Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra this week announced the appointment of Kelly Kuo as Interim Music Director. Kuo will oversee the CCO's new festival format that debuts in August 2015. Currently the artistic director of the Oregon Mozart Players and the music director and conductor of the Butler Opera Center at the University of Texas in Austin, Kuo has a growing reputation as an innovative leader, educator and conductor.
Maestro Kuo has been part of the Cincinnati music scene since 2007, when he served as the CCO's assistant conductor between 2007-2009. He was the director of the Xavier University Chamber Orchestra and, in 2013, he conducted Phillip Glass' Galileo Galilei at Cincinnati Opera.
His responsibilities working with the CCO board and staff to determine the course of the orchestra, its programming and community relations. The program for the August festival has yet to be announced.
The CCO's next performances are Gian Carlo Menotti's Amahl and the Night Visitors at Xavier University Dec. 19-22. Go here for more information.
All right all right! Before we get to what’s going on today, I want to talk for a minute about yesterday’s print issue, which we’re pretty proud of. Our copy editor/news person Samantha got her first news feature in, and it’s super-interesting look at new developments with the Wasson Way bike trail. Check it out. Also, yesterdays’ cover story is a long piece I worked on for weeks on the plight of coerced sex workers in Cincinnati. I was blown away by the stories sources shared and the immense strength of people who go through that world. Take a look.
• It looks like the streetcar funding puzzle may finally be coming together. Yesterday afternoon Councilman Kevin Flynn presented a new plan to fund the transit project’s operations, and this one could go all the way.
Flynn proposes a three-pronged attack to cover the annual $4 million or so shortfall for streetcar operating funds. One funding source would be an adjustment on commercial property tax abatement in downtown and Over-the-Rhine. The arrangement would ask commercial property owners to agree to a 67.5 percent abatement instead of the now-standard 75 percent deal. That would net about $200,000 the first year and up to $2 million a year a decade from now. The second source would be a boost in parking meter charges to a maximum in some areas of $2.25 an hour downtown and $1.25 an hour in OTR. About $1.5 million gained from that boost would go to the streetcar. Finally, the city’s counting on about $1.4 million a year from riders paying to ride the streetcar.
The plan has a good shot. A majority of Council has signed on, including Transportation Committee Chair Amy Murray. Even Mayor John Cranley has indicated he won’t oppose the funding framework, despite the fact it cuts out the residential parking permit scheme he’s been pushing. The scheme elicited only minor grumbles from the streetcar opponent.
“I appreciate a plan that won’t dip into the General Fund of the City and the hard work that went into crafting it,” he said in a statement yesterday evening. “I still think the streetcar is not the best use of these resources, but I look forward to moving past this debate.”
• While we’re talking about City Hall stuff, City Manager Harry Black today announced the launch of the city’s Performance and Data Analytics Office. The office will set performance management goals with each city department, start an innovation lab to research operational problems the city is experiencing and design and run something called Citistat, which will utilize data analysis to find and address areas where the city’s services are underperforming. The office will be lead by Chad Kenney, Jr., who last led the city of Baltimore’s data analysis office.
“I had the opportunity to work closely with Chad in Baltimore,” Black said in a statement. “I am confident that he is the right man for the challenge here in Cincinnati.”
• Here are a couple news bits related to the ole’ al-key-hol. Nick and Drew Lachey, Cincinnati’s most famous singing brothers, have set the opening date for their bar, which will also be a reality show because that’s how things work now, for mid-December. It will be at 12th and Walnut and will be called… Lachey’s Bar. I really hope they didn’t pay a branding firm for that name.
• Also in beer-related news, a new brewery on Harrison Avenue in Westwood is in the works. The 2,200-square-foot Bridgetown Brew Works will start by offering five brews, with more coming as business grows. The owners are currently working on construction of the space now. They say they’re hoping to avoid relying on financing and have turned to online crowd-funding site Kickstarter to raise money for the venture. Even if that campaign fails, however, they’re determined to open next year.
• The fight over Common Core rages on. A bill to repeal the federal education standards in the state has made it out of committee and will now be considered by the Ohio House of Representatives. Opponents of the standards say they amount to a federal takeover of education, while supporters say they simply ensure students are being taught essential skills for the modern workplace.
• Local college freshman Lauren Hill, who has an inoperable and likely terminal brain tumor, has become a deservedly celebrated figure around Cincinnati. She’s faced her disease with courage and grace, and last week she got to live out a dream when she scored two baskets in a college basketball game for Mount Saint Joseph at Xavier’s Cintas Center. She’s also gotten her picture on a Wheaties box and received national accolades. Yesterday, she was also the subject of this really incredible piece about sportsmanship published by Grantland. You should check it out.
