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by Nick Swartsell 11.04.2015 25 days ago
Posted In: News at 11:56 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

What Happened Here in Hamilton County?

Voting was bumpy and in a few cases very difficult. Should we be worried?

One of the most important questions to come out of last night’s election isn’t about the results of any specific ballot issue, but instead about the process by which voters cast, or, in some cases, had a hard time casting, their ballots.

Many are wondering why voting was so arduous in Hamilton County yesterday, with technical glitches forcing some voters to cast provisional ballots and imprecise information given by poll workers sending other voters scrambling.

While the entire state of Ohio, and really, much of the country, waited to see if voters would legalize marijuana here, Hamilton County fumbled with errors. Now, some are wondering whether these stumbles are related to a new electronic voting system, and if the difficulties could spell trouble during next year’s sure-to-be-contentious presidential election, where Ohio will play a central role.

Voters reported problems with the county’s new voting system in the West End, Madisonville, Evanston, Northside, Clifton, Coryville, Mount Lookout, Roselawn, Hyde Park, Northside and other areas. The system, which relies on tablet computers to scan IDs and check in voters, hasn’t been used before.

Secretary of State Jon Husted put the entire state’s election results on hold so the county could extend voting times until 9 pm. The order for polls to stay open an extra two hours came from a Hamilton County Common Pleas Court Judge Robert P. Ruehlman in response to injunctions from Issue 3-backers ResponsibleOhio and former State Sen. Eric Kerney, who cited long lines at some polling stations.

The appeals to the court came after voters in a number of precincts throughout the county reported that, though they had registered to vote months prior, the new electronic voting system employed by the county did not recognize their names and would not allow them to cast electronic ballots, even if their registration was confirmed by written voter logs. Some were asked to cast provisional ballots, or to head to the Hamilton County Board of Elections office downtown.

Jane Pendergrast of Delhi Township reported on Twitter that she had to cast a provisional ballot after her name didn’t show up in the e-poll books. Pendergrast said a poll worker told her the same difficulties had happened to about 50 other voters at the polling location.

Meanwhile, other poll workers were confused by ID requirements and asked voters to cast provisional ballots unnecessarily, some voters say.

The provisional ballots are only counted if elections are close, leading some voters to feel like their votes didn’t matter.

Kevin LeMasters voted at one of the county’s largest polling locations, the Coryville Recreation Center. That voting location serves more than 1,700 voters. He says poll workers there were requiring voters to fill out provisional ballots if the address on their IDs did not match information in the Board of Election’s electronic system, despite the fact that’s not what BOE rules stipulate.

“What concerns me is the following, this particular location is the 2nd largest polling location out of 557 in Hamilton and should be staffed appropriately,” LeMasters said in an e-mail. “It is situated close to UC's campus where the large majority of students do not have an ID with the same address considering the fluid nature of their housing. Was this an accident, something nefarious? Whether malice or ignorance, it is unacceptable either way.”

Secretary of State Husted visited Hamilton County polling locations earlier in the day, when difficulties voting were already being reported. Husted blamed poll worker error for the problems, despite the fact many seemed to be technical in nature and had much to do with the new electronic system used to gather votes.

“"By and large, it's working great," Husted said yesterday. "Any time you have a massive technology change, you're going to have some problems."

Cincinnati City Councilwoman Yvette Simpson pushed back at Husted’s assertion via social media, saying constituents were reporting that tablets used in vote gathering were freezing or not connecting to the internet; technical problems that aren’t necessarily due to poll worker error.

Meanwhile, other, non-technical difficulties popped up. In Northside, some voters found themselves locked out of a polling location around 7:30 pm, even though it was ordered to stay open until 9. Eventually, voters there were able to gain entry to the location, which poll workers said had been locked by school staff.

The voting difficulties are the latest chapter in Ohio's fraught struggle over voting access. Voting rights advocates have fought state efforts to reduce voting hours in recent elections, especially in urban areas.

Hamilton County Board of Elections members said no voters appear to have lost the opportunity to vote due to the difficulties and that they don't represent any sort of disenfranchisement, either accidental or purposeful.

But the rocky questions linger about the electronic system, which is set to go state-wide next year, just as the country focuses on Ohio and its pivotal role in deciding an especially heated presidential election.

by Nick Swartsell 11.04.2015 25 days ago
Posted In: News at 09:55 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
to do_smale riverfront park-courtesy cincinnati parks

Election News and Stuff

You voted on stuff. Here's how that turned out.

Good morning all. I hope you’re shaking off your post-election-party and/or Twitter binge hangovers. Now that the dust has cleared on a pretty intense election night, let’s check out the results, shall we? I’ll summarize in case you fell asleep early and then we’ll talk about the big ones in depth.

Statewide stuff:

Issue 1: The Ohio state representative redistricting reform measure passed overwhelmingly, getting 71 percent of the vote.

Issue 2: The constitutional amendment designed by lawmakers to limit proposed amendments like Issue 3 granting special oligopolies or monopolies passed with about 52 percent of the vote.

Issue 3: ResponsibleOhio’s proposal to legalize marijuana for Ohio residents age 21 and up while creating 10 legal grow sites throughout the state failed, getting 36 percent of the vote.

In Kentucky, Republican Matt Bevin delivered a surprise trouncing of Democrat Jack Conway, besting him with 53 percent of the vote to Conway’s 44 percent.

Local issues:

Issue 22: The controversial charter amendment creating a 1 mill property tax increase to fund a number of proposed park projects failed. It got about 41 percent of the vote.

Issues 23 and 24: These cleaned up charter language and moved the mayoral primary. Both passed with about 62 percent of the vote. 

• The whole country was watching as Ohio voters wrestled with Issues 2 and 3 last night, with any number of big national media outlets recycling reporting from the past months and turning in lukewarm takes about the proposed amendment.

ResponsibleOhio’s bid was a pretty gutsy gambit — wagering more than $20 million that Ohio voters would legalize medicinal and recreational marijuana even as their proposal lacked support from key national and statewide legalization advocates, who balked at the proposal’s structure.

Pro-legalization groups who otherwise might have been supporters expressed squeamishness about the fact that the amendment would have awarded a group of about 50 investors, including a New York fashion designer and the former Pop star Nick Lachey, the only 10 legal grow sites in the state. That hesitancy, combined with the older, more conservative electorate that turns out in non-presidential election years, sank the amendment decisively.

The main question is whether the rout was about legalization itself or simply the so-called “oligopoly” the amendment would have created. Polling in Ohio shows that voters here favor legalization by a slim margin, suggesting it may not be a lost cause in the future, given a more attractive structure.

Some groups are working on campaigns to get legalization on next year’s ballot, but they face a huge hurdle: the overwhelming expense of mounting such a ballot initiative in Ohio, a politically diverse swing state and the country’s seventh most populous. ResponsibleOhio collected more than 800,000 signatures to net the 300,000 valid ones needed to land the amendment on the ballot. That’ll be a big obstacle for any group, though if they can get a measure in front of voters, it may benefit from high presidential election year turnout and increased interest raised in this year’s campaign.

• Locally, Issue 22 was the focus of attention. The plan to fund some 17 park projects by raising property taxes 1 million was the subject of an intense political firefight over the past few months. Detractors of the parks plan put forward a number of objections to the measure ranging from assertions that it gave the mayor and the park board he selects too much power to fears that the proposed projects would lead to increased commercialization of parks.

The anti-Issue 22 victory here is interesting due to the truly David and Goliath nature of spending on the campaigns. The pro-Issue 22 camp, backed by major corporate donors such as Kroger, Western & Southern and others, spent an estimated $1 million on television ads, mailers and other slick campaign materials. Amendment opponents, however, spent about $7,500, with only a single radio ad buy. The list of opponents was formidable and diverse, however, including a majority of Cincinnati City Council, local civil rights icon and former amendment supporter Marian Spencer, both streetcar advocates such as Over-the-Rhine activist Derek Bauman and streetcar opponents COAST and environmental group the Audubon Society.

While some city precincts, mostly on the East Side, passed the measure, many, including Cranley’s West Side home precinct, said no thanks. The bigger question now is what this means for Cranley as mayor. Two years into his term, the mayor has lost two big, hard-fought political showdowns, first over the streetcar and now over his parks proposal. While he’s had plenty of policy victories as well, these dramatic fights may signal an opening for a primary challenger to take a run at the 2017 mayoral election. The campaign over the parks tax was particularly heated, and even some supporters seem to have come away disillusioned by the effort. Cranley has sounded a conciliatory note in post-election statements, saying he's proud to have stood up for the idea but will take the results as the will of Cincinnati voters and seek to serve their wishes.

If you already miss the excitement of following local ballot issues, there are a couple that look likely for next year. Supporters of the Preschool Promise, an initiative that looks to extend preschool to more Cincinnati children, are holding an introductory event tonight at Rhinegeist brewery from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. With 44 percent of the city's children living in poverty, that initiative looks to be a big one for 2016.

• Meanwhile, in Kentucky, Republicans handed Democrats a beating. Bevin's election as governor is something of an upset, as polls had Conway up by as much as five points heading into voting. Bevin is only the second GOP governor in the last 40 years in Kentucky. The race was also a walloping down-ticket, with Republicans taking most major statewide offices except attorney general, won by Democrat Andy Beshear, and secretary of state, which Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes hung onto. Not good news for Democrats.

by Nick Swartsell 11.03.2015 26 days ago
Posted In: News at 11:14 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Morning News and Stuff

Go vote; go vote; go vote

Hey all! Did you play the lottery… err, I mean, uh, engage in the completely unproblematic and entirely functional democratic process today? There’s still time! And if you need some perspective on the issues from your friendly, cynical but also well-read alt weekly editorial board, we’ve got it right here. Really quickly, we suggest voting yes on Issue 1, no on both Issues 2 and 3, no on Issue 22 and yes on Issues 23 and 24. If you're in Northern Kentucky, we've endorsed gubernatorial candidate Jack Conway, so consider throwing a vote his way. Want to know more? Click away.

Speaking of elections, there were problems reported at some Cincinnati voting precincts this morning. Some reported technical difficulties with electronic voting equipment in Madisonville, Evanston, Anderson Township, Mount Lookout, Colerain Township and other locations where new electronic voting devices were in use. Did you experience difficulties voting? Let us know in the comments or via e-mail. We’re on it.

• One interesting thing that’s come up around voting: Photos of pro-Issue 22 signage at polling places are popping up on social media. Election rules state that signage endorsing candidates isn’t allowed at polling places, and it would seem to follow that similar prohibitions exist for issues. Councilman Chris Seelbach, a vocal opponent of the parks tax proposed by Mayor John Cranley, posted to Facebook photos of posters promoting the amendment to Cincinnati’s charter tacked up behind poll workers at a voting precinct in Mount Adams. Reports of other polling locations with similar signage have been floating around the social media realm as well.

• Also speaking of elections, did you catch this pro-Issue 3 ad featuring former 98 Degrees singer and hometown reality TV star Nick Lachey? He’s hyped on the weed legalization amendment currently before voters, and he wants to tell you all about it in the 30-second TV spot. Well, maybe not ALL about it. Issue 3 critics point out that the commercial fails to mention the fact that Lachey is an investor in the amendment effort, and as such, is part-owner in one of the 10 grow sites that would be exclusively allowed to grow commercial weed if the amendment passes. And while Lachey starts off the ad by saying Ohio is his home, the ad also neglects to mention that he isn’t registered to vote for the amendment in Ohio because he lists California as his primary state of residence. Issue 3 creators ResponsibleOhio say those omissions aren’t a big deal, and that the point of the ad is that the amendment would reform unjust drug laws, create millions in tax revenues and more than 1,000 jobs.

• Here’s a final election note: If you’re the type who loves the horse-race aspect of election day and want to spend all day on the edge of your seat about whether voters have given you the green light to spend your green on some green (wow that’s obnoxious sorry), here are some handy tips for forecasting whether that’s in the cards. Mostly, it’s common sense stuff: watch districts that have demographics that generally skew heavily pro- and anti-marijuana legalization and see how the balance is tipping out.

