for you if you track down a FREE Shakespeare in the Park performance of a modern-dress staging of Romeo and Juliet this weekend. You’ll find one at Seasongood Pavilion in Eden Park on Friday, another at the McDonald Commons Park Shelter in Madeira on Saturday and a third at Keehner Park in West Chester on Sunday; all performances are at 7 p.m. This series is produced by Cincinnati Shakespeare Company, and it will be toured (as will a production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream) to local schools, community centers and other venues through May 2016.

If you prefer to sit in a theater, head to Covington where The Carnegie has a head start on the theater season with its mid-August production: Stephen Sondheim and George Furth’s innovative Company, onstage through Sunday. Even though the show has been around for 45 years, its outside-the-box approach — no beginning-middle-end story, in particular, but rather a central character, Robert, who’s turning 35 but remains disconnected, despite his married friends pushing help toward relationships — seems timely. Although the Carnegie’s actors are a tad young and don’t really feel like the New Yorkers who Furth’s script portrayed, they do a good job with the songs, and Zachary Huffman does a fine job with the central role. Here’s my CityBeat review. It’s onstage through Sunday. Tickets: 859-957-1940

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

by Jac Kern 08.27.2015 89 days ago
Posted In: Movies, TV/Celebrity, Humor at 02:49 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

I Just Can't Get Enough

Jac's roundup of pop culture news and Internet findings

Serena Williams and Drake made out at Sotto. What did you do this weekend?

Serena was in town competing in the Western & Southern Open; Drake came to watch. The two celebrated Serena’s finals win with dinner at Sotto downtown and, apparently, a little mouth-on-mouth action. Drake also supported Serena at Wimbledon earlier this summer. NORMAL.

The brothers Hanson, the objects of my adolescent affection after my JTT phase ended, are now in the beer business. The still-dreamy-to-me trio of Zac, Isaac and Taylor have produced a pale ale appropriately called Mmmhops. It’s not available in Ohio, but you should be able to buy some online next month.

If you’re still following the Fat Jew on Instagram or Twitter, here are some reasons why you should consider cutting that shit off.

Play Cincinnati I-Spy as you watch the trailer for Carol:

I spotted Maury’s Tiny Cove (the restaurant in the very first scene) and various Downtown streets, and those Christmas shop scenes were filmed in Eden Park. The movie is expected to be released Nov. 20.

Do you ever wake up in the middle of the night with pressing questions, like “What ever happened to Rayanne from My So-Called Life?” Well, don’t worry, because A.J. Langer is doing fine — much better than how her iconic ‘90s character probably would have fared (All that sex! Drugs! Wild hair!). In fact, she’s a damn countess. Step aside, LuAnn.

A.J. met British Lord Charles Courtenay in 2002 and they married in 2005. They have two kids. Real-life Rayanne swapped her title of a Lady for that of a Countess when Charles’ father passed away last week, making her husband an Earl. In other words, boring, boring, boring, Rayanne now has a castle. The title includes a 14th-century estate in Exeter, England. Get it, Rayanne!

Wanna attend the Gloss book release party that Marc Jacobs is hosting next month during New York Fashion Week? Well, first you have to be fabulous enough to get an invite — but that’s not all. The invite features a lengthy, descriptive dress code that includes "fur coats over lingerie," "Grace Jones butch realness," "riding in on a white horse" (literally?) and sequins — three times. Read my wedding dress code the full description here

Highly specific talent: This woman sounds exactly like Beyoncé. If Beyoncé did commercial voiceovers.

Rumors about a Sons of Anarchy spinoff were circulating before the seven-season show even concluded last year. The idea was a prequel focusing on SAMCRO’s origins with Jax’s dad John Teller and the rest of the Redwood Original. But FX is instead moving forward with a spinoff about the Mayans, a rival motorcycle club.

If you can’t wait for another Kurt Sutter series, tune into The Bastard Executioner, premiering on FX Sept. 15. The medieval war drama stars Sons’ Gemma (Katey Sagal, Sutter’s wife), True Blood’s Bill (Stephen Moyer) and, naturally, the multihyphenate Sutter as a prosthetic-covered character called “The Dark Mute.”

