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The Dark Dreamscape of ‘Nocturnal Animals’ A beloved University of Cincinnati professor’s novel becomes an edgy, thrilling new movie long after his death B Y T T S T E R N - E N Z I • PAG E 1 2











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Considering Cincinnati Icons Alex Breyer I’d say Boone County Jamboree, or even perhaps one of the Crosleys. Cincinnati’s role in our nation’s early broadcasting of both TV and radio is essentially unknown to today’s society. It’s a shame so much is forgotten on how big of a radio and music performance town this was, mostly due to WLW’s 500,000 watts of pure power. Mark Stewart OK... Here’s a couple “native sons” for your consideration: Roy Rogers and Charles Manson. But I expect one of them the city prefers to forget. But if you read his biographies and autobiography .. well, kind of a horrific childhood, to say the least. I expect Rogers will be the only one that might be considered. He used to joke that he “was born at second base” at Riverfront Stadium! Roxanne Severs Theda. Please cuz vamptastic — Comments posted at in response to Nov. 24 post, “Contemplating contributions to Cincinnati culture and themes for future ArtWorks murals”

Mmm… Pizza… lindsaylee9 Been talking about a 3/4/5-way pizza for years. @sarahmiller812 sarahmiller812 This looks like the best thing ever! — Comments posted at CityBeatCincy in response to Nov. 26 post, “The topping options at Lower Price Hill’s LPH Pizza sounds like awesome off-the-cuff ideas a friend threw out for pizza night.” Photo: @haaailstormm


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At 4pm, 8pm and Midnight, you could win one of the three Ford Escapes or take $10,000 CASH.


What a Week! BY T.C. Britton


Two weeks after the presidential election, most Americans have at least somewhat made peace with the results. Others continue to protest, eagerly awaiting the outcome of calls for recounts. And then there’s Joe Chandler of Brunswick, Ga. This guy claims he does not know which candidate is now president-elect. And he doesn’t want to. Like many others, Chandler was invited to an election-watch party earlier this month. But all of that pearl-clutching and hand-wringing as the results rolled in started stressing him out, so he said, “Peace!” and never looked back. He’s been making his rounds on Atlanta local news and even the Today show, explaining his decision. “Having subtracted myself from this political fracas and all of the mayhem of the digital media, I kind of found the center of the cyclone, it is very peaceful in my bubble of ignorance,” Chandler said. In other words, namaste away from him with your election talk. He even claims to wear headphones and a sign that says “I don’t know who won, and I don’t want to. PLEASE DON’T TELL ME!” when he leaves the house. That’s really taking “no spoilers” to the next level.


During the 90th-annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, an NYPD officer proposed to his girlfriend, a hip Mr. Peanut did the dab and Miss Piggy heroically saved an unsteady Tony Bennett from falling off a moving float. It wouldn’t be Turkey Day without football, and national treasure Aretha Franklin kicked off the Lions vs.

Vikings game with a rousing rendition of the “Star-Spangled Banner.” Anyone who protested that national anthem was hopefully wearing knee pads, because Aretha drug that shit out for nearly five minutes. And you thought your grandma took forever to say Grace before you could start eating. And in the great tradition of Thanksgiving, while some camped outside of big box stores in the hopes of getting a deal on electronics, indigenous people and allies camped out at Standing Rock to protest the Dakota Access Pipeline. It’s comforting to know in this crazy, mixed-up world, American government is still intent on poisoning its country’s natives and stealing their land.

Slumdog Millionaire and Kumar are not the same person, and readers sounded off on Twitter about the error. This is not the first time that a *cough* respected media outlet has confused two major actors of South Asian descent; Salon last year reported that Silicon Valley star Kumail Nanjiani also appeared in Big Bang Theory. Only he didn’t — that’s Kunal Nayyar, but at least those guys have similar names. Not only do these kinds of mistakes make journalists look less credible and a little racist, but it demonstrates a complete lack of IMDB aptitude, which is expected from even the least professional entertainment writer/human being today.



It was a truly Black Friday as news broke that America’s mother, Florence Henderson, passed away on Thanksgiving Day. Prayer circles are currently surrounding Betty White, who is freebasing virgin’s blood to ensure her name stays off the growing list of icons we’ve lost in 2016. Joining Mrs. Brady in the big blended family in the sky was controversial Cuban leader Fidel Castro, who died Friday at age 90. He famously remarked, after so many false reports of his demise over the years, that no one would believe it when he really passed away. Well, he did. Miami celebrated and Cuba observed nine days of mourning while most of us just continued watching Gilmore Girls.


Wall Street Journal movie critic Joe Morgenstern confused actor Dev Patel with Kal Penn in a review of Patel’s film Lion. Alas,

Conservative Hollywood stars in general are few and far between. But now that the GOP is back in charge, Republican comedians like Rob Schneider and Tim Allen are coming out of the woodwork to “destroy liberals” — as not-at-all biased headlines argue — with biting jokes and commentary about left-wing crybabies. Watch out, Dems: The one and only Deuce Bigalow male gigolo and a former cocaine dealer-turnedTim “the Tool Man” Taylor are here to tell America how it is. Uncle! Uncle!


Donald Trump posted a Thanksgiving message on Instagram Thursday, wishing everyone a happy holiday with a picture of him and his serial killer-looking family that said, “Happy Thanksgiving — November 28, 2016.” Of course, Thanksgiving was Nov. 24. The last time it landed on the 28th was

2013, and the next time it does will be 2019, but those little details called facts didn’t push Trump to remove or edit the photo. Oddly enough, Nov. 28 is also the date he mistakenly told Florida voters to come out on Election Day. Again, voting took place on Nov. 8, so it was probably just a slip of the tongue (dry heave). But obviously this date is important, which leads us to question… What exactly does Trump have planned for Nov. 28? Here are our best guesses: • It’s his friendship anniversary with Vladimir Putin • An Ice-T-centric Law and Order: Special Victims Unit marathon • The day his fresh orangutan weave ships from the wig shop • Cyber Monday shop-a-thon! • Celebrating the late, great Anna Nicole Smith’s birthday


Full House star Jodie Sweetin spoke at Northern Kentucky University this week about her experience with addiction, raising money for an organization called NKY Hates Heroin. The actress, who played middle-child Stephanie Tanner in the sitcom, struggled with alcohol and drug use, including meth, after her time on the show. In the last year, Sweetin has starred in the anticipated Netflix spinoff Fuller House, then competed on Dancing With the Stars and now she’s doing Midwestern college appearances? Is this the best gig her manager can get for her? How rude! CONTACT T.C. BRITTON: letters@

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Plants vs. Animals: A Brief History The single worst moment in the history of mankind is when seeds were first planted. The backstory is basic. Man, wanting to have an easy meal, decided to cut down or light aflame forests full of nutrition in order to line out grains or crops. It’s all been downhill since then. You know that heartburn you get? It’s because you ingest too much grass. We’re not supposed to do that. Have you ever noticed how naturally babies take to Chicken McNuggets? The infant eating hierarchy follows this order: breast milk, McNuggets, people fingers, chicken fingers, blankets, chicken tenders, carrots and then other stuff. As you can see, meat is very high on the food pyramid of needs at this age. Fresh out of God’s 3D printer, infants are closest to man’s natural state. Infants are born teachers, and they teach us that man was put on this earth to eat the most fatty and protein-rich substances available; it’s simple science, bro. If you look at man’s evolutionary biology, we all got a lot smarter when we were able to eat brains, fingers and other good organs. Fire helped with this because it made organs softer and more BBQ-ey. Fast forward to today. We’re eating science sugar and not enough of the right animals, simply because some bros a long time ago got sick of running after animals. The moral of the story is that when we started farming 300 years ago, we had to stop moving, and subsequently we as a species were left with two choices: 30-year mortgage or death. “ W H Y A R E Y O U P L A N T I N G A L L T H AT R I C E ? j u s t eat the b u f falo ! ”

Welcome to


Right for the Wrong Reasons By Ben L. Kaufman

photographers who follow the president and president-elect. Americans need to know what happens to their leaders, whether elected or not, and journalists follow them hoping they don’t make news: JFK, RFK, George Wallace, Reagan, etc. Just for starters, he barred them from his version of Air Force One and from his public sorties in New York. Maybe there’s hope. News media continue to play the disruptive role in our politics and culture. That much critics have right. This arose with coverage of the civil rights and anti-war movements of the 1960s when newsrooms were dominated by white males who rarely shared marchers’ aspirations for change. (A personal note: It was an article of faith in post-war America that mainline news media were conservative. This reflected wealthy white owners’ lingering antipathy to FDR, the New Deal, the Left in general and African-American aspirations for the vote, access to housing of their choice, the same quality of schools as whites, etc.) However, images of white cops beating, hosing and setting dogs on peaceful civil rights marchers affected journalists as well as voters and politicians. Younger reporters succeeding Depression and World War II journalists often led the changes. News judgment shifted and redirected journalism’s moral compass. There was an angry reaction. Many Americans saw coverage of civil rights and antiwar protests as sympathetic and evidence of a “liberal” news media. I remain puzzled how so many Cincinnatians cited our coverage as proof the Enquirer was liberal. Critics were right for the wrong reasons. Journalism’s bias wasn’t so much as “liberal” as a response to what was novel, what was disturbing, what pushed against the conventional wisdom. I think it was CBS’s Harry Reasoner who once asked who’d watch TV news if it stuck to all of the cats who weren’t stuck up trees? It’s the same bias that draws us to crime and crash scenes, but no one I know says this demonstrates a bias for homicide or distracted driving. That hasn’t changed, as the LGBT communities and Trump understand. Still, for many Americans today, feelings count for more than facts as they watch coverage of another generation of largely young demonstrators. This time, it’s more than an assault on

the waning white Christian culture to which they cling. Clueless urban anti-Trump protesters are making common cause with Trump’s attack on the integrity of our ballot. Some want Trump deposed and a new election, unwittingly hoping for the United States to become United Fruit and a Banana Republic. When demonstrators chant “Not My President!” their efforts to delegitimize Trump’s presidency echo his “birther” attack on Obama’s right to be president. How do you know? The news media. Some demonstrators and online activists embellish their protests by calling on Republicans to defect when the Electoral College meets Dec. 19 and to elect Hillary.

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“Hostility to the news media — perceived as sympathetic agents of change — isn’t new.” Just as the news media enabled Trump’s seemingly inevitable victory, journalists energize demonstrators’ protests. No one goes home while TV cameras are there. That phenomenon isn’t new and Trump is today’s model: Manipulate the complicit news media, knowing that image is everything and TV can’t resist a demonstration or a club-swinging and window-smashing riot. We know that from an era when there was no internet or Facebook. Americans withdrew from Vietnam and liberals won civil rights legislation while national news coverage hardened white resistance in the North as well as the states of the Confederacy. LBJ wasn’t joking when he signed the 1964 Civil Rights Act and said “We have lost the South for a generation.” He underestimated white resistance and its ability to find new justifications and targets. Hostility to the news media — perceived as sympathetic agents of change — isn’t new, but it gained new energy from Trump’s speeches. Today, Trump’s choices for top posts and their related “white nationalism” and “identity” politics are major stories as is the resurgent militia movement with its racial and religious animosities. We’re writing about that, too, and, sure as hell, someone’s going to accuse us of promoting those causes, too. CONTACT BEN L. KAUFMAN:

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Here are things you can’t blame Trump for. And some you can. Just when we need fact-based reporting more than ever, diminished national news media are cutting staff again. Newspaper circulation — paper and online — is falling and, along with ad revenues, further impoverishing the content and discouraging readers. Thin as national and local newspaper reporting staffs are becoming, no other news medium can match their size or competence. Consolidation of local paper ownership is continuing, with the Enquirer’s owner, Gannett, a prominent buyer. Partisan media of all kinds increasingly dominate the information and disinformation universe. Traditional news media continue to respond to sensation rather than seek substance under growing pressure from social media and the internet. Americans are migrating to all forms of media offering stories and views that agree with their biases; it’s called “cocooning” and makes rational argument evermore unlikely. But I’ve said that before. It gets worse. The esteem in which traditional news media are held continued to decline, in part a response to two decades of deliberate GOP attacks and Trump’s fact-free abuse. You think that’s scary? Citing the nonpartisan Pew Research Center, USA Today says nearly half of Americans get their news and false news from Facebook and two in 10 U.S. adults get news from print newspapers. “False news” is such a growing political phenomenon that the post-election hue and cry forced Facebook and Google to seek ways to block or take down phony stories. Attacking false/phony “news” raises questions about what is phony and what is real in the media universe. Fact-checking sites — and their partisan detractor — are proliferating as Trump continues to make unverifiable assertions. When stories and commentaries reinforce their beliefs, too many Americans abandon critical thinking or what Hemingway called “crap detectors.” Trump blames anti-Trump street demonstrations on “the media” as if social media hadn’t enabled his supporters to find each other and rally to his fantasies. He continues to threaten changes in libel laws to damage critical news media, and his campaign manager warns news media that they face unspecified litigation if their stories displease Trump. Meanwhile, Trump is going beyond his campaign practice barring some reporters from his private campaign events. Raising his middle finger to the White House press corps, he turned his back on the traditional small pool of reporters and

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Reviving the Urban Grocer

With Clifton Market set to open, other efforts to increase access to healthy foods also move forward BY STEPHEN CARTER-NOVOTNI



After half a decade, the Gaslight District will soon get its grocery store back. “When Whole Foods in Hyde Park, which is 4.5 miles away, first came on, when it was Wild Oats, we lost about 12 percent of our business,” Craig says. “Then that (business) came back. It’s hard to say about the effect (of Clifton Market’s opening). … I think there’s enough of a customer base that we’ve established that we’ll do just fine. And, hopefully, as they say, a high tide raises all the boats.” The success or failure of Clifton Market will be watched closely by the teams behind other local neighborhood market projects. The Apple Street Northside Market project is working toward a similar grocery in the old Northside Sav-A-Lot space. And a new Avondale neighborhood grocer, as part of the Avondale Town Center project, is planning a 2018 opening. There have been conversations about a neighborhood grocery store in Madisonville as well. An important component to Clifton Market’s potential impact is that it is opening in what could technically be considered a food desert that happens to be in a hip, upscale district. Most food deserts — defined by the American Nutrition Association as an area where many residents live one mile or further from a supermarket or large grocery store — are in low income areas. To make matters worse, the prices of the limited,

processed food options available in food deserts are often jacked up to the further detriment of the low-income. Those with the resources — like many in Clifton — can drive elsewhere for access and bargains, while low-income residents are left to the convenience stores and pony kegs. Findlay Market, which has long offered fresh, healthy produce and meats to Overthe-Rhine, is working to counter some of the problems faced by low-income residents through a farmstand outreach into Cincinnati’s urban neighborhoods. Findlay Market local food program manager Tristan Crigger says Findlay’s Farmstead Program has just completed its fourth season. It runs from spring to fall, offering fresh produce and a handfull of non-perishable, homemade cottage goods at tented kiosks open weekly in Price Hill (3-6 p.m. Tuesdays), Evanston (3-6 p.m. Thursdays) and Walnut Hills (4-7 p.m. Thursdays). “The program was originally focused on providing fresh, healthy and locally sourced goods to individuals who may not have access to it — food deserts,” he says. “We’ll go to each location for three or four hours, usually in the late afternoon, early evening, to try and give people who work a standard 9-to-5 job the opportunity to get there.”

