CityBeat Blogs - Interviews http://www.citybeat.com/cincinnati/blogs-1-1-1-33-21.html <![CDATA[Local Sisters Launch Civil War Beard Book Tonight]]>

It might seem impossible to celebrate both No Shave November and the sesquicentennial of the Civil War, but Cincinnati natives Julia and Anna Hider have just the solution. 

Their blog-turned-book Badass Civil War Beards showcases the best facial hair the war had to offer, from the most recognized politicians to unidentified soldiers. There are many aspects of 1860s America that have thankfully vanished over the last century-and-a-half, but today’s modern man can learn plenty from the epic facial styles of Union and Confederate soldiers.

CityBeat recently sat down with Julia and Anna Hider to discuss their new book and all things beard related.

CityBeat: Where did you get the idea for the blog?

Julia Hider: I was watching a History Channel documentary about the Lincoln assassination, and I just noticed that everybody had crazy facial hair, and so I texted Anna and I said, ‘Hey, we’re gonna write a blog about this, will you go set one up?’ and she did. And she picked out the name and…here we are!

CB: Did it take off pretty quickly?

Anna Hider: I just have a personal Tumblr for stupid pictures, like dogs and stuff. We started getting followers pretty quickly, I was kind of surprised — there are obviously lots of people on Tumblr that have more followers than us, but I was surprised by the history fandom — I guess you would say — of Tumblr, and how many history nerds there are on there.

CB: Even though you were at different schools [Ohio State and Syracuse], did you collaborate on it the whole time?

AH: We each did one post a day.

CB: And how did it get on BuzzFeed?

AH: I did that! But the thing is, it was a community post, but it made it on the front page of buzzfeed.com

JH: So Anna just wrote it.

AH: And I just sent it out on the Internet.

JH: And the community editors liked it, so they promoted it to the front of the community page, then I guess more editors saw it and liked it and so they put it on the front page of Buzzfeed, which is impressive for a community post.

AH: It was like the first time they had done anything like that, so I’m like, ‘This is easy.’ It was actually my second Buzzfeed [post]; my first one was called, “9 Giant Rocks That Look Like Willies.”             

JH: I really think Buzzfeed helped us get the [book] deal.

CB: And what made you want to turn it into a book?

JH: I first thought of it as a coffee table book, but I switched to the blog because it’s easier to do. But I was on Tumblr one day and saw that Chronicle...

AH: It’s like the biggest indie book publisher.

JH: ...out of San Francisco, I saw that they were having a contest and they were looking for the next Tumblr blog to turn into a book, and they wanted to have this contest so we entered it. And we didn’t win, but we got shortlisted, and that’s how we got it out there that we were interested in publishing a book, but we didn’t get the book deal for another year.

AH: It hasn’t even been a year, it was like mid-November of last year.

CB: Was it hard turning it into a book?

JH: Not really because we had a lot of stuff to draw on. When I write an everyday post, I normally find [photos] on Wikipedia because it’s easier to click through and you find one person, and that links to another person, and that links to another person…But we went through the Library of Congress to write the book, so all the pictures are from the Library and you can have the rights to those because they’re over 150 years old.

AH: And they’re in the public domain. There are tons that we had never seen before, like unidentified soldiers, doing weird stuff. There were two guys holding pipes up to each other, and we’re like, ‘We had never seen this before. This is incredible.’

JH: There’s a good mix of stuff that was popular on the blog or stuff that we really liked, and there’s also a good amount of new stuff, too.

CB: If you had to pick a side, who had better beards? The North or the South?

AH: This one constantly torments me, because I know people are going to ask this. I want to say the Confederates, but it’s probably the Union.

JH: I feel like it has to be the Union because they were more urban and cosmopolitan.

AH: And they had Ambrose Burnside, they had Abe Lincoln, they had tons of really creative stuff.

JH: The North just had way more people in general. I think that’s part of it.

CB: Do you think crazy beards like that will ever make a comeback?

JH: I think they kind of are.

CB: It’s kind of like the hipster look. Is it a bad thing, though?

JH: No.

AH: Of course not!

JH: You can express yourself through your facial hair.

AH: Everyone looks good in a beard.

CB: I’ve tried. Last year I did No Shave November and it was terrible.

CB: So do you have a most badass Civil War beard?

JH: I mean I really like Ambrose Burnside, but I also like when people tried to copy him. Sometimes it didn’t go so well. This one guy in the book, Gabriel Rains, it just doesn’t look good on him. It just looks bad.

AH: I really like Joe Revere, because he had a normal beard then he waxed it into like three points. I don’t know why you would do that, but he did and it looks really cool. Or Roswell Ripley, who just had the biggest mustache ever, and it’s kind of gross looking.

CB: Is there any other period of time where you think beards would rival [the Civil War]?

AH: Maybe caveman times.

JH:  I think that’s really the only other time.

CB: But they couldn’t shave, so that’s really sort of unfair.

JH: You could sharpen a rock so it’s sharp enough to shave, right?

CB: So do you still post on the blog?

JH: Yea, I think it was important to keep posting because I didn’t want to make our followers feel like we had abandoned them because we were trying to write a book.

AH: It wouldn’t make sense to stop. We want more people to find out about it, and start growing beards of their own.

CB: Do you have any next steps, plans after this?

JH: We don’t have anything solid.