And speaking of spinoffs, Fear the Walking Dead, a companion series to the similarly-titled The Walking Dead, is now on AMC. See this week’s TV column to read more about the new series and other shows to watch this week.

If you find yourself in the Chicago area and need a new gig, this Craigslist gem is searching for a tour assistant for a cat circus. MUST LOVE CATS!
by Natalie Krebs 08.27.2015 89 days ago
Posted In: News at 10:19 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
cranley veto

Morning News and Stuff

Cranley vetoes secret council meetings; The city racks up late fees; Charter school suddenly closes; Pakistan extradites former Ohio state deputy treasurer

Happy Thursday, Cincy! Better yet, tomorrow's Friday. So here's today's headlines to make the week pass a little quicker. 

• Mayor John Cranley vetoed a Nov. 3 ballot-bound charter yesterday that would allow city council to meet in secret about certain topics, including property sales, the city manager's performance and some economic development deals. The charter amendment ballot initiative was passed by council on Monday with a vote of 6-3, with Councilmembers P.G. Sittenfeld, Charlie Winburn and Christopher Smitherman voting against it. Despite Cranley's veto, the amendment isn't dead. The mayor admits it could very well end up back on the ballot as council appears to have the six votes needed to override his veto. The mayor said he vetoed the amendment allowing Council to use executive session for transparency reasons. The special executive sessions would have been restricted to items like assessing the city manager's performance, buying or selling property, disputes possibly ending up in court, security arrangements and items required to be kept secret by law.  

• Have trouble paying your bills on time? So does the city of Cincinnati! A city audit from January 2014 through July of this year found that taxpayers spent an additional $130,000 from late fees on the city's electrical bills. Taxpayers have been shelling out just under $7,000 on average per month for late fees for the first half of 2015. The city previously escaped Duke Energy's late fees as the company didn't charge them to the the government until a crackdown in 2014. City Manager Harry Black says a fix has reportedly come out of the City's Innovation Lab, but Councilman Kevin Flynn has expressed anger over the fees saying it shouldn't have taken a year to catch. 

Ian James, executive director of ResponsibleOhio, the political action committee trying to legalize marijuana, has accused Secretary of State Jon Husted of intentionally putting confusing language on its Nov. 3 ballot initiative. James accused Husted, who opposes the legalization, of using the word "monopoly," which he calls a "loaded term" on the ballot to confuse voters. The term has been floating around the group's initiative a lot, which would enact a constitutional amendment to legalize the plant, but restrict its growth to just 10 commercial farms in the state owned by the PAC's investors. State initiative 3 as of now will read, “Grants a monopoly for the commercial production and sale of marijuana for recreational and medicinal purposes.” ResponsibleOhio says it's actually unfair to call it a monopoly when the amendment would allow for 1,150 retail stores that are not operated by investors.

In other weed news, gazing upon ResponsibleOhio's new mascot, Buddie, might make you feel like you've already smoked a couple Js. He has a marijuana bud for a head. Just gonna leave it right here for you to check out. The mascot has caused controversy because critics say he/she/it is too cartoonish and could be viewed as an attempt to entice kids to smoke weed.

• A Columbus charter school has abruptly closed its doors just after the start of the school year leaving 300 students stranded. FCI Academy was suspended by its Toledo sponsor, Education Service Center of Lake Erie West, for mismanagement, but apparently things had been going downhill for the charter school for awhile. The Columbus Dispatch reports that it found the school was keeping afloat for so long by deferring debt, borrowing money and not paying federal withholding and Medicare taxes. The school also received Fs from the state report card on things like graduation rates, gap closing and overall value-added. But despite these setbacks, the school is still determined to keep fighting, according to a note left on the school's locked door in front of its deserted parking lot on Wednesday. In the summer of 2014, FCI Academy laid off 17 employees, and a 2013 state audit showed a $700,000 operating deficit.  

• Former Ohio state deputy treasurer Amer Ahmed has been extradited by Pakistan to the U.S. to begin serving a 15 year sentence for bribery, wire fraud and money laundering. Amer was sentenced to prison by U.S. District Judge Michael H. Watson of Columbus late last year. He and three co-conspirators were ordered to pay $3.2 million to the feds. He plead guilty to federal charges in 2013 then fled to Pakistan using fake travel documents. Ahmed served under Democratic state Treasurer Kevin L. Boyce until his defeat in 2010. During his tenure, he devised a plan to direct Ohio state brokerage business to a Canton securities broker. 