Crigger says it’s an attempt to provide some food normalcy. And like regular grocery stores, there is a rewards program, though Findlay Market has flipped the idea, usually geared to hike profits and target sales. The Produce Perks program is for persons who are using SNAP benefits — the Ohio food assistance card previously known as food stamps. “Whenever they choose to use their SNAP benefits to purchase anything, we will match the first 10 dollars of that,” Crigger says. “Those Produce Perks coins can be used on any produce or fruit.” Crigger says they welcome anyone to the stands and that even though the program was started as a charitable outreach, shoppers do not have to be low-income — all patronage helps. “We don’t have a huge audience,” he says. “That’s something we really have to dig into — to figure out what it is we can do to draw the larger audience.” “The farm stands are more of a missionbased program,” he adds. “They are never going to make a profit and are paid for primarily through grants, with the difference made up for by private donations. It’s really to encourage people to eat healthier, eat local and provide them with the access they need to do that.” ©

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ou only have to peek in the window of the old Keller’s IGA space on Ludlow Avenue in Clifton to see that things are happening. With a massive remodel nearing completion, dozens of shelves and coolers await delivery of what is likely to be a decidedly Cliftonian collection of goods. It’s been half a decade since Keller’s closed its doors and a community anchor was lost in the Gaslight District. But the new grocery co-operative Clifton Market is slated to open in December, hoping fill the void by providing expanded offerings with an increased sense of community. “I think they’ll be really pleasantly surprised,” says Clifton Market organizer Marilyn Hyland, who says patrons can expect a completely modern grocery with a cafe, organic and locally sourced produce, an upscale meats and cheese section, and craft beer and wine offerings. “A lot of the feel of it will be the friendliness, which Keller’s had big time. But it will be totally refreshed.” Besides staple and specialty items, Clifton Market will host events for kids, live music and more, including opportunities for singles to meet and cooking classes. The space is altogether new — the store was completely gutted — but familiar as well in that it will truly be a grocery of the Clifton community, Hyland says. The co-op came together thanks to members of the community purchasing more than 1,200 shares. While it’s not a profitable financial investment — there are no dividends — many view it as a personal investment in the Clifton neighborhood, as well as a way to get their grocery store back. Shareholders help to guide the direction of the project through voting at meetings and will see a percentage back on their purchases. But the investment’s greatest yield is that shareholders participate in keeping the neighborhood vital, Hyland says. “It’s big enough to be an upscale grocery store and small enough for people to feel comfortable to shop in,” Hyland says. “Incorporating as a co-op was done to find a way for people to share their money toward a common goal, which was to put the groceries back in the grocery store.” Clifton Natural Foods has been the next best thing to a large grocery on Ludlow and has served the needs of the Gaslight community for nearly three years after moving from its old location in University Heights. While there is overlap in its and Clifton Market’s clientele, Clifton Natural Foods co-owner Bob Craig says he believes the opening of Clifton Market will benefit his business.

news city desk BY cit ybeat staff

Cincinnati Financial Corp. workers pony up for GOP Ohio Supreme Court candidates

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Through no prompting that their company would admit to, employees of Cincinnati Financial Corp. and its affiliates donated more than $125,000 to the campaigns of Ohio Supreme Court justices-elect Pat DeWine and Patrick Fischer — an amount far exceeding the contributions of any other company or group to high court candidates. Contributions compiled by CityBeat from the Ohio Secretary of State’s website show how a single company can leverage its weight in state judicial elections. Based in Fairfield, Cincinnati Financial is one of the biggest insurance companies in Ohio. Somehow, 141 of its employees determined in lockstep that two retiring Republican justices should be replaced by Republicans DeWine and Fischer. They gave no money to Democratic candidates. And of the 141 employees, 131 gave money to both DeWine and Fischer. Most gave equal amounts. Most of those employees work for the company’s Cincinnati Insurance subsidiary. Betsy Ertel, a spokeswoman for Cincinnati Financial, said the company played no role in its employees’ decisions to give money to the two Supreme Court candidates. Asked if the employees’ contributions — $72,975 to Fischer, $52,175 to DeWine — were coincidental, she said yes. “We don’t ask associates to contribute to a particular candidate,” Ertel said. “They can voluntarily support any candidate they choose.” Through its employees, Cincinnati Financial factored into the Ohio Supreme Court campaign finance picture like no other organization. The bulk of candidates’ contributions came from law firms, corporate and labor union political action committees and individual donors. NiSource, a utility that owns Columbia Gas of Ohio, was one of the biggest corporate givers. Its PAC spread $21,100 among DeWine, Fischer and Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor, a Republican who ran unopposed. The PAC of FirstEnergy, another utility, gave $13,400 to Fischer. Other insurance companies and lobbies were pikers compared to the employees of Cincinnati Financial. The PAC of Montgomery-based Ohio National Financial Services gave $6,700 to Fischer, $5,700 to O’Connor. Nationwide’s PAC gave $6,700 to DeWine. The Ohio Insurance Agents PAC gave $6,700 to Fischer, $6,200 to DeWine, and the Ohio State Farm Agents PAC gave $6,700 to DeWine, $4,200 to Fischer. Two members of the Cincinnati Financial board of directors, brothers John and Tom Schiff, spearheaded employees’ giving to Supreme Court candidates. John Schiff, the

former chairman and CEO, gave $7,200 to both DeWine and Fischer, his wife Lynn $3,600 to both. Tom Schiff, CEO of the John J. and Thomas R. Schiff Co., gave $7,200 to Fischer, $3,600 to DeWine. Charles Schiff, a vice president at that insurance agency, gave $3,600 to both. Catherine Turcer, policy analyst for Common Cause Ohio, says she doesn’t know why Cincinnati Financial employees backed DeWine and Fischer. She says that insurance companies, in general, have a stake in the composition of state courts. “Insurance companies clearly want to pay out as little as possible to maximize profits,” she said by email. “Contentious claims end up at the Ohio Supreme Court, and it’s in their best interest to have a businessfriendly court. The employees from insurance companies have been engaged in Ohio Supreme Court elections for many years.” As for Ertel’s claim that Cincinnati Financial didn’t steer employees toward giving money to DeWine and Fischer, Turcer believes the company encouraged its employees to donate to its preferred judicial candidate. “This type of bundling of many smaller contributions allows the company to make a bigger splash than just one contribution from a company PAC,” she said. “Numerous smaller contributions from multiple sources are also less likely to make a judge consider recusing him- or herself from hearing a case involving the company.” Alicia Bannon, senior counsel for the Democracy Program at the Brennan Center for Justice in New York, also spoke of the insurance industry’s interest in state court elections. “Many of the biggest spenders in state supreme court races are lawyers and business interests which regularly appear in state court — including insurance companies,” she said by email. “The National Institute on Money in State Politics estimates that, in 2012, candidates for the Ohio Supreme Court received $291,895 in contributions from the insurance industry, more than 8 percent of total contributions. “Often, interests like these are seeking to influence who sits on state high courts and, ultimately, the decisions that courts are making,” Bannon says. “As judicial races have become more expensive and politicized, they pose a dangerous threat to the integrity of our courts.” Both DeWine and Fischer serve as judges on Ohio’s First District Court of Appeals in Cincinnati. As of Tuesday afternoon, neither DeWine nor Fischer had responded to a CityBeat request for comment. Bill DeMora was campaign manager for John O’Donnell, a Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court judge who lost to Fischer by less than 1 percent of the Supreme Court vote. He doesn’t believe that Cincinnati Financial employees acted on their own.

“It comes as no shock to us that Cincinnati Financial Corp. made their employees give money to our opposition, someone they have known for years and who has rendered decisions in favor of insurance companies on a regular basis,” DeMora said. “Their explanation that it is a ‘coincidence’ is laughable and doesn’t pass the smell test of any rational thinking person.” (James McNair)

Prosecutor’s office won’t offer opinion on controversial clerk of courts hire The Hamilton County prosecutor’s office has backed out of a pledge to render a legal opinion on Clerk of Courts Tracy Winkler’s transfer of a recently reprimanded employee into a new, $70,000-a-year job in October. The opinion was requested Nov. 2 by County Commissioner Todd Portune. He expressed concerns about the move’s impact on the county budget. He also questioned Donald Robinson’s assignment of hearing officer duties under a parking ticket enforcement program governed by a contract between the city of Cincinnati and the county Board of Commissioners. A month earlier, Robinson had been issued a written reprimand for pressuring clerk of courts employees — in a work-hours email — to wear T-shirts and plant yard signs in support of Winkler’s re-election. He was

ordered to apologize and tell employees that campaign assistance had no bearing on their jobs or promotion chances. On Oct. 24, Robinson was replaced as the clerk’s chief bailiff in municipal criminal courtrooms. He was named “safety services director” and put in charge of workplace safety programs. His annual salary remained unchanged at $70,035. That drew criticism not only from Aftab Pureval, the Democrat who would go on to win the clerk of courts election Nov. 8, but from Portune. At his request, assistant county prosecutor Michael Friedmann agreed to “look into” the Robinson maneuver. “We’ll work with the administration in tailoring an opinion for you on that,” Friedmann told Portune at the board’s Nov. 2 meeting. But in a Nov. 3 letter to the board of commissioners and Winkler, Chief Assistant Prosecuting Attorney James Harper killed the inquiry. “As you are well aware, the clerk of courts is an independent elected official who is free to manage the affairs of her office in the way that best meets the needs of her office,” he wrote. “The Board of County Commissioners does not supervise the clerk or her staff. “Therefore, there is nothing to further to (sic) review, and you are so advised,” Harper closed. Portune did not respond to a request for comment last week. (JMC)

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Food, Body Care,

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The Dark Dreamscape U ni v e rsit y of C inc inn ati profe s sor au s tin wrigh t ’s nov e l bec ome s

s c e n e s f r o m n o c t u r n a l a n i m a l s , s ta r r i n g j a k e g y l l e n h a a l a n d a m y a d a m s // p h o t o s : m e r r i c k m o r t o n / f o c u s f e at u r e s

AN e dgy, thrilling ne w mov ie long af te r hi s de ath •

By T T St ern - Enzi

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of ‘Nocturnal Animals’

d i r e c t o r t o m f o r d l o o k s i n t o c a m e r a ( LEF t ) a n d ta l k s w i t h j a k e g y l l e n h a a l a n d m i c h a e l s h a n n o n ( c e n t e r ) a n d j u s t s h a n n o n ( r i g h t ) // p h o t o s : m e r r i c k m o r t o n / f o c u s f e at u r e s

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uring the second day of this year’s Toronto International Film Festival, I joined my international critical brethren for what would turn out to be an intriguing double feature, grounded by nuanced performances from five-time Academy Award nominee Amy Adams. One of those films I saw that day, the second, has already opened in theaters and become a hit — the speculative science-fiction mind-bender Arrival from Canadian director Denis Villeneuve. But the first one, Nocturnal Animals, is just beginning to arrive at theaters, and it has an important local connection. Adams ushered us into the wild with this elegant and cannily constructed movie from American director Tom Ford. It’s a thriller he adapted from the novel Tony and Susan by the late Austin Wright, a distinguished longtime English professor at University of Cincinnati. (Wright died in 2003 at age 80, 10 years after the publication of Tony and Susan.) Nocturnal Animals already has opened in larger cities as part of distributor Focus Features’ slow endof-year release pattern, designed to build interest in the film for Academy Award nominations. It is scheduled to open in Cincinnati on Dec. 9, although that could change. Adams was superb in the film as Susan Morrow, an art gallery owner whose ex-husband, Edward (Jake Gyllenhaal), has sent her his manuscript for a novel, called Nocturnal Animals, seeking her advice. It is a dark, violent story of a man named Tony, whose family vacation is interrupted when they become victims of a crime. The film, like Wright’s novel, follows both Susan’s story and Tony’s (also played by Gyllenhaal), a parallel construction that plays with the nature of storytelling.

For all the acting excellence on display in Nocturnal Animals, what mattered more was cracking the narrative Rubik’s Cube invented by Wright and elevated by Ford’s precise integration of style and substance. This is the second feature by Ford, already a successful fashion designer when he adapted Christopher Isherwood’s 1964 novel about a gay man’s life, A Single Man, into a highly acclaimed 2009 film. Wright’s novel was published in 1993, the same year he retired after serving 23 years as a UC professor. Tony and Susan was immediately well received in literary circles, if not a bestseller. And it stayed admired. In a 2010 Guardian review of a new edition of the novel, John Harrison noted Wright’s obsession with “the interconnection of real and invented worlds,” rooted in the belief that “in some sense the reader writes the book.” (It has just been republished by Grand Central Publishing in connection with the film’s release.) Ford declined an interview request from CityBeat, but in a letter to members of the Landmark Theatres Film Club (Landmark is a national chain of art cinemas), he explained his attraction to Tony and Susan: “I knew then that my next film had to speak to people as well (as A Single Man), but I wanted to explore very different storytelling territory. When I read the late Austin Wright’s novel, I was fascinated by not only the device of a story within a story, but with the idea that a writer (the character of Edward, portrayed powerfully by Jake Gyllenhaal) could communicate such a personal message of love and pain to the reader (the character of Susan, portrayed soulfully by Amy Adams) through a work of fiction. “When I set out to write the screenplay adaptation,  I chose to emphasize what for me is the true theme of

the story and that is one of loyalty and of finding the people in our lives who are the most important to us and then never letting them go. In fact, this story is a cautionary tale of what can happen when one throws true love away. I wanted to create a film that would drive this point home not just emotionally but viscerally.” Tony and Susan seems intent on guiding readers through a thrilling and visceral existential dreamscape, where the pleasurable act of reading becomes a decidedly active experience. Wright’s Susan manages a household with children and a dutiful husband (a heart surgeon) with some measure of success until, out of the blue, she receives her ex-husband Edward’s first novel in the mail with a request for her to read it. Overcoming her concerns about his intentions, Susan settles into the novel, which details the harrowing account of the middle-aged professor Tony and the horrific and nightmarish events that occur while driving with his wife and teenage daughter to their summer retreat in Maine. Ford’s film subtly adjusts the dynamic between Susan and Edward by fashioning a career for her in the art world, a cold and sterile palace of brittle fantasy. When Edward’s manuscript arrives, it sets up a surreal contrast that profoundly shocks Susan’s meticulous sensibilities. With echoes of Andy Warhol and David Lynch in the rendering of Susan’s artfully manufactured lifestyle, Ford deftly shifts into the brutal realm of pulp fiction, transplanting his version of Tony onto the wild endless plains of Texas, where we recognize and appreciate the psychopathic machismo of a roving gang (anchored by Aaron Taylor-Johnson’s cool sadism) that bedevils his family.

A U s t i n wr i gh t at u n i v e r s i t y o f c i n c i n n at i // p hoto : p r ovi d e d

Austin WRIGHT and Me B Y J O N AT H A N VA L I N

It wasn’t just that Wright was an extraordinarily perceptive teacher, although he was; it was the way he taught — the Socratic method he used — that made his classes so compelling. Wright rarely lectured. Instead, he allowed his students to make his points for him by asking us questions that, when adequately answered (and it took time and a series of more refined questions to answer adequately), left us with the sense that it was we, not Wright, who had unraveled the structure of the novel or short story being discussed. I’ve never had another professor who had this gift for making learning such a thrilling participatory process. So I went to every class that Wright offered — from the time I was a freshman through the dropout years (when he let me sit in on his courses). Over that span, he became not just a mentor but also a paternal friend. Realizing that I was stuck in a situation at UC I was never going to dig myself out of, he wrote a letter on my behalf to his colleagues in the University of Chicago, where he had taken his Ph.D. I do not know precisely what the letter said, but Chicago accepted me into its graduate program without a B.A. It was the beginning of my road back from aimlessness; it was the start of my career as a writer. It may sound corny, but the truth is without professor Wright I’m not sure what would have become of me. To no small extent, I owe him the life I’ve since led. After my mystery novels started being published in 1980, I returned to Cincinnati. For a year or so, I had the chance to teach creative writing at UC and Wright shared his office with

me. From then on, we saw a great deal of each other. As much a fan of movies as my wife and I were, he and his wife Sally, who passed away this year, would come to our house on a regular basis to have dinner, watch the latest releases on videotape and talk about books, including my novels and his. Though too few people in our town know this, Wright was not only the best teacher in Cincinnati, he was also the best writer. Starting in 1969, with Camden’s Eyes, he wrote a series of highly praised novels, several of them, including Tony and Susan, written when he was in his seventies (a thing that gives me hope). Like most writers who are also movie lovers, he longed to see one of his books made into a film. When the rights to Tony and Susan were sold to a studio in 1993, he and Sally took Kathy and me out to dinner to celebrate. I don’t think that I’ve ever seen Wright happier than he was that evening. He was convinced that the screenwriter would do a good job of retaining the complex structure of Tony and Susan and thought it would only be a matter of months before principal photography commenced. Having had my own novels optioned by studios, I didn’t have the heart to tell him that most literary properties stayed “in development” for years and were seldom made into movies. Well, I’m delighted to say that time has proven me wrong. It may have taken a quarter of a century, and Austin has been gone now for half of those years, but Tony and Susan has been made into a film (Nocturnal Animals) by a distinguished director with a distinguished cast. Since it hasn’t yet opened yet in Cincinnati, I haven’t seen it, but you can be sure that I will on opening night. And when I do, I will be thinking of Austin Wright. My dear friend, I couldn’t be happier for you. Jonathan Valin, a Cincinnati native and resident, is the executive editor of The Absolute Sound. He has written 11 Harry Stoner detective novels; 1989’s Extenuating Circumstances won the Shamus Award.

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But Ford doesn’t stop there; he interjects another well-tended layer into this conceptual puzzle, weaving in teasing glimpses from Susan and Edward’s original courtship. We see Edward’s passionate desire to give up stability for true art, while Susan — succumbing to the practical advice of her shrewish mother (Laura Linney) — makes a series of choices that set the stage for her estrangement from Edward. Adams, both in her contemporary portrayal of Susan and through the flashbacks, breathes life into fragmented and scattered pieces of this character. In addition, she serves as the perfect stand-in for the “reader as author” that Wright sought to realize through his fiction. We see the story that is Edward’s Nocturnal Animals as if it is sprung fully from her guilt-racked mind. This section teases us with the idea that her reading is the perfect representation of how we watch film. She experiences visceral thrills from the words that drive her away and prompt her retreat back to the artfully sterile trappings of her life. Further into his letter to Landmark Theatres patrons, Ford speaks of his fascination with the heightened reality of film noir and the films of Hitchcock, Kubrick, Polanski and Antonioni. “Inspired by the stories of crime and passion that Hollywood made decades ago, I set out to create a film that might leave audiences with much to ponder and hopefully not only entertain but speak to them in a way that would be personal and human,” he says. Ford accomplishes this task with his Nocturnal Animals. And in so doing, he elevates the public awareness of the novel Tony and Susan, and its author Austin Wright. One hopes that awareness lasts. ©

It may not be news to say that a teacher can change your life, but it is a fact that professor Austin Wright, who passed away in 2003, changed mine. I was a floundering hippie when Wright took me under his wing. It was the early ’70s, and I’d been dropping in and out of the University of Cincinnati for the better part of six years. A putative English major who wanted to be a writer, I simply didn’t have enough discipline to complete a course. My record was a long string of incompletes — save for the classes I took with Wright. His courses I always finished.





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and foster dogs from SAAP will be on sight looking for adoption! We would love for you to be here and take a new addition home!

to do

Staff Recommendations

p h o t o : c a s s a n d r e c r aw f o r d


ONSTAGE: DARKEST NIGHT AT THE GNARLY STUMP is a musical ghost story at Know Theatre’s Underground bar. See review on page 22.

HOLIDAY: CONEY ISLAND’S CHRISTMAS NIGHTS OF LIGHTS Stay cozy inside the car and buckle up for a two-mile drive through Coney Island. The park’s brand-new Christmas Nights of Lights features more than 1 million lights comprising twinkling trees, dancing candy canes, falling snowflakes and colorful light tunnels, all synchronized to familiar seasonal tunes. It’s the perfect way to find some holiday spirit. Proceeds benefit the Salvation Army and the Ruth Lyons Children’s Fund. Through Jan. 1. $6 per person; free children 3 and under. Coney Island, 6201 Kellogg Ave., California, — EMILY BEGLEY EVENT: ONE NIGHT ONE CRAFT: EMBROIDERING FOR THE HOLIDAYS Join local modern stitch shop The Hoop and Needle at the Contemporary Arts Center for an evening of crafting, cookies and eggnog. During this holiday sew-in, learn to make embroidered ornaments and paper embroidery gift tags, just in time for giving. 6-8 p.m. Wednesday. $15 members; $20 non-members. Contemporary Arts Center, 44 E. Sixth St., Downtown, — MAIJA ZUMMO


ONSTAGE: Cincy Shakes’ MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING is a funny and fiery tale of courtship set in 1780s New York. See review on page 23. ART: GALLERY 708 GRAND OPENING Sara Caswell-Pearce, the artist behind the handmade paper goods and upcycled fineart-objects line Paper With a Past, joined forces with fellow artists Lisa Inglert

HOLIDAY: CINCINNATI ZOO’S FESTIVAL OF LIGHTS One of the Tristate’s most beloved holiday traditions — the PNC Festival of Lights — is back and brighter than ever. For the 34th year in a row, the Cincinnati Zoo has been transformed into an elaborate and festive “wild wonderland” with the help of 2.5 million LED lights. In addition to the magical light displays, visitors will be able to watch a black-light puppet show, ride the Toyland Express, search for fairies in Fairyland and enjoy festive treats from one of the S’mores-N-More stands. And if you can fit him into your already busy schedule, Santa will be hanging around for some visits, too. Voted best zoo lights in America by USA Today. Through Jan. 1. $18 adults; $13 children. Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden, 3400 Vine St., Avondale, — MAGGIE FULMER

(glass jeweler) and Phyllis Sadler (fabric artist) this past spring to open Gallery 708 with a mission of fostering and celebrating the city’s and region’s talented visual artists. This Thursday, Gallery 708 will host a grand opening celebration, where visitors can view the work of 30 area artists, including pieces from the three co-owners, plus paintings by Jessie Boone, Cedric Michael Cox and Lisa Molyneux, bronze sculptures by Emily Caito and handmade books by president of the Cincinnati Book Arts Society, Judith Serling-Sturm. 5-9 p.m. Thursday. Free. Gallery 708, 708 Walnut St., Downtown, — MARIA SEDA-REEDER HOLIDAY: BRICKMAS Memorial Hall has been taken over by elaborate LEGO displays this holiday season. The bricks have been shaped into helicopters, train sets, mini movie theaters, medieval

castles, the Batmobile, snow-covered villages and more. Kids can make their own brick masterpieces or write letters to Santa at the interactive children’s work area. New this year, admission includes a screening of a favorite holiday film like The Santa Clause, Polar Express and Elf. If you’re stopping by on a Saturday from 1 to 3 p.m., be sure to head to Washington Park — Santa and his merry elves will be hard at work creating toys, ornaments and taking special requests from the kids on the Nice list. Naughty kids will receive coal; don’t mess with Santa. Through December 30. $10. Memorial Hall, 1225 Elm St., Over-the-Rhine, brickmas. com. — MADISON ASHLEY

is for you. Head to Roebling Point in Covington on Friday and Saturday for a weekend of family-friendly shopping with more than 40 local vendors, light bites from the likes of The Gruff, AmerAsia, Piccolo Casa and Lil’s Bagels, and seasonal sips provided by Braxton Brewing Company, Ei8ht Ball, New Riff, Second Sight and Watershed Distillery. For something really warm and cozy, grab a spiked hot chocolate from Crafts & Vines. It’s drinks, dinner and the chance to cross people off your holiday list, all in one stop. 6-10 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Free admission. Court Street and Park Avenue, Covington, Ky., — MAIJA ZUMMO

HOLIDAY: COVINGTON NIGHT BAZAAR Do you prefer to do your holiday shopping at night? Perhaps after a drink or two? Then the second-annual Covington Night Bazaar

COMEDY: ROB LITTLE A few years ago, comedian Rob Little’s life went in a slightly unexpected direction. CONTINUES ON PAGE 18

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HOLIDAY: WATER WONDERLAND WITH SCUBA SANTA The man in red is back in the water at the Newport Aquarium for the popular holiday exhibit, Water Wonderland with Scuba Santa. Santa exchanges reindeer for sea creatures in Shark Ray Bay, where magic bubbles and lights dance to holiday tunes as a submerged Santa interacts with visitors and floats around from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. daily. Kids can also drop letters in his mailbox in Penguin Palooza, home to one of the most diverse cold-weather penguin collections in the country. Through Dec. 31. $23.99 adults; $15.99 children. Newport Aquarium, 1 Aquarium Way, Newport, Ky., — MAIJA ZUMMO


photo : provided


Snapcode: CityBeatCincy


is giving away Bengals tickets to the

Join us at the following locations where you can enter for your chance to win. Tickets will be given away that night on location. Tickets include entry into the game on the Miller Lite Who Dey Deck as well as complimentary beverages and food. #itsmillertime

Miller Lite Who Dey Deck Giveaway Locations: Thursday 12/1 | Howl At The Moon | 7-8:15 PM

145 East Second Street, Downtown Cincinnati at The Banks

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Win Tickets to the Bengals vs Eagles game on the Miller Lite Who Dey Deck! Plus, one lucky patron will win a Bengals Jersey.

FUTURE GAMES: Thursday 12/15 Molly Malone’s 7 - 8:15PM

Win Tickets to the Bengals vs Steelers game

Thursday 12/22 J Taps 5:30-6:45PM

Win Tickets to the Bengals vs Ravens game

EVENT: REDSFEST As we pile on our winter jackets and huddle for warmth for the next few months, we are quick to forget the summer days spent with our beloved Cincinnati Reds. This weekend, fans have the opportunity to relive all of their favorite memories at Redsfest, the team’s official winter warm-up. This year’s festival has grown to more than 300,000-square-feet of activities at the Duke Energy Convention Center, including autographs and photo booths with more than 80 current players, coaches, Reds Hall of Famers, alumni and broadcasters. The event will also feature an inaugural Redsfest Bingo and celebrity poker, with large cash prizes. Purchase of a ticket comes with Reds socks, a drawstring bag and free tickets to a future Reds game. Proceeds from the event will benefit the Reds Community fund, dedicated to improving the lives of youth through baseball-themed outreach efforts. 3-10:30 p.m. Friday; 11 a.m.-6:30 p.m. Saturday. $17 adults single day; $7 children single day; $25 adult two-day pass; $12 children two-day pass. Duke Energy Convention Center, 525 Elm St., Downtown, — KYLER DAVIS


The Detroit native had been living in Los Angeles for a decade when his mother’s ill health forced him to move back to Michigan. For the last four years he’s been her caregiver, balancing his career and her needs. “It’s not easy, man, especially when you travel for a living,” he says. “I’m always worried when I leave her, ‘Did I put enough food and water down for her?’ ” After Mom went into a professional care facility, Little moved to New York City. “There are so many great comedians out here that it’s very inspiring,” he says. However, Little loves coming to Cincinnati because, as he says, “I feel Midwest audiences are the best and this club is awesome.” Showtimes Thursday-Sunday. $17. Funny Bone Liberty, 7518 Bales St., Liberty Township, liberty.funnybone. com. — P.F. WILSON


HOLIDAY: THE NUTCRACKER JAZZED UP! De la Dance Company’s rendition of the Tchaikovsky classic comes with a jazzy

twist, featuring the “Nutcracker Suite” of Jazz legend Duke Ellington along with Tchaikovsky’s original composition. With a large cast of dancers and entertainers (and some Jazz hands), the reinvented yuletide classic is set in 1940s New York City in the first act and the “magic kingdom of the sweets” in the second, when traditional ballet choreography takes over the stage. 8 p.m. Friday; 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday. $34.75-$40.25. Aronoff Center, 650 Walnut St., Downtown, — MADISON ASHLEY HOLIDAY: CHRISTMAS SAENGERFEST Thanks to Christmas Saengerfest, Christmas caroling has never sounded so professional. Listen to award-winning choirs from the World Choir Games while visiting six historic venues throughout OTR. Tour different churches, the Moerlein brewery and the newly renovated Memorial Hall while you fully embrace the holiday spirit. Choirs include the SCPA Primary Select Choir, Queen City Concert Band, Delta Kings and more. Buses will be available to take guests from venue to venue. 5-11 p.m. Friday; 6:30-11

photo : shervin l ainez


MUSIC: RUBBLEBUCKET Brooklyn, N.Y. Indie Dance Pop ensemble Rubblebucket has been putting out music since its self-released debut, Rose’s Dream, in 2008. Armed with addictively melodic tunes punctuated with horns and buoyed by irresistible rhythms, the band’s unique sound on its LPs and EPs is instantly compelling. But it is the group’s sweaty, highenergy live show that has helped Rubblebucket build an audience across the country, particularly in the past few years. For example, the band’s packed show in Cincinnati a few years back at the MidPoint Music Festival was a highlight of the fest, making fans out of nearly everyone in attendance; Rubblebucket’s Cincinnati shows since then have been increasingly well attended. The group’s last album, the muchacclaimed Survival Sounds, came out in 2014, but new tracks “Donna” and “If U C My Enemies” have been issued over the past few month as a tease for a new EP that is set for release in January. 8 p.m. Tuesday. $15; $17 day of show. Woodward Theater, 1404 Main St., Over-the-Rhine, — MIKE BREEN

p.m. Saturday. $30 per day. Various locations in Over-the-Rhine, — MAGGIE FULMER


MUSIC: BAD LUCK JONATHAN brings full-bore Psych Rock Blues to MOTR Pub. See Sound Advice on page 32.

MUSIC: Americana singer/songwriter AMANDA SHIRES supports her latest album, My Piece of Land, at Southgate House Revival. See interview on page 30.


MUSIC: PSYCHIC TWIN brings a brilliant sonic ice palace to MOTR Pub. See Sound Advice on page 32.


MUSIC: Catchy Indie Rocker PETE YORN supports his latest, Arranging Time, at Taft Theatre. See Sound Advice on page 33.

ONGOING shows ONSTAGE The Second City’s Holidazed & Confused Revue Playhouse in the Park, Mount Adams (through Jan. 8)

Over-the-Rhine +

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HOLIDAY: CINCIDEUTSCH CHRISTKINDLMARKT Local German culture group Cincideutsch hosts its fifth-annual Christkindlmarkt Christmas market on Fountain Square. An homage to the traditional European holiday markets — charming outdoor craft fairs with wooden stands, old-world sweets and tons of handmade gifts — the Cincinnati version is as close as you can get to Bavaria without the air fare. Expect a range of vendors selling locally made goods, German food and, of course, traditional gluhwein (hot spiced wine). Weekends through Dec. 18. Free admission. Fountain Square, Fifth and Vine streets, Downtown, — MAIJA ZUMMO


arts & culture

A Poet Among Visual Artists

At the Art Academy of Cincinnati, Matt Hart teaches students the value of writing BY MARK FLANIGAN

PHOTO : haile y bollinger

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att Hart sits for an interview with CityBeat in the small café at the Art Academy of Cincinnati, where he currently serves as associate professor in creative writing and the chair of liberal arts, and from where he will soon embark to Ann Arbor, Mich. for a poetry reading later this evening. It will mark his 34th such engagement in the two months since the simultaneous release of his two newest poetry collections, Radiant Action (H_NGM_N Books) and Radiant Companion (Monster House Press), the former comprised of one 130page serial poem. Previously, Hart has published six collections of poetry. If it all seems like a lot, it is also part of his larger point — his books and their poems are bursting at the seams with vitality. “Your aesthetic is really just the ways that your values are manifested in your work and the choices that you made to get them there,” Hart says. “So, here is one of the things that I value: I value inclusion over exclusion, in the extreme.” Visibly tired, his hands nonetheless begin to punctuate each sentence by pounding on the table as he continues. “(That) is why I want to try to say everything in every single poem,” he says. “I want the poem to be as big as the world. That value of inclusion comes through in the writing — it’s not that I refuse to edit or rewrite, because I do — but that I want every poem to be as much as it can be and activate possibilities. I am deploying language into the world, rather than employing it to do something in particular.” Hart’s route to poetry and teaching has been circuitous. Born in 1969 in Evansville, Ind., he grew up there and in the nearby Ohio River town of Newburgh, Ind., until he left to attend Muncie’s Ball State University, where he studied philosophy as an undergrad. Immediately afterward, he went into the master’s program at Ohio University, where he chose to study the 20th-century AustrianBritish philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein. He didn’t finish his master’s then, but in hindsight learned a crucial lesson from his studies. “Wittgenstein talked about the possibility of language, what it can and can’t do. It’s where I feel I learned that poetry doesn’t have to be true, it only has to be real; poetry doesn’t have to prove anything.” Before finding poetry as an outlet, Hart had been singing and playing in Punk Rock bands, with some genuine success. Yet, it wasn’t until he took a poetry workshop in the hope that it would make him a better lyricist that his trajectory changed when he witnessed an elder student read aloud “Feeling Fucked Up,” by the late American

Matt Hart, standing, believes art students need to write well to articulate their vision. contemporary poet Etheridge Knight. Hart quotes the beginning from memory: “Lord she’s gone done left me done packed / up and split and I with no way to make her come back and everywhere the world is bare bright bone white    crystal sand glistens dope death dead dying and jiving drove her away made her take her laughter and her smiles and her softness and her midnight sighs—” “I remember thinking, ‘You can do that in a poem?’ ” Hart says. “You can make a big noise with just your voice and your body? The next day I sat down and tried to write a poem for the first time without a prompt, and I’ve pretty much been doing that every day for 30 years. That was a conversion experience. “I had been playing in bands since I was 15, but I was changed,” he adds. “That’s why I believe in the power of art to connect us, to challenge us, in really generative ways. I was changed in a moment.” In 1999, six years after moving to Cincinnati and — with Eric Appleby — starting his own publication Forklift, Ohio: A Journal of Poetry, Cooking and Light Industrial Safety, Hart went to the MFA Program for Writers at North Carolina’s Warren Wilson College’s, in part because he didn’t feel as if he was a legitimate poet without studying

the technical aspects of poetry. He remembers thinking, “If I go to graduate school in poetry and they tell me that I’m not good, I will quit.” “And I am so grateful that nobody ever did that,” he says. Teaching at the Art Academy, Hart communicates an overriding sense of compassion, but one coupled with discernment; more than anything, there was excitement, life and engagement, reminiscent of his recent poems. In a post-interview email, Hart explains the importance of his class to the Art Academy’s curriculum. “We’re trying to get students to do something wildly unpredictable in accordance with their vision,” he says. “But to do that they have to be able to grasp their vision. Articulating it helps give it shape, makes it a thing to be pushed, expanded, exploded. Articulation provides parameters that one can work with or against, and all art is made via this method.” There’s an overriding, ultimately contagious, exuberance and passion to all of Hart’s work, whether it’s in his teaching, his writing or just in the way he sits in the Art Academy’s café, preparing for a trip to Ann Arbor. When asked if he ever finds himself self-conscious about that fact, he pounds on the table and says, “I refuse to live in

the darkness of this time. I want for people so badly to have the things that they need. I want us to love each other. I want to be a believer, you know? I don’t have a particular faith, in a religious sense, but I do believe in the human spirit and I am going to write that as hard as I can.” © Excerpt from Matt Hart’s serial poem Radiant Action I’m wondering about heaven (as a metaphor, of course, since I don’t believe in heaven, but I’d like to) and hoping that someday someone will recognize themselves in this, and it will be as if a great blast of electric light came into whatever darkness they possess, and as a result they will be spurred to their own furtherance, their own thoughts, the discovery of their own sources of energy, their own new works with beginnings and endings, entwined and entwining, revealing better than I ever will the history of this life, what it means to be awkward in awe, to be human in our time, to love one another with perfect abandon, with total resolve, descriptions of descriptions of waves forever breaking into each other

a&c the big picture


The Adventures of a Creeping Baby



Relation of Man and Machine. (“Robot” as a term wasn’t coined until the 1920s.) The History Center agreed. But, since this was a big deal for it, Fisher and collections manager Deborah Edgington wanted to do more. “We started taking pictures and got the idea for The Adventures of Creeping Baby,” Fisher says. They posted those photos to their website.

Dec. 1-4 Photo by Will Brenner

TICKETS: $27-31 adults $17-20 non-UC students $15-18 for UC students


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FEAST OF CAROLS Creeping Baby holds its passport. photo : provided

The site shows their Creeping Baby at the History Center, then with its passport, then with a copy of German for Dummies and with its miniature suitcase. And they got Philipp Horst, head of temporary exhibits at DASA, to play along. He sent several pictures for the site, including one, presumably digitally enhanced, of Creeping Baby crawling along his city’s soccer field of a stadium jam-packed with 80,000 spectators. “It was a good opportunity for us to twitter and communicate both the exhibition and our international cooperation,” Horst wrote via email. “All in all, the exhibition was very well received (150,000 visitors) and we are very thankful to have colleagues like Kay to make these things possible.” There is a bit of a lull right now in website postings. The History Center is waiting for a photo of Creeping Baby’s arrival in Grenada, Spain — The Robots exhibit will be at the Parque de las Ciencias there from Feb. 2, 2017 to Feb. 2, 2018. (Fisher and Edgington sent a Learn Spanish in 7 Days book.) And then what? “We would like to schedule a homecoming party for her and have some of the pictures of her adventures,” Fisher says. “But that will be in 2018. After that, we will probably let her rest for awhile.” CONTACT STEVEN ROSEN:

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Kay Fisher, the director/curator of Wilmington, Ohio’s Clinton County History Center, remembers her reaction when she first found a Creeping Baby in an old desk drawer. A clockwork doll, or automaton, in that it has mechanical parts, it was patented and produced in the 19th century. Its discovery in Wilmington came right around the start of the 21st century, when Fisher was still a relatively new employee of the museum. The Clinton County Historical Society was incorporated in 1948 and had been in its home — an 1835 Greek Revival residence — since 1955. There were a lot of artifacts for her to discover. “It was in a drawer with some odds and ends and other toys,” she says. “Originally, her face had a wax on it to make her look more lifelike, and I think as time has gone by, it makes her look a little strange right now. She might have looked better (originally). We have said she looks a little creepy.” This would all be an interesting footnote at best, but the creepy Creeping Baby — as the History Center calls it — has improbably become a celebrity of its collection. As it currently tours Europe, it stars in a website feature called The Adventures of Creeping Baby at With online research, Fisher discovered “creepy” is an eerily close, semi-correct term for the rosy-cheeked blue-eyed toy, which can be cradled like a kitten. Created as a result of two patents to New York inventors in 1871, it was called a “creeping” doll because, in those days, babies crept on their knees while animals crawled. “By these various improvements, I can produce a creeping-doll natural in its movements and doubly interesting from its happy associations,” inventor George Pemberton Clarke wrote in his patent application. The main part of the History Center’s Creeping Baby body is material-covered metal gears, operated by a long-lost key. Its arms and legs are made of composite materials and its head is a wax-coated plasterlike material. The parts allowed its head to turn and body to move. The History Center first put the toy on display in a 2008 exhibit. “I don’t think she made an impact,” Fisher says. “What made more of an impact were the pretty toys. She didn’t draw a lot of attention because she wasn’t (pretty). She’s a unique doll. We had some beautiful porcelain dolls and they got more attention than poor old creepy baby.” A rarity (especially because it has its original clothing), Creeping Baby came to the attention of the DASA Museum in Dortmund, Germany, which is devoted to exhibitions related to the working world. It wanted to borrow it as an early example of a “man-machine” for a recently ended show called The Robots — an Exhibition on the

a&c onstage

A Lively ‘Darkest Night at the Gnarly Stump’ BY RICK PENDER

Most successful pitchers need to throw moments add considerably to the 85-mina change-up occasionally to be effective. If ute production’s flow. Know Theatre ever needs to take up someAn imperative story erupts with the thing other than onstage work, the Over-thearrival of an outsider, Kim (Lindsey Rhine company might consider a career on Mercer), who bursts into the Gnarly Stump, the mound. Current evidence: Darkest Night animated and anxious because her sister at the Gnarly Stump, a world-premiere play Amanda (Gabriella DiVincenzo) has disapby Lauren Hynek and Elizabeth Martin. peared in the nearby woods. She went to When I first heard about this show — explore a barn where there seemed to be billed as a “musical ghost story” — I a raucous celebration. The barn, the celwondered what sort of unexpected enterebration and Amanda have vanished. Kim tainment it might offer. Know, the purveyor implores the storytellers, including Sheriff of Cincinnati’s annual Fringe Festival, Everett, to form a search party immediately, prides itself on “keeping things weird” but they put her off with stories about fairwhile serving as “Cincinnati’s playground.” To sustain the change-up H metaphor, understand that CRITIC’S when you enter Know’s lower-level Underground bar H you’ll feel like you’ve entered a very different place, even if you’re a Know regular. Designer (and Know artistic director) Andrew Hungerford has transformed the bar into the Gnarly Stump, an intimate, out-of-the-way pub where a few colorful regulars gather routinely to swap tall tales and banter. Gnarly’s cast features Michael Sherman (center) as the sheriff. There’s a long table with PHOTO : dan r. winters two rough-hewn benches for “The Everett Party” and a few café tables for some audience members. ies, elves and other magical creatures and The bar itself is redecorated with jugs, events, claiming nothing can be done until accouterments and beverages typically midnight when the “veil is at its thinnest.” found in a shopworn Appalachian drinking Kim is annoyed but gradually caught up spot. Four cast members straggle in sepaby narratives that convince her that the bar’s rately, almost as if they’re latecomers. patrons are not just repeating fanciful fiction. It quickly becomes apparent that they Desperate, she eventually offers her own tale know each other and gather regularly as about a traveling marble salesman lost in an guests of Sheriff Everett (Michael SherIndiana cornfield. The play’s denouement man), who has reserved the table at center unfolds from there with some intriguing revstage. He begins a tale about his great-greatelations and Amanda’s eventual return. “You great uncle, who might or might not have have to believe” is the message. The refrain murdered a ghost. But he’s interrupted for the closing number is, “May these stories by Silas (deep-voiced Derek Snow) who live evermore among us!” revels in hijacking others’ stories with side It’s a fascinating, inventive piece of theater. anecdotes or extravagant tales from his Strickland’s songs, most using three-part own imagination. Jocasta (Lisa DeRoberts) vocal harmony, add wonderful Appalachian is more of a sharp-tongued realist; Elisha texture. Hynek’s and Martin’s script provides (Lormarev Jones) is quieter, but comes up illustrative tales that weave in and out of the with a few startling moments and insights. present moment. These pitches — let’s call Providing a musical tapestry are Paul them change-ups — build toward the show’s Strickland and Linsey Rogers, he with a climax, amplified by simple devices such as guitar and she a fiddle. They sing a handful an unexpected blackout and flashlights. of original tunes (Strickland has composed Other than by being scheduled for late numbers that sound deeply traditional) in the year, this is not a holiday show. But and provide accompaniment and miscelGnarly Stump is a gift to anyone who laneous sound effects throughout. Director enjoys inventive theater. Brant Russell, who teaches drama at the DARKEST NIGHT AT THE GNARLY STUMP, University of Cincinnati’s College-Conserpresented by Know Theatre, continues through vatory of Music, has staged the show using Dec. 17. More info: a smooth, steady build, and these musical


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a&c onstage

‘Much Ado’ Gets a Fresh Interpretation REVIEW BY ERICA REID

performed capably by the females of the cast. However, as the pious song winds down, a dance party replaces it, including colored lights and a thumping beat that belong neither to 1600 nor to 1800. (The men of the ensemble have their own chance to boogie later, when a military procession similarly dissolves into something more modern.) Likely a nod to Broadway smash Hamilton, but not derivative of it ­— the fresh coat of paint adds fun to the production.



Miranda McGee as Beatrice with attitude P H O T O : m i k k i s c h a f f n e r photo g r a ph y

Amanda McGee’s stunning costumes are as full of anachronisms as the dance parties and pull the whole shtick together. For instance, there are sunglasses, asthma inhalers, razor scooters. Much Ado is not one of Shakespeare’s history plays. It isn’t about any specific war or epoch — this story is concerned with the love we humans have been falling in and out of since the dawn of our time. In less than a year, Cincy Shakes will unveil a brand new theater, moving like a hermit crab from a shell that it has outgrown. Until then, the scenic design of Much Ado reflects how it has learned to capitalize on the restrictive space of its home on Race Street. In this production, scenic designer Shannon Moore has taken a minimal approach, creating a gazebo-style roof instead of closing off the top of the stage, using planks to suggest a wall while still allowing light to pass through. The design gives an effect of more space than is there and keeps the stage as breezy and fun as the show. MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING, produced by the Cincinnati Shakespeare Company, continues through Dec. 10. More info:

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The comedy Much Ado About Nothing is among Shakespeare’s funniest plays and Cincinnati Shakespeare Company’s current production, running through Dec. 10, fires on all cylinders. There is a fine line between love and hate. Beatrice (Miranda McGee) and Benedick (Jeremy Dubin) are treading that line carefully. The smirking wisecrackers have sworn off marriage, but their friends can see they’re a match and hatch plots to change their hearts (“Some Cupid kills with arrows, some with traps”). This is McGee’s eighth season with Cincy Shakes, and Beatrice is surely among her best-suited roles. This Beatrice is still as off-color and tomboyish as, for example, McGee’s “drunk Santa” from the company’s annual Every Christmas Story Ever Told (And Then Some). But Much Ado presents us not only the best of her humor, but also the depth of her heart as well. Opposite Beatrice is Benedick, whose wit and cunning suit Dubin perfectly — Benedick can be haughty and self-deprecating, but Dubin’s slapstick keeps Benedick down to earth. Together Dubin and McGee are word-perfect and snappy, with an Abbott and Costello-like banter and a surprising amount of chemistry. While Beatrice and Benedick flirt and gambol, there is a second story at work. Beatrice’s cousin Hero (Maggie Lou Rader) is engaged to be married to Claudio (Justin McCombs). Through some devilry by “plaindealing villain” Don John (Geoffrey Warren Barnes II), Claudio is convinced that Hero has been unfaithful and the wedding is off. In her program notes, director Sara Clark calls this play “a beautiful confection, with (surprise!) some actual substance in its middle,” which rings true as we watch multiple hearts break in turn: Hero’s, Claudio’s, their families’, their friends’. Rader is a sprightly Hero, sweet as a cupcake and dressed to match, and we feel her shock and horror as she is quite literally cast to the ground. While we want to hate her betrothed for scorning her, McCombs plays Claudio as so gullible and wounded that we are ready to forgive him as soon as Shakespeare lets us. Barry Mulholland also stands out as Hero’s doting father — Leonato is not as easily taken in by hearsay, but his doubt is heartrending to watch. Though Much Ado About Nothing was written around 1600 (when “nothing” could also mean gossip or eavesdropping), Clark has chosen to set the stage in 1780s post-Revolutionary War New York. Gone are the British accents — in fact, the cast adlibs many anachronistic moments of contemporary dialogue and fist-bumping, to the audience’s delight. The show begins with a pretty rendition of a suffragette tune, “We As Women,”

a&c film

Sadly, Rules Do Apply for Warren Beatty BY T T STERN-ENZI

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For the past three weeks, since the elecWhile taking nothing away from his multition of Donald Trump to be our next presihyphenate talents (he earned a Best Direcdent, the media have engaged in an epic tor Oscar for Reds), that has helped create a level of handwringing over how he did it. mystique of box-office invincibility. What seems quite clear, in hindsight, is that But in reality, he never had the body of Trump subverted the commonly recognized work to support that, although he was in political order and flouted expectations by some films that were game changers, like cavalierly disregarding the rules. 1967’s Bonnie and Clyde. Rules Don’t Apply And that prompts comparisons with Rules marks only his 32nd credit as a film actor, Don’t Apply, the new film that Warren Beatty eighth as a writer and sixth as a director. wrote and directed, in which he plays the That’s since 1961, when he debuted in Elia ultra-eccentric tycoon Howard Hughes. Kazan’s successful Splendor in the Grass. There’s a very telling and on-the-nose scene in Rules Don’t Apply that speaks to this notion. Aspiring actress Marla Mabrey (Lily Collins), one of several young starletsin-waiting with “contracts” from Hughes, spends time with her driver, Frank Forbes (Alden Ehrenreich), himself eagerly intent on pitching a business proposition to Hughes. The pair must maintain a respectful line of propriety in their exchanges, since their contracts with Hughes forbid the developWarren Beatty plays Howard Hughes in Rules Don’t Apply. ment of personal relationP H O T O : F r a n c o i s D u h a m e l / t w e n t i e th c e n t u r y fo x f i l m s ships. But they see something in each other, an undefined Current audiences, enthralled by the quality, and it generates a spark that simply cannot be ignored or extinguished. immediacy of social media, don’t want After a particularly frustrating day, Forbes mystique. The rule of the day is exposure, or bolster Mabrey’s spirits, telling her to hang more to the point, over-exposure. We need to in there because she’s destined for greatness. see and hear from our celebrities constantly. “The rules don’t apply to people like you,” he The idea of no news is good news is no longer says. Later in the film, she repeats this sentitrue. If there’s nothing real to report, we will ment to him. They are special. take fake news. Who needs privacy? That unique sense of entitlement has Beatty isn’t even a dinosaur, by this long belonged to the Hollywood player and standard; he is a fossil under a rock that no playboy Warren Beatty, whose mystique one’s interested in turning over. Which is sad, certainly rivals that of the late iconic bilbecause there is a curiously deranged energy lionaire Hughes. But in the wake of a box to his performance as Hughes, an awareness office response that borders on complete and sensitivity to the man’s intelligence and indifference to Beatty (a paltry Thanksgivhow it alienated him from the rest of the ing weekend tally of $1.6 million on 2,382 world. It makes the film worth seeing. screens — a per-screen average of $667), The new rules benefit the brash and the film-world observers and insiders must be bold, the trumpeters tweeting shrill, tuneasking themselves the same questions as less notes into the endless cacophony. Once the political experts scratching their heads upon a time, a special few could bend the over Trump’s Electoral College election vicrules, but they did so with a healthy respect tory: What happened? And how were expecfor the greater good. One could argue that tations for a new film from the 79-year-old Hughes wanted to change the world. Beatty Beatty, who has also directed and starred in dreamed that stories mattered and that we Dick Tracy, Reds and Bulworth, so far off? could wait for a good one from him. It might be instructive to take a look at The reception to Rules Don’t Apply the rules of the game as they were, and as shows that he is no longer exempt from the they now are. Old Hollywood existed in a new rules, in which quantity matters more bubble akin to the perma-barriers that once than quality. Rules Don’t Apply currently is protected politicians. Beatty, for example, playing at select theaters. (Now playing at enjoyed a certain level of celebrity based on area theaters.) (PG-13) Grade: B the rumble of under-the-radar gossip about CONTACT TT STERN-ENZI: letters@ his romantic life, which helped his career.


Man Down is from director Dito Montiel (A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints) and roams a seemingly postapocalyptic American landscape in which a former Marine named Gabriel Drummer (Shia LaBeouf) returns from his tour in Afghanistan and searches for his lost son (Charlie Shotwell). He is aided by his best friend Devin Roberts (Jai Courtney), a fellow soldier with a shoot-first mentality. Via flashbacks, we see Drummer as a family man, with his wife Natalie (Kate Mara), sharing the loving bond between father and son that is rooted in the passing along of a working-class masculine identity. The title, in fact, stems not from the rallying cry to alert troops to a fallen soldier on the battlefield, but rather the code developed between Drummer and son to express their uncompromised love for one another. As the fractured narrative unfolds, it becomes clear that Drummer’s perspective warrants questioning by the audience. But LaBeouf compellingly grounds us in the immediacy of the character’s beliefs and the fragmented pieces of the psyche that he’s attempting to put back together. Although Man Down pre-dates his equally compelling (albeit far more naturalistic work) in American Honey, it shows LaBeouf’s desire to stretch himself as a performer, pursuing roles that require more compulsive and psychologically challenging effort, and allows us to forget the antics connected to his celebrity. And as much as the film spotlights LaBeouf, it also showcases the hardnosed, edgy sensibilities of Montiel. There is nothing glossy or sentimental in a single frame of his films. Instead, he captures the hunger of his characters and the desperation of the very environment. Man Down wanders in the ragged wasteland a bit too much for my tastes (it creates the sense that his version of the war in Afghanistan has somehow found its way directly into the American heartland, without fully exploring the implications). But the portrayal of someone struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder brings the personal toll of war into sharp focus. (Opens Friday at area theaters) (R) Grade: B-

a&c television

Gilmore Girls Are at Home on Netflix

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In this age rife with stale remakes and reboots, Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Black-ish (9:30 p.m. Wednesday, ABC) – Life (now on Netflix) is a welcome relief. Bow confronts her own biracial identity The four-part miniseries catches up with when Junior reveals he’s dating a white girl; Lorelai, Rory and all the usual suspects Dre calls on Charlie to help him relate to a living in Stars Hollow, Conn. — yes, even white woman at work. Melissa McCarthy’s Sookie — over the course of four seasons, starting with Incorporated (Series Premiere, 10 p.m. winter. It’s a timely start for the series, Wednesday, Syfy) – From Matt Damon and and perhaps the most perfect program to Ben Affleck, this new drama depicts a dyswatch while trimming the tree. topian future in which corporations control As the series opens, fans are reunited the government and a giant wall separates with Rory (Alexis Bledel) and her mother Lorelai (Lauren Graham), as the characters themselves reconnect after some time apart. They quip back and forth with breathless banter until finally Rory gasps, “Whew, winded.” “Haven’t done that in a while,” Lorelai says. “Felt good,” Rory responds without a beat. Indeed it does. Swoon! The ever-picturesque town Stars Hollow remains virtually unchanged in the decade that’s passed, still populated Lauren Graham (left) and Alexis Bledel are back. by quirky characters and P H O T O : s a e e d a dya n i / n e t f l i x quaint landmarks old (Luke’s Diner, Miss Patty’s School of Ballet) and new (a secret bar — called the the haves from the have-nots. Wait, this Secret Bar!). And it wouldn’t be Gilmore sounds vaguely familiar... Girls without the signature mile-a-minute The Great American Baking Show dialogue sprinkled with movie quotes, (Season Premiere, 9 p.m. Thursday, ABC) – in-jokes and other pop culture references — Baking season is upon us! The bakers cook from Wild to Lena Dunham to Hamilton. up cakes and cookies in this double episode. But the focus remains on the titular girls. Writer Rory jet-sets between Stars HolSaturday Night Live (11:30 p.m. Saturlow, New York and London as she works day, NBC) – Emma Stone hosts with musion a book and freelance gigs, balancing cal guest Shawn Mendes. boys and attending seasonal hometown Westworld (Season Finale, 9 p.m. Sunday, festivals. The 32-year-old is at a crossHBO) – This 90-minute finale explores the roads, resembling more of a stereotypical 1970s theory of the bicameral mind. Look meandering millennial than her perpetuforward to a second season next year or in ally put-together perfectionist self. Rory early 2018. and Lorelai have more in common than we might have thought, as we see them both The Walking Dead (9 p.m. Sunday, AMC) hide relationships from their mothers. – Fans get a better look into the SanctuAs for the elder Gilmore, Lorelai is conary and the reality of the Savior’s lives; tent with a romantic relationship and her Alex­a ndrians search for supplies in this job at the Dragonfly Inn — until she isn’t. 90-minute episode. Her father’s death sparks uneasiness in the Divorce (10:30 p.m. Sunday, HBO) – Frantypically breezy cool-girl. ces is offended when a lawyer insinuates The series deals with the passing of negligence on her part; Dallas hits it off Edward Herrmann, who portrayed patriwith a guest at Nick and Diane’s party. arch Richard Gilmore, with grace. The death forces Lorelai and her mother Emily The Great Christmas Light Fight to hash out their lifelong issues — lest we (Season Premiere, 8 p.m. Monday, ABC) – forget the third Gilmore girl, Grandma. Competitors get their Clark Griswold on, So brew up a big pot of coffee, order decking out their homes with intricate in some pizza, maybe Chinese — oh and holiday displays. donuts! — and snuggle in for a cozy winter CONTACT JAC KERN: @jackern visit to Stars Hollow.

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Heart, Soul and de Cavel

New location of French Crust Café offers an extended menu of bistro classics and jaunty bonhomie REVIEW BY PAMA MITCHELL

PHOTO : haile y bollinger


French Crust’s quiche is one of the best in town — especially paired with a sparkling cocktail. friends stuck with coffee ($1.75, with unlimited refills). The daytime menu contains sections such as Les Flat Croissants, Les Casseroles ‘Le Creuset,’ Le Petite Dejeuner and Viennoiserie. Don’t let that intimidate you if your French is rusty or non-existent, since the listings under each heading revert to English descriptions. There’s a lot of pastry-based food — hence the “Crust” in the restaurant’s name — by pastry chef Jean Philippe Solnom, who clearly knows how to handle butter and flour. But the gluten-averse can eat here, too, by staying with one of the soups (two sizes, from $3.95-$8) or hefty salads boasting high-quality ingredients such as shrimp with avocado, apple with walnuts and Gruyere cheese or duck leg confit with bacon and poached egg ($11.50-$12.50). Our table mostly went with the pastries, although my husband selected the omelet du jour ($9), made with avocado, shrimp and herbs. Omelets come with soup or salad, and he had a cup of the day’s special butternut squash soup. The eggs were as fluffy and well-seasoned as you would hope, and the creamy soup tasted like autumn in a bowl. I had a

cup of it, too, as a side with my goat cheese, zucchini and tomato quiche ($10.50). You won’t find a better slice of egg pie anywhere else in this town. Not only was the crust a textbook example of short pastry done right, but the filling also balanced the custard with bits of veggies and creamy cheese. Along with the soup, the portions were just right for a midday meal. Our friends headed to croissant territory: Susan had the scrambled eggs open-faced on a croissant ($9.50) and John ordered the French Croissant Perdu ($7.50). Her scrambled eggs plate came out beautifully photoready, the prettiest dish of the meal. Dotted with diced asparagus, confit tomatoes and creamy goat cheese, the cottony eggs were

pillowed on top of grilled croissant and accompanied by a fruit salad that included julienned apples and sliced grapes. The croissant perdu, which roughly translates as “day-old bread,” had some of the same fruit salad but was a sweet dish, topped with cinnamon and honey. It was too sweet for my taste buds but not for his. We lingered for quite awhile over refills of coffee and talked about the election, which was only about a week in the rearview mirror. Our server shared the dinner menu, which branches out from the pastrycentric daytime fare. Nine hors d’oeuvres and 10 entrées, all just as French as the décor, beckon me back as soon as possible for another bistro meal in the shadow of our city’s wonderful Findlay Market.

French Crust Café and Bistro Go: 202 W. Elder St., Over-the-Rhine; Call: 513-621-2013; Internet:; Hours: 8 a.m.-3 p.m. Sunday, Tuesday-Thursday; 8 a.m.-3 p.m. and 5:30-8:30 p.m. Friday; 8 a.m.-3 p.m. and 5:30-9 p.m. Saturday.

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rench Crust Café and Bistro stands out among the restaurants Jean-Robert de Cavel opened this year as the best expression of the man himself. That’s not to suggest his heart isn’t in the upscale restaurant L downtown, or that there’s anything impersonal about Frenchie Fresh, his take on fast-casual dining in Norwood. I love both of those places — L for the opulent decor curated mostly by de Cavel’s partner, Richard Brown, and Frenchie Fresh for bringing creative, satisfying food into a desert of chain restaurants. But French Crust represents everything that makes me an admirer of Monsieur de Cavel — known to all as Jean-Robert or simply J-Ro — while it rings all my bells as a lifelong Francophile. The new and expanded corner location at Elm and Elder streets (the former café was housed in a small space on Vine Street downtown) faces Findlay Market’s beer garden and main entrance, sits right on the streetcar line and will brighten anyone’s day thanks to expansive windows and Provence-yellow walls festooned with colorful posters and ceramics from de Cavel’s vast personal collection of très French memorabilia. The effect is as jaunty and friendly as its owner. Patrons sit at booths, tables or at a 20-seat bar and soak up the bonhomie of a lively bistro ambiance. The food matches the surroundings and delivers note-perfect versions of dishes you’d expect for breakfast, brunch or lunch — a variety of quiches, sandwiches on croissant or baguette, omelets and, of course, a croque monsieur. At dinner, more bistro classics tempt diners, from appetizers of snails and beef tartare to mains ranging from duck leg confit to steak frites. We went as a foursome for Sunday brunch at the bistro; luckily, I had made a reservation or we would have had to wait for a table. Behind the bistro, down a hall lined with de Cavel’s collection of salt-andpepper shakers, is the smaller café, which features a case of meticulously crafted pastries. You can order from the full menu in either space. I noticed the inviting, fully stocked bar right away and asked for a drinks list. Several house cocktails seem made for brunch. In addition to the standard mimosa and “Bloody Beauregard” ($9 each), several other sparkling-wine drinks beckon. Taking our server’s advice, I tried the Audrey ($10), fragrant with a bit of elderflower liqueur and orange. My husband had a delightful glass of Hugel Gentil ($9), a slightly off-dry blend of white grapes from Alsace, France. Our


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Saint Nick. The event will be sponsored by The holidays are in full swing, which Cincinnati Pit Crew, a nonprofit that advomeans a plethora of winter-themed beers. cates for unwanted and stigmatized dogs And this holiday season you’re probably like pit bulls and other bully breeds. going to need a few of the following brews • On Dec. 3, Rhinegeist hosts the secondto keep yourself sane. annual Dad Day to celebrate fathers and MadTree recently released Pilgrim, a the brewery’s holiday ale, Dad. People are seasonal pale ale brewed with cranberries, encouraged to bring their dads and dress walnuts and vanilla beans. It’s not yet in cans in plaid. but can be purchased on draft at MadTree’s • On Dec. 3, Braxton hosts the secondtaproom. The brewery’s winter warmer annual Winter Block Party. The event Thundersnow is also back for a limited time. features the release of Dark Charge, an Nanobrewery Mash Cult has been hard at work developing a few new beers. Brewers collaborated with Party Source’s Quaff Bros. to create Blood of the Bear, a pinot noir barrel-aged stout brewed with cherries. And soon Mash Cult will release a holiday porter called Elf on a Shelfie, brewed with local honey, toasted cocoa nibs, orange peels and cinnamon sticks. Their brews can be found on draft at Florence’s PartyTown and Covington’s Crafts & Vines. Continuing the trend of barrel-aged and spiced beers, Braxton is releasing six varieties of Dark Charge imperial stout. on Black Friday Triple Digit PHOTO : provided released Belsnickel, a 12.5 percent ABV brew named imperial stout aged in bourbon barrels for after a creepy Christmas-gift-bringer who an entire year. Besides Braxton beers, the hits naughty kids with a stick. It was brewed event will feature guest taps of high-ABV with chocolate, nutmeg, allspice and ginger beers, including an 18-percent Rumpkin and stored in brandy and bourbon barrels. from Avery Brewing, and live music. It’s only available in bottles at the taproom. On Dec. 10, Braxton hosts Tacky for a Cause, a charitable shindig in which attendees wear ugly holiday sweaters and drink • Rhinegeist collaborated with Indiana’s beer. A portion of the evening’s sales will Sun King Brewing Company on a scotch ale benefit Cincinnati’s Children’s Hospital. called Emergency Malt Kit. Visit Rhinegeist’s • Taft’s Ale House commemorates Repeal taproom to buy it in cans and on draft. Day with a Sunday Soirée on Dec. 4. To • Columbia Tusculum’s Streetside honor the 83rd anniversary of the end of Brewery has only been open for a couple Prohibition, Taft’s brewed a Prohibitionof months, but they’ve been releasing new style lager. The party will also feature and interesting beers, including a Stranger speakeasy cocktails made with Columbus’ Things-themed brew called 011(EL), a pale Watershed Distillery spirits, 1920s music, ale featuring Belma hops with notes of light bites and costumes. stone fruit (no Eggos were used). Last week • Crafts & Vines in MainStrasse will host the brewery also released Café Con Leche, a a growler painting party on Dec. 6. For $25 stout made with Sumatran coffee beans and you get an empty 64-ounce growler, painting milk sugar. supplies, appetizers and a filled pint of beer • Rivertown has released a new beer or glass of wine. Space is limited. in their sour series: Ville De Rivere Geuze. • Urban Artifact is finally getting into the It’s a blend of two different lambics and is canned-beer game. On Dec. 9 the brewery described as a, “musty, vinous sour ale.” It’s releases Finn, a Berliner pale ale, and Slideavailable at their Barrel House in handrule, a limited-offering chocolate raspberry labeled bottles and on draft. gose. Cans will be on sale at the taproom. • Rivertown hosts a Santa photo day from noon-2 p.m. on Dec. 11. You must bring your • Bring your pooch to Listermann Brewown camera, though, and this isn’t for dogs ing Company from 6-10 p.m. on Dec. 2 so (human children are fine). Rivertown will you and your dog can get a snapshot with have their beers and barbecue on hand. ©

New Beers


F&D classes & events Most classes and events require registration; classes frequently sell out.


Taste the World Food Tour at Findlay Market — A 90-minute guided tour of the market, with stops to visit and sample goods from five merchants. Add on a wine tasting for $5. 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m. $20. Findlay Market, 1801 Race St., Over-theRhine,

Perfect Pair: Shrimp & Parsnips — The sweetness of shrimp pairs amazingly well with the slightly vanilla flavor of parsnips. Pair the two in a variety of dishes. 6-8 p.m. $60. The Learning Kitchen, 7659 Cox Lane, West Chester, Mead Tasting Dinner — La Petite Pierre hosts a dinner party with four courses, each paired with mead. 7 p.m. $50. La Petite Pierre, 7800 Camargo Road, Madeira,


Holiday Appetizers — Tried-and-true appetizer recipes. 6-9 p.m. $75. Midwest Culinary Institute, 3520 Central Parkway, Clifton,

Holiday Dinner Cruise — BB Riverboats hosts this themed holiday cruise along the Ohio River. The holiday buffet includes spiral ham, turkey breast, mashed potatoes, braised beef short ribs and more. 7-9:30 p.m. Thursday and Friday. $50 adults; $35 children. BB Riverboats, 101 Riverboat Row, Newport, Ky., Wellington Night at the Midwest Culinary Institute — The Summit’s Chef Kagy presents a Beef Wellington almost as heartwarming as Grandma’s home cooking. The semi-annual Beef Wellington Dinner will awaken your holiday spirit and keep you going all season long. 6:30 p.m. The Summit Restaurant, Midwest Culinary Institute, 3520 Central Parkway, Clifton,

Fabulous Fizz: Sparkling Wine for Every Occasion — Nothing says holiday like sparkling wine. Learn why it’s a wine you can serve and enjoy the entire evening. Taste champagne, cava, prosecco and cremant. 6:30-9:30 p.m. $85. Midwest Culinary Institute, 3520 Central Parkway, Clifton,


Second-Annual Dad Day at Rhinegeist — BYOD (Bring Your Own Dad) and BYOP (Bring Your Own Plaid) to Rhinegeist to celebrate dads, the people, and Dad, the beer — the brewery’s hoppy holiday ale. Event includes a best-dressed family

The Dinner Detective Murder Mystery Show — America’s largest interactive murder mystery comedy dinner show. Includes a four-course meal, mystery show and a prize package. Just beware: The killer might be sitting right next to you. 6-9 p.m. $59.95. Millennium Hotel Cincinnati, 150 W. Fifth St., Downtown, Winter Block Party at Braxton Brewing Company — Braxton hosts its secondannual winter block party with live music, food trucks, high-ABV guest taps and the release of Dark Charge, the brewery’s bourbon-barrel-aged imperial stout that comes in six bottle varieties, including a vary rare Dark Charge 23 Bourbon Maple. Noon-1 a.m. Free admission. Braxton Brewing Company, 27 W. Seventh St., Covington, Ky., Brew Ho Ho Dinner Cruise — Hop aboard BB Riverboats for a cruise down the Ohio River with a seasonal holiday buffet, festive music and a beer tasting with local breweries. 7-9:30 p.m. $58 adults; $40 children. BB Riverboats, 101 Riverboat Row, Newport, Ky., Holiday Cookies: Baking and Decorating — Bake and decorate favorite holiday cookies at Gorman Heritage Farm. Ingredients, cookware and instruction included. 1-3:30 p.m. $35; $30 members. Gorman Heritage Farm, 10052 Reading Road, Evendale,


Bourbon, Bling and Barks — Head to New Riff to enjoy an evening of cocktails, appetizers, specialty shopping and dessert to benefit the Brown County Animal Shelter and Humane Society. 5-9 p.m. $15. New Riff Distillery, 24 Distillery Way, Newport, Ky.,

Arrival of Saint Nicholas in MainStrasse — St. Nick arrives to visit little boys and girls, complete with special treats, cookies and hot chocolate. 6 p.m. Free. MainStrasse Village, Main St., Covington, Ky.,


Julie’s Brunch Favorites — Chef Julie Francis, owner of Nectar, teaches you to make classic brunch recipes with a twist. Menu includes Blue Oven French toast, farm eggs Benedict, spiced seasonal fruit salad and patatas bravas. 6-9 p.m. $75. Midwest Culinary Institute, 3520 Central Parkway, Clifton,

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contest, photo booth and commemorative Dad drinking glasses. Noon-2 a.m. Free admission. Rhinegeist, 1910 Elm St., Over-the-Rhine,


Home, Semi-Sweet Home

Amanda Shires redefines her concept of where her heart is on My Piece of Land BY BRIAN BAKER

P H O T O : j o s h w oo l

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ercy Rose Isbell recently celebrated her first birthday and, ironically, the album she helped inspire was recently released. Synchronicity is beautiful. Mercy Rose is the daughter of singer/ songwriters Jason Isbell and Amanda Shires, two of Americana’s most gifted artists, and the album in question is her mother’s fifth full-length, My Piece of Land. While Mercy Rose profoundly impacted My Piece of Land, Shires clarifies her influence was indirect — most of its songs were written last year at the end of Shire’s pregnancy. “I couldn’t travel anymore at that 33-week mark, and it gave me time to write,” she says. “There are songs that allude to being pregnant, but it’s not a pregnancy record. It’s about my feelings and my perspective of a time in my life. Bringing a child into the world is pretty scary. It’s excitement, anticipation and hopefulness and the extreme opposite, where you’re doubtful and you question if you’re going to be a good mom or what the world is right now. I had to sit down and face myself.” The prevalent theme on My Piece of Land is the malleable nature of home, a difficult subject for Shires. A child of divorce, the Texas native split time between her parents’ homes in Lubbock and Mineral Wells, an experience she documented on the song “Mineral Wells,” from her 2005 debut Being Brave. As Shires struggled with conflicting feelings about motherhood and home in her songwriting, new revelations inspired her to revisit “Mineral Wells.” “I wrote that when I left Texas for Nashville,” Shires says. “I was thinking about what home was to me, and being home alone a lot and trying to define that, I finally figured out it’s more flexible than just four walls. Anywhere I’m with my family, that’s home, not my address where I actually live. It came full circle with ‘Mineral Wells’ — I was trying to figure out my childhood going back and forth from Lubbock to Mineral Wells, and both places are important to me. It turns out it didn’t matter about the place as much as the people I needed. Then, if you’re thinking at all, you start thinking about your kid’s childhood and what they’re inheriting now. It’s kind of psychedelic and mind-blowing.” Shires also examines home’s philosophical parameters in “You Are My Home,” a lovely sentiment couched in a melancholy and contemplative arrangement. The fascinating dichotomy perfectly describes Shires’ emotions at its conception. “The meaning of it while writing through the puzzle of it is not what the sonic atmosphere is,” she says. “It took one to get to the

Amanda Shires sees her latest album, My Piece of Land, as her most cohesive to date. other. ‘You Are My Home’ felt like an ominous thing; maybe I was feeling that way at first. Love isn’t all puppies and rainbows. It’s a terrible disease. I was struggling with being home alone a lot and how it didn’t really feel like home without this person, and in working through that, I got the happy message that none of that matters at all.” The song “Harmless” followed the most tortuous path. A largely finished demo that Shires had been tinkering with for years was endangered when, as she notes, “My clumsy ass spilled coffee on the computer.” A stumped Apple Store technician referred her to a nearby computer shop, where she arranged to retrieve the laptop after her tour. Two weeks later, she returned to find they’d recycled her computer (she’d unwittingly agreed to it in the fine print), eliminating everything on it, including the “Harmless” demo. “The melody came back, then the first verse. I had to rewrite the whole thing. I have no idea which version is better, but the one I have is the one we got,” Shires says. “But what if the rest of the song comes back to me and I’ve got two versions? Or what if I’m singing onstage and the old words come back? People will be like, ‘You’re not even singing the right words to your own song.’ Ultimately, that would happen to me because I am the queen of humiliating myself in front of people.”

My Piece of Land retains a sense of Shires’ Bluegrass roots — she played fiddle with the Texas Playboys at 14 — while shimmering with the aforementioned aural environment, an element Shires credits to producer Dave Cobb. “He’s the best human and a good listener,” she says. “He’s really good when you’re trying to describe sonic landscapes. He can sort through the abstract and vagueness that words can bring when you’re trying to talk about music. When you say, ‘In my mind, this is a spacey, moody song and it feels like you’re in a dark room,’ he knows how to translate that into sound without making you feel like an imbecile. He’s really passionate about what he does, he never gets tired and he’ll follow a song until it’s done. And he always knows when to order lunch.” Another element of her Bluegrass DNA is the tremulous catch in her vocal delivery that many reviewers have likened to Dolly Parton. Shires is flattered by the comparison, but demurs to anything but a slight similarity. “That’s a high compliment, but I don’t have the range she has at all,” Shires says. “I think I was born with that warble because I went to a vocal coach to try to get it out. When I heard it in playback, I sounded like a goat. I was trying to figure out how to not do that and apparently I

can’t not do that. A podcast on NPR talked about how German and American babies cried in their own dialect, so maybe it has to do with your location. I might just say that and see if it works.” Shires ultimately sees My Piece of Land as her most cohesive album to date, which she feels is reflective of her creative writing classes at Tennessee’s Sewanee School of Letters. She resumed coursework in 2011 and is completing her thesis for “an awesome MFA in poetry” next spring. “I feel like this one’s more focused,” she says. “Each piece can relate to another and the whole thing is like little chapters. I’m proud of my work, but on some of my other records, I was operating on instinct and didn’t understand some of my leaps. It’s cool to go off topic, but for this I’m proud of the concentration rather than running away from talking about stuff that bothers me. I got used to criticism and hard truths at Sewanee, like, ‘That really sucks’ and ‘That’s 10 pounds of shit in a five pound bag.’ Sometimes people say that. But the record is still me; it’s all hopefully an evolution and a progression and not a regression. That’s all I really care about. My only goals were to get better and connect with people.” AMANDA SHIRES plays Southgate House Revival Sunday. Tickets/more info:

music spill it

Jody Stapleton Releases Potent Sophomore LP BY MIKE BREEN

moving closing track “Honey Bea” is the emotional nadir of the album, with its melancholy sway giving way to uplifting hope, gratitude and joy. Stapleton has consistently released solid music in his 15-plus years of playing, but with Roe Street Cathedral, he tops it all with not only masterful songwriting, but also his ability to have the songs radiate the passion he pours into them back out to the listener. Visit for more info.

Jody Stapleton’s Roe Street Cathedral PHOTO : provided

Cincinnati Brewers Series Continues Cincinnati vinyl record label Soul Step Records is continuing its Cincinnati Brewers Series this week. The label pairs a local band with a local brewery for the series. Soul Step releases a 7-inch single by the artist, while the brewery creates a special brew for the occasion and hosts a free show by the band. The series kicked off in September with a beer from MadTree Brewing and the “I Ain’t Cryin’” single from local Funk/Soul outfit Krystal Peterson & the Queen City Band. This Saturday, the label is issuing a vinyl single from local Indie Rock newcomers Sylmar in conjunction with a free 7 p.m. show (and special beer unveiling) at Listermann Brewing Company (1621 Dana Ave., Evanston, The first limited-edition pressing of the single (on “ocean-blue vinyl”) will be available at Saturday’s show. Visit for more on Soul Step’s releases. You can also listen to the tracks on Sylmar’s single — “I Love Everything” and “Honey” — at the site. CONTACT MIKE BREEN:

1345 main st

BY mike breen

Joel Sabotages Springsteen? It could have been an honest mistake, but maybe it was a vengeful act of professional jealousy? Bruce Springsteen made the news when, on Veterans Day, the motorcycle he was cruising on broke down and some surprised fellow bikers (who happened to be veterans) gave him a ride. Now Billy Joel says he built the bike Springsteen was riding at the motorcycle shop/ gallery he owns on Long Island. Joel told an audience in New York during a concert that he called The Boss to apologized for the malfunction. For future reference, as a general rule, “things that drive on the road” and “Billy Joel” don’t mix. Castro Mourned in Silence Passengers on the first commercial flights to land in Cuba in more than 50 years planning to live it up on the island and dance the night away picked the wrong time to visit. Those first flights coincided with the death of controversial leader Fidel Castro, which led to a ban on live music and alcohol during the nine days of national mourning for the late leader. Cigars were readily available at least. And those not wanting to mourn could always visit Miami, Fla., where Castro’s passing was observed in very much the opposite way. Punk Up in Smoke As promised, the son of Sex Pistols manager Malcolm McLaren and fashion designer Vivienne Westwood torched his $6 million collection of Punk memorabilia in the middle of the River Thames on the 40th anniversary of the release of The Sex Pistols first single. Joe Corré’s “protest” was aimed at London’s planned celebrations in honor of Punk’s 40th anniversary (as cofounder of since-sold-off lingerie company Agent Provocateur, Corré has the luxury of being able to almost literally set millions of dollars on fire). “Punk was never meant to be nostalgic,” he said. Westwood spoke at the demonstration, nobly but strangely urging people to switch to green energy.

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Cincinnati Americana singer/songwriter Jody Stapleton is celebrating the release of his excellent new solo album, Roe Street Cathedral, with a trio of performances in the coming weeks. This Saturday at 2 p.m., he’ll preview the new album with a performance at Everybody’s Records (6106 Montgomery Road, Pleasant Ridge, everybodysrecords. com). Saturday night at 9 p.m., Stapleton will be joined by longtime bassist Sammy Wulfeck and vocalist Anne Winslow Orlet for an acoustic performance at Myrtle’s Punch House (2733 Woodburn Ave., East Walnut Hills, On Dec. 10, Stapleton will be joined by a full band for a free 9:30 p.m. performance on the Lounge stage at Southgate House Revival (111 E. Sixth St., Newport, Ky., Nashville’s Violet Delancey is also on the Dec. 10 bill. Stapleton made and got his name (he was born Shawn Bracken) from Roots Rock faves The Stapletons, the band he fronted and recorded and toured with for much of the ’00s. From there, he experimented with an Indie Rock approach with his band Cash Flagg, and in 2012 he released Turn On Your Lights, a collection of songs with a ’70s Pop vibe put out under the banner Jody Stapleton and the Generals. In 2014, Stapleton released his first solo effort, Wolf Angel, which showed that the laidback Folk/Roots/ Country realm suited his emotive songwriting perfectly. For the new Roe Street Cathedral, Stapleton reteams with Wolf Angel producer Jeff Roberson and continues in the vein that worked so well for him on his previous effort. Roe Street finds Stapleton in peak form as a songwriter, with an impressive collection of guest artists helping to bring the strength of the writing to the forefront. Among the musicians contributing to the new recording are former Stapletons bandmates Jason Gay (guitar), Landen Summay (keyboards) and Wulfeck, current Bucko members Josh Pilot (guitar) and Brandon Losacker (drums) and Winslow Orlet and Toby Ellis (pedal-steel, dobro), who were members of Roberson’s long-running Americana band Len’s Lounge. Roberson plays banjo on the album. Highlights on Roe Street Cathedral are plentiful, ranging from the gentle, banjo-and-piano-driven Roots Pop gem “Don’t Hear My Name” and the pure, quietly stirring “Dear God” (which is just acoustic guitar, bass and Stapleton’s whispery vocals) to more up-tempo tunes like the Country Gospel rave-up “Never Get Over Hurting You” and the chugging album opener “C’mon, C’mon.” The


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Pilot Around The Stars Comeback Show CinCity Burlesque Sam Tieger & Jay Elliot Steel Panther Tiny Moving Parts Dru Hill Straight On (A tribute to Heart) Don’t Call it a Christmas Party Comedy Night! Razing Babylon James Otto, Trailer Choir, David & Whitney, Billy Brown (Benefiting the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital) 31 Rumpke Mountain Boys!



Bad Luck Jonathan Saturday • MOTR Pub Jon Langford must have some as-yetunidentified musical psychosis that drives him to form bands with little regard for the number of chainsaws he’s juggling. Langford continues to front The Mekons, sporadically his primary group since 1977, but he also maintains Waco Brothers, his solo/Skull Orchard activities and occasional appearances by Men of Gwent and The Pine Valley Cosmonauts. Langford recently shoehorned a new group into existence, a raucous Rock quintet dubbed Bad Luck Jonathan, which erupts with a self-described “socialist voodoo space boogie” vibe; think the Wacos channeling Motörhead. Bad Luck Jonathan began shortly after the release of Langford’s 2014 solo album, Here Be Monsters. Langford wanted to assemble a touring band to promote Bad Luck Jonathan it, but many of his P H O T O : pa u l b e at y regular collaborators were unavailable, so he considered going out alone. “I thought I’d book loads of gigs and just find people in different towns I’d played with,” Langford says. “We had a band in Seattle and Phil Wandscher, who used to be in Whiskeytown, was in it, but Martin Billheimer, Sally Psychic Twin (Timms)’s boyfriend, P H O T O : S e a n Wa lt r o u s said he was coming with me on a bit of it as well because he thought it would be a laugh.” The full-bore Psych/Blues/Rock gigs were so personally captivating that Langford returned to Chicago and told Wacos/ Skull Orchard rhythm section Alan Doughty and Joe Camarillo that they should all do something together. That led to more successful gigs and the collective feeling they were onto something completely unique. “Martin became more of the lead singer and me and Phil share in the vocals. It became a different entity really quickly,” Langford says. “I’m playing guitar and I do some lead vocals, but it’s more of an ensemble thing. It’s more like the Wacos or The Mekons, where there’s different voices and different things going on. This is not my solo stuff.” Bad Luck Jonathan’s run of shows at this year’s South By Southwest festival in Austin,

Texas included a spectacularly notorious gig at Saxon Pub, where Langford and company were so riotously unhinged they forced the shortening of headliner Giving Tree’s gig due to Bad Luck Jonathan’s suspected damage to its backline equipment (partial footage is posted on YouTube). All was well afterward when Langford apologized to one of the band members, giving him his business card and offering to pay for any needed repairs. The Giving Tree member looked at the card and said, “THE Jon Langford?” “We’ve been naughtier in other environments,” Langford says. “It was just that one club in Austin. They’re very old school or something.” The band’s selftitled debut album isn’t officially out yet, but if you want to sample it before their MOTR Pub gig in Cincinnati, the MOTR jukebox has featured the CD for the past couple of months. “Yeah, I made them one,” Langford says with a laugh. “They’re the only place in the world at the moment.” Guerilla marketing at its best. Or at least it’s most Langfordian. (Brian Baker) Psychic Twin with Fluffer Monday • MOTR Pub Although Psychic Twin has been active since 2011, Erin Fein, the group’s primary creative force, has a long history dating back to the late ’90s when she joined her brothers Adam and Seth as keyboardist in their band Absinthe Blind. When Adam left, the band morphed into a new group dubbed Orphans, which then became Headlights, and that group dissolved in 2012, the year after Fein released her first single as Psychic Twin. Fein began working on the songs for her debut “solo” album, Strange Diary, in the wake of her collapsing marriage, a situation that inspired a move from her native Illinois to Brooklyn, N.Y. Fein’s material and sonic approach continued to evolve as she came to grips with the emotional upheaval of her divorce and the jarring realities of her new life in New York. The project she began in Champaign-Urbana, Ill. came to incorporate new musical ideas and new modes of translating them with a rotating support cast of players in a relatively alien environment.


The name of the project came from Fein’s feeling when she was creating demos of her songs and double-tracking her vocals, giving the sense that she was singing with some phantom version of herself. Her selftitled debut came out in 2011. Psychic Twin’s latest release, this past June’s Chrome Sparks Meets Psychic Twin (available for free download at Bandcamp), was a 21-minute single track mash-up of several compositions that served as a teaser for her recently released debut full-length, the icy yet engaging Strange Diary, which dropped in September. Both sets feature Fein’s chilling evocation of classic Goth/ Synth Pop icons like Siouxsie and the Banshees, Kate Bush, Annie Lennox (both solo and with Eurythmics), Cocteau Twins and Human League, while connecting with contemporaries like St. Vincent and Grimes. Like the best of all of them, Fein favors the chilly distance that was prevalent in ’80s Synth Pop, but invests her Psychic Twin songs with a compelling warmth and effervescence that inexorably draws the listener into her Pete Yorn brilliant sonic ice P H O T O : j i m w r i g ht palace. (BB)

December 8



December 9



December 17



11/30 moonbeau - november artist in residence


December 30


December 31




January 28




February 9


12/1 roots of a rebellion treehouse 12/2 sena ehrhardt band cole allen, infinity spree 12/3 dereK alan band album release party one louder, Ky myle, dJ ryan fisK 12/4 amanda shires andrew leahey & the homestead 12/5 anthony raneri royal holland, bobby hudson (of cardboard derby) 12/6 cody JinKs, ward davis 12/7 spirit animal, nico yaryan


February 25


march 3





THE SELDOM SCENE – Dec. 9, 20th Century Theater SHE WANTS REVENGE – Dec. 9, Woodward Theater JUDY COLLINS – Dec. 10, Live! at the Ludlow Garage STEEL PANTHER – Dec. 10, Bogart’s

December 9

SICK PUPPIES – Dec. 12, Taft Theatre


MARCUS KING BAND – Dec. 13, 20th Century Theater


TINY MOVING PARTS – Dec. 14, Bogart’s REVEREND HORTON HEAT/NASHVILLE PUSSY/ UNKNOWN HINSON – Dec. 15, Southgate House Revival CODY JINKS – Dec. 15, 20th Century Theater TOGETHER PANGEA – Dec. 15, MOTR Pub DRU HILL – Dec. 16, Bogart’s THE WEEPIES – Dec. 16, Taft Theatre MINT CONDITION – Dec. 17, OTR Live STRAIGHT NO CHASER – Dec. 20, Aronoff Center DROWNING POOL – Dec. 20, The Mad Frog ERIKA WENNERSTROM – Dec. 23, Woodward Theater


December 17



December 20



January 7


February 15





C I T Y B E A T . C O M   •  n o v . 2 3  –  D E C . 0 6 , 2 0 1 6   •  3 3

Pete Yorn Tuesday • Taft Theatre (Ballroom) Now more than 15 years into his successful career, New Jersey native Pete Yorn had a rather unusual start in the business. Yorn moved to Los Angeles to pursue a life in music and in 1999, he signed a deal with Columbia Records. But the first music by Yorn to be heard by the public wasn’t on a recording. After some demos found their way to the Farrelly Brothers, the filmmakers behind comedy hits like Dumb and Dumber and There’s Something About Mary, he was asked to score the pair’s forthcoming movie, the Jim Carrey vehicle Me, Myself and Irene (he also contributed to songs to the soundtrack). After the release of the film in 2000, Yorn’s debut album, musicforthemorningafter, was released in 2001 and was a critical and commercial success, eventually selling enough to earn Gold certification. Early on, Yorn’s catchy and emotive songs were created largely on his own in the studio; Yorn played all of the instruments, layering tracks with the help of various notable producers (Brad Wood, Don Fleming and Ken Andrews were among those who contributed to musicforthemorningafter). Since his debut, Yorn has released a consistent string of albums and EPs; for his 2006 tour behind Nightcrawler, Yorn

did performances at independent record stores before each show, then released the 30-plus in-store recordings as part of his You & Me Acoustic EP series. In 2009, on the heels of his fourth solo album, Back & Fourth, Yorn’s collaborative album with superstar actress Scarlett Johansson, Break Up, was released. Inspired by the albums French icon Serge Gainsbourg made with actress Brigitte Bardot in the ’60s, the LP did incredibly well overseas, especially in France, where it was certified Platinum. Yorn broke from his traditional studio practice of building songs and playing most of the instruments himself with 2010’s selftitled release on Vagrant Records. The rare “full band” recording was inspired by the album’s producer, Frank Black of Pixies. Since then, Yorn had his first child and inked a deal with Capitol Records, which issued his first solo album in six years, Arranging Time, in March. The album has been hailed as a return to the form of Yorn’s early work, which is fitting, as Yorn reteamed with R. Walt Vince (who worked on his first two albums) and returned to a layered recording approach that served him so well early on. (Mike Breen)

111 E 6th St Newport, KY 41071

music listings

CityBeat’s music listings are free. Send info to MIKE BREEN via email at Listings are subject to change. See for full music listings and all club locations. H is CityBeat staff’s stamp of approval.

Wednesday 30 Arnold’s Bar and Grill - Todd Hepburn. 7 p.m. Blues/Jazz/Various. Free. Aronoff Center for the Arts H - Joe Bonamassa. 8 p.m. Blues/Rock. $82.50-$128.50. Bella Luna - RMS Band. 7 p.m. Soft Rock/Jazz. Free.

The Hot Spot - Bob Cushing. 7 p.m. Acoustic. Free. Knotty Pine - Procter Unplugged. 10 p.m. Acoustic. Free. McCauly’s Pub - Sonny Moorman. 7 p.m. Blues. Free.

Blind Lemon - Sara Hutchinson. 8 p.m. Acoustic. Free.

MOTR Pub - J Dorsey Band with 3 Piece Suit. 10 p.m. Blues/ Rock. Free.

Bromwell’s Härth Lounge Melissa Kuykendall. 6:30 p.m. Pop. Free.

Plain Folk Cafe - Open Mic with Franklin Crow. 7 p.m. Various. Free.

Century Inn Restaurant - Paul Lake. 7 p.m. Pop/Rock/Jazz/Oldies/Various. Free.

Southgate House Revival (Lounge) - Joe Rollin Porter. 9:30 p.m. Americana. Free.

Jag’s Steak and Seafood - Steve Thomas. 6 p.m. Sax/Piano/ Vocals. Free.

Southgate House Revival (Revival Room) - Roots Of A Rebellion and Treehouse. 9 p.m. Reggae/Jam/Psych. $8, $10 day of show.

Knotty Pine - Dallas Moore. 9 p.m. Country. Free. Mic’s Pub - Karaoke with A Sound Sensation/DJ Heather. 8:30 p.m. Various. Free. Miller’s Fill Inn - Karaoke with A Mystical Sound Sensation DJ Rob. 9 p.m. Various. Free. Northside Tavern - Drop the Sun with Lost Coast. 10 p.m. Alt/ Rock. Free. Pit to Plate - Bluegrass Night with Vernon McIntyre’s Appalachian Grass. 7 p.m. Bluegrass. $2. Silverton Cafe - Bob Cushing. 8 p.m. Acoustic. Free. Southgate House Revival (Lounge) - Moonbeau. 8 p.m. Indie/Electronic. Free. Stanley’s Pub - Singer/Songwriter Night. 10 p.m. Various. Free. 3 4   •   C I T Y B E A T . C O M   •   n o v . 3 0  –  D E C . 0 6 , 2 0 1 6

The Greenwich - Mambo Combo. 8 p.m. Latin Jazz. $5.

Urban Artifact - Blue Wisp Big Band. 8:30 p.m. Big Band Jazz. $10.

Thursday 01 20th Century Theater - The H Subdudes. 8 p.m. Roots/ Rock/Various. $30-$35. Arnold’s Bar and Grill - Dottie Warner and Wayne Shannon. 7:30 p.m. Jazz. Free. Bromwell’s Härth Lounge - Chris Comer Trio. 7 p.m. Jazz. Free. Fort Mitchell Sports Bar - Karaoke with A Sound Sensation/DJ Heather. 9:30 p.m. Various. Free.

Stanley’s Pub - Frazier Band with Restless Leg String Band. 9 p.m. Bluegrass. $5. Taft’s Ale House - John Ford. 8 p.m. Roots/Blues. Free. Urban Artifact - The Zac Granger Quintet and Happy Hour Jones. 9 p.m. Jazz. Free.

Friday 02 Arnold’s Bar and Grill - Nicholas & The Pessimistics. 9 p.m. Americana. Free. Bella Luna - Blue Birds Trio. 7 p.m. Classic Rock/Jazz. Free. Blue Note Harrison - Trailer Park Floosies. 9:30 p.m. Dance/Pop/ Country/Rock/Various. Cover. Bogart’s - Pilot Around the Stars with Ocean Grid, Friday Giants, Current Events and Don’t Call Me Punk. 8 p.m. Rock/ Pop/Punk. $10, $13 day of show.


Century Inn Restaurant - Jim Teepen. 8 p.m. Acoustic. Free. College Hill Coffee Co. - Hot Lips and Finger Tips. 7:30 p.m. Country/Rock/Jazz. Free. The Greenwich - Rollins Davis Band featuring Deborah Hunter. 9 p.m. Jazz/R&B. $5. Jag’s Steak and Seafood - My Sister Sarah. 9:30 p.m. Pop/ Rock/Dance/Various. Cover. Jim and Jack’s on the River - Jason Owens Band. 9 p.m. Country. Free. Knotty Pine - Hollywood. 10 p.m. Rock. Cover.

Live! at the Ludlow Garage H - Bilal. 8 p.m. Soul/R&B. $25-$50.

College Hill Coffee Co. - Wild Carrot. 7:30 p.m. Americana. Free.

The Redmoor - Ingrid Woode and the Woode Tribe Orchestra. 8:30 p.m. Soul/Various. $10.

McCauly’s Pub - Open Jam with Sonny Moorman. 7 p.m. Blues/ Various. Free.

The Mad Frog - Blood on the Dance Floor with Tear Out The Heart, Sheeva, Vanity Strikes and Justin Symbol. 7 p.m. Electronic/ Pop/Various. $15, $20 day of show.

The Cricket Lounge at The Cincinnatian Hotel - Phillip Paul Trio. 6 p.m. Jazz. Free.

Rick’s Tavern - Lt. Dan’s New Legs. 10 p.m. Pop/Dance/Various. $5.

MOTR Pub - Psychic Twin H with Fluffer. 10 p.m. Indie/ Electronic/Pop/Rock. Free.

Eastgate Brew & View - Encore Duo. 6:30 p.m. Acoustic Classic Rock/Americana. Free.

Silverton Cafe - Sonny Moorman. 9 p.m. Blues. Free.

Northside Tavern - Northside Jazz Ensemble. 10 p.m. Jazz. Free.

Mansion Hill Tavern - Blue Ravens. 9 p.m. Blues. $4. Mason Pub & Grill - The Refranes. 9:30 p.m. Pop/Rock. Cover. The Mockbee - B-Sides featuring DJAB and special guests. 10 p.m. Dance. Free. Peecox Erlanger - Saving Stimpy. 9:30 p.m. Rock. $5. Plain Folk Cafe - Mad River Railroad. 7:30 p.m. Bluegrass. Free. Rick’s Tavern - DV8. 10 p.m. Rock. $5. Silverton Cafe - Off the Record. 9 p.m. Various. Free. Southgate House Revival (Lounge) - Ricky Nye Inc. 9:30 p.m. Blues/Boogie Woogie. Free. Southgate House Revival (Sanctuary) - Sena Ehrhardt Band with Cole Allen and Infinity Spree. 8 p.m. Blues/Soul/Funk. $15, $18 day of show. Stanley’s Pub - Heavy Hinges. 10 p.m. Rock/Roots/Various. $5. Thompson House - The World I Knew with Curses, Against Icarus, Hades In Olympus, Hades In Olympus and Before You Perish. 8 p.m. Metal. $10. Top of the Line - Bob Cushing. 10 p.m. Acoustic. Free. The Underground - This Pine Box, Ephesus, Dr. J & The Apostles, The Uptown and On The Watchfront. 7 p.m. Alt/Rock/Varoius. Cover. Urban Artifact - Cincy Samba Fest. 8 p.m. Latin/Various. $15.

Saturday 03

Fort Mitchell Sports Bar - Karaoke with A Sound Sensation/DJ Heather. 9:30 p.m. Various. Free. The Greenwich - Push Play. 8:30 p.m. R&B/Funk. $8. Jag’s Steak and Seafood - Why So Serious. 9:30 p.m. Pop/ Dance/Various. Cover. Jim and Jack’s on the River Dan Varner. 9 p.m. Country. Free. Knotty Pine - Hollywood. 10 p.m. Rock. Cover.

Live! at the Ludlow Garage Kim Waters. 8 p.m. Jazz/R&B. $35-$75. The Mad Frog - Life After This, Farm House, Down One. Spearpoint and Dear Agony. 8 a.m. Rock. Cover. Mansion Hill Tavern - Blue Sacrifice. 9 p.m. Blues. $3. McCauly’s Pub - Six Strings Down. 8 p.m. Blues. Free. MOTR Pub - Bad Luck Jonathan. 10 p.m. Rock. Free.

H MVP Bar & Grille - Kenny H Ozzfest featuring Red Beast, Pagan Holiday, Lazy Ass

Tuesday 06 Arnold’s Bar and Grill - John Redell. 7 p.m. Blues. Free.

tion. 8 p.m. Rock/Punk. Free.

Sunday 04 The Comet - Comet Bluegrass All-Stars. 7:30 p.m. Bluegrass. Free. The Greenwich - Jazz Alive H Fall Fundraiser with Tim Warfield, Mike Wade, Dan Karlsberg, James Gaiters and Peter Gemus. 7 p.m. Jazz. $10.

Knotty Pine - Randy Peak. 10 p.m. Acoustic. Free Mansion Hill Tavern - Open Blues Jam with Uncle Woody & the Blue Bandits. 7 p.m. Blues. Free.

Myrtle’s Punch House - Jody H Stapleton (album release show) with Sammy Stapleton

Northside Tavern - Bulletville. 8:30 p.m. Country. Free.

Bella Luna - Blue Birds Trio. 7 p.m. Classic Rock/Jazz. Free.

Northside Yacht Club Cruel Hand with Eternal Sleep, Will to Die, By Force and Crewneck. 8 p.m. Punk/Metal. $10, $12 day of show.


Plain Folk Cafe - The Bluegrass Mafia. 7:30 p.m. Bluegrass. Free.

Urban Artifact - Milkman, Verment and Lucia Absentia. 9 p.m. Metal. Free.

Thompson House - The Scars Heal in Time. 8 p.m. Rock. $10.

Miller’s Fill Inn - Karaoke with A Mystical Sound Sensation DJ Rob. 9 p.m. Various. Free.

and Annie Winslow Orlet. 9 p.m. Acoustic/Folk/Roots. Free.

Southgate House Revival (Revival Room) - Anthony Raneri with Royal Holland and Bobby Hudson. 7:30 p.m. Indie/Acoustic. $13, $16 day of show.

Stanley’s Pub - Partyboob with Love Alive and Ample Parking. 9 p.m. Jam/Rock. $5.

Destroyer, Rhythm & Booze, TUFF, Chