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Comedians, Characters & Cosplayers Free


Downtown Crowd | February 2018 Photo courtesy of UWF Athletics

Editor’s Letter

7 11



Photo by: Robyn Von Swank

contents 7 Second-Year Stunners 8 Always Evolving: Downtown Welcomes New Businesses 11 Jim Gaffigan Q+A 12 The People of Pensacon 15 Cosplay on the Run 17 Party at Pensacon 18 Album and Trailer Reviews 20 Dateline Downtown


Owners Malcolm & Glenys Ballinger Executive Editor Kelly Oden Editor Will Isern Art Director Guy Stevens Graphic Design and Ad Coordination Carly Stone


ow’s about that winter, eh? What was it, a whole three weeks this time? Hey, that’s more than we usually get. And you know what? Y’all can keep it. No more dreaming of a white Christmas for this Florida boy. Fact of the matter is, the cold is miserable. I can’t even fathom the kind of temperatures our friends to the north were made to endure. I know I’m not the only one who had to bust out the wooden spatula from the kitchen to scrape the ice off my windshield. Maybe it wasn’t the Icepocalypse of 2014 all over again, but I for one am philosophically opposed to any thermometer reading below 40. What I’m saying is, be thankful for what you’ve got. Sure, when summer comes around and we’re getting second-degree burns from our car seats, we’ll complain then too. But I think you’ll agree that our hot summers are well worth not having to shovel snow. No, thank you. Suffice to say, I enjoy living in Pensacola. And not just for the mild winters, either. The food, the water, the people, the small-but-resilient hip scene and, of course, the beaches. I’m proud to tell people that I was born and raised here. Yet, when I was growing up, most everybody I knew wanted to move away. Many of them did. Some have stayed away. Many came back. Some move because they want the hustle and bustle, some for the mountains, and most leave for school or work. I believe, for some people, it takes moving away to appreciate what we

Publisher Malcolm Ballinger

have here; that the grass isn’t always greener, and all that. The joke among the ones that come back is, “Pensacola always sucks you back in.” Not exactly a glowing appraisal. It’s something to do with Pensacola being a small, conservative-leaning Southern city with (let’s face it) mediocre job prospects that turns off a generation that came of age on the Internet. But the city is not what it once was. The city’s cadre of writers (myself among them), have written ad nauseam about the city’s ongoing transformation. You can read more about it elsewhere in this issue, in fact. Bottom line is that there is more to see, do and eat in Pensacola now than there has ever been. There are more places to work, too. Now, perhaps you could argue that because I’ve lived here my whole life I don’t know any better; that other places are better, more modern, offer more to see and do and eat and buy, etc. etc. No doubt some do. I’ve done my fair share of traveling, though. Savannah, Georgia is nice. Asheville, North Carolina is nice. Portland, Oregon is nice. New York City is too much. Anywhere where it snows may as well be on the moon. But for all their amenities, I’ve yet to find another place I would consider better than Pensacola. Bigger, shinier, hipper? Sure. Better? Not yet. Now I’m not going to argue that one should settle for a place because it’s “good enough.” We should each live where we are happiest. I guess I’ve never understood what’s not to like about Pensacola.

Editorial Assistant Tanner Yea Contributing Writer Haley Weaver Advertising Account Executives Paula Rode paula@ballingerpublishing.com Geneva Strange geneva@ballingerpublishing.com Boyce White boyce@ballingerpublishing.com Deadline for space and information is the 15th of the month prior to publication. For advertising rates or news tips contact Phone: 433-1166 · Fax: 435-9174 DOWNTOWN CROWD is published by Ballinger Publishing. Offices located at 314 N Spring St., Ste. A, Pensacola Florida 32501 Published by Ballinger Publishing

Downtown Crowd is locally owned and operated. It is published monthly for distribution in Pensacola, Florida. All Right Reserved. Reproduction or use of the contents herein is prohibited without written permission from the publisher. Comments and opinions expressed in this magazine represent the personal views of the individuals to whom they are attributed and/or the person identified as the author of the article, and they are not necessarily those of the publisher. This magazine accepts no responsibility for these opinions. The publisher reserves the right to edit all manuscripts. All advertising information is the responsibility of the individual advertiser. Appearance in this magazine does not necessarily reflect endorsement of any products or services by Ballinger Publishing. © 2018

Cover design by Carly Stone

Keep Our Friends Safe Adopt-A-Manatee


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A word from Curt Morse, Executive Director of the Downtown Improvement Board Every great downtown offers its visitors unique cultural experiences, and Downtown Pensacola is no different, especially during the Mardi Gras season. The Pensacola Grand Mardi Gras Parade is the city’s biggest parade of the year and one of the largest in the region. The parade draws tens of thousands of people downtown where they’re exposed to all the great shopping and dining the district has to offer. In addition to their spending on the day of the parade, these visitors are more likely to return to shop, dine or stay in downtown Pensacola in the weeks and months after the parade. In short, the more people who get to experience all amenities downtown has to offer, the more downtown continues to grow and thrive. We are thankful to Danny Zimmern and the team at Pensacola Mardi Gras for all they do to contribute to the ongoing success of downtown. Folks outside the region are taking notice of downtown as well. I recently had the opportunity to meet with Good Grit Magazine CEO Laura Bento and members of her team from Birmingham. We visited Perfect Plain Brewing Company on Garden Street and I shared with Laura all the ways in which downtown has grown into a vibrant community of retailers, restaurants, offices and residents. It’s exciting to see that prestige media are taking notice of all the great change happening downtown. I’m

hopeful to see Downtown Pensacola featured in the magazine soon. Finally, as we settle in to the new year, we at the Downtown Improvement Board are envisioning new ways to advance our mission of beautifying and promoting the downtown core. One challenge we have faced over the years is working within a restricted budget. The simple fact is we only get so much to work with each year. As such, it’s crucial we ensure that we’re investing in sustainable improvements that foster residential and commericial development downtown. With limited funding, that means some projects fall by the wayside. To overcome this hurdle, we’re planning to launch a new venture called the Downtown Pensacola Alliance. The Alliance will be a new way for merchants, property owners and other businesses both in and out of the district to contribute to downtown’s continued success. Savvy business owners know there is a benefit to having a strong downtown and we’re excited to forge new partnerships within the community. I’ll be going on a tour of Rotary Clubs this Spring to promote the new Alliance and am optimistic about the opportunities we’ll find when we share the story of Downtown Pensacola. Downtown Pensacola is getting better all the time and we thank you for your continued support. —Curt Morse

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level they have brings really positive attention to the university. Any positive attention is good because people who may be thinking about picking a college and will have heard of us where they may not have a year ago.”


