During the past year CityBeat has spent a lot of
energy reporting on countless Republican screw-ups, from typical
shortsighted policies to legislation that is straight-up offensive to women,
minorities, gay people and the poor and working class. But we didn’t
realize that by pointing out how offensive and irrelevant the country’s
GOP leaders were acting, that we were inadvertently killing America.
That's why we would like to formally apologize to the Lebanon tea party in Warren County. The email you sent to The Enquirer today hit us pretty hard — the fact that you’re literally wearing black and mourning America because “socialists, welfare and unions took over this country” is super sad. In our haste to ask questions of elected leaders, fact check their statements and put their beliefs and policies into perspective over the past few months, we forgot how badly people in Warren County wish America could be like the 1950s again, when women knew their place and black people had to operate the elevators and never say anything whites didn’t want to hear. Mad Men is a great show.
We didn’t mean to be tricked by President Obama’s stimulus bill — we (stupidly) believed the economists who said it staved off a depression caused by under-regulation of the housing and financial industries (we tried to believe Mitt Romney’s concept of further reducing regulations so the job-creators can stimulate the economy in the private sector thus giving our wealth back to us, but it was maybe too complicated for us to understand?).
Some people we know kept their jobs when the president didn’t allow the American car companies to go broke even though they’re the ones that decided to max out profits on SUVs with truck beds on the back. Other people we know spent time last year without health care, and this country’s health care costs are somewhere around twice as much as any other country’s so we were like, “Yea, reforming that system sounds about right.” But we admit that we don’t know what it’s going to be like for the 15 percent of this country living in poverty to all of the sudden have access to preventative care. Someone in Cincinnati died of a tooth problem last year, and we don’t even know if that’s covered.
We realize that it wasn’t Mitt Romney who used the term “legitimate rape,” but it made us want to throw up, which slowed down productivity that might have allowed us to figure out that Don’t Ask Don’t Tell was the only thing keeping our country’s military from turning Afghanistan into a European-style gay disco.
We thought it was kind of gross when the president killed Osama bin Laden, but everyone was really happy about it so we focused our attention on the results of the president’s home buying and refinancing programs that helped stimulate the economy and saved people’s houses, even though we’re all a bunch of renters who don’t even know how to use a level.
So we’re clearly at fault for your expectation of the downfall of this country, and we realize that you’re upset and probably right about America becoming a socialist nation within months. We messed up bad this time, but we want you to know that we’re not blind to it — your press release has put our actions into a perspective that we wish we had yesterday or, even better, several years ago before we learned how to do our jobs the right way.
At least you have the local daily newspaper to publish your emotional reactions to historical election results and to continue endorsing GOP candidates no matter how ill qualified and misguided they are. Please don’t mourn long — there’s still hope for the type of social regression you’re looking for, especially in Warren County.
Well, surprise. Most of the Americans who don’t pay federal income taxes live in states that polls show are locked in for Mitt Romney. They are down South. Or out in the Southwest, according to Tax Foundation data.
Mississippi has the most filers with no income tax liability. It has voted Republican in every presidential election since 1980. When Obama was on the ballot there in 2008, he only got 43 percent of the popular vote. Yet 45 percent of Mississippi tax filers pay nothing. That tidbit certainly rips a hole in Romney’s contention that Obama voters don’t pay income taxes — Republican voters appear to be skating as well, and obviously in far larger numbers than Romney suggests.
Our neighbors in Kentucky — who voted early 60 percent GOP over the past three presidential elections — are pretty good at not paying income taxes too. Fewer send checks to the IRS than in West Virginia. Alaska is the outlier — it votes Republican and just 21 percent of its filers don’t pay income taxes to Uncle Sam. You betcha, the vast majority of Alaskans do send money to the IRS. Perhaps they write their checks while looking at Russia from their porches.
If you are wondering about Ohio, the state had 5.56 million tax filers. Of that number, some 68 percent paid federal income taxes. We’re a swing state that backed Obama in 2008. Clearly, not all the payers were Republicans.
Here is a map with all the data:
The Tax Foundation, a group based in Washington, D.C. that calls itself a nonpartisan research group, produced its state-by-state ranking of non-filers in May 24, 2010. It has been available on the Internet for more than two years, which means it was available long before Romney said Obama’s supporters don’t pay taxes. This insight gets right to the heart of the matter:
“Nine of the 10 states with the largest percentage of non-payers are in the South and Southwest. In Mississippi, 45 percent of federal tax returns remit nothing or receive money with their federal tax returns; that is the highest percentage nationally. Georgia is next at 41 percent, followed by Arkansas at 41 percent, and Alabama, South Carolina and New Mexico at 40 percent. All of the top 10 ranking states have among the lowest median family incomes in the country.”