• Onward to other issues. Former Mahogany’s owner Liz Rogers made her first $800 payment to the city today. That payment was part of a settlement after Rogers’ restaurant at The Banks folded last fall. In 2012, Rogers was given a $684,000 grant and a $300,000 loan by the city, which actively recruited her to open her restaurant at the riverfront development in order to increase diversity there. Mahogany’s was the only minority-owned business at The Banks, and Rogers has said that other promised amenities there, including a large hotel that would have increased customer base, never materialized. Rogers eventually fell behind on her loan payments, as well as state taxes, forcing the closure of the restaurant amid a firestorm of controversy. Rogers is now working on paying back the city $100,000. Other businesses at The Banks and elsewhere have received similar grants and loans, Rogers’ supporters point out. Other businesses have also faltered at The Banks, including Toby Keith’s I Love This Bar, which abruptly closed up shop recently.

• Finally, $1.3 million can buy a lot of things. We’re talking multiple Maybachs. Healthcare for a year for a bunch of folks. Probably about a mile of highway repairs or something. Or, if you’re Ohio, it buys you a couple years of stubborn obstinacy against the tides of history. Yep, that’s right. Ohio owes that amount in legal fees related to Attorney General Mike DeWine’s fight to uphold Ohio’s same-sex marriage ban, which the Supreme Court struck down in a historic decision this summer. The truly crazy part? That $1.3 million is just the amount courts say the state owes attorneys who fought on behalf of the same-sex couples to whom the state was denying marriage licenses. It doesn’t include the state’s own legal expenses. Your tax dollars at work. To be fair, the AG is charged with upholding the state's laws, even when they're under fire in federal courts. But on the other hand, Kentucky's AG declined to fight a similar legal battle on behalf of his state's anti-same-sex marriage laws.

by Nick Swartsell 11.02.2015 27 days ago
Posted In: News at 11:25 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Morning News and Stuff

Emails reveal city, Western & Southern Lytle Park collaboration; election set for Boehner's replacement; Kasich signs charter school oversight law

Good morning all. Hope your Halloween was really rad. I spent mine dancing like an idiot while marginally dressed up like Waldo of Where’s Waldo fame. That’s right. I chose a literary themed costume because I’m classy. Some friends and I also had a pretty great picnic in Spring Grove Cemetery, which I highly recommend.

Anyway. News. You already knew this, but Cincinnati’s first streetcar showed up on Friday, accompanied by the kind of hoopla usually reserved for astronauts who have been to the moon or people who have saved a bunch of puppies from burning buildings or puppy-saving astronauts, even. A local TV news station broke out the news copter and gave real-time updates of the car’s progress down I-71 and Reading Road into Over-the-Rhine. Every blogger in the city blogged about the blog-worthiest event in the local blogosphere. (Btw, Microsoft Word recognizes “blogosphere” as a legitimate word because we live in the worst era ever). My Instagram account was damn near unusable for hours afterward because it was just pictures of a single streetcar not on its tracks and a bunch of people looking at it. Yes, yes. It was a historic day and streetcars haven’t run in this city since the 1950s. Personally, I’ll start partying the minute I can step on a streetcar in Mount Auburn, feel it glide down the old tracks I walk past every day poking up out of Highland Ave., and step off at work. That’d be the day. Until then, woo hoo.

• Meanwhile, OTR is getting more $500,000-plus homes, all right along the streetcar route. Recently-founded Cincinnati based development company Karvoto has announced plans for nine townhomes in the neighborhood, all with three bedrooms and between 2,000 and 2,700 square feet of space. The $4 million development will renovate four buildings along Wade Street and Kemp Alley and also construct five new buildings in the same area.

• A series of e-mails between city officials and Cincinnati-based corporation Western & Southern reveal the two have been collaborating on plans for the overhaul of Lytle Park downtown near W&S headquarters and the conversion of a nearby former women’s shelter, the Anna Louise Inn, into a luxury hotel. That renovation has been controversial; the building’s former occupant, Cincinnati Union Bethel, had used the building for its women’s shelter for more than a century before a legal battle eventually forced it to sell to W&S. The e-mails also show that the city is mulling the sale or lease of two streets near those locations to Eagle Realty, the real estate arm of W&S. In addition to collaboration, the messages reveal conflict between the city’s Park Board and Eagle over the sale of the streets, dumpsters associated with the Anna Louise Inn renovation and other issues. Critics of charter amendment Issue 22, a park-oriented tax increase on tomorrow’s ballot, released the e-mails recently after gaining access to them through an open records request. Issue 22 seeks to fund a number of proposed projects, including the remake of Lytle Park, through a permanent property tax increase.

• As folks tear their hair out and obsess over a 1 mill property tax increase for the city’s parks, Hamilton County Commissioners are on the way to passing a $209 million spending package that is drawing about as much attention as Jim Webb’s presidential campaign. In what can only be described as a reverse Parks and Recreation scenario, four scheduled public hearings about the budget garnered exactly zero public attendees to give input on the plan. Part of that is because the budget doesn’t exactly depart wildly from the status quo — there are few if any dramatic cuts or spending swells. It’s not that there aren’t big issues: Hamilton County’s morgue needs a huge update, and commissioners aren’t sure how to pay for it, for example. But for now, the big money fights are elsewhere, and that’s left commissioners feeling a little lonely, calling for someone, anyone, to comment on their handiwork. Democrat Commissioner Todd Portune had an aptly spooky quote about the ghostly public.

“It’s almost like the county is the Sleepy Hollow of local government,” he said. “You typically don’t get the same kind of public involvement that you see at the city or other local municipalities.”

• Ohio will have to wait a while to vote on a replacement for former Speaker of the House John Boehner, who represented the West Chester area in Congress. It’ll be a hot day in June when his District 8 congressional seat goes up for a special election, and I for one can’t wait to see what kind of A-plus candidates run for the spot. Boehner bailed on the top spot in Congress last month after tea party Republican machinations in the House nearly brought the government to a shutdown again, this time over Planned Parenthood. Boehner, tired of trying to shepherd his unruly flock of hardcore anti-government conservatives peaced out of the fray, leaving the GOP to fumble and fidget until finally roping U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin into the leadership role. Now the House has a head again, but Ohio’s 8th District is still without representation. Thanks Boehner.

• Finally, Gov. John Kasich signed a bill today that would create more oversight for the state’s private charter schools, which have become something of a boondoggle for his administration and the Ohio Department of Education. Numerous investigations have taken place around the schools, which use public money to create private alternative to public school districts. Earlier this year, one of those investigations revealed that ODE officials neglected to include scores from particularly low-performing online charter schools in performance evaluations for charters. Other scandals have befallen charters in the recent past, including revelations of financial mismanagement, staff misbehavior and attendance irregularities at charters throughout the state, including in Cincinnati.

Annnnnd I’m out. Go vote tomorrow.

by Natalie Krebs 10.30.2015 30 days ago
Posted In: News at 10:32 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Morning News and Stuff

Council members promise to fund Wasson Way bike trail; ResponsibleOhio fights off attacks from drug dealers; Boehner says farewell to the House

Happy (almost) Halloween Cincinnati! Here are your morning headlines. 

Council members yesterday said they will find a way to fund the Wasson Way bike trail, even if Issue 22 fails next Tuesday. The proposed hike and bike trail would stretch from Avondale to Columbia Township and is one of the Mayor Cranley's projects included in his proposed permanent tax levy. Supporters of the Wasson Way trail have also been highly in favor of Issue 22. Council members Chris Seelbach, Yvette Simpson, Wendell Young and Charlie Winburn urged voters yesterday at a news conference outside City Hall to vote against the permanent tax levy and said they would find a way to fund the 7.5-mile trail that could cost anywhere between $7.5 million and $36 million. Councilman Seelbach suggested the money could come from elsewhere, like a temporary property tax increase, private endowments or scholarships or the recent sale of the Blue Ash airport. The project recently lost out on a $17 million competitive federal grant. 

• So, the streetcar didn't quite make its debut this morning, but it's definitely coming this afternoon. The latest update from the city says that it has arrived safely in Ohio and will now be unloaded at 4 p.m. this afternoon. So if you have no last-minute Halloween costume details attend to, you can come hang out at the Maintenance and Operation Facilities on the corner of Race and Henry streets in Over-the-Rhine and watch it be unloaded. 

• ResponsibleOhio, the super PAC that put Issue 3 to legalize marijuana on the ballot, says the ilegal drug trade might be after them. A thief hacked a Fifth Third bank account belonging to Strategy Network, the political consulting firm that oversees ResponsibleOhio, and stole $200,000, its organizers say. A second attempt to steal $300,000 was stopped by Parma Police. Executive Director of ResponsibleOhio and CEO of Strategy Network Ian James said law enforcement told him it was "a pretty heavy duty drug dealer." James also told FOX19 that one of ResponsibleOhio's organizers was receiving threatening phone calls from an unknown source. The pro-pot group has claimed Issue 3 would put major drug dealers out of business. 

• Mayor Cranley is clearly pushing hard for Issue 22, but how does he feel about legalizing marijuana, the other major issue on the upcoming ballot? According to WCPO, he's not saying, and neither are many other local leaders. According to University of Cincinnati Political Science Professor Dave Niven, the issue blurs party lines and is split 50-50, so most play it safe by keeping their mouths shut. 

• Former House Speaker John Boehner passed the gavel to Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin yesterday. Ryan was elected to succeed Boehner Wednesday and is the youngest Speaker since 1869. Cincinnati-native Boehner announced his resignation last month, ending his four year run as Speaker. According to the New York Times, in his brief farewell speech, he held a tissue box, as he's often prone to tears, and told the House, “If anything, I leave the way I started: just a regular guy, humbled by the chance to do a big job.” 

My email is nkrebs@citybeat.com. I prefer story tips, but may be able to offer last-minute costume guidance as well.
by Staff 10.30.2015 30 days ago
Posted In: Comedy, Concerts, Culture, Drinking, Eats, Events, Fun, Holidays at 10:02 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Your Weekend To Do List (10/30-11/1)




People’s Liberty’s Globe Gallery hosts an out-of-this-world opening and after party complete with music, food, booze and the main attraction — an interactive iridescent dome. 2015 globe grantee Amy Lynch and partners Joel Masters and J.D. Loughead unveil Deep Space, an “immersive multisensory infinityscape” that provides an intimate experience with colorful, abstract pieces that call reality into question. At 8 p.m., a short presentation will highlight 2015/16 Haile Fellows and Project and Globe Grantees; afterward, the Darkly Dreaming after party takes over 1706 John St. with dancing, music and more. 6-11 p.m. Friday. Free. Globe Gallery, 1805 Elm St., Over-the-Rhine, peoplesliberty.org.

Art After Dark
Photo: Cincinnati Art Museum
Winter is coming…after Halloween. Head to the Cincinnati Art Museum for the latest installation of Art After Dark, a Game of Thrones-inspired installment that invites guests to show up in their most gallant medieval costumes and celebrate the current exhibit of High Renaissance art, Sublime Beauty. Snap a selfie with Ohio Renaissance Festival characters, listen to live music from Lemon Sky, take a guided ghost tour of the museum or participate in the Medieval & Mythical Creature costume contest. 5-9 p.m. Friday. Free admission; drink and appetizer prices vary. 953 Eden Park Drive, Eden Park, cincinnatiartmuseum.org

The May Festival Chorus teams up with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra to tackle Liszt’s Dante symphony — inspired by Dante Alighieri’s The Divine Comedy — depicting Dante’s and Virgil’s journey through hell. Australian conductor Simone Young also leads the orchestra in Brahms’ “Song of Destiny” and “Funeral Song.” 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday. $10-$104. Music Hall, 1241 Elm St., Over-the-Rhine, cincinnatisymphony.org.  

Photo: Provided
More than 130 top-notch exhibitors share and discuss the latest design trends during Cincinnati’s only curated design showcase. Whether you’re in the middle of a project or are just getting started, DesignBuildCincy is a place to network, share and get inspired. Personally invited to participate by DesignBuild, exhibitors range from architects, contractors and fabricators to designers, retailers and suppliers. The second-annual event takes over Music Hall this weekend, kicking off Friday with a combined performance by the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and May Festival Chorus. 5-8 p.m. Friday; 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday-Sunday. $8; Free 13 and younger. Music Hall, 1241 Elm St., Over-the-Rhine, designbuildcincy.com.  