As the team prepares for its third season, Shinnick said last season’s success has set the tone for the team’s future. “We want to be one of the best teams in the country,” said Shinnick. “In order to do that, you’ve got to be one of the best teams in the conference. We know week-in-week-out we’re going to be going up against some of the best teams in Division II.”

Photo courtesy of UWF Athletics/Tim Brown

It was the beginning of November and the nascent University of West Florida football team was nearing the end of its second season with a modest but respectable 5-3 record. by Will Isern “I really felt like we were playing good football and just hadn’t gotten some wins,” said Argos head coach Pete Shinnick. And then, it clicked. “Our defense started playing as well as anybody in the country, and we became very opportunistic on offense,” said Shinnick. “We just kept getting better.” The Argos went on an unprecedented six-game winning streak that propelled the young team all the way to the NCAA Division II national championship game against Texas A&M Commerce in Kansas City, Kansas. The Argos lost that championship game 37-27, but by the time it was all over, records had been broken, history had been made, and hundreds of thousands of people had heard of the University of West Florida for the first time.

When UWF took to the field in Kansas City, 626,000 people tuned in to watch on ESPN2, according to sportsmediawatch.com. The Argos finished the season as national runners-up with an 11-4 record overall. They took down many of the best teams Division II football had to offer along the way, and became the youngest program to reach the playoffs in Division II history. “No one expected a twoyear-old football team to have that kind of success,” said UWF president Martha Saunders. “It was just an utterly joyful season.” When the dust had settled, UWF finished in the ranking as the second-best

team in Division II football and Shinnick had picked up a trio of coach of the year awards. The storyline was one straight out of Hollywood and more than could have been hoped for when former UWF president Judy Bense first announced plans for a football team in 2013. Saunders said she expects the football team’s success will contribute to the university’s overall mission of providing a complete college experience and may help to drive enrollment. “Athletics is very much a part of the college experience and football, especially in the South, is an integral part of the traditional college experience,” said Saunders. “So having them there is an asset, and then having them win at the

The Argos team is young and many of its key players – including quarterback Mike Beaudry, leading rusher Chris Schwarz, leading receiver Antoine Griffin and leading tackle Marvin Conley – are returning. Shinnick said he expects to recruit a small high Shinnick school class this off-season and pick up transfers as needed and appropriate. “I think we’ve got a great combination of assets and I’m fortunate to have a great coaching staff and players that have obviously made this thing work,” said Shinnick. While success on the gridiron may be new for the Argos, the school has been a top performer in other sports for years. UWF won national championships in baseball in 2011, men’s golf in 2001 and 2008, men’s tennis in 2004, 2005, 2014 and 2017 and in women’s soccer in 2012. The Argonauts football team returns to the field for their annual Spring game in April.


Always Evolving

Downtown Welcomes New Businesses

It’s no secret that downtown Pensacola continues to flourish with redevelopment. Every day it seems a new restaurant, shop or office is opening on Palafox Street. Recent months have a seen a handful of new businesses open their doors in the downtown core. We’ve compiled this roundup of downtown Pensacola’s newest attractions.

Perfect Plain


Pensacola’s newest brewery received a warm reception at their grand opening on Nov. 21. The brainchild of local entrepreneurs D.C. Reeves and Reed Odeneal, Perfect Plain is downtown Pensacola’s fourth brewery alongside Pensacola Bay Brewery, Gulf Coast Brewery and McGuire’s Irish Pub. The brewery derives its name from a letter written in 1821 by Andrew Jackson’s wife, Rachel, in which she described Pensacola as, “a perfect plain:

the land nearly as white as flour.” Perfect Plain is located at 50 East Garden Street, one block east of Palafox Street in the former Vowell’s Print Shop building. The taproom doubles as the main bar area and features an open floor plan with family-style seating with long tables and metal chairs. Exposed brick, steel rafters and overhead lights give off an industrial feel. Roll-up garage doors open onto Garden Street and allow for easy coming and

going and ample fresh air. Steel fermenting tanks line the east wall where the beer is brewed. The brewery currently has 10 beers on tap and many of their ingredients are locally sourced. Taproom manager Bryant Liggett said the goal has been to create a community gathering place. “With everything we do, we try to be as locally driven as possible,” Liggett said. “We really wanted to create a community access off Palafox.”

Frios With the exception of very recently, Pensacola is usually a great place for a popsicle. Hot summer days are made bearable with a cold, delicious treat. Now the gourmet popsicle trend has made its way downtown. Frios uses local ingredients sourced from dairy and produce farmers in Northwest Florida and South Alabama to create its signature gourmet pops in flavors like


blueberry cheesecake, blackberry ginger lemonade, Satsuma orange and many more. Frios owner Kari Benson said the new Pensacola store, located at 7 Palafox Place in the Brent Building, is her third permanent location in addition to stores in Daphne and Fairhope. Benson said she first came to Pensacola to participate in Gallery Night

and was impressed with the crowds and vibrancy she saw downtown. “It’s aesthetically pleasing; there’s always people walking the streets, you just want to be a part of it,” Benson said. Frios popsicles are priced at $3.75 each. Discounts are available for larger purchases and the company is available for weddings, events and fundraisers.