• One thing I noticed when I moved to Cincinnati is that people here love their chili.  Cincinnatians flock to the nearest Skyline after a long night of drinking the way the rest of the country flocks to IHOP. So with that, I am truly sorry to report the passing of the final surviving founder of Skyline, William Nicholas “Bill” Lambrinides on Tuesday at the age of 87. Lambrinides worked with his father, Nicolas, a Greek immigrant, and his two brothers, Lambert, Jim, Christie and John to open the first restaurant in 1949. The store has since grown to 110 locations to bring late-night happiness to folks in four states.

That's it for today! Email me with story tips!

by Nick Swartsell 08.26.2015 90 days ago
Posted In: News at 10:30 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Morning News and Stuff

Naming rights for streetcar up for grabs; activists demand more community involvement in UC reforms; Columbus Dispatch demands charter school public records

Hey all. Here’s a brief rundown of the news this morning.

So, do you want to see your name written really big on something attention-grabbing and controversial that will zoom around downtown most of the day and night? Do you have hundreds of thousands of dollars you’re not quite sure what to do with? Here’s an idea: buy some naming rights to the streetcar. Officials with the newly-created Cincinnati Street Railway, a nonprofit promoting the streetcar, are reaching out to marketing firms to help design advertising packages for corporate sponsors for the project. Similar marketing pushes in other cities with streetcars have netted millions in advertising revenues to go toward operation of the transit systems. Locally, some officials say the naming rights could net as much as $250,000 a year, though others say the project’s controversial nature makes it uncertain if big local corporations will want to put their names on it. A suggestion: maybe reach out to deep-pocketed, eccentric megalomaniacs? Perhaps Donald Trump will want to raise his profile here in town next year? What could be better than seeing The Donald’s giant face careening toward you on the front of a streetcar as you spend time in OTR just before the election? Though, hm, come to think of it, streetcar supporters may not be his target demographic.

• I’m not sure this is much news to anyone, but I’m going to say it anyway. We have an amazing library system here in Hamilton County. From its Maker Space to its innovative programming and events to the sheer amount of material available to check out, we have a rare thing here. And the numbers show it. Last year, The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County was the fifth-busiest library in the country, checking out more than 18 million items, according to data from the Public Library Association. Now, granted, at least a couple hundred of these check-outs were me borrowing the library’s DVD copies of the Bill and Ted movies, but still. Pretty impressive. The library moved up a spot on the ranking from 2013, when it was the sixth-busiest in the country. More than 600,000 people have library cards with the system. Not bad for the country’s 28th-biggest metropolitan area.

• Local faith leaders and activists are demanding more community involvement in changes the University of Cincinnati is undertaking in the wake of the Samuel DuBose shooting. Dubose was killed last month by UC police officer Ray Tensing after a routine traffic stop. Since that time, the university has vowed reform of its police department, including adjustments to off-campus patrols and joining in on the city’s collaborative agreement, which Cincinnati Police Department already abides by. That agreement was drawn up after the police shooting death of Timothy Thomas in 2001 caused days of civil unrest in Cincinnati. Activists and faith leaders are asking that UC compensate the DuBose family for his death, as well as submit to an external investigation into the school’s policing practices. A group including community activist Iris Roley, University of Cincinnati activist Alexander Shelton, Bishop Bobby Hilton, Pastor KZ Smith and others met with UC officials yesterday in a private meeting later described by Shelton as “tense” at times. UC President Santa Ono and newly-hired Vice President of Safety and Reform Robin Engel were among representatives for the university.

• Damn. Here’s the Columbus Dispatch throwing down about charter school transparency. In an editorial published today, the paper slams state officials for not releasing documents about the Ohio Board of Education’s omission of some data on poor-performing online charter schools in the state. The failure to include that data in reports about charter school performance led to an inflated evaluation for at least one organization that sponsors charters in the state. ODE official David Hansen was responsible for that data collection. He resigned following revelations of the omissions. His wife, incidentally, heads Gov. John Kasich’s presidential campaign. He’s a big, big supporter of charters in the state. The Dispatch, along with a number of other publications, has filed numerous public records requests for documents about the decision to withhold the less-than-flattering charter data, according to the editorial. And now they’re getting tired of waiting, it seems.

