Entries from blogs tagged with “Lawrence”
May 2016 Final Friday Preview: ‘Soundshapes’ in North Lawrence, blacklight art, ‘Sideshow Serenade’ and more
Among the attractions at this month's Final Friday: circus-themed creations, blacklight art, "Soundshapes" and a romp through Catherine Reed's textile "jungle" at the Percolator.
All events are from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. unless otherwise noted. Check out www.lawrenceks.org/finalfriday for a complete listing.
The Brewhaus, 624 N. Second St.
The Brewhaus works double duty this Final Friday, hosting not one but two events, both slated for 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.
First item on the agenda: The public debut of Independence, Mo., artist Jason Sinsley’s (also known as Goghtea) mysterious “blacklight creations.” We’re not sure exactly what that entails, but word on the street (or in the city’s Final Friday listings) is that the coffee bar’s rooms will be converted into a black-lit display space for the show. Visitors will receive UV reactive wristlets, and there’s also the chance of a “creation station.”
Also going on at the Brewhaus: an artists’ reception for the Ballard Community Services’ “Soundshapes and Silos” public art events. Funded in part by a grant from the Kansas Creative Arts Industries Commission and by the National Endowment for the Arts, this exhibition showcases the work of local students who spent three weeks exploring the “art, science and technology of sound” under the guidance of public artists Shannon and Darin White. As its name implies, the show will also feature color-changing “Soundshapes” artwork projected onto the grain silos next to the Lawrence Pacific Union Train Depot (402 N. Second St.) from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Phoenix Underground, 825 Massachusetts St.
The circus is coming to town this Final Friday — or, rather, Thomas Sciacca’s exhibition of circus-inspired artwork at the Phoenix Underground. The whimsical display, dubbed “Sideshow Serenade,” will also include live painting by Sciacca himself, plus circus-themed baked goods by Kansas City artist Betsy Barrett.
Lawrence Percolator, 913 Rhode Island St. (look for the yellow building with the green awnings in the alley behind the Lawrence Arts Center)
Guests are invited to “walk into the depths of a jungle made from yarn, cloth, paint, light and sound” at artist Catherine Reed’s installation opening. What you’ll find once inside has yet to be revealed, but we know for sure that all ages are welcome at this quirky arts-and-crafts event.
Watkins Museum of History, 1047 Massachusetts St.
Last year, the Douglas County Historical Society partnered with local artists and arts organizations across the state to document the overlooked and untold stories of Kansas’ past through a series of colorful posters.
Friday’s exhibition opening, slated for 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., includes a first look at the Kansas People’s History Project Portfolio printed by Lawrence artist Justin Marable. Project director Dave Loewenstein and original Celebrate People’s History Project organizer Josh MacPhee will also join the festivities.
Yantra Financial Technologies, 840 Massachusetts St.
The young artists of Hang12 (the local art collective brings together local high schoolers interested in how art intersects with public engagement and relevant social issues) unveil “Collaborative Canvases” this month at downtown’s Yantra Financial Technologies.
The exhibition is a series of abstract collaborative pieces created by six groups of young people through the community, curated and installed by Hang12.
Lawrence City Band to kick off summer series Wednesday with new conductors at the helm; storm threat forces relocation
Update: Wednesday's concert has been moved to Room 130 of KU's Murphy Hall because of the threat of thunderstorms. The performance will begin at 8 p.m.
• • •
When the Lawrence City Band performs its first concert of the 2016 summer season Wednesday evening, it’ll be without longtime conductor Robert Foster, who retired after last year’s season.
Instead, audiences will find a trio of new — but familiar — faces directing things from the William Kelly Bandstand (aka the gazebo) in South Park.
“We just can’t take his place and we don’t want to,” says assistant conductor Marion Roberts, who will share rotating conducting duties this summer with newly appointed conductor Paul Popiel and fellow assistant director Martin Bergee. “We want to honor the past and move forward into the future.”
Roberts, a 30-year veteran of the band and chairman of its board of directors, says he — along with Popiel and Bergee — made a conscious effort this year to select pieces with the potential to “appeal to a larger audience.” That includes more contemporary music compared with some of the ensemble’s Big Band staples, such as selections from “Les Miserables,” Disney tunes and “American Bandstand”-era hits.
“With the times the way they are, one of our concerns is that we continue to make it a part of the heart of Lawrence,” Roberts says of the City Band, which he says held its first concert the night before Quantrill’s Raid some 150 years ago. “It appeals to all ages. It’s something that truly is a piece of Americana.”
All concerts are free and open to the public, and will be held at 8 p.m. on Wednesday nights through July 13 in South Park, 1141 Massachusetts St. In the case of inclement weather, performances will be moved to Room 130 of Murphy Hall on the Kansas University campus.
Here’s a look at this summer’s thematic lineup:
• May 25: Opening Day
• June 1: March Kings
• June 8: Greatest Generations
• June 15: Hooray for Hollywood
• June 22: For Children of All Ages
• June 29: Rockin’ the Bandstand
• July 6: America the Beautiful
• July 13: Grand Finale
I’ve come to believe that every family is like a country unto itself, each with its own culture and customs, each member of that family a citizen of a singular homeland. In all our interactions with “foreigners” — that is, anyone who is not a member of the family in which we were raised — we come as ambassadors and interpreters from our native land.
So it’s no surprise someone seeking to better understand their own experiences might delve into their family’s history for insight, or that a well-written family memoir can make for extremely compelling reading. Playwright George Bernard Shaw once wrote that “if you cannot get rid of the family skeleton, you may as well make it dance.” Here are a few examples of family memoirs that confront the skeletons in the closet and come out dancing:
Edward Ball’s "The Genetic Strand: Exploring a Family History Through DNA" examines how the science of DNA can both illuminate and blur our understanding of “what really happened.” In "The Genetic Strand," Ball (whose National Book Award-winning "Slaves in the Family" explores the lives of both his slave-owning ancestors and the people they enslaved) discovers a drawer in an heirloom desk filled with locks of hair collected from long-ago family members.
Ball turns to DNA analysis to see what light it can shed on his discovery, and in particular, whether it can answer long-lingering questions about the parentage of some of his ancestors. His results are mixed (and it’s worth considering how much the science of DNA has advanced since Ball published this book in 2007), but they raise interesting questions about the relationship between science and family anecdote: What can be proven, and what remains speculation, when science gets involved?
Lisa See tackles the transoceanic saga of her Chinese and Chinese-American family in "On Gold Mountain: The One-Hundred Year Odyssey of My Chinese American Family." See is perhaps best known for her historical fiction — including "Snow Flower and the Secret Fan" and, most recently, "China Dolls." However, the experience of writing "On Gold Mountain" — See’s first published work, in 1995 — set the direction for her subsequent career. "On Gold Mountain" is a vivid portrait of not just a family, but also the society and times in which they lived.
As Chinese residents in America in the late 1800s and early 1900s, See’s great-grandfather Fong See and his family faced systematized racism that made their hard-won prosperity in Los Angeles’s Chinatown precarious. The family’s enduring ties to China, and a tradition of interracial marriage — even at a time when such marriages were illegal — adds to the rich complexity of See’s well-researched and clear-eyed account of her family.
In "A Fifty-Year Silence: Love, War, and a Ruined House in France," Miranda Richmond Mouillot seeks to solve a mystery that has shaped her own life profoundly: Why did her grandparents — both Jewish survivors of World War II — separate and never see or speak to each other again? Mouillot’s thoughtful memoir paints a rich portrait of two highly accomplished individuals. Her grandmother was a physician, and her grandfather served as an interpreter at the Nuremburg Trials; they each, ultimately, had to find their own way to live with having survived the war. What Mouillot’s investigation turns up is a compelling account of the weight that History with a capital “H” can bring to bear on ordinary lives, and how that can resonate through generations.
— Melissa Fisher Isaacs is the Information Services Coordinator at Lawrence Public Library.
Barry Crimmins won over audiences at last year's Free State Festival, where the veteran stand-up comedian, political satirist and activist joined director and comic Bobcat Goldthwait for a screening of "Call Me Lucky." Goldthwait's critically acclaimed documentary chronicles Crimmins' story of survival, from his brutal rape as a boy growing up in upstate New York to his later advocacy against child sex abuse and online child pornography.
The film also serves as a "testament" of sorts, Crimmins says, to the relationships he's forged with fellow comedians over the years, as a peer and as an owner of the legendary Ding Ho and Stitches comedy clubs in Boston. Among the many now-famous funny people on his "Thank-God I was nice to that kid" list: Louis C.K. The superstar's production company, Pig Newton, is set to produce Crimmins' one-hour comedy special, for which Crimmins will return to the Lawrence Arts Center stage June 4.
Lawrence has treated him well over the years, and the comedy special (Crimmins has opted to keep prices low, at $10 for general admission) is his "thank you" to the many friends he's made here — "It's my way of saying, 'I think your town's the greatest.' I mean, I just do," he says. "I really do."
