CityBeat - Blogs http://www.citybeat.com/cincinnati/blogs.engine.php <![CDATA[Contemporary Arts Center Announces 2016-17 Season]]> The Contemporary Arts Center announced its 2016-17 exhibition season last evening during a special presentation to its Board of Trustees and media. At the same time, it also previewed several performances scheduled for that same season. (There may still be another art exhibition added.)

The biggest takeaways from the announcement are that the CAC is striving for diversity in the artists it will show next year, and that it doesn’t believe painting is passé in Contemporary art. 

The first show, indeed, features one of Britain’s greatest living painters, Glenn Brown. 

“We wanted to celebrate painting,” says Steven Matijcio, CAC curator. “I think because it’s been the preeminent medium of the past, sometimes it gets secondary status in today’s art world. Glenn Brown makes very few works per year because he spends so much time on them. If an Old Master were living today, he would be that person.”

Here is the list of shows, edited from a CAC press release. A fuller story will appear in next week’s The Big Picture column in CityBeat.

GLENN BROWN

Sept. 9, 2016 to Jan. 15, 2017:

Organized by the Des Moines Art Center; Curated by Jeff Fleming

This is the first solo museum exhibition in the United States to survey the work of renowned London-based artist Brown. Painting steadily for the last three decades, Brown crafts paintings with an immaculate, almost supernatural level of detail and fluidity.

ROE ETHRIDGE: NEAREST NEIGHBOR

Oct.7 2016 to March 12, 2017

Organized by FotoFocus; Curated by Kevin Moore

The exhibition leads the programming for the 2016 FotoFocus Biennial, which explores the theme of the Undocument in photography. Nearest Neighbor is the artist’s first solo museum exhibition in the U.S. and will present over 15 years of photographs.

NOEL ANDERSON: BLAK ORIGIN MOMENT

Feb. 10 to June 18, 2017

Organized by the Contemporary Arts Center; Curated by Steven Matijcio

Noel Anderson is a Louisville-born artist and a professor at the University of Cincinnati, presently working in New York City. He is known for complex investigations into the evolving makeup of black-male identity translated through a variety of textiles — from old rugs to digitally produced tapestries. 

UGO RONDINONE: CHROMAphile

May 5 to Aug. 27, 2017

Organized by the Contemporary Arts Center; Curated by Raphaela Platow

This exhibition will celebrate a new iteration of the Swiss-born, NY-based artist Ugo Rondinone’s color spectrum series that congregates his art, the gallery architecture and every visitor to the space as collaborators in an all-encompassing experience. 

NJIDEKA AKUNYILI CROSBY: THE PREDECESSORS

July 14 to Oct. 20, 2017

Organized by the Contemporary Arts Center & Tang Museum, Skidmore College; Co-Curated by Ian Berry & Steven Matijcio

When Njideka Akunyili left Lagos for the U.S. at age 16, she detoured from her initial plan to be a doctor to pursue painting and tell another side of Nigeria’s story. She fuses painting, drawing, collage and the use of transfers — a typically Western printing process that involves transferring ink from photographs using solvent. 

JANE BENSON: HALF-TRUTHS

July 14 to Oct. 20, 2017

Organized by the Contemporary Arts Center; Curated by Steven Matijcio

The story of two Iraqi brothers who escaped from Baghdad in early 2002 becomes a vehicle for British-born, N.Y.-based artist Jane Benson to explore the social reverberations caused by geo-cultural separation. The artist uses music to tell the story in a dual-channel video entitled Finding Baghdad (Part A), which serves as the show’s centerpiece. 

THE I-71 PROJECT

October through November, 2016 

Organized by the CAC, MOCA Cleveland and Columbus Museum of Art; Curated by Anne Thompson

The I-71 Project is a collaborative venture uniting three major art centers across Ohio to present art on billboards that confront the theater and confusion of elections in the U.S. It is organized by artist, writer and 2015-16 Missouri School of Journalism Fellow Anne Thompson, who successfully organized a similar project called The I-70 Sign Show. Some of the key artists will include Mel Bochner, Marilyn Minter, and Kay Rosen.

  • Here are the three performances that Drew Klein, performance curator, announced:

RADHOUANE EL MEDDEB: 

JE DANSE ET JE VOUS EN DONNE A BOUFFER

(I DANCE, AND GIVE YOU SOME TO EAT)

November 17-18, 2016

Here, Radhouane is immersed in his loves of dancing and cooking, creating and celebrating a bridge between the two. Seated before his couscous maker, he prepares a meal and dances with all the grandeur, generosity and poetry inspired by these two arts.  Between tomato concentrate, zucchini, carrots and cinnamon: a leap, a glance, a suspension or a rupture. Between the semolina and a chassé croisé, the dish simmers. This dazzling choreographic offering evokes all the senses in an almost synesthetic experience, the audience seized by the scents drifting through the air and captivated by the movement infused with generosity and poetry.

JAN MARTENS: SWEAT BABY SWEAT 

January 19-20, 2017

In Sweat Baby Sweat, Martens zeroes in on the most clichéd theme in dance: the relationship between a man and a woman. He traces the arc of their lifetime together in this physically demanding and intimate examination of a couple that just can’t let each other go. 

NAPOLEON MADDOX: TWICE THE FIRST TIME 

February 22-24, 2017

In the performance Twice The First Time, Maddox will dance, sing and rap the story of Millie-Christine, conjoined twins born into American slavery in 1851, into the 21st century. They were aunts of Maddox’s grandmother. 

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<![CDATA[Morning News and Stuff]]>

Good morning all. Here’s what’s going on in the world today.

The city of Cincinnati has officially announced an opening date for the city’s streetcar. The transit project running through Over-the-Rhine and downtown will take its first passengers Sept. 9, beginning with an opening ceremony at some point mid-day. The project, which has been fraught with political battles and funding concerns, is being financed with increased parking revenues, advertising proceeds and other sources that aren’t part of the city’s general fund budget.

• Mayor John Cranley yesterday rolled out more of his proposals for the city’s budget, which involve some $30 million for neighborhood projects. He spoke at a news conference in Avondale about projects he’d like to see funded in that neighborhood under his proposed fiscal plan, including a renewed Avondale Towne Center with a Save-A-Lot grocery store. Avondale has been trying to get a full-service grocery store since Aldi left the neighborhood about eight years ago. The city would chip in about $2 million to get development started under Cranley’s plan. The mayor did acknowledge that neighborhood activists had hoped for a higher-scale store such as a Kroger but that the Save-A-Lot will be expected to stock fresh produce and other necessities. Cranley yesterday also announced he would provide $3.2 million for a new community development corporation in Bond Hill and Roselawn.

• Cranley is set to pitch another round of investments today in the city’s East Side neighborhoods. He’s also expected to announce that the city will purchase the land necessary to build the Wasson Way bike trail. That $11.8 million, 4.1-mile stretch of former railway is vital to the completion of the trail, which would pass through a number of East Side neighborhoods on its way to Uptown. If the city doesn’t purchase the land by the end of July, the price will jump by nearly $600,000. It’s unclear where the construction money for the project will come from. The city applied for a federal TIGER grant last year to help fund building costs for the bike trail but was turned down.

• Wait. Hold on. Do I agree on something with U.S. Rep. Thomas Massie, the tea party crusader from Northern Kentucky? It would… kind of appear so. Massie owes the GOP $24,000 in “party dues,” i.e. money from his fundraising coffers the party expects in order to stay in its good graces. Massie has criticized the practice, which is also used to determine who gets which committee assignment in the House. Particular assignments have particular dollar amounts assigned to them, and the more influential the committee, the more money a House member is expected to kick in. Massie is slamming this system, saying it means the best fundraisers, not the best lawmakers, get oversized influence in the legislative process. In what may be the only example of partisan agreement between a tea party member and the rest of Congress, some Democrats agree with him. I also think it sounds pretty messed up.

• What policies will law enforcement officers and departments have to follow regarding body cameras across Ohio? We’ll have to wait until November to find out. State lawmakers have put off voting on legislation to set those policies until then, in part because of disagreements between some lawmakers and organizations representing law enforcement agencies. Legislators like State Rep. Alicia Reece say they want mandatory body cameras for all police across the state and a uniform body camera policy to cover every law enforcement agency in Ohio. Those ideas didn’t garner enough votes, but legislation requiring some form of body camera policy for agencies was on the table. But Ohio’s Fraternal Order of Police has its own demand: the right for officers to review camera footage before they file reports. That’s sent the bill back to the drawing board, and with today the last day of the legislative term, it’ll be months until it’s taken back up.

• A federal judge has ruled that Ohio state officials must restore the so-called “Golden Week” before elections for early voting. Republican lawmakers have reduced early voting times in the state over the past few years, causing consternation from voting rights advocates. Among those advocating for the reduction were Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted, who said that the extra hours were irregular from place to place and weren’t fair to all voters. However, those extra hours drew predominantly urban, mostly black voters who often vote Democratic, leading to charges that the move violated civil rights laws and the Constitution. U.S. District Court Judge Michael Watson agreed, striking down the elimination of the extra hours and restoring Ohio’s early voting provisions to a full 35 days leading up to the election. After reductions, the state was down to 28 early voting days, which Republicans point out is still more than many other states.

• Ohio Gov. John Kasich says he still can’t back GOP presumptive presidential nominee Donald Trump, citing the real estate mogul’s “scapegoating, negativity and willingness to run people into the ditch.” Kasich, who until less than a month ago was fighting Trump for a shot at the GOP nomination, says there would need to be a fundamental shift in the way Trump campaigns before he would throw his weight behind him. Kasich made the remarks, among his first since he dropped out of the race earlier this month, during an interview with the Columbus Dispatch and the Cleveland Plain Dealer at his office in Columbus. Kasich says he doesn’t regret his scuttled bid for president and that he’s planning on writing a book about the experience.

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<![CDATA[Morning News and Stuff]]>

Good morning all. Lots to talk about today so let’s get to it!

The 13 children of Samuel DuBose will each receive more than $200,000 as part of a settlement between the family and the University of Cincinnati, a Hamilton County judge ruled yesterday. DuBose was shot and killed by UC police officer Ray Tensing July 19 last year. In addition to the money for his children, DuBose’s mother Audrey DuBose will receive $90,000, his six siblings will receive $32,000 each and his father Sam Johnson will receive $25,000, Judge Ralph Winlker announced yesterday. The settlement, which also includes other elements such as college tuition for DuBose’s children, resolves a civil suit against the university. Criminal proceedings are ongoing against former officer Tensing, who is charged with murder and manslaughter. He’s scheduled to stand trial on those charges in October.

• Cincinnati City Council members are requesting the recently completed audit of the region’s Metropolitan Sewer District ahead of the city's budget process, but City Manager Harry Black says they shouldn't rush. The audit, which resulted from revelations that MSD spent millions on contracts it didn’t properly put through a bidding process, is still with the city’s lawyers in a working draft form, Black says. But with work on the city’s budget looming, council members like Kevin Flynn and Chris Seelbach say the time is now to reveal the results of the audit. Things got testy when Council pushed for more information from the audit at yesterday’s budget and finance committee meeting, with Black resisting requests for that information and Seelbach accusing the city manager of giving him an eye roll. Oh snap.

• Cincinnati City Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld is at the White House today meeting with Vice President Joe Biden and state and local government officials as part of a discussion on gun violence. Sittenfeld made gun control a big part of his campaign when he was running for Senate against former Ohio governor Ted Strickland. Sittenfeld lost that race but has pledged to continue efforts to curtail shootings. He told WVXU he is there to learn more about strategies for curbing gun violence and that he doesn’t think the invite has anything to do with his former Senate campaign. President Barack Obama and VP Biden endorsed Strickland in that race.

This is a weird article. Breaking news: The city has a lot of stairs. Some of them are crumbling. More breaking news: The city isn’t exactly rushing to pay to fix them. Thus concludes your breaking news update about something you probably already knew about. The steps are a big part of the city’s walking infrastructure (I take them every day). But they’ve been neglected since, well, probably since people started moving out of the city. The money it would take to fix them is also an infinitesimally small portion of the city’s budget at a time when Mayor John Cranley is discussing throwing $30 million to a few city neighborhoods.