• Finally, if you need any more proof that punk is long-dead and that gentrification is alive and well, here it is. If you've got $2 million lying around, you can buy the house where seminal hardcore band Minor Threat played its first show. The house now features lux amenities like granite counters, a two-car garage and all sorts of other swank stuff. This time last year I was living in Washington D.C., paying an unspeakable amount to rent a room in a house with five other people. This house, which is actually kinda cheap for that neighborhood, I think, was a 15-minute walk toward the swanky side of town from where I lived.
So many FotoFocus-related shows overlap and then close in October that it’s hard to get to them all or even write about in a timely fashion those that I do get to see. But I didn’t want to let Manifest Gallery’s Neither Here Nor There juried group show of photography and video work and its separate but related Leigh Merrill video installation, both of which closed Oct. 24, to go unrecognized. For Neither Here Nor There, the quality was overall quite high and some of the work has stayed with me now for several weeks long after I’ve forgotten other shows.
New York-based artist Gloria Houng won the $1,000 Best of Show prize for her “Standard Double (Feet),” one of a series of eerie shots made in a bedroom that in some way incorporate images of an apparently absent person’s presence into the scene. The results cause a double-take among viewers, but the work is too elegant to be jokey or gimmicky. She infuses the commonplace with mystery.
The London-based Emma Charles, whose short films explore “the dialogue between time and the city,” contributed the mesmerizing, 17-minute Fragments on Machines. Short sequences, some with poetic narration, take us out on the streets and sidewalks of the city and up close to the exteriors and (most ominously) interior infrastructure of buildings. There is beauty and alienation, especially as we look closely at the rows of servers that power modern office buildings. You can watch it here.
And Leigh Merrill’s video installation Drive Thru is a deadpan looping look at the flat barren architecture of suburban sprawl, except the places were created by her digitally assembly of parts from individual photographs and images. The result highlights the strangeness — and questions what draws us as people to seek or support such development in the first place.
Halloween is officially over and I have to say, this year’s costumes — both celebrity and normal humans — left a lot to be desired (and I’m not even going there with the Ray Rice costumes). In my book, a costume can be scary, funny or sexy, but it has to be clever, one-of-a-kind or really well-executed. Enough with the “I’m a mouse, duh” getups, already!
One star who slayed the costume game was Iggy Azalea. I-G-G-Y: I know I slammed you last week for your lackluster SNL performances, but you totally redeemed yourself. A little background first: There have been memes going around comparing Iggy to the Wayons Brothers in White Chicks — both because of her apparent cultural appropriation of the Dirty South and, well, because she kind of looks like them.
Iggs had the last laugh on Halloween, dressing up in an eerie White Chicks costume with a friend.
did a killer Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles costume.
Also, Riri’s back on Instagram!
It’s always sad when a holiday ends — except, of course election season. Let’s toast to the end of campaign ads and at least a decrease in asinine political Facebook posts. To this photobomber!
Benedict Cumberbatch is officially off the market, and he made the announcement in the most Charlotte way ever. If you’re wondering what that faint sound is, it’s a million CumberBitches’ hearts breaking simultaneously.
Kevin Spacey went on The Tonight Show on Halloween and proved once and for all that he is an acting god, via the Wheel of Impressions.
Did somebody say, “wish”? If you were hoping for a new Pee-wee Herman movie, well, Jambi has granted your wish. Paul Reubens is working with Judd Apatow for a reboot I can definitely get behind for once.
Another mega-Yoncé album is coming this month. The Platinum Edition will feature everything from Beyoncé, plus two new songs, 10 live performances from the On the Run Tour, four remixes and some other swag if you purchase a physical copy.
Watching ignorant politicians make fools of themselves on The Daily Show never ceases to amuse. But when said ignorant politician is the Butler County sheriff, that just makes it all the sweeter (Richard Jones and his epic 'stache come in around the one-minute mark, and again at 3:30).
You may know T-Pain from his Hip Hop hits rife with Auto-Tune. Surprisingly, dude can sing for real. And he can buy me a drank any day.
LS: We are one of a kind in Cincinnati, pretty much, so it’s nice being the place that does the cocktails. Not just a bar that happens to have good cocktails.
BG: We are on the precipice of something that is new and different to a conservative market. Where craft cocktails have been present in New York, Chicago, L.A. for the last 15 years, Cincinnati is really starting to come into its own in that category.
CB: What is your most popular drink at the moment?