AH: But if we could write another book, it might be about ladies, like Badass Civil War Babes.

JH: Because we’ve been looking at guys’ faces every single day for almost three years, and I kind of get sick of it. I try to bring in ladies whenever I can, but it’s not that often. We’d like to give them some attention.

Julia and Anna Hider launch the release of Badass Civil War Beards tonight at 7 p.m. at Joseph-Beth Booksellers. For some inspiration on growing your own badass beard, check out their blog at badasscivilwarbeards.tumblr.com.

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<![CDATA[Turns Out Kids Aren't Racist Assholes]]> The Fine Brothers are "filmmakers and new media pioneers" who have created a pretty successful web series called "Kids React," where they film kids reacting to stuff. 

The latest in their child-watching oeuvre is a video about the now infamous interracial Cheerios ad. Infamous because Cheerios literally had to disable the video's YouTube comments section because of the amount of incredibly hateful, racist commentary.

In the Kids React video, children are shown the controversial ad and asked a series of questions, including why they think it upset people. The kids, it turns out, are stumped; they didn't even register anything unusual about the parents or the family. (Because there isn't.)

The Fine Brothers preface the video by saying "This episode of Kids React will discuss the sensitive subject of racism and its impact on individuals, families and the world at large. The opinions of children about these issues can give incredibly valuable insight into where our society really is and where we are headed as a people."

If these kids' reactions are any indicator, we're on the right path. That being said, the Fine Brothers are from New York and they film in L.A., a reality that the children address in the video mentioning that people in other parts of the country might still be "behind the times."

Video:
  

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<![CDATA[Cinfolk: Sara Bornick ]]> In “Cinfolk,” I ask interesting Cincinnati people doing interesting Cincinnati things questions I’d never get to ask for a traditional news story; the more interviews I do as a writer, the more I find myself daydreaming about what makes these people tick, aside from what I'd usually get to share in a traditional news story. For the inaugural Cinfolk blog featuring German Lopez, click here.
 

If you don't have cabin fever by this time of the year, you probably moved here from Siberia, the Arctic Tundra or  Wisconsin, in which case you're used to mind- and body-numbing misery and cold weather year-round. We're glad you escaped. For the rest of us, it's getting really old coming into work with frozen strands of hair, never having a good reason to drink a margarita, wear a sundress, roll down the windows or eat a popsicle. That's about all I'm thinking about these days, in fact, which is why I got in touch with Sara Bornick, founder and owner of streetpops, freelance graphic designer and proud owner of her very own EasyBake oven.
 
Anyone who's ever been lucky enough to have their teeth stained or a shirt dribbled on by one of Sara Bornick's gourmet, quirky and preservative-free ice pops understands that the transition from winter to spring just can't be complete until every Cincinnatian has the chance to buy the daintily packaged treats from her modest, funky little retro streetpops storefront in Over-the-Rhine.


According to Bornick, who’s been busy preparing for a new streetpops season, she and her cart-
toting team will be selling pops again on Final Friday, March 29. Look out for new pop flavors (like cookies and cream, butter pecan and maybe a chocolate olive oil pop crafted from imported Italian olive oil).


Hannah Mc
Cartney: What was your favorite toy when you were a little kid?

Sara Bornick:
For years I asked for an Easy-Bake oven, but never actually got one ... until I was about 25, as a joke. I was really into LEGOs as a kid, and anything outdoors.

H
M: Dog person or cat person? Why?
SB: Dog! Especially my Boston Terrier, Parker (aka Parker Pantalones).

HM: Did you have a nickname when you were a kid/in college/now? What was its significance?
SB: When I was a kid I was nicknamed "Bugs" because I had to have a lot of teeth pulled before I had braces on, so for a good year or so I only had my two front teeth.

HM: Have you ever met a celebrity? If not, who would you want to meet?
SB: I met chef-celebrity Richard Blais when he was in town on the Top Chef tour. It was right before we launched streetpops in 2011. We talked about a pop place in Atlanta that he loves
and using liquid nitrogen to make pops.

HM: Tell me one guilty pleasure artist on your music player.
SB:
Eighties hair bands/rock ballads — Def Leppard, Guns N' Roses.


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<![CDATA[Cinfolk: German Lopez]]>

When journalists interview people, it's more often than not about something very specific. When we interview the governor, his press person would definitely give us a dirty look if we threw in questions like, "What's your favorite '90s boy band?" or, "Did OJ do it?" We're there to discuss something specific, and straying too far outside that topic is viewed as either a waste of the interviewee's time or an invasion of privacy.

The reality is that there are more facets to the people we interview than we'll ever know. What was Senate Chef Daniel Wright's favorite toy when he was a kid? What does CityBeat editor-in-chief Danny Cross order at Taco Bell?

The answers to questions like these don't define a person, but neither do their jobs, possessions, political leanings, philanthropic efforts or social status. It's a little bit of everything. In this blog series, I'll be picking random Cincinnatians who are doing something interesting, call them on the phone/harass them on the street and ask five or six weird questions and hope I don't get yelled at. Feel free to comment if there's someone you'd like to suggest.

As a practice go, I'm first interviewing my cubicle mate and reporter extraordinaire, German Lopez. If you don’t recognize the name German Lopez, it’s because you probably never read CityBeat, so shame on you. Around the office, he's known for his dry sense of humor, really liking donuts, ditching all of our happy hours and one time writing almost an entire issue by himself. He's the one we all go to when we need him to explain in plebeian language the meaning of complicated political and economic data.