In advance of the big night, Crimmins chatted with the Journal-World about "Call Me Lucky," political correctness, the state of comedy today and way, way more insightful and provocative stuff than we could include here. Read on for an edited and condensed version of our interview.
What’s life been like since “Call Me Lucky” came out?
It’s been very busy. I’ve been on the road a lot, doing a lot of smaller dates to get my act together, because I spent almost two years on the movie before that. And in particular since “Call Me Lucky” hit Netflix, I spend a lot of time just sorting through mail and communications from abuse survivors who felt like, I guess, from watching the movie, that I was someone they could talk to. That takes up a chunk of every day. For the first several months (the movie) was on Netflix, it was a big chunk of every day. That’s now quieted down a bit, but it’s still a daily obligation I make every effort to try to keep up on.
Was that a surprise to you, to get that huge influx of messages from survivors?
No, because I’ve been public for almost a quarter century now. I wrote about this in the Boston Phoenix years ago and from that point on. I did the work exposing the child pornography trafficking on AOL, and that kept me in the public eye. I would continue to comment on things, including particularly the scandals of the Catholic Church. I don’t have scientific information about child abuse, but I have an incredible wealth of anecdotal information because I feel like everybody tells me everything, you know? I’m used to it. I knew before we did the movie that this would happen, but it still became even overwhelming for me. It just adds up. You add up five or six really tough stories in a row, and you get a little weary. But then when you hear from people you spoke to a couple weeks ago, and they’re gaining ground and doing well, you get a little shot in the arm. It’s two steps forward and one step back sometimes, but I’ve gotten better also with finding other resources for people and trying not to handle everything myself. But if anybody writes me, I really do try to get back to them.
Do you think we as a society have a problem verbalizing the word “rape” and what constitutes it?
Sure, we do. We really need to call rape, “rape.” We really need to describe what it is and we really need to be able to live with that. People who use the term “political correctness” all the time tend to be some of the biggest censors, even though they’re allegedly fighting for free speech. As Mark Twain said, “use the right word, not its second cousin.”
You remarked in the documentary — and have continued to discuss this issue since — that a lot of these people who pride themselves on being so politically incorrect regard themselves as cutting-edge rebels, but really they’re just reinforcing the “oppressive status quo.”
Well, that’s it. You’re this brave, cutting-edge rebel, and all you’re doing is what’s most convenient for yourself and your narrow view of things. I’m in the comedy business, and I’ll talk about this in the show, but it’s the guys who say, “The world used to be 99 percent based around people like me. Now it’s only 97 percent based around people like me. What’s up with that?” They lose a little tiny bit of work over it, and they’re all upset. I’ve been losing work for decades because of how I speak. I’m not calling myself a martyr over it, but I’m just saying that if their soap pollutes the river, they’re probably not going to let me stand on their soapbox.
What are your thoughts on the current state of comedy?
When I got into it, there weren’t very many comedians. I don’t know if there were 100 comedians when I got into it in the early '70s. I mean, there are far more comedians in Lawrence than there were in the United States when I started doing comedy. When I was a kid, we all wanted to be rock 'n' roll stars, but it turns out you had to be able to do something. Well, there’s not that kind of a threshold for comedy. You just need to be able to think you can do something. I think there’s a problem in comedy right now, in that there are so many people calling themselves comedians that they’re really creating this sort of enormous mountain for the people with some real talent and making it much harder for the people with real talent to be seen and get stage time. There’s really good young comics who are getting buried in this, and that’s who I’m most concerned about. These kids go out and do open mic nights, so they have two minutes. When you’re putting your act together two minutes at a time, it’s going to look like a ransom note. In a way, it’s this huge vindication for those of us who got into it a while back and really sort of made it into something that other people wanted to do. On the other hand, it’s created a real economic crisis for the workers, because basically, everybody’s a scab. There’s a million people waiting to do what you do. It’s like Syria’s taking in comics now. It’s a refugee crisis.
At one point in your career, I think it was the '80s, you said you were almost ashamed to call yourself a stand-up comedian.
What happened was the comedy boom came and really, at that point, the problem was everybody wanted to open up a comedy club but there weren’t enough comics. There were suddenly 600 comedy clubs in the country, and on a Saturday night, there weren’t 600 people that could headline a show, unless you allowed the headliner to be someone who used every hack premise and lowest-common-denominator thing. And that’s what they did. And the audience that digs that became the audience at comedy clubs. But we didn’t come with a laugh track, you know? It was like, “Come on, when are you going to talk about airline peanuts or women going to the bathroom in pairs?” I’d go out and play the clubs — and I’d just done the HBO young comedians special or something — and they’d put some local, real hacky act on in front of me, just doing all this crotch stuff and whatever, and I would follow and struggle. But fortunately when the comedy clubs got stupider and stupider, I got lucky — Jackson Browne took me on tour with him, Billy Bragg took me on tour with him, and Dar Williams, and I always went out with Steven Wright. And then I was able to develop audiences in these towns kind of free of the comedy clubs, and I could go back and play places like the Lawrence Arts Center.
Mark Twain once said, “the secret source of humor is not joy but sorrow.” Do you think a person has to go through immense pain in order to be a truly great comic?
No (laughs). And if I said yes, there would be people out there hurting themselves right now, so I’d better say no (laughs). I don’t think there are a lot of people in this life who don’t go through some sort of immense pain sooner or later. What Twain’s talking about is sort of constructing humor and not necessarily being eligible to write it or speak it. He’s saying that there’s a dark underside to things that generally the real strong stuff comes from. I agree with that. We all go through some things, but the idea that it’s necessary to comedy. ... You could do the same (thing) with insurance salespeople and say, “Well, it turns out every insurance salesperson has been through some crap, which explains why they screwed you out of that annuity” (laughs). I don’t know. Maybe I should be smart enough not to even answer that, because I’m sort of a “see the ball, hit the ball” kind of comic and don’t take it apart that much, you know? I guess sometimes I know more than I realize, but I like to keep it that way.
Recently you tweeted about Jared Fogle and really spoke out about poking fun at the hypothetical situation of him being assaulted in prison.
I abhor all rape, and if I say it’s OK to rape this guy in prison, then a kid who’s in prison on a marijuana rap is going to get raped, too. And that just means there’s going to be more rage and more violence, and it means that I’ve OK’d rape on any level, and I don’t. It’s a horrible thing. I’ve been raped; no one should ever be raped. If I had my way, that would be it. Snickering about Bubba and the soap in the shower and all that crap — forget it. People say that to me all the time and really think I’m going to light up. They couldn’t be more wrong. I’m disgusted. I’m just like, “Why do you presume I’m in favor of rape? I’m not.”
Do you see any situation where it might be OK to joke about sexual assault? Like, for instance, if a survivor wanted to talk about their personal experience?
I think it’s OK to joke about the hypocrisy, the cowardice surrounding it, the injustice for the victims — all those things are good things to go after. Go after the hypocrisy, go after the cowardice, go after the institutions that cover it up, go after the rapists and facilitators, but the minute you get a snickering little joke in there about some child or some woman or man getting raped, you’ve lost me. You have a First Amendment right to do whatever you want. I have a First Amendment right to take you apart after you do it.
Speaking of using comedy to go after institutions, you describe your two big life goals in the documentary as dismantling A, the Catholic Church and B, the United States government.
I do (talk about) it as a peaceful overthrow, but that got left out of it, I guess (laughs). But, yeah. It just means I want to take down oppressive institutions that are not what they seem to be.
Are you any closer to accomplishing those goals?
In a way, the (Bernie) Sanders campaign is encouraging, and as far as the Catholic Church is concerned, I think the new pope’s job is to change the subject and not the Church. I mean, it recently came out that they’re teaching new bishops that it’s not necessarily their job to turn in (suspected abusers) to civil authorities, and I’m a big “render unto Caesar” man on that one. And he sent his representatives to a U.N. hearing on torture to assert that the rape of children, particularly by the clergy, is not torture. I disagree. I’m glad that he’s concerned about climate change. So am I. But he’s not doing anything to change the climate of the Church. He could really make a difference. There haven’t been any of the major fundamental changes the Church needs. I’m glad the guy pays lip service to socialism. If he wants to redistribute the wealth, he could give me the keys to the Vatican vault, and I would be happy to fly over to Rome and start helping on that front.
But I’m a heretic, former altar boy who was abused and humiliated on the altar every morning by a priest who hated me because he knew I probably wasn’t a good prospect to rape, so he was trying to drive me off every day. And he humiliated me in front of a group of people who, had they noticed or said anything, maybe someone would have looked into this guy and found out he was one of the most savage pedophile priests who has ever been documented. He was the guy who would orally rape little boys and tell them they had to swallow because it was like the Eucharist, because he was God’s representative on Earth. I know several people who committed suicide because of that priest, and there’s a lot more stories like that out there.
But we’re getting places. “Spotlight” won the Academy Award (for Best Picture). Granted, it was about journalism, but it won the Academy Award. Things are moving along.