• A federal judge has temporarily blocked an Ohio law that would strip $1.4 million in public money from Planned Parenthood in the state. That money goes to providing health screenings for low-income women, not to providing abortions. The temporary restraining order keeping Ohio from enforcing the law, which passed in February, comes as a larger court fight around the measure continues. You can read more about all of that in our story here.

• Ohio State Auditor Dave Yost yesterday announced the results of surprise headcounts at Ohio charter schools, saying at least some of the schools had very few or no students attending on the days of the unannounced visits. Yost said the extremely low attendance numbers at three charters in the state suggests they might be operating illegally as distance learning schools instead of the brick and mortar schools they’re certified to operate as. It’s the latest revelation in a bad stretch for the state’s charters, which have faced allegations of mismanagement and an Ohio Department of Education data rigging scandal that artificially inflated charter school performance by omitting some low-performing online schools. Yost visited 14 drop-out recovery schools around the state and found an average attendance of just 34 percent.

• The revelations, as well as other frustrations with the state’s public schools, had the auditor spitting hot fire at the ODE yesterday, calling it “among the worst, if not the worst-run agency in state government.” Yost cited poor charter school accountability and performance as well as a slow roll out for ODE’s new data management system as among the sources for his frustration with the agency.

• Finally, more presidential politics, because I know you need more of that in your life. Hillary Clinton leads Donald Trump in Ohio, according to the latest polls asking voters about the upcoming general election. But it’s not the blowout you might expect. Clinton’s up 44 percent to Trump’s 39 percent in the Buckeye State — less than her primary opponent U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, who bests Trump 48 percent to 39 percent in the CBS/YouGov poll. Voters have a pretty negative opinion of both candidates, however — 55 percent view Clinton negatively and 59 percent feel the same about Trump.

That’s it for me. See you tomorrow. Tweet or email in the meantime.

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<![CDATA[Federal Court Blocks Ohio Law Defunding Planned Parenthood]]> A federal circuit court today temporarily blocked an Ohio law that would strip Planned Parenthood of about $1.4 million in state and federal funds.

That law was slated to go into effect today, but will now be placed on hold until June 6 as the court considers a longer-lasting injunction against the defunding move by conservative state lawmakers. 

The money the state seeks to withhold is used by Planned Parenthood to provide non-abortion healthcare services, including HIV and cancer screenings. 

Judge Michael R. Barrett of the U.S. Southwest District Court ruled that the organization’s challenge to the law has a significant chance of success in federal courts, and thus placed a temporary restraining order on the state, preventing it from enforcing the law for the time being.

Barrett agreed with Planned Parenthood’s arguments that the law blocking the money could severely damage medical-screening activities the organization undertakes, and that those operations could be hard to reestablish.

“Plaintiffs explain that without the funds at issue here, Plaintiffs will be forced to stop providing services such as pap smears and other cancer screenings, tests for HIV/AIDS and tests and treatment for other STDs, infant mortality prevention programs, and sexual health education programs,” Barrett wrote in his ruling today. “Therefore, the Court concludes that for purposes of deciding Plaintiffs’ Motion for Temporary Restraining Order, Plaintiffs have established irreparable injury.”

In seeking the injunction, Planned Parenthood argues that the law violates the equal protection clause of the 14th amendment by targeting the organization due to the fact it provides abortions.

State lawmakers have been open in acknowledging that they seek to strip funds from Planned Parenthood because the organization provides abortions, even though the public money given to the organization goes to other health services.

Conservatives in the state house have said they’re opposed to abortion for moral and safety reasons, and have described their crackdown on abortion providers like Planned Parenthood as a way to protect women.

“We have an obligation to say to Planned Parenthood, until you get out of the business of termination of pregnancy, the destruction of human life, we are not going to choose to fund you,” Ohio Sen. Peggy Lehner, a Republican who helped push the law, said during debate over the defunding provision in January.

But Planned Parenthood claims these clinics aren't immediately in a position to fill the healthcare gaps it would leave, which would include 70,000 free STD screenings it provides through a Centers for Disease Control program and 5,000 free HIV tests for populations at high risk for the virus.

Planned Parenthood of Southwest Ohio serves 20 counties in the region. It says about 75 percent of its clients are low-income.
 
The defunding effort is the latest in a recent string of laws passed by Ohio Republicans seeking to limit abortions. The state has passed ever-stricter standards, including stipulations about admitting privileges at local hospitals and rules against publicly funded hospitals entering into such agreements with abortion clinics. That’s whittled down the number of clinics in the state from 14 a few years ago to just nine today. Among them is the last clinic in the Cincinnati area, the Elizabeth Campbell Medical Center in Mount Auburn, which has been threatened with closure over the new laws.

Planned Parenthood officials cheered the federal court’s decision today.

“This ruling is a victory for the tens of thousands of Ohioans that rely on Planned Parenthood for care each year,” said Planned Parenthood Southwest Ohio CEO Jerry Lawson. “Our state legislators want to ban abortion across the board, and they were willing to decimate access to preventive care in the process. But this isn’t about politics for our patients, it’s about their health and their lives. If you have a lump in your breast or need an HIV test, lawmakers should be making it easier, not harder, to get the care you need.”

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<![CDATA[Morning News and Stuff]]>

Hey hey Cincinnati. Hope you got outside and soaked up the perfect weather this weekend. Now it’s back to the real world, where news happens.

The directors of every city of Cincinnati department received raises this past year, according to city records reported by The Cincinnati Enquirer. In total, those raises are costing city taxpayers $234,000 more a year. Some of the city’s 25 department heads got those pay bumps despite making few of their stated goals and receiving rather mixed performance reviews. Top salary getters include Cincinnati Police Chief Eliot Isaac, whose $162,000 paycheck is 20 percent more than his predecessor Chief Jeffrey Blackwell made. Fire Chief Richard Braun, who is now also making $162,000, saw his pay raised 16 percent. Those raises came during a time when the city projected as much as a $14 million budget deficit. That deficit was cut in half by more recent economic projections, but could still trigger cuts to the city’s human services and economic development efforts, among other services. The city manager’s recently released budget calls for a 1 percent raise for all city employees, and police and fire personnel are negotiating to get a 3 percent bump.

• Speaking of the budget, Mayor John Cranley is set to unveil his ideas for the city’s financial plan today at 11 a.m. at Westwood Town Hall, according to a news release from the mayor's office. On the agenda: $30 million for neighborhood projects in that neighborhood and in places like West Price Hill, North Avondale, Bond Hill and others. City Manager Black released his budget proposal Thursday, and Cranley has two weeks to submit his version to City Council. He’ll be presenting his version of the budget at town halls throughout the week.

• We haven’t even survived 2016 yet, but we’re already talking about the election after it. Last week, we told you about the increasing focus around Cincinnati’s 2017 mayoral and City Council races. Now, after revelations that Councilwoman Yvette Simpson sent out a memo to potential firms that could help her in a bid opposing fellow Dem Cranley, Hamilton County Democratic Party Chair Tim Burke is asking party members to focus on this year’s election. Burke has said it’s too early to focus on next year just yet when there are big races at the county level — most notably a pitched fight for control of the Hamilton County Commission. State Rep. Denise Driehaus is running to grab a seat on that body, and if she pulls out a victory against Republican interim commissioner Dennis Deters, the three-member group that oversees the county could have a Democrat majority for the first time in years. But the call for unity from Burke comes as the party is experiencing tension between two factions in the city: younger, more progressive Dems who tended to support the streetcar and who push for items like increases in human services funding, and more established, moderate Democrats like Mayor Cranley.

• That battle continues to shape up: progressive 2013 City Council candidate Michelle Dillingham is launching her bid for a Council seat in the 2017 election tonight at Bromwell’s Harth-Lounge at 6 p.m. Dillingham came in 12th in that race and hopes to turn support for her from progressives into a Council seat this time around.

• A historic building in Covington will get at least a little more time safe from the wrecking ball. Kenton County Circuit Court Judge Patricia Summe told Bavarian Brewery owners Columbia Sussex that they can’t demolish the 100-year-old building. The structure, which sits in a historic district, once held Jillian’s nightclub. Columbia-Sussex originally wanted to put a casino on the property, but Kentucky legislators have yet to pass a law that would allow that to happen. Now, the company says the only way it can see a return on investment is by demolishing the building. Covington’s Urban Design Review Board previously denied a permit application for that demolition, and Judge Summe’s ruling affirms that position. Columbia-Sussex can appeal her decision, however.

• Finally, University of Cincinnati President Santa Ono made big news over the weekend with his admission that he suffered from depression and suicidal thoughts as a younger man. Ono made the revelation at a fundraiser Saturday for mental health-awareness group 1N5, whose name is a reference to research that shows one in five individuals in the United States suffers from mental illness. Ono said that by talking about his past struggles, he hoped to show that mental illness is treatable and nothing to be ashamed of.

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<![CDATA[Stage Door: Happy Days, Sad Romances, Bad Dates and a Little Sleaze]]>

Since last week’s Stage Door I’ve seen several productions that are definitely worth checking out.

Diogenes Theatre Company is presenting Samuel Beckett’s Happy Days at the Aronoff Center’s Fifth Third Bank Theater through Sunday. Don’t ask me to tell you what it’s about — it’s by Beckett, so it’s an absurdist piece that deals with existence, loneliness and happiness.

There are two characters: Winnie talks incessantly, while Willie barely speaks at all. They’re a couple, it seems, but they’re living minimal and seemingly diminishing lives, literally stuck in holes in a vast, arid landscape. Nevertheless, Winnie seems to remain relentlessly optimistic about the future, while Willie doesn’t have much to say but seems weary of it all. It’s one of those works (like Beckett’s Waiting for Godot) that can be interpreted in numerous ways, so I’ll leave that to you. But I will say that it’s a rare opportunity to see an impressive acting performance by Amy Warner, a professional who graced local stages for more than a decade. She now lives in Minnesota with her husband, former Playhouse Associate Artistic Director Michael Evan Haney, who staged this piece. In the show’s shorter second act, she is buried up to her neck — and still presents a compelling performance based almost solely on facial expressions. (Willie is played by Michael Sommers who teaches at the University of Minnesota.) This show won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but it’s a fascinating script that will keep you talking with anyone who joins you to a performance. Tickets: 513-621-2787.

Cincinnati Shakespeare Company is presenting Antony & Cleopatra, the second installment in its staging of Shakespeare’s Roman plays. It uses many of the same actors in roles established in its recent staging of Julius Caesar (April 8-May 7), most particularly Nick Rose as the ebullient but besotted Roman general Marc Antony. Guest actress Chantal Jean-Pierre is Cleopatra, the object of his obsession. The role is an unusual one for Shakespeare — the Egyptian queen is strong-willed, impulsive and downright willful. Jean-Pierre’s performance put me in mind of Beyoncé, strong and sassy performer who knows how to manipulate her audience. I can’t say her performance struck me as historically accurate, but it has an emotional essence that distills her power over the aging warrior. It’s not the chemistry I expected, but she’s intriguing to watch. Kyle Brumley plays a slightly creepy, slow-mo Emperor Octavius, a reticent but efficient in establishing his power yet drained of passion. Cincy Shakes stages this sweeping story with projected video and animation to depict sea battles and military combat, and that’s a plus for this production. The show is one for completists who want to check it off, but I found it overlong and not always compelling. Through June 4. Tickets: 513-381-2273.

The Cincinnati Playhouse’s staging of Theresa Rebeck’s Bad Dates is an entertaining evening of storytelling by a woman who’s trying to make a go at finding love after a dry spell and at middle age. It’s amusing without being in any way profound, but you’ll like Vivia Font’s charming performance as Haley Walker, a sweet but uninhibited girl next door — at least next door in New York City. This show was an immense hit for the playhouse in 2005, and it seems likely that this revival will pack the Shelterhouse Theatre through June 12. (CityBeat review here.) Tickets: 513-421-3888.

