CityBeat - Blogs http://www.citybeat.com/cincinnati/blogs.engine.php <![CDATA[Shaky Knees Festival: No Puns Necessary]]>

I'm swirling a 24 oz. PBR tall-boy around 2 a.m. at a bar fashioned from an old church in a neighborhood I can't quite figure out. Is it up-and-coming like our own Over-the-Rhine? Or are we "on the wrong side of the tracks"? I don't really care at this point. I've already gotten drunk once today and spent 12 hours in the burning southern sun. I just want a bed.

There are 20-somethings in rompers, board shorts and woven sandals hunting for a festival after-party lined up around the block waiting for over an hour to sit on picnic benches and drink crummy beers together at a 300% markup over buying them at a gas station. We are only inside because someone among some newly found friends has sweet-talked the back door guy. Point is, I'm bored and ready for bed. I engage a fellow Cincinnatian at this bar after awkwardly sitting in silence for the past 30 minutes. Someone points to an open garage door leading to an abandoned courtyard where a bonfire is burning and shadowy figures have been shuffling in and out of all night. Oh man … I've been to these parties back home. They often end in way more cocaine than I'm comfortable being around or racially tense fights. But it’s the path I have to take to find out where I can sleep, so I throw my hood up to go as unnoticed as possible and dive in.

"If you high as fuck and you having a good time say yeah!"


"YEAH!!"


"If you drunk as fuck and you having a good time say yeah!”

"YEAH!!"

A track starts playing a familiar synth line. Everyone in the rundown rock yard throws their hands up in unison and screams, "I DONT FUCK WIT' YOU!!" Big Sean's breakup anthem blares over the PA. Yes! I'm so down with this. The fact that I'm in dirty soccer shorts and an Against Me! hoodie doesn't matter. The fact that I'm not from here doesn't matter. My age doesn't matter. My race doesn't matter. We all dance and sing along together until the cops show up. Forget the kids waiting in line to drink bad beer on park benches hoping to get laid; this is the most live party I've been to in a long while and nothing like it has ever happened back home.

But this isn't home, it's Atlanta. And it's the best part of Shaky Knees festival. I had headed to the unofficial
capital of the South two days
earlier with wildly different expectations. I was nervous, expecting an endlessly
expansive metropolis like
Chicago or New York where you
could get lost for days just
searching for a legal parking spot
and shouldn’t expect to find a place to rest your head for less than $100 per night.

Instead I was greeted by a uniquely diverse, affordable and welcoming city that didn’t feel much more overbearing than Nashville or our own city. A welcoming attitude of southern charm and hospitality was the cherry on top of every restaurant and bar we’d visit.

Before I go on I feel it should be pointed out that while fully qualified to review a music festival, I fall into a not so primary target demo for festival promoters. Yes I’m white and middle class, but, more importantly, I’m 29. Not young enough to save up my graduation money and go on a road trip with my gal pals for the “party of the summer.” Not late enough in my 30s, with kids of my own old enough to either stay home alone or come with as I check out whatever ’80s Alt band has dusted themselves off to play in the twilight hours of each day in the name of collecting a paycheck. Most of my demographic is too busy being spit up on at all hours of the night by their newborns to afford spending three days drinking in the sun and being blasted by unhealthy decibel levels. But, alas, here I am.

That all being said, my only real complaint with Shaky Knees was its lack of diversity. It is in the Hip Hop capital of the south (several jokes were made asking locals if Outkast are the “presidents of Atlanta”), but it failed to feature a single Hip Hop or R&B act. There was a small representation of Delta music with Preservation Hall Jazz Band and Trombone Shorty dotting the schedule early Sunday afternoon (which I unfortunately missed as my attendance was unplanned and last minute, so I had to spend Sunday driving home for work). Every band I saw was just white guys with guitars. Not that there’s anything wrong with some of that, but I didn’t see a single other act that had more than one token female or person of color (the exception being Tennis, which had one extra woman on keys tucked in the back of the stage).

Atlanta’s location provides for an amazing opportunity to unite a wide array of music lovers from all over the country. I met travelers from places as far as New York, Miami, Fla., and Nashville, Tenn. It has a stronger African-American middle class than most of the Midwest, as I experienced amongst its nightlife and food scene, and yet the culture of the festival was still focused primarily on a white, suburban, Indie Rock or Folk crowd, which is a shame. Some minor lineup tweaks could make all the difference for an otherwise amazing festival.

Enough of that. We’re here to talk about performances, so let’s party …

DAY 1
Jukebox the Ghost While assessing the lay of the land we settled into our first full set with the Piano Rock trio. My friend, who knows my taste well enough to know I’d instantly
want to judge
them, insisted I
give it a chance. It took a minute,
but with interlude
banter like, "This
is a party song
about breaking
up," or "This is the
dumbest song
ever written,"
these guys are
just having too
much fun to not
want to join in. I
mean, come on
— they closed with
a cover of
Queen’s "Don’t Stop Me Now" (yeah, they really had the balls to do that!) knowing full well their younger fan base would be totally lost and they didn’t give a single fuck. Kudos guys. You will do just fine in this world so long as your hairlines stay in tact.

Tennis I was merely nodding appreciatively through most of their set. Then lead singer Alaina Moore, whose neckline plunged all the way to the top of her high-waisted jeans with nothing but some hard working gravity protecting her from indecent exposure charges, introduced the song “Marathon.” One of the band’s older songs, it’s a solid straight up Doo Wop tune. (Now we’re talkin’!) I was pulled in for just a moment. But then all I could do is re-Imagine them as the opening band in the dance in Back to the Future with this same look and style. Marty never even gets the chance to rip through “Johnny B Goode.” The scene would already be too wild for Hill Valley circa 1955 to handle. There are riots in the streets! Marty disappears from the family photo and his existence fades into obscurity. Fin.

Wavves “Finally ‘the youths’ are partying!” I spent a good chunk of this set under the bright sun on searing black top thinking, “There’s gonna be some seriously dehydrated kids in sweaty ironic tees later.” Wavves’ first record was the only thing that swayed me to let my guard down and learn to accept the lo-fi revolution. Plus, “King of the Beach” is a total jam. But something just isn’t right about the energy of this young crowd. It’s like the Warped Tour of my youth for a new generation that doesn't have a George Bush to rally against and vent their angst toward. There’s a wave of aggressive indulgence in the pile of sweaty bodies that’s directed at nothing in particular and I’m too old or out of touch to understand it. Mostly I was thinking Hedonismbot from Futurama would fit right in crowd surfing over this pit. “Oh my!” Wavves new song was on point, though, perhaps suggesting a move away from the low-fi fuzz that covered up the simplicity of their previous work to something a little more richly melodic.

Manchester Orchestra I had to give this band a chance as my roommate texted me from back home insisting I check it out. I trust her. So I go. And, yeah, it’s heavy and I like that, but I’m not sure I get it yet. There are these glimmers of sing-along anthem glory, but in my 30-45 minute blind taste test of them I didn’t get enough of that flavor to crave seconds. Maybe some more research before they visit us for Bunbury next month will bring me around.

The Mountain Goats “AND HARD TIMES ARE WHEN A MAN HAS WORKED AT A JOB 30 YEARS AND THEY KICK HIM IN THE BUTT AND SAY: HEY, A COMPUTER HAS TOOK YOUR PLACE, DADDY. THAT’S HARD TIMES!” This is part of the epic, booming three-minute intro that sets the stage for The Mountain Goats’ show, a voiceover shouting a challenge to the Macho Man Randy Savage daring him to a fight in the ring across an empty stage. It gets you properly amped for what’s to follow. You can feel John Darnielle and his gang carry that energy right onto the stage with them as it ends and the crowd erupts. Don’t make the mistake of lumping these guys in with the dusters “just out for a paycheck” I mentioned earlier based on their age. You will rarely see someone look so happy to sing songs he wrote 20 years ago with as much conviction as Darnielle. His stage presence oozes “I’m a professional, but I’m having a blast!” And the crowd responds, “Alright John. Then I am too!” That presence is so strong he still wins over crowds with brand new songs despite already having a discography over 15 full-lengths deep. What's that streaming down my face as they close out with “No Children,” the hauntingly triumphant ode to the end of the ugliest relationship you’ve ever heard? It’s … it’s just a really heavy bead of sweat! It's hot out here damn it! Leave me alone!

Mastodon At this point in the day I just can’t take standing up anymore. Another minor issue with Shaky Knees overall was the food options. The ratio of local food trucks to festivalgoers yielded unbearably long lines for anyone hoping to catch some of the later acts of the day. Beer however was in ample supply, so I grabbed one to sip on while catching the most Metal moment of the weekend from a hill a hundred or so yards out from the main stage. Metalheads I trust recommend Mastodon and, yeah, they were fine with me too. Only problem is they fell just short of what I’m looking
for in their songwriting, a craft often overlooked
by Metal bands in my opinion. And so I spent
most of their set wishing I was watching Ghost
instead and checking my phone for any news of
their next release. We should expect that in
August.

Pixies Kim Deal purists be damned. Her current replacement did just fine and sounded spot-on like the records to me. While expecting those aging rockers coming out to collect a paycheck I’ve been talking about, there was still a dash of magic left. Or maybe it’s just that little flutter I get when a song starts up that I’ve been listening to for 15 or so years, like “Here Comes Your Man,” with no expectation of ever hearing live because, to be honest, it was a little loose at times. Okay. Really loose. Like, Frank Black stopped in the middle of a song and said, “That was my fault. I went to the chorus too soon,” and went on to the next one loose. Makes you feel a little bummed for folks who shelled out full price for a pass just because they’re so stoked to see their favorite band. So yeah, maybe my nostalgia high is wearing off now that I’m reflecting back and realizing Kim’s replacement was honestly the most engaging part of the set.

The Strokes Lead singer Julian Casablancas isn’t exactly the king of charisma. Hell, he’s not even the dunce in the corner of Charisma 101, which makes it really hard to accept this band as a headliner. His attempts at on-stage banter made for some of the most uncomfortable moments of the weekend. Tie that in with his cracking voice straining to push out the words “How long must I wait” before it just gave out during the first song of their encore, “Vision of Division.” Their set became downright unbearable at times. Unfortunately, on top of this, “Reptilia” is the only song I really care for and they opened with it. So I was over it quick. The crowd didn’t seem to care though. They all still went nuts when the song that sounds exactly like “Last Night” but isn’t it came on halfway through their set.

And so, in my constant battle of jaded cynicism vs. the fact that I do genuinely love live music, I’d say day one ended in a draw. On to round two!

Day 2
Kevin Devine We raced back to the festival grounds to catch this set, but I wasn’t quite awake enough yet and needed to finish my coconut water to get things going. But Kevin didn’t care. His high energy set was better than anticipated and got me back in the game. He’s got the Indie/Emo “slow burn, build and release” pattern down and I’m totally ready to go up and down for the ride. Definitely keep an ear out for him.

Mariachi El Bronx Exactly what it sounds like. It’s Los Angeles hardcore band The Bronx … playing mariachi. I honestly resisted them for years as my friends raved and I assumed it was just another silly novelty crossover band. But they’re such great players that they managed to transcend the novelty and throw one hell of a party. Unfortunately, The Bronx gang seemed to draw the short end of the stick for the entire festival as this set was early on the main stage where the bass in the mix was for a much larger headlining crowd and it ruined the whole balance of the band. I had to leave halfway through as my body couldn’t handle the blasting waves of low end. But their bass player sure sounded great!

Speedy Ortiz “I think Squidbillies is here right?” lead singer Sadie Dupuis says between songs with minimal irony or facetiousness in her voice. And it’s this feeling of off beat intimacy the band tries to interject into the mid-afternoon, sun-drenched crowd that draws me in. It helps me understand why others are drawn to them, while my aging ears struggle to get hip to it. Dupuis voice and melodies, along with everyone else’s performances, are great, their style of off-the-beaten-path harmonic and chord structure however have never really set in for me. It kind of killed off my mariachi buzz and I stepped out halfway through to plan the rest of my day in some shade.

Viet Cong I went into this thinking the tough as nails name meant I was about to see a bratty and loud Punk band, which I was kind of stoked about. But the droning bass and synth is all good too! Makes me want to get in the world’s angriest space shuttle and fly to the moon. As they droned the last two chords of their final song back and forth for nearly three minutes I found myself wanting to shout, “Just take off damn it!” These guys would be equally good for when you're drunk alone at 4 a.m. again and your Joy Division records are just too far out of reach, plus you need a little extra edge to encourage you to break a few things!

Metz If you wish The Hives were still a hard touring band, these guys will get you half way there. Plus they’re a lil’ heavier to boot. That being said, the riffs could be a little catchier for my taste, but they still deliver enough to keep me hanging on and start snooping around for their records next time I’m out. Plus, you’ve got to love a band that you know is making somebody in Canada say, "You know that quiet guy in accounting? Yeah he TOTALLY shreds on the weekends!" Probably also worth mentioning here that these guys will be tearing up the Woodward Theater with Viet Cong on July 21st and it’s definitely going to be worth being there.