Circa Survive
Photo: Jesse Fox
There is much wisdom that can be gleaned from the Toms. Tom Petty taught us long ago to listen to our hearts, because “it’s gonna tell (us) what to do. And Tom Cruise reminded us eloquently and succinctly, “Sometimes you’ve just gotta say, ‘What the fuck, make your move.’ ” Eleven years ago, Anthony Green heeded those philosophical nuggets and momentously left his position as frontman of Post Hardcore outfit Saosin, which was on the verge of a major-label signing, and returned home to suburban Philadelphia.Upon arrival, Green contacted guitarist Colin Frangicetto, his friend and former drummer for This Day Forward, with which Green had briefly jammed during a visit home. The pair began recording and canvassing their circle of musician friends for people to round out the group, quickly adding ex-This Day Forward guitarist Brendan Ekstrom, ex-Taken bassist Nick Beard and drummer Steve Clifford. The original lineup of Circa Survive has remained intact since its 2004 formation. Read more about the band in this week's Sound Advice. See Circa Survive with RX Bandits and Citizen Friday at Bogart's. More info/tickets: bogarts.com.

Craig Finn 
Photo: Provided
Craig Finn writes songs. He can’t help it, and he isn’t stopping anytime soon. Best known as the frontman for The Hold Steady, Finn has been delivering his detailed, word-addled songs about everyday people and places for more than two decades, a tradition he continues with his recently released second solo album, the eclectic but still-cohesive Faith in the Future.  Far more restrained than the riff-happy Hold Steady records, Faith in the Future is a nuanced, often wistful collection anchored by Finn’s ever-distinctive sing/speak vocals and literate lyrics. Album-opener “Maggie I’ve Been Searching for Our Son,” an evocative tale about a Branch Davidian-like cult, is as moving and memorable as anything in Finn’s now-bursting songbook. Read a full feature on Finn here. Craig Finn performs with Esme Patterson Friday in the Taft Theatre’s Ballroom. Tickets/more info: tafttheatre.org.

Kwame Binea
Photo: Provided 
After growing up in London and Ghana, singer/songwriter/guitarist Kwame Binea spent his teen years in Cherry Hill, N.J., playing basketball, writing poetry and absorbing the output of artists who would become the foundation of his eventual musical persona — Led Zeppelin, Otis Redding, Sam Cooke, Jimi Hendrix, Bob Marley and Parliament-Funkadelic, among others. Binea moved to New York City to pursue his musical dreams, and he and his Shakedown band honed their blend of Rock, Funk and Soul on the city’s club scene. This year, Kwame Binea Shakedown issued its first EP, a self-titled four-track release that nicely showcases its organic sound, running from the high-octane, horn-laden Funk explosion of “Let Go” to the folksy, slinky Soul of “Waiting.” 10 p.m. Friday. Free. The Drinkery, 1150 Main St., Over-the-Rhine, drinkeryotr.com.  

Photo: Jillian Tellep
Head to Arnold’s for a weekend of weird beers. The bar hunted to find the strangest and most peculiar brews they could get their hands on, including Rivertown’s Death, brewed with ghost chili peppers; Jackie O’s Pawpaw Wheat; Rhinegeist’s Vanilla Maple Squirrel; and more. All of the beers will be tapping on Friday, with live music all weekend. Friday and Saturday. Free admission. Arnold’s Bar & Grill, 210 E. Eighth St., Downtown, facebook.com/arnoldsbar.

Brass Tap hosts a costume party in conjunction with Fifty West, featuring six Fifty brews on tap. Costume contest with awards for first, second and third places. 6 p.m. Free admission. Brass Tap, 251 Calhoun Ave., Clifton Heights, facebook.com/fiftywestbrewingcompany.

Taste the best selections from more than a dozen of Cincinnati’s breweries, including Bad Tom, Blank Slate, Braxton, Cellar Dweller, Christian Moerlein and more. Tickets include 10 four-ounce tastings. Don’t forget your costume. 6-10 p.m. $25. Ault Park Pavilion, 3600 Observatory Ave., Hyde Park, aultparkac.org.

Photo: Provided
Rhinegeist rings in Halloween with the second-annual Hopgeist Double IPA festival. If you’re really into IBUs, this is the fest for you. Guaranteed to deliver “hair-raising hop flavors,” the fest features beers from breweries across the country — Dogfish Head, Jackie O’s, 21st Amendment — including super-rares from locals Listermann, Blank Slate, MadTree and more. Rhinegeist will also be debuting the winner of their homebrew collaboration, Homie, a double IPA with mosaic hops. VIP tickets include early access at noon and free food from Dutch’s and Maribelle’s. Noon-6 p.m. Saturday. $35; $50 VIP. Rhinegeist, 1910 Elm St., Over-the-Rhine, rhinegeist.com/hopgeist

The Malice Ball
Photo: CityBeat Archives
The third-annual Malice Ball returns to OTR for a night of illusion, mystery and masquerading in the foggy underworld of the Christian Moerlein Malt House Taproom. Dress in chic, dark and elegant costumes to enter the costume contest for prizes and a parade down the red carpet; a makeup artist and masks will be at the ball to enhance your look. Complement your outfit with specialty cocktails, Moerlein’s small-batch rye brown ale Malice Ball Brew, a spooky photo booth and DJs Matt Joy and Kenneth Wright (CityBeat’s event coordinator). Last year’s party was huge (800-plus guests), so get ready to mix and mingle. 8:30 p.m.-1 a.m. Saturday. $30 at the door; admission includes a drink ticket. 1621 Moore St., Over-the-Rhine, otrchamber.com

The Cincinnati Pops hosts a family-friendly, costumes-encouraged concert filled with songs familiar to kids and adults including the “Imperial March” from The Empire Strikes Back and “Harry’s Wondrous World” from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. A Family Fun Zone begins at 9:30 a.m. 10:30 a.m. Saturday. $4.50-$16. Music Hall, 1241 Elm St., Over-the-Rhine, cincinnatisymphony.org/pops

Aries Spears
Photo: Provided
Aries Spears is still plugging away. As the second-longest serving member of Mad TV, he is still recognized for his work on that program. His impressions of Sean “Diddy” Combs, Shaquille O’Neal and Wayne Brady, to name just a few, are still remembered fondly by fans. And while he will still do impressions in his stand-up act, he mostly does observational material. “There’s certain shit I can’t do with white people,” he says to an audience. “Like go drinking...When you’re drunk you make that noise: ‘Wooo!’ There’s a lot of bad history behind that noise. When black people hear ‘Wooo!’ they start looking for pick-up trucks.” Friday-Sunday. $25. Funny Bone on the Levee, Newport on the Levee, Newport, Ky., levee.funnybone.com


Sip on Venetian-themed cocktails at this Halloween costumer party. Think Casanova, ornate masks and fire performers. Unmask yourself at midnight. Free. 122 E. Sixth St., Downtown, igbysbar.com.

Do the Time Warp twice in one night with a double screening of The Rocky Horror Picture Show at the Esquire. Dress in your best Janet nightie or Dr. Frank-n-Furter thigh-highs and pearls for an evening with the Denton Affair, a live cast who plays along with the action on screen. Bring flashlights, noisemakers and bells. No one under 17 admitted without a guardian. 9:50 and 11:55 p.m. Saturday. $9.75. 320 Ludlow Ave., Clifton, esquiretheatre.com.

Trey Tatum and Paul Strickland grew up just 45 miles apart — Tatum in southern Alabama and Strickland in Florida’s Panhandle. But they didn’t meet until their paths crossed in Cincinnati during the Fringe Festival in June 2014. When Know Theatre announced Thunderdome, the second round of its 10-week Serials program, inviting local theater artists to create and stage shows in five 15-minute segments, Strickland and Tatum decided to join forces.  Neither had previously worked on a collaborative project like this, but they had chemistry. “This was the most fun I’ve ever had making a script,” Strickland says.They populated their show, Andy’s House of [blank], with versions of themselves. As they did during Serials, they’ll perform with two other actors, in what might be called a “semi-autobiographical mystery musical.” Andy’s House of [blank] was the most popular work among the Thunderdome offerings early in 2015, and now it’s back as a full-fledged show, the third production of Know’s 18th season. Read more about the play here. Andy's House of [blank] runs through Nov. 14 at Know Theatre. More info/tickets: knowtheatre.com.

Photo: Mark Lyons
Rodgers and Hammerstein were the go-to guys during musical theater’s Golden Age. Carousel was their personal favorite, a hit two years after Oklahoma. In fact, the shows were across Broadway’s 44th Street from one another from 1945 to 1947. Carousel is about Billy Bigelow, a reckless carnival barker who’s a ladies man and a gambler often on the wrong side of the law. When he meets Julie Jordan, he tries to go straight, but good behavior is tough. It takes dying and a return from the afterlife to make things right. The story is a testament to the power of love. Through Nov. 1. $31-$35. Corbett Auditorium, CCM Village, University of Cincinnati, Clifton Heights, 513-556-4183, ccm.uc.edu/boxoffice.

Drink the District held this cider and beer festival in Washington, D.C. in May, and they’re bringing the event to Sawyer Point on Halloween. Sample more than 30 different ciders and 20 beers, both local and regional. There will be food from Alabama Fish Bar mobile and Cuban Pete’s. 2-6 p.m. $35-$50; $10 designated driver. Sawyer Point, 705 E. Pete Rose Way, Downtown, drinkthedistrict.com/cincinnati/rock-the-core.

Head to MainStrasse Village for a Halloween parade and Disco dance party at the Goose Girl Fountain. Dress in costume for a masquerade parade down Sixth Street before heading to the fountain for a Disco dance-off and consume contest. Enjoy cauldrons of cocktails by Cock & Bull, Frida 602, Gypsy's, Pachinko, Rosie's, Strasse Haus and more. 9-11 p.m. Saturday. Free. MainStrasse Village, Covington, Ky., facebook.com/mainstrassevillagehalloween.

'The Art of the Brick'
Photo: Cincinnati Museum Center
Millions of LEGO bricks are taking over the Cincinnati Museum Center. Anticipated exhibit The Art of the Brick features more than 100 artworks created by contemporary artist Nathan Sawaya using nothing other than LEGOs. Explore life-size human figures, a 20-foot-long T-Rex skeleton and replicated famous paintings, including “Starry Night” and “Girl with a Pearl Earring,” plus familiar sculptures like “The Thinker” and the Sphinx. Sawaya has also created a Cincinnati-themed piece that will be revealed when the exhibit debuts. Create your own LEGO masterpieces in the interactive Brickopolis, and don’t miss special themed days revolving around Star Wars, dinosaurs, superheroes and more. Through May 1. $19.50 adults; $12.50 children 12 and under. Cincinnati Museum Center at Union Terminal, 1301 Western Ave., Queensgate, 513-287-7000, cincymuseum.org.

Photo: Mikki Schaffner
The Cincinnati Playhouse opens Mad River Rising, a play by Dana Yeaton that artistic director Blake Robison produced two decades ago in New Hampshire. It’s about an elderly man, escaped from a retirement home and hiding out in an old barn hayloft, defending the family farm where he grew up and grew old. The script has been updated and relocated to Ohio, so it’s a new work in many ways. It drifts back and forth in time, especially to a catastrophic 1937 flood. An insight into aging, it’s also a poetic tribute to hanging onto places with meaning. Through Nov. 14. $30-$85. Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, 962 Mt. Adams Circle, Mount Adams, 513-421-3888, cincyplay.com.

'Antique Halloween'
Photo: Taft Museum of Art
Travel back in time this October at the Taft Museum of Art. Current exhibit Antique Halloween is a one-room display of spooky antiques ranging in date from the 1900s to 1950s. The items, obtained by local collectors, include decorations, toys and games, candy cups and more. A ghostly ambiance is created by candle shades and jack-o-lanterns dispersed throughout the room. Through Nov. 1. $10 adults; $5 ages 6-17; free Sunday. Taft Museum of Art, 316 Pike St., Downtown, 513-241-0343, taftmuseum.org.