LS: The Old Fashioned or the Mule, usually.
BG: We have the best Old Fashioned in the city.
CB: Really? I’ve heard that A Tavola has the best.
BG: That’s funny. Hey, listen, we could put this up to test. I have no problem getting the opinion of the rest of Cincinnati.
CB: What do you guys drink on your night off?
LS: The Old Fashioned, or one of our sparklings.
BG: Nothing soothes the soul like bourbon.
CB: What’s the most important skill a bartender should have?
BG: Presentation. Having excellent mechanics, all the knowledge in the world and the ability to present a cocktail that leaves the costumer satisfied with the amount they just paid for.
LS: Also being personable.
CB: Wha’ts your favorite bar in OTR?
LS: I would have to say the new place on Main, Liberty’s Bar and Bottle. I would say Neons, too. But Liberty’s did a lot of great things. I really love the internal space. They don’t really have cocktails — it’s pretty much like the furthest from what we do here. They have an excellent wine selection and I love everything they have on tap.
CB: Can you give us a recipe of one of your especially unique craft cocktails?
BG: For sure, we’re going to show you how a Mood Swing is made.
Mood Swing1 oz. rosemary-infused Aperol
Combine all the ingredients over ice (except for Prosecco) in a cocktail shaker. Strain into glass. Add the Prosecco. Heat up lemon peel with a lighter and squeeze peel over glass. Garnish the glass with lemon peel.
Chicago Thrash band Oozing Wound are in town tonight for a show at Rake’s End in Brighton. Forced Opinion, Monitor Lizard and Iron Oath also perform. Showtime is 9 p.m.
Heavy on dark and clever humor and creative riffage, Oozing Wound is touring behind its second album release, Earth Suck, which came out Oct. 21 on the Thrill Jockey label. The album comes on the heels of the band’s debut, Retrash, which received widespread praise last year from The New York Times, Decibel, Pitchfork and many other outlets. Noisey recently profiled the band, writing, “So refreshingly anti-bullshit are Oozing Wound that they could conceivably turn out to be the Nirvana of thrash.”
Better known as Young Jeezy (and, to his family, Jay Jenkins), the Atlanta rapper is also quite the motivationalist. His first two albums for Def Jam were called Let’s Get It: Thug Motivation 101 and The Inspiration: Thug Motivation 102 and he’s proven that that angle isn’t just talk. Yesterday, Grantland ran a piece about Jeezy’s pep talk to the Temple football team (which was coming off of two losses in important games) on Halloween, which was followed the next day by Temple’s win over No. 23 East Carolina. The win over ECU was the first time Temple beat a ranked opponent at home ever and only their third victory over a ranked team in the school’s history.
So if you’re having a tough time in life right now, tonight’s show might help you turn it around. At worst, you’ll probably have fun.
• Pittsburgh’s Cello Fury, a “Chamber Rock” group featuring three cellist and a drummer, kicks off its current tour tonight at West Side club Legends. Showtime is 9 p.m. and admission is $10 at the door.
Fans of Prog Rock will appreciate Cello Fury’s winding arrangements and driving intensity. The instrumental ensemble has released a pair of album and has collaborated with a wide range of artists — from Rock acts to work in the theater, opera, dance and orchestral world.
• Veteran singer/songwriter Garland Jeffreys performs at the Southgate House Revival in Newport tonight. Jeffreys spoke with CityBeat’s Steven Rosen about his “comeback,” which began in 2011after he put his career on hold to raise his daughter. His critically-acclaimed 2011 album The King of In Between was his first new material since 1992. Check out the full interview here.
Here’s Jeffreys performing on David Letterman’s show upon the release of The King of In Between:
Jeffreys’ show tonight in Newport begins at 8 p.m. and tickets are $25 at the door.
Well, folks, election season is over for another year, and we got precious few surprises last night. The GOP ran up the score in every statewide election, took control of the U.S. Senate by picking up between seven to nine seats and scooped up even more seats in the House than they had before. Rep. John Boehner picked up an easy victory and looks to spend another term as house speaker and Sen. Mitch McConnell, who at one point looked to have a tougher fight, easily won against Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes. Now he could become Senate majority leader.
The statewide results are demoralizing for Democrats. Gov. Kasich won over Democratic challenger Ed FitzGerald by a huge 32 point margin in the governor’s race. Attorney General Mike DeWine won an easy victory over Democrat David Pepper, Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted handily beat Democratic State Senator Nina Turner, and even Republican Treasurer Josh Mandel beat opponent State Rep. Connie Pillich by nearly 15 points, despite being the most vulnerable of Republican incumbents in the election. That means four more years of a governor who has actively worked to curtail women's access to abortion services, an attorney general who has fought to preserve Ohio's more-than-likely unconstitutional gay marriage ban and a secretary of state who has worked to curtail early voting in the state.