FIDLAR Plain and simple: This is why I love Punk. Just look at the dumb, unbridled joy on the faces of this sea of kids bouncing up and down in unison. There’s a certain “it” factor that the best live acts have regardless of technical difficulty or skill required to accurately perform their songs which I’ve never been able to put my finger. (FIDLAR said it best during their own set: “That’s right guys, all you need is three chords!”) This band definitely has it. The fact that I’m getting too old and responsible to honestly relate to their lyrics doesn’t matter. I think cocaine is childish and immature and I think drinking cheap beer is a waste of calories … but goddamn. I just can’t help but scream along in unison with these kids and share their same dumb, shit-eating grin. They are rescheduling their recently cancelled show at Thompson House. Keep an eye out for the new date and be prepared to lose your goddamn mind.

The Bronx And this is why I love hardcore! This is one of the tightest performances I saw up to this point despite unfortunately having the smallest crowd. No frills, just solid playing and tight execution. I had tried getting into them on record a few years back and something didn't click. Now it does. Time to go back and start working on picking up some change on the dance floor again.

Neutral Milk Hotel Yep. There's still too much ex-girlfriend attachment to this band for me to really enjoy it. Plus, they played at the time of day where no matter how close you want to get, you bottleneck at a point in the crowd that’s too far away to really feel a part of the set. “Maybe I should see if the Bronx is still playing? Why did I leave!? If one more person near me gushes over how cool using a saw as instrument is heads might roll …” Also the flock of blond college-age girls flocking out of the crowd after “In the Aeroplane Over the Sea” was played early in the set was amazing. Am I being too cynical? Whatever. Jeff Mangum’s voice is still on point after all these years. Still worth it.

Wilco At this point that bottleneck was just too far away to really get into what was happening on stage, which bummed me out because I had to miss Wilco’s show in Cincy a few days earlier. The drunk people next to me were almost as loud as the reverberations distantly ringing on the stage. But hey — they’re still cranking out the hits and they're still Wilco, so you gotta love it. But I was a little too buzzed and nervous about not getting a good spot and running into this same situation for the Avetts, so I dipped out a little early.

The Avett Brothers “Effortless.” People challenge me all the time to explain why I believe these guys are objectively one of the best live musical acts in music right now and this is the only word I can ever seem to muster. The level of focus, mastery and attention to
detail that goes into the
performance this crew puts on
night after night should be
obvious to anyone who’s so
much as taken a single guitar or
voice lesson. The love, passion, joy, and energy they
infuse into every song, whether
it’s a sing-along anthem like
“Kick Drum Heart” or a soft
ballad like “The Ballad of Love
and Hate,” makes the whole act
seem more effortless every time
I see them. Whether it’s Seth’s
improvisational riffing on their
already perfect vocal lines or
Scott’s conviction and sincerity
when telling the crowd he needs their help singing along with something, I truly believe they would win over any true music fan who is willing to let go and be taken by the power of one of their sets. No other band refracts as much love for what they’re doing on stage back to an audience quite like the Avetts. Their headlining set at Bunbury will be their first performance in Cincinnati since 2008. Do not miss it.

Whoa. What a ride. The fact that I’m having trouble wrapping this up despite the fact that I missed a whole day of the festival is a testament to just how much Shaky Knees has to offer music lovers. I’m having trouble keeping the two-day experience I had from unraveling into a full novella and am now forcing myself to shut up. Despite its limitations, there is still enough diversity to keep most fans of semi-independent Rock or Alternative on their toes. (No. It was not hard to resist a “shaky knees” pun here.) But when you attend next year, don’t let your time adjusting to the southern sun tap all of your energy for experiencing the city’s culture and nightlife. As much as I love Cincinnati, I think we have much to learn from this gem down South and I look forward to returning soon.

— Josh Elstro

]]>
<![CDATA[Morning News & Stuff]]> U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch visited Cincinnati yesterday on a tour of cities implementing innovative police practices. During a roundtable event at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, Lynch said Cincinnati’s approach is a model for other cities to follow.

Via The Enquirer:

"This is a place that has been through difficult times," Lynch said, referring to the city's riots 14 years ago, which led to a lawsuit and accusations of racial profiling by police. "Cincinnati exemplifies the fact that a city is a living thing — and it is comprised of all residents of a community."

 Cincinnati has long underfunded human services, at least according to its own goal of using 1.5 percent of the city budget for things like programs to end homelessness, provide job training and offer support for victims of crime. It doesn’t look like the city will get back to that rate any time soon, and City Councilman Chris Seelbach yesterday questioned why City Manager Harry Black’s budget doesn’t include $3 million council unanimously agreed in November to use to reduce homelessness and help boost gainful employment.

Here’s some context via the Business Courier:

It has been longstanding city council practice to direct the city manager what to put in the budget by a motion backed by a majority of council members, so Black's statement appears to permanently alter a standing way of doing business at City Hall. It also increases the tension between Black, Cranley and City Council, particularly majority Democrats, over their governing relationship.

With funding allocated for a mayoral priority but not one supported by all council members, Seelbach said it raised concerns over Black’s independence and whether he reports to Cranley or Cranley and all nine council members.

“It strikes me as very strange,” Seelbach said. “It seems like a symptom of that.”

“So noted,” Black said. 

 City pools are set to open this week, but six out of the city’s 25 might not open on time because they’re facing a shortage of 65 lifeguards. The Enquirer today noted why the pools are important to low-income children, many of whom receive free lunch and take advantage of having something to do other than the bad stuff kids get into when they’re bored (my words). 

 Social justice activists planned to call on Major League Baseball this morning to speak out on racial injustice, specifically police brutality and what the group calls “blatant disrespect of African Americans in Ohio’s justice system.” The press conference scheduled for 11 a.m. today will include Bishop Bobby Hilton of Word of Deliverance, Pastor Damon Lynch III of New Prospect Baptist Church, Pastor Chris Beard of Peoples Church and Rev. Alan Dicken of Carthage Christian Church.

 WCPO Digital’s series on marijuana continued today looks at what Ohio can expect business-wise if and when the state legalizes pot. WCPO sent two reporters who probably can’t pass a drug test anymore to Colorado to report on the industry and a family who moved there from the Cincinnati area so their daughter who suffers from seizures would have access to medical marijuana.

 The Reds say the stadium smoke stack that caught on fire last weekend will be fully operable by the time the team returns from its current road trip. Firefighters climbed two ladders to put out the fire in one of the “PNC Power Stacks” during a game against the San Francisco Giants last weekend. A few sections of fans were evacuated but the game was never delayed. The Reds got whooped all weekend so the fire was actually a pleasant distraction and ended up on Sportscenter and stuff.

 Apparently there are lines out the door at a new chicken finger restaurant in West Chester called Raising Cane’s and its owners are going to open more stores, potentially one downtown.

 The Federal Trade Commission filed a lawsuit yesterday against a collection of cancer charities it says misused millions of dollars in donations. Sounds like someone’s going to be in serious trouble for it. Worth a read from the Los Angeles Times to hear about the various members of the James Reynolds Sr. allegedly involved.  

In reality, officials say, millions of dollars raised by four “sham charities” lined the pockets of the groups’ founders and their family members, paying for cars, luxury cruises, and all-expense paid trips to Disney World for charity board members.

The 148-page fraud lawsuit accuses the charities of ripping off donors nationwide to the tune of $187 million from 2008 to 2012 in a scheme one federal official called “egregious” and “appalling.”

 Twenty-one-thousand gallons of oil is now sitting in the ocean instead of being burned into the air by automobiles. The U.S. Coast Guard says it has formed a four-mile slick along the central California coastline.  

 In good California news, Los Angeles City Council approved raising the city’s minimum wage to a nation-high $15 an hour by 2020.

 Documents recovered during the raid that killed Osama bin Laden? Sure.

 Five global banks to pay $5 billion fine and plead guilty to criminal charges after an investigation into whether traders at the banks “colluded to move foreign currency rates in directions to benefit their own positions.” OK.

 Scientists say a snake ancestor had little toes even though it slithered.

]]>
<![CDATA[Leftovers: What We Ate This Weekend]]>
Each week CityBeat staffers, dining writers and the occasional intern tell you what they ate this weekend. We're not always proud — or trendy — but we definitely spend at least some money on food. 

Ilene Ross: Friday night’s ReUse-apalooza! at Building Value in Northside gave me the opportunity to do one of my favorite things for dinner: graze. Northside’s proliferation of tasty restaurants is the perfect place for progressive noshing, and an event like this is the perfect way to sample most of them in a compact setting. Some of my favorites were the ceviche from Bistro Grace, the chiles rellenos from Django Western Taco, the kale and white bean dip from Park + Vine and pierogies from Babushka Pierogies (neither from Northside, but I’m not that picky), and then dessert goodies from Happy Chicks Bakery and Grateful Grahams.

Colleen McCroskey: You either wholeheartedly agree with me or think I’m insane, but I am 110 percent convinced that cheese coneys from Great American Ball Park taste LIGHT YEARS better than coneys from a regular Skyline, so I treated myself to two of them this past Friday night when we played (read: lost to) the Giants. The cheese is lighter and fluffier and the flavors of the chili seem more complex and nuanced somehow. I washed down all that deliciousness with a vodka-spiked slushie. I also happened to be sitting right next to the smoke stack that caught fire so the black billowing smoke added some nice ambience to my own personal coney-fest.

Jesse Fox: I've been on a mission to eat better and minimize my portion size the past couple weeks, but this weekend I took a break from that. This started on Saturday when I went out with my friend Erica to use up a gift card I had from Moerlein Lager House. Knowing that we had a whopping $50 of free money we decided to go wild (for two broke girls) and order a couple margaritas, an appetizer (calamari) and an entree that was more than $7. Erica went with the herb-crusted salmon and I chose their crispy balsamic tofu. After that we went up to Clifton where my band was having a house-show and finished the night out with some Bud Light Razberitas and a few PBRs.  

Katie Holocher: I, no joke, literally ate Dewey's all weekend. A calzone Friday night, those leftovers on Saturday and then another pie on Sunday. Same order every time — banana peppers and pepperoni (or BPPep as we call it in our house), with extra sides of their ranch. Furthermore, I had a delicious lemon cake, that was as equally adorably decorated, at a baby shower, made by a local gal named Sara Kenny. She calls herself the Baking Actor but I was talking to my friend who knows her and it sounds like she's getting more away from the acting side so that she can get more into the baking side. 

Sarah Urmston: This past Saturday, OTR was buzzing with action — a 5k, the City Flea, store grand openings and more; every restaurant seemed to be flooded to their very brim. I gratefully remembered The Taste of Belgium (one of my favorite breakfast places in Cincinnati) had another location off of Short Vine, not too far from the one in OTR. Our scheduled 2-hour wait turned into no wait at all as my buddies and I gathered around a high-top for some their famous waffles. Switching it up from the usual chicken and waffles I get, I ordered the Waffogato: a Belgian waffle topped with vanilla bean gelato alongside a shot of rich espresso to dip, pour or do with whatever your heart desires. It was the perfect blend of cold and hot together, with a sweet-meets-bitter taste. It was the best way to wake up and begin a Saturday.  

Casey Arnold: My boyfriend Brian and I were traveling around the suburbs checking out yard sales on Saturday when we both were hit with some painful hunger. We remembered that there was a Mexican restaurant pretty close to where we were in Maderia called Chuy's. Neither of us had ever been there or heard of it. It seemed a little gimmicky at first: hubcaps hanging from the ceiling, T-shirts for sale and general flair on the walls. When the fresh salsa came (where was our red slime?) we were pleasantly surprised. I had the bean and cheese burrito with creamy jalapeno sauce. It was delicious, but we both swore that the sauce was just ranch dressing. Brian had the stacked enchiladas which were blue corn tortillas sandwiching shredded chicken. Everything was fresh, different and so much better than an average Mexican restaurant. I posted about it on my Facebook and my Austin, Texas-transplant friends started commenting about how surprised they were that the chain made it all the way up to Cincinnati and raving about their favorite dishes. I realize I've been spending too much time downtown. 