I sit here and find myself feeling a similar apprehension to what author Matt Haig felt upon sending his book, "Reasons to Stay Alive," to his publisher. My concern stems not from the subject of mental health, but rather the associated stigmas, because I am a suicide survivor — a label not outwardly worn, not due to shame or penance, but because it doesn’t define my life. It is a designation others use to describe an experience of part of my life. I will admit, the stigma and other people’s discomfort keeps me discreet about sharing my experience, as well as keeping the person I lost close to my chest.
This is in itself saddening, because that’s where the cycle of depression begins. The silence brought on by fear of stigma propagates the loneliness attributed with depression, when, in truth, the National Alliance on Mental Illness reports, “6.9 percent of adults in the U.S. — 16 million — had at least one major depressive episode in the past year.”
"Reasons to Stay Alive" reads part memoir, part self-help, but untraditionally so, as it lacks any interspersed clinical perspectives. Matt Haig pens an account of his personal experience with depression, suicidal thoughts and his ability to overcome. Haig is forthcoming about his life at the time of the onset of depression, when he was residing with his girlfriend amongst a seemingly idyllic and party atmosphere on the island of Ibiza, Spain. However, despite these trappings, he became unknowingly immersed with nearly paralyzing depression. Haig recounts: “Depression is an illness. Yet it doesn’t come with a rash or a cough. It is hard to see, as it is generally invisible. Even though it is a serious illness it is also surprisingly hard for many sufferers to recognize it at first. Not because it doesn’t feel bad — it does — but because that bad feeling seems unrecognizable, or can be confused with other things.”
Accompanying Haig’s depression were intense panic attacks, expressed in intricate detail, that involved going to the shops for errands or groceries. These tasks seemed banal to those not suffering, yet would send him into a downward spiral of anxiety. It was during the reading of these testaments I became concerned. Haig’s eloquence left me teetering, having suffered similar panic attacks following my loved one’s passing. However, it was all for naught, which was a surprise to me, but also confirmation that I am truly recovered.
It’s a popular misconception that depressive episodes can be brief; however, it’s not uncommon for them to last several months, or possibly years. In Haig’s experience, his illness was lengthy. Choosing to abstain from antidepressants, Haig instead found solace in running and reading: “I read and read and read with an intensity I’d never really known before. I mean, I’d always considered myself to be a person who liked books. But there is a difference between liking books and needing them. I needed books.” He continues, “Every time I read a great book I felt I was reading a kind of map, a treasure map, and the treasure I was being directed to was in actual fact myself. But each map was incomplete, and I would only locate the treasure if I read all the books, and so the process of finding my best self was an endless quest.”
Haig cleverly frames his thoughts as a temporal conversation between his recovered self: Now Me, and the pained version: Then Me. This brilliantly demonstrates his shift in perspective and articulates the change in language as he moves toward recover. To this, he states: “You know, before the age of 24 I hadn’t known how bad things could feel, but I hadn’t realized how good they could feel either. That shell might be protecting you, but it’s also stopping you feeling the full force of that good stuff. Depression might be a hell of a price to pay for waking up to life, and while it is on top of you it is one that could never seem worth paying. Clouds with silver linings are still clouds. But it is therapeutic to know that pleasure doesn’t just help compensate for pain, it can actually grow out of it.”
I personally encourage those untouched by depression, suicide or the myriad of mental health issues to read this book, because within its pages you may learn ways to help someone who is suffering, or you might find a new perspective to enrich your life. And, for those coping or still recovering, perhaps one man’s story may be a treasure map on your own quest for new reasons to stay alive.
From "The Humans" by Matt Haig; image created by Ilka Iwanczuk.
— Ilka Iwanczuk is a Reader’s Services Assistant at Lawrence Public Library
Sean Sullivan sees things differently — literally.
The Lawrence artist was born without a corpus callosum, the band of white matter that connects the two hemispheres of the brain.
That means Sullivan has trouble processing information at times and reading social cues. It also means that the part of his brain responsible for visual recall and construction is unusually active, allowing him to remember tiny details — the number of holes in a stranger’s shoe, for instance — years after the fact.
Sullivan has his struggles, he admits, but he also has “a gift” in his condition.
“My art is how I see the world. It’s how my brain processes the world around me,” says Sullivan, whose colorful, surreal paintings — they’re mostly images conjured from his imagination — are currently on display at the Lawrence Percolator’s “We Can” exhibit. “It feels so cool to be able to share that with the world, that perspective that’s unique.”
Sullivan is one of six artists, each of whom live with chronic mental illness, featured in the show, which he curated himself over a year of visiting local facilities and building relationships with prospective artists. For many of the painters, photographers and sculptors involved, “We Can” marks their first gallery show.
“We Can” is set to end its one-month (that month also being Mental Health Month) run at the Percolator, 913 Rhode Island St., by Sunday. And Sullivan —who also lives with depression, anxiety and bipolar disorder, as well as landing on the autism spectrum — couldn’t be prouder.
“I’ve had many, many diagnoses, and through all of that, I’ve learned to feel ashamed of who I am,” says Sullivan, who traces the exhibit’s origins back to his first hospitalization in 2011, when a fellow patient suggested the idea. “Feel less than, feel inadequate. But the goal of the show was to show that we’re not less than. We’re just as capable as anyone else at achieving something meaningful.”
Art allows Linda Clark to “get into the flow” and out of unhealthy fixations on piles of clothes rotting away in the landfill or runaway diapers floating around in public pools, for instance. A longtime member of Lawrence’s downtown street-musician circuit (she earns cash singing and playing guitar along Massachusetts Street), Clark also has bipolar disorder and “a thing for fabric.”
Her hammock — which she crafted out of a painter’s dropcloth, bits of clothing and a climbing rope, among other items — is a “sacred space” hanging in the middle of the Percolator. In addition to textiles, Clark enjoys painting, and her creations often contain images of mermaids, the Virgen de Guadalupe and Lady Liberty.
One, she points out, hangs next to a plaque labeled “$5 million.” It’s more of a statement than anything else.
“That’s the amount on a check I need to build a psych wing on Lawrence Memorial Hospital,” Clark says, adding: “At Bert Nash, they’re overworked and underpaid and short-staffed. It’s too much.”
The Percolator’s art show is “kind of a cry for help” in that way, she says. In Kansas, community-based mental health treatment facilities have seen their state funding for treatment of the uninsured cut in half since 2007, according to a 2015 report from the Adult Continuum of Care Committee. Larger facilities like the state psychiatric hospitals in Larned and Osawatomie have been over-stuffed as of late, with the latter being cut off from federal Medicare funding last December.
Another primary force behind “We Can” is the “huge problem” of mental illness in Lawrence and Douglas County, where “there seems to be a revolving door between the jail, the homeless shelter and the street” with no real solution in sight, Sullivan says.
Still, since the exhibit’s debut during April’s Final Friday, the Percolator has hosted an art-education class from Washburn University and a public discussion on the roadblocks to accessing mental health services in Lawrence and Kansas as a whole, moderated by Recovery and Hope Network director Mary Lisa Pike.
That, coupled with the many personal anecdotes he’s collected from patrons — many shared stories of family members attempting or committing suicide due to struggles with mental illness and substance abuse, he says — leave Sullivan hopeful.
He’d like to make “We Can” an annual event at the Percolator. He knows the mental-health community in Lawrence has plenty more to create — “just the fact that we pulled it off is a huge boost to everyone’s self-confidence and self-esteem,” Sullivan says.
“All the artists here never thought they would be in an art show. They didn’t think their stuff was good enough,” he says. “I mean, just look at it. It’s amazing.”
*Update: An earlier version of this story inadvertently misquoted Linda Clark. Clark said that Bert Nash staff is "overworked and underpaid," not "underworked and overpaid," as the story originally noted.
We literally drank the Kool-Aid — and vodka, naturally — in this month’s Lawrence Libations.
Frank North Star Tavern’s signature “drank” involves plenty of the two, but also mixes in soda water to keep things from getting too sugary sweet.
And, because summer’s almost here and also because my horoscope in the venerable pages of People StyleWatch told me I’d be feeling nostalgic this season, the dominant flavors of grape Kool-Aid here definitely served as a welcome reminder of carefree days gone by. (Like, the days when you’d go to your neighbor’s house and drink Kool-Aid, because your own mom had ~views~ on those sorts of beverages.)
Drink up, kids at heart and fellow Pisces.
The hard stuff: Vodka
Where it’s served: Frank’s North Star Tavern, 508 Locust St.
What it costs: $3.50 for a single (you can get it on special for $3 on Saturdays)
Other libations at this location: A wide selection of wines and on-tap beers, plus other wacky creations like the Cap’n Frank’s Rum Punch in the Throat, which comprises a four-rum blend with orange and cranberry juices. (Cap’n Frank, also known as bar owner Frank Dorsey, is home and seems to be doing well after the hit-and-run accident that left him hospitalized earlier this month, tavern employees told me.)