Pensacola’s leading surf shop, Innerlight, joined the downtown scene in early December. The surfboard and beach apparel retailer opened for business at 114 Palafox Place, next to the Saenger Theater. The location is Innerlight’s sixth in the Panhandle, and is focused more heavily on apparel than other locations. As the shop 8 | DOWNTOWNCROWD.COM

is built out, it will also carry surfboards and other equipment. Innerlight has had several Pensacola locations over the years. General manager Shannon Gardner said the company has wanted to open a downtown location for some time. “It’s been something that’s been on our mind for a while now and we’ve just been trying to find

the right property that would suit us,” said Gardner. Gardner said the store will carry a large selection of Innerlight branded merchandise aimed at a younger audience and out-oftown visitors. Innerlight plans to host a grand opening in March, when the new store is complete.

Cigar Factory Cigar aficionados rejoice, now you too have a place to relax in comfort in downtown Pensacola. New Orleans-based Cigar Factroy opened its latest location at 14 South Palafox Street, between Hopjacks and Play, on Halloween. The lounge features a luxurious wood and leather

interior, a full bar, a walk-in cigar closet and big flat screen TVs. Cigar Factory offers its exclusive hand-rolled cigars rolled in New Orleans, as well as a selection of others. Construction is still underway on the building’s rear courtyard and second floor, which will feature a balcony overhanging

Palafox Street. “Everything you’ll find here has a real New Orleans style feel to it,” said marketing manager Anthony Wilcox. Wilcox said Cigar Factory plans to host live jazz and and blues bands, and will be available for events and parties during the week.

Rusted Arrow Mercantile Looking to outfit your home with some classic style, pick up a unique gift or maybe just get inspired? Then stop in to downtown Pensacola’s Rusted Arrow Mercantile, located at 130 Palafox Place, across the street from World of Beer. Rusted Arrow is the creation of Sam Breedlove and her mother, Ruth. Breedlove grew up in Chicago and was selling furniture in St. Petersburg, dreaming of opening her own small business when her father brought her and her mother to Pensacola.

“He took my mom and I down Palafox and it was all lit up with Christmas lights and we were like, ‘This is the spot’,” Breedlove said. “The second we saw it, it all felt right.” Rusted Arrow Mercantile was the result of that visit, and the store now offers vintage furniture, home décor and gifts. Breedlove said all her furniture is professionally redone by herself and her mother, and is at least 30 years old. Rusted Arrow also offers restoration services if you’ve got an old dresser or sofa in need of an update.

Bluejay Bakery A Pensacola native returned home from a life in the San Francisco restaurant scene, building her name and a mountain of sweets along the way. So goes the story of Justine Gudmunson McCain, founder and owner of Bluejay Bakery. Justine began Bluejay Bakery in 2016, selling her cupcakes, tarts, macarons and other goodies at events like Hot Glass Cold Brew and Palafox Market. At the end of November, McCain opened her first brick-and-mortar location inside the breezeway at One Palafox Place.

McCain said she’s glad to finally have permanent location, “It’s been a roller coaster of an experience but it’s great to be somewhere where everybody can find us pretty easily and to have everything out of the house,” McCain said. Bluejay Bakery offers its signature treats like brownies, cookies, truffle tarts, macarons and cake pops and has an expanding breakfast menu. McCain said she plans to host a grand opening on February 9.


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The Fixer Upper J

A Q&A with Jim Gaffigan

im Gaffigan is many things – a husband, a father to five kids, an actor, a writer and a producer – but most of all, he’s a comedian. Fresh off of a Grammy nomination for his 2017 special Cinco, the ‘king of clean’ is coming to the Pensacola Bay Center on Feb. 11 for his Fixer Upper tour. Downtown Crowd sat down with him to discuss how he started comedy, his television show The Jim Gaffigan Show, and about the importance of comedy in our current era. To purchase tickets to the show, visit pensacolabaycenter.com. — By Tanner Yea DTC: How did you first get your start in comedy?

tell more stories or I’m going to do this different.” Obviously you want it to be really good, because when you do a show, JG: After college, I had a job in Tampa, but I knew that I your main responsibility is to make sure everyone in that wanted to live in New York. I didn’t know I was going to audience has a great time. In the end, the material has to do stand-up comedy, but I started in New York City. It was be undeniable. You’re not going to make everyone super definitely something I wanted to do, and I was of course happy, but not only are people spending money, they’re terrified. But I ended up being dared into doing it – I was giving up time. You want the show to be worth their time. kind of waiting for someone to dare me to do it, so it was exciting. DTC: Do you think how the way the world is right now – with politics and comedians worrying about pushing DTC: How was that early stand up different from what boundaries – that makes it harder to write material? you currently do? JG: It certainly isn’t for me. That being said, my comedy JG: I would say my comedy’s more complex, but I think it’s isn’t constructed on irreverence or taboos or political pretty similar. The irony is when I started doing my very things. In a way, my comedy in this political environment first set – my first five minutes – it was kind of observa- – being non-political in my act – its almost worked in my tional and self-effacing. I tried on a lot of different styles; I benefit because people want a break from it. They want tried being angry on stage, I tried being high-energy, I tried a break from either reading about it or watching about it a lot of different things. In the end you just are who you are. or arguing about it. People come to my show and are like, “Just make me laugh for an hour-and-a-half, that’s what I DTC: In 2015 you performed at the World Meeting of want.” Families, and Pope Francis was also at the event. What was it like sharing a bill with the Pope? DTC: I was surprised to see that you had previously appeared on Broadway with That Championship Season. JG: It was truly fascinating. It’s this festival for families, How was that, and why did you decide to pursue it? and it was the first visit by Pope Francis to America. It was outdoors and it was millions of people, so I knew in a lot JG: I love acting, I’ve always had an acting career simulof ways it was a no-win situation because all the millions taneously with my stand-up – it’s just that the right opof people weren’t sitting there thinking “I hope the Pope portunities haven’t come up. Like for the audition process, has a comedian open for him.” It was kind of surreal, but it I always describe auditioning as stripping but you don’t get wasn’t something I could pass up – I was very excited to a dollar. I’m doing a fair amount of dramatic roles, and it’s check it out. great! It’s just so fun to climb into a character and pursue it. The dramatic roles are completely different from comDTC: You recently released your fifth comedy special, edy, but it’s also a nice break from it. Cinco. Obviously you are always writing new material, but how is this special different from your others? DTC: What was it like to create your own TV show, especially in partnership with your wife? JG: In Cinco, the first 45 minutes of the 70 minutes there’s no food jokes whatsoever – so that’s probably the biggest JG: It was great, but I would say it’s an enormous amount difference. The thing is if you’re a comedian who really of work. Understandably, because my wife and I do have loves what they do – which is how I’d describe myself – five kids, but we also wrote all the episodes, I was in every you’re always kind of challenging yourself. With every spe- episode, she was directing, and we were both executive cial I’ve done, I set assignments of like, “Alright, I’m going to producers. It was very rewarding. It’s interesting because