Garin Pirnia: On Sunday, my friend and I brunched at The Palace restaurant inside The Cincinnatian Hotel. In March, they introduced Saturday and Sunday brunch (11 a.m.-2 p.m.). The restaurant wasn’t crowded or loud, so you could actually carry on a conversation. Besides their brunch menu, you can also order off their breakfast and lunch menus, so there were a lot of options such as challah bread pudding, and chicken and cornbread waffles. I had their eggs Benedict (arugula, grilled tomato, poached egg on English muffin, avocado mousse, hollandaise sauce). The eggs were a little overcooked but otherwise were good. My friend ordered the steak and eggs flatbread, which came with coffee-cured bacon. We also indulged in home fries, which were the right amount of crispy and pillow-y. The best part of their brunch menu is the inventive collection of bloody marys: a spicy lobster and shrimp gazpacho bloody that came with fresh-shaved horseradish mixed in, and chunks of lobster and shrimp on a skewer. I mean, lobster in a bloody! They also offer a Southwestern bloody (avocado, cumin, cilantro), and a Korean (kimchee, soy, ginger). You can order the bloodys singularly ($8-$11) or by the pitcher, but we refrained from doing that (maybe next time). They also make blueberry mimosas and housemade strawberry sodas. If you like a fancy (and boozy) brunch with affordable prices and food served atop white table cloths, then you need to go.
]]>
<![CDATA[Cincinnati-Filmed 'Carol' Receives Outstanding Reviews]]> The Cincinnati-filmed Carol premiered over the weekend at the Cannes Film Festival and received sterling, outstanding reviews that called it an instant Oscar contender and the most important high-profile gay drama to come out of American cinema since 2005's Brokeback Mountain. The film is in competition at Cannes.

Based on Patricia Highsmith's 1952 novel The Price of Salt and directed by Todd Haynes (Far From Heaven, I'm Not There), it features Cate Blanchett as an socialite who falls in love with a younger department-store clerk (Rooney Mara) in Manhattan. The film was shot here last year, using sites in Over-the-Rhine, Cheviot and other locales as stand-ins for a New York of old.


At Variety, the most important publication chronicling the entertainment business, critic Justin Chang said the film "should have little trouble translating critical plaudits, especially for Cate Blanchett's incandescent lead performance, into significant year-end attention.​" Variety also revealed that the distributor, Weinstein Co., has set a Dec. 18 release date for Carol, a prime opening weekend for any film with Academy Award intentions.

Here is a link to the full Variety review.

Meanwhile, at indieWire — the most influential website for the independent-film industry (Carol was produced independent of the big Hollywood studios), Eric Kohn also gave a strong rave to the film.


"Carol funnels (themes) into a nuanced tale of mutual attraction that reflects a filmmaker and cast operating at the height of their powers, rendering complex circumstances in strikingly personal terms," he said.


Besides Haynes, the only other U.S. director with a new film in competition at Cannes is Gus Van Sant, whose The Sea of Trees stars Matthew McConaughey and Ken Watanabe as two men who meet in Japan's "Suicide Forest."​ Its premiere was no so well-received — it was booed by the audience.]]>
<![CDATA[Your Weekend To Do List (5/15-5/17)]]>
Lots of things to do this weekend, from festivals and craft beer drinking to arts and film screenings. Plus, The City Flea, Carol Ann's Carousel and new OTR shop Idlewild open.

FRIDAY
Head to Bogart's for INTERPOL
Interpol’s 2002 debut Turn on the Bright Lights seemed to arrive out of nowhere, a visceral, uncommonly mature effort that channeled not only a host of Post Punk staples but also a distinct post-9/11 desolation. It was, in fact, the product of the band’s founder, guitarist and driving force Daniel Kessler’s long-simmering vision, one he formed through years of writing and playing live around New York City with frontman Paul Banks, bassist Carlos Dengler and drummer Sam Fogarino, who was the last (essential ingredient) to join the band in 2000. Thirteen years after that stirring debut, Interpol is still kicking — minus Dengler, who left after recording the band’s self-titled fourth album in 2010; Banks now serves as the group’s bassist — and still delivering its melancholic, angular brand of Indie Rock. Interpol performs at Bogart's Friday. Tickets/more info here

Maifest
Photo: Matthew Andrews Photography
Get your drink on at MAIFEST in MainStrasse
Based on the German tradition of welcoming the first spring wines, the 36th annual Maifest fills six city blocks of historic MainStrasse with food, beer and wine, and works by more than 75 artisans and craftsmen. There will also be entertainment by top local bands — 500 Miles to Memphis, Young Heirlooms, Ricky Nye and more — in the craft beer garden, with a special Kinderplatz area with rides for children and a Braxton Brewery light display at the Clock Tower Friday and Saturday night. Don’t miss the popular street chalk-drawing contest Saturday. 5-11:30 p.m. Friday; Noon-11:30 p.m. Saturday; Noon-9 p.m. Sunday. Free. MainStrasse, Sixth Street, Covington, Ky., mainstrasse.org.

The Breakfast Club
Photo: Universal Pictures
Break out the acid wash and pleated pants for a screening of THE BREAKFAST CLUB
Revisit your favorite brain, athlete, basket case, princess and criminal Friday when The Breakfast Club’s Brat Pack returns to the silver screen at the Esquire Theatre in honor of its 30th birthday. John Hughes’ high school bildungsroman might not be completely timeless, but it’s the movie’s cliché moments that make it so enduring. Forgo popcorn for Pixy Stix and don’t forget to bring your acid wash jeans and “Members Only” jackets — prizes will be given for the best ’80s costume. 10:30 p.m. Friday. $9.75. Esquire Theatre, 320 Ludlow Ave., Clifton, esquiretheatre.com.

CincItalia Festival
Binge on lasagna in a mini piazza the CINCITALIA FESTIVAL
The CincItalia festival celebrates all things Italy. You’ll find main dishes with lots of authentic Italian flavor like stromboli, lasagna, grilled spiedini and more, complete with a wide selection of wine and beer and cooking demonstrations. Visit the ladies of La Societa Fuscaldese Femminile to try their famous cannoli or enjoy lively music and a glass of vino in the mini piazza, with fountain and Tivoli lights. 6 p.m.-midnight Friday; 3 p.m.-midnight Saturday; 1-9 p.m. Sunday. Free. Harvest Home Park Fairgrounds, 3961 North Bend Road, Cheviot, cincitalia.org.

MadTree Brewing Company
Photo: Jillian Tellep
Have some beer on a paint palette at ARTS & CRAFTS
Organized by a handful of sophomore graphic design students at the University of Cincinnati’s DAAP (and with sponsorship from Modern Makers, a multidisciplinary arts collaborative), Arts & Crafts involves the consumption of local craft beer and the exhibition of up-and-coming artists — with accompanying food trucks and live music. With the expressed intent of supporting local breweries and artists in an effort to nurture the arts in the Clifton community, organizers enlisted UC students to participate as well as breweries MadTree, Rhinegeist and more. 7-9 p.m. Friday. Free. Niehoff Urban Studio, 2728 Vine St., Corryville, artsandcrafts.beer.

Put in your pin curls for CINCY SWING FEST
Put in your pin curls and break out the saddle shoes for the second annual Cincy Swing Fest. Can’t Lindy Hop? No problem. Cincy LX/Swingallery will be on hand to provide complementary dance instruction to live music from Swing Band The Makeshifts. Classic cocktails available, plus pin-up makeovers from Retrocentric. 6-10 p.m. Friday. Free. Fountain Square, Fifth and Vine streets, Downtown, myfountainsquare.com.

SATURDAY
Run the OTR 5K and then head to THE CITY FLEA for an after party
The ninth annual OTR 5k run/walk kicks off summer in the city a little early. The race begins and ends in Washington Park, with a course that takes you through historic Over-the-Rhine. Dogs and strollers welcome. Register online or in person. 10 a.m.; afterparty celebration until 4 p.m. Saturday. $30. Washington Park, 1230 Elm St., Over-the-Rhine, otrchamber.com

Curated monthly urban flea market The City Flea launches a new season Saturday at Washington Park. Keep your dollars local and support small business by shopping from hundreds of area vendors, selling everything from handmade goods and vintage finds to artisan eats and organic beauty products. Food trucks flank the park and drinks will be available from the concession stand. This month’s flea is also home to the OTR 5k afterparty. 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday. Free. 1230 Elm St., Over-the-Rhine, thecityflea.com.

Ride for free at the CAROL ANN CAROUSEL opening celebration
The public is invited to a ribbon-cutting ceremony for Carol Ann's Carousel at Smale Park on the Riverfront. Following the ceremony, the carousel will open with free rides from 1-7 p.m. Tickets will be handed out on a first come, first serve basis. Other festivities include face painters, jugglers, magicians, food carts, music and more. Ride one of 44 adorable characters — horses, frogs, elephants and more. $2 a ride after Saturday. 11 a.m. Free. North of Mehring Way at the Pichler Fountains, Downtown, cincinnatiparks.com.

Pixies
Photo: Jay Blakesberg
PIXIES play the Horseshoe Casino
History will always chiefly remember Kurt Cobain as a creator of music, not a consumer. But the Nirvana leader was also an avid advocate for his favorite groups and most cherished influences. In the posthumously released Journals, he documented his 50 favorite records. Most telling of all was his inclusion of Pixies’ Surfer Rosa in spot No. 2. That’s significant because Nirvana’s biggest hit owes a great debt to the group. Since reuniting in 2004 to tour and occasionally record (last year’s Indie Cindy was Pixies’ first album since 1991’s Trompe le Monde), the band has evolved into more of an elder statesman outfit (minus original bassist/singer Kim Deal, replaced on the group’s current tour by Paz Lenchantin, who’s worked with acts like A Perfect Circle and Zwan), showing only rare glimpses of the brilliant provocateurs of their youth. But it’s not as if the band has much more to prove; its unimpeachable impact was cemented long ago. Pixies play The Shoe at Horseshoe Casino Saturday. Tickets/more info here.

Dress as a stormtrooper at the LIBRARY COMIC CON
Move over, San Diego. The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County’s third annual Comic Con proves you can immerse yourself in countless comic book universes locally. The five-hour festival has expanded to offer a host of events, including trivia, guest panels from local cartoonists, drawing contests and a superhero training camp for kids. Have a Wonder Woman ensemble, an Iron Man outfit or suit of armor for which you haven’t yet found a socially acceptable occasion? All ages can dress up as their favorite characters to win prizes. Noon-5 p.m. Saturday. Free. Main Library, 800 Vine St., Downtown, cincinnatilibrary.org/news/2015/comiccon.

Shop at IDLEWILD, Article's new women's boutique in OTR
Over-the-Rhine men's shop Article's sister store, Idlewild, opens Saturday. Brands sold at the store include Imogene and Willie, a Nashville, Tenn.-based denim company, and Free People. The shop will also feature garments from New York designers Steven Alan and Emerson Fry, as well as accessories from a pair of Portland, Ore.-based designers Another Feather and Mazama. 11 a.m. Free. 1232 Vine St., Over-the-Rhine, facebook.com/articlemenswear.

Three Days of Rain
Photo: Untethered Theater Company
Get immersed in THREE DAYS OF RAIN at the Clifton Performance Theatre
Richard Greenberg’s Three Days of Rain is a mystery that unfolds in reverse. In Act I it’s 1995 as three adult children of two iconic New York City architects ponder the current state of their lives and what motivated their parents three decades earlier. Their conclusions, based on memory and a recently found laconic journal, make sense, but when Act II pushes back to 1960, almost everything they have hypothesized proves to be wrong. As is often the case, life was much more complicated. Continues through May 23. $25. Clifton Performance Theatre, 404 Ludlow Ave., Clifton, cliftonperformancetheatre.com.

Waite’s painting “Old School Boys Pool” is based on a swimming pool at the old School for Creative and Performing Arts. 
Check out paintings of abandoned sites in THE CINCINNATI SERIES
In his The Cincinnati Series of 29 paintings depicting depopulated city sites, Peter Waite — a Connecticut-based artist — neither celebrates nor dismisses what he sees. Rather, he just tells it like it is. His artwork is at Carl Solway Gallery in the West End through Aug. 1. If he finds something architecturally interesting to him that is also conventionally beautiful, like the suspension bridge or Union Terminal or downtown’s Isaac M. Wise Temple, he acknowledges and presents it. But if it’s something that interests him because it’s abandoned and decrepit, or it no longer serves its original use, he presents that, too. The Cincinnati Series continues at Carl Solway Gallery through Aug. 1. More info: solwaygallery.com.

SUNDAY
Price Hill Thrill
Photo: Steven Rosen
Tour the arts in Price Hill with PRICE HILL THRILL
Sunday there will be a tour of art studios and galleries in Price Hill, sponsored by the Weston Gallery. The event begins and ends at the Dunham Arts Center in the Dunham Recreation Complex and includes food, drink and entertainment by Comet Bluegrass All-Stars at a 5-7 p.m. closing reception. 2-7 p.m. Sunday. $35. 1945 Dunham Way, West Price Hill, westonartgallery.com.

Tommy Davidson
Photo: Provided
Laugh at SHAQ'S ALL STAR COMEDY JAM
Shaquille O’Neal’s All Star Comedy Jam is coming to town — get excited. Now lower the bar two notches because Shaq will not actually be there. … But raise the bar up again because comedian and actor DeRay Davis is hosting and he was on an episode of Empire. Other featured comedians include Tommy Davidson (pictured), Tony Roberts, Michael Blackson and Red Grant. Research some of their stuff on YouTube and check out the gig. The comedy franchise has featured some of the top urban comedians in the country and has been televised annually since 2009. 7:30 p.m. Sunday. $45.25-$92.25. Aronoff Center, 650 Walnut St., Downtown, cincinnatiarts.org.