La Parrilla’s signature rice bowls, tacos and burritos are hitting the streets soon.
Subarna Bhattachan, co-owner of the longtime Latin American restaurant at 724 Massachusetts St., expects to unveil the new La Parrilla food truck, dubbed "La Parrilla on Wheels," about two or three weeks from now. La Parrilla co-owner/chef Alejandro Lule will manage the truck, says Bhattachan.
Bhattachan describes Lule’s vision as street food in a fast, casual environment. The menu will resemble its brick-and-mortar cousin at La Parrilla, “with a little difference,” Bhattachan says — also think “very simple but tasty” favorites like nachos and tamales.
“That’s where the trend is,” he says of portable eateries. “We also thought of it as an extension of the restaurant where we could do catering events.”
Aside from catering, Bhattachan plans to park outside of restaurant/food-truck hub Fork to Fender, 1447 W. 23rd St., on Monday nights from 5 to 10 p.m. Events like Art in the Park and the Free State and GoFourth! festivals are also on the tentative roster.
“We’re excited,” says Bhattachan, who says he’s open to tweaking the menu depending on customer feedback. “It’s an adventure for us, and that style of cooking is a little more fast-paced than even at the restaurant. I think it’ll be a good addition and a nice challenge.”
We’ve all heard the cautionary advice, “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” And sure, there’s a lot of truth to that. On the other hand — being judged is totally what book covers are for.
My resistance to this old adage has been validated time and again by impulse checkouts that turn out to be awesome, the most recent example being Malachi Ward’s graphic novel "From Now On."
When I dove in, I had no idea what to expect; I just knew things were going to get weird. "From Now On" does not disappoint, with stories dealing with bizarre alien worlds and the peculiarities of time travel. The 13 vignettes stand alone as brief glimpses into future worlds, replete with imaginative technology and creatures like lime green aliens that appear to be half-mole, half-elephant.
Despite the strangeness, though, Ward manages to evoke a deeply-human and reflective mood. Flipping through the stories of lonely, hopeful space colonists made me feel like I was reading the sparse, blue-collar oriented short stories of Raymond Carver, or the succinct and wistful comics of Adrian Tomine. The science fiction elements are posed skillfully against the emotions of the characters — Ward offers only minimal world-building to let the heart of each story shine.
“Top Five” follows the daily work of a lone explorer. While carrying out his labor — menial tasks that are never explained to the reader — he thinks about the five best "Star Trek" episodes that feature time travel. That’s it. Though it may seem insignificant or uneventful, “Top Five” is actually a well-crafted portrait of regret, desire and small victories — in other words, life itself. The unearthly backdrop makes it all the more compelling, too, adding a layer of the weird that demonstrates how universal these feelings can be. It’s subtly funny, too.
Ward’s art style is similarly restrained. Simple illustration shows the wonder of alien landscapes, being suggestive rather than comprehensive. The result is a collection that showcases incredibly efficient and meaty storytelling. Just because you don’t have time to read a doorstopper like "Dune" doesn’t mean you can’t go on an adventure to the stars.
As much as I love the cover of "From Now On," I have to admit the immersive and poignant stories within are even better.
— Eli Hoelscher is a Reader's Services Assistant at Lawrence Public Library
Political satirist Barry Crimmins to film comedy special in Lawrence next month; Louis C.K.’s Pig Newton to produce
Well, comedy fans, here's a spot of sunny news for you on a rainy day:
Barry Crimmins, the veteran political satirist and activist who "won hearts" during last year's Free State Festival with his critically acclaimed documentary "Call Me Lucky," returns to Lawrence next month — this time to film his one-hour comedy special, the Lawrence Arts Center announced Monday.
The action will go down June 4 at the Arts Center's main stage, 940 New Hampshire St., with shows slated for 7 and 9:30 p.m. In another fun tidbit, Louis C.K.'s production company, Pig Newton, will produce the show.
For those of you not in the know, Crimmins' satirical writings and comedy routines have largely focused on the need for political and social change over the years. In the 1990s, this led him to spearhead a crusade against images of child abuse on the internet, calling for police investigations of ISPs. His work has earned him the “Peace Leadership Award” from Boston Mobilization for Survival, a Community Works “Artist for Social Change Award" and the “Courage of Conscience Award” from Wellesley College and Massachusetts' The Life Experience School.
Crimmins is also the founder of the Ding Ho and Stitches comedy clubs, which have hosted performances, among others, by Steven Wright, Paula Poundstone, Kevin Meaney, Jimmy Tingle and filmmaker Bobcat Goldthwait, who chronicled Crimmins' personal life in the "Call Me Lucky."
Podcast nerds may also recognize Crimmins from comedian Marc Maron's popular "WTF" podcast.
We've reached out to Crimmins to see if an interview might be in the cards before his Lawrence visit, and are hopeful at the prospects. In the meantime, you can purchase tickets (they run $10 for general admission) for Crimmins' big show(s) at www.lawrenceartscenter.org.
- In other artsy news, Tuesday is the last day to catch Kansas University's visual art department's annual senior show. The send-off to graduates, which kicked off Sunday, will feature work from students in painting, drawing, sculpture, new media, installation, textiles, ceramics, metals and printmaking. Check it out anytime between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. in the Art and Design Gallery (and also rooms 412 and 421) of Chalmers Hall, 1467 Jayhawk Blvd.
If the titular antagonist of Card Table Theatre’s “The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui” reminds you of a certain colorful self-described-billionaire turned presidential candidate, you’re not alone.
Similarities to Donald Trump, both in rhetoric and coiffure, are easy to recognize in Ui, a Chicago gangster doubling as an allegorical Hitler in Bertolt Brecht’s 1941 satire about the rise of Nazism in 1930s Germany. It’s partly why director Will Averill chose to stage the play now, just as Trump has all but officially cinched the Republican nomination amid a primary election marked by divisiveness and disillusionment on both sides.
“I think with the current and widening gap in income, the type of anger that we are seeing (with) the system and the type of frustration that Donald Trump is tapping into, I think, is almost exactly a blueprint for what was happening in 1930s Germany,” Averill says.
Card Table Theatre’s production, which opens at 7:30 p.m. May 19 at the Eagles Lodge, reminds the audience that what took place some 90 years ago in a Germany plagued by hyperinflation and unemployment could just as easily happen at any time, anywhere — if the conditions are right.
“It’s not necessarily specifically just Trump, but we wanted to show that it could be anybody,” Averill adds. “Hitler was not an anomaly.”
Hitler meets Al Capone meets Shakespeare’s Richard III in “Arturo Ui,” which follows one unremarkable thug’s ascent to power in Depression-era Chicago and nearby Cicero, which stand in for Germany and Austria, respectively. Ui’s band of hoodlums (read: several real-life Nazi figures) assists him in his takeover of the local cauliflower trade, an allegory for Germany’s struggling economy.
At the Eagles Lodge, “Arturo Ui” is staged in the Brechtian style of Epic theatre, in which audiences are encouraged to not identify emotionally with the characters but instead engage in rational self-reflection and a critical view of the onstage action. Card Table Theatre’s all-female cast (a first in the play’s history, from what Averill can tell) has nine actresses playing more than 40 roles, a move Averill hopes will focus attention on what the characters represent rather than their individual narratives.
Then there’s the venue itself, the Eagles Lodge’s east ballroom with its wood-paneled walls and “old high-school gym” vibe, which Averill likens to a “time capsule of the '40s and '50s.”
“It just seemed ripe to make into the feel of a working man’s club where people would often go for meetings or soup dinners and pancake feeds, and then there would be prayers or maybe a short sermon or political talk,” he says. “It’s a tongue-in-cheek throwback to the 1920s breadline soup kitchen culture.”
In Card Table Theatre’s staging, guests will be served soup and hear a short prayer before the action begins — “the lecture in this place will be the play,” says Averill.
Brecht also championed total theater, which emphasized the use of all theatrical elements — lighting, costumes, sets, film projections, music — so Card Table Theatre follows in that vein with its mishmash of video production, soundtrack (“smart, political artists” from Hank Williams to Dead Kennedys to Rage Against the Machine), striking costumes designed by Dusty Shaffer and even shadow puppetry.
“He came from a beer hall tradition of staging things in smaller venues — or even large venues — but always for the people, by the people,” Averill, who hopes audiences of all political persuasions will check out the show, says of Brecht.
Originally, Brecht intended to open his play in America, but audiences were shocked by its suggestion that the freedom-loving U.S.A. could produce a Hitler of its own, Averill thinks, and refused to produce it here.
Instead, “Arturo Ui” opened in Stuttgart, West Germany, in 1958. Brecht had died two years before, and German critics, as he had feared, did not receive the play well.
Trump’s “us versus them” tactics, as Averill describes the strategy that has called for the nationwide banning of Muslims (Trump recently softened on that stance, claiming it was “just a suggestion”) and the construction of a border wall funded by the Mexican government are not unlike language used by Hitler during his ascent, Averill contends.