Hannah McCartney: What's your favorite most recent viral video?

German Lopez: The video of Eddie, the geriatric sea otter with arthritis who can dunk a basketball, definitely tops my list right now. I think CityBeat should run a cover story just profiling Eddie. It's probably more important than the governor's budget proposals.

HM: When you sit down to write an article, what's the process like? Describe your work style.
GL: Before I start writing an article, I complete most of my research, interviews and an outline. Once that's all together, I sit down and write the entire article, whether it's 500 or 4,000 words, all at once. The first draft is usually a disaster, but I do extensive copy editing to fix up the structure and wording after that. The editing probably takes me longer than the writing process because I have to fact check every line and make sure it's all written in an easily digestible manner.

HM: What was the last meal you cooked for yourself?
GL: Chicken cutlets with mashed potatoes and corn. It was freaking delicious. But I rarely cook for myself. One of the upsides to having a stay-at-home husband is I usually get home to a delicious cooked meal. The only downside is I have to make all the money.

HM: Where's your favorite place to sit down and read a book in Cincinnati?
GL: On the couch at home while surrounded by my ferrets, cat and husband. But I usually read political blogs, newspapers and e-books on my iPad instead of actual print.

HM: What website can you not go a day without checking? Why?
GL: There are a bunch of answers to this, but the top choice is probably Wonkblog, the domestic policy blog at The Washington Post. It has all the studies and graphs I need to form an educated opinion on major political issues. And CityBeat.com, of course.]]>
<![CDATA['This American Life' to Be Broadcast Live]]> "I don't really like This American Life or Ira Glass," said no one.

The weekly, true storytelling public radio show with its quirky, adorable host seriously has something for everyone — timely topics, laugh-out-loud (or cry-out-loud) anecdotes, thoughtful insight. TAL even got my stubborn, conservative father to listen to NPR on a regular basis. So since we can all agree how awesome it is, let's celebrate the announcement that Ira and Co. will present a live show in New York City, to be broadcast in movie theaters across the country on May 10.

Those who watched the television adaptation of This American Life know how flawlessly the program can be adapted to incorporate visual elements with the standard unscripted storytelling format. But the live show is set to involve more than just interviews and animations seen in the TV program.

The live event will feature stories by writer David Rakoff (who worked with Ira Glass and David Sedaris), comedian Tig Notaro (Comedy Central Presents, The Sarah Silverman Program), Glynn Washington (host of radio show Snap Judgement and jack-of-all-trades) and Ira himself. Taking full advantage of the live, visual format, the show will also feature music by OK Go, a short film by longtime TAL contributor and comedian Mike Birbiglia, a dance performance by Monica Bill Barnes & Company and much more to be seen. This American Life presented a live show, also broadcast in theaters, back in 2009.

The show will go live at 8 p.m. May 10 onstage at the Skirball Center for the Performing Arts in New York City. If you can't make the trip to the Big Apple (it's sold out anyway), check it out at one of many local theaters screening the show, including AMC Newport, Western Hills 14, Florence 14, Milford 16, Springdale Showcase Cinemas and Deerfield Town Center. Many of these theaters will present an encore screening May 15 as well. Go here for tickets.

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<![CDATA[Your Weekend To Do List: 3/23-3/25]]> Stop by the hipster haven that is Northside Tavern this weekend as it celebrates 10 years as a neighborhood bar and live music staple. NST's 10th Birthday Bash runs 6:30 p.m.-2 a.m. Friday and Saturday with treats from Take the Cake both nights. Tonight, there's music from You, You're Awesome, Ohio Knife and Lydia Burrell. Saturday features music from Wussy and The Tigerlilies, the first band to rock the Tavern's stage a decade ago. As always, no cover. HB, NST!

Independent Spirit Award-nominated film In The Family opens at The Esquire tonight. Writer, director and star Patrick Wang will be in town for the premiere weekend, and will host a Q&A after this weekend's screenings. Check out the 8 p.m. screenings Friday and Saturday and the 1 p.m. show Sunday to meet and chat with the star. Read our review here.

San Francisco dance company Robert Moses' Kin performs in town this week with Contemporary Dance Theater's Guest Artist Series. Faith and Fable was inspired by choreographer/artistic director Robert Moses' children – fairy tales, in particular. Moses reexamined moral tales and translated them into a multi-genre dance piece for all ages. Performances are tonight at Saturday at the Aronoff Center. Go here to read our interview with Moses.


LEGOs are one of those iconic toys that kids still think are cool and adults still secretly want to play with. This weekend's LEGO's KidsFest may be marketed toward youngsters, but LEGO fans of any age can be entertained for hours at this construction block convention. At the fest, you'll find a LEGO model museum (clearly not built by kids), a master builder academy, activity area, challenge zone and much more. Saturday's sessions have sold out, but there's still tickets available for tonight (4-8:30 p.m.) and Sunday (9 a.m.-1:30 p.m. and 3-7:30 p.m.) All sessions feature the same fun exhibits and activities. Find ticket information and event details here.

Saturday morning, Park + Vine hosts a Grow Your Own Garden Class. Greensleeves Farm's Gretchen Vaughn will dish the dirt on growing vegetables and herbs at home with a hands-on demonstration on sowing and transplanting seeds. After the class, you'll take home a starter kit with seeds, soil and a plant. The class limited to 15 people, so RSVP at info@parkandvine.com. The workshop is $15 and runs from 10 a.m.-noon.

The Newport Aquarium welcomes Mighty Mike, a 14-foot, 800-pound American Alligator this Saturday. Mike is the largest gator in the U.S. outside of Florida. The new Gator Alley exhibit will feature many species of alligators and crocodiles from around the globe. The aquarium is open 10 a.m.-6 p.m. daily. Find admission and other details here. Purchase your tickets in advance to save time at the door.

For more theater, visual arts and music events this weekend, check out our To Do, Music and Arts coverage.

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<![CDATA[Your Weekend To Do List: 3/2-3/4]]> Bockfest is upon us! The annual celebration of Cincinnati's beer brewing history kicks off tonight with the Bockfest Parade, stepping off at 6 p.m. Organizers are keeping an eye on the weather, so check back with their site and Facebook page just in case. Even if the weather gets real ugly, just stop by one of the dozen participating venues where admission is free and beer is a-flowin'. Tons of special events coincide with the fest: Tonight, Park + Vine hosts its second annual veenie roast tonight (veggie hot dogs on delicious Mayday pretzel buns), Japps will feature a dance party tonight and Saturday, a Craft Menagerie takes over Arnold's Saturday and Washington Platform has a Bockfest Brunch Sunday, to name a few. And remember, you're not just getting your drink on, you're supporting Cincinnati history!

Covington's Carnegie Center presents its sixth annual Art of Food show, opening tonight. As you might've guessed, this art exhibit is centered around all things edible. The reception features beautiful culinary creations (that you can actually eat) by everyone from BonBonnerie to La Poste, Queen City Cookies to Taste of Belgium. Admission is a little steep ($60 at the door for non-members), but you'll leave with your left brain and stomach both very satisfied. Admission after the reception is free. Get details here.

It's always exciting when a new exhibit comes to the Contemporary Arts Center, and their opening parties are always a blast. Saturday the CAC welcomes two new art shows: I surrender, dear, Dasha Shishkin's first solo museum exhibit and Spectacle: The Music Video, curated by creative collective Flux. Read more about the artists here and check out our preview of Spectacle here. Music videos as art. Super cool.

The opening reception kicks off at 8 p.m. In addition to checking out the artwork, electronic musician/wizard Dan Deacon will perform 8-9 p.m. If you haven't heard of him, here's a preview:



Following the original performance is a DJ set 'til 11 p.m. The party is free and there will be a cash bar. Get more info here.

If you didn't score tickets to tonight's sold out Black Keys show, there are plenty of other music options. Eli's BBQ on Riverside Drive hosts Downtown Country Band tonight at 10 p.m. Tickets are $12. And really, any concert that also features barbecue is probably a sure bet. The Harlequins hosts an album release show Saturday at Mayday in Northside. Peep our interview with the crew. There are tons of other live music shows this weekend. Find them all on our music blog.

This not enough for you? There are tons of other happenings this weekend. Arts? We got 'em. Theater? You bet. Foul-mouthed, inxtoicated comedians? Of course. Just check out our To Do page for all your fun-having needs.

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<![CDATA[Interview with Brandon Scott Perry]]>

"Can't stop, won't stop." These words may seem meaningless to some, but for the past 72 days they have been the motivation for Brandon Scott Perry.

On April 3, 2011 Perry embarked on a journey that will affect himself and thousands of others for the rest of their lives. What started out as a dream turned into reality and sparked a movement - Trek for the Cause. Perry's 2,354 mile expedition for the American Cancer Society began on foot in Cincinnati and ended on bicycle in Los Angeles. At war with the weather, fatigue, his emotions, physical pain and, at times, boredom, he managed to overcome what seemed impossible.

Monday I had the chance to meet the man who has so greatly impacted myself and others alike somehow touched by cancer. Two Blue Moons, a near death experience with a sharp tortilla chip and a plateful of quesadillas later, we were no longer strangers.

CityBeat: How did you come up with the idea for the trek?

Brandon Perry: I've always wanted to go out on the open road and see how far I could go. On Nov. 4, a week after I found out my grandpa was terminal and I remember waking up and was like this is what I'm going to do: I am going to dress in all hot pink and ride a pink lawn mower across the country for breast cancer. Since that's not street legal and what not, I just decided I was going to walk across the country for the American Cancer Society to cover all types of cancers.

olivia.jpg

Olivia Doan is only eight years old and was diagnosed with a brain tumor on Oct. 24, 2010. She along with a grandfather and close friend, were the main inspirations for the trek. Olivia finished her last chemotherapy on June 19 and is now heading down the road of recovery.

CB: Were you always a runner?

BP: No, I've never been a runner. I go to the gym, but I've never did a marathon, never did a 5K or anything close to a marathon and have never been a biker. So for me, to pick up a bike 600 miles in was crazy. The last bike I had was when I was 15 and it had pegs on the back.

CB: What was the most difficult part about leaving?

BP: I knew it was going to be lonely, which it was. Unless I was staying in a firehouse, it was super lonely. If I wasn't in a firehouse, I was alone in a hotel or at someone's house. One night I just tented-it on the side of the road in Indiana. And having to leave my grandfather, knowing he might not be here when I get back.