If you’re a musical theater fan and willing to spring for a ticket to the touring production of Cabaret at the Aronoff, you won’t be disappointed. It’s a fittingly slutty interpretation of Kander and Ebb’s powerful piece, and this rendition doesn’t pull its punches when it comes to the sinister undertones of life in Berlin before World War II as the Nazi regime rose to power. The show has great music, but sometimes that takes precedence over the admonitory tale of people unwilling to see what’s right in front of them. The tour features a strong ensemble, especially with 2000 CCM grad Randy Harrison as the sleazy, sinister emcee. He’s so engaged in this role that right after intermission he ad libs his way through a few minutes of audience interaction — spreading the discomfort beyond the stage. Tickets: 513-621-2787.

Quite a few shows are wrapping up runs and seasons this weekend, what with Memorial Day not far behind when Cincinnati theaters tend to slow down. It’s final curtains for Satchel Paige and the Kansas City Swing at the Playhouse, Brigadoon at the Covedale, the truly excellent staging of Violet at Ensemble Theatre, plus Next Fall at Newport’s Falcon Theatre and Catch Me If You Can by Showbiz Players at the Carnegie in Covington.

Rick Pender’s STAGE DOOR blog appears here every Friday.

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<![CDATA[Your Weekend To Do List]]> FRIDAY

ONSTAGE: HAPPY DAYS

If you’re looking for uplifting plays, Samuel Beckett is not the guy you’d normally turn to. Nevertheless, the writer of Waiting for Godot had occasional lighter moments, and Happy Days was one of them — even though it’s an absurdist tale of a woman buried up to her waist and a man sleeping in a hole. This production by Diogenes Theatre Company features the return of two former Cincinnati theater favorites, director Michael Haney and actress Amy Warner, playing the indomitable Winnie, who maintains both sanity and optimism in the face of adversity. Joining Warner onstage is Minnesota actor Michael Sommers as her laconic husband Willie. Through May 22. $29; $14 students. Aronoff Center for the Arts, 650 Walnut St., Downtown, 513-721-3344, diogenestheatrecompany.com

AVP Pro Beach Volleyball Tour
Photo: Provided by Jerry Milani
SPORTS: AVP PRO BEACH VOLLEYBALL TOUR
AVP’s beach volleyball tour returns to Cincinnati in the form of a five-day qualifying event for the Rio Olympic Games — the final qualifying event for the 2016 Summer Olympics held on American soil. The tour was scheduled to begin on May 17 with qualification tournaments, and features main draw tournaments and pool play into the weekend. The tour culminates 6:30 p.m. Saturday with men’s and women’s award ceremonies. But that isn’t all: The Linder Family Tennis Center transforms into a beachy getaway in honor of the event, featuring music, food and interactive activations, which let you personally assume the role of a pro volleyball player. Events continue through Saturday. Free. Lindner Family Tennis Center, 5460 Courseview Drive, Mason, avp.com

Dave Ross
Photo: Provided 
COMEDY: DAVE ROSS
Dave Ross is a stand-up comedian based in Los Angeles. When he’s not doing stand-up, he’s in a sketch group called WOMEN that produces skits for Comedy Central and IFC's Comedy Crib. He also hosts a podcast called Terrified, won a MOTH Grand Slam and was interviewed by Marc Maron on the WTF Podcast. His advice for young people? Turn 30. “If you’re still in your twenties, you should try this being in your thirties stuff. Everything is better now. I don’t throw up anymore; I have a teapot. It’s dope.” Thursday-Sunday. $8-$14. Go Bananas, 8410 Market Place Lane, Montgomery, gobananascomedy.com

ReUse-apalooza
Photo: Provided
EVENT: REUSE-APALOOZA
This sustainable soirée brings customers, designers and local leaders together to celebrate the power of renewability. Featuring light bites, My Nose Turns Red circus performers and entertainment by Sexy Time Live Band Karaoke, ReUse-apalooza is the annual fundraiser of Building Value, a nonprofit that salvages reusable building materials for public sale. A highlight of the night is the opportunity to win a one-of-a-kind home or garden item — including everything from decorative plant holders to furniture — during the Designer Challenge Auction, which features functional pieces constructed from reused or repurposed materials. 7-11 p.m. Friday. $25. Building Value, 4040 Spring Grove Ave., Northside, 513-475-6783, buildingvalue.org. 

'Da Vinci — The Genius'
Photo: Provided
ATTRACTIONS: DA VINCI – THE GENIUS 
What do an airplane, a helicopter, an automobile, a submarine, a parachute, a bicycle and a military tank have in common? They were all envisioned by Leonardo da Vinci, the 16th-century artist, scientist and thinker. The new Cincinnati Museum Center exhibit, Da Vinci – The Genius, lets you push, pull, crank and interact with replicas of the Renaissance Man’s machines. Explore da Vinci’s legacy like never before in 17 themed galleries with more than 200 pieces, plus educational animations of his most famous work and the most in-depth analysis ever of the iconic “Mona Lisa.” Through Sep. 25. $19.50; $17.50 senior; $12.50 children; discounts for members. Cincinnati Museum Center, 1301 Western Ave., Queensgate, cincymuseum.org

May Festival Chorus
ONSTAGE: MAY FESTIVAL
Surround yourself in song and celebrate music director James Conlon’s final season with the May Festival, America’s oldest choral festival. Performances include Dvořák’s Stabat Mater, the first piece Conlon conducted with the May Festival 37 years ago, plus a special concert of works by Mozart and two world premieres performed in the Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption. The fest’s finale concert on May 28 will be the very last performance at Music Hall before it closes for renovation. Through May 28. Ticket prices vary. Find a full schedule at mayfestival.com

Cincy Swing Fest
Photo: 3CDC
EVENT: CINCY SWING FEST WEEKEND
Rewind to the 1920s, when crowds in Harlem took to the dance floor with a new type of move called Swing; a time when Swing-era bandleader Cab Calloway referred to dancers as “jitterbugs,” out on the floor with their fast, bouncy movements. You too can Jitterbug, Charleston and Lindy Hop right at home on present-day Fountain Square. Free, impromptu dance instruction from The Lindy Society will be accompanied by local Jazz and Swing bands. Ambitious performers can participate in a Jack & Jill competition Saturday night, and pin-up studio Retrocentric will be on hand to give mini-makeovers. 5-11 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Free. Fountain Square, Fifth and Vine streets, Downtown, myfountainsquare.com

Sugar Candy Mountain
Photo: Sheva Kafai 
MUSIC: SUGAR CANDY MOUNTAIN
California’s Sugar Candy Mountain is one of the new breed of Pysch Rock's top artists to keep an eye on if you’re a fan of modern Psych Pop and Rock. Wonderfully showcasing the music’s tendency to meld vintage elements with new and unique visions, Sugar Candy Mountain is the brainchild of Will Halsey, an active Bay Area musician and engineer who played drums for successful Indie act The Blank Tapes, and singer/songwriter/guitarist Ash Reiter. The two musicians met when Halsey responded to ad Reiter had placed looking for a drummer for her eponymous band, an Indie Pop outfit. Halsey got the gig, and the two became romantically involved (they’re getting married later this year). Read more in this week's Sound Advice. Sugar Candy Mountain plays MOTR Pub Friday with All Seeing Eyes and A Giant Dog. More info/tickets: motrpub.com.

SATURDAY
Cincinnati Library Comic Con
Photo: Provided
EVENT: CINCINNATI LIBRARY COMIC CON 
Set your phasers to stun and head downtown for the fourth-annual Cincinnati Library Comic Con. This year’s event celebrates the 50th-anniversary of Star Trek with an exhibit of memorabilia ranging from the original series through the rebooted films, plus screenings of fan-favorite Star Trek movies. This daylong geeky get-together also features tabletop game play, cosplay contests, creator booths, special guest cartoonists/comics/graphic novelists, a drawing contest and additional events for kids, teens and adults. Noon-5 p.m. Saturday. Free. Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County, Main Branch, 800 Vine St., Downtown, cincinnatilibrary.org. 

EVENT: WESTSIDE MAKERS NEIGHBORHOOD FIELD DAY AND BOOK RELEASE
Calcagno Cullen, who has brought attention to Camp Washington’s potential through her Wave Pool gallery, has also noticed ripples in Covington’s west side neighborhood. Over the past four months, she’s used a grant from the Center for Great Neighborhoods to profile roughly 30 community-makers and compiled a book of their recipes, designs and DIY tips. Cullen says that when she started the project, she expected to meet artists quietly working in their basements. Instead she found budding philanthropists and other creatives eager to share and inspire. Get to know a chicken keeper, librarians, gardeners, yoga teachers, musicians, cooks, a sculptor and more at a party in and around Orchard Park. 1-4 p.m. Saturday. Free; $5 book. Orchard Park, 318 Orchard St., Covington, Ky., facebook.com/westsidemakers. 

'Domestic Departures'
Photo/Art: Susan Byrnes 
ART: DOMESTIC DEPARTURES AT KENNEDY HEIGHTS ART CENTER
Multimedia installation artist Susan Byrnes has taken over five rooms throughout the Kennedy Heights Arts Center’s historic house to reframe domestic activities for audiences and reflect the processes and environments that contain and shape the development of personal identity and family interaction. In addition to the sculptural installation and ambient audio work featured within the home, Byrnes will engage local Kennedy Heights residents to build upon existing pieces and create additional artworks to populate the exhibition. A public reception featuring the completed exhibition, including the community components, will be held Saturday. Reception 6-8 p.m. Saturday. Free. Through June 4. Kennedy Heights Arts Center, 6546 Montgomery Road, Kennedy Heights, kennedyarts.org. 

Ruby the Hatchet
Photo: Action PR
MUSIC: RUBY THE HATCHET
The band coalesced five years ago after a succession of basement jams in their home state of New Jersey, followed quickly by their relocation to Philadelphia. The fivesome — vocalist Jillian Taylor, guitarist Johnny Scarps, organist Sean Hur, bassist Mike Parise and drummer Owen Stewart — blended Black Sabbath’s black-hole heaviness, Blue Cheer’s acid-drenched mindmeld, shades of Led Zeppelin’s Brit Folk nuance and Alice in Chains’ growling-hellhound ferocity to forge a sound that pummels and purrs with equal intensity. Read more about the group in this week's Sound Advice. Ruby the Hatchet plays Northside Tavern Saturday with Electric Citizen. More info/tickets: northsidetav.com.

Wisewater
Photo: Chris Key
MUSIC: WISEWATER 
The latest show at the DownTowne Listening Room — an intimate, listener-friendly space located in the former Shillito’s building in the heart of downtown — is being headlined by Nashville’s on-the-rise Wisewater, an acoustic Folk/Americana duo featuring members with some impressive chops and credentials. Kate Lee, who has backed artists from Lady Antebellum to Rod Stewart, sings and plays fiddle, while Forrest O’Connor, busy Nashville session player and son of world-renowned fiddler Mark O’Connor, also sings and plays mandolin and guitar. Formed in 2014, Wisewater has drawn praise from peers and critics for its impeccable musicianship and impressive, crafty songwriting. The twosome’s introductory release, the buzz-building EP The Demonstration, was released last year and a full-length is in the works. 7:30 p.m. Saturday. $12. DownTowne Listening Room, 151 W. Seventh St., Downtown, downtownelisteningroom.com. 

OTR 5K
Photo: Provided
EVENT: OTR 5K AND SUMMER CELEBRATION
Summer is on the way and Over-the-Rhine is celebrating its arrival early with a neighborhood 5k and block party. The 10th-annual OTR 5k run/walk leaves and returns to Washington Park, with a course that winds its way through city streets, led by The Garage OTR – Segway of Cincinnati to keep everyone on track. After the race, cool down in the park with a big-ass party. There will be live music, the first official City Flea of the season, Art on Vine, kids activities and more. Expect food from local vendors, plus local beer and coffee, and cocktails on the deck starting at 11 a.m. 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday. $35 race registration; free Summer Celebration. Washington Park, 1230 Elm St., Over-the-Rhine, otr5k.com, washingtonpark.org. 