Celebrate World Vegan Day at Park + Vine with free N’ Eggs Benedict (Shadeau ciabatta roll, topped with tofu, vegan goetta, spinach and vegan hollandaise) and La Teraza Coffee. This marks the 71st anniversary of the term “vegan” and the establishment of The Vegan Society. 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Free. Park + Vine, 1202 Main St., Over-the-Rhine, parkandvine.com.

by Rick Pender 10.30.2015 30 days ago
at 09:20 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
stage door again

Stage Door: Oddities, Carnies and a Big Ole Flood

Know Theatre opens Andy’s House of [BLANK] tonight at 8 p.m. The show is the spawn of the second round of Know’s Serials, a happily creative two-month program of five 15-minute episodes. This one, a musical about a shop full of oddities and a story of love, regret and time travel, was a crowd favorite early in 2015. It struck Know’s artistic team as warranting further development, so they invited creators/storytellers Trey Tatum and Paul Strickland to turn it into a full-fledged work. As in Serials, it’s staged by director Bridget Leak. It’s being produced in Know’s Underground Bar, cleverly transmuted into the interior of Andy’s oddity shop with a set drawn on cardboard. Strickland (who’s also a singer and songwriter) has created a bunch of musical numbers; he and playwright Tatum are in the show, as if they were teens working at Andy’s back in the day and now retelling what went on. Read my Curtain Call column here to learn more. It’s happening through Nov. 14. Tickets: 513-300-5669.

Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Carousel, with a short run at UC’s College-Conservatory of music this weekend, is a classic from the Golden Age of Broadway musicals. It’s a darker story than you might expect from Rodgers and Hammerstein: Billy Bigelow, a good-looking bad boy who runs the merry-go-round at the carnival is love-’em-and-leave-’em kind of guy until he meets Julie Jordan. He tries to live a better life once they’re married and she’s pregnant, but it’s not really his thing. He dies after a bungled robbery and then has a chance to come back and make things right with his teenage daughter. There’ a lot of great music in this show — “If I Loved You” is one of several classic numbers — and with faculty member Diane Lala staging it (and choreographing it, too), it’s sure to be extremely watchable. Final performance is the Sunday matinee. Tickets: 513-556-4183.

Floodwaters are threatening life and limb in the past and the present at the Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park where Dana Yeaton’s Mad River Rising is on the big stage. Set in an abandoned barn, it’s the story of Angus Stewart (played with dry humor and stubborn attitudes by 82-year-old actor Robert Hogan) who witnessed a devastating flood in 1937 that all but destroyed his family’s farm. In old age he’s trying to stave off waves of newfangled innovation and life choices that have abandoned the traditional values of farming and owning land. Hogan is a fine performer, and the story has intriguing moments as he tangles with family members trying to accommodate him, help him or navigate around him. It’s a fine portrait of the challenges of aging. Here’s a to my CityBeat review. It’s onstage through Nov. 14. Tickets: 513-421-3888.

Elsewhere: Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati finishes its run of the very funny one-man show Buyer and Cellar, about an actor hired to manage a faux shopping mall in the basement of Barbra Streisand’s Malibu estate. (CityBeat review here.) Actor Nick Cearley turns in winning performances as the actor, as Streisand and a handful of others as he retells the ups-and-downs of “selling” to one tough customer. The run ends on Sunday. Tickets: 513-421-3555. … Cincinnati Shakespeare’s fine production of the prize-winning American drama Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller continues through Nov. 7. (CityBeat review here.) One of our region’s great professional actors, Bruce Cromer, turns in a heart-rending performance as Willy Loman, whose aspirations have come to a grinding halt; Annie Fitzpatrick’s powerful portrait of Willy’s devoted, weary wife Linda makes the sad story all the more compelling. Tickets: 513-381-2273. … Covedale Center is presenting a frothy farce by Ken Ludwig in the tradition of Marx Brothers’ comedies. Fox on the Fairway is a madcap story set at a private country club. Onstage through Nov. 15. Tickets: 513-241-6550.

One more thing: Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati is presenting a series of behind-the-scenes events that will enhance your appreciation of how theater productions are put together. This month’s Caffeinated Conversation on Saturday morning at 11 a.m. explores how ETC’s season is put together, how local actors are found and what it’s like to direct plays and musicals that deal with mental illness, economic disparity and racial tension. One of Cincinnati’s most admired directors, D. Lynn Meyers, will speak and answer questions. Tickets ($15): 513-421-3555.

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

by Natalie Krebs 10.29.2015 31 days ago
Posted In: News at 10:18 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Morning News and Stuff

Cranley rolls out plan to attract more immigrants; first streetcar set to arrive tomorrow; Kasich faces off in third Republican primary debate

Good morning, Cincinnati! Here are your morning headlines to help cure that Republican debate hangover. 

• Mayor John Cranley rolled out a plan to help attract more immigrants to Cincinnati. Yesterday, Cranley announced the 14 short-term goals and nine longer term goals developed by the task force on immigration he convened last year. One of the major goals is establishing a center where immigrants can obtain information and support services in the city, like ones in Pittsburgh and Chicago. The city will collaborate with the University of Cincinnati, the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber of Commence and Children's Hospital as well as other organizations to first build a website then an actual center. Other goals include ensuring that immigrants get fair treatment and their full legal rights, increased cultural sensitivity training for police and an ordinance from the city that would go after wage theft. Cranley is hoping to bring the task force recommended ordinances to Council in the next two weeks.  

• The first streetcar is finally set to arrive tomorrow morning. Don't believe me and have absolutely nothing to do tomorrow morning? Then come and see city officials unload the first vehicle for yourself. Tomorrow at 9:30 a.m. on the corner of Race and Henry streets in Over-The-Rhine, city and SORTA officials will spend 90 minutes unloading the first car onto the tracks a month and a half after it was first supposed to arrive. But don't expect a sneak peek into the cars. No tours will be available until it undergoes testing and starts to get a little more comfortable in its new home. 

• Gov. John Kasich made another mad dash to hang on to his presidential aspirations last night during the third Republican primary debate on CNBC. Because of his low poll numbers, CNBC stuck him in the far left corner, but that didn't stop him from getting his word in. According to NPR, he came in third for the total time spent talking, less than a minute behind Carly Fiorina and Marco Rubio and, surprisingly, ahead of aggressively chatty Donald Trump. Kasich went around a few questions, preferring not to answer what his greatest weaknesses are and brushing over the legalization of marijuana, which could happen in Ohio in less than a week, but he did say it gave kids "mixed signals." Kasich seemed to prefer to talk about balancing budgets, cutting taxes, reforming education and welfare and the $2 billion surplus and, of course, dodging Trump's jabs at his low poll numbers. 

• Cincinnati for once jumped ahead of other Ohio cities when it enacted anti-discrimination protections for gay, lesbian and bisexual people, but Rep. Nickie Antonio (D-Lakewood) would like to see these protections expanded across the state. Antonio, the state's first openly gay lawmaker, has pushed the non-discrimination law before, but her first attempt failed, and now she's trying again. The majority of U.S. states don't have non-discrimination laws in place for sexual orientation, and Gov. Kasich has reportedly hinted that he would support it — in exchange for protections on religious freedom. 

• Cincinnati is ready for winter. The city reportedly has 82 pieces of equipment, 27,000 gallons of calcium chloride, 14,000 gallons of beet juice, 37,500 gallons of brine, 27,000 tons of road salt on hand to fight off the annual average snowfall of 20 to 25 inches. City Manager Harry Black says they're ready for whatever comes this way, and the first snowfall expected in late November. All I can say is Cincinnati may be ready, but having recently moved from Texas where snow is a myth, I'm definitely not.

Email me at nkrebs@citybeat.com.
by Nick Swartsell 10.29.2015 31 days ago
Posted In: News at 09:52 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Social Media Messages at UC Imply Lynching

Racist messages aimed at activist group the Irate 8 raise concerns

Racist messages, including at least one appearing to threaten lynching for black student activists at University of Cincinnati, have recently begun appearing on social media site Yik Yak in response to calls to increased diversity on UC’s flagship campus.

Yik-Yak is an anonymous, location-based online message board. One of the recent messages posted on the site reads, “I don’t know if I have enough rope for all of the irate8…”

The message appears to refer to lynching, a murderous tactic used throughout the United States, but especially in the Jim Crow-era South, to terrorize blacks during the decades after emancipation.

Another message says “Breaking News: Use promo code 'irate8' at Burger King and get a black whopper for free.”

Both messages, and others with similar content, had been upvoted multiple times by campus Yik-Yak users. The posts have since been reposted to Facebook and Twitter.

The racist messages refer to UC’s Irate 8, a group named for the 8 percent of the school’s student body that is black. The Irate 8 points out Cincinnati’s population is 45 percent black and has pushed the UC administration to articulate a plan to boost diversity on the school’s main campus to better reflect the demographics of the city as a whole.

"This means these were people on our campus, people who were students," says Irate 8 member and UC student Ashley Nkadi. Yik-Yak posts are only accessible within a short distance of where they were posted. Nkadi says that some of the posts have gotten dozens of upvotes, meaning that people very near her are also boosting the racist messages. That's caused her and other students anxiety.

The activist group sprang up in late August in response to the July 19 shooting death of black motorist Samuel DuBose by UC police officer Ray Tensing. The group is pushing for substantial reform to UC’s police force in the wake of that shooting, highlighting the large disparity between blacks and whites in stops and arrests by the department in the past year. In 2014, 17 whites and 52 blacks were stopped by the UC police force. Police issued 30 citations to whites that year and 119 to blacks. As of July 2015, that disparity had grown — 12 whites had been stopped so far that year, while the department had stopped 62 blacks. UC police issued 31 citations to whites and 189 to blacks.

The student-organized group has staged a number of rallies, teach-ins and other peaceful efforts to advocate for black students on campus. On Oct. 15, the Irate 8 released a list of 10 demands for UC’s administration. In that list, the group asks that the officers serving with Tensing at the time of the shooting be restricted from patrolling on or off campus and calls for comprehensive screening for all officers employed by UC police, the establishment of campus-wide racial awareness training, disinvestment from any companies running private prisons, the hiring of at least 16 black staff and senior faculty members over the next three years, and the doubling of the school’s percentage of black students on campus.

UC student and Irate 8 activist Brittany Bibb and other activists say after that list was released, the racist messages on Yik-Yak began in earnest and have increased since.

Both the administration and student body government responded yesterday to the list of demands, stating that they wished to work together with the activists to increase diversity and racial awareness on campus. But in the meantime, some black activists say the anonymous messages on campus-centered social media sites have been increasing, highlighting a culture of racism there.

UC President Santa Ono addressed the messages on Yik-Yak this morning in an email.

“I ask everyone in our community to join me in condemning such comments and for all of us to fully embrace civility and respect,” Ono wrote. “Furthermore, I have asked for an immediate investigation into a particularly offensive post and will look after the safety of our students.”

by Nick Swartsell 10.28.2015 32 days ago
Posted In: Immigration, News at 12:25 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Immigration Task Force Announces Recommendations

Creating center for new Cincinnatians, protecting legal rights among top priorities

Mayor John Cranley and the Task Force on Immigration he convened last year announced a series of recommendations this morning the mayor says are aimed at making Cincinnati the most welcoming city to immigrants in the country.

The task force announced 14 short-term, two-year goals and another nine longer-term, five-year goals designed to persuade and help immigrants settle in Cincinnati while protecting their legal rights and encouraging entrepreneurship.

“We want to be a city of growth and opportunity,” Cranley said during a news conference about the task force’s recommendations, “and we think this is the right thing to do for the economic vitality of our city.”

Among the short-term objectives the task force would like to tackle are the establishment of a center where immigrants coming to Cincinnati can find information, support and services in the community. That center, a collaboration between the city, the University of Cincinnati, the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber of Commerce, Children’s Hospital and other organizations, will start out as a website while a permanent, physical center similar to ones in Pittsburgh and Chicago is established.

“We’ll have infrastructure and support services for immigrants from around the world,” Cranley said. The mayor said UC has committed $50,000 a year to the effort, and Cranley said he’ll be asking Cincinnati City Council to approve a similar commitment. “This is a true collaboration, and it’s very inspiring to see the community come together to support something we don’t have.”

That center will help connect and coordinate the many efforts to help immigrants currently happening while looking to provide services that may not yet exist.