Henry V
Photo: J. Sheldon Photo
Catch a matinee of a different Game of Thrones with HENRY V at Cincy Shakes
If you’re a fan of Game of Thrones, you might want to tune in to Cincinnati Shakespeare Company, which is working its way through the real thing presenting Shakespeare’s eight history plays in chronological order over the span of five years. Up next is Henry V, in which the profligate Prince Hal has succeeded his bellicose father and sobered up to the bad state of affairs in England. He rallies the troops and his loyal partisans by declaring war on France. Against great resistance, using powerful speeches he pulls the kingdom together. Justin McCombs continues in this fascinating role. Through May 30. $14-$36. 719 Race St., Downtown, 513-381-2273, cincyshakes.com.

Quiet Company
Photo: Leah Muse
Austin, Texas' QUIET COMPANY play the Southgate House
With an instantly, insistently catchy Indie Pop/Rock sound that has drawn comparisons to the likes of Weezer and Death Cab for Cutie, Austin, Texas’ Quiet Company has seen its national profile rise considerably with the release of each new album, including this year’s excellent Transgressor. The group (which features former Cincinnatian and CityBeat employee Matt Parmenter on bass) is already a dominant force in its hometown scene. In its nearly decade-long history, Quiet Company has scored 12 Austin Music Awards, including Best Rock Band at the 2015 ceremony. But the acclaim isn’t limited to Austin — Time, Paste, The New York Times and numerous other national outlets have heaped praise on Quiet Company, and the group’s fanbase continues to grow thanks to regular touring and an explosive live show. 8 p.m. Sunday. $10; $12 day of. Southgate House Revival, 111 E. Sixth St., Newport, Ky., southgatehouse.com.


]]>
<![CDATA[Stage Door: Take a Trip to Ireland?]]>

If you debating which show you might go see this weekend, my strong recommendation is Ensemble Theatre's Outside Mullingar (ETC, 5/6-24). It's a great script by John Patrick Shanley (who wrote the award-winning play Doubt and the award-winning screenplay Moonstruck). It's set in Ireland, so the characters are overflowing with dry wit. And the actors playing them are a quartet of the performers who Cincinnati audiences love: Joneal Joplin (Scrooge for many years at the Playhouse) is a crusty old man who might not pass the family farm on to his more sensitive son, played by Cincinnati Shakespeare's artistic director Brian Phillips. Dale Hodges, a respected local stage veteran, plays Aiofe, the owner of an adjacent farm; Jenn Joplin (Joneal's daughter) is Aoife's grumpy, opinionated daughter. This is a tale of parents and children, but there's a lovely, stumbling love story at the heart of the play, and it's that's emotionally satisfying. The production was staged by Ed Stern, now retired as the Cincinnati Playhouse's artistic director. It's onstage through May 24. Tickets: 513-421-3555.


Brian Phillips did double-duty recently rehearsing to perform inOutside Mullingar while staging  Henry V at Cincy Shakes. As the title suggests, this is one of the Bard's history plays, and it's a chest-thumping one about warfare and England's claim to power. The company is midway through a multi-year project to stage all of Shakespeare's tales of the kings of England in chronological order. That might sound a tad stodgy, but this one is full of fighting and bluster, and there's a thread of comic relief, too. Let's call it the Shakespearean equivalent of an action movie. It's onstage throughMay 30. Tickets: 513-381-2273.


You'll find two plays worth seeing at the Cincinnati Playhouse this weekend. One just opened last night (I haven't seen it yet): It's Annie Baker's award-winner, Circle Mirror Transformation, about some folks taking an acting class at a community center. Their lessons about performing expand to be come life lessons. It's a warm, thoughtful play in the Shelterhouse. On the Marx mainstage, you'll find the very funny Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, inspired by Chekhov but from the zany perspective of Christopher Durang, you don't need any theater history to be laughing out loud as three adult siblings from a dysfunctional family try to keep their balance. Tickets: 513-421-3888.


If you're eagerly awaiting the start of the Cincinnati Fringe (it kicks off on May 26), you should stop by Know Theatre for the American premiere of the Bane Trilogy with performances this weekend and next. It's three monologues about a guy who shoots first and doesn't ask questions in a one-musician film noir comic trilogy. You can experience them sequentially or out of order. Performer Joe Bone is the Guinness world record holder for the most characters portrayed by one actor in a performance; he's accompanied musically by Ben Roe. This show has a heavy-duty buzz: People were telling me about it weeks ago, so I'm sharing the news with you — although I haven't fit it into my schedule yet. It's running for two more weeks. Tickets: 513-300-5669.


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



]]>
<![CDATA[Weekenders: What We're Doing This Weekend]]>

Each week CityBeat staffers share their weekend plans: from dinner and drinks or special events to out-of-town concerts and stories we're working on. And some of us just watch TV.

Mike Breen: I’m planning on going to see Pixies at Horseshoe Casino Saturday night. I was actually fortunate enough to see them “back in the day,” before their breakup in the early ’90s. It was 1989, so their classic Doolittle album had been recently released, and they were touring with Love and Rockets, who had just had their first real “hit” with the song “So Alive.” The bands played at Riverfront Coliseum (now U.S. Bank Arena) when the arena was doing concerts in what they called a “theatre” setting (basically putting the stage in the middle of the venue facing one side, selling tickets only for half the arena, so it was slightly more “intimate” than the bigger shows there). My memories of the show are foggy, but I remember being a big fan of both bands at the time and being satisfied with the concert overall. My most vivid memory is of Kim Deal — when she sang, her mouth formed what looked like a big Cheshire Cat grin that beamed all the way up to our nose-bleed seats. (And I think Love and Rockets’ Daniel Ash came out in drag for their “So Alive” encore.)

I also saw Pixies towards the beginning of their lengthy reunion run, in 2005 at Lollapalooza in Chicago, and it was a great set. It was cool to see them reap some of the rewards of their vast influence on the music that led to the creation of Lollapalooza in the first place. And it was amazing to see the over-the-top response from the wide-age-ranging audience. 

The Pixies seemed to be solely doing these reunion tours for the money for a few years too long — they’d been a reunion band longer than they were an actual band, before they finally started making new music again (which is actually pretty good). This will be my first time seeing them without Deal, which will be odd. Add the fact that this is a casino concert (which doesn’t have the stigma it once did, especially at Horseshoe, but still …) and I’m mostly just really curious to see how it all goes down. It should be appropriately surreal.

Nick Swartsell: I'm heading to Chicago to catch a few friends' art show Friday and then, on Saturday, to watch Dan Deacon at Thalia Hall. The venue is super-rad. It's a 122-year-old hall in the Pilsen neighborhood modeled after the Prague Opera House. The building contains a punch house, a crazy-ornate performance space, a restaurant and a lot of history. Interesting fact: In the early 20th century, Pilsen had more people from Bohemia than anywhere else besides Prague. In 1915, a group of Bohemian activists drafted documents in Thalia Hall that would prove to be the beginnings of an independent Czechoslovakian state. Crazy stuff. I'll just be dancing my face off to the weirdness that is Dan Deacon, though, not helping helping to create any nations or anything.

Jesse Fox: This weekend is one I've been looking forward to for awhile. On Saturday my band [The Slippery Lips] is playing a show with a band I really like from LA called FIDLAR. I have friends coming down from Chicago and up from Florida to see it, which makes it even more exciting/flattering. Anticipating we will have a pretty fun-filled and wild Saturday, I haven't made any plans for Sunday yet … except perhaps continuing my binge watching of ​Community now that I have a Hulu Plus account and will likely be useless to the world otherwise.

Editorial Intern Sarah Urmston: My weekend begins getting dragged by my buddy Andrew to see Pitch Perfect 2 at Newport on the Levee, where luckily they serve alcoholic beverages to get me through it. I will also be checking out a house to lease for the upcoming year, saying bye-bye to good old Clifton Heights. Woo-hoo! I am especially anxious to spend Saturday afternoon in OTR, where they will be kicking off the 2015 City Flea in Washington Park. I can't wait to spend money I don't have on vintage/handmade items sold by local vendors and check out the grand opening of style boutique Idlewild Woman! Sunday I'll check out Crossroad's weekly message at Bogarts in Clifton. Church in a bar? Coolest way to end a weekend. 

Editorial Intern Zack Hatfield: I’m heading over to City Flea on Saturday after inhaling brunch at a to-be-determined OTR restaurant I probably can’t afford (a weekend ritual). The flea always has interesting wares — Fern frequently has a snazzy selection of succulents and cacti worth browsing — so good that my apartment has of late turned into a sort of mini-terrarium/cactus shrine. At the risk of sounding nostalgic, I’ll probably check out the Butterflies of the Philippines at Krohn Conservatory on Sunday — I haven’t seen that since I was a kid, and there’s something badass about being surrounded by thousands of butterflies that span the colors of the rainbow. I guess my inner lepidopterist just can’t resist. ]]>
<![CDATA[Councilman Sittenfeld Backs Marijuana Legalization Amendment]]>

Cincinnati City Councilman and U.S. Senate Candidate P.G. Sittenfeld has come out in support of a ballot initiative that would legalize marijuana in Ohio.

The proposed amendment to the Ohio constitution by ResponsibleOhio would allow anyone in the state over 21 to buy marijuana but would restrict commercial growth to 10 sites around the state owned by the group's investors.

[See also: "Going for the Green," CityBeat Feb. 4 2015]

Sittenfeld told reporters in Columbus today that Ohio's marijuana laws are "broken" and that he favors legalization and regulation of the drug. Sittenfeld cited the disproportionate number of people of color jailed over marijuana violations in the U.S. and the dangerous black market for the drug as reasons he supports legalization. 

"We have a binary choice between do we want to take this opportunity to move forward from the broken laws of the past, and I would vote yes on this opportunity," Sittenfeld said.

Sittenfeld is the first city councilman to come out in support for the ballot initiative, which needs to collect more than 300,000 signatures by July in order to make it onto the November ballot. The group says it is well on its way to that goal. But some controversy has erupted, both from conservative lawmakers and other legalization groups. Conservatives like Gov. John Kasich and Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine say that legalization will increase drug usage and crime. Other legalization advocates, on the other hand, decry ResponsibleOhio's proposal as a state-sanctioned monopoly on marijuana.

The group's initial proposal did not allow private growers to cultivate marijuana, but after an outcry from legalization supporters, the group amended its proposal to allow for small amounts of the crop to be grown for personal use.

The group's proposal has garnered an interesting mix of supporters and investors, from basketball Hall of Famer Oscar Robertson, who has pitched in money for the effort, to conservative-leaning business leaders and officials. Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters recently said he supports at least looking into  legalization of marijuana, calling Ohio's drug laws "archaic." Deters stopped short of endorsing ResponsibleOhio's plan. He is heading up a task force studying the implications of legalizing the drug here.

Recreational marijuana use is legal in four states, and 19 others allow medicinal use.

Sittenfeld made the comments as he is campaigning for big promotion. The 30-year-old city councilman is currently locked in a tough Democratic primary race against former Ohio Governor Ted Strickland for the chance to run against GOP incumbent Sen. Rob Portman in 2016.

]]>
<![CDATA[I Just Can't Get Enough]]> Nick Offerman and Megan Mullally were in town this weekend for a performance on their Summer of 69: No Apostrophe tour. You may know them as Ron Swanson and Tammy Two from Parks and Recreation, and Megan will be forever immortalized as Karen from Will & Grace, and the two are actually married in real life. The show could best be described as part-comedy, part musical sextacular.

The two went back and forth between talking about how they each lost their virginity, how they met and when they got married and singing raunchy songs about stuff like 69ing and gang-banging Jesus. Nick played guitar and Megan played ukulele.

They also got the audience involved. A couple came onstage for a Newlyweds Game-style bit that was predictable but funny. After Nick and Megan shared a longtime argument with the crowd and we picked sides (Megan won!), she decided it was time to see what else was out there and picked a single guy from the audience to go on a date with her onstage. I have no idea who this dude was — Was he planted there? A rising local comic? Just a random guy with impeccable comedic timing? — but he was probably the most hilarious guest to be brought on stage in all of standup comedy. He played along with Megan’s advances and threw shade at Nick (sadly providing music on their date). He may have gone solo to the show but there is no doubt in my mind he found a ladyfriend that night.

All in all, it was a gut-busting, nasty but also super sweet 90-minute show. THEY’RE SO IN LOVE!

Of note: Nick looked just as expected, dressed in a flannel shirt and jeans, but he was sans mustache (just some overall stubble) and had a cool, new undercut hairstyle going on (that one that every dude has now); I don’t know how I expected Megan to be dressed but I was surprised to see her in JNCO-style wide leg jeans and a casual T-shirt (reason No. 564 why she’s my hero); they ended the performance with a dance number to Carly Simon’s “Nobody Does it Better,” which ended with Nick apparently hurting himself, as evidenced by a facial expression of pain followed by limping offstage. Hope you’re OK, Nick!