Lukas Nelson & The Promise of the Real
Photo: Jim Eckenrode
MUSIC: LUKAS NELSON & PROMISE OF THE REAL
It is always interesting to see what the spawn of legendary musicians will come up with when moving into the family business. One of them is guitarist and vocalist Lukas Nelson, who has been slowly rising up on his own laurels while also still playing with his dad, Willie Nelson, on occasion. Lukas is more of a rocker than his father — he’s someone who’d rather plug in his electric guitar and jam with Neil Young than play Country music with Pops. And for the past couple of years, Lukas has been doing just that. He and his band, Promise of the Real, made the 2015 album The Monsanto Years with Young, and toured with him to support it. Things must’ve gone well, because they’re backing Young on tour again this summer. That’s a heady endorsement — the characteristically outspoken and honest Young would not play with Lukas and his crew if they didn’t have the chops. Read more in this week's Sound Advice. Lukas Nelson & The Promise of the Real play Southgate House Revival Saturday with Jim Castro. More info/tickets: southgatehouse.com.

SUNDAY
Dominic Cooper as Jesse Custer
Photo: Lewis Jacobs/AMC
TV: PREACHER
AMC — home of The Walking Dead — continues to cash in on the comic book craze currently taking over screens with its latest original series. Developed by Seth Rogen and frequent contributor/childhood friend Evan Goldberg along with Breaking Bad writer/producer Sam Catlin, Preacher brings to life the dark graphic novel by Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon. The Preacher at hand is Jesse Custer, a rugged Texan minister who develops an unbelievable power and sets out on a mission of biblical proportions: a journey to find God — literally. By his side are his BFF Irish vampire Cassidy (the stellar Joe Gilgun) and his trigger-happy, on again, off again girlfriend Tulip (Ruth Negga). Expect the action-packed brutality of Dead with far more twisted humor. And because Chris Hardwick is AMC’s Ryan Seacrest, of course he’s hosting a Talking Preacher after-show — but only following the May 29 re-airing of the premiere and the July 31 finale. Catlin, Cooper, Goldberg and Rogen will join Hardwick on the show next Sunday at 10:30 p.m. New episodes will pick up at Preacher’s regular 9 p.m. Sunday time slot on June 5. Series Premiere, 10 p.m. Sunday, AMC.

See the zoo's cheetah cubs in the Nursery throughout May.
Photo: Cassandre Crawford
ATTRACTION: ZOO BABIES
Oh, baby: ’tis the season for tots of all sorts at the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden. Cubs, calves, chicks and more will be on exhibit throughout the month of May. Gasp and squeal in the presence of more than a dozen babies, including Bowie the penguin in the Children’s Zoo; Dale the takin at Wildlife Canyon; Boca the alligator in Manatee Springs; and bonobos Kibibi and Bolingo in the Jungle Trails. The zoo’s recently born cheetah cubs will also be viewable at the nursery, and Emperor scorplings (aka baby scorpions) are on exhibit in the Insect World building. Human moms receive free admission on Mother’s Day (May 8). Through May 31. $18 adults; $13 children and seniors. Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden, 3400 Vine St., Avondale, cincinnatizoo.org

ONSTAGE: VIOLET
Ensemble Theatre staged this moving musical back in 1999 to great success, but that was before people were flocking to Over-the-Rhine as they do today. To close out its 30th-anniversary season, ETC has revived the story of an anxious young woman bearing a disfiguring scar from a childhood accident. She’s on a cross-country pilgrimage to a televangelist she hopes will heal her, but along the way she meets people who help her find the true meaning of beauty. Composer Jeanine Tesori created powerful anthems for this show, and director D. Lynn Meyers has assembled excellent singers and actors to perform them. Tickets are selling fast. Through May 22. Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati, 1127 Vine St., Over-the-Rhine, ensemblecincinnati.com.

ONSTAGE: BRIGADOON
This old-fashioned show from 1949 is just the kind of musical that Cincinnati Landmark Productions excels at staging. The story of a town in Scotland that disappears into the Highland mists and only returns one day every hundred years is a delightful, tuneful fantasy from writer Alan Jay Lerner and composer Frederick Loewe (the team that created My Fair Lady and Camelot). This tribute to simplicity, goodness and the power of love will have you humming your way out of the theater, especially “Almost Like Being in Love.” Through May 22. $23-$26. Covedale Center for the Performing Arts, 4990 Glenway Ave., 513-241-6550, cincinnatilandmarkproductions.com

'Butterflies of the Caribbean'
Photo: Krohn Conservatory
ATTRACTION: BUTTERFLIES OF THE CARIBBEAN
Krohn Conservatory’s annual extremely popular and extremely beautiful International Butterfly Show returns with Butterflies of the Caribbean. The Caribbean is a collection of cultures and colorful islands connected by a bright blue sea, and the flora, fauna and free-flying butterflies of this exhibit reflect that whimsical seaside attitude. Find white sand, a coral reef, palm trees and an island-inspired floral display in the pinks and yellows of a Caribbean sunset. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. daily. Through June 19. $7 adults; $4 children. 1501 Eden Park Drive, Eden Park, 513-421-5707, cincinnatiparks.com

“Legacies” by Kari Steihaug
Photo: Courtesy of the Artist
ART: UNRAVELED: TEXTILES RECONSIDERED AT THE CAC
In Unraveled: Textiles Reconsidered, nine artists deconstruct and reanimate clothing, blankets, rugs and other fabrics into emblems of political and personal expression. Textiles are mined for their metaphors to explore aspects of identity and interconnectedness. Adrian Esparza's “Dawn,” an azure weft spun around a grid of nails using a cheap serape’s single thread, may act as the exhibit’s skeleton key. It depicts, abstractly, a 1908 photograph of the Mount Adams incline, a long-demolished structure. Its title refers to the Procter & Gamble detergent — which Esparza reserves a certain nostalgia for — yet it could just as easily indicate artistic genesis. Read more about the exhibit here. Unraveled: Textiles Reconsidered is on display at the CAC through Aug. 14. More info: contemporaryartscenter.org.

“Branded Head” by Hank Willis Thomas
Photo: Courtesy of Rubell Family Collection. © Hank Willis ThomaS
ART: 30 AMERICANS AT THE CINCINNATI ART MUSEUM
If you’ve been to the Cincinnati Art Museum lately, you’ve seen an early arrival for the show 30 Americans, which opens Saturday. It is the mural-sized “Sleep,” by Kehinde Wiley, the New York-based portrait painter whose depictions of young African-American men in poses reminiscent of Old Masters paintings have made him an art star. It is in the Schmidlapp Gallery, the corridor between the main entrance and the Great Hall, and is impossible to miss. 30 Americans, which primarily features some 60 artworks on loan from Miami’s Rubell Family Collection, also has such important contemporary African-American artists as Kara Walker, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Mickalene Thomas, Glenn Ligon and more. On view through Aug. 28. Free admission. Cincinnati Art Museum, 953 Eden Park Drive, Eden Park, cincinnatiartmuseum.org.

TV: GAME OF THRONES
Sansa finally gets to confront Littlefinger for setting her up with Ramsay; Arya goes to work; Tyrion meets with a new Red Woman; Bran’s latest voyage brings him face to face with the Night’s King and White Walker army. 9 p.m. HBO.



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<![CDATA[Morning News and Stuff]]>

Good morning y’all! Here are your morning headlines.

• Councilwoman Yvette Simpson might have released the first shred of evidence that she’s running for mayor next year. Simpson sent a letter to consulting firms this month searching for someone who could help with a “campaign against an incumbent executive office holder,” aka Mayor John Cranley. Simpson won’t officially say yet whether she’s going to take a shot at Cranley’s spot or just run for a third term on Council in 2017 but says she’ll make a decision by the end of this year.

• It’s that super exciting time of year when the city lays out its budget for next year. Yesterday, City Manager Harry Black presented his plan for a $1.2 billion city budget that includes raises for city employees, cuts to the human service department and the city’s economic development programs and building a new marina. Yep, the city wants the Parks Department to build a marina along the Ohio River. Mayor Cranley has two weeks to present the budget to Council, which will then approve or amend it some time before the next fiscal year begins on July 1.

• The University of Cincinnati Department of Public Safety says it is down to three candidates to lead the department. The candidates were chosen by an outside consulting firm and include the director of public safety at Oregon State University, a previous CPD officer with more than 20 years experience and police deputy chief at Ohio State. The department is also down to two candidates for assistant chief, including a CPD Department Captain. UC will present the candidates to the public during open forums will be held May 23-25. Former Police Chief Jason Goodrich and Assistant Chief Tim Thornton resigned in February in the wake of the shooting of Mount Auburn resident Samuel DuBose by former UC police officer Ray Tensing.

• Judge Tracie Hunter will not be going to jail today. The suspended juvenile court judge was supposed to start her 60-day jail sentence today, but a judge suspended her sentence after Hunter filed a petition claiming misconduct by the special prosecutor and judge during her trial. Federal Judge Timothy Black ruled Hunter can remain free during the proceedings. A jury convicted Hunter of unlawful interest in a public contract for helping her brother in a discipline hearing 19 months ago.

• Could U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown become Vice President Brown? Yesterday, Sen. Brown was seen parading around with current VP Joe Biden in Columbus, leading to rumors that the progressive senator could be Hillary Clinton’s pick for running mate. Nothing is certain yet, as Biden told White House reporters that Brown would be a “great pick” but then went on to highlight other strong Democratic contenders without hinting at a favorite.

• Oklahoma’s Republican-dominated legislature passed a bill yesterday that would subject doctors to felony charges and revoke their medical licenses for performing abortions. The bill — which is most restrictive abortion bill passed yet — is still waiting on a signature from Republican Gov. Mary Fallin. If signed in to law, it will almost certainly be challenged in state or federal court where legal experts say it will likely be declared unconstitutional.

News tips go here.

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<![CDATA[It's City Budget Season Again!]]> Are you ready for city budget season? It started today.

City Manager Harry Black this morning presented his vision for Cincinnati’s fiscal year 2017 spending blueprint; a $1.2 billion budget he touts as structurally balanced. On deck: a literal deck, as in, a marina along the Ohio River built by the Cincinnati Parks Department, raises for city employees — three percent for police and fire, plus a boost for low-paid workers through a municipal living wage initiative — and cuts to some agencies to make up for a projected $6.7 million revenue shortfall, priming another potential battle over the city’s human services funding.

Last year, Council battled for, and received, $3 million for human services to be spent through a United Way-run funding process, which vets social service organizations based on effectiveness. This year, that amount will drop to $2,781,000.

That nine percent drop once again falls short of a City Council commitment set last decade pledging to commit at least 1.5 percent of the city’s operating budget to human services.

Other organizations now, but not previously, categorized in the human services section of the budget will also take hits. Mayor John Cranley’s Hand Up Initiative, which runs through Cincinnati Works, will receive $225,000 — $25,000 less than last year. Some programs previously funded by the city, like Cradle Cincinnati, which seeks to address the city’s high infant mortality rate, will receive no money at all. Last year, Cradle got $250,000 from the city’s human services fund.

Not everyone will lose when it comes to human services funding, however. The Center for Closing the Health Gap, run by close Cranley ally and former mayor Dwight Tillery, will see its city funding boosted to $1 million, a $250,000 increase over last year. The organization has received increases in past budgets under Cranley as well.

The city’s economic development programs will also see big cuts. Nearly every program funded by that portion of the budget will take hits, totaling about $285,000. Only MORTAR, a program seeking to boost minority entrepreneurship, will see a slight budget boost.

The funding cuts could have been worse: originally, the city was projected to have as much as a $14 million deficit. But revised projections by University of Cincinnati economists showed the revenue gap will be about half that size. Income tax revenues to the city are expected to grow by 4.6 percent, according to a report on the budget issued by City Manager Black.