“If state Superintendent of Education Richard Ross is not covering up something embarrassing or illegal at the Ohio Department of Education, his recent actions aren’t helping his credibility,” the piece begins.

• Let’s circle back around to Donald Trump, since he’s leading national GOP presidential primary polls, and it seems like the whole world is kinda revolving around his circus of a campaign at the moment. The Donald  may well have taken it upon himself to offend Spanish-speaking Americans as much as possible lately, which is a questionable campaign strategy at best. In the past, Trump hasn’t done himself any favors with this large portion of the American population, describing Mexicans immigrants as "rapists" and criminals. But in true Trump fashion, he’s taken it a step further. Yesterday, he had Spanish-language news station Univision's lead anchor Jorge Ramos physically removed from a news conference for asking a question out of turn. He eventually let Ramos back in, but the exchange was heated, awkward and really just a bad idea all around. The National Association of Hispanic Journalists fired off a statement last night condemning Trump for the confrontation. Spanish-language media has covered Trump more extensively than mainstream media because the leading GOP contender keeps talking about his immigrant plan, which includes building a wall along the southern border and ending birthright citizenship.

That’s it for me. See ya tomorrow.

by Steven Rosen 08.25.2015 91 days ago
Posted In: Film at 01:17 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
photo feb 05, 11 46 20 am (1)

Third Cincinnati-Related Film to Screen at New York Film Festival

The Greater Cincinnati & Northern Kentucky Film Commission — or an enterprising arts-tourism travel agent — might want to look at organizing a charter from here to attend the New York Film Festival from Sept. 25 to Oct. 11.

Previously announced at the fest were two dramatic films shot in Cincinnati — Todd Haynes’ Carol with Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara, and the closing-night world premiere of Don Cheadle’s Miles Ahead, a biopic about Miles Davis.

But another film with strong Cincinnati connections — Troublemakers: The Story of Land Art — has been named one of 12 documentaries to be showcased at the festival. Its screening dates are Oct. 1 and 4.

Its director, James Crump, was photography curator and chief curator at Cincinnati Art Museum from 2008 until resigning in 2013. And its executive producer is Ronnie Sassoon, the Cincinnati-born widow of hairstylist Vidal Sassoon. Crump in 2007 had directed Black, White + Gray, a documentary about the relationships between Robert Mapplethorpe, Sam Wagstaff and Patti Smith.

Among the 11 other documentaries in the fest are Field of Vision: New Episodic Nonfiction by Laura Poitras, whose Citzenfour won an Academy Award this year, and In Jackson Heights, the latest from Frederick Wiseman.

Who knows? There might be others with strong local connections, too.

Here are the Film Festival’s program notes for Troublemakers.

“The titular troublemakers are the New York–based Land (aka Earth) artists of the 1960s and 70s, who walked away from the reproducible and the commodifiable, migrated to the American Southwest, worked with earth and light and seemingly limitless space, and rethought the question of scale and the relationships between artist, landscape, and viewer. Director James Crump (Black White + Gray) has meticulously constructed Troublemakers from interviews (with Germano Celant, Virginia Dwan, and others), photos and footage of Walter De Maria, Michael Heizer, Robert Smithson, Nancy Holt, and Charles Ross at work on their astonishing creations: Heizer’s Double Negative, a 1,500-feet long “line” cut between two canyons on Mormon Mesa in Nevada; Holt’s concrete Sun Tunnels, through each of which the sun appears differently according to the season; De Maria’s The Lightning Field in New Mexico; and Smithson’s Spiral Jetty, built on the Great Salt Lake in Utah. A beautiful tribute to a great moment in art.”

by Nick Swartsell 08.25.2015 91 days ago
Posted In: News at 10:22 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
city hall

Morning News and Stuff

Council private meeting amendment to go on November ballot; no more camping out for magnet school enrollment; former CPD captain in pro-weed ad

Good morning all. Here’s the news today.