And an America frustrated by the current political system and changing social mores is embracing it. As much as people “discarded” Trump at first, he’s since become a viable candidate, much to Averill’s surprise, he says.
“Now, will that continue or will be smart enough to step up and say, ‘This is wrong — we treat each other better than this’? That’s the real question,” he says. “Six months ago, I would have laughed if we’d have the same conversation and said, ‘No, we’re far too smart to be in that mess.’ Right now, I’m honestly not too sure.”
If you go What: Card Table Theatre's "The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui" When: 7:30 p.m. May 19-21 Where: Eagles Lodge, 1803 W. Sixth St. Cost: $7.50 for the Thursday show and $15 for the Friday and Saturday shows. Tickets are available at the door or at www.brownpapertickets.com.
Take a few moments to trace your history. Now trace the history of the place you call home. Following threads of memory, you’ll discern more than one version of your past. You probably have had more than one home, each of which has different versions of its own history. You have changed, places have changed, and as you dig you see that history itself is based on perceptions changing.
“The past is remembered and retold by desire,” says author and geologist Lauret Savoy in her sweeping new book "Trace," in which she endeavors to discover untold parts of her heritage and, intriguingly, tie them to the American land.
A palimpsest of a colorful decaying leaf over a page of faded text on the cover drew me in, and the blurb by author Terry Tempest Williams clinched it. Likewise, discernable through the gritty questing of Savoy’s story, one can see Williams’s "Refuge," one of my favorite books, and even Ta-Nehisi Coates’ "Between the World and Me" — for within Savoy runs the blood of Europeans, Africans and Native Americans, and she examines racial oppression in the American landscape.
She begins as a child on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, where the geologist she would later become describes the layers of the land, including those of its “discovery” and exploration by Europeans. Having stood on Point Sublime and being familiar with some of its history, I was immediately drawn in. Indeed, much of this small book rang familiar, for the author and I share more than a few places visited and books read. She even lives in Massachusetts’ Pioneer Valley (a name she has surely examined), right down the road from where I once lived.
Amos A. Lawrence, namesake of my current home, came from Massachusetts. Historian Jonathan Earle has said of the man, “He made tons of money — Bill Gates kind of money,” thanks to Lawrence’s father running the greatest mercantile house in the U.S., trading cotton goods.
A desire for a more complete history of this home, our city of Lawrence, must therefore recognize the hundreds of thousands of slaves of the American South whose lives and labor fueled the Lawrence family’s cotton fortune. Time and again, Lauret Savoy’s desire for re-remembering her own past teases apart neglected examples like this, from Washington, D.C., and South Carolina to Wisconsin and Arizona.
As a child in California, she says, she never knew race, but once she hit the Grand Canyon on her family’s move east it couldn’t be avoided. She was ignored and then short-changed when buying post cards at the National Park gift shop. In school she read history books full of “savage Indians in the way of Manifest Destiny, and Africans who thrived as slaves and by nature want to serve.” On her adult “journey of and to perception” she learns that heads of Native Americans slaughtered at Colorado’s Sand Creek Massacre ended up in the Smithsonian.
She follows her family history across North America, digging up more and more. Tribes relocated to what is now Oklahoma held enslaved African Americans. What we think are Native tribal names were sometimes made up by Europeans — Ojibway, for example, rather than Anishinaabe. Indeed, the very names on the land are fraught. She visits a South Carolina “Living History” plantation that essentially lives without the history of the slaves who worked it. In Arizona, where her mother served as an Army nurse, she peels apart shifting layers of Apache history, borderlands, and the Jim Crow experience of the U.S. Army’s Buffalo Soldiers.
It’s a stunning personal telling of what historian Patricia Nelson Limerick called the Legacy of Conquest, with another important layer: despite all she found, “one idea stood firm: The American land preceded hate.” The sublime Grand Canyon and an early exposure to the Land Ethic of Aldo Leopold’s "A Sand County Almanac" informed this reality, and provided some guidance. “Only slowly did I come to see that I would remain complicit in my own diminishment unless I stepped out of the separate trap: me from you, us from them … relations among people from relations with the land.”
What refreshing words, with more than a trace of wisdom. I look forward to following more of Lauret Savoy’s explorations.
— Jake Vail is an Information Services Assistant at Lawrence Public Library.
On most trips to the drive-thru, no more than a few seconds pass between being handed my food and inhaling said food. (Because, really, what’s sadder than lukewarm french fries?)
Not so much with Tuesday’s jaunt to Burrito King, where I was the picture of ladylike restraint as I wearily received my tongue torta, still warm in its tin-foil blanket, and contemplated my fate as I very purposefully took the long, long way back to the newsroom.
If you’re squeamish (read: weirdly afraid of one part of the cow’s body that is regarded as a delicacy in some cultures but weirdly OK with, for whatever reason, other parts of the cow’s body) like me, you’ll probably need a moment to get yourself into the correct mental state before taking your first bite of tongue, otherwise known as lengua in Latin cooking. After centering yourself or tossing out a quick Hail Mary, you’ll find that the tongue isn’t so bad.
In actuality, lengua (mine was diced up into tiny pieces, thankfully) is fairly tender and, with its extremely high fat content, tastes kind of like roast beef. Burrito King also slathers on the refried beans (also sour cream, jalapeno slices, lettuce, cheese and guacamole) pretty thickly, which helps ameliorate things further.
So, give the tongue torta a try. Just don’t look too closely under the sandwich bun, unless you’re cool with a few papillae.
Where to get it: Burrito King, 900 Illinois St.
What you’ll pay: $6.70
Try it with: An open mind and lots of napkins
Also on the menu: Other Mexican staples like tacos (which you can also order with tongue), quesadillas, nachos and burritos, naturally.
— Off The Beaten Plate highlights some of the more exotic, oddly named or inventively concocted dishes from local menus. Know of an offbeat item we should check out? Email reporter Joanna Hlavacek at email@example.com. Follow her at Twitter.com/hlavacekjoanna. Check monthly for more Off the Beaten Plate and Lawrence Libations.
When my wife and I moved to Lawrence last August, one of the first places we visited was the library. It wowed us. We hadn’t yet sold our souls to an internet service provider so we were Netflixless, and LPL’s media collection came to our rescue.
The video game collection in particular provided an endless supply of entertainment. I’ve been a gamer (but not a gamer gater) for as long as I can remember, and having free access to hundreds of games at once was a very pleasant surprise. My wallet has never been happier.
At LPL we have quite the game collection. We currently carry games for six systems (Wii, Playstation 3, Xbox 360, Wii U, Playstation 4 and Xbox One) and try to keep up with all the latest and greatest games out there, which can be pretty intimidating. A couple of decades ago, when gaming was just getting started, people would have never guessed just how diverse the medium would become. These days there's a game for everyone. Let’s take a look:
If you’re looking for something to tide you over until the next "Game of Thrones" episode, try out "The Witcher 3" (PS4 & Xbox One) or "Dragon Age: Inquisition" (PS3, PS4, 360 & Xbox One). Both offer gritty, lived-in fantasy worlds full of great characters and plenty of political intrigue and moral ambiguity to complement sprawling narratives. If you love gory, grim and violent fantasy, but want a less story focused adventure, I’d recommend "Dark Souls 3" (PS4 & Xbox One). Released just last month, it’s punishingly difficult (seriously, prepare to die. A lot.), but gives you the freedom to explore a gothic fantasy world unlike any other.
Love fantasy but prefer something that’s not so bleak and bloody? Nintendo’s "Legend of Zelda" series is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year, and that’s as good a reason as any to try it out for the first time (or jump back in). Each game introduces new mechanics and tools to conquer expertly designed dungeons on your quest to save the land of Hyrule. Along the way you’ll usually meet unforgettable supporting characters, dozens of quest givers in need of a hero, and some serious goofball weirdos. "Twilight Princess" (and the recently released "Twilight Princess HD" for Wii U), "Skyward Sword," and "Wind Waker HD" are all at your fingertips here at the library, and I strongly recommend all of them. If you’re only going to play one, though, go for "Wind Waker HD," a cell-shaded maritime take on the series, which is easily in my top five games.
Fantasy not your cup of tea? Prefer something with a little more futuristic bent? Dust off the old Nintendo Wii and try out the "Metroid Prime Trilogy." They’re excellent atmospheric, first person, exploration-focused shooters that feature Samus Aran, the galaxy’s greatest bounty hunter (sorry Boba Fett) and one of the first female protagonists in gaming (The "Metroid" series is also celebrating a 30th birthday this year).
Prefer something a little more arcadey? "Star Fox Zero" just came out last month. It’s a reboot of the classic on-rails shooter "Star Fox 64." And while the controls are tough to get used to, once you finally get a hold of them, the game is a lot of cheesy, B-movie, sci fi goodness. What else could you expect from a bunch of friendly animals flying around in outer space?