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Brandon's grandfather was diagnosed with bone cancer. He had the joy of seeing his grandson upon return on June 13. He's doing much better and continues to be Brandon's motivation.

CB: What was your lowest point during the trek?

BP: Day six, it was on a Friday and I was in Bloomington, Ind. on Indiana University's campus sitting at a bench in front of Chili's. I was waiting for my friend Andy to pick me to stay with him for the night. I'm looking at my Facebook, seeing all my friends post stuff like, "I'm going out tonight," or "Meeting up with everyone tonight." At that point I was thinking, "Am I really going to do this?" I had been doing 20-30 miles a day so it was rough and I just sat there, discouraged, thinking I couldn't do this. I left my friends the next day. It had been raining, but it finally cleared up and that was the only day I ever questioned it.

CB: Highest point during the trek?

BP: Finishing 103 miles in one day, through the desert. It was so hot, my face was caked with salt, my backpack - everything was caked in salt. It just really sucked, but I did it, I got finished. I knew at that point I was only five or six days from finishing.

CB: Most interesting person you came across?

BP: Gary Kearn, who was 68 years old, biking from LA to Chicago just to see if he could do it. He finished a couple days before I did. He ended up leaving from Chicago and biking to New York just because. A 68-year-old man, out living his dream.

CB: How much money has been raised at this point?

BP: Almost $11,000.

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Trek for the Cause T-Shirts can be purchased here for $22, where a portion of the money will be donated to the American Cancer Society.

CB: Advice for anyone wanting to make a difference, small or big?

BP: Well, I don't suggest walking, but don't ever give up. I was just following what my heart told me to do. I don't feel like I'm a hero, I feel like I'm just a person who had an idea, a dream. I get a lot that I'm a hero, inspiration, crazy - I get all of that. If I made somebody feel they were big enough to take on the world and didn't raise a dollar, it would still all be worth it. Be inspired by small things and big things. If you ever get the chance, inspire yourself.

CB: Any future plans?

BP: I want to do a fundraiser for Joplin, Mo. They are good people, just like any other community. But since I went through there and they helped me out a lot, I felt more responsible to do something for their community.

On June 13 after 72 long, lonely, life-changing days, Perry finally touched down to the place he calls home. He's been busy with news appearances, radio shows, other charity events and even an interview with a measly little intern from CityBeat. I'm not going to lie, I was nervous at first because we were total strangers who would not even know each other if it weren't for my Facebook Creepin' Disorder. After the first five minutes though, I felt like I had known Brandon for ten years. I can only attempt to be half as determined, confident and inspiring as he is but for now I'll continue to help make Brandon's dream become a reality.

Come meet the man yourself June 23 for Brandon's Welcome Home Event from 6-9 p.m. at the Montgomery Inn Ft. Mitchell (400 Buttermilk Pike) and from 9 p.m.-2 a.m. at Mynt Martini on Fountain Square. There's going to be tons raffles, a silent auction, food, drinks and Brandon... duh. To make a donation, visit www.trekforthecause.com.

Check out Perry's run-in with the TMZ crew:


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<![CDATA[CFW Profile: Laura Dawson]]>

Fashion designer Laura Dawson makes her homecoming Monday as she shows her collection in Cincinnati Fashion Week (CFW) for the second year. A graduate of The University of Cincinnati's College of Design, Architecture, Art and Planning (DAAP), Dawson went on to New York to work for Donna Karan, style/design for Moby, The Brazilian Girls, Yelle and The Scissor Sisters and even appeared on Bravo's The Fashion Show. She founded her line of women's clothing in 2003 and has worked out of London since 2009.---

Dawson has designed a new collection to be shown at CFW, featuring Fall/Winter 2011 apparel but will also show some colorfully playful Spring/Summer pieces for those who just can't wait to the weather to cool down again.

Her fall collection was inspired by Robert Harris' novel Enigma, set in World War II England. Dawson based her collection on two characters: popular, bubbly Claire Romilly and serious, sensible Hester Wallace.

"Claire was the girl-about-town before the war," Dawson explains, "and has managed to cling on to several luxe, glam pieces such as a calf-length Italian napped-wool driving coat and no small amount of jewel-toned silks."

"Items representing Hester's wardrobe are exposed zippers of best German quality, slim-fitted rain-proof parkas and huge, nubbly, hand-knitted alpaca cardigans," Dawson continues. "If you thought cashmere was soft, you are in for a treat!"

"Hester gets a few silk dresses as well, but in more serious and determined silk twill. Not as flashy as Claire's shiny silk satins," she says.

Dawson's line will hit the runway during May 14's Fashion Finale at The Edge (310 Culvert Ave., Downtown). Doors open at 5:30 p.m. Eager fashionistas will get a few opportunities to view and buy Dawson's collection as DAAP hosts a pop-up shop on the 6th floor Tuesday, and The Brush Factory (3229 Madison Road, Oakley) opens a merchant fair-style sale 3-5 p.m. Sunday. Shoppers will be able to buy Dawson's current line and be some of the first to pre-order the Fall/Winter 2011 collection.

"Cincinnati is a lovely, livable city," Dawson says. "I'm more than happy to return to the city to show there, particularly with the way that [founder Nathan Hurst] has engineered Cincinnati Fashion Week to tie-in to fashion fans directly."