But the need for cuts elsewhere won’t stop the city from investing in a marina along Smale Riverfront Park. The park board today voted to go forward with the project, which has been in the works for nearly two decades, and Black’s budget calls for $750,000 of city money to go toward the estimated $3.6 million cost of the project. That money is part of $4 million in Black's budget for parks capital projects. Other money could come from past federal funds for Smale, as well as an application for a $1.5 million grant from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The board says the project, which as proposed would have room for 29 boats, will generate revenue for the parks department.

More on the budget as the process unfolds; this party is just getting started. Mayor Cranley has two weeks to present the budget to Council, which will then vote to approve or amend it. The process should wrap up sometime before July 1, when the new fiscal year begins.

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<![CDATA[Will Sen. Sherrod Brown be Clinton's VP Pick?]]> You might have missed it, but U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, a Democrat from the Cleveland area, was traveling around with Vice President Joe Biden yesterday in Columbus.

It’s easy to see the two palling around as a hint that Brown, whose name has been tossed around as a running mate for Democratic presidential primary frontrunner Hillary Clinton, might be next in line for Biden’s job.

But is Brown actually a contender in the veepstakes?

So far, the gruff-voiced progressive senator has demurred on that suggestion, trying to shift the spotlight to other potential VP picks.

“I think Secretary Perez and Tim Kaine would be good vice presidents,” Brown told media yesterday. Tom Perez is Obama’s labor secretary, and Kaine is a U.S. senator from Virginia.

Biden and Brown were visiting the Buckeye State to tout President Barack Obama’s move to extend overtime pay to more U.S. workers, and to do some politicking around the 2016 election. Ohio is a vital swing state for 2016 presidential contenders, a fact that Biden acknowledged was a factor in the trip. More specifically, the two did a bit of campaigning for former Democratic Ohio governor Ted Strickland, who is campaigning to take Republican U.S. Sen. Rob Portman’s seat in November.

Ohio’s Senate situation could provide a good reason Brown wouldn’t get the VP nod from Clinton. As Brown himself has pointed out, he would have to leave his Senate seat before 2018, when he’s up for reelection. Republican Ohio Gov. John Kasich would then get to pick his replacement. That’s a seat Democrats can’t afford to lose as they wrestle to regain control of Congress.

But don’t count Brown out just yet.

Biden yesterday told White House reporters that Brown “would be a great pick” as Clinton’s running mate. But he also highlighted the strong pool of candidates Democrats have available and didn’t offer an endorsements.

Among other possible picks are Sens. Mark Warner of Virginia and progressive firebrand Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, who some say Clinton could choose to try and build a bridge with supporters of her primary rival, U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders.
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<![CDATA[Morning News and Stuff]]>

Good morning all. Let’s talk about that news stuff.

Cincinnati’s population increased slightly again last year, though not as much as the surrounding suburbs. The U.S. Census Bureau estimates the Queen City’s population grew to 298,550 people from the 298,041 who lived here in 2014. That’s a .17 percent bump — smaller than the metropolitan area’s growth rate of .4 percent. But hey, at least we’re not losing people like we were just a decade ago, and like cities such as Cleveland, St. Louis and Pittsburgh still are. Other cities in our region outperformed us in population growth, however, including Columbus, Indianapolis and Louisville, which each added a couple thousand people. So, Cincy’s doing OK when it comes to rebounding from decades of population loss, but could be doing better. Personally, I’d like to see us get above 300,000 again, so please, invite 1,450 of your closest friends to move here. Just as long as they’re not jerks.

• Did you know that your sewer bills have helped pay the salaries of the Cincinnati Park Board? It’s true, apparently. Due to some joint cooperation between the city’s Metropolitan Sewer District and the parks, money from MSD goes to personnel like Parks Director Willie Carden. That money exchange started when parks began helping MSD with some green infrastructure projects, but now some county officials are questioning whether the funding should go so far as to pay administrative salaries. Both MSD and parks have been mired in recent oversight issues around spending, so this revelation will probably anger some folks. You can read more about the situation here.

• Soon, you’ll be able to hop on Metro buses and the streetcar using a mobile app to pay your fare. Officials with the Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority Tuesday announced an agreement with Passport, which makes payment apps. The contract between the two means that riders will be able to pay via a Passport app and show Metro and streetcar drivers their tickets on their phone. That will eliminate the need to carry cash for many customers, SORTA officials say. The app will also let riders track their bus as it makes its way to the bus stop, which is pretty cool.

• Hamilton County Democrats have tapped a big-name political consultant to help turn the county blue in the 2016 election. Candidates for county-wide office have pooled campaign funds to hire Ernie Davis, a longtime political consultant for the party. Davis will help strategize ways to convince voters to elect down-ballot candidates come November, including Hamilton County Commission candidate Denise Driehaus, Aftab Pureval for clerk of courts and others. Driehaus is in a highly competitive race with Dennis Deters for the Commission seat, which Deters currently holds after the surprise departure of former commissioner Greg Hartmann. Pureval faces a tougher challenge against current Clerk of Courts Tracy Winkler, a well-established Republican.

• You might have guessed that outspoken immigration critic Butler County Sheriff Richard Jones has something to say about Cincinnati City Council’s recent move to recognize alternate IDs for those without state-issued identification, including undocumented immigrants. You’d be right. Like any reputable, professional public servant, Jones weighed in on the issue in a tweet asking Butler County officials not to recognize cards provided by the Metropolitan Area Religious Coalition of Cincinnati.

“I am asking butler county not 2 except Cincinnati mark cards for illegals,” Jones tweeted recently. He later clarified that he meant “MARCC ID cards,” though he has yet to confirm that he meant to use the word “accept” instead of “except.”

• Northern Kentucky University will cut more than 100 jobs in response to budget cuts to higher education from recently elected Governor Matt Bevin. NKU will eliminate 37 faculty positions and 68 staff and administrative positions as part of the attempt to make do with less money from the state. The move will save the school about $8 million. Funding for higher education in Kentucky has been sliding for most of the decade, officials with the school say, forcing tough situations for all the state’s public universities. The funding crunch has gotten worse in the state’s most recent budget, however, as Bevin looks to drastically cut state spending.

• Health officials in Ohio are scrambling to find replacement clinics that can administer services like HIV and cancer screenings ahead of a state move to cut federal and state funding for such services from Planned Parenthood. Many health officials say it’s challenging to find other clinics that can step into the void left by the controversial health organization, which state lawmakers say shouldn’t receive public money because it provides abortions. The $1 million conservatives are withholding from Planned Parenthood didn’t go to providing that service, but instead went to other health services. Lawmakers say the money will be rerouted to other clinics that don’t provide abortions, but critics say there aren’t enough clinics with the capacity to take over for Planned Parenthood.

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<![CDATA[Morning News and Stuff]]>

Hey all. It's news time.

Let’s start out with some good news today, shall we? Yesterday, MadTree Brewering Co. hosted a ground-breaking celebration for their new Oakley brewing facility, MadTree 2.0. That facility in a former manufacturing site in Oakley will have 50,000 square feet of production space and another 10,000 square feet for a beer garden. The move is a sign of the brewery’s growth: The new site will allow MadTree to quadruple its production and the beer garden is twice the size of its current taproom.

• The controversial Dennison Hotel might soon be designated an “endangered” historic site by a statewide preservation nonprofit. Columbus-based Preservation Ohio is set to announce its list of endangered buildings across the state today. Local preservationists have nominated the Dennison, constructed downtown in 1892 by the firm of noted architect Samuel Hannaford. That designation won’t necessarily provide more legal protection for the building, which could soon face demolition by owners the Joseph family pending a May 26 Historic Conservation Board vote. But appearing on the list can draw more attention and support for historic structures, preservationists say.

• As we’ve talked about here and elsewhere in CityBeat a lot, Cincinnati City Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld is still walking off a loss in the Democratic Party’s Ohio primary against former Ohio governor Ted Strickland for the chance to challenge U.S. Sen. Rob Portman for his Senate seat. So what’s a young man who just lost a Senate race to do? Sittenfeld is weighing his professional options, it seems. He told WCPO recently that he has yet to decide whether to seek a third term on Cincinnati City Council. Sittenfeld, just 31, was the top vote-getter in his first run for the office. If he doesn’t do that, he might jump into a startup venture and wait until he’s a bit more seasoned to continue his career in politics. In the meantime, he’s going full-tilt on Council, and has some solid summer plans: getting married.  

• The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County is one of my favorite places, like, ever, which makes this story all the more heartbreaking. Overdoses at the main branch of the library downtown have increased significantly as the heroin crisis continues to grip our region. The main branch is on pace to see 18 overdoses this year — as many as the last two years combined. Solutions to the problem might be difficult, police say, and the situation is just one sign of the larger opiate problem that has taken hold in Ohio and other parts of the country. That problem persists, even as treatment options for addiction have narrowed for many low-income people.

• Finally, how’d that Democratic presidential primary contest go just south of the Ohio River last night? It was a nail-biter. Dem frontrunner Hillary Clinton ended up pulling out a slim victory over U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders. She took 46.8 percent of the vote, netting 29 delegates, to Sanders’ 46.3 percent of the vote and 27 delegates.

The contest didn’t matter much numerically — Clinton still has a comfortable lead in the overall primary, and Sanders only the narrowest path to victory, even with his win in Oregon’s primary last night. But Clinton desperately wants to put the primary behind her and focus on the general election, where she’s likely to face off against GOP presumptive nominee Donald Trump. The problem for her: Democratic voters aren’t lining up behind her yet, instead continuing to support Sanders’ populist campaign and somewhat more liberal message. Upcoming early June primaries should put Clinton over the top numbers-wise for the nomination, but even after she sews up the primary, she’ll have a bigger task: wooing Sanders supporters to back her in the general election. That may be a big hill to climb, given what happened in Nevada last week and the overall contentiousness of the Democratic primary this season.

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<![CDATA[Morning News and Stuff]]> Do you live in Kentucky? Well, if you do, it's primary day! Unfortunately, it looks like Kentucky's primary has come too late for Republicans to participate in what was the GOP presidential show down. Kentuckians won't be able to vote on which Republican they'd like to see in the White House because Trump became the presumed nominee earlier this month after all other candidates dropped out. But Democrats can still cast their votes for Team Clinton or Team Sanders. If that's not enough to get you to the polls, you can also vote on one of the little-known candidates running for Rand Paul's U.S. Senate seat and who gets to fill the vacant spot in the state House left by retiring state Rep. Tom Kerr. 

• University of Cincinnati construction partner Skanska and Megan Construction announced Monday that it has signed a $70 million deal to begin renovating the Bearcats' basketball arena in June. The University says it's still fundraising to come up with the rest of the money for the planned $87 million renovation of Fifth Third Arena. The announcement appears to be UC's latest attempt to flaunt its feathers to convince Big 12 officials to allow the university to join the conference, which UC has been trying to join for two years. UC officials are scheduled to meet with Big 12 officials in Dallas in two weeks.

• The Centers for Disease Control is concerned that Kentucky's heroin crisis is leading to another possible crisis: an AIDS/HIV outbreak. The CDC has ranked Kentucky as the state with the highest risk for an HIV outbreak, placing thirteen of the state's counties on its top 20 at-risk list. The federal agency began analyzing every U.S. county after the virus rapidly spread through needle sharing in rural Scott County, Indiana, which has a population of just 20,000 people, and found 220 counties posed a high risk for an outbreak, which includes nearby Brown and Adams counties in Ohio.

• Less than two weeks after bidding farewell to his shot at the White House, Gov. John Kasich sat down on Monday with CNN's Anderson Cooper. In his first interview since dropping out of the race, Kasich told Cooper he wasn't quite ready to endorse presumed Republican nominee Donald Trump, he definitely won't be running as a third party candidate and Republicans need to start appealing to more minority groups if they hope to win the election.
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<![CDATA[Morning News and Stuff]]>

Hey all. Let’s do this news thing.