For the creative types
For the all the builders out there we’ve got "Minecraft" (PS3, PS4, 360) as well as "Terraria" (PS4, 360, Xbox One), games where you start off with nothing but can make whatever you want. They combine the endless imagination of Legos with an infinite amount of bricks. Which is good because Legos are expensive these days.
If you’re interested in video game design try "Super Mario Maker." This delightful game puts you in a game designer’s shoes and lets you make and play your own Mario courses in one of four different styles (classic "Super Mario Bros.," "Super Mario Bros. 3," "Super Mario World," and "New Super Mario Brothers"). It also lets you upload your courses online and try out other people’s creations as well.
Want to try a completely unique, non-violent, and beautiful game that launched dozens of think pieces on video games as art? "Journey" for PS4 has you covered. This beautiful, wordless, combatless pilgrimage through a ruined land will defy any conceptions about video games and leave you ready to start the trek over again as soon as the credits roll.
OK, this one may not be that artsy, but you literally are spraying paint all over the map. "Splatoon," one of Nintendo’s newest original IPs and one of my favorite games in recent history, puts you in the fashionable shoes of one of the Inklings, adorable skater squid kids that fight off an Octoling menace lead by DJ Octavio in the single player campaign and battle for turf against other players online. It’s a team based shooter where your primary objective is to shoot paint all over the map instead of each other. It’s as crazy as it sounds and just as fun.
We’ll wrap up this overly long post with some classic games and odes to classics. Capcom’s "Mega Man Legacy Collection" (PS4 & Xbone) is a slam dunk. It includes pixel perfect HD versions of Mega Men 1-6, and they’re every bit as challenging as you remember them 30 years ago when the Blue Bomber first showed up on the scene.
If you’re looking for something old school without the glitches and design flaws of early "Mega Man," give "Shovel Knight" (Wii U) a try. You’re a man with a shovel on a mission to vanquish an evil enchantress. But first you’ll have to get through the surprisingly lovable Knights of the Order of No Quarter. It’s silly. It’s heartwarming. It’s challenging. And the 8-bit graphics are the BEST.
Last but not least, make sure to give "Donkey Kong Country Returns" and "Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze" a try. They’re brand new(ish) Donkey Kong side-scrolling platformer adventures in the style of the old SNES classics with a very nice coat of paint (seriously, you won’t see better looking games on the Wii or Wii U). But most importantly, they play like a dream (especially "Tropical Freeze" which ditches some awkward Wii controls). Never leave a banana behind.
I told you we have an impressive collection. So what are you waiting for? Start placing some holds and get gaming already.
— Ian Stepp is an Infromation Services Assistant at Lawrence Public Library.
In this month's 10 Questions, 715 partner and manager Matt Hyde (the restaurant biz veteran also co-owns Ladybird Diner) shares insight into his pop-culture hobbies, fashion influences and days as a gravedigger in Iowa. So, not quite "Tales from the Crypt," but almost.
Here's a condensed and edited version (once again, we are playing fast and loose with what counts as a question and how many add up to 10) of that conversation.
You worked a lot of jobs before landing at 715 — roadie, gravedigger, stockboy, cashier, truck unloader, among others. Any stories you’d like to share?
I got to spend a week in the South with an opening band for Lynyrd Skynyrd. That was exciting. I did all the roadie stuff and tour managing stuff before there were cell phones, so we would use calling cards and maps. There was no GPS or anything like that, so we would get lost on a regular basis. Grave digging was a summer job working for the city of Iowa City at the Black Angel Cemetery….
That’s a hardcore name.
It was the Oakland City Cemetery, but there was this big statue of a black angel (on the grounds)….that’s what they called it. That’s where the high school kids went to get high — you know, at the Black Angel Cemetery. Most of the time, it was just doing landscaping, mowing and all that. It was an old cemetery, so there were a lot of trees, and they’d use a backhoe to dig a lot of graves, but some of them we had to do by hand if they were in a weird spot or the backhoe could only go so far and we’d have to finish it up. Then, we’d get down on top of the caskets after they’d go in to put sand around. It was a real process. There were really bad rains that summer, and because it was an old cemetery, sometimes we’d have to walk around and look for bones that had washed up in some of the spots and then repair those and, you know….
Wait, so, um, I’m curious here. How did you know where…?
Well, places that saw more erosion, in the hillier spots. Because they didn’t bury at the same protocols back in the 1800s that they do today, and so they didn’t have the same type of casket materials and the same depth and all that. And then sometimes, if graves from long ago hadn’t been well-marked, they’d be digging a grave and they’d have to redirect where they’re digging.
Was this before or after you got into food?
I’ve worked in restaurants on and off since I was 15 or 16. I worked dorm food service, I did dishwashing, I did everything. Almost 30 years now. When I was digging graves during the day, I worked as a dishwasher and pizza cook at night.
What was your first job in the restaurant industry?
I worked as a busboy at a pancake place in suburban Chicago when I was really young, but I spilled coffee on somebody and the waitresses were really mean to me, so I quit pretty quickly.
I recently learned that you’re the guy behind all those celebrity birthday shoutouts on 715’s social media accounts. (Bar manager Katrina Weiss also handles a sizable chunk, Hyde points out.) How do you guys go about curating the birthdays?
We just try to find somebody interesting and not too offensive. I really have an affinity for pro wrestling names, so it’s always fun to find pro wrestlers. And for whatever reason, on this website that we look at — you know, we just Google birthdays — it seems to be mostly…they curate it in a way that seems to be mostly Asian pop stars, pro wrestlers and obscure historical figures. We just make (expletive) up. I mean, they’re accurate birthdays, but we want it to be fun. We try to mix it up. Not just movie stars and TV people but more obscure people, just to make it fun.
Whose birthday is it today?
I don’t know. I haven’t looked yet. I usually look after lunch when we’re getting ready to work on happy hour and dinner. So, yesterday it was Frankie Valli. I’m not sure who we’ll pick today. It’s always last-minute. We never plan ahead, you know? (It turned out to be Spanish motorcycle racer Jorge Lorenzo.)
Last week, you tweeted a birthday shoutout to Ace Frehley (former lead guitarist of KISS), and he actually “liked” the tweet….
Yeah, that was a big deal. We’ve also had Thomas Lennon (from Comedy Central’s “Reno 911!”). We’ve had Ron Jeremy, the adult-film star. He shares a birthday with Mitt Romney, so we made a salute to two great Americans. Ron Jeremy favorited that one. Who else? I think Jenny Lewis and St. Vincent, who’ve been here (to 715) before.
Back in 2009, you were featured in a Style Scout column in which you cited your fashion influences as Kid Rock, Anderson Cooper and Billy Mays. That’s a pretty eclectic mix — care to elaborate?
Oh, did I? I honestly have no recollection, because that must have been right after we opened the restaurant and I think I must have been pretty sleep-deprived. I remember seeing the picture but I don’t remember getting the picture taken. That sounds about right, though. Probably less Kid Rock, more Anderson Cooper. Well, Anderson Cooper in his casual (wear)….he can get overly dressy.
So, you’ve become a little more refined — a little less Kid Rock — over the years?
I would say so. As I’ve gotten older, for sure.
Billy Mays isn’t in the mix anymore?
No. He kind of crashed and burned toward the end there. His enthusiasm was contagious, though.
So, you were drawn more to the personality and less to the sartorial choices?
In the first two installments of this feature, we asked the subjects for their favorite places to eat in Lawrence. We didn't ask Hyde this time around, but he offered up a few favorites anyway:
- Taco Zone, 13 E. Eighth St.
- Leeway Franks, 935 Iowa St.
- Hank Charcuterie, 1900 Massachusetts St.
- Rudy's Pizzeria, 704 Massachusetts St.
- Ladybird Diner, 721 Massachusetts St. ("of course")
- WheatFields Bakery and Cafe, 904 Vermont St. (the croissants are his "ultimate favorite in this town," Hyde once told us)
- Limestone Pizza, 814 Massachusetts St.
- Little Saigon Cafe, 1524 West 23rd St.
- Checkers Foods, 2300 Louisiana St. ("best grocery-store fried chicken and ribs in town, by far")
Darrell Brogdon didn’t expect his hour-long, weekly celebration of “incredibly strange music” to remain on the airwaves when he started hosting Kansas Public Radio’s “Retro Cocktail Hour” in January 1996.
“I didn’t think it would last 20 minutes in the beginning because it was just so weird,” recalls Brogdon, whose programming grew out of a brief resurgence in what he describes as “Space Age bachelor pad” tunes in the mid-1990s. “It was such an odd thing for a public radio station to do — but on the other hand, I thought, if a public radio station doesn’t do it, who will?”
Turns out, Brogdon’s prediction was a little off. Twenty minutes? More like 20 years.
After two decades on air and 700-plus episodes, “Retro Cocktail Hour” is celebrating the milestone with a 20th anniversary concert 8 p.m. Saturday at Liberty Hall, 644 Massachusetts St.