Check out our interview with Nick Offerman here.

Ever notice the way Owen Wilson says, “Wo-oow” in movies? Here are all of those times.

A new American Idol was crowned last night and I don’t care who the winner was (it’s this guy) because it’s not Jess Lamb. But it is worth noting that next season of Idol — its 16th — will be the last. I wish it was because everyone realized that televised music competitions are complete bullshit (case in point: JESS LAMB), but it’s probably just because everyone likes The Voice better.

Also in the cancellation club: The Mindy Project, which is a goddamn crime. Mindy Kaling is a goddess and the show was really hitting a great stride (despite Adam Pally leaving — love that guy) and the last season ended with Mindy (the character) very pregnant and baby daddy Danny traveling to India to meet her parents. Thankfully, there’s chatter about the show moving to Hulu. Other shows hat bit the bust this year include Backstrom, CSI (after 15 years!), The Following, Marry Me, Mulaney, Revenge, Selfie and Weird Loners.

Feminist icon Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is getting a biopic and Natalie Portman will star as a young Notorious RBG.

Miley Cyrus’ brother Trace (known best for dating Disney person Brenda Song and being in Metro Station, the band responsible for this song that played on repeat in every Journeys across America in 2008) was supposedly denied entrance to an area bar over the weekend. Trace posted a video on Instagram claiming Brothers Bar & Grill at Newport on the Levee — in his home state — would not let him in due to his excessive tattoos. I don’t know what’s more hilariously pathetic: people complaining about businesses on social media; a celeb sibling partying in freaking Newport; said person being denied access to a bar in Newport; the fact that Brothers has any sort of limits on the types of people that can enter; or the last sentence of this story

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

Hey all! I’m going to do a long news blog today. I won’t be doing the blog tomorrow or next week, as I need to burn up the vacation time I have before it expires and my boss says I’m not allowed to work while I’m not working. Tyranny, I say. Anyway, let's get all caught up before I jet.

The big news today is that the Cincinnati Enquirer is looking for a new top editor. Executive Editor Carolyn Washburn’s last day was yesterday, the Enquirer announced today. Washburn’s departure follows former publisher Margaret Buchanan, who left her post in March and was replaced by one-time Enquirer editor Rick Green. Washburn’s tenure saw the Enquirer shed a number of its long-time reporters and copy editors as part of parent company Gannett’s efforts to move toward the so-called “newsroom of the future.” That sounds like some cool, gee-wiz place where reporters fly around on hover boards and drive DeLoreans at 88 mph to break news two days before it happens, but don’t be fooled. It’s actually similar to a regular corporate newsroom, just with no copy editors and more typos. The Enquirer says Washburn will stay in town but has not revealed the circumstances behind her departure or what she’ll be doing next.

• Yesterday City Manager Harry Black unveiled his proposed $2.1 billion budget for 2016-2017. We’re still combing through that 769-page document, but we can give you the highlights. Disappointingly, there are very few pictures in the budget, though there are a lot of graphs. Facial hair growth for certain elected city officials, for example, is on the uptrend. Speaking of Mayor John Cranley, he's backed the budget, suggesting council pass it without amendment. Chances of that happening are on a sharp downtrend, however.

Human services will see $3.7 million in funding under the budget. Some of that will go toward Cranley’s Hand Up initiative and the city-county joint initiative Strategies to End Homelessness. Meanwhile, the $250,000 the city allocated in the last budget to Cradle Cincinnati to fight infant mortality disappears in this budget, and mega-charity funder United Way will get only about half of the $3 million council wanted.

Police and fire are prioritized in the spending plan, with increases that will bring 23 more officers and to Cincinnati’s streets. The budget also proposes big fixes for Cincinnati’s roads over the next five years and the city’s vehicle fleet over the next 12, spending $172 million on the paving alone over that time and another $35 million on vehicles. The plan is to get 85 percent of the city’s roads in good condition. Right now, about half are in poor shape. The city will take on nearly $91 million in debt in the process, though Black says the ratio of debt to cash used in this part of the capital budget is still prudent and that the investments will save the city millions over time. 

This is just the first step in the long, sometimes grinding, budget process. We'll keep you up to date as council wrangles with the spending plan and also go in-depth ourselves.

• What else? Things are happening on the state’s voting rights front. We’ll be going in depth on that soon, but here’s some stuff to know: Hot on the heals of a settlement between Ohio and the NAACP on early voting last month, another lawsuit has been filed against the state alleging that its rules disadvantage voters who mostly skew Democrat, low-income and minority. That suit has been filed by Hillary Clinton's top campaign attorney. Meanwhile, there’s a bill in the General Assembly that would require voters to have a voter identification card. Ohioans who make above the federal poverty level (about $12,000 for a single person) would have to pay $8.50 under the proposed law for the card. Critics say that amounts to a poll tax and is unconstitutional. The fight is a big deal, as Ohio is a vital swing state in the 2016 presidential election.

Other politics tidbits:

• Republican Hamilton County Commissioner Chris Monzel wanted to fire County Administrator Christian Sigman over Sigman’s recent comments about The Banks, even drafting a press release announcing the administrator’s departure. Sigman’s job was spared at the last minute, however; Republican Commissioner Greg Hartmann didn’t want to see Sigman dismissed, and Democrat Todd Portune began crafting a compromise. Sigman was taken off economic development duties instead of losing his job, according to the commissioners.

• Real quick, but noteworthy: U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, a GOP presidential hopeful, is polling neck and neck with Democratic prez frontrunner Hillary Clinton in Kentucky, at least according to one new poll.

• Meanwhile, Ohio Gov. John Kasich is down one endorsement for his presidential bid: Ohio Treasurer and fellow Republican Josh Mandel has announced he’s endorsing U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida. Awkward.

• On the national stage, U.S. Sherrod Brown of Ohio is fighting with the White House over comments President Barack Obama made about U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren. Warren has been criticizing Obama on what she says is a NAFTA-esque foreign trade deal. She alleges that the Trans Pacific Partnership deal will cost Americans jobs and shouldn’t give so-called “fast track” status to trade deals with other countries. The White House slammed Warren on that assertion, and Brown says their comments about her were disrespectful. Brown has also been fighting the trade legislation package, lobbying other Democrats in the Senate to block it from passage without amendments he says are designed to protect American workers. That’s led to some tension between the White House and Brown. The White House has asked the senator to apologize for his remarks about Obama’s remarks about Warren. Uh, got that? It’s starting to get to GOP levels of in-fighting over there.

That's it for me. See you in a week or so. Tweet at me or email me while I'm gone. Fair warning: I won't check the email but I might see the tweet.

]]>
<![CDATA[Cincinnati Art Museum's James Crump Re-Emerges with a New Film]]>

James Crump, the Cincinnati Art Museum's chief curator/photography curator who was a key figure in the planning and programming of the first FotoFocus festival in 2012 and then resigned from the museum in early 2013, has re-emerged as the director of a new documentary, Troublemakers: The Story of Land Art.

It tells the story, with plenty of archival footage, of three restless New York artists in the who — as part of the 1960s/1970s rebellion against materialistic values sweeping American culture — sought to create epic art that was one with the outdoor environment, especially in the open and hard-to-access spaces of the west. That, they thought, would make it hard to buy and own.

Robert Smithson created "Spiral Jetty" in Utah, Walter De Maria made New Mexico's "Lightning Field," and Michael Heizer did "Double Negative" in Utah and is still working on "City." (The other two are deceased.)

Other artists featured in the film are Nancy Holt (who has an environmental artwork at Miami University), Dennis Oppenheim, Carl Andre and Vito Acconci.

In an exchange of emails with CityBeat, Crump said he is hoping for the film to show at festivals and then get a limited theatrical release in fall, followed by availability on other distribution platforms. He also said his sales agent, Submarine Entertainment, represented Citizenfour and Finding Vivien Maier.

Before coming to Cincinnati, Crump made a documentary about Robert Mapplethorpe's relationship to Sam Wagstaff, Black White + Gray.

He has provided CityBeat with a link to Troublemakers' trailer:


Trailer courtesy Summitridge Pictures. © RSJC LLC, 2015.

]]>
<![CDATA[This Week's Dining Events ]]>
This week's dining events and cooking classes — beer dinners, German dance parties, crawfish boils, wine tastings and more.

WEDNESDAY 13

Wine Tasting and Food Pairing — 20 Brix pairs food and wine in a winemaker dinner with Matt Flick and La Crema. 6:30 p.m. $55-$75. 20 Brix, 100 Main St., Milford, 20brix.com.

Taste of the World Food Tour — Take a guided foodie tour of Ohio’s oldest public market, Findlay Market. Includes stops and tastings at six merchants. 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Wednesdays; 3-4:30 p.m. Saturdays. $20. Meets at Daisy Mae’s Market at Findlay Market, 1801 Race St., Over-the-Rhine, cincinnatifoodtours.com.

Burger and Beer Wednesdays — A burger and a pint for $10. 9:30 p.m.-midnight. Fifty West Brewing Company, 7668 Wooster Pike, Mariemont, fiftywestbrew.com.


THURSDAY 14
Midwest Culinary Institute Wine Dinner — A five-course paired wine dinner from the students of the Midwest Culinary Institute and Seifried Estate Winery. 6:30 p.m. $60. Summit Restaurant at the Midwest Culinary Institute, 3520 Central Parkway, Clifton, culinary.cincinnatistate.edu.

Chicken: Season, Sear & Sauce — On the menu: ginger lemongrass chicken, chicken paillard with white wine cream sauce, and curry chicken with jasmine rice. 6-8 p.m. $75. The Learning Kitchen, 7659 Cox Lane, West Chester, thelearningkitchen.com.

FRIDAY 15
CincItalia Festival — The CincItalia festival celebrates all things Italy. You’ll find main dishes with lots of authentic Italian flavor like stromboli, lasagna, grilled spiedini and more, complete with a wide selection of wine and beer and cooking demonstrations. Visit the ladies of La Societa Fuscaldese Femminile to try their famous cannoli or enjoy lively music and a glass of vino in the mini piazza, with fountain and Tivoli lights. 6 p.m.-midnight Friday; 3 p.m.-midnight Saturday; 1-9 p.m. Sunday. Free. Harvest Home Park Fairgrounds, 3961 North Bend Road, Cheviot, cincitalia.org.

Modern Makers Arts & Crafts — Organized by a handful of sophomore graphic design students at the University of Cincinnati’s DAAP (and with sponsorship from Modern Makers, a multidisciplinary arts collaborative), Arts & Crafts involves the consumption of local craft beer and the exhibition of up-and-coming artists — with accompanying food trucks and live music. With the expressed intent of supporting local breweries and artists in an effort to nurture the arts in the Clifton community, organizers enlisted UC students to participate as well as breweries MadTree, Rhinegeist and more. 7-9 p.m. Friday. Free. Niehoff Urban Studio, 2728 Vine St., Corryville, artsandcrafts.beer

Date Night in the Kitchen — Celebrate the bounty of spring through romantic culinary creations with your loved one. After cooking, enjoy a candle-lit dinner with wine. 6:30-8:30 p.m. $60/couple. The Baker Hunt Art & Cultural Center, 620 Greenup St., Covington, Ky., 859-431-0020, bakerhunt.org.

Nacht Der Tracht — The third Friday of the month the Christian Moerlein Taproom hosts a German dance party. Dress in dirndls and lederhosen and dance to Electro DJs. 8 p.m.-midnight. No cover. 1621 Moore St., Over-the-Rhine, facebook.com/christianmoerlein.

SATURDAY 16
Mt. Carmel Firkin Festival — Mt. Carmel celebrates a decade with a Firkin Festival. Features food booths, food trucks, live music and special small-batch beer. Noon-9 p.m. Free. Mt. Carmel Taproom, 4362 Mt. Carmel-Tobasco Road, Mount Carmel, mtcarmelbrewingcompany.com.

East Price Hill Jazz Fest Crawfish Boil — This crawfish boil — crawfish, potatoes, corn boiled up in a pot and served — is a fundraiser for the Jazz festival. 6 p.m. $20 donation. Warsaw Project Space, 3116 Warsaw Ave., East Price Hill, facebook.com/eastpricehilljazzfest.

Simple Health-Smart Cooking Class — An informal and interactive class to learn how to prepare and cook healthy and tasty meals. 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. $139. Cincinnati Nutrition Counseling Center, 7400 Montgomery Road, uc.edu/ce/commu.html.

Cincy Wine Wagon — Hop on the wagon and take a tour of Cincinnati area wineries: Valley Vineyards, Meier's Wine Cellars, Vinoklet Winery and Henke Winery. Ride includes wine trivia, tours and tastings on a four hour trip. Meets at 11:40 a.m. at Maggiano's Little Italy at the Kenwood Towne Centre. Starts at $75. Private tours available. cincywinewagon.com.