Democrat presidential primary front runner Hillary Clinton came to Northern Kentucky yesterday for some last-minute campaigning before the state’s primary tomorrow. Clinton mostly bashed her likely general election opponent, real estate magnate and GOP presumptive nominee Donald Trump, and didn’t mention her primary opponent U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, who was also campaigning around the state. In addition to landing punches against Trump, Clinton touched on local issues like replacing the Brent Spence Bridge and the region’s heroin crisis. There has been limited polling in Kentucky, so it’s hard to know who’s ahead. The primary is closed, meaning independents can’t vote in it. That should help Clinton. On the other hand, the state’s demographic makeup — heavily white and working class — looks to work in Sanders’ favor, given results in other states. Stay tuned.

• Speaking of the Brent Spence, the bridge carrying I-75 over the Ohio River into Kentucky just got some national media attention. It’s not necessarily the good kind of press, though. The Hill, a D.C.-centric publication covering national politics and policy, put the 53-year-old bridge at the top of an article about the nation’s “Five Big Infrastructure Emergencies.” The article highlighted the struggle over how to pay for a replacement and the fact that the bridge carries four percent of the nation’s gross national product over it every year.

• Cincinnati has scored its biggest major conference since 2012, but the crowds won’t be coming for a little bit. The African American Methodist Episcopalian Church announced yesterday it will hold its 2024 convention in Cincinnati. It’s one of the largest African American conventions in the country and is expected to draw 20,000 people. The last time the city saw that many guests at once was the World Choir Games four years ago. It’s not the only convention Cincinnati has slated, however. This year, the NAACP will hold its national conference here, which is expected to draw 10,000 people and is one of the most important political conventions in the country — an especially big get for the city considering we’re in the midst of one of the most intense presidential campaigns in modern memory.

• There is about to be a beer garden on Central Parkway in Over-the-Rhine. Queen City Radio, named for the former business that occupied the location at West 12th Street, will carry local brews like Braxton, Listermann’s, Rhinegeist, Morelein, Madtree, Rivertown and others. It’s also right next to the Central Parkway Bikeway, something owners and siblings Louisa Reckman and Gabriel Deutsch have highlighted as a reason for choosing the location. The two expect to open in July.

• Former house speaker John Boehner spoke this weekend at Xavier University’s graduation, though he didn’t drop any news-making bombs about the 2016 presidential election like he did at an earlier speech at Stanford last month. Boehner, who graduated from Xavier before his career in Congress, stuck mostly to the inspirational fare common to commencement addresses. But in true form, he did tear up a little bit. Boehner last month told a group of students at Stanford that U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, then a presidential primary contender, was "Lucifer in the flesh."

• Kentucky public schools will resist an order from the federal government requiring it to recognize the expressed gender identity of transgender students, Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin has said. That sets up a big fight between the state, as well as some others in the South, and the federal government. President Barack Obama announced the measure, an effort to clarify standards under the anti-sex-discrimination law known as Title IX. Bevin says the order amounts to intimidation by the feds, however, and that Kentucky won’t comply.

• Following the exit of the last opponents to GOP presidential primary presumptive nominee Donald Trump, some bigwigs in the party have taken up an effort to draft a third-party candidate to compete against the real estate mogul and his Democrat opponent Hillary Clinton. But Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who was briefly Trump’s last opponent standing, won’t be that candidate. Despite being on a shortlist of possible Trump/Clinton challengers, a staffer for Kasich’s campaign told Columbus’ 10TV that Kasich isn’t interested in that particular suicide mission, which is perhaps the most clear-headed decision the governor has made in this whole mess.

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<![CDATA[Stage Door: Searches for Beauty, Love and Truth]]> There are so many good choices for theater right now you could hardly go wrong anywhere, but there are three shows you should absolutely see.

The musical Violet at Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati is the story of an angry, self-conscious young woman who believes her life is a dead end because of a disfiguring facial scar. She travels from North Carolina to a televangelist in Oklahoma in hopes of a miracle, which does happen — kind of, but certainly not in the way she imagined. This is a moving story with great music, and it’s superbly performed, especially by Brooke Steele as the title character: Putting together an excellent vocal performance with fully committed acting, she delivers an aching, anxious performance that occasionally flashes with joy. She’s surrounded by more talent, several of whom take on multiple roles. This is the kind of show that makes you grateful that we have a theater like ETC and a director like Lynn Meyers. (CityBeat review here.) Through May 22. Tickets: 513-421-3555.

Violet is searching for beauty, while Haley, the solo character in Theresa Rebeck’s Bad Dates, is just looking for a good evening out. But she’s having a hard time finding the right man — not to mention the right shoes to wear. The Cincinnati Playhouse produced this show a dozen years ago and it was a big hit. With Vivia Font as the charming narrator, a sweet but uninhibited girl-next-door who carries it off like she’s chatting with girlfriends, this production is a surefire hit. (CityBeat review here.) Through June 12. Tickets: 513-421-3888.

Another big search us underway at the Aronoff Center’s Jarson-Kaplan Theater where Cincinnati Music Theatre is presenting the musical Big Fish, based on a Tim Burton film from 2003 featuring Albert Finney, Ewan McGregor and Billy Crudup. It’s the story of Edward Bloom (Fred Tacon, pulling off a role handled by two actors in the movie) who loves to embroider and exaggerate the events of his life, and Will (PJ Karpew, a powerful singer), his down-to-earth son who loved his dad’s tall tales as a kid. But as a grownup, he’s grown both weary and dubious of these apparent fantasies and insists on discovering the truth. Ed’s imagined adventures are brought to amusing life onstage in this production, and CMT’s cast, steered by community theater veteran Skip Fenker, is busy from start to finish with countless costume changes, dance routines and funny situations. (There’s some clever use of video, too.) Will learns some truth he never expected, discovering that his father was indeed a hero — even if it wasn’t in the stories he made up. The show’s messages of love and inspiration come through loud and clear. Through Saturday evening. Tickets: 513-621-2787.

Also worth your consideration: Opening tonight are Antony and Cleopatra (Cincinnati Shakespeare, through June 4) and Catch Me If You Can: The Musical (Showbiz Players at the Carnegie in Covington, through May 22). You still have time to see Satchel Paige and the Kansas City Swing at the Cincinnati Playhouse and the touring production of Cabaret at the Aronoff Center, presented by Broadway in Cincinnati. Both continue through next weekend.


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


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<![CDATA[REVIEW: Valley of the Sun’s 'Volume Rock']]>

There are times in some bands’ careers when, in order to take the next step forward, it first has to take a step back. 


That is what has occurred with Cincinnati-based desert-rockers Valley of the Sun between the release of 2013’s Electric Talons of the Thunderhawk and the recently-released album Volume Rock. For the new full-length (issued in late April through Swedish-based label Fuzzorama Records), the duo — guitarist/vocalist Ryan Ferrier and drummer Aaron Boyer — has toned down some of Thunderhawk’s more eclectic and intricate tendencies in favor of bombastic and driving rhythms. This has resulted in album that has lost a little musical depth, but has gained a far greater grip on the listener’s ear.


Volume Rock establishes its tonal shift right out of the gate with a trio of absolutely monumental Rock & Roll bangers. “Eternal Forever,” “Wants and Needs” and “The Hunt” showcase the strengths that Valley has spent so much time and effort honing. Ferrier’s soaring vocals have a range and power that commands the listener’s attention, while Boyer hits his cymbals with the strength of a meteor crash, his playing drawing your attention whenever Ferrier isn’t on the mic. Weaving throughout is Ferrier’s clean and infectious guitar work, with riff layered upon riff and crafting an auditory sandwich that headbangers are sure to want of bite of. But VotS retains its deeper side on Volume Rock, with Ferrier’s lyrics carrying many of his ongoing themes of higher consciousness, personal introspection and Earth’s natural beauty. It’s just that on this go around, the lyrics are wrapped in even more hooks, making the tracks more instantly and irresistibly sing-along-worthy.



This isn’t to say that Volume Rock is simple or toned down. It’s just that the flourishes found within seem designed to be more easily replicated (and perhaps more impactful) live, and overall there is a more natural feel to the songs. Hand claps, tambourine, a 12-string guitar interlude in “Land of Fools” and other ornamentation give the album a fresh sound while still keeping the tonal theme running through the entirety of its nine tracks.


Like ThunderhawkVolume Rock features a reworking of a track from VotS’s first EP, 2010’s five-song Two Thousand Ten. But whereas Thunderhawk’s version of “Centaur Rodeo” added different drumming parts and a few other embellishments, Volume Rock’s re-do of “I Breathe the Earth” is more heavily tweaked, bolstering the song’s strengths and mending some weaknesses, while also adding more than a minute to its original running time. The backing vocals are stronger and more dynamic, the guitar tone has more depth and the drumming sounds fuller. With “Earth,” Valley of the Sun was able to take a song that longtime fans already loved and make it even better.



While Volume Rock is undoubtedly a fast and furious LP, fans of the VotS’s more expansive work will still find plenty to love. Of special note is “Speaketh the Shaman” and album closer, “Empty Visions.” Both songs exceed the five-minute mark (not uncommon for the band), showcasing Ferrier’s guitar work by giving the licks more room to breathe. Ferrier’s vocals also expand to throat-ripping levels, and the combination of his guitar and voice swirl through the tracks like the smoke from a, uh, “cigarette,” filling your speakers with righteous Desert Rock majesty.



In many ways, Volume Rock’s name says it all. This is an album that deserves to be turned to 11. It’s the perfect accompaniment to rolled-down windows, long stretches of highway and summer heat. Valley of the Sun spent three years between releases and the musicians used the time to focus on what made the band what it is, and then pushing those qualities to the forefront. In that respect, Volume Rock is a success — while there may be less going on in each song, there’s more of the band’s essence and identity throughout the album. And that identity is too loud to be snubbed.


Valley of the Sun is currently on another extensive tour overseas promoting Volume Rock, which is available in the States on most major digital platforms (like iTunes, Amazon, Google Play and Spotify). Certain mail-order services (like Amazon and musicdirect.com) also offer the hard-copy versions on CD and vinyl. You can also stream or purchase the album at Fuzzorama’s Bandcamp site here, or by clicking one of the embedded tracks above.


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<![CDATA[Your Weekend To Do List]]> FRIDAY 13
ART: UNRAVELED: TEXTILES RECONSIDERED AT THE CAC
In Unraveled: Textiles Reconsidered, nine artists deconstruct and reanimate clothing, blankets, rugs and other fabrics into emblems of political and personal expression. Textiles are mined for their metaphors to explore aspects of identity and interconnectedness. Adrian Esparza’s “Dawn,” an azure weft spun around a grid of nails using a cheap serape’s single thread, may act as the exhibit’s skeleton key. It depicts, abstractly, a 1908 photograph of the Mount Adams incline, a long-demolished structure. Its title refers to the Procter & Gamble detergent — which Esparza reserves a certain nostalgia for — yet it could just as easily indicate artistic genesis. Read more about the exhibit hereUnraveled: Textiles Reconsidered is on display at the CAC through Aug. 14. More info: contemporaryartscenter.org.

Germania Society Maifest
Photo: Germania Society
EVENT: GERMANIA SOCIETY MAIFEST
Raise a stein to spring with the Germania Society. Maifest is the traditional German celebration of the season, and the Society isn’t cutting any corners with this authentic bash. Carnival rides, traditional food, a spring flower market and games for kids and adults transform Germania Park into a tiny slice of Europe. Choose a homemade Maiwein or local craft beer in a German style and dance to live music from the likes of The Dynamic Duo, Chardon Polka Band and Hoot & Holler. Merchandise, gifts and crafts will also be for sale all weekend long. 6 p.m.-midnight Friday; noon-midnight Saturday; noon-8 p.m. Sunday. $3 adults; kids 12 and under free. Germania Park, 3529 W. Kemper Road, Fairfield, germaniasociety.com.