Update (June 5, 11:20 p.m.): Libertarian mayoral candidate Jim Berns didn't hand out marijuana plants at a campaign event Wednesday, instead admitting to multiple media outlets that he was misleading the public to raise awareness of his campaign and marijuana legalization platform. Berns handed out tomato plants instead, which look similar to marijuana plants.
In perhaps an act of civil disobedience, Libertarian mayoral candidate Jim Berns is planning to hand out marijuana plants at a campaign event Wednesday.
But the event could run foul of state law for both Berns and attendees. Ohio law prohibits obtaining, possessing or using a controlled substance — a category that includes marijuana.
The event will take place at the intersection of Martin Luther King Drive and Clifton Avenue on Wednesday at 5 p.m.
"If you want one of the plants I suggest you get there early," Berns said in a statement.
In this year's mayoral race, Democratic candidates John Cranley and Roxanne Qualls are generally considered the top contenders, although neither candidate has received an official endorsement from the local Democratic Party.
Berns has differentiated himself from the frontrunners by pushing marijuana legalization in his platform.
Drug prohibition laws are generally dictated at state and federal levels, but city governments can legalize or decriminalize certain drugs and force police departments to give the issue lower priority.
Marijuana is already decriminalized in Ohio. Cincinnati re-criminalized the drug in 2006, but the drug was decriminalized through a city budget passed in 2010.
Some groups are attempting to legalize medical marijuana in Ohio. CityBeat covered those efforts in further detail here.
There is no mystery in music anymore.
I‘ve been trying to find a scapegoat to blame for this. Most notably, I’d like to blame KISS for taking off their make-up in ’83, unveiling the Demon and Star Child as just a couple of goofy-looking New Yorkers dressed up like extras from a Dokken video.
But as much as I’d love to blame KISS for taking the mystery out of music (Gene Simmons ruins most things so it was a good guess), the problem really lies with the internet and the digital age we are consumed by. (Thanks, Al Gore!) When was the last time you went on Google and couldn’t find what you were looking for? With a few easy clicks, you can find answers to some of life’s most important questions like, "Who was the second guy from Wham?" (Andrew Ridgeley) and was Liam Neeson actually on an episode of Miami Vice (yes, he was).
But even with the constant flow of status updates, tweets and information that has caught Americans in this perpetual technology loop, over the last five months there has been one artist that has captured some sense of anonymity in the music industry. That artist is Captain Murphy.
For those of you who don’t know who Captain Murphy is, don’t worry. No one does.
When Captain Murphy burst onto the scene with his impressive verse on Flying Lotus’ Adult Swim single, “Between Friends," the music media and Hip Hop heads alike immediately got a raging hard-on for the guy. His use of voice modulation and his style, which carries the complexities of MF DOOM’s flow with just a hint of the silly attitude of Tyler, The Creator, caused a sea of speculation about his identity and spawned more gossip than when Honey Boo Boo Child gets pregnant before her My Super Sweet 16 special.
After the release of “Between Friends,” Murphy has intermittently dropped singles over the last couple months, turning the internet into his own personal Gotham City (Murphy playing the part of the Dark Knight) and leaving every music journalist and tons of Hip Hop fans trying to figure out who the hell is playing Bruce Wayne.
Now, Captain Murphy has dropped his mix tape, Duality, which takes the listener on a 35-minute Psychedelic Hip Hop excursion into the mind of a cult leader and has only heightened the anxiety attacks over his true identity.
But what’s the point?
Can we, journalist and fans, just relish in the secrecy of this up and coming artist without freaking the fuck out about it? I know that our job as journalists is to report information that people want/need to know, but I didn’t think obsessing over people who just want to make music and making their lives more difficult was in the job description.
The perfect example is last year’s music industry enigma, Earl Sweatshirt.
When the music media received news that Earl Sweatshirt, the most mysterious figure of the then-exploding Odd Future gang, was nowhere to be found, they began foaming at the mouth. The “Free Earl” campaign and the lack of knowledge of his whereabouts were covered by everyone from bottom feeder music blogs to The New York Times. But while Earl wasn’t even in the country (he was allegedly located at a troubled boy’s camp in Samoa), America was getting their rocks off on glorifying him as Hip Hop’s second coming and propelling him into stardom and fame before he was even old enough to vote.
Sweatshirt tackles this invasion of privacy on his latest single “Chum,” when he spits, “Tolerance for boundaries, I know you happy now/Craven and these Complex fuck niggas done track me down/Just to be the guys that did it, like I like attention/Not the type where niggas trying to get a raise at my expense/Supposed to be grateful, right, like thanks so much you made my life/Harder and the ties between my mom and I strained and tightened/Even more than they were before all of this shit/Been back a week and I already feel like calling it quits.”