In what is an almost too-neat metaphor for the state of Ohio's Democratic Party, now-former Ohio Democratic Party Chair Chris Redfern resigned as the party’s statewide leader last night after the embarrassing showing. He even lost his own seat in the Ohio House of Representatives to a Republican challenger, Steve Kraus, who is, get this, a suspect in a burglary, though no charges have been filed yet. One thing is for sure — Redfern got his seat burgled. Yeah, I just went there with that terrible joke.
The biggest news on the local level is that Issue 8, the icon tax, passed with 63 percent of the vote. That means a quarter-cent county sales tax increase will fund renovations to the city’s historic Union Terminal building. But interest in the icon tax fight didn’t extend to kicking County Commissioner Chris Monzel out of office. Many expressed anger at Monzel for slicing Music Hall out of the tax deal over the summer, but 58 percent of voters weren’t angry enough to choose Democrat Chris Feeney or write-in candidate Jim Tarbell over the Republican incumbent.
Also noteworthy is Democrat Cecil Thomas’ easy win over Republican Cincinnati City Councilman Charlie Winburn for Ohio’s 9th District state Senate seat. That means Winburn will be hanging around Council for a while longer and continuing to chair the powerful budget committee, where he’s been a key ally to Mayor John Cranley.
On a national level, the election is a part backlash against President Obama mixed with a bit of an affirmation of the GOP political strategy led by McConnell, which basically boils down to saying “no” a lot. They’ve been able to fight President Obama and Democrats as a whole to a standstill on a number of thorny, hard-to-tackle issues including health care, a minimum wage increase, unemployment benefits and immigration over the past few years while pinning the blame on the other team. But now that they have both sides of Congress, as even some in the party concede, they’ll have to try something new — actually governing by enacting policy instead of just rejecting it.
One other interesting national wrinkle in this midterm: progressive policies won the day in a number of states, while a couple deeply conservative statewide anti-abortion ballot initiatives in Colorado and North Dakota failed. Alaska, Arkansas, Illinois, Nebraska and South Dakota all passed minimum wage increases and Alaska, Oregon and Washington, D.C. passed initiatives decriminalizing possession of various amounts of marijuana.
Why are you reading this? You should be voting right now. Like this guy.
If you've already gone, though, check him out. As Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell cast his vote a bit earlier today in Louisville, a spirited voter behind him got a perfectly-timed photo bomb, shedding the secrecy of the voting booth for the fame of the internet. I guess we can count on at least one vote for Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes.
The image, captured by Getty's Aaron P. Bernstein, has gone viral, and the word "thumbs" is now trending on Twitter in Louisville because that's democracy.
McConnell is fighting the campaign of his career against Grimes, who is Kentucky's secretary of state. She's fallen behind in recent days after pulling nearly even with McConnell for a time last month, but Democrats are hoping she'll pull off an upset as they struggle to maintain control of the Senate.
Here's City Councilman Chris Seelbach tweeting the photo and former Council candidate Mike Moroski loling:
Hours spent in the van, hours spent waiting for sound check in the venue, hours spent wandering European cities waiting for the venue to open, hours waiting for show time and hours spent waiting for the show to wrap up. All of this adds up to lots of free on our hands and not much to do with it. So what is a Rock & Roll band — and its merch and sound guy — to do with opportunity?
Why, play Dibs of course.
Dibs is one of those rare games that has no end point. No one wins at Dibs; it is played simply to pass time and help spice up the long stretches of mind numbing nothingness that touring sometimes produces. As a public service to other bands in this situation, I would like to provide you with the objectives and rules of Dibs, as I have observed them, so that you may also join in on this wondrous game.
First, a few opening remarks on Dibs. One: this game may sound a little inappropriate at times. This fact is not lost on us. But after four hours of staring out of the window of a van and seeing not much more than trees, plains and gas stations, your brain starts to atrophy. Dibs helps bring it back to back to life. Two: if, while playing Dibs, you question your values or moral code at any time, don’t be alarmed — this only means that you are human.
Now, on to the good stuff!
Objective: The objective of Dibs is to see an attractive person and call dibs on said person. Being that this tour is comprised of five straight men that are either single or separated from their significant others for three weeks, this means that attractive women of all kinds are being dibsed with a speed and fury unrelenting. But if your preferences differ, feel free to switch it up. Dibs is a game for all.