The party begins Friday at the Jackpot Saloon, 943 Massachusetts St., with some “pre-celebration” jams courtesy of the local lounge-music outfit BongoTini at 7 p.m. Minneapolis-based Exotik-a-GoGo will take a break from their duties as house band at the very real Psycho Suzi’s Motor Lounge to headline Saturday’s event, which will also feature dancing, drinking (think classic “Mad Men”-style drinks with a little “island flavor,” Brogdon says), a photo booth and plenty of “Retro Cocktail Hour” swag. Dressing up is encouraged but not required.
At 20, “Retro Cocktail Hour” is almost old enough to legally drink a martini, jokes Brogdon, seemingly in a nod to the Underground Martini Bunker where he records the show — which has since expanded from one hour to two — every week.
Culled solely from Brogdon’s vast (about 10,000 albums and CDs, by his count) personal music collection, “Retro Cocktail Hour” reaches far beyond KPR’s signal these days. It’s now broadcast on 20 public radio stations across the country, across the world at Radio New Zealand, and to an unquantifiable mass of listeners virtually everywhere else via live streaming and podcasts.
The show has even spurred a few copycats over the years, says Brogdon, but he doesn’t seem to mind. What’s exciting to him is the production of new music that pays homage to his favorite mid-century artists, and the fans — young and old — who love it along with him.
“It’s been an amazing experience. I hear from people all the time who tell me they just discovered this either by accidentally hearing the show on the radio or by stumbling across it on the Internet,” he says. “They had no idea this music exists, and they’re really turned on and captivated by it.”
KPR's "Retro Cocktail Hour" airs Saturdays at 7 p.m. and Fridays at 10 p.m. Tickets for Saturday's celebration range from $20 to $30, and can be purchased at the Liberty Hall box office or at www.ticketmaster.com.
I tend to have very strong and vocal opinions about things I dislike. This can be frustrating for my loved ones AND extremely embarrassing for myself when I realize just how wrong I was. I can think of three specific items which eventually caused me to eat my words:
1.) Cottage cheese, 2.) Tom Waits, & 3.) Digital books.
With each one, I eventually experienced an “oh god what was I thinking?” moment which allowed me to see the light. (In the case of cottage cheese, it was my actually trying it rather than automatically denouncing it as “gross.” Sorry for the years of struggle, Mom.)
What recently brought me around to embracing — and then becoming totally pumped about — digital content was LPL's recent addition of Hoopla. With 24/7 access to hundreds of thousands of items (eBooks, audiobooks, graphic novels, and more) and NO holds list whatsoever, it’s a pretty wonderful resource. You can “check out” up to five items per month per account (if you have kids/family who won’t use it … you can sign them up and use theirs for more! Shh.) and there aren’t any late fees since things return automatically. Read/watch/listen on your computer or device. Here’s a quick-and-easy video guide to get you started.
"Four Hoopla Faves” is admittedly a totally misleading title. In actuality, I have dozens of recommendations for fabulous Hoopla finds here, and I literally discover more each week. (My coworkers may tire of me shouting, “GUESS WHAT ELSE, GUYS!!!” at random intervals.) Here are four umbrella categories of favorite things:
1. Great new non-fiction audiobooks:
All of these either still have big holds lists at the library, or are not currently owned by the library in physical format. And all of them are awesome.
- "You Are a Badass" (this book is kinda life-changing.)
- "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up"
- "The Bad-ass Librarians of Timbuktu" ("badass" seems to be a theme here...)
- "The Miracle of Mindfulness"
- "Things No One Will Tell Fat Girls" (recommended by Kimberly on the Book Squad!)
While it was reported that Prince's discography was removed from all streaming sites except for Tidal, which is owned by Jay-Z, tons of his music is also available for streaming on Hoopla. Over twenty-five of his albums, including "Purple Rain," "Prince," and "1999," are available as well as a documentary and graphic novel about his life.
Fo' free. Sorry, Jay-Z.
3. Classic Disney movies:
And I do mean classic...
4. Freakin’ awesome feminist finds:
To be honest, this could be a post all in itself. One of the things I love most about Hoopla is that its eBooks are organized by genre/subject really well, and you can find so many things. There are subjects like Feminism and feminist theory, Women's Studies, AND Gender Studies - three different and wonderful pages! (And don't even get me started on how elaborately delineated the Science section is - Chemistry alone has four different sub-pages.) Here is just a small sampling of the gems I've uncovered:
- "Revolutionary Women: A Book of Stencils" (Feminist art awaits!)
- "Antonia’s Line" (My very favorite feminist movie)
- Classic authors like Alice Walker, Octavia Butler, and Marge Piercy
- Newer nonfiction like this feminist speculative fiction collection, and a brand-new YA guide to feminism by Nadia Abushanab Higgins
I could go on, but I’ll stop for now. Much like the grave mistakes I made by dismissing cottage cheese and Tom Waits earlier in my life (seriously, what was I thinking?), I'm so glad I eventually came around to embracing digital content. Hoopla has so many movies, albums, TV shows, audiobooks, eBooks, and graphic novels - with items added on a regular basis - that I'll be set for quite a while. If you want any recommendations, email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) and I’ll take a look for something that suits you! I especially recommend the Kroger brand 4% large curd.
-Kate Gramlich is a Readers Services Assistant at Lawrence Public Library
Lawrence author George Frazier celebrates the wilderness he finds in Kansas, lyrically linking the present with the past in his new book "The Last Wild Places of Kansas: Journeys Into Hidden Landscapes."
"The Last Wild Places of Kansas" reads virtually as smoothly as song lyrics, interconnecting personal and historical anecdotes with vivid descriptions and occasional wry wit about some of the remaining natural wonders in our state. Frazier shares his own compelling adventures in seeking out special locales and uncommon wildlife and links them with historical context from Native American and early explorers’ experiences. The wilderness described in the book includes both public lands and many private properties because, Frazier notes, 98 percent of Kansas land is private property.
It’s clear this book is partially influenced by William Least Heat-Moon’s eloquent and compassionate travel writing with engaging stories for added perspective; recent and long-past moments interweave to provide a heightened perspective of place.
Frazier writes: “…I’d found the stories of two Shawnee traditionalists, two wild springs, two mysteries lurking somewhere in the backyard of my childhood. Had I stumbled onto a lost fossil record of wild Kansas? If two Shawnee [Indian] traditionalists from the 1800s knew these places — loved these places — and if, as I believed, the traditionalists sought out wild landmarks with spiritual gravitas — the kind that are rediscovered century after century by careful students of the land — then this might be a rare chance to experience a living history, an electrifying sense of place where past and future collide in deep time.”
This quote resonates with me and feels a bit like magical realism. Furthermore, reading Frazier’s story is a surreal experience for me because I can relate to it personally. Like the author, I grew up in suburban, highly-developed Johnson County. The nearest open land was not so wild; it served primarily as our neighborhood waterworks and secondarily as a park with mowed grass and a playground. Watching episodes of "Little House on the Prairie" on TV as a kid, I started wondering about the remaining wilderness near my home, but it was many years later when I finally discovered the small prairie within Shawnee Mission Park — only a few miles from the place where I grew up.
Frazier says in "The Last Wild Places of Kansas": “I think many of us have this experience of one day just ‘waking up’ to where we are. I've seen it time and again. For lots of folks it requires picking up and moving someplace else. When I first discovered the prairie, and learned how to ID rattlesnake master [a plant found in tallgrass prairies], I felt like I'd moved to a different country. All of a sudden there was this new mythical place all around me, this tie we had back to a lost time. I wanted to write the book for others who felt this.”
Wilderness throughout Kansas is explored in the book, from a hidden spring in the center of Kansas City, Kan., and ancient pecan trees at Fort Leavenworth in the Northeast to the expansive western Cimarron Grasslands and the transcendent Red Hills of south central Kansas.
Frazier also writes passionately about surviving wild animals: “...there should be a few places where prairie dogs can just be prairie dogs, where they can kick back and fulfill their niches in the grand scheme of the shortgrass prairie, work on their whistles, try to dig to China or least to Amarillo.”
"The Last Wild Places of Kansas" includes many adventures and optimistic searches for uncommon wildlife like southern flying squirrels. And while these animals may be hidden, discoveries are still possible–even nearby. Frazier and his daughter Chloe successfully tracked and documented the return of northern river otters to the Haskell-Baker Wetlands, just north of the Wakarusa River in Lawrence. Although the flying squirrels have remained hidden, hope remains.
For further reading, check out some of Frazier’s inspirations: thought-provoking environmental advocates and lyrical storytellers who invoke a strong sense of place and commune with nature like Gary Snyder, Aldo Leopold, Paul Gruchow, Annie Dillard, Rick Bass and Edward Abbey.
You can find "The Last Wild Places of Kansas" and other entertaining and informative books about natural history and environmental concerns by Lawrencians on this list in the library’s catalog: Lawrence Authors Write About Nature and The Environment.