Photo by: Robyn Von Swank the irony is one of the reasons to do the show was so I wouldn’t be travelling around doing stand-up so much. However, I find that I have more time with my kids as a comedian than doing my own TV show. If you want to do your own TV show and you want to do it right, it takes an enormous amount of time. DTC: Do you often tour with your family? What is it like to tour with them? JG: I tour with them when I can – for instance if there is a long weekend from school or summer or Christmas break, I’ll usually tour with them. But luckily, so far so good. In some ways it’s great, because I did a show in Paris and I brought them there. When we construct show dates around a family vacation, it means we are in southern Florida during Christmas, so it’s all good usually. DTC: What should people expect from this new tour and your appearance in Pensacola? JG: I would say it’s kind of hard to describe some of the material, but it’s about my life and what I’ve been dealing with – it’s all new material. For instance, my wife dealt with a brain tumor last year, so I talk some about that. In discussing individual topics it would sound kind of boring, it’s hard to give a glimpse of it. But I’ve been doing this material for some time now, and it’s been working well.




Pensacon always draws the best guests from movies, television, literature, animation and gaming, and this year is no different. Downtown Crowd sat down a few of this year’s guests to discuss their careers and what projects we should be excited for. Be sure to visit them in the guest area during the convention.


Charles Martinet Charles Martinet is an actor and voice actor who is known world-wide as the voice of famed Nintendo plumber, Mario. In addition, he has done other voices like Wario, Luigi and even the dragon Paarthurnax in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim.

Photo courtesy of Pensacon DTC: You have quite a background of traditional acting. Did you intend to get into voice acting, or were you set on the traditional acting path?

I read it in a Dust Bowl accent, and they gave me another fee for doing that. Suddenly I realized I’m a voice actor. So my intention was not necessarily to ever be a voice actor, but always the intention of having fun and having what I do make something fun and joyful for people in their lives, to bring a smile to their face. The exploration for me has been to do the most wonderful character that I’ve ever met: Mario. To do the whole family of Mario, Luigi, Wario, Waluigi, Baby Mario and Baby Luigi, it’s just an adventure and fun for me.

CM: I think what happened for me is I had no idea I ever wanted to be an actor, and all of a sudden a friend of mine said ‘Take an acting class from me,’ and there I was acting. I had no intention of ever leaving the theatre, but all of a sudden someone said, ‘Come and audition for a corporate DTC: What do you feel is the best part of video for me,’ and I said, ‘Oh, ok, I’ll take a the job of being Mario? look at that then. What do I have to do? CM: I love meeting fans, I think comic Act? Ok, I’ll act!’ cons are the most magnificent thing in Then one day I was doing a commercial the world. People get a marvelous opfor Orchard Supply Hardware, holding portunity to meet other people that share the pitchfork like in the American Gothic their passion and share what they love painting. We finished the day at 5pm and to do. Your whole life before you leave the producer goes, ‘That’s great, thanks school is meeting people with shared ina lot! Do you do voice overs?’ and I said terests, and then all of a sudden you’re in sure, not knowing really what that meant. an office building and you’re just working And he goes ‘Great, here’s the copy!’ and together. A comic con is this marvelous 12 | DOWNTOWNCROWD.COM

tion. I wasn’t invited, just barely caught the guy as he was walking out the door to leave and I said ‘Can I read for this?’ and he said ‘Alright, alright, come on in. You’re an Italian plumber from Brooklyn. Make up a voice, make up a video game, start talking and when you run out of I think it’s the greatest thing, and it’s things to say, that’s your audition.’ great for an entertainer to meet the audience. We’re in such a marvelously unique I thought obviously the choice would position to be able to be appreciated for be a gruff Brooklyn accent like ‘Hey, get the work that we do. People literally say outta my face, I’m walkin’ here.’ But I to me things like ‘you’re the voice of my thought what if I did something fun and childhood’ or ‘you changed my life when light and joyful, and I had done Grumio in you did that speech about following your Taming of the Shrew a few years before. heart.’ In fact, I met a guy at Gamescom I thought to make it younger and more in Germany last year who said, ‘I listened vital and more fun, and I did the Mario to your panel discussion about following voice, and I didn’t stop until I heard ‘Stop your heart and pursuing what you love to talking, we’re out of tape. Thank you, we’ll do, and now I’m a game designer and I be in touch.” I thought that was the very have two games on display in the booth end, but that was the beginning of 27 years of joy, fun and adventure. over here.’ opportunity to meet thousands of people and be among this great celebration of everyone’s passion and joy and sense of fun, and to make friends for life. I’ve even met people who have gotten married who met at comic cons.