Cincinnati City Council yesterday moved along at least one charter amendment proposal, putting it on the November ballot for voters to approve. That amendment would clarify when council can meet in executive session, away from the staring eyes of the public. Ohio state law allows some use of executive session for municipal governments, and the charter amendment proposed would specify limited times when council could get together for discussions behind closed doors. Those include discussions about certain sensitive property transactions, ongoing court cases, security measures for city facilities and personnel, certain information about development deals and some discussions about the city manager’s job.

The Charter Review Committee, a group charged with suggesting changes to the city’s governing document, had suggested four other amendments. At least one of those, a measure that would clarify how long the mayor has to refer legislation to council committees, seems to have died on the vine. While it sounds arcane, the issue has big, contentious implications. The mayor’s ability to hold on to legislation amounts to a so-called “pocket veto,” critics on council claim, or a way for the mayor to effectively kill council actions he doesn’t like. Mayor Mark Mallory used this power more than 200 times during his time as mayor. Cranley is opposed to the amendment, but he also claims that the pocket veto isn’t a real thing. Some council members agree, saying that the mayor clinging on to legislation could be challenged in court. One thing is clear, however: an amendment won’t clear up the issue. Advocates for the measure fell one short of the six council votes needed to put the amendment on the November ballot.  

Other amendments, including one that would give council the power to fire the city manager, are hanging in there and might be considered next week, just short of the deadline to get the proposals on the November ballot.

• In other council news, a new tax levy for parks improvement will also go on the upcoming ballot. The property tax boost of 1 mill would mean that owners of a $100,000 home would pay about $35 extra a year. Council’s vote is somewhat symbolic. Organizers of a petition drive collected enough signatures throughout the city to put the initiative up before voters. If voters approve the measure, it would raise about $5 million a year. About $1.25 million of that would go toward park maintenance. The rest would go to new projects decided by the mayor and the park board. Parks funding has been cut in half in the last decade and a half, Cranley has noted.

• A long-held tradition for Cincinnati parents is over, at least for now. Folks in the Cincinnati Public School district looking to get their kids into magnets like the Fairview German Language School will no longer be able to sign up on a first-come, first-served basis, but instead will be entered into a lottery system. That will eliminate the yearly camp-outs that parents undertake as they wait to sign their children up for those schools. CPS has cited fairness and safety concerns for ending the first-come, first-served practice. Last year’s camp out lasted 16 days. Enrollment for CPS’ high-demand magnet schools has several tiers. First are priority students who already have a sibling attending the school. Then a number of seats are set aside for students whose nearby schools are among the district’s lowest performers, an effort to offer those students a chance at a better education. The rest have been up for grabs. Until now, seat availability was through the first-come, first-served approach. Now, a computer will randomly choose who gets to enroll.

• City officials and business leaders yesterday launched Union Hall, a facility in Over-the-Rhine that is touted as a one stop shop for entrepreneurs looking for help in launching start-ups. The site on Vine Street houses startup incubator The Brandery, Cintrifuse and CincyTech, all of which are aimed at helping get startups off the ground. The historic building, which has been a brewery, night club and speakeasy, will house about 100 employees.

• A former Cincinnati Police captain is appearing in an ad advocating for legalized marijuana. Retired Capt. Howard Rahtz, a member of a marijuana policy task force led by Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters, is seen in the commercials supporting ResponsibleOhio’s legalization effort arguing that the state’s marijuana laws don’t work and that it’s time to reform them. Rahtz touts his time as a Cincinnati police officer, saying he learned a great deal about drug addiction during his service. Opponents of the ResponsibleOhio measure, which would legalize marijuana for anyone over the age of 21, but restrict commercial growth to 10 sites across the state, say they’ll be airing their own commercials. Groups like Ohioans Against Marijuana Monopolies say ResponsibleOhio’s plan amounts to an unfair monopoly that will only benefit the group’s rich investors.

by Tony Johnson 08.24.2015 92 days ago
at 03:57 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Spoonful of Cinema: Straight Outta Compton (Review)

When N.W.A. first arrived, the group was a revelation — a musical explosion of aggressive lyrics and explicit subject matter. When its legendary record Straight Outta Compton dropped 27 years ago, it may very well have marked the inclusion of gangsta rap in the mainstream conscious of pop culture for the first time. The rap group, comprised of Eazy-E, Ice Cube, Dr. Dre, MC Ren and DJ Yella, became the voice of a pissed off generation of street kids who had been subjected to and paid witness to the worst of the War on Drugs, police harassment and brutality and Reaganomics.