MainStrasse Maifest
Photo: MainStrasse Village Association
EVENT: MAINSTRASSE MAIFEST
This springtime celebration takes over six city blocks to create a traditional bash of epic proportions. In addition to the essential German food and drink, this Maifest party features an assortment of arts and crafts by more than 90 different makers. Special areas are set aside for the young and young at heart — the Kinderplatz section contains rides and other adventures for kids, while the Amusement Midway has plenty of fun for grownups. On Saturday, guests with an artistic flare can face off in a street chalk-art contest near the Main Street Bier Garten. 5-11:30 p.m. Friday; noon-11:30 p.m. Saturday; noon-9 p.m. Sunday. Free admission. MainStrasse Village, Covington, Ky., mainstrasse.org

Uncorked at FSQ
Photo: 3CDC
EVENT: UNCORKED AT FSQ
It’s a weekend of vino at the corner of Fifth and Vine streets when Fountain Square gets taken over by Uncorked at FSQ. The two-day event features generous samples from the nation’s top-selling wine brands, along with local and regional wine producers. Guests can navigate their ways through booths of booze, food pairings and knowledgeable staffers to dine, drink and learn. Includes live music from The Hot Magnolias, Leroy Ellington Band and more. 5-11 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Tickets sold in $10 increments; $2 per ticket; one ticket is equivalent to one 2 oz. pour. Fountain Square, Fifth and Vine streets, Downtown, myfountainsquare.com

CincItalia
Photo: Provided
EVENT: CINCITALIA
It isn’t all about Bavaria in Cincinnati this weekend despite our many Maifests — CincItalia brings a taste of the Old Country to Cheviot for a festival that celebrates the culture, cuisine and cannoli of Italy. Enjoy Italian cooking demos, travel talks, games, raffles, an open-air wine garden, a mini piazza — complete with a fountain and Tivoli lights — and carbo loads of homemade lasagna, spiedini, arancini, baked ziti and more from local Italian organizations and eateries. It’s a weekend to mangia and pop some prosecco after changing out of your dirndl. 6 p.m.-midnight Friday; 3 p.m.-midnight Saturday; 1-9 p.m. Sunday. Free admission. Harvest Home Park, 3961 North Bend Road, Cheviot, cincitalia.org

'Violet'
Photo: Ryan Kurtz
ONSTAGE: VIOLET
Ensemble Theatre staged this moving musical back in 1999 to great success, but that was before people were flocking to Over-the-Rhine as they do today. To close out its 30th-anniversary season, ETC has revived the story of an anxious young woman bearing a disfiguring scar from a childhood accident. She’s on a cross-country pilgrimage to a televangelist she hopes will heal her, but along the way she meets people who help her find the true meaning of beauty. Composer Jeanine Tesori created powerful anthems for this show, and director D. Lynn Meyers has assembled excellent singers and actors to perform them. Tickets are selling fast. Through May 22. Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati, 1127 Vine St., Over-the-Rhine, ensemblecincinnati.com.

SATURDAY 14
Gkaeng gunglay is one of the fest’s “secret dishes” this year.
Photo: Provided
EVENT: ASIAN FOOD FEST
Pho Lang Thang, Revolution Rotisserie & Bar, Mabuhay Pinoy Foods, Elephant Walk: The extensive list of local eateries participating in this year’s Asian Food Fest gives festivalgoers a lot to chew on this weekend at Washington Park. Fill up on two day’s worth of cuisine from Vietnam, Thailand, the Philippines, China, Indonesia, India and Malaysia while viewing authentic cultural song and dance performances. A new addition this year is a “Secret Menu” booth that features food from home chefs and aspiring entrepreneurs; the booth’s name is a reference to the hidden, more traditional menus that many Asian restaurants present only to customers who specifically request them. 4-11 p.m. Saturday; noon-8 p.m. Sunday. Free admission. Washington Park, 1230 Elm St., Over-the-Rhine, asianfoodfest.org

Incline District Street Fair
Photo: Provided
EVENT: INCLINE DISTRICT STREET FAIR
There are so many fests and fairs across town this weekend, and this one takes place in East Price Hill. The first of this year’s Incline District Street Fairs, this en plein air party celebrates the diversity and growth of the Incline District with goods from local crafters and artisans, along with food and drink. 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday. Free admission. 3001 Price Ave., East Price Hill, facebook.com/inclinedistrictstreetfair

People Working Cooperatively Repair Affair
Facebook.com
GET INVOLVED: PEOPLE WORKING COOPERATIVELY REPAIR AFFAIR
Since its foundation in 1975, People Working Cooperatively has performed home repairs and services for low-income, elderly and disabled homeowners, enabling them to remain in their homes and live safely and independently. PWC is seeking individuals to get involved with their mission this weekend during the Repair Affair, the organization’s annual spring volunteer event. If you have home repair skills and are 14 years or older, you’re eligible to help PWC install handrails, repair drywall, fix leaky plumbing and more for clients in Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky. Volunteers are asked to bring their own tools, and groups will be matched with projects based on skills and preferences. 8:30 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday. Various locations, pwchomerepairs.org.

The Howlin' Brothers
Photo: Provided
MUSIC: THE HOWLIN’ BROTHERS
The conversion from Rock and Punk to Bluegrass and Folk is an oft-told band tale in today’s music world. And so it is with The Howlin’ Brothers, an adrenalized trio that plays Bluegrass with the passion and verve of an amped-up Rock outfit. The threesome — banjoist/fiddler Ian Craft, guitarist/harmonicat Jared Green and upright bassist Ben Plasse — met as Classical music students at New York’s Ithaca College a decade and a half ago. Coming from basic Rock backgrounds, the three musicians discovered Folk at roughly the same time and began playing in various configurations, but coalesced in 2003 when Craft and Green sang three-part harmony with Plasse on a traditional tune for his senior recital. Read more about the group in this week's Sound Advice. The Howlin' Brothers play Southgate House Revival Saturday with Ian Mathieu and Scott Risner. More info/tickets: southgatehouse.com.

'Brigadoon'
Photo: Mikki Schaffner
ONSTAGE: BRIGADOON
This old-fashioned show from 1949 is just the kind of musical that Cincinnati Landmark Productions excels at staging. The story of a town in Scotland that disappears into the Highland mists and only returns one day every hundred years is a delightful, tuneful fantasy from writer Alan Jay Lerner and composer Frederick Loewe (the team that created My Fair Lady and Camelot). This tribute to simplicity, goodness and the power of love will have you humming your way out of the theater, especially “Almost Like Being in Love.” Through May 22. $23-$26. Covedale Center for the Performing Arts, 4990 Glenway Ave., 513-241-6550, cincinnatilandmarkproductions.com.

TV: SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE
Drake hosts and performs as musical guest. 11:30 p.m. NBC.

SUNDAY 15
Shinji Turner-Yamamoto’s installation 'Sidereal Silence II'
Photo: Provided by the Artist
ART: SIDEREAL SILENCE AT THE WESTON ART GALLERY
Shinji Turner-Yamamoto, the Japanese-born, U.S.-based artist living in Cincinnati since 2008, has received international attention for work exploring nature in new ways and in unexpected spaces. His latest show — Sidereal Silence — debuts at downtown’s Weston Art Gallery on Friday. Occupying the entire gallery, the exhibition includes a surround sound installation of waterfalls, a large-scale clear-acrylic structure that disperses water vapor, a two-channel video of waterfall loops, paintings made outdoors on raw cotton canvas with natural, organic materials and a series of smaller sculptural works focusing on crystal formations that emulate stars. On view through June 5. Free. Weston Art Gallery, 650 Walnut St., Downtown, cincinnatiarts.org

See the zoo's cheetah cubs in the Nursery throughout May.
Photo: Cassandre Crawford
ATTRACTIONS: ZOO BABIES
Oh, baby: ’tis the season for tots of all sorts at the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden. Cubs, calves, chicks and more will be on exhibit throughout the month of May. Gasp and squeal in the presence of more than a dozen babies, including Bowie the penguin in the Children’s Zoo; Dale the takin at Wildlife Canyon; Boca the alligator in Manatee Springs; and bonobos Kibibi and Bolingo in the Jungle Trails. The zoo’s recently born cheetah cubs will also be viewable at the nursery, and Emperor scorplings (aka baby scorpions) are on exhibit in the Insect World building. Human moms receive free admission on Mother’s Day (May 8). Through May 31. $18 adults; $13 children and seniors. Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden, 3400 Vine St., Avondale, cincinnatizoo.org

'Satchel Paige and the Kansas City Swing' at Cincinnati Playhouse
Photo: Mikki Schaffner Photography
ONSTAGE: SATCHEL PAIGE AND THE KANSAS CITY SWING
History suggests Satchel Paige was the greatest pitcher of all time. But his career preceded the moment that professional baseball’s color line was crossed. In fact, this new play — Satchel Paige and the Kansas City Swing — is set in 1947, just after Jackie Robinson’s debut. Paige and other black players are barnstorming in exhibition games against white teams when a downpour brings them together in a boarding house. We get to eavesdrop on their conversations about the changing world. The show is by the playwrights of Fly!, a past hit at the Playhouse. They used a tap dancer in that one; this time, a sax player called “Jazzman” extends the story’s emotions. Through May 21. $30-$85. Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, 962 Mt. Adams Circle, Mount Adams, cincyplay.com

ART: CHASING THE WHALE AND OTHER ENDLESS PURSUITS
Self-taught artist Matt Kish wanted one last shot at creating something notable. The project he chose was illustrating Herman Melville’s 1851 literary classic Moby-Dick, one drawing per day for each of the 552 pages in his Signet Classic edition paperback version of the novel. It took him almost one and a half years of exhausting work, but it changed everything. By posting the daily illustrations on his blog, he caught the attention of the sizeable worldwide Moby-Dick community. That led to a contract with the prestigious Tin House press, which earlier had published the celebrated Pictures Showing What Happens on Each Page of Thomas Pynchon’s Novel Gravity’s Rainbow by artist Zak Smith. Read more about Kish and the exhibit here. Chasing the Whale and Other Endless Pursuits continues through Aug. 14 at the Contemporary Arts Center. More info: contemporaryartscenter.org.

Burlington Antique Show
Photo: Provided
EVENT: BURLINGTON ANTIQUE SHOW
One more outdoor eat-drink-buy event: the monthly Burlington Antique Show. This antiques and vintage-only collectibles market features more than 200 dealers hawking everything from giant metal letters and vintage postcards to industrial lighting, old globes, 1960s Fiestaware and more. It’s generally pretty crowded, so if you’re a real hunter, aim for early-bird admission ($5; 6-8 a.m.). 6 a.m.-3 p.m. Sunday. $3 starting at 8 a.m. Boone County Fairgrounds, 5819 Idlewild Road, Burlington, Ky., burlingtonantiqueshow.com

TV: GAME OF THRONES
Tyrion meets a Red priestess and makes a deal in Meereen as Jorah and Daario zero in on Daenerys in Vaes Dothrak. As the former khaleesi prepares to join the Dosh Khaleen, Drogon intervenes. In King’s Landing, Jaime and Cersei stand up to the Faith Militant. Moving on to the Starks, Arya a girl takes on a new role; Sansa finds familiarity; Jon receives a threatening message. 9 p.m. HBO.

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<![CDATA[Morning News and Stuff]]>

Hey hey Cincinnati. It’s gorgeous, it’s Friday, it’s spring, so let’s get this news thing over with quickly.

Let’s play good news, bad news, shall we? First, a new ranking puts Cincinnati as the top city in the country for recent college grads when it comes to jobs. That ranking from ZipRecruiter.com, a job-searching site, considered job availability, number of young folks in a city, affordability and a number of other measures when putting together its list. Good news, it would seem.

• Bad news: A program that provides low-cost or free bus fare for the city’s lowest income residents is in danger of disappearing, possibly exacerbating Cincinnati’s already difficult transit situation. Everybody Rides Metro works with 100 social service providers in the area to make sure some 30,000 low-income folks have access to transit so they can get to jobs and other important places. But the nonprofit is facing the loss of $200,000 a year from the federal government, a big chunk of its budget.