That’s the great thing about life: you have so much more impact in the world than you think you do. You think you just put your head down and go for it, but you have so much impact. That’s why I think caring about humanity and having compassion and doing things that make life better for people is a wonderful thing. DTC: Mario and his voice have become very iconic around the world. How does it feel to be a part of video game history? CM: It’s great. I crashed an audition 27 years ago, and I had no idea what Nintendo was or who Mario was – I was just doing what I do, having fun at the audi-

It’s so great. I was walking along the other day to a friend’s house, and there were two kids who had lost their drone in a tree. I looked up and asked if they wanted me to try and get it for them, and they said ‘Ok!’ I grabbed the branches and shook it and it came plummeting down to the ground, and they picked it up and said, “We did it! Thanks mister! Yahoo! Woo-hoo!” They were doing all these Mario shouts and leaps for joy. To be a part of something that becomes a part of everyday life is such a tremendous honor.

“All Right Meow, Where Were We?” Erik Stolhanske Erik Stolhanske is an actor, writer, producer and sketch comedian, most famously known as a founding member of the Broken Lizard comedy group. His new movie, Super Troopers 2, will be released April 20, following a successful Kickstarter campaign. He will be appearing at Pensacon alongside fellow Broken Lizard member Paul Soter. Jay Chandrasekhar and Erik Stolhanske/All Photos courtesy of Pensacon

DTC: When and how did you first form Broken Lizard?

just a bunch of sketches, (or ‘set pieces’ er know if your jokes are landing because as they’d refer to them in movie terms) you don’t hear immediate feedback. It’s unnerving at times but you just have to weaved together with a plot. let your insecurities go and trust your coWe did not have a Super Troopers sketch medic instincts. in our early years. Everything that appeared in Super Troopers the movie was DTC: What made you decide to Kickstart Super Troopers 2? Was it always in the written solely for the movie. cards but it was hard to get funding? DTC: How is it different making a film ES: After the financial collapse in 2008 than it is doing sketch comedy? and the decline of the DVD market, stuES: Sketch comedy is much more imme- dios decided to focus on tent pole films diate. In sketch comedy, you can write like Iron Man and Batman or animated something and have it up on its feet the children movies. They drew much bigger box office sales than our comedy group. next day.

ES: We all met in college at Colgate University and put together a sketch comedy group called Charred Groosebeak, which had around 11 students as members. The Student Theater Group asked Jay Chandrasekhar (Thorny in Super Troopers) to direct a one-act play for the Student Theater Group, but Jay grew up in Chicago and had studied at the Improv Olympics in that city. Because his interests lie more in comedy than traditional drama, he decided to organize a group to perform comedy sketches and gave it it’s original name. When we all graduated from college a bunch of us moved to New Movies can take forever. For the first SuYork City and renamed the group “Broken per Troopers, we wrote twenty-two drafts Lizard”. of the script. Empires can fall and cites can burn in the time it takes to make a DTC: Did those sketches you did before movie. making movies eventually inform the movies? Was there something like a Su- The other aspect about filming comedy per Troopers sketch? that is different than doing live comedy is that there is no immediate response ES: Our early sketches informed our mov- when you tell a joke. On set, the crew is ies in the sense that they taught us how instructed NOT to laugh- as not to ruin a to write scenes. Super Troopers really is take. So when shooting a movie, you nev-

We went around Los Angeles and New York trying to secure the financing but just couldn’t find the interest. It’s a lot of money! And as I said earlier, because of the financial collapse, studios and investors were not as willing to take on as much risk. After several years of searching we decided to follow the model of Veronica Mars (who had a devout fan base) and turn to crowdfunding. We were absolutely blown out of the water when 54,000 fans helped us raise $4.5 million to make

a sequel to our 2001 cult comedy. DTC: What are you looking forward to regarding Pensacon? ES: Pensacon is special because I consider Pensacola a second home. My parents have lived in Pensacola for over thirty years and my wife and I love to spend time here. Love the people, the food and, of course since we are originally from frozen Minnesota, the beaches. Mike Ensley has done such an incredible job with Pensacon. The number and variety of celebrities that he gets to come down to the Emerald Coast, blows my mind. I always geek out about meeting anyone from Game of Thrones (my favorite show). And this year I’m very excited to meet Deborah Foreman from Valley Girl one of my favorite movies growing up. We’ll see if I can get up the nerves to actually say hello to her.


Cosplay On The Run

Marky Ramone

Revisit your emo days by pulling out your old jeans and leather jacket. Slap on some sunglasses and a black wig, and you’re ready to go.

Lucius Malfoy

An all black outfit, an old raincoat and your grandparent’s cane can make you look like a diabolical villain. Dye your hair silver for that extra punch.

The Hulk

Some green body paint and raggedy shorts can easily let you “hulk out.” This costume is not for the modest among us, however.


Buffy Summers

A yellow cheerleading outfit, strawberry sauce and a carefully-chosen stick can land you looking like OG Buffy in no time (from the movie, thank you very much).


Who says you can’t be a time machine? A blue dress and some felt cutouts can make you look like you’re about to hurdle through space-time at any moment.


Exterminate the competition with an old trashcan, some household appliances and some gold paint. Hunt down the Doctor in style! DOWNTOWNCROWD.COM | 15

Photos courtesy of Great Southern Restaurants


Party at Pensacon! Pensacon is spread throughout five venues across the city, but that doesn’t prevent it from absorbing the whole city. Bars and restaurants around the city join in on the excitement as they host weekend long parties and events. The best part is they are all themed around the aspects of nerd culture.

Great Southern Restaurants, the company behind The Fish House, Atlas Oyster House and the Deck Bar, will also be participating once again this year. On the Thursday before Pensacon starts, they will be hosting the official Pensacon kick-off party at the Deck Bar – featuring AnyDayDJ, special Pensacon cocktails, as well as trivia and costume contests judged by celebrity guests.