“We know that there are a lot of really great organizations throughout the city already doing wonderful things to serve our immigrant populations,” said Jill Meyer, President and CEO of the Cincinnati, USA Regional Chamber, which will provide staffing and other support for the center. “What you’ll see in the months ahead is us looking for new ways for this center to connect some dots and fill in the gaps that are there so that a one-stop shop is the reality for our new Cincinnatians.”

Another set of short-and-long-term goals will seek to ensure that immigrants are treated fairly and get their full legal rights. The task force calls for increased cultural sensitivity training for police, a deeper commitment by the city to punish violations of immigrants’ civil rights and calls for an ordinance from the city pledging to go after wage theft, a big issue for immigrant workers. Among the members of the task force is Manuel Perez, who works with the Cincinnati Interfaith Workers Center, which has helped lead the conversation around wage theft in Cincinnati.

Cranley declined to comment explicitly on what effect the effort could have on the undocumented immigrant population in the region, but did point out that some of the partners in the task force are working independently on measures like ID cards for undocumented immigrants. Those IDs would then be recognized by municipal offices, including the police department.

According to data released recently by the Partnership for a New American Economy, a pro-immigration think-tank, the foreign-born population of metro Cincinnati has contributed more than $189 million in state and municipal taxes. Within the city, foreign-born residents have more than $1.5 billion in spending power, according to the data.

“Right from the start, there was a strong consensus from the members about the importance of immigrants for our city,” said task force co-chair Raj Chundur, who explained that more than 70 volunteers comprised the task-force. Those volunteers were broken up into five subcommittees covering education and talent retention, rights and safety, economic development, international attractiveness and resources and development.

Cranley says he hopes to bring ordinances associated with the task force’s recommendation to Council in the next two weeks and predicted the measures would pass easily. 




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by Natalie Krebs 11.25.2015 4 days ago
at 11:09 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
sherrod brown

Morning News and Stuff

UC President says shut down White Student Union page; Million dollar homes coming to OTR; Chicago police release dash cam footage of shooting death of 17-year-old

Good morning Cincy! With Thanksgiving nearly upon us, people are ducking out of office early today (if they even show up at all), including journalists. Here are some headlines to hold you over this holiday weekend. 

• University of Cincinnati President Santa Ono requested that the Facebook page of the supposed UC White Student Union be shut down. The page has been linked to a white supremacy group, and nearly identical Facebook pages have been popping up in universities across the country. Ono said in an email sent out to students and staff that while he supports the freedom of speech, that the group was polarizing and distracting attention away from important racial issues that need to be discussed. 

• What's crazier than buying a $500,000 condo in Over-The-Rhine? Well, many, many things, but one of those things may be buying a $1 million townhouse in Over-The-Rhine. Cincinnati's Historic Conservation Board approved plans Monday for the construction of nine single-family townhomes near 15th and Elm, which will include two bedrooms, a two-car garage and a covered second floor deck. The $10 million project by Daniel Homes also includes renovating an old fire station on 15th street for residential and possibly commercial use.  

The greater Cincinnati area's jobless rate continues to fall. In the 15 counties in the region, which includes Southwest Ohio, Northern Kentucky and Southeast Indiana, the percent of unemployed workers fell nearly 17 percent. Butler, Clermont, Hamilton and Warren counties all have jobless rates at 4.2 percent than the national average hangs a bit higher at 4.8 percent. The drop might not be as drastic as all those prices during those terrible Black Friday sales, but it is the area's lowest jobless rate since March 2001. 

• U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown, a Democrat representing Ohio, said last Thursday that not all terrorists are abroad--or even foreigners. While Republicans have ganged up on Syrian refugees in the past week and a half, Sherrod said that "generally white males" are responsible for terrorist attacks. He's calling the mass shootings in public areas like schools and movie theaters that the U.S. has experienced in the last decad, terror attacks as well--just by another kind of terrorist. He pointed out that a major terrorist attack hasn't happen on U.S. soil since September 11, but plenty of shooting have happened by people that "look more like me than they look like Middle Easterners"--a viewpoint that appears unlikely to be adopted by any Republicans pushing for the halt of Syrian refugees any time soon. 

• Chicago police released the dash camera footage of the shooting death of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald, who was shot 16 times by police officers while running down a street in October 2014. Officer Jason Van Dyke, who opened fire on the teen, is being held without bond for first degree murder. Hundred of protesters marched peacefully in the streets of Chicago last night after the release of the video, and with many were angry about the long delay in the release of the video to the public. 

Send me story tips. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

by Kerry Skiff 11.24.2015 5 days ago
Posted In: Literary, Music at 01:26 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Beyond the Books

Live Jazz at the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County’s Main Branch

There’s nothing like being greeted by the bright echoes of music as you step inside from the pouring rain. On this particular day I was visiting the main branch of the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County for the monthly Jazz of the Month Club performance, featuring the Jamey Aebersold Quartet. It wasn’t hard to find the musicians, since their tunes bounced all around the library atrium, and as I slipped into my seat I settled down and let the warm jazz beats warm my cold body.

The Jamey Aebersold Quartet, the third performer in the Jazz of the Month Club, featured an extremely talented group of musicians, led by an award-winning Jazz master and educator. Jamey Aebersold, who led the group on the alto sax, received the 2014 National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Master Award, the highest jazz honor in America. A native of New Albany, Ind., Aebersold has been playing Jazz for more than 50 years, and has gained international recognition as a Jazz musician and educator. It was perhaps the educator in him that couldn’t resist adding tidbits of the pieces and artists they performed.

The quartet played several Jazz tunes, including “Lament” by J.J. Johnson, “Hi-Fly” by Randy Weston and “In a Sentimental Mood” by Duke Ellington, one of the most famous Jazz compositions. As I listened to the lively beats I couldn’t help but look around at the rest of the audience. While a couple people slept in the back row, most were intently focused on the performers, nodding their heads, tapping their toes or even dancing in their seats. Peeking out at passersby, I noticed a few that were even dancing as they walked, and I saw more than one librarian sneak a peek between tasks.

At one point, Aebersold pulled a Jamaican pianist into the performance and gave him a rehearsal for their next song in “be-dos,” singing the melody in gibberish. As strange as that seemed, Aebersold’s next instruction confused me further: “There’s a two-bar break on bar…something. You’ll hear it.” While we all laughed, I couldn’t help but wonder how the pianist could follow those instructions, but to my amazement he jumped right in without missing a beat, improvising as if he’d known the tune all along.

As a Jazz enthusiast, it was wonderful to hear the different styles of Jazz played in a way that drew crowds from all sections of the library. Older adults sat patiently through the program while younger audiences slipped in and out. But no matter how long they stayed, all seemed to leave with an expression of peace and pleasure at the simple but beautiful tunes wafting through the building. It was evidence of what Aebersold described by saying, “The world’s a mess. But we can make it better by playing some music.”

Did this event sound interesting? Check out similar programs at the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County’s Main Branch:
History of Cincinnati Music Reprise: Explore the musical history of Cincinnati with Musicologist Uncle Dave Lewis.
Jazz Jam Session: Enjoy an evening of jazz with the Blue Night Jazz Band.
Ring in the Holidays: Listen to a holiday performance by the Pyropus Hand Bell Choir.


by Nick Swartsell 11.24.2015 5 days ago
Posted In: News at 10:10 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Morning News and Stuff

Thanksgiving family argument fodder galore!

Hey Cincy. Hope you’re winding down your work week. It’s T-minus two days 'til turkey time, which also happens to be my birthday this year. I’m hyped for both. Oh, and if you want to get your favorite reporter a b-day gift, I’ll take a pair of these in size 8.5 thx. Huh. Now you know my shoe size, which is kind of creepy.

But here’s something awesome: There will be tons of political fodder for you to argue awkwardly about around the dinner table with your family this Thanksgiving. Consider this news update your guide to all the best terrible conversations you’ll be having soon.

• You can start with something mild, like debating whether or not Mayor John Cranley should have gotten off the hook for his election-day outburst at a polling location in Avondale. OK, “outburst” is a little harsh. The Cran-man just got a bit over-enthusiastic about Issue 22, the parks tax proposal, and shouted out that people should vote yes on it a couple times. Who doesn’t like to see enthusiasm for the democratic process? But uh, campaigning and telling people how to vote in a polling place is pretty firmly against the rules, especially when you’re a political figure. Despite that, the Hamilton County Board of Elections yesterday announced that it will not be seeking any penalties against the mayor for his breach of the rules. Pollworker Mary Siegel argued that the BOE should start cracking down on such electioneering infractions in the future, because the rules are rarely enforced now.

• If the ensuing argument about that doesn’t heat things up while you’re waiting for the turkey to finish cooking, try talking with your conservative Uncle Jeff about the University of Cincinnati white student union that was set up on Facebook a few days ago. The group’s posts feature prognosticating on how “European Americans” face special challenges on campus and in society in general and other nonsensical claptrap designed to draw people into useless race-related Internet debates. Anyway, the page is almost certainly fake, set up in response to the Black Lives Matter movement, according to a plan hatched on a national white supremacist message board. The UC-themed page uses language almost identical to similar sites across the country, many of the likes on the page’s posts come from out of town Facebook accounts and the whole thing comes across as a reminder not to feed the trolls. So, uh, don’t feed the trolls. Meanwhile, there are more serious and terrifying anti-Black Lives Matter incidents happening of late.

• Just a couple days after Hamilton County Commissioner Greg Hartmann, a Republican, dropped a bombshell by revealing he’s decided not to run for reelection, three Cincinnati City Council members are saying they’re considering running for his seat. Republicans Amy Murray and Charlie Winburn have both expressed some interest, with Winburn saying he could switch from a planned run for county recorder to the commission race if the party wants him to. Murray has said she’ll take the Thanksgiving holiday to think it over before deciding, but is intrigued. Meanwhile, independent Christopher Smitherman has said he might run as a Republican for the seat. Whoever the Hamilton County GOP taps will face Democrat State Rep. Denise Driehaus of Clifton, who is leaving the state House due to term limits.

• The second Cincinnati streetcar arrives today and will soon be making test trips around the 3.6-mile loop through Over-the-Rhine and downtown. This argument pretty much scripts itself, so just say "streetcar" to your public transit-hating dad and watch the holiday magic unfold.

• Black leaders from across the state met yesterday at The Urban League of Greater Cincinnati headquarters in Avondale to discuss the state of black Ohio. The Ohio Legislative Black Caucus, which includes local politicians State Sen. Cecil Thomas and State Rep. Alicia Reece, held the public meeting in part to discuss the wide disparities facing the black community here and across the state. Ohio ranks second-to-last in the nation in infant mortality rates, according to the caucus. Closer to home, the group singled out continued issues at the University of Cincinnati, which has been the site of serious racial dialogue around disparities in higher education. The group also discussed efforts toward police reform, which have been slow in coming even after several high-profile police shootings of unarmed black citizens here and a task force convened by Gov. John Kasich. You can read more about how activists are continuing to fight for those reforms in this week’s news feature.

• GOP presidential primary contender Donald Trump came to Ohio yesterday. He didn’t talk as much shit about Ohio Gov. John Kasich as he has in the past. Per usual, his speech was light on policy proposals and heavy on bombast. What else really needs to be said? His remarks to a crowd of 10,000 mostly focused on how the U.S. has become “soft and weak” (despite spending more on its military than all other countries combined) and about how he’s leading in all major polls (sadly, this claim is actually true). He also gave a shout out to waterboarding, the controversial torture technique once used by the U.S. to extract intelligence from terrorism suspects. Trump’s all for bringing it back. Another thing Trump likes, according to his hour-long remarks: lists. As in, lists of people who are Muslim, which Trump thinks should be compiled by the federal government. Thanksgiving family debate difficulty level: black diamond.

• Finally, Indiana Governor Mike Pence faces a lawsuit from the American Civil Liberties Union over his refusal to take in Syrian refugees. The ACLU filed the lawsuit on behalf of Exodus Refugee Immigration, the Indianapolis nonprofit that handles refugee resettlement for the state. Pence pressured that organization to turn away Syrian refugees earlier this month. The ACLU says in doing so, he violated both the Constitution and the Civil Rights Act. This would be a great topic to discuss with your cousin Tami, who has that Gadsen flag bumper sticker on her Hummer.