"I think it may well be the next step for fashion shows," she says.

Go here to read more about CFW and Laura Dawson.

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<![CDATA[CFW Profile: Jonathan Mezibov]]>

Fashion designer Jonathan Mezibov grew up in Cincinnati and has since gone on to launch his own clothing line and website, featuring shirts that have appeared in GQ Japan and Vogue China Men. Mezibov returns to the Queen City this month for the second annual Cincinnati Fashion Week (CFW). ---

Mezibov's handsome shirts are classic designs with an updated twist - making them appealing and accessible to regular dudes, but with a high-caliber fit and design suitable for the runway. "My collection is about substance and detail," he explains. "I use colors, fabric and patterns that guys are comfortable with and drawn to, but often played up with a bit of flair."

Tuesday at CFW, Christian Moerlein Brewing Company (1621 Moore St., Over-the-Rhine) hosts a Men's Fashion Refinery featuring Artfully Disheveled, Demetrius Romanos of Kaleidoscope and Mezibov's all-new collection for Fall 2011. Mezibov says the looks we'll see Tuesday were Western wear-inspired.

"I had Paul Newman, Robert Redford, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and Spaghetti Westerns in mind when designing my shirts," he says. "But all done in a refined way with a more European, international attitude."  Think cultured man's man - sounds great, right? Those attending Tuesday's CFW event will be some of the first to check out these excellent designs.

For some, a fashion week in the Midwest might seem out of place. But creativity isn't bound to bigger cities, and Mezibov believes this year's CFW will be a success.

 "I believe in this city and its progress" he says, "and there are people here who are heavily influenced and attuned to fashion. People might be surprised."

Of course, we all know a few men who could use a style update. Thankfully, Mezibov has advice for local guys who want to crank their metrosexual meter up a notch. He believes fashion, specifically menswear, begins at the elements - knowing what fits and suits your body. "Then," he says, "experimenting with subtle details that will distinguish you from the rest."  

The first step in revamping your style?

"Find a tailor you trust," he advises. "Most American guys probably wear their clothes, specifically their jackets and shirts, one size too large. It does not matter if your clothes are made from the finest fabrics, if they do not fit well, your investment is not worth the money." Investing in high-quality shoes will also set you apart, he says.

Cincinnatians will get a preview of autumn with Mezibovs line, but what are his warm weather style predictions?

"I am looking forward to bright colors, shorts, great leather sandals and lots of white," he says. "Be it a white dress shirt work open-collar or, my seasonal favorite, white jeans."

Go here to read more about Mezibov and Cincinnati Fashion Week.


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<![CDATA[UC Pop Praxis: Social Justice & the Media]]>

I opted out of typing music listings and attending sociology class Friday in favor of checking out the conference taking place on the University of Cincinnati’s campus: Pop Praxis: Social Justice & the Media. With discussion topics like, “Disco Stick: Lady Gaga and the Phallus” and a keynote speech from Bitch Magazine’s own Andi Zeisler, I was stoked for an enlightening day of stimulating pop culture discussion.

The conference was the result of a collection of papers, presentations and workshops submitted by speakers ranging from undergrads to professors to alumni from a number of universities. Submissions were required to regard "pop culture as it relates to feminism, race, disability or queer theory, class, consumption, and all forms of political activism or cultural production."

It was an honor for the university to welcome Andi Zeisler, co-founder and editorial/creative director of Bitch: Feminist Response to Pop Culture. She wasted no time launching into a pointed discussion about the importance of feminism today, despite the general public’s tendency to assume that the movement is past and irrelevant.

“Any media needs to make money,” Zeisler pointed out, “and the quickest and surest way to do that is to sell out women.”

In short, while addressing the frustrating roadblocks today’s feminist advocates face, Zeisler commended technology and blogging as new ways to comment on the media and bring important issues to public attention, keeping intelligent discussion going that might not have been able to take place before.

Zeisler said Bitch’s goal is to help people think about pop culture in a more critical way, so it makes sense that the speakers in the sessions that followed did exactly that.

While the main event was arguably Zeisler's speech, the presentations and workshops were fun and eye opening.

During the first session, Sarah Mitchell called out Winnie of The Wonder Years for her textbooks that attempt to make math “sexy” for middle school girls in “Postfeminist Math Barbie: Danica McKellar’s Provocative Education Advocacy.” Lee Serbin also pointed out the shaky, back-and-forth stance Tina Fey’s character holds between feminism and postfeminism in 30 Rock during her discussion, “30 Rock and Feminism in Flux.”

Some women in the media, however, aren’t so bad to look up to. One presenter discussed how Lady Gaga rocked the phallus on the cover of Q Magazine as a response to the public’s accusation that she’s packing a package. While still technically enforcing the belief that a penis equates power, her gender-bending humor puts sexists in their place.

A strong argument was also made for Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Admittedly, she was skinny and blonde, but more importantly, she overcame that image to kick vampire ass. The slayer was decidedly deemed a pretty solid female role model for something popularized by mainstream television.

Feminism wasn’t the only topic of the day, however. One student discussed Batman as an extreme representation of hypermasculinity who tends to equate violence with being a man. That, and maybe steroid use after all the bulk the superhero’s acquired over the years.