The Fish House will take on a Harry Potter-theme with “Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.” You can One of these participating businesses is the newly get a photo with a life-size dementor, make the wizard opened Perfect Plain Brewing Co. Bryant Liggett is the news with your own “Have You Seen This Wizard?” postgeneral manager of Perfect Plain, and despite only open- er, and even get sorted into one of the four Hogwarts ing in late December, she said that the brewery supports houses. There will also be featured drink specials like The Goblet of Fire and Butterbeer. and promotes all community-driven events. The Atlas Oyster House will be blown out of this world with famous scenes form the legendary Star Trek franchise. There will be authentic props for photo ops, including a life-size original Borg, translights from the deck of the Starship Enterprise, and an original movie Perfect Plain will be themed after the hit graphic-novel- prop of the ship itself. They will also have drink specials turned-television-show, The Walking Dead. Their open like The James Tea Kirk, the Warp Core Breach and the taproom will have the zombified “walkers” patrolling Mind Meld. around the patrons. Liggett also said that Perfect Plain will be offering the official beer of Pensacon, a Belgian Finally, the Deck Bar will turn into an intergalactic wild west as it transforms into the famous Cantina of Star Dubbel called Perfect Pensacon. Wars fame. Featuring the remains of bounty hunter Greedo and a life-size Han Solo frozen in Carbonite, “We knew we wanted to be involved before we opened our doors, and when the incredible folks at Pensacon approached is about a potential partnership we knew it was something we wanted to be part of,” said Liggett.

don’t forget to also take some pictures with our local 501st Legion – the famous coalition of Imperial Stormtrooper cosplayers. Each of these businesses will keep the party going throughout the weekend, with daily specials and fun events that help bring Pensacon to life. AnyDayDJ will also be performing at the Great Southern Restaurants every day at 8 pm throughout the convention. Safety still remains a priority, and the easiest way to enjoy the nightlife safely is to take the Pensacon trolley – which is free for all guests and staff. Take the trolley to the stops at Pensacola Little Theatre or Saenger Theatre to get to the heart of downtown without having to drive under the influence. Other bars and restaurants are sure to participate in their own small ways, and new venues are being announced every day. Regardless if you prefer seeing your favorite world brought to life, or if you just like the parties, there is something available for every guest to enjoy. For more information on the venues hosting events, visit perfectplain.com and greatsouthernrestaurants.com. For more information on Pensacon, all of its events and the latest news, visit pensacon.com.


Albums: What we’re listening to this month Rhye BLOOD


by WILL ISERN – By the time this issue is out, the Los Angeles-based, bedroom-pop band Rhye will have released their second full-length album. Blood comes a full five years since the release of the group’s excellent 2013 LP Woman, a soundtrack to which untold scores of children were conceived. Perhaps it’s unfair or unwise to recommend an album before its release, but that made Rhye good in 2013 remains the band have put out enough material wholly intact five years later. Put this ahead of the new record to give listen- one on heavy rotation for 2018. ers a reasonable expectation of what’s to come. Much of the sensual, ethereal R&B is back, carried once again by subtle string arrangements and singer Mike Milosh’s countertenor vocals. Milosh has said that unlike Woman, which was composed by himself and producer Robin Hannibal in a Los Angeles bedroom, Blood is born out the nearly 500 live shows the band has performed since Woman’s release. The new tracks do feel more energetic than the their predecessors, driven more by beat and bass a la The XX than most of what was found on Woman. Still, everything

by Carly Stone – At first listen, Ruins sounds very much like the First Aid Kit that we have gotten to know over the past decade or so. Songs like “Rebel Heart” and “My Wild Sweet Love” heavily showcase the sisters’ ability to harmonize perfectly while also composing masterful song lyrics that are as whimsical as they are pragmatic. Oddly enough, First Aid Kit has not been playing music as long as their polished exterior would suggest. In 2008, Swedish sisters Klara and Johanna Söderberg were discovered while singing Fleet Foxes covers on YouTube. Before that, they were just a couple of teenagers listening to bands like Bright Eyes, Devendra Banhart and CocoRosie among others. It wasn’t until the sisters saw the movie O Brother, Where Art Thou? that they were inspired to sing together. Singing the eerie gospel song “Down to the River to Pray” together was what really broke ground for the pair and soon after they became street singers, coming up with a name for the band simply by opening a dictionary. While Ruins might not be a dramatic departure from past albums, it certainly is different. Songs like “Hem of Her Dress” seem to mirror bands



like Tilly and the Wall and the Decemberists with a horn section and a chorus singing in the background. Another track, “Nothing Has to be True” is equally big and bold, with haunting lyrics like “Now I feel so far away/ From the person I once was/Though our love wasn’t love/You can tell yourself so many things/And nothing has to be true.” Despite these lyrics, First Aid Kit has once again managed to weave a hell of a lot of truth into their songs and this listener was more than impressed.

STANDOUT TRACKS: Rebel Heart Fireworks Hem of Her Dress

Movie reviews (based solely on the trailer) BY TANNER YEA

Black Panther

Early Man

This is the first Marvel movie that I’ve been excited about since Doctor Strange. Black Panther himself is an interesting character, and the science-fantasy country of Wakanda is going to allow a visual feast much like Thor: Ragnarok did. The cast list is also stacked with amazing actors like Forest Whitaker, Lupita Nyong’o and Chadwick Boseman. This is also on top of it being nearly an all-black cast, finally bringing a famous POC superhero to the screen on their own (yes, I know Falcon was in Captain America, but he doesn’t have his own movie). Marvel movies can get a little wearying in this day-and-age, but sometimes they strike gold – this looks like one of them.