SUNDAY 17
Dewey's Pizza School — Learn to toss a pizza from Dewey's pizza experts. Proceeds benefit Make-A-Wish. 11 a.m.-2 p.m. $25. 3014 Madison Road, Oakley, deweyspizza.com.

MONDAY 18

Cincinnati Food + Wine Classic Good Spirits — Get a sneak peak of September’s second annual Cincinnati Food + Wine Classic at Good Spirits, a paired cocktail dinner party featuring mixology and bites from the crew at Metropole. The party will be held at New Riff Distillery’s bar and outdoor patio, and will celebrate the recent release of the distillery’s Kentucky Wild Gin. Cincinnati Food + Wine Classic will also release the names of local, regional and national chefs, beverage experts, winemakers and storytellers booked for their 2015 event. 6-8 p.m. Monday. $25. 24 Distillery Way, Newport, Ky., cincinnatifoodandwineclassic.com.


TUESDAY 19

Crawfish Boil — BrewRiver GastroPub flies crawfish in from Louisiana for a weekly Tuesday night crawfish boil. Buy them by the pound; includes potato, mushroom and sausage. $15 per pound. 2062 Riverside Drive, East End, brewrivergastropub.com.


How to Make a Steak — Precinct sous chef John Ruppel teaches this class. 6:30-9 p.m. $65. Cooks’Wares, 11344 Montgomery Road, Harper’s Point, cookswaresonline.com.


Homemade Pasta Workshop — Chef Bridget Lieb will teach you to make your own linguini using an Italian manual countertop pasta machine, and then finish it with a delicious Sauce. Noon-2 p.m. $70. The Learning Kitchen, 7659 Cox lane, West Chester, 513-847-4474, thelearningkitchen.com.


Lebanese Favorites — Learn some family-recipe Lebanese cuisine from Rita Heikenfeld, and learn some tips for growing the best produce, flower and herbs in containers or in the ground from Ron Wilson. 11 a.m.-1:30 p.m. $50. Jungle Jim’s, 5440 Dixie Highway, Fairfield, junglejims.com.


WEDNESDAY 20

Clean Eating & Label Reading — Chef Bridget Lieb will discuss what clean eating actually is and how to spot processed ingredients. In class you will prepare a soul-warming chicken soup with avocado, egg-fried quinoa with chicken, and snap peas with shallots. Noon-2 p.m. $65. The Learning Kitchen, 7659 Cox lane, West Chester, 513-847-4474, thelearningkitchen.com.


Lebanese Favorites — Learn some family-recipe Lebanese cuisine from Rita Heikenfeld. 6-8:30 p.m. $65. Jungle Jim’s, 5440 Dixie Highway, Fairfield, junglejims.com.


Taste of the World Food Tour — Take a guided foodie tour of Ohio’s oldest public market, Findlay Market. Includes stops and tastings at six merchants. 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Wednesdays; 3-4:30 p.m. Saturdays. $20. Meets at Daisy Mae’s Market at Findlay Market, 1801 Race St., Over-the-Rhine, cincinnatifoodtours.com.


May Beer Dinner at Christian Moerlein — A paired beer dinner featuring brews from Revolution Brewing. 6 p.m. $55. Moerlein Lager House, 115 Joe Nuxhall Way, The Banks, Downtown, facebook.com/moerleinlagerhouse.


Burger and Beer Wednesdays — A burger and a pint for $10. 9:30 p.m.-midnight. Fifty West Brewing Company, 7668 Wooster Pike, Mariemont, fiftywestbrew.com.


THURSDAY 21

Pints for Paint — #PintsforPaint is a fundraising effort to benefit Memorial Hall's renovations; buy a drink, the money goes to Memorial Hall. 6 p.m. Free; buy alcohol. Memorial Hall, 1225 Elm St., Over-the-Rhine, facebook.com/events/425141254331782.

]]>
<![CDATA[Beyond Idol Chatter: On to the Next Chapter]]>

Since Jess Lamb’s time on American Idol, she has been busy getting her name and brand out in the public eye. She has played constantly at venues old and new, teamed up with other local musicians for projects and made many TV and radio appearances around Cincinnati. Up until this point, her output has been largely live performances and outreach. But now that her contract with American Idol is in its final month, she is taking the next step to continue growing in her career, starting with the release of her first single to radio on March 30.

The single, “Memories,” should be familiar to most of Lamb’s fans already. 

“This is a song that I’ve released through iTunes and performed as an indie artist, with just a simple, master mix in 2010,” Lamb says. However, the song has been updated and revitalized by superstar producer David Sisko.

Sisko has worked with artists like Justin Timberlake, Destiny’s Child and Kelly Clarkson, just to name a few. What sets his version of the track apart from the original is twofold. First, Sisko has an obvious ear for what makes a Pop song successful. The new version is fuller, with layered vocals (all recorded by Lamb) and thicker instrumentation. Sisko also worked in hooks that loop into the listener’s ear and don’t let go. When the guitar and bass drop out for a chorus, leaving only a tribal drum beat and Lamb’s vocals, it becomes obvious that the song could easily find a home on any Pop radio station across the country.

The second change that Sisko brought to the table was his eagerness and ability to produce Lamb’s vocals, which she has never experienced before. 

“I’ve never had someone say, ‘I want to produce your vocals.’ I’ve been putting music out since 2010 and no one has ever said, ‘Why don’t you try this Jess,’ ” Lamb says. 

What results is a track wherein Lamb’s already powerful vocals are tuned to a fine edge. Sisko put great care into keeping the heart of the track intact to craft a song that maintains the original’s sultry ambience, but dials up the energy to more Pop-friendly levels.

While Lamb is excited at the proposition of turning her originals into more Pop-friendly versions, she is taking great care to insure that the end results stay in her control.

“I own that master and I plan to own each master. It’s kind of hard with the money to keep up,” Lamb says.

This isn’t a normal practice for most musicians, especially for acts like Lamb who aren’t rolling around in platinum record-levels of money. But she is adamant on maintaining a handle on what is released under her name. 

“I’m really starting to buy into the really independent artist. I’m going to own my master, which is a big deal. I could have done this with Sisko and signed a production deal, which is what most everyone does. They don’t have the money so they sign a production deal and he owns that master,” she says.

Lamb plans on releasing remixed versions of her songs throughout the summer, with “Dig Deep” following shortly after the release of “Memories.” She is set on putting out each track the same way, utilizing the contacts she has made over the past months to release each track without any sort of major label or other interference. She is ascribing to the indie artist mentality from beginning to end and insuring that the music that is put out under her name is something she truly believes in and cares about.

Ultimately, this is just the beginning of what Lamb hopes to do once she is released from American Idol’s contract (which limits certain industry/career moves). The groundwork that she has laid in the preceding months will finally have more building blocks laid upon them at the end of May and “Memories” is just the first stone of many. Ultimately, she wants to stay stationed in Cincinnati and grow her career from the city she calls home. Whether she performs her works herself or passes them to other artists is up in the air at this point, but one outcome could easily feed into the other. 

“I have songs that I’m sitting on that could be reproduced for other artists, because I really do want to make a living writing and performing. That’s where my heart is. That’s where I feel that I shine the most and I feel like I’m being backed in those ways,” Lamb says.

In many ways, “Memories” is simultaneously a finish line and a starting point for Lamb. It shows just how far she has come since the Kansas City tryouts on American Idol, but it is also her springboard into a much larger and more demanding pool. But with a world-class producer working with her, a city full of supporters behind her and her own raw talent, she’s determined to make a big splash.

Nick Grever’s Beyond Idol Chatter blogs follow the post-American Idol activities, career moves and achievements of Cincinnati vocalist Jess Lamb. 

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

Hey hey. Let’s do this news thing real quick.

 

After the whole hubbub around Mayor John Cranley’s veto of the OTR parking permit plan last week, it seems like a strange question to ask, but here we go: Does the mayor need more power? According to the Cincinnati Enquirer, Councilman Christopher Smitherman is working to get an initiative on the ballot that would do just that. Sort of. Smitherman’s months-long advocacy for moving Cincinnati to a so-called “executive mayor” system is about accountability, he says, not about giving away more power. Under Smitherman’s proposed changes, the city would eliminate the city manager position and the mayor would assume the responsibilities of that office — hiring and firing department heads, etc. The mayor would also retain veto power and still attend council meetings, but council would select its own president (currently the mayor’s job), who would select committee heads and make council’s agenda, effectively eliminating the mayor’s power to “pocket veto” legislation.  


Other members of council, including Councilman Kevin Flynn, who is helping oversee a review of the city’s charter, are opposed to the executive mayor idea. Flynn’s Charter Review Committee has been meeting for months, kicking around ideas for ways to reorganize Cincinnati’s unusual power structure. The city’s current system creates the strongest mayor of any major city in the country, the committee has said. The committee has its own recommendations for ways to change city government, including requiring the mayor to pass along all legislation to city council committees within 14 days, ending the so-called "pocket veto." The committee would also like to see council given the power to fire the city manager. The Charter Review Committee has been holding public input sessions around the city. The next two are at the Westwood Town Hall May 14 and the Oakley Senior Center May 18. Both sessions start at 6 pm.


• Is Joe Deters cool with legalizing weed? Another sign marijuana legalization in Ohio is moving toward the mainstream: The Hamilton County Prosecutor is leading a taskforce looking into the law enforcement ramifications of legalizing the drug. Marijuana legalization group ResponsibleOhio approached Deters about the study, though Deters says he’s not doing it to simply endorse the group’s legalization proposal. ResponsibleOhio wants to legalize the sale of marijuana to anyone age 21 or over, but the group's ballot initiative would limit growth of the crop to 10 sites around the state.


Deters has expressed frustration with the current legal setup for dealing with marijuana and ambivalence about the drug being illegal.

 

I've seen firsthand how ineffective and inefficient marijuana laws are,” Deters said in a statement about the task force. “I strongly believe we must have an honest and in-depth assessment of the positive and negative impacts that legalization can have, so that Ohioans can make an informed decision."

 

The taskforce includes elected officials, experts on drug policy and academics. The group will develop a white paper outlining policy recommendations on ways to improve laws governing marijuana in the state.

 

• Don’t do lame stuff with your garbage or you may get fined, according to changes in the city of Cincinnati's garbage pickup policy. In the days leading up to June 1, city sanitation workers will be hanging orange tags on garbage that is improperly prepared. Before May 17, they’ll still haul the trash away but leave the tag as a reminder. After that date, you’ll have to correct whatever problem you have with your trash and call 591-6000 to get it picked up, but you won’t have to pay a fine. After June starts, however, residents who don’t have their trash in order can be fined anywhere from $50 to $2,000. The low end of that range is for folks who just used the wrong can or other minor violations. The high end is for improperly disposed construction debris and other heavy stuff. You can read the criteria for improper trash here. The sanitation department says the fines are necessary to keep trash pick up efficient and effective.

 

• Cincinnati Public School District’s Walnut Hills High School is the number one school in Ohio, according to a new ranking from U.S. News and World Report. Overall, Walnut is the 65th best high school in the nation according to the ranking. Four other area schools also landed in the top 10 of the statewide rankings, including Indian Hill High School, which came in at number two.

 

• So Bill Murray might be spending a little less time partying in Austin and more time in Cincinnati. That’s because his son, Luke Murray, has landed a job as an assistant coach for Xavier University’s men’s basketball program. The younger Murray has held several coaching jobs in college basketball and was last at the University of Rhode Island as an assistant coach. Xavier head basketball coach Chris Mack has called Murray “one of the top young assistant coaches in the America.” Sounds good. Word is, his dad comes to a lot of the games the younger Murray coaches. Let’s hope the Coffee and Cigarettes and Groundhog Day star hangs out here on occasion, and maybe brings a Wu-Tang Clan member with him.

]]>
<![CDATA[Leftovers: What We Ate This Weekend]]>
Each week CityBeat staffers, dining writers and the occasional intern tell you what they ate this weekend. We're not always proud — or trendy — but we definitely spend at least some money on food. 

Ilene Ross: On Friday night I was “ordered” by the boy and his friend to pick up pizza from Goodfellas on my way home. Ham and pineapple for the boy, sausage for his friend, and a Taste of Naples for me — tomatoes, basil and fresh mozzarella. Simple yet satisfying. On Sunday night — Mother’s Day — the boy artfully arranged a giant platter of supermarket sushi and presented me with a hand-decorated box in which to store my treasures. The night was divine.