During the same session, another speaker addressed the somewhat androgynous image of the emo kid. This speaker deserves props for researching something so fickle in the world of teenage cliques. She concluded that, while the emo subculture allows for somewhat of a break from that Batman-inspired masculinity, only the white boys of suburbia seem to make up this social group.

While it was impossible for me to make it to each presentation, at the end of the day, the message was clear: People need to be careful about what they consume.

There are no clear answers. Watching a Lady Gaga video over 30 Rock isn’t necessarily going to be more empowering, and children who prefer Batman to Chris Carrabba aren’t doomed to a life of violence. The important thing Pop Praxis stressed is that the discussion remains open and that we, as responsible consumers of popular culture, keep a critical eye on it.

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<![CDATA[Q&A with Ragged Productions...]]>

Adam Lytle is the co-founder of Ragged Productions, a new collaborative video production company staffed by former and current Electronic Media students from UC's CCM. The company, made up of directors, designers, animators and editors, creates professional grade videos on the cheap. Just another example of emerging creativity in the Queen City, Lytle answers some basic questions about who Ragged Productions is, what they do and why they're important.

Me: What is Ragged Productions?

Ragged Productions: Ragged Productions is an independent video production company. It is an outlet for a collective of creatives and was established to make video a reality for anyone who wants one, but could not normally afford it. It all started with the 48 Hour film festival. I had just finished school and wanted to kind of take everything I had learned in school and apply it to one project. We talked the idea up with friends and coworkers from all different backgrounds and pulled together a full crew. We had so much fun that everyone stayed together and started working on a variety of other projects.

Me: Who is Ragged Productions? 

RP: I founded Ragged with my friend Joey Deady. I am the Producer, he acts as Creative Director. We work with a bunch of talented people like Doug Horton, Andy Young, Brett Banks, Stephen Young, Chelsea Pathoff, Danny Rust and Dan Diazcun. Everyone brings their own strengths to the table and fills a role. We are all either alumni or students from the University of Cincinnati's Electronic Media Division. Most of us interned at Lightborne for a period of time. A few of us are freelance video professionals in town.

Me: What projects have you made/what projects are you working on?

RP: We are trying to stay busy. We just finished a video for the Buffalo Killers about a month ago. We are getting ready to shoot one for the Lions Rampant. This week, we are doing some work for A Small Group, a community activist group in town. On top of that, we are prepping to film our first short at the end of October. Having so many talented people involved allows us to have our fingers in a lot of pies at once.

Me: Is Ragged Productions only interested in music videos?

RP: Music videos are fun, there are really no rules that need to be followed. I like making them because I am a big music fan and I feel like a lot of local bands deserve to have a music video that they can shop to bloggers. The reality is, commercial work is what pays. So we have started doing that work as well. It helps when it comes time to buy new gear.

Me: What is the future for Ragged Productions?

RP: The future is unknown. Right now we are focused on doing the work. If the work is there, and its of high quality, the audience will follow. We might even get to do something like a Bootsy Collins video. That would be a treat.

Me: Do you guys have a favorite movie?

RP: If I took a poll it would probably be Blue Velvet. I don't know. David Lynch really knows how to create a mood.

Me: What are your influences?

RP: Everyone we meet and work with. This whole thing is a learning process. When I am out doing freelance work, I am always asking the older guys questions. They probably think I am annoying, but I respect them and the knowledge they posses.

Me: Who are your idols?

RP: Stan Brakhage. Michel Gondry, Project Mill. Pitchfork.tv, whoever invented youtube.

Me: What do you think about the phrase, "Kill your television?"

RP: Isn't that a song title? It should be. I say, go ahead. There's nothing on. I no longer have cable. Everything is moving towards the Web. I know people love their sitcoms, but I feel like they affect my thinking capacity.

Me: Why are you located in Cincinnati and why haven't you moved anywhere else?

RP: Cincinnati is flying under the radar right now and I think things are changing. There are a lot of young people making great music, great art, and genuinely making a difference in their communities. The way I look at it, everyone wants to move to Brooklyn because "thats where it's at," but they move there and they just get absorbed. Brooklyn defines them, they don't define it. Cincinnati is trying to figure itself out. It will become what we make it. When it all goes down, I want to be able to say I told you so.

 Ragged's video for the Buffalo Killers and "Let It Ride:"

A disclaimer: Adam may or may not be my ex-boyfriend, but the fact that we don't like each other that much anymore makes my support of his project all the more sincere.

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<![CDATA[Q&A with PROJECTMILL...]]>

Project Mill.jpg

I've said it once, and I'll say it again: Cincinnati is a cool city. Despite popular belief, there's a whole crop of young adults out there getting involved in their community and doing creative things. One of these groups is PROJECTMILL. What is PROJECTMILL? The answer, my friend, is many things, including the host of Dance_MF, the monthly dance party at the Northside Tavern. And, it just so happens, Dance_MF is coming up this Saturday (Oct. 4). So start doing your squat thrusts, deep lunges or whatever you do to limber up for a danctastic night, and read this little Q&A with Projector Mandy Levy...

MZ: What is PROJECTMILL and who is involved? What roles do they play?