From the studio that brought us the undeniable Chicken Run and Wallace and Gromit, Early Man is about a group of cavemen trying to take back their land from invading Bronze Age Normans through a…football tournament? This football being the British variety, of course. Kind of a bit of a bizarre premise, but director Nick Park somehow made one of the best animatedcomedies ever, and it was about some chickens. The cast list is full of British acting giants like Tom Hiddleston, Maisie Williams, Eddie Redmayne and Richard Ayoade. I love claymation as an art form and Nick Park is one of the best at it, so I’m staying hopeful for this one.






BY HALEY WEAVER – The first time I ever heard Willow Smith (now simply Willow), I was in ninth grade and she was singing about whipping her hair. I hated it. Eight years later, she is thankfully making music which sounds absolutely nothing like “Whip My Hair” on her sophomore album The 1st. With that forced indie-girl voice that has become so endearing in the last ten years, Willow wails over plucked guitar melodies about the angst and desperate need to understand life that comes with being 17. There are bright spots, some songs so obviously influenced by Tracy Chapman that the put-on aesthetic can be overlooked. The album opener “Boy” is a true standout, with Willow simultaneously sharing with her mother that she’s fallen in love and grappling with a childhood so entwined with fame and privilege that it separates her from that love. “Oh No!!!” and “The Reason” allow for her to show off an otherwise not emphasized range, while “Lonely Road” has a bridge ripped straight from a Lemonade-era Beyonce track. On the other hand, songs like “Human Leech” and “Romance” teeter over the edge to that of an angry Tuesday-night folk singer;

by TANNER YEA– If there is one word to use while describing the UK’s The Go! Team, it would be boisterous. I originally discovered the group after listening to the Little Big Planet soundtrack, and got instantly hooked. Their music is a pure throwback to the late 60s or early 70s – bombastic horns and drums, playground-style chants, lots of clapping, and lyrics about working together and having fun would fit right into an episode of The Electric Company or Sesame Street. Their newest album, SEMICIRCLE, is both a return to form and a departure from it. The sound heavily leans on marching band instruments, which while a feature of their older albums, didn’t take the forefront as they do now - the sampling that frontman Ian Parton is known for also takes a backseat. Ninja, the rapper vocalist who is often the forefront of the group’s stage presence, also only appears on a few songs. What that gives you is what sounds like a more heartfelt and honestly minimalist record by The Go! Team standards; I always feel their music is a tapestry of noise and inter-



they fit her like an oversized coat. There’s a difference, I think, in being someone and being like someone, and Willow is like many. And that’s not to say that people who create off the image of others don’t ever make art that is enjoyable, because a few songs on The 1st are worth noting; I’m just not convinced. Maybe by album three, Willow will be more persuasive.

STANDOUT TRACKS: Boy Oh No!!! Lonely Road

esting blips and bloops, but these songs are more straightforward. That doesn’t mean the songs aren’t fun and addictive, but though SEMICIRCLE has some good highs, most of it is middling.

STANDOUT TRACKS: Semicircle Song All The Way Live Getting Back Up


Game Night

Every Day

When game nights become a boring, adult affair, the obvious next step is to raise the stakes, have a player kidnapped, and create a real-life murder mystery. Jason Bateman, Kyle Chandler, and Rachel McAdams star in this dark comedy about a game night gone wrong, and it looks like it’ll be pretty funny. Bateman and Chandler are, and have been for years, my favorite charming, “he’d definitely hurt my feelings but I’d forgive him every time,” celebrity dads, so if the purpose of Game Night was to make me, specifically, drool for two hours then they have already succeeded.

Based on a book I’ve yet to read, Every Day tells the story of a romance that defies physical boundaries. A spirit who wakes up in a new body every day, falls in love with a girl named Rhiannon, and the story that follows details their struggle to maintain a love which is ever-changing and nearly impossible. With a screenplay adapted by Jesse Andrews (Me, Earl, & the Dying Girl), this story is an interesting take on the idea that we fall in love with character rather than gender or appearance. Only complaint: they wasted a February release on the week after Valentine’s Day for the teen romance movie of the spring.




Date line D ow n t own Vinyl Music Hall

Vinyl Music Hall hosts a variety of events, and February features original artists, events and once-in-a-lifetime entertainment. For more information and to purchase tickets for any of these events, visit vinylmusichall.com. Feb. 3: Machine Head Feb. 7: The Devil Makes Three Feb. 8: David Allan Coe Feb. 9: Less Than Jake Feb: 10: G Love & Special Sauce Feb. 14: Puddles Pity Party Feb. 16: Almost Kings Feb. 21: Rebirth Brass Band Feb. 22: Unknown Hinson Feb. 23: Bad Girls of Burlesque! Special Pensacon Weekend Edition Feb. 23: Dizzy Wright Feb. 25: Marc Broussard

any of these events, visit pensacolasaenger.com. Feb. 2: Michael Jackson: A Thrilling Tribute Feb. 3: The Pink Floyd Laser Show Feb. 6: Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story Feb. 10: Pensacola Symphony Orchestra Presents: All You Need is Love: A Beatles Tribute Feb. 16: An Evening with Ronnie Milsap presented by Big Spring Entertainment Feb. 18: Pensacola Children’s Chorus Presents: One World Many Voices Feb. 20: Daniel O’Donnell Feb. 21: Jonny Lang Feb. 22: Robert Cray Band Feb. 23: White Tie Rock Ensemble Presents: Dark Side of the Moon

Depose and Dispose Pensacola Ice Flyers (of) Throughout February

Come and cheer for our local team as the Pensacola Ice Flyers gear up for their 2017-2018 season. With a new coach and new energy, they are determined to continue their dominance in the Southern Professional Hockey League. All games listed below are home games. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit pensacolaiceflyers.com. Feb. 2: vs. Evansville Thunderbolts Feb. 3: vs. Evansville Thunderbolts Feb. 16: vs. Mississippi RiverKings Feb. 17: vs. Mississippi RiverKings Feb. 18: vs. Birmingham Bulls

Pensacola Saenger Theatre

Pensacola’s famous Saenger Theatre continues 2018 with the best in music, plays, opera and more. For more information and to purchase tickets for 20 | DOWNTOWNCROWD.COM

Through March 18 Depose and Dispose (of) is an exhibition of work by Katrina Andry hosted at the Pensacola Museum of Art. The exhibit invites the viewer to engage in collective empathy and understand the tangible, societal consequences of loss through systemic brutality. The anthropomorphic series of prints places people in vulnerable positions and situations to emphasize their humanity, while at the same time addressing the correlations between being referenced as an animal and the loss of personhood. For more information, visit pensacolamuseum.org.