- Shirley Braunlich is a Readers Services Assistant at Lawrence Public Library
If I had a nickel for every press release in my inbox that uses adjectives like “icon,” “world-class” or “superstar” (let’s also throw in their cousin “legendary” for good measure) to describe decidedly less-than-iconic musicians, I’d be a very rich reporter, indeed.
But the press announcing the Lied Center of Kansas' 2016-2017 season is actually justified in its employment of such words. It isn’t every day The Beach Boys come to town. Or Emmy and Tony Award winner Kristin Chenoweth. Or public-radio star Ira Glass — he’s a superstar to some of us, anyway.
The list also includes folk singer Judy Collins, CMA Award-winning country artist Clint Black and the Russian National Ballet Theatre’s production of “Swan Lake,” in addition to a doubling (from last year) of performances in the “Just Friends” jazz series.
“It has been so much fun orchestrating all of next season’s events based upon meaningful feedback from all of you — our wonderful patrons,” Derek Kwan, the Lied Center’s executive director of the Lied Center, said in the release.
The Lied Center has also received a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts to “present performances featuring artists with disabilities and to serve audiences with disabilities,” which will include several free performances for children with autism, Gospel Music Hall of Fame honorees The Blind Boys of Alabama, “Last Comic Standing” winner Josh Blue and “the dance company that is known for changing the face of dance and disability,” AXIS Dance Company.
Tickets go on sale May 1 for Friends of the Lied and KU students, with a deadline for advance purchases for the aforementioned patrons at 6 p.m. May 20. Ticket packages for the public will be available starting at 11 a.m May 23, followed by single tickets at 8 a.m. June 6.
For more information, including performance details and ticket information, visit www.lied.ku.edu or call the Lied Center ticket office at 864-2787.
In the meantime, here’s the complete 2016-17 season schedule:
An Evening With Judy Collins, 7:30 p.m. Sept. 24
KU Symphony Orchestra with special guest Caroline Goulding, violin, and special guest conductor Jung-Ho Pak, 7:30 p.m. Sept. 30
The Blind Boys of Alabama, 7:30 p.m. Oct. 1
The Capitol Steps, 7:30 p.m. Oct. 8
Josh Blue, 7:30 p.m. Oct. 12
Direct from Shanghai, the P.R. of China, The Shanghai Acrobats of the People’s Republic of China Performing “Shanghai Nights,” 7 p.m. Oct. 14
Clint Black, 7:30 p.m. Oct. 22
Ira Glass: Seven Things I’ve Learned, 7:30 p.m. Nov. 5
KU Wind Ensemble with special guest Joey Tartell, trumpet, 7:30 p.m. Nov. 9
AXIS Dance Company, 7:30 p.m. Nov. 11
Rodgers + Hammerstein’s “Cinderella,” 7 p.m. Nov. 29
The Beach Boys, 7:30 p.m. Dec. 5
“Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Musical,” 7 p.m. Dec. 9
The Paludan Sisters present “The Music of the Mind,” 7:30 p.m. Jan. 27
Russian National Ballet Theatre: “Swan Lake,” 2 p.m. Jan. 29
“Pippin,” 7:30 p.m. Feb. 2
Rebirth Brass Band, 7:30 p.m. Feb. 10
Jon Nakamatsu, piano, 2 p.m. Feb. 12
Erik Kaiel / Arch 8, 7:30 p.m. Feb. 25
An Intimate Evening with Kristin Chenoweth, 7:30 p.m. March 6
Imani Winds, 7:30 p.m. March 15
KU Jazz Ensemble I with special guest Kneebody, 7:30 p.m. March 28
American Brass Quintet, 7:30 p.m. March 31
MOMIX: “Opus Cactus,” 7:30 p.m. April 7
Erth’s “Dinosaur Zoo Live,” 4 p.m. April 9
Takács Quartet, 7:30 p.m. April 11
Chris Perondi’s “Stunt Dog Experience,” 7 p.m. April 28
Pavilion Chamber Series
Zorá Quartet, 2 p.m. Oct. 16
Charlie Albright, piano, 2 p.m. Nov. 13
Mr. Ho’s Orchestrotica Quintet, 2 p.m. Feb. 26
“Just Friends” jazz series
Benny Green, solo piano, 7:30 p.m. Sept. 26 and 27
Jimmy Greene Duo, 7:30 p.m. Nov. 14 and 15
Bria Skonberg Duo, 7:30 p.m. April 24 and 25
Performances for children with autism
Red Kite, Brown Box, Oct. 23 and 24 at 1, 2, 3 and 4 p.m.
The Paludan Sisters present “The Music of the Mind,” 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. Jan. 28
Cheyenne Bartz had always been drawn — pun intended — to creative pursuits from an early age. From the time she could hold a pencil in her tiny hand, she was also reaching for a paintbrush.
Instead of joining her classmates on the playground at recess, Bartz would stay inside and command an audience of girlfriends, who would watch her intently as she brought to life on paper the images they’d requested.
“They were almost mesmerized by it,” recalls Bartz, 32, whose artistic inclinations made her somewhat of an oddity in her small central-Kansas town. “They would just sit there and watch me.”
At the time, her commissions were usually waterfalls and “Lisa Frank sort of stuff,” she says, because this was the early 1990s, and little girls loved their high-chroma unicorns and tiger cubs and panda bears.
These days, she’s still fascinated by the natural world, and is happily exploring her two loves — science and art — with her studies in ecology and evolutionary biology at Washburn University.
“Looking at a specimen under a microscope is actually a beautiful little world on its own,” Bartz says.
Despite her busy schedule, Bartz has kept up with her painting and drawing and will exhibit her work, along with more than 100 other artists, at this weekend’s Art in the Park.
Slated for Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. in South Park, the latest cycle of the Lawrence Art Guild’s annual juried arts-and-crafts exhibition — which will also feature live music, food vendors and children’s activities — has fallen amid a bit of a “rebuilding year,” says Art in the Park coordinator Jennifer Unekis.
In January, former officers called an emergency meeting to discuss financial irregularities and insufficient guild leadership. After years of dwindling membership and participation in events like Art in the Park and the guild’s holiday arts show, the public has rallied behind the Art Guild with “amazing support,” Unekis says, and the results are palpable.
Since the January meeting, the guild’s membership has shot up from “around 30 to something over 200,” she says. The Art Guild has also received nearly $4,000 in grants from the city of Lawrence to fund marketing efforts for Art in the Park. The number of artists participating in this year’s event is nearly double that of last year’s, according to data reported by Unekis at the January meeting.
“It’s been a really strong community event, and it would have been pretty tragic to let it fall apart,” she says of Art in the Park, which Unekis had coordinated on and off from 1997 to 2013 before taking up the job again this year. “It took some great measures and some quick-moving measures and some pretty harsh measures in order to pull it back from where it was and the management it was under.”
“Where it was,” Unekis told her fellow guild members earlier this year, was far removed from the Art in the Park of years past, when the event attracted more than 140 artists — some formally trained, some not — from the Lawrence community during its first incarnation as an indoor arts show in 1962.
“It was the talk of the town,” original guild vice president Joyce Schild recalled in a written history of the event, which was regarded at the time as both elegant — ladies showed up in dresses and hats, and attendees were handed silk-screened programs — and populist.
The show was open to all Douglas County residents 18 and up who could spare $1 for yearly dues to the Art Guild.
“The reason why they started it was because they had so many people who wanted to do it — the garbage man and the hair stylist and a variety of people who didn’t professionally show as artists in a gallery. It’s always been a mix,” says Unekis. “For a lot of artists, it’s the only event they’ll do all year. They don’t want to do the big art fair circuit, but they really want to do Art in the Park.”
Sunday will mark Cheyenne Bartz’s “second or third” appearance at the event, where she’ll sell mostly watercolors and chunky pieces of jewelry (copper, brass and mixed-metal pendants and necklaces that resemble “something an art teacher would wear,” Bartz says) that she crafted as an art student at Kansas University.
The pressures of “trying to sell myself and make that my living” became too much for her eventually, and she took a step back from art for a while. But Bartz, realizing she could still enjoy art as a creative outlet without pursuing a life as a career artist, came back to it eventually. She even makes money with her talents as an instructor at Painted Kanvas and through events like Art in the Park.
After graduation, Bartz says she’d like to find a job that combines art and science, ideally in conservation. A few years back, she heard about a series of projects at two East Coast universities that used invasive tree species to create environmentally friendly art.
“They had to work together, and it brought art to the science students and science to the art students. The implications of it are huge,” she says. “We could do this in Kansas.”
If you go
What: Art in the Park
When: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. In the event of a rainout, the fair will be rescheduled for Sunday, May 8. Rain cancellation will be announced Sunday morning on KLWN 1320AM radio, the Lawrence Art Guild’s Facebook page and at 760-4800 by 7:00 a.m.
Where: The east side of South Park
Cost: Entry is free
A previous version of the info box included an incorrect location for the event. Art in the Park will be held on the eastern, gazebo side of South Park, between Massachusetts and New Hampshire streets.