MANDY LEVY: That’s a lot of questions for the price of one! PROJECTMILL is people helping people do cool things. It is—ideally—a network of artists and creatives who are constantly “on call” and willing to lend their talent, ideas, advice, equipment, know-how, critiques, time and enthusiasm to any PROJECTMILL creation. It started at the beginning of the year with just me, Pete Ohs, and Josh Mattie, and has already branched out to a strong sampling of 15 or more “projectors” (that’s what we call ourselves) from Cincinnati, LA, New York, and Chicago, all masters of different creative domains. We have writers, video people, graphic designers, fashion designers, classic artists, animators, musicians, comedians, DJs, actors, even chefs… I think that’s the bulk of it. A nice variety to boot!

MZ: What is the goal or mission of PROJECTMILL?

MANDY LEVY: A kick in the pants, really. It’s about being productive and staying productive by surrounding yourself with productivity.

MZ: This sort of goes along with the above question, but why did you start PROJECTMILL?

MANDY LEVY: We like the idea of team creativity, and were inspired by the impressive artistic community in Cincinnati. If a rising tide lifts all boats, then an institution like PROJECTMILL could help all the awesome people involved to stay motivated and find success.

MZ: What else does PROJECTMILL do besides Dance_MF?

MANDY LEVY: Our inaugural project was going down to South by Southwest with WOXY and creating video content for all their twenty-something lounge acts for the week. We also became an Emmy Award-winning production company this summer, when American Rhapsody, a video Pete and I made, won a Midwestern Regional Emmy for the Advanced Media category. And later this month, we’re putting on a live radio play for the opening night of a spoken word exhibit at the Carnegie Visual and Performing Arts Center in Covington.

MZ: What inspired you guys to start Dance_MF? What do you feel the response has been?

MANDY LEVY: Last New Year’s Eve, Bad Veins played to a packed house at Northside Tavern, and afterwards they (and a bunch of other friends and future-projectors) proceeded to take over the DJ booth and curate a crazy night of dancing with abandon. It made everyone realize how much we missed Girls and Boys, and how much the cool young people of Cincinnati needed a dance night again. “Bring Dancey Back” was the title on our proposal to the Tavern. But DMF is so much more than just music and dancing. It’s an art installation. Each month boasts a different theme, expanded upon exponentially with various elements of décor, video content, dancer-interaction, and extra-added bonuses (like Razzlebear). The response has been awesome. We’ve gotten a great crowd in both nights so far, and people seem eager to dance and participate in everything that’s offered to them, whether it be following along with the giant '80s workout video projected on the wall, writing obscenities on an overhead projector, or asking Razzlebear to pose for pictures. It’s been really fun.

MZ: Why do you think it's important for young adults in Cincinnati to be more involved with what goes on in their city- creatively, entertainment-wise, etc.? How does PROJECTMILL strive to inspire others to become more involved?

MANDY LEVY: Cincinnati, first of all, is an awesome city. I’m a relative newbie here—I’m from Chicago and I lived in LA before this, and I’m telling you, this place is the best of the three. It’s so undiscovered and unappreciated outside of our little Mason-Dixon bubble, and the only way to put it on the map in the way it deserves is to build it up with our own devotion. We have to make it an outlet for awesomeness. Already this year (or maybe it was last year), Cincinnati was mentioned in Spin magazine as the next big music city—and it’s true! We have incredible music coming out of this place! So it’s the little things like that. Cincinnati needs its young adult community—which, let’s be honest, is the most important gauge for coolness and modern relevance—to produce, participate and promote like there’s no tomorrow. And like I said, PROJECTMILL is meant to be a kick in the pants. People who want to be involved are encouraged to be, and we want to encourage people to be involved. Collaboration swings both ways.

MZ: What are your plans for the future?

MANDY LEVY: We want to make a feature film. Between all of us, we can tackle every part that goes into it. We can write it, direct it, shoot it, star in it, edit it, market it… It’s a big job with a lot of moving parts, but it seems like it should be the ultimate destiny of PROJECTMILL. It makes sense. Want to help?

MZ: Who is DJing Dance_MF this time?

MANDY LEVY: This month’s lineup of DJ-projectors includes: Derek Ruch aka Indian Giver, Matt Luken, Kevin Bayer, Yusef Quotah, Josh Mattie and Bill Rich.

MZ: Your thoughts and feelings on living in Cincinnati? What's good? What's bad?

MANDY LEVY: Cincinnati, again, is awesome. Pete and I recently moved to Over-the-Rhine, and we’re obsessed with the area. It’s got so much to offer, so much potential. The history, the architecture… oh, it makes me weak in the knees! We’ve become so passionate about the Downtown Renaissance; maybe someday we can use PROJECTMILL as a political platform and speak at city council meetings! So that’s good… And the other good thing, again, is just the breed of people. There is an overwhelming wealth of talent here, and it’s so inspiring, but the best part is that these uber-cool and talented people are also Midwestern. So they’re normal. (Sorry LA). The thing that saddens me about Cincinnati, though, is the fact that not everyone has “city spirit.” People prefer to ignore OTR, rather than help it get back on its feet again. They prefer to assume ours is a lame city, rather than explore and discover all the great things it has to offer in all the neighborhoods they’ve never heard of. It’s the wrong attitude. We can’t expect anyone else to swoon for Cincinnati if we don’t love it first.

MZ: Do you guys have a slogan or like words to live by?

MANDY LEVY: “Collective Creativity.” And also, “Knee Socks or No Socks!”

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