Catch the Pensacola Grand Mardi Gras Parade on Feb. 10 town Pensacola with a tour that includes the historic district, and picturesque Bayfront Parkway, a run through Gulf Breeze, and onto Pensacola Beach. The 5K invites both runners and walkers to travel from Gulf Breeze to beautiful Pensacola Beach on Santa Rosa Island and the Gulf Islands Seashore. For more information, visit pensacolasports.org.

First City Shakespeare Presents The Taming of the Shrew

Feb. 10 – 12 Petruchio is determined to marry Katherina, and she’s just as determined to remain single in First City ShakeDouble Bridge Run speare’s production of William Feb. 3 Shakespeare’s “The Taming of The Pensacola Double Bridge the Shrew.” Company member Run Presented by Publix is one Michelle Hancock adapted the of the premier 15K races in the play, stripping it to a running country. The 15K carries run- time under one hour. Five acners over two bridges, across tors – and a couple of dolls -Pensacola Bay and Santa Rosa play all the parts. Adding to the Sound. It will run from down- laughs, before each scene one

of the performers will be chosen at random to down an alcoholic shot. Directors Mike Brustad and DeeDee Brustad infuse the production with a hint of magic and Voodoo by moving the play from Renaissance Italy to New Orleans circa 1959. The show will be held at Swan Neck Meadery & Winery, with tickets starting at $15. For show times and to purchase tickets, visit setsco.org.

Pensacola Grand Mardi Gras Parade

Feb. 10 One of the country’s original celebration sites, Pensacola hosts this family-oriented Mardi Gras parade in the historical downtown area. Crowds catch beads, doubloons and moonpies galore as they are thrown from floats! The parade begins at 2 pm, but make sure to arrive early to get the best spot possible. The parade starts at the intersection of Spring & Garden Streets and continues down Palafox. For more information and to see a full parade route, visit pensacolamardigras.com.

Jim Gaffigan

Feb. 11 Gaffigan is known around the world for his unique brand of humor, which largely revolves around fatherhood and his observations on life and food. With multiple projects in motion, Gaffigan is currently on his Fixer Upper arena and theater stand-up comedy tour, with dates through the end of the year. Make sure to read our interview with Gaffigan earlier in this issue! The show starts at 7:30pm at the Pensacola Bay Center. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit pensacolabaycenter.com.

Pensacola Ice Flyers Bowling Tournament

Feb. 11 The 2017-18 Ice Flyers Bowling Tournament will take place on Sunday, Feb. 11, from 2 to 6 pm at Cordova Lanes Bowling Center. Cost per lane is $60 (includes shoes rentals and bowling for four). Ice Flyers players will be rotated through the various lanes throughout the event.

Date line D ow n t own As always, the event will feature a Power Play Challenge, the Ice Bowling Challenge, and Ice Flyers Raffles. All proceeds will benefit the Pensacola Humane Society. For more information, visit pensacolaiceflyers.com

Center for Fine and Performing Arts Presents: The Music Man

fact that he doesn’t know a trombone from a treble clef. His plans to skip town with the cash are foiled when he falls for Marian, the librarian, who transforms him into a respectable citizen by curtain’s fall. Tickets cost up to $18, but admission is free to UWF students with a valid Nautilus Card. For more information, show times and tickets, visit uwf.edu/cfpa.

wizardry, basketball artistry and one-of-a-kind family entertainment that thrills fans of all ages. Prepare to be amazed as the Globetrotters showcase basketball’s first 4-point line, located 30 feet from the basket – 6 feet, 3 inches beyond the top of the NBA’s current 3-point line. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit pensacolabaycenter.com.

tivities, photo ops...a full weekend of entertainment. Read the whole issue to see what celebrities, events and activities to expect at the largest Pensacon yet! For more information and to purchase tickets, visit pensacon.com.

5th Annual I Pink I Can Run

Feb. 24 Join the Krewe du YaYas for Feb. 16-17, 23-24 Harlem Pensacon the 5th annual I Pink I Can Run The Music Man follows fast- Globetrotters Feb. 23-25 4 miler run/walk for breast talking traveling salesman, Har- Feb. 19 Pensacola’s Intergalactic Event cancer on Feb. 24th, 2018. old Hill, as he cons the people Experiencing the Globetrot- of the Year! An all-inclusive pop Starting at the Flora-Bama of River City, Iowa, into buy- ters is even better live. A star- culture convention spanning Lounge, you’ll find a great ing instruments and uniforms studded roster will have fans the genres of comics, anime, course, awards, food, music for a boys’ band that he vows on the edge of their seats to sci-fi, horror, gaming and fan- and after party. All proceeds to organize – this, despite the experience the ball handling tasy. Participate in special ac- from this event benefit The

Be sure to check out Pensacon Feb. 23 through Feb. 25


Keeping Abreast Foundation. The event starts at 9 am and admission is $30 through Feb. 23. For more information, email ipinkicanrun@gmail. com.


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Downtown Crowd, Feb. 2018 - Pensacon Returns  

Pensacon Returns: Comedians, Characters & Cosplayers

Downtown Crowd, Feb. 2018 - Pensacon Returns  

Pensacon Returns: Comedians, Characters & Cosplayers