So here we are, more than a quarter of a century later, and the story that N.W.A. was telling in 1988 sounds all too similar to the domestic issues we face as a nation today. While Straight Outta Compton the album was current, Straight Outta Compton the film is characterized by a triple balancing act of paying tribute to the godfathers of gangsta, the biopic-necessity of gritty truth-telling and exuding modern relevance.

The film begins before the group comes to exist. Before they become pieces of the world’s most dangerous Hip Hop group, Eazy-E is pocketing stacks of cash (or not, when he gets stiffed) from dope deals and ducking from the police. Ice Cube is venting mightily with a pen and pad, and doing his best not to get beat by local gangsters. Dr. Dre is begrudgingly DJing for an L.A. club that distances its image from what the club owner calls “that gangster bullshit.” Ren is just a small-time MC, and DJ Yella works the club discs with Dre. Eazy wonders how long he could survive in the drug game, Cube is full of rhymes targeted at everything he has to deal with and Dre is escaping into his G-funk production dream world at his mother’s strong disapproval.

As we watch the stories unfold — which primarily revolve around the trio of Eazy, Cube and Dre — we also witness the blossoming of three exceptional young and relatively unknown actors.  Jason Mitchell nails the loose-canon, true gangster attitude of Eazy-E and adds touches of guilt and tinges of pain. O’Shea Jackson Jr., the son of Ice Cube, is surprisingly superb in his first significant acting performance as his father. The resemblance is astoundingly striking — from Jackson Jr.’s appearance to his laugh, voice and smile, there could not have been a better or less conventional choice as to who could play Ice Cube. Corey Hawkins portrays Dr. Dre. It’s a tight race amongst the three to determine which star shines the brightest — not in dissimilar fashion to the icons they emulate — but perhaps Hawkins is the most impressive, if not the most qualified. Hawkins’ experience ranges from playing Shakespeare’s vital Tybalt role in a Broadway production of Romeo and Juliet to being recently named as the actor to take on Heath in The Walking Dead, and his experience and natural talent are both are on full display in Straight Outta Compton. If Hollywood has its head on straight, these three actors can help to close the cringe-worthy diversity gap in the movie industry.

The actors and director F. Gary Gray carry an expansive, sometimes sprawling collaborative script to impressive places in Hip Hop history that were all sparked by N.W.A. From their initial, practically overnight explosion of popularity to the subsequent contract dissatisfaction and departures of Ice Cube and Dr. Dre from the group, the movie becomes something that it may not have intended to be but is rewarding to witness — it serves as a re-telling of West Coast Hip Hop’s rise through the spectrum of N.W.A.

We get a taste of early Hip Hop dis-tracks when Ice Cube leaves for New York City to start his own rap label, Lench Mob. We witness bad contracts from Jerry Heller (Paul Giamatti) and violent intimidation from Suge Knight, which serve as opposite sides to the same coin of Eazy-E’s tragic fall from rap stardom. We watch Dre work out production kinks with Snoop Dogg, the D.O.C. and Tupac.

Straight Outta Compton is a treat for Hip Hop fans, and as a huge fan of N.W.A., Ice Cube and Dr. Dre, I can say that my expectations were easily satisfied and my highest hopes exceeded.  It’s a strange formula for a blockbuster hit. Think about it — a picture produced by the artists (Ice Cube, Dr. Dre, the Eazy-E estate) with the most to gain monetarily from its success shouldn’t be good. It should be a two-hour commercial. But it is good, even though the cast is essentially a collection of unknowns with the insertion of the producer’s son as a lead. But it does work, and it works brilliantly, and I can only hope that Ice Cube’s Cube Vision video production studios aim to make more Hip Hop and street pictures.  