• Are you ready for the election? In 2017? Local political players are already gearing up for what is sure to be an intense contest as both Council and mayoral elections jump off. Mayor John Cranley is preparing by… going to Columbus. Cranley made the trip to the capital last week for a Democratic fundraiser for his reelection campaign. “I have to prepare to defend myself,” the mayor told media after the event. Cranley’s had a tough year, with the resounding defeat of a parks ballot initiative he went all-in on, the tumultuous dismissal of Cincinnati Police Department Chief Jeffrey Blackwell and other rocky events over the past 365 days. Cranley doesn’t have any confirmed primary or general election opponents yet, though Councilwoman Yvette Simpson’s name has been floated as a possible challenger.

• Speaking of the mayor of Cincinnati, a major TV show threw a diss our way yesterday. The season finale of Scandal, a political drama that kinda makes hyper-unrealistic H
ouse of Cards look like a documentary, got a low blow in during a particularly dramatic moment. The plot points are complicated, but basically, a fictional former GOP president is throwing support behind his ex-wife, the current GOP nominee, after passing on an endorsement in the primary. As he does, though, he tells her he doesn’t get any respect, saying, “You're treating me like an unpopular, first-term mayor of Cincinnati, Mellie.”

Some folks have wondered whether this is a Cranley putdown, but that seems incredibly unlikely. Most viewers of a overheated political soap opera are unlikely to to be aware of a medium-sized city’s mayor, especially one who hasn’t been embroiled in any national controversy. A slightly more likely, but still remote possibility: The line is a crack on former Cincinnati mayor Jerry Springer, who, well, you know. The most likely possibility, however, is that Cincinnati here is used as shorthand for “unimportant Midwestern city.” It’s a name people know, but don’t really know anything about. It’s in Ohio, perennially the punchline for flyover country jokes (you could fill a book with the slights Cleveland has received in pop culture in the last decade). So, clever joke about our mayor, or lazy joke about our city? I’m betting on the latter.

• The U.S. Department of Education has instructed public schools that they must allow transgender students to use the bathrooms corresponding with their expressed gender identities. Bathroom rights for transgender people have been a big issue since North Carolina passed a law restricting access to bathrooms for transgender people, who the state says need to use restrooms corresponding to their physical sex, not to the gender identity they express. The Department of Education says that such laws, and similar rules created in schools, violate Title IX, the federal government's anti-sex discrimination law.

• Finally, I’ve already taken you ahead to the 2017 election. Let’s press onward to 2018! Why not? God knows this year isn’t providing enough excitement and stress for us all. Anyway, Ohio’s gubernatorial race two years from now may already be lining up, with popular former Democratic state lawmaker Connie Pillich making motions like she’s going to run. Pillich won’t confirm the rumors herself, but many state party officials say she’s considering it. She’s also stacked a large amount of cash — nearly $150,000 — in her campaign fund, even though she doesn’t face reelection this year. Pillich ran for State Treasurer in 2014, but lost to GOPer Josh Mandel during a very, very tough year for state Democrats. Pillich, from Cincinnati, polled a full 10 points ahead of the Democrat gubernatorial candidate that year. The 55-year-old Air Force veteran says she’s focused on aiding Democrats in the 2016 presidential and down-ballot races, but it’s never too early to save for future projects, eh?

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<![CDATA[Morning News and Stuff]]> Hey all. It’s been a busy 24 hours in Cincinnati. Here’s what’s happened. 

Cincinnati City Council yesterday passed a resolution recognizing an alternative ID card for undocumented immigrants, the homeless and others that will be sponsored by the Metropolitan Area Religious Coalition of Cincinnati and issued by Catholic Charities of Southwest Ohio. The card is intended to provide a little extra dignity for the homeless, undocumented, those returning from incarceration and others who may have trouble getting a state-issued ID. City officials say it will also help emergency personnel and other municipal bodies better serve some of the city’s most vulnerable residents.

• Council also approved $315,000 in planning funding for a proposed bridge between South Cumminsville and Central Parkway near Cincinnati State Technical and Community College. Currently, an exit from I-74 serves as a gateway between the neighborhood and the college, but it’s being removed as the Ohio Department of Transportation continues its revamp of the I-75 corridor. The proposed bridge has been controversial, and some council members argued it’s unnecessary as bigger infrastructure needs like the Western Hills Viaduct loom. The viaduct, which will need replacement in the next decade, will cost hundreds of millions to fix. Mayor John Cranley, who supports the so-called Elmore Street Bridge in South Cumminsville, says the viaduct replacement is a separate matter that will hinge heavily on state funding, and that the Elmore Bridge will provide much-needed economic benefits to the neighborhoods it serves.

• Council didn’t talk about it in their meeting yesterday, but shortly afterward, city administration dropped a minor bombshell about Cincinnati’s streetcar. Per a memo from City Manager Harry Black, the city will pay $500,000 less than expected for the five streetcars it purchased from CAF USA, the company that constructed them. That’s because some of the cars were delivered late. The cars were supposed to be in the city’s hands by December last year, but the last one wasn’t delivered until earlier this month. The late deliveries didn’t cause any delays in implementation of the transit project, but a clause in the contract between CAF and the city stipulates the financial penalty for late delivery. The city will withhold the money from its payments to CAF.

• The Greater Cincinnati area’s largest construction company is moving its headquarters from Bond Hill to the West End after 
Cincinnati City Council yesterday approved a land deal with Messer Construction. The company will get land at 930 Cutter St. from the city for $2 to build its new $12.5 million headquarters, which will house more than 115 employees. Mayor John Cranley said the deal was an incentive to keep Messer here, and calls it a “huge win” for the city. Messer has said that they were attracted to the location because it’s close to redevelopment happening in downtown and Over-the-Rhine.

• Meanwhile, Hamilton County Commissioners yesterday voted to move the Hamilton County Board of Elections headquarters from Broadway Avenue in downtown Cincinnati to Norwood. Voting access advocates have decried this move, saying it will make the BOE harder to get to for many in the county and that the HQ should stay centrally located downtown. Supporters of the move, including board of elections members like Hamilton County Democratic Chairman Tim Burke, say the Norwood location will be more central for everyone in the county. Both the four-member board of elections and three-member county commission unanimously approved the move. The move won’t happen until after the 2016 election cycle.

• Here’s an interesting piece about the increasing amount Cincinnati Public Schools spends on advertising to try and compete with the area’s 50 or so charter schools. CPS spent more than $123,000 on billboard, radio and TV ads aimed at parents of children in the district. Next year, that looks to increase to $345,000. CPS loses hundreds of thousands of dollars to charters every year, though that loss has been decreasing recently. The marketing expenditures are somewhat in line with other large urban school districts in Ohio, though far less than suburban schools nearby, many of which have little to worry about in terms of competing with charters.

• Planned Parenthood of Southwest Ohio yesterday filed a federal lawsuit against the state of Ohio over recently passed legislation seeking to strip state and some federal funds from the women’s healthcare provider. Conservative lawmakers cite the fact that Planned Parenthood provides abortions as the reason for the move, though the funds being kept from the organization go to health screenings and sex education, not abortions. In its suit, Planned Parenthood claims the law, which will go into effect later this month, is an illegal attempt to penalize it for providing abortions.

• Breaking news: there’s drama in the GOP. Well, ok, you probably already knew that, but anyway. The hangover from the party’s presidential primary is still on the horizon for a lot of Republicans, and one of them could be Ohio State Treasurer Josh Mandel. As a statewide GOPer, Mandel was expected to line up behind Ohio Gov. John Kasich’s presidential bid. But instead, Mandel endorsed Rubio, tweaking Kasich’s nose several times in the process. Those snubs included predicting that Kasich would leave the race quickly and voting for Rubio in the Ohio GOP primary. Mandel has made moves to court the hardline conservatives in his party, whose support he will surely need, according to this Cleveland Plain Dealer op-ed, since the Kasich wing of the Ohio GOP now has him squarely in their crosshairs.

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<![CDATA[Council Passes Resolution Recognizing Alternate IDs]]> Cincinnati City Council today passed a resolution recognizing coming alternate photo ID cards supplied by a group of social service organizations for the homeless, undocumented immigrants, those recently returning from incarceration and others who face challenges getting standard state IDs.

Many in the faith and social service communities cheered the move, though some city officials and residents expressed concerns, mostly related to undocumented immigrants.

The IDs, which will be funded by the Metropolitan Area Religious Coalition of Cincinnati and issued by Catholic Charities of Southwest Ohio, aim to give individuals without state IDs a level of dignity while guaranteeing they will be quickly served by first responders, police and other city personnel. MARCC represents 17 religious denominations active in Cincinnati.

Ronnie Phillips, who is a Streetvibes vendor and Cincinnati resident, says the new ID would be vital to daily life for those who don’t have state ID. Phillips said the cards could be a stepping stone toward getting jobs or housing for those who don’t have government-issued ID cards.

Greater Cincinnati Coalition for the Homeless Executive Director Josh Spring calls the cards “a first step” toward that larger goal.

The IDs won’t be a replacement for state IDs when it comes to applying for jobs and housing, where federal regulations require government identification. However, city officials including Mayor John Cranley and Democrats on Council hope the cards will still help those without other government IDs, especially when interacting with emergency personnel.

“This resolution is important because our police know that when individual victims fail to report crime, it emboldens criminals to act again without consequence,” Mayor John Cranley said at a news conference before Council’s vote. “Vulnerable citizens, returning citizens, non-driving senior citizens and others who lack the ability to obtain a state-issued ID are often reluctant to report crimes, even when they’ve been victimized personally. Having an ID that will encourage people to report crimes will make our city safer.”

Cranley says the Cincinnati Police Department has been involved in the months-long effort to set up the ID program and has agreed to recognize the MARCC IDs. 

The card will cost $15 and be good for a year at a time. Programs will be available to help provide the cards to those who cannot afford the fee.

“The MARCC ID may seem like a little thing if you already have an ID,” said Catholic Charities CEO Ted Berg. “If you don’t have an ID, it’s a way to protect the human rights of the most vulnerable and a way to give someone something that identifies them as part of the community.”

Berg says immigrants fleeing violence in Central America, including many women and children, desperately need measures to keep them safer.

“The need for this is significant. It doesn’t give [legal] status to anyone,” said Kurt Grossman, Immigration Chair for the American Jewish Committee of Cincinnati. Grossman is also a member of Mayor Cranley’s Immigration Taskforce, which generated the ID concept. “The city doesn’t have the authority to do that – that’s a matter of federal law — but it does bring dignity and safety to a broad spectrum of our community.”  

Some on Council balked at voting for the resolution, instead abstaining over what they said were lingering questions about the ID program.

Councilman Kevin Flynn said he had reservations because he thought the program created the perception that the cards would solve problems they couldn’t actually tackle, including the need for ID when applying for jobs and housing. Flynn said he supported the idea in theory, but joined fellow council members Amy Murray, Charlie Winburn and Christopher Smitherman in abstaining from the vote on the resolution.

Murray said she liked the general idea of the IDs, but was concerned about the vetting process involved in issuing them and what forms of foreign ID would be accepted for undocumented individuals seeking the IDs.

Many crowded into Council chambers to speak about the program. Most expressed support, but some pushed back, citing opposition to undocumented immigrants.

“I understand Cincinnati wants to be a welcoming city. But there is a legal way for people to get an ID,” said Richard Hahn, who spoke before Council against the resolution. “It’s the Ohio state ID. In the case of an illegal alien or undocumented immigrant, it is against federal law to aid them in this way. What’s to prevent one from obtaining the ID document under different names? Ricardo one day, maybe Jose the next.”

Officials from Catholic Charities say the vetting process for the IDs for undocumented people will include reviewing identification information from other countries, including passports, driver’s licenses and consular IDs. Catholic Charities officials say they expect to issue between 2,000 and 3,000 cards in the program’s first year.

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