It’s a shame that our insatiable infatuation with artists has been pushed to the point where we force young creators like Sweatshirt (and, to an extent, the seemingly fragile mainstream crossover star Frank Ocean) to want to give up on their budding careers, but what if the consequences were more severe? Sure, this constant media intrusion could push Earl to quit rapping and that would be a terrible loss of potential in the Rap game. But what if instead of quitting, this media malpractice pushed him to the bottle and drugs like Amy Winehouse or even a shotgun like Kurt Cobain?
On a smaller scale, it’s the same kind of information-driven OCD that makes people sign off of Facebook only to almost simultaneously check the Facebook app on their phones. Many of us now have an endless need to be in the know.
But in more serious cases, it’s the kind of obsessive behavior that caused fans like Michael Abram to break into George Harrison’s house and stab him in ’99, caused Mark Chapman to shoot John Lennon in Manhattan in ’80 or Nathan Gale to shoot “Dimebag” Darrell Abbott in that Columbus nightclub in ’04.
We have an opportunity to change this "gotta know now!" behavior with Captain Murphy. Here’s my proposal — every copy of Captain Murphy’s first album should include a prescription for Xanax and Prozac (maybe even a spliff or two for our friends out in Colorado). Maybe that would allow everyone to enjoy the music without having a mental breakdown about who is making it.
In the end, if Murphy doesn’t want us to know his identity, then we don’t need to know his identity. So unless the Captain is 2Pac revitalizing his career under this new alias, let’s all just keep calm and enjoy the mystery. While it lasts.
UPDATE: Aaaaand that didn't last too long. No more mysteries! Captain Murphy was revealed to be Flying Lotus (details here).
Get your glue guns ready, ya'll, because the Crafty Supermarket's about to take over the Northside Tavern. That's right. Your local watering hole (generally full of tight-pantsed drunks at night) will be hosting an indie craft show on Saturday afternoon (noon-6 p.m.) with handmade fine art, recycled goods, home decor, jewelry, children's items, stationery and more.
The masterminds behind this DIY dream are local writer/editor/crafter Grace Dobush and recent DAAP grad/sustainable shoemaker Alisha Budkie. The duo will be bringing together over 20 craft vendors from Cincinnati and the Midwest for a fair inspired by the likes of Renegade Chicago. Along with shopping opportunities there will be "swag bags" for the first 50 shoppers, music from PROJECTMILL, food from Dojo Gelato and others, and a Make It! table where attendees can get crafty with the BYOProjectors (read about them here).
CityBeat recently had a little e-mail exchange with Dobush, whose book, Crafty Superstar: Make Crafts on the Side, Earn Extra Cash and Basically Have It All, is about to be released, about the Crafty Supermarket.
CityBeat: What is the Crafty Supermarket?
Grace Dobush: Crafty Supermarket is an indie craft show, or a Rock & Roll craft show, which is more appropriate since it's in Northside. This is not your standard high-school auditorium, church-basement craft show: We're having music by PROJECTMILL, rad food from local vendors and 20 hip crafters who will be selling the stuff they make. No packaged stuff, no commercial stuff, no lame stuff—just arts and crafts!
CB: Why are you having a craft show? What's the goal?
GD: My goal is to solidify the craft scene in Cincinnati a bit. There are a ton of really talented crafters and artists here, but none of us seem to know each other! My co-organizer, Alisha, and I had never met until we were in Washington D.C. at the Summit of Awesome (a craft summit organized by the ladies who put on Crafty Bastards, a humongous indie craft show). We really wished there was an indie craft event in Cincinnati, and eventually we realized that we should step up and do it ourselves! It's either the DIY mentality kicking in or a pretty solid sense of masochism, I'm not sure which.
CB: You seem to be an indie craft guru. What is your crafting experience? What inspires you to craft? What crafts do you make/specialize in?
GD: That's the first time I've heard that one! I've just been crafting a long-ass time. I've been printmaking since I was a teenager and then took a course on bookbinding my freshman year of college. It just kind of snowballed after that, and I sought out like-minds on the internet. Right around 2000 was a turning point for indie craft... it got a name, the indie craft shows started coming out, and all the movers and shakers were on these craft message boards and got to know each other. Some of the folks I know from those boards back in the day I ended up interviewing for my book, Crafty Superstar.
I'm not a full-time crafter (I'm a magazine editor and writer by trade) but I love connecting with people and talking to people. There are plenty of crafters who are much more successful than me at being a business, but I saw a lot of word-of-mouth information that hadn't been collected anywhere else. And my book was born!
CB: What role does crafting play in our modern world, so to speak? Why is it important?
GD: I think the popularity of craft is a direct backlash to the super-industrialized big-box shopping culture. People are starting to see the value in knowing exactly where the things they buy come from, and there's nothing better than finding an object you absolutely love and getting to talk to the person who made it. Of course, big-box stores recognize that this aesthetic is totally hot, so you see crafty-ish knockoffs for sale that are probably handmade... but by child laborers who may or may not be working against their will.