The film works brilliantly on two levels. The first level is at face value — we get to re-witness one of the most —if not the most — exciting moments in Hip Hop. The second level is revealed when you peel back the layers and ask yourself why the story of these kids from Compton in the late ’80s is just as relevant as it was then. The things that they were saying on record, the journalistic qualities unique to Hip Hop (and perhaps Folk music) that showed what life was really like — I don’t think the film is trying to keep those ideas and frustrations bottled up in the era of Reagan and Bush 1. Instead, the film is really about what we face today, how things haven’t changed enough and that if artists don’t feel the responsibility to shine a light on unfortunate circumstances the way that Eazy-E, Ice Cube, Dr. Dre, MC Ren and DJ Yella did, then maybe things never will change. The film is as much a message to the future as it is a reflection of the past. And it’s a whole hell of a lot of fun, too.

Grade: A-

by Nick Swartsell 08.24.2015 92 days ago
Posted In: News at 10:28 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Morning News and Stuff

Historic King Records site endangered; 'Nati air quality is nasty; Deez Nuts endorses Gov. Kasich

Good morning y’all. Hope your weekend was as fantastic as mine was. Yesterday I finally made it down to the Taft Museum to check out their exhibition of Edward Curtis photographs. Curtis spent 30 years in the early part of the 1900s photographing Native American tribes across the West. His work is technically stunning and in some ways, pretty problematic, contributing to some stereotypes and perceptions of Native peoples as a “vanishing race” living bygone lifestyles. The exhibit is interesting— the photographs are beautiful and the underlying questions they bring up are worth wrestling with.

Anyway, this isn’t morning art blabbering, it’s morning news. So let’s talk news, eh? The thing that caught my eye around town today is this story about the former King Records site in Evanston. I’ve been hearing buzz that part of it might be in danger, and turns out that may be true. The owner of one of the buildings at the historic site, which hosted early recording sessions by James Brown and a number of other significant musicians, has applied for a permit to demolish the structure. That’s led to an outcry from historic preservationists, music historians and general boosters for Cincinnati. The city’s planning commission Friday declared the site a local historic landmark, echoing a similar declaration by the city’s Historic Conservation Board. City Council has to give final approval to the designation, which it could do next month. In the meantime, the owner’s demolition permit application is on hold. Will the city be able to save this historic landmark, which could cost up to half a million dollars to stabilize? We’ll see.

• Stressed about pollution? Take a deep breath. Or maybe, uh, don’t. A new report says Cincinnati is among the worst cities in the country when it comes to air quality. Website 24/7 Wall St. analyzed air quality data from the American Lung Association and determined that the Greater Cincinnati metropolitan area is the eighth worst in the country for air pollution. The report compares the area to California’s central valley region, which landed seven cities in the bottom 10 of the air quality list. Like that region, Cincinnati is in a valley and has fairly high traffic volumes. But that’s not the only culprit here: coal plants play a big role in air pollution around Cincinnati, the ALA suggests. Take heart, though. We’re not the only Ohio city on the list. Cleveland came in at number 10 in the most polluted air ranking.

• So there’s a new interchange going in on I-71 into Walnut Hills and Avondale, and the State of Ohio has purchased millions in property near the future on and off ramps. Specifically, the state has spent nearly $4 million on 83 parcels of land around the project. When all is said and done, the state will have purchased 140 pieces of property, officials say. That’s part of a bigger land-buying frenzy in the historically low-income neighborhoods. The $106 million interchange looks likely to change the face of the area around Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. and Reading Road, with new development featuring a proposed tech corridor and other big developments. We first reported on the interchange last year. Stay tuned for more updates on how the development will affect Avondale, Corryville and Walnut Hills.

• Here’s your daily dose of Kasich news: does the Ohio governor and GOP presidential hopeful talk straight on the campaign trail when it comes to Ohio’s economy? Not quite, according to some fact checkers.  A recent Washington Post article dug into some of Kasich’s favorite claims about his role in Ohio’s economic recovery and issued one and two-pinocchio ratings (some shading of the facts and significant omissions/exaggerations, respectively) about his claims. Kasich’s claim that Ohio was “$8 billion in the hole” when he took office, for instance, doesn’t stand up to scrutiny, according to the Post article. The state’s actual budget for the year Kasich took office saw significant revenue increases from an economic recovery that began before Kasich’s term, leading to significantly less shortfall than Kasich’s claim.