Now, the objective is easy enough to grasp, but like all great games of skill and wit, it is easy to learn and hard to master. Which is why we have set up several unofficial rules that I will now place into record.
And with that, you have the basics of Dibs. It is a game with a rich strategy behind it, a strategy that I will leave to you to discover. Due to its never-ending nature, it can keep you and your bandmates entertained for hours. Or at least until you’ve seen everyone who has walked through the door at the venue. Then it’s back to Tetris. Happy hunting!
CityBeat contributor Nick Grever recently traveled Europe with Cincinnati Rock band Valley of the Sun and blogged about it for citybeat.com. His other dispatches can be found throughout the music blog.
Brian Stuparyk is the owner of Steam Whistle Letterpress, a shop located in historic Over-The-Rhine that’s been pumping out hand-pressed cards, posters, flyers and more since opening in 2011. The shop uses vintage letterpress machines, a medium widely used to print for hundreds of years up until around the mid-20th century.
Steam Whistle is now selling their main card line nationally after receiving great reception at New York’s National Stationery Show, and Stuparyk also was a runner-up in ArtWorks’ Big Pitch competition.
CityBeat: How did you originally become interested in letterpress?
Brian Stuparyk: I was originally a photographer, and as I saw everything becoming digital I became less interested in that and wanted to do something more authentic. I studied print media in graduate school, and I was interested in things like letterpress because it’s actually a print, rather than a print-out. I bought my first letterpress about 15 years ago.
CB: Do you remember the first print you made?
BS: I remember being at the supermarket right around the time I had bought that letterpress and I overheard these two older ladies talking about dissecting bull’s eyeballs in high school. One of them was sort of obsessed with the shiny blue stuff on the inside of the eyeball and said she had always just wanted a bathing suit like that. It was in my head when I got back home and so I made a print about it.
CB: So you can only print one card at once?
BS: Not only that, but I can only print one color on one card at once, and most of my cards have at least three colors. It’s a pretty labor-intensive process. That’s why it costs more than a Hallmark card printed in China.
CB: Sounds repetitive — how does it feel to go through the process? Is it meditative at times?
BS: Yeah, it can be meditative in a lot of ways. It’s run by foot, so standing on one leg like a flamingo all day is a little hard on the hips. But I’m only printing a couple hundred cards at a time right now, so it goes pretty quick. At maximum speed I can print about 600 in an hour, but that’s exhausting.
CB: You told ArtWorks that you love letterpress for the imperfections. Why is that and how does that relate to artistic value?
BS: Oh, I don’t know that it adds any artistic merit, but the flaws give it character that doesn’t come out of a machine. Being handmade, each card is unique. It definitely adds a certain authenticity to it because, you know, the color can even shift a little between prints.
CB: The medium is simply paper, ink and a press. How would you compare this to other forms of media like painting?
BS: It is very different. You might spend months working on a painting and then you only have one and it’s so precious, whereas with a print I make hundreds at a time. Maybe all together they’d be worth the same as a painting, but individually they’re that much more accessible. Not only one person can own it and it isn’t so precious that it needs to have this high price tag on it.
CB: Why did you choose Over-the-Rhine in Cincinnati to open shop?
BS: If I’d moved to Seattle, Portland, Ore., or New York, I would just be another letterpress guy doing more letterpress. But here in Cincinnati I’m the letterpress guy, and there’s a lot going on here.
CB: Many people say Warhol killed art by revolutionizing mass produced art via prints. Do you agree with that criticism?
BS: In terms of art, I don’t think so. Print has always been the democratic medium, something people should be able to afford. The reason etchings were made was to make reproductions of paintings people couldn’t afford, so it was always like that. I don’t know that he ruined something that wasn’t already stinking at the time.
CB: Since you were originally a photographer, do you think you might ever get into doing prints of your photography?
BS: Everyone’s a photographer now — everyone in the world has a cell phone. The world doesn’t need any more photographers. I think what’s charming about what I do is it’s authentic from the source. I’m not trying to take modern technology and shoehorn it into a letterpress the way a lot of people do now.
CB: Do you have a particular interest in vintage things beyond just letterpress?
BS: I definitely have an appreciation for well-made things, things that were built to last. When I get something, even in the modern age, I have a hard time not wanting it to last forever. The oldest press I’ve had was built in 1891, and if it’s well cared for it will literally last forever, and I think that’s what interests me.
For more information about STEAM WHISTLE LETTERPRESS, visit steamwhistlepress.com.