There are also a pretty big number of crafters who focus on using sustainable, local and/or recycled materials. And of course, when you support an indie artist, you are directly supporting your local economy. I can almost guarantee the $10 you spend at Crafty Supermarket will turn around and get spent on bus fare for the Metro, dinner at Melt or drinks at the Tavern later.
CB: What vendors will be on hand at the market?
GD: We've got a really wide range of crafters—selected from almost 70 applications, which just blew us away. The crafters make jewelry, paper goods, housewares, kid's stuff, clothing, art, knit things—all sorts of stuff. We also tried to get a balance of crafters in terms of wanting this to represent Cincinnati crafters—about three-quarters of the vendors are from the Cincinnati region. And although we have a lot of vendors who are old hands at the indie craft sale thing, we also wanted to make sure to bring in some folks who are doing a show for the first time, because once upon a time, we were the newbies.
CB: What sort of crafts will attendees be able to make at the Make It! Table?
GD: We've got a really random assortment of supplies and guest curation by the crafty people from BYOProject, which is a crafty collective that meets at Happen Inc. in Northside once a month. It's an anything-goes kind of craft situation, but specifically we've got paper to make your own album cover (12-inch, of course), and little paperboard albums that you can decorate to make your own storybook or draw a demented family album. Whatev!
CB: Will this become an annual event? Do you have any other events planned for the future?
GD: From the very beginning Alisha and I have kept saying stuff like "Next year, we are so doing X and Y," or "Next year, we are never doing Z again." It's just felt kind of natural that this would roll into being an annual event. Plus, since the response has been so huge (our Facebook event has 130 guests at this point) that it would be a shame to never do it again!
We don't have any more events planned immediately—we need some recovery time!—but at this point we're totally planning to do something even bigger for next fall. The late fall is primo craft sale time because people are much more willing to spend money to buy gifts for other people. It's pretty safe to say you'll see Crafty Supermarket again next fall.
Unfortunately, it seems like not all people in this world share the same passion for dogs that I do. Hundreds upon thousands of dogs are abandoned each year and end up either dead or in shelters, and many more suffer at the hands of neglectful or abusive owners. Fortunately, we have organizations such as the SPCA around to speak out and help these animals. However, it’s recently come to my attention that not all shelters treat certain breeds of dogs the same.
Treece is searching for that “magical spot.” He doesn’t risk the charge of vandalism
like graffiti artists, but he still risks a trespassing charge with every foray
into the night.
Light painting is a photography technique that involves moving a camera or adding a light source while operating with a slow shutter speed. The resultant images include colorful, swirly lines and other creative effects. Like graffiti artists, “both of us trespass illegally. Both of us are night owls. Both of us have explored tunnels, creeks, bridges and abandoned buildings and have gained such a good understanding about the layout of the city,” Treece says.
Suffice it to say, Treece’s understanding of all the nooks and crannies of the city is far more in-depth than the average daylight city dweller.
Before his nightly jaunt into the darkness, Treece packs his equipment bag. At first glance, you wouldn’t think anything is out of the ordinary. Treece stuffs a Nikon D90 camera, remote shutter release, Nikon SB-600 Flash and two tripods into the main compartment of the bag. But the smaller compartments receive the stranger tools of the trade.
He reveals children’s toys, ones that light up. Treece begins to stuff light swords, mini color changing glow sticks, six different kinds of flashlights, laser pointers, finger LEDs, glow sticks and his custom nine LED light orb tool into every remaining compartment of his equipment bag.
All that’s missing is the party favors. At this point, it’s almost unclear if he’s going to a rave or going out to light paint.
Treece almost forgets the most important tool: batteries — lots of them.
Light painting hasn’t always been Treece’s passion, however. “I’ve always been interested in art, but my interest in light painting started sometime around May or June of last year,” he says. “I was browsing the Internet randomly and saw a picture of what looked like a spinning waterfall of sparks. I had seen light painting prior to this photo, but it really didn’t click that these [light painters] were using super long exposures and crazy light sources to create works of art.”
That night, Treece spent hours reading up tutorials on the website lightpaintingphotography.com and a particular online community that called itself “the light junkies.” There he learned that it was plausible to make his own contribution to the light painting community.
Not all places are created equal in the light painting community. Living in Cincinnati is both wonderful and a pain. Clifton Heights, Treece’s main stomping ground, provides him with an incredible amount of light pollution, which can be attributed to the area’s attempt to curb crime activity.
Cincinnati still provides an ample amount of opportunity to create. “[Cincinnati] has some of the most bad-ass tunnels built in the early 1900s. … Cincinnati also has a creek system, which over time had to be cemented because of industrial waste,” Treece says. “These tunnels and channels have created some of the best spaces for light painting.”