• Speaking of Kasich, we live in a world where I can say the following and it’s not just some vulgar joke I would text to my friends but actual (debatable) news: Deez Nuts has endorsed Ohio Gov. John Kasich in the GOP presidential primary. Deez Nuts is the name assumed by a 15-year-old Iowa farm boy who somehow raked in 9 percent of the vote in a recent poll of that primary state. Mr. Nuts has also endorsed U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders in the Democratic primary. He is of course endorsing himself for the general election.

• Finally, in other GOP primary news, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush was in Ohio recently courting the tea party and the Koch Brothers at the billionaire industrialists' Americans for Prosperity Summit. Bush promised to uphold the staunch conservative values of slashing government spending and you know, making it easier for rich folks to get richer at the summit. The event in Columbus drew a big group of conservative activists as well as a large number of protesters.

That’s it for me today. E-mail me your news tips or tweet at me with, well, whatever you want.

by Sarah Urmston 08.21.2015 95 days ago
Posted In: Playlist at 02:16 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Your Weekend Playlist: August Vibes

Old, new, weird or blue – I can’t get enough. 

“Thunder Clatter” – Wild Cub

This hand-clapping, shoe-tapping goodness is by far one of the best new jams I’ve came across, making it impossible to skip when it comes up in my track library. It’s upbeat, it’s joyful, and you’ll find yourself singing the final phrase, “I feel it all in the center of it all, you’re the love of my life — the love of my life” over and over again because it’s so damn catchy. (Not to mention, sweet as a peach.) Wild Club is an American Indie group that defines itself by the brand of '80s-inspired Electro-Pop, with “Thunder Clatter” becoming their most successful track. Listen for yourself and see why.

“My Wrecking Ball” – Ryan Adams

Hands down one of my favorite artists of this lifetime. I first discovered Mr. Adams when I got stranded in Arizona after Cincinnati got hit with the blizzard of the century, and I couldn’t find a flight home. (Not complaining.) I gratefully sat outside in the desert air reading Brain On Fire, in which the author talks about how her best-kept memory was hearing Ryan Adams play. And I soon learned for myself about this man — not only known as a beyond talented musician, but his approach on stage is ridiculously comedic, with a touch of thought and wisdom. “My Wrecking Ball” live at Carnegie Hall is one of my favorite tracks to play. It’s a stunning song filled with so much life, and at the very end he draws a laugh from the audience after dropping his hands onto the keyboard and saying, “I really can’t fucking play this thing at all.”

“Nocturne” – Wild Nothing

I’m starting to notice this bouncy, '80s theme in a lot of contemporary music lately, and this song is perfect example of that exact vibe. It’s a track that’s meant to fade in and out of style, with pops of a deep, deep echoing voice flowing after each verse. Not to mention, the guitar is incredible. Lead singer Jack Tatum’s unique voice and song structure creates a sound that can almost be heard in any setting. I choose Wild Nothing for drives to work, writing at my desk or even when I eat dinner on my couch. No matter what the setting, this song easily fits.

“Drag” – Day Wave

If the artist Day Wave had to go by one phrase, it would read: “I fucked up but I don’t really care.” It’s a quick beat with softly voiced lyrics, giving off the vibe where you want to dance along but also emotionally feed into what they’re saying. Day Wave’s latest track “Drag” is easily heavy on the sounds, and although the lyrics are quick, they’re so simple to catch on to. It’s repetitive without driving you crazy. And sure, it ends before you know it. But that’s all the more reason to play it over again and again and again.

“You Really Got A Hold On Me” – She & Him 

Zooey Deschanel (She) and M Ward (Him) have seen individual success within their own careers, but together they turn out to be a surprisingly perfect duo. “You Really Got A Hold On Me” is one of the best examples of how these two artists compliment one another best as Ward’s voice echoes behind Deschanel’s elegant, classic sound so delicately. This song makes it easy to get swept away into a sway with someone you care for, and them swaying you right back. It’s meant to be her unhealthy yearning for him, and the lyrics go, “You treat me badly…I love you madly.” We’ve all been there…right?