That’s it for me. Later!

by Brian Baker 11.23.2015 6 days ago
Posted In: Local Music, Live Music, Reviews at 04:54 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

All Jazz Hands on Deck

The Dave McDonnell Group gives its compositional/improv chops another workout on sophomore album, 'the time inside a year'

That old trope about doers doing and non-doers teaching holds no currency with saxophonist Dave McDonnell. The Chicago native relocated to Cincinnati six years ago to complete his doctorate Jazz studies at the University of Cincinnati's College-Conservatory of Music, which ultimately led to positions at UC and the University of Dayton, teaching both music and music technology.

At the same time, McDonnell never abandoned his love for performance, composition and recording. Early in his Jazz career, McDonnell divided his time between waiting tables, teaching private music lessons and playing in an impossible number of bands; he even worked with Elephant 6 icons Neutral Milk Hotel and Olivia Tremor Control (studio sessions with the former, touring with the latter).

Family life and academic rigors forced McDonnell to dial down his band participation — he currently works with Michael Columbia, Diving Bell and Herculaneum — but his reduced roles also provided him the impetus to resume exploring his own work, leading him to assemble a coterie of friends and bandmates from his Chicago experience (guitarist Chris Welcome, bassist Joshua Abrams, drummer Frank Rosaly, vibraphonist Jason Adaiewicz and cellist Tomeka Reid) and form the Dave McDonnell Group.

Utilizing a blend of crafted and precise composition and free-form improvisation, McDonnell created a masterful and acclaimed debut album, last year's the dragon and the griffin. The album was by turns contemplative and explosive, but always guided by the spirit of Ornette Coleman's similarly constructed pieces, where the tunes' purposefully written passages set the tone and established a foundation and framework for the band's circuitously invigorating spontaneity.

Just a little over a year and a half later, McDonnell and his Group (a version of which features Cincinnati players for area live shows) have returned, once again eschewing upper-case titling and stodgy tradition on the appropriately christened the time inside a year, his debut for esteemed Chicago Jazz label Delmark. While McDonnell adheres to his winning compositional-vs.-improvisational strategy on the time inside a year, he also adds a new wrinkle with a slightly older piece from his canon, namely his three-movement suite "AEpse," which grew out of his doctorate studies at CCM and which he debuted in Chicago two years ago.

"AEpse" stands in contrast to the grooves, shifting rhythms and dazzlingly intricate harmonics of the rest of the time inside a year. "AEpse," as a three-part, 11-minute piece of music, explores a chilly soundscape of electronic expanse, appointed by Reid's mesmerizing cello incantations, which drift through McDonnell's constructed atmosphere like smoke in a virtual opium den. But rather than present this sonorously beautiful piece as a whole, McDonnell chose to intersperse the three "AEpse" movements within his gyrational Bop tracklist, allowing them to serve as way stations along the album's journey.

And what an impressive journey it proves to be. Opening with the quietly propulsive "Bullitt," moving into the slinkily engaging and sensual "Vox Orion" and on to the jaunty "The Contract with Bees," McDonnell displays his considerable skills as both a powerful frontman and a generous bandleader, jumping to the fore with appropriately frenetic flurries of notes or delicately woven passages, or yielding the floor to Adasiewicz's fluid and enchanting vibraphone runs or Welcome's always brilliant guitar contributions, all of it made possible by the gymnastics of Abrams and Rosaly's limber and diverse rhythm section.

Nowhere is this more evident than in the swinging, shattering "Baker's Man," which begins and ends with the band in unison on the song's loping theme and fills its center with a dissonant Sun Ra/Zappa/Beefheart explosion of sounds and ideas. As atypical as it is sonically to the rest of the time inside a year, it perfectly points up McDonnell's incredible compositional skills and DMG's extraordinary ability to go completely off the map and then return to the radar in a fraction of a heartbeat.

Cincinnati has enjoyed a long and storied Jazz tradition, spawning some of the most profoundly talented and inventive players in the country, but even its most revered alumni must be sitting up and taking notice of the jaw-dropping accomplishments of Dave McDonnell and his innovative and musically curious Jazz collective. Clearly McDonnell's depth and breadth of experience informs every second of the Dave McDonnell Group's incredible output, but it is the application of that experience to his own work that is so consistently impressive. Two years and two albums in, and the anticipation of where DMG might head next is palpable and exciting.

THE DAVE MCDONNELL GROUP, with guitarist Brad Myers, bassist Peter Gemus and drummer Dan Dorff, plays Urban Artifact on Tuesday at 8 p.m.

by Kerry Skiff 11.23.2015 6 days ago
Posted In: Holiday at 12:56 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thanksgiving Dinners

For those of you who want turkey, but don't want to cook it

Whether you can't make it home for Thanksgiving, you're avoiding your family or you just don't actually feel like waking up at 6 a.m. to start cooking, plenty of area eateries are making it easy to enjoy a traditional Thanksgiving feast with all the trimmings minus the time spent in the kitchen sticking your hand up a turkey's butt (and time spent getting drunk enough to ignore your Republican uncle's ramblings about how Donald Trump would make America great again).

Arnold’s Misfit Thanksgiving — This Thanksgiving meal is open to everyone. Bring a dish to share. 5 p.m. Free admission. Arnold’s Bar & Grill, 210 E. Eighth St., Downtown, facebook.com/arnoldsbar.

BB Riverboats — BB Riverboats hosts two Thanksgiving Day cruises — one lunch and one dinner — featuring a holiday feast with all the trimmings. Menu features roasted turkey, dressing, ham, green bean casserole, potatoes, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie and more. 1-3 p.m. or 5:30-7:30 p.m. $43 adults; $22 children. 101 Riverboat Row, Newport, Ky., bbriverboats.com.

Behle Street by Sheli — Featuring a traditional Thanksgiving meal, either in house or to go. Menu includes ham, turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, corn pudding, sweet potato, cranberries, green beans and more. 1-8 p.m. $23.99 adults; $8 children. 2220 Grandview Drive, Ft. Mitchell, Ky., behlestreetbysheli.com

Embers — Serving the restaurant’s full menu, along with a traditional holiday three-course meal including choices of turkey, stuffing and pecan pie. 4-10 p.m. $35 adult; $17 children. 8170 Montgomery Road, Kenwood, embersrestaurant.com.

Fall Feast — The 10th-annual Fall Feast from Give Back Cincinnati is all about community, love and abundant free food. Join 4,000 of your neighbors to give thanks, eat heartily and laugh cheerfully. The event also features free coats, haircuts, a health clinic, flu shots, vision screenings and pediatric dental check-ups, plus live music, a kids zone and big-screen TVs to watch the Thanksgiving Day Parade and football. Doors open 9 a.m.; dinner 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Free. Duke Energy Convention Center, 525 Elm St., Downtown, fallfeast.org.

Four Seasons Restaurant — Buffet includes turkey, ham, shrimp, mashed potatoes, oyster dressing, fresh fruit and desserts. 10:30 a.m.-7 p.m. $24.95 adults; $13.95 children. 4609 Kellogg Ave., Anderson, fourseasonscincy.com.

La Petite France — A traditional buffet feast plus assorted French delights. Includes turkey, escargots bourguignon, quiche Loraine, smoked salmon, pumpkin soup and cocktails. 11 a.m.-5 p.m. $34.95 adults; $15 children. La Petit France, 3177 Glendale-Milford Road, Evendale, lapetitefrance.biz.

Laszlo’s Iron Skillet — Menu features entrées including maple-leaf crispy roasted duck, wiener schnitzel and oven-roaster turkey. Guests will be seated every two hours, and reservations are encouraged. 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Pricing à la carte. 1020 Ohio Pike, Withamsville, laszlosironskillet.com.

Metropole — This traditional meal can be served à la carte or as a four-course prix-fixe dinner. Turkey, soups and salads, stuffing and sweet potatoes are all on the menu. 2-8 p.m. $49 adults. 609 Walnut St., Downtown, metropoleonwalnut.com.

Parker’s Blue Ash Tavern — Parker’s buffet features all the trimmings of a traditional turkey dinner. Noon-7 p.m. $34.95 adults; $11.95 children. 4200 Cooper Road, Blue Ash, parkersblueash.com.

Riley’s Restaurant — This all-you-can-eat buffet offers everything from mashed potatoes and gravy to oven-roasted turkey and pecan and pumpkin pies. 11:30 a.m.-6 p.m. $19.50 adults; $8.95 children. 11568 Springfield Pike, Springdale, rileysgreatmeals.com.

Walt’s Barbecue — All-you-can-eat buffet at Walt’s. 11:30 a.m.-5 p.m. $19.95. 6040 Colerain Ave., Colerain, waltsbarbeque.com.

Wunderland Banquet Hall — Includes turkey, ham, stuffing, macaroni and cheese, steamed vegetables, rolls and pumpkin pie. 1-4 p.m. $18.50 adults; $7 children. 7881 Colerain Ave., Colerain, wunderlandhall.com.


by Natalie Krebs 11.23.2015 6 days ago
at 11:07 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
to do_kitten knittin_gertie adoptable kitten_photo oar and spayneuter clinic

Morning News and Stuff

Hamilton County Commissioner Greg Hartmann won't run for re-election; unlikely winner P.G. Sittenfeld holds in Senate race; Belgium responds to citywide police sweep with Internet cats

Good morning, Cincinnati! Hope y'all are ready for a short work week followed by some binge eating! 

Hamilton County Commissioner Greg Hartmann is officially not running for re-election next year. Hartmann, who has served as commissioner for the last seven years, announced his decision in an email Saturday. He stated his main motivation was to allow new leadership in the position in what he calls "a self-imposed term limit." Hartmann's decision came as a surprise, as the conservative Republican was already raising money to run against State Rep. Denise Driehaus (D-Clifton), who chose to run for commissioner upon hitting a real term limit after serving in the state House for eight years. Hartmann told the Enquirer he had been thinking about not running for the past year. Republicans have yet to present another candidate for the position.  

• Another federal housing project might be coming to Cincinnati that would give government housing agencies flexibility to test local projects using federal dollars. The arrival of the 19-year-old federal program Moving to Work is pending the U.S. Senate's approval of appropriations bill that would extend the program to 39 different agencies. The program targets programs that reduce the costs of other programs and incentivize families to prepare for work. Some local activists and experts aren't so thrilled with program's possible arrival. Critics of the program say that the local agencies' programs that receive the flexible federal dollars aren't subjected to enough evaluations to prove their effectiveness, therefore letting ineffective, and even damaging programs, slide by. 

• A new program looking to get guns off the streets of Cincinnati will launch its second round today. The program, run by the nonprofit Street Rescue, will set up in Brown Chapel AME Church on Alms Place from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. allowing community members to trade their unwanted guns for $50 and $100 grocery gift cards, no questions asked. The program was developed by local residents who aim to get illegal guns off the street following the city's recent spike in violent crime. They collected seven guns during their first drive in October. 

• Cincinnati City Councilman and Democratic U.S. Senate hopeful P.G. Sittenfeld is still in the race, much to the dismay of political experts. Sittenfeld's campaign against Republican Rob Portman has been largely overshadowed since former Democratic Ohio governor Ted Strickland jumped in the race. The Ohio Democratic Party gave Strickland its endorsement last April. But Sittenfeld held on and has launched recent attacks against both candidates for issues like gun control. Strickland is much better known around the state than Sittenfeld, who isn't recognized much outside of Cincinnati.

• Finally, Brussels is lockdown as authorities sweep the city for terrorism suspects. Authorities have even requested residents refrain from posting messages that expose the whereabouts of police on social media. So rather than give up social media for the extent of the operations, Belgians have banded together by posting pictures of cats, the Internet's favorite animal. Cat memes have popped up all over Belgian's social media accounts poking fun of the tense operation.  

by Jac Kern 11.23.2015 6 days ago
Posted In: Culture, Literary at 10:59 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
tipi na

Beyond the Books

Native American Day at the Boone County Public Library's Main Branch

There was little reading happening at the Boone County Public Library on Native American Day on Nov. 14. A life-size tipi sat on the lawn of the main branch, and inside the sound of drums carried from the second floor. In a corner of the children’s area sat craft tables where kids could make pinch pots out of clay, and Sioux dancers wandered around in traditional dress and face paint.

November, which is Native American Heritage Month, was the perfect time to host this event, although it took library staff several months of planning to get it ready. Adult Programmer Kathy Utz says this was the first-ever Native American Day at the library. “This is totally an experiment for us,” she says. “It’s really turned out to be a good program, and people are interested in it.” Utz added that one of the library’s goals is to expose the community to different cultures. “We always like to broaden the horizon of Boone County and to see something they haven’t seen before,” she said. They certainly achieved the desired effect, for as I wandered through the various stations, I can honestly say I’d never before experienced so much Native American culture in one place.

Chaske Hotain, a group of Sioux drummers, performed with brothers and sisters from around the country, beating the rhythms of their ancestors. Wearing their traditional dress, the dancers presented various Native American styles, at times inviting the audience to join them as they circled gracefully inside the wide perimeter of chairs. “It’s great … I’ve never been to a powwow or anything like that before, so I didn’t know what to expect,” says Kaitlin Barber, public service associate with the library’s local history department and the one who arranged the demonstration. “It’s really surpassed my expectations.” Outside the crowd was just as enthralled, and children could scarcely contain their excitement to enter the life-size tipi. It was surprising how many could fit into what looked like a small space — as I stood there I watched at least 30 people file in and settle comfortably on the floor. As I listened in I heard the owner, Tim Deane of Morristown, Tenn., describe the hand-made, authentic Sioux articles inside.

No matter which corner of the library you found yourself, there was something exciting to greet you. Patrons and performers alike took advantage of the vibrant atmosphere, and all around I could see the results of exposure to a different culture. This is what Jordan Padgett, youth services programmer, says the library strives to provide: “That is part of what we do here at the library, is really engage the community and reach them where they’re at. [And] providing stuff that amplifies what they’re already learning is a big key.”

by Staff 11.20.2015 9 days ago
Posted In: Arts, Animals, Comedy, Concerts, Eats, Events, Fun, Food, Humor, Holidays, Life, Music, Movies at 12:33 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Your Weekend To Do List (11/20-11/24)

Lasagna pop-ups, Bill Nye, Festival of Lights, Black Dance is Beautiful and more



You’ve seen the Emmy-nominated show; now you can live it. The hosts of MythBusters will be wishing co-host and frequently bereted Jamie Hyneman farewell on a nationwide tour, and they need your help to conduct some of their final experiments when they make their stop in Cincinnati. Attendees will be brought on stage to assist Jamie and Adam as they use science to bust popular myths and misconceptions. 8 p.m. Friday. $45-$110. Aronoff Center, 650 Walnut St., Downtown, cincinnatiarts.org

“Untitled (Antelope)” by Jochen Lempert
Photo: courtesy of the artist and ProjecteSD Barcelona
Jochen Lempert, the German photographer whose first major U.S. museum show, Field Guide, is now at the Cincinnati Art Museum, combines the metaphysical with the biological so well that the effect is often magical. Or, I should say, the effect is downright scientific. He’d appreciate that latter term — he’s a trained biologist who turned to art photography in the 1990s. Yet much of his work achieves magic by making something ephemeral concrete and vice versa. This is a show to spend some time with, because the way individual images affect the viewer often depends on the size and placement of the black-and-white prints. And the impact upon our cognitive process of seeing, in close proximity to each other, close-ups of sand (“Etruscan Sand,” a 2009 photogram), “Rain” (a 2003 photograph) and “Crushed Shells” (a 2013 photogram) teaches us as much about ourselves as photography. Read more about the exhibit here. Jochen Lempert’s Field Guide is on display at the CAM until March 6. More info: cincinnatiartmuseum.org.

'Gimmie Gimmie Gimmie'
Photo: Joe Wardwell
The Weston Art Gallery hosts an opening reception for Gimmie Gimmie Gimmie, an exhibition organized by artist and sometimes-curator Todd Pavlisko. Gimmie will examine “the varied experience of amassing objects and the practice of collecting” by featuring installation work by artists Antonio Adams and Alfred Steiner, as well as iconic works by world-renowned artists including Vito Acconci, Chris Burden, Ana Mendieta and Adrian Piper. Opening reception: 6-8 p.m. Friday. Through Jan. 17. Free. 650 Walnut St., Downtown, cincinnatiarts.org/weston-art-gallery

Photo: Provided
Peruse one-of-a-kind gifts for the holidays (or just because) at C-LINK Gallery’s annual SHOP: Cincinnati exhibition. Beginning Friday, the gallery inside Brazee Street Studios will showcase a treasure trove of handmade items crafted by local artists, including everything from jewelry, ceramics and ornaments to greeting cards, paintings and more. Get started 6-9 p.m. Friday at the first of two free receptions. Through Dec. 26. Prices vary. C-LINK Gallery, 4426 Brazee St., Oakley, brazeestreetstudios.com

'As You Like It'
Photo: Mikki Schaffner
Who knew cross-dressing could be such fun? Apparently Shakespeare did. All the actors on the Elizabethan stage were men, so having Rosalind dress as a man while hiding in the Forest of Arden was a kind of double-down trick. While disguised, she finds the forest’s trees covered with love poems about her “real” self. What’s a girl to do? That’s what As You Like It is about. One of Shakespeare’s most popular comedies, it’s a good-natured choice for the holidays. Audience favorite Sara Clark will play Rosalind; she excels with verbal comedy, so be prepared to laugh. Through Dec. 12. $22-$39. Cincinnati Shakespeare Company, 719 Race St., Downtown, 513-381-2273, cincyshakes.com.

A fundraiser for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Fund. This benefit coincides with National Diabetes Awareness Month, and activities include food pairings, bourbon tastings, a photobooth, silent auction and a live bow-tie experience auction. 7-11 p.m. $35 with bourbon tasting. Music Hall, 1241 Elm St., Over-the-Rhine, 513-793-3223.

A dance party where German costumes are encouraged. 8 p.m. Christian Moerlein Brewing Co., 1621 Moore St., Downtown, christianmoerlein.com.

Festival of Lights
Photo: Cincinnati Zoo
It’s that time of year again — more than 2 million sparkling lights illuminate the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden, transforming its exhibits and landscape into an exuberant “Wild Wonderland.” New in 2015 are a Wild Lights Show on Swan Lake and a Frozen-themed area where guests can meet Anna and Elsa. Other festival features include visits with Santa and Mrs. Claus, the Toyland Express Train Ride and a black-light show by Madcap Puppets. Remember to stop by the Holiday Post Office and the newly themed Gingerbread Village, where you can peek through the windows of each house to find the mouse that lives inside. Through Jan. 2. $27 adults; $21 seniors/children. 3400 Vine St., Avondale, 513-281-4700, cincinnatizoo.org

Victory of Light Expo
Photo: Provided
This psychic festival has been Cincinnati’s premier body, mind and spirit event for more than 20 years. With 79 seminars and more than 250 exhibitors, it’s the best opportunity for exploring alternative spirituality in the Midwest. Seminars feature dozens of experts as they speak about dreams, past lives, meditation, tarot, astrology and more. Other activities include holistic healing sessions, live music, book signings, psychic artists, aura photography and shopping. 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. $15 daily; $25 weekend. Sharonville Convention Center, 11355 Chester Road, Sharonville, victoryoflight.com

Black Dance is Beautiful
Photo: Provided
Help arts advocate and People’s Liberty Project Grant recipient Quiera Levy-Smith celebrate the Black Dance is Beautiful festival during a free performance featuring African-American choreographers and dancers from four companies. Included are two groups from Cincinnati: Bi-Okoto Drum & Dance Theatre, directed by Adebola T. Olowe, Sr., and Studio Kre8v, the Hip Hop dance team of urban arts center Elementz. From Columbus comes dynamic all-male company Berry & Nance (pictured). Rounding out the bill is Terence Greene’s Cleveland-based Greene Works Project. Cincinnati Ballet soloist James Gilmer also performs. 7 p.m. Saturday. Free with registration on the website or at the door beginning at 6:15 p.m. Walnut Hills High School, 3250 Victory Parkway, Walnut Hills, blackdanceisbeautiful.com.

Embark on bar and restaurant group 4EG’s Mustache Ball Crawl on Saturday to benefit the Testicular Cancer Society and Midwest Rugby Development Foundation. The bar crawl kicks off with free appetizers at event presenter The Sandbar; then, head to Mt. Adams Pavilion, The Righteous Room, Igby’s and O’Malleys. Ticket price includes round-trip transportation and drink specials, including $2.50 domestic beers and $2 off drafts, at all participating locations. 8 p.m. Saturday. $30. Begins at The Sandbar, 4609 Kellogg Ave., California, thesandbarcincinnati.com.  

'A Little Bird Told Me'
Photo: Sara Pearce
Twelve well-regarded Cincinnati artists and artisans have banded together for a Studio Collection Holiday Sale Saturday. Judy Dominic, Jennifer Gleason, Renee Harris, Lisa Inglert, Terri Kern, Pam Korte, Mary Mark, Sara Pearce, Margaret Rhein, Melinda Ramos, Ursula Roma and Pat Statzer will be offering everything from ceramics, painting and prints to handmade condiments, hand-dyed clothing and handmade jewelry. 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday. Free. Harmony Lodge, 646 E. Epworth Ave., Spring Grove Village, harmonylodge.com/studiocollection

Will Kimbrough
If there’s one phrase that Will Kimbrough’s family and friends don’t use in conversation with the renowned Roots/Rock singer/songwriter, it would have to be, “When you have some spare time..." The concept of unused hours in a day has to be fairly foreign to Kimbrough, who generally maintains a schedule that would exhaust three burly roadies. Kimbrough’s docket is routinely packed with studio session work, touring gigs and production projects (for the likes of Jimmy Buffett, Todd Snider, Rodney Crowell, Steve Earle, Guy Clark and a host of other luminaries), as well as his various band/solo activities, the latter of which now includes Daddy, his group with fellow singer/songwriter Tommy Womack, and the minor supergroup Willie Sugarcapps, which also features singer/songwriter Grayson Capps and the members of the Folk duo Sugarcane Jane. Read more about Kimbrough in this week's Sound Advice. Will Kimbrough performs Saturday at Southgate House Revival. More info/tickets: southgatehouse.com.

'The Art of the Brick'
Photo: Cincinnati Museum Center
Millions of LEGO bricks are taking over the Cincinnati Museum Center. Anticipated exhibit The Art of the Brick features more than 100 artworks created by contemporary artist Nathan Sawaya using nothing other than LEGOs. Explore life-size human figures, a 20-foot-long T-Rex skeleton and replicated famous paintings, including “Starry Night” and “Girl with a Pearl Earring,” plus familiar sculptures like “The Thinker” and the Sphinx. Sawaya has also created a Cincinnati-themed piece that will be revealed when the exhibit debuts. Create your own LEGO masterpieces in the interactive Brickopolis, and don’t miss special themed days revolving around Star Wars, dinosaurs, superheroes and more. Through May 1. $19.50 adults; $12.50 children 12 and under. Cincinnati Museum Center at Union Terminal, 1301 Western Ave., Queensgate, 513-287-7000, cincymuseum.org.

Fountain Square Ice Rink
Photo: Provided
Fountain Square’s Ice Rink is officially open, offering daily skating and special events (like frozen-turkey bowling Nov. 24) all the way through February. Rent a pair of skates on-site and spend the day in the heart of downtown. Open daily. $6 admission; $4 skate rental. Fifth and Vine streets, Downtown, myfountainsquare.com

Poinsettia Express at Krohn Conservatory
Photo: Gary Kessler
Take a walk through a winter wonderland at Krohn Conservatory. The conservatory’s holiday floral show, Poinsettia Express, takes visitors through a charming array of floral arrangements whose colors resemble candy canes as toy trains carry peppermints through a village of gingerbread houses. In the Schmalz Family Holiday Village, see motionettes from the 1940s and ’50s Shillito’s and Pogues display windows, Santa music boxes, a 12-foot Christmas tree and even a model of a town inspired by A Christmas Carol. Through Jan. 3; special evening hours 5-7:30 p.m. Dec. 9 and Dec. 16-23. $7 adults; $4 children. Krohn Conservatory, 1501 Eden Park Drive, Eden Park, cincinnatiparks.com/krohn-conservatory

Bill Nye
Photo: Provided
Bill Nye, the quintessential science guy and public defender of evolution, discusses his latest book, Unstoppable: Harnessing Science to Change the World, at the main branch of the public library. Unstoppable combines optimism and scientific curiosity to examine today’s environmental issues, positing that global warming isn’t an insurmountable problem but a chance for our society to rise to the challenge to create a cleaner, healthier and smarter world. Nye also debunks some of the most persistent myths about our current environmental issues. 7 p.m. Sunday. Free; tickets to signing line sold out. Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County, Main Branch, 800 Vine St., Downtown, cincinnatilibrary.org

A rare public screening of Homebodies, a “lost” movie filmed in Cincinnati’s West End and released in 1974, will take place Sunday at the main library. The film by Larry Yust is a very dark comedy about some desperate pensioners who, when their apartment building is targeted for demolition as part of urban renewal, resist by trying to kill all those who want to move them out. After the screening, there will be a panel discussion with former Cincinnati Mayor Mark Mallory, librarian Christopher Smith (who has researched the film’s locations) and two police officers assigned to the Homebodies detail, Howard Nichols and Tom McAlpin. 2 p.m. Sunday. Free. Huenefeld Tower Room, Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County, Main Branch, 800 Vine St., Downtown, cincinnatilibrary.org.

Photo: Martine Carlson
What do Caribou, of Montreal, Born Ruffians, Eleanor Friedberger and Yeasayer have in common? Besides a propensity for edgy Electro Pop, they’ve all collaborated with Ahmed Gallab —better known as Sinkane — to add a unique spice to their musical recipes. In his solo career, Sinkane combines several connected yet disparate genre elements — Funk, Afropop, Soul, Jazz, Psychedelia, Krautrock — creating a silky, sensual sonic experience that seeps into your pores like a healing balm while simultaneously inspiring you to dance with dervish-like intensity. Read more about Sinkane in this week's Sound Advice. See Sinkane with Steven A. Clark Sunday at MOTR Pub. More info/tickets: motrpub.com.

Drew Hastings
Photo: Provided 
Drew Hastings is a stand-up comic, entrepreneur and the newly re-elected mayor of Hillsboro, Ohio. He was impressed with how voters responded to Issue 3. “I’m glad people who support legalization weren’t like ‘pot at any cost,’ ” he says, referring to the proposed monopoly system the law would have created. “I was saying a lot of the pot lobbyists are having meetings behind closed doors with rolled-up towels at the bottom of them. It’s ironic it was called a marijuana initiative, because I’ve found that initiative is the one thing marijuana knocks out of you.” As for his shows at Go Bananas this week, Hastings says, “You can expect a lot of political incorrectness.” Thursday-Sunday. $12-$18. Go Bananas, 8410 Market Place Lane, Montgomery, gobananascomedy.com

St. Anthony of Padua hosts a festival featuring the food and culture of Lebanon. Enjoy falafel, kibbee, stuffed grape leaves while listening to live Middle Eastern music and watching traditional dances. Noon-6 p.m. Free admission. St. Anthony of Padua Church, 2530 Victory Parkway, East Walnut Hills, staparish.org.

If you hate Mondays but love lasagna, you may be a human (or a fat orange cat?). Please/chef Ryan Santos and The Pharmacy Co have teamed up to present I Hate Mondays, a lasagna night pop-up dinner. This monthly Monday night event will feature a vegetarian and traditional meat lasagna with a guest lasagna from a chef — this month it’s Wright. BYOB. First come, first served. 7 p.m. $8-$12. The Pharmacy Co., 18 W. Seventh St., Third Floor, Pendleton, facebook.com/pleasecincinnati


Taft's Ale House
Photo: Jesse Fox

Taft’s Ale House and Maverick Chocolate Co. join forces for a pre-Thanksgiving dinner. Seating is very limited for this four-course meal, paired with Taft beer and Maverick chocolate. 6:30 p.m. $50. Taft’s Ale House, 1429 Race St., Downtown, 513-334-1393.

by Rick Pender 11.20.2015 9 days ago
Posted In: Theater at 10:38 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
stage door 11-20 - low down dirty blues @ cincinnati playhouse - felicia p. fields connects with an audience member - photo mikki schaffner .jpg

Stage Door: Non-Holiday Holiday Shows

Several of our local theaters produce shows this time of year that are a kind of antidote to the usual fare of A Christmas Carol and other happy, merry tales. Three get under way this weekend:

I went to a rockin’ party earlier this week, and you can, too — if you turn up for the Cincinnati Playhouse’s production of Low Down Dirty Blues, through Dec. 20. That’s right, a whole month of good times and sad in the intimate Shelterhouse Theater, doubling as Big Mama’s after-hours Blues bar. Every year around this time the Playhouse puts on a show as an alternate holiday choice to A Christmas Carol (which gets underway next week). This year it’s a warm-hearted good time featuring three excellent singers and a couple of very accomplished Jazz musicians (especially local Jazz pianist Steve Schmidt) performing off-color tunes, full of double-entendres and scandalous joking. The first half of the two-hour performance is mostly about lusty interaction via tunes like “Rough and Ready Man,” “I Got My Mojo Workin’ ” and “You Bring Out the Boogie in Me.” After intermission the party continues briefly (including some cute audience interaction to the tune of “I’m Not That Kind of Girl” — but then the tone darkens with passionate songs of grief (“Death Letter”), mourning (“Good Morning Heartache”) and then hope (“Change is ’Gonna Come”). Felicia P. Fields, a Broadway veteran who played a major role in the original staging of The Color Purple, anchors (and I use that word quite literally) the banter and the singing, but she is ably matched by Caron “Sugaray” Rayford, a massive force of energy, perspiration and rhythm. Chic Street Man sings and plays several guitars (especially a steel number with a gorgeous ring), and his sly, sinuous presence is a perfect complement to Fields’ and Rayford’s more ebullient performances. Don’t go if you’re offended by sexual innuendo, but if you’re looking for a “low down dirty” time, call now for a ticket: 513-421-3888

One of Shakespeare’s most beloved comedies, As You Like It, is the first step of holiday happiness at Cincinnati Shakespeare Company. The story of tomfoolery and romance in the Forest of Arden kicks off tonight; it’s around until Dec. 12, when it’s followed by the tenth annual staging of Every Christmas Story Ever Told (and then some). In case you missed it, Cincy Shakes announced this week that by mid-2017 it moves to its own spectacular new space in Washington Park, the Otto M. Budig Theatre, with nearly 100 more seats than its Race Street facility. (Read my story in this week's issue for more.) Until then, you need to line up for tickets, since many of the company’s performances sell out quickly. Tickets: 513-381-2273

Another “kind of” holiday show getting started is Know Theatre’s production of All Childish Things, opening tonight and onstage through Dec. 19. In a story set right here in Cincinnati (Norwood, in fact), it’s 2006 and two guys are still yearning for the galactic adventures promised by Star Wars when they were kids. One guy lives in his mom’s basement; the other has a girlfriend who could care less about The Force. They think their big break might be residing in a warehouse full of collectible Star Wars memorabilia. Zany shows rooted in childhood have become a holiday staple at Know Theatre, and this is right up that weird, happy alley. Tickets: 513-300-5669

And if you’re really longing to get the holidays under way, you have the perfect opportunity with a tour stop by a production of White Christmas at the Aronoff (next Tuesday through Dec. 6). It’s a stage version of the popular film; the tour features stage Cincinnati and Broadway veteran Pamela Myers in a cute, outspoken role. She performs a number titled “Let Me Sing and I’m Happy,” a perfect summary of her illustrious career. Tickets: 513-621-2787

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

by Nick Swartsell 11.20.2015 9 days ago
Posted In: News at 10:37 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Morning News and Stuff

National Transgender Remembrance Day; why Owens left Cincy State; Kasich and Trump trolling hard on Twitter

Good morning all. Hope you’re hyped for the weekend. I’m going to see Jens Lekman at the Woodward tonight, so I totally am. Music isn’t my beat and you should probably just read our article on the show after we talk about news. But for now, let’s get to it.

The Human Rights Campaign, a national LGBT rights organization, has established today as the Transgender Day of Remembrance, a day designed to draw attention to the often-forgotten violence faced by transgender people in America. At least 98 hate crimes against people based on their gender identity were reported in 2014, according to FBI hate crimes statistics. This year, trans people have been victims of nearly two dozen murders. Trans people in Cincinnati are no exception and face harsh violence, even murder.

• Why did former Cincinnati State President O’dell Owens leave so suddenly back in September? Turns out the answer is partly about money and partly about interpersonal politics, as so many answers are. Owens, who was once Hamilton County coroner and now serves as the director of the Cincinnati Health Department, was being asked to undertake 10 in-person fundraising meetings a week on behalf of the college. That fundraising schedule is unusual, education experts say. Other duties generally given to a college president were in the process of being assigned to a newly hired chief operating officer.

Despite exceeding his fundraising goals — Owens says he raised $1.73 million last  year, hundreds of thousands of dollars more than he was expected to raise — and gaining praise from U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan, Owens says he continued to receive pushback from some of the college’s board members. The tension culminated in an angry phone call from board chair Cathy Crain. Owens says Crain raised her voice to him in a call about a statement he made to the Cincinnati Enquirer on a possible tax levy for the school. After that incident, he began to consider leaving Cincinnati State. More money, more problems, or something.

• So, Cincinnati is definitely living in the age of re-urbanization, with more folks flocking back to the city. But while the general stereotype is that young professionals drive the demand for urban living spaces, it looks like baby boomers hitting retirement age are pushing a condo boom in Cincinnati as well. Older folks are interested in living in the city after their kids (finally) move out and they don’t need quite so much space, some developers say. Increased demand from empty nesters has informed new condo projects in places like Hyde Park. Side note: When I first saw the headline of that WCPO article, I read it as “condor demand picks up” and thought owning a bird of prey was some new hipster, Royal Tenenbaums-throwback thing I missed.

• As a journalist I’m supposed to be cold and dead inside without preference or favoritism for anything. I generally do OK with that, but if I have two weak spots, they are bicycles and beer. So I might not be qualified to report on this next thing objectively, but here goes: Cincinnati’s Fifty West Brewing Co. is expanding and, in the process, folding in the Oakley Cycles shop, a high-end bicycle retailer that will move from Observatory Avenue to Fifty West’s campus in Columbia Township. Fifty West and Oakley Cycles representatives both say they’re looking to provide a new, community-oriented experience for visitors while taking advantage of the Fifty West facility’s proximity to local bike trails. Fifty West will also be expanding capacity to brew four times as much beer as it does now. This is all pretty great.

• What else is happening? GOP presidential primary contender and perennially red-faced and slightly sweaty verbal combatant Donald Trump has set his sights on equally red-faced and sweaty fellow Republican candidate Ohio Gov. John Kasich. The two have been having a war of words via Twitter, which… well, that’s where we’re at as a country these days and I’m really just too depressed to continue typing about this. Check it out if you want.

Kasich has also drawn some attention for his suggestion that the United States create a federal government agency charged with spreading Judeo-Christian values across the globe. That sounds like a great plan that has absolutely zero constitutional or moral problems, right? Once again, I’m just going to let you read the story.

• Finally, a small group of Syrian refugees resettled in Kentucky this week despite political furor over such resettlements after the attacks on Paris last week by ISIS. Most of the eight attackers were French or Belgian, but at least one Syrian passport was found at the scene of one of the attacks, fueling apprehensions that some of the four million refugees fleeing Syria are allied with ISIS, the militant Islamic group that has claimed control of large parts of Iraq and Syria.

Yesterday, the U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed a bill that would add extra levels of scrutiny to Iraqi and Syrian refugees before they can resettle in the United States on top of the U.S. State Department’s already months- or years-long vetting process. Those new requirements would effectively halt refugee resettlement of those groups in the U.S. The bill faces stiff opposition in the Senate, and President Barack Obama has vowed to veto it should it pass there. The House’s version of the bill passed with a veto-proof two-thirds majority. The Senate would need to pass it with a similar margin to override Obama’s veto ability.

If you’re interested in learning more about the refugee resettlement process from the perspective of an Iraqi family that settled in Cincinnati, check out our cover story earlier this year on refugees here.

I’m out. Enjoy your weekend!