Jac Kern: I took my fiance to the Nick Offerman and Megan Mullally show at the Taft on Saturday as a late birthday present, and we went out to dinner before at Jimmy G's. We split a crab cake to start. I don't think I've ever had a crab cake I didn't like, but this one was particularly good — full of fresh crab meat without breadcrumb fillers. I stuck with seafood for dinner and ordered a rare yellowfin tuna steak. It was so flavorful, I think it was even better than the steak they're known for (which my date ordered). We shared a couple side dishes — 4 fat fries and mac and cheese — but could barely put a dent in the oversized portions. I also pretended to be fancy by ordering lemon basil martinis, which were insanely good.

On Sunday we took our moms and grandma to Bronte Bistro inside Joseph-Beth Booksellers in Rookwood Pavilion. Half of us ordered quiche (Mother's Day brunch staple!) and the others ordered a big breakfast platter, a ham and brie sandwich and tilapia. I worked at Bronte in college, so you'd think by now I'd be sick of the food I'd relied on for shift meals so many times, but nope! I'm a sucker for good ladies-who-lunch fare and a coffee shop with a full bar. We're now thinking of making it a Mother's Day tradition.

Casey Arnold: At the Aronoff on Saturday I saw the Cincinnati Ballet for the first time ever. It proved to be impressive and something I should have done a long time ago. Before the ballet, my friends Corrie, Julie, Katie and I went to Igby's for cocktails and small plates. We nibbled on seafood guacamole and bread and butter while sampling from the cocktail menu. My favorite was the Tito's Austin Blossom, a vodka and citrus cocktail with rosemary. After the ballet we attempted to go to the 21c rooftop but were thwarted by a private party. We ended up at Taqueria Mercado where we sipped Palomas and talked about our favorite parts of the ballet — all between scoops of queso and guacamole on fresh chips. 

Maija Zummo: Sunday, my husband and I had brunch at the bar at BrewRiver GastroPub for our anniversary (note to self: don't go to brunch on Mother's Day without a reservation and expect a table). We got engaged in New Orleans so a New Orleans-style brunch seemed apt. He loved his shrimp and grits and I enjoyed the texture of my eggs-and-biscuit breakfast. I've been super sick and couldn't taste any of it, but I liked how dense and square the biscuit was. I forgot how fun the atmosphere is at BrewRiver — usually I hate live music, but they had a pretty good singer there doing Tom Waits covers, and then we found out they do Louisiana crawfish boils weekly, where they fly in the little things and cook em up with like mushroom or potatoes or corn or whatever you're supposed to do. And if you get there between 5 and 6 p.m., they have super cheap beers (with like 23ish on draft). I won't eat crustaceans but I'm not opposed to beer.
]]>
<![CDATA[Walk the Moon to Play ‘The Voice’ Tuesday]]>

If you have access to a radio or television set, then you’re likely well aware that “Shut Up and Dance” by Cincinnati Dance Pop crew Walk the Moon has become a bona fide Pop hit. The single has been certified platinum, meaning it has sold more than one millions copies. The catchy, danceable track is currently at No. 5 on Billboard’s singles chart and has also performed very well on various other charts. “Shut Up” reached No. 2 on iTunes Top Songs chart and Billboard’s digital charts. On Spotify, the song has been streamed more than 78 million times, while “Shut Up”’s video has held a steady presence in the Top 10 of VH1’s Top 20 video countdown. Talking is Hard, Walk the Moon’s second album for RCA Records, continues to benefit from the single’s success, moving as high as No. 14 on Billboard’s overall album chart.

The Cincinnati band has worked hard to push “Shut Up and Dance” to the upper reaches of the Pop charts. Along with the usual late-night talk show circuit, Walk the Moon has also appeared on network morning shows like The Today Show (which used various WtM tunes as bumper music throughout the day the band appeared) and The Ellen DeGeneres Show


When DeGeneres introduced the group on her show, she called “Shut Up” the band’s “No. 1 hit,” which it wasn’t at the time but could end up there as Walk the Moon keeps up its relentless promotional push. WtM’s is also becoming a bigger and bigger concert draw, selling out many of its shows across the country (the band just recently completely another successful U.S. jaunt).


And WtM has also been making it onto prime time TV lately. Last month, Riker Lynch and Allison Holker danced to “Shut Up” for a routine on ABC’s Dancing with the Stars. Tuesday night (May 12), the band will play “Shut Up” as special guests on NBC’s popular singing competition, The Voice. Tune in to catch the performance at 8 p.m. 


Though several Cincinnati-based acts have done well on a national level, crossing over to the top of the Pop charts is pretty rare, particularly for artists who choose to remain in their hometown while pursuing their career. Walk the Moon comes home to play Cincinnati’s Bunbury Music Festival on June 5 along the Ohio’s riverfront. Click here for tickets/details


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

Morning y’all! It’s bike to work week, so I hope you saddled up on your commute today. Here’s what’s up in the news.

It’s kind of unbelievable that solid statistics on housing on one of the city’s most actively developed neighborhood don’t exist. I’ve been working to find solid numbers on affordable housing in Over-the-Rhine forever, so this is great news: Xavier’s Community Building Institute and the Over-the-Rhine Community Council are teaming up to conduct a much-needed housing survey in OTR. As land values and housing costs in the neighborhood skyrocket (some condos there have reached the $600,000 mark, and proposed new single-family homes could go for as much), many worry about dwindling supplies of low-income housing there. Though a neighborhood comprehensive plan was completed in 2002, there have been no other comprehensive studies of housing in the neighborhood since. Much of the data on housing in OTR is scattered and incomplete. CBI’s efforts will change that — starting in June the organization will do a complete survey of the buildings in OTR to record how many units each has and how much it costs to live in them.

• A seven-story hotel by Marriott is coming to riverfront development The Banks, the lead development group for the project announced today. That’s a relief for city and county officials and area business leaders who have been waiting for that major piece of the Banks puzzle for a long time. Stakeholders had originally hoped to have the hotel open in time for the 2015 MLB All-Star Game in July, but it looks as though the hotel will now open in spring 2017.

• The city of Cincinnati will pay Cincinnati Public Schools $2.1 million in back property taxes from the downtown Duke Energy Center. The CPS Board of Education and the Ohio tax commissioner have been fighting the city since 2011 over taxes on the property, which is managed by a private company. The city has argued that it is exempt from such taxes since the building is owned by a public entity and obtained a tax exemption from state legislators in 2012. But CPS and the state tax assessor have fought that claim in court. The city has now settled with the district and will pay the $2.1 million to the schools. Had the city lost its case with CPS, it would have had to pay up to $25 million in back taxes and other costs.

• Here’s cool news: Former MVP and 2012 Hall of Famer Barry Larkin is working for the Reds again. No, you won’t see the shortstop running the bases, but he’ll be an infield instructor for the Reds’ minor league teams. Larkin played for the Reds for nearly two decades from 1986 to 2004.

• The city of Covington’s City Hall is currently located in a former J.C. Penny department store building, and before that it was located in another former department store. But that could change soon, and the seat of city government there could get a new, more permanent home in a proposed riverfront development called Duveneck Place, named after the famous Covington-born artist Frank Duveneck. That building would be the first major riverfront development in Covington since the 2008 Ascent luxury condos and could host both the city’s administrative offices and Kenton County offices. The city’s main administrative building has moved around several times since Covington’s ornate official City Hall building was demolished in 1970.

• As state lawmakers mull a bill that would eliminate a question about felonies from public organizations’ job applications, private companies wrangle with whether or not they should do the same. Some big, generally conservative companies like Koch Industries have announced they no longer ask about felony convictions on job applications, but many others, especially those in the area, still do. That puts a barrier between former convicts and employment, a key factor in reducing recidivism. Such barriers also disproportionately affect minorities, who are more often subject to arrest and conviction in the first place. Here’s an Enquirer story about the push to do away with a box on employment applications asking about felonies. I’ve been speaking with former convicts and academics who study this issue for a long story on the topic. Stay tuned for that.

• Finally, a report by the Baltimore Sun shows that thousands apprehended by Baltimore Police have been so severely injured they cannot be taken directly to jail. Between June 2012 and April 2015, the Baltimore City Detention Center refused to admit 2,600 arrestees because injuries they sustained from police were too severe and required immediate medical attention. These included broken bones, head injuries and other traumas. The report comes in the wake of civil unrest around the April death of Freddie Gray in police custody and a looming U.S. Department of Justice investigation into the city’s police force.

]]>
<![CDATA[Your Weekend To Do List (5/8-5/10)]]>
FRIDAY
Get wild with TYLER, THE CREATOR at Bogart's
About halfway through “Deathcamp,” the lead track on Tyler, the Creator’s new album Cherry Bomb, the dense, hard-charging music takes a breather so the controversial California-bred rapper can declare, “I don’t like to follow the rules/And that’s just who I am/I hope you understand.” No doubt many don’t understand, which seems to suit Tyler just fine. There’s no denying the guy isn’t afraid to stir shit up, which in this age of feigned outrage and politically correct sensitivity is saying something. Cherry Bomb is another wild ride, a meld of slanted Hip Hop in the vein of Dr. Octagon and N.E.R.D., spruced up with a host of famous guests, including Lil Wayne, ScHoolboy Q, Kanye West and Pharrell Williams. But this is Tyler’s show, his wild-eyed delivery sparing pretty much no one — from fellow rappers to college debt carriers to Kendall Jenner. 8 p.m. Friday. $27.50. Bogart's, 2621 Vine St., Corryville, bogarts.com.

Wine Makers Live
Photo: 3CDC
Drink downtown with WINE MAKERS LIVE
Head to Fountain Square for two evenings of vino. Enjoy a variety of red, white and blended wines from across the region, accompanied by knowledgeable staff to help you navigate tasting selections. A wine list online, with wineries including Cupcake, Acronym, Mirassou and Moet, details what each will be serving. Includes live music from the likes of Tracy Walker, Ricky Nye, the Almighty Get Down and more. 5-11 p.m. Friday and Saturday. $1 tastings. Fountain Square, Fifth and Vine streets, Downtown, myfountainsquare.com.

Chasing Squirrel
Photo: Christopher Duggan
Catch inspired dance with the CINCINNATI BALLET'S DIRECTOR'S CHOICE
The Cincinnati Ballet’s Director’s Choice program is a unique mixed-repertoire presentation with selections chosen specifically by ballet Artistic Director and CEO Victoria Morgan, including Yuri Possokhov's Classical Symphony, Edwaard Liang's Feast of the Gods and Trey McIntyre's Chasing Squirrel. "These three pieces are choreographic powerhouses,” says Morgan via the ballet’s website. “They exemplify the direction dance is headed and changing the way people think about dance.” 8 p.m. Friday; 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday. Tickets start at $32. Aronoff Center, 650 Walnut St., Downtown, cincinnatiarts.org.

Enjoy some Bluegrass, handmade crafts, food and more at the APPALACHIAN FESTIVAL
The Appalachian Festival has come a long way from its first event decades ago in the basement of Music Hall. Back then the festival was a crafts exhibition developed by the Junior League of Cincinnati. Today, the 46th annual Appalachian Festival — presented by the Appalachian Community Development Association, a nonprofit promoting awareness and appreciation for Appalachian culture — is held at Coney Island and attracts about 50,000 people. Enjoy Bluegrass music, handmade crafts, food and more entertainment over the three-day Mother’s Day weekend. 9 a.m.-9 p.m. Friday; 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Saturday; 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday. $10 adult; $5 seniors; $2 children; $6 parking. Coney Island, 6201 Kellogg Ave., California, appalachianfestival.org.

Outside Mullingar at Playhouse in the Park
Photo: Mikki Schaffner
See an Irish tale of identity, heritage and love with OUTSIDE MULLINGAR
Count on John Patrick Shanley for compelling storytelling: His Pulitzer Prize-winning drama Doubt explored the power of innuendo; his Academy Award-winning movie Moonstruck was a romantic comedy. His play Outside Mullingar lands squarely between those extremes, connecting with his family’s roots in rural Ireland for a tale of identity, heritage and love. It’s sure to be a winning production with a cast featuring Dale Hodges, Joneal and Jen Joplin (yes, they’re father and daughter) and Brian Isaac Phillips, directed by former Playhouse artistic director Ed Stern. This show is likely to be a hot ticket: It’s already been extended by a week. Through May 30. $40-$44 adult; $25 student; $18 senior/children. Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati, 1127 Vine St., Over-the-Rhine, 513-421-3555, ensemblecincinnati.org.

SATURDAY
Heirloom
Photo: Joe Hedges
Attend a one-night-only art party with Near*By collective's HEIRLOOM at Wave Pool gallery
The Near*By curatorial collective, which has been making an impact on Cincinnati's visual arts scene with events that are conceptually imaginative and substantive in terms of ideas about art-making, presents Heirloom: an exhibition of objects from the childhood homes of artists at Wave Pool gallery. Four curators have each asked three different artists to choose an object from their childhood homes that in some way has influenced their cultural experiences and artistic output. Near*By will present the objects at the one-night event and will also have a catalogue. The participating artists are Chelsea Baker, Amanda Checco, Lizzy DuQuette, Izy Hardy, Sarah Jones, Brent Lashley, Caleb Marhoover, Jamie Muenzer, Matthew Shackelford, Nic Scrimenti, CM Turner and Christy Whittmer. 7-10 p.m. Saturday. Free. Wave Pool, 2940 Colerain Ave., Camp Washington, nearby.gallery.

Rose Hill House Tour
Photo: Provided
Check out other people's houses during the ROSE HILL HOUSE TOUR
The Cincinnati Preservation Association’s Spring House Tour explores six historic homes and a condo in the Belvedere building on Rose Hill Avenue in North Avondale. In the mid-1800s, wealthy merchants like Andrew Erkenbrecher, Samuel Pogue, Frank Herschede and Barney Kroger built beautiful homes on spacious lots. Today you can view historic homes ranging in date from the 1890s to the 1930s and in style from Italian Renaissance and English Medieval to Greek Revival. 1-5 p.m. Saturday. $35; advanced purchase is highly recommended; will-call in the lobby of the Belvedere (3900 Rose Hill Ave.). 513-721-4506, cincinnatipreservation.org.

Arrange some flowers for mom at FERN STUDIO
What’s better than buying mom a floral arrangement for Mother’s Day? Making mom a floral arrangement for Mother’s Day. North College Hill’s curated home, design and plant shop Fern Studio hosts a fundamentals of floral arranging class, led by Patricia Duque Campos of Una Floral. Learn how to compose lush and loose arrangements with seasonal blooms and other unique flora. Class fee includes materials (flowers, tools, vase, etc.), plus light snacks and refreshments. 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday. $105. Fern Studio, 6040 Hamilton Ave., North College Hill, fern-shop.com.

The Donkeys
Photo: Provided
Remember Lost with THE DONKEYS
If you’re a Donkeys fan, you know the San Diego quartet from its decade-plus history. And if you don’t know The Donkeys at all but were, like most of the world’s television viewers at the time, obsessed with every scrap of informational minutiae related to Lost, you still know The Donkeys, in a tangential sense. The band’s song “Excelsior Lady,” from the 2008 sophomore album Living on the Other Side, was featured in the series, re-recorded as “Dharma Lady” and credited to the faux group Geronimo Jackson. It’s easy to trace The Donkeys’ sound to their California roots, just not along the obvious Beach Boys-to-Laurel Canyon path (although those signposts dot the landscape). The Donkeys combine a Byrdsian jangle, a twangy soulfulness, a gently rollicking Pop undercurrent and a melancholic lo-fi vibe that suggests a team-building trust exercise between Pavement, The Grateful Dead and Crosby Stills Nash & Young, with a healthy dose of contemporary ennui, a kind of hopeful disillusionment. 8 p.m. Free. MOTR Pub, 1345 Main St., Over-the-Rhine, motrpub.com.

Paul Mecurio
Photo: Provided
Laugh with PAUL MECURIO
Paul Mecurio, comedian and Emmy-winning former writer from The Daily Show, chose the name of his latest comedy CD, It’s Not Me, It’s the World, wisely. “I don’t relax, that’s what my wife says to me,” he says. “I get into a lot of confrontations in customer service situations. I almost got arrested on Amtrak because I got into a fight with the conductor.” The normally affable Mecurio can be seen on a variety of cable talk shows where he uses his quick wit to comment on social and political issues. He also has a podcast called The Paul Mecurio Show, on which he’s spoken to Sir Paul McCartney, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Stephen Colbert, Jay Leno and more. Thursday-Sunday. $15-$17. Funny Bone on the Levee, Newport on the Levee, Newport, Ky., 859-957-2000, funnyboneonthelevee.com.


SUNDAY
Brunch at Django Western Taco
Photo: facebook.com/djangonorthside 
Take mom to MOTHER'S DAY BRUNCH
Check out a variety of local restaurant's offering special Mother's Day meals here.

Look at more people's houses during the CLIFTON HOUSE TOUR
Take your mom to peep in other people’s houses during the Clifton House Tour. Explore homes with special architectural features and historical stories as the gracious owners Clifton homes — from Italianate and Victorian to Midcentury Modern and English Tudor — invite strangers in to explore. 1-5 p.m. Sunday. $18; $22 day of at the Clifton Cultural Arts Center or Clifton Plaza. Detailed tour guide with house locations available day of tour. cliftoncommunity.org/clifton-house-tour

Meet zoo moms at ZOO BABIES
Celebrate the newest arrivals at the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden during the entire month of May, where you'll find the cutest baby faces from all over the globe. Follow the six-foot-tall pink and blue stork statues displayed throughout the zoo to lead you to baby African lions, penguin chicks, bonobo monkeys, a whole litter of African painted dogs and more, as their big eyes, miniature sizes and playful personalities melt your heart. Through May. Park admission $18 adults; $12 children and seniors. 3400 Vine St., Avondale, 513-281-4700, cincinnatizoo.org.

Frank Ockenfels 3/AM
Take in a TV double feature with GAME OF THRONES and MAD MEN
Game of Thrones (9 p.m., HBO) – Daenerys is faced with a tough decision in Meereen; Jon finds assistance from an unexpected source; Brienne tracks down Sansa; Theon is still … Reek. How will Sansa react if and when she discovers the guy who was essentially her brother is now a shell of his former self? Mad Men (10 p.m., AMC) – Only two episodes left! Don can’t sleep; Pete gets blindsided; Henry hosts a family reunion.



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

Morning y’all. Here’s what’s going on today.

The battle over Over-the-Rhine’s parking plan continues. Yesterday, Mayor John Cranley told the Cincinnati Enquirer that he would be open to eliminating permit parking in the city — currently, one part of Clifton near Cincinnati state and the tiny Pendleton neighborhood both have permits available for residents. He said he’d also be interested in auctioning off spots in OTR to the highest bidder.

That doesn't sit well with permit advocates in the neighborhood, including City Councilman Chris Seelbach and OTR Community Council President Ryan Messer.

At the bottom of the debate is a philosophical difference: Cranley wants any parking plan to be first and foremost a revenue generator to pay for the streetcar and pay back taxpayers for investment in OTR. On Wednesday, he vetoed a parking plan for the neighborhood that would have created up to 450 permitted spots for residents at $108 a year. Previously, Cranley had proposed a plan that would have charged $300 a year and then later another that would have charged an unspecified market rate for the spaces.

Cranley says it’s unfair to taxpayers that certain spots can be bought by residents of a neighborhood that has seen millions in taxpayer money spent on redevelopment. Taxpayers pay for the roads, Cranley says, and should be able to park on them. What’s more, he says, creating a permit plan for OTR will only encourage other neighborhoods to seek them. Downtown has already made movement toward that end.

Permit supporters, meanwhile, see the measure mainly as a way to make life easier for residents who have to park in one of the most popular places in town. Supporters of the parking permits, including Democrats on council, say they will help keep low-income people who can’t afford garages or extended time at meters in the neighborhood.

There is nothing unusual about parking permits in neighborhoods. Cities like Columbus, Portland, Seattle, Chicago, San Francisco (the nation’s most expensive at $110 a year) and many other major urban areas have them. Even smaller cities like Newport, Covington and Bloomington, Indiana have them. Hell, in Washington, D.C., you have to have D.C. plates to park on most streets and need to apply for a visitor’s permit if you don’t (I know this by experience and it is awful). But if it wasn’t for that permit system, residents in popular neighborhoods would spend an hour after work circling the block looking for a place to put their cars while tourists or folks from the other side of the city dropped by and took their time eating at that new $40-a-plate neo soul food place. (Err, sorry. Did I mention D.C. was awful?)

On the other hand, the affordability card is a funny one to play here. In terms of affordability, all the parking plans, including Cranley’s, presented a clause for lower-cost permits for low-income residents. But there are bigger issues as rents in OTR continue to increase and the neighborhood shifts ever-more toward the high-end in terms of the businesses and homes there. Perhaps a discussion about how much affordable housing is in the neighborhood, instead of spinning wheels on a parking plan, would better serve low-income folks?

• Here’s another transportation mess: Cincinnati City Council Budget and Finance Chair Charlie Winburn is threatening to withhold city funds from the Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority for its Metro bus program until it releases information about the bids it has received to operate the streetcar. Those bids were due March 30, but SORTA says it will not release them until it has made a selection, claiming that making the information public will compromise the competitive bid process. Winburn says the public has a right to know how much the streetcar will cost them. The Cincinnati Enquirer has sued SORTA for the records, which it says fall under open records laws. SORTA’s attorney disagrees. The question now is whether a judge will agree and if the ruling will come before SORTA makes its pick and releases the documents anyway.

• Democratic County Commissioner Todd Portune might get an unexpected Republican challenger in the 2016 election. Hamilton County Appeals Court Judge Sylvia Hendon might run against Portune, she says. Hendon, 71, is about to hit the age limit for judges in Ohio but isn’t ready to give up public service. Democrats say they aren’t worried; though Hendon has served in a number of capacities in the county’s judicial system, Hamilton County Democratic Party Chair Tim Cooke says she doesn’t have the name recognition to mount a serious challenge to the popular Portune. But Republicans say her time as a top judge gave her strong managerial skills and unique qualifications for the commissioner’s spot. They say she’ll be a strong contender should she choose to run. Commissioners oversee the county budget and the county’s various departments. Hendon is also looking at running for county recorder, a position held by Democrat Wayne Coates. Another Republican, former Hamilton County Judge Norbert Nadel, is also contemplating a run for that seat.

• Are online charter schools getting taxpayer money for students who are no longer enrolled in their courses? Some recent evidence seems to suggest that, and a state investigation might result. Data from one online school, Ohio Virtual Academy, shows that hundreds of students were on that school’s rolls but hadn’t logged in to classes in months. Only 14 had been withdrawn. OVA has 13,000 students. It’s not the first time charters have seen scrutiny for their attendance records. The schools get paid millions in state funds based on the number of students they have attending classes. In January, a state investigation found significant discrepancies between reported attendance and actual attendance at many of charters across the state.

• Finally, there’s another marijuana legalization scheme in Ohio, and it just cleared its first hurdle. Better for Ohio is challenging ResponsibleOhio’s plan for weed legalization by… doing almost exactly the same plan. The difference is that instead of ResponsibleOhio’s 10 grow sites, Better for Ohio would create 40, each tied (not kidding here) to a serial number on a specific $100 bill stipulated in the group’s plan. The holder of that bill would be allowed to grow marijuana at one of the grow sites. Private, non-commercial growth would also be allowed, and wouldn’t require registration with the state the way ResponsibleOhio’s plan does. The state just gave the OK for the group’s initial ballot language, and now it just has to get the necessary 300,000-plus signatures. Of course, there’s been some sniping between Better for Ohio and ResponsibleOhio, with both groups criticizing the other’s plan. Things are getting heated in the weed legalization game.

That’s it for me. Tweet or email me with news tips or just to say hey.

]]>
<![CDATA[James Beard Foundation-Style Progressive Dinner]]> This time last year, chef Jean-Robert de Cavel wrangled six of our finest local chefs for the best road trip ever to New York City's James Beard Foundation as part of Cincy in NYC, a weeklong excursion where a variety of local performing arts and cultural groups — the Cincinnati Ballet, May Festival Chorus and more — left the Queen City for the Big Apple for a seven-day showcase. 

The Beard dinner truly was a gastronomical feast, but if you didn't get the chance to partake then, no worries, because guess what?!? Every single one of the Cincy in NYC food phenoms will be recreating their Beard dinner dishes this weekend. Each chef will be making one course at their respective restaurants, so you can create your own progressive dinner.

Chef Jean Philippe Solnom of French Crust Café is creating a composition of chocolate and strawberries (prices vary) at lunch (and for carryout) on Friday and Saturday — strawberry shortcakes, pistachio, raspberry and chocolate macarons, and dark chocolate ganache truffles.

Chef Stephen Williams of Bouquet Restaurant and Wine Bar in MainStrasse is offering halibut encrusted with pistachio relish, rhubarb, fennel, edamame, pickled shiitakes and soy ginger reduction ($32) through Saturday for dinner.

Chef David Cook of Daveed's at 934 in Mount Adams will be preparing his hickory-smoked duck breast with crisp goose goetta and wild juniper ($22) as part of the tapas menu on Friday.

Chef Julie Francis of Nectar in Mount Lookout will have roast leg of lamb with fūl, local morel mushrooms and asparagus, preserved lemon and harissa ($26) through Saturday.

Boca will offer chef David Falk's robiola cappelletti with house-cured guanciale ($12) during dinner on Saturday night. 

Chef Jose Salazar of Salazar will feature his fluke crudo, green strawberries, spring vegetables, verjus and yuzu gelee ($14) during dinner on Friday and Saturday. 

And chef de Cavel will be serving his Maine Lobster with “Big Fish Farm” local caviar, beet barigoule, avocado, arugula, seaweed and lemon crème fraîche ($21) through Saturday at Jean-Robert's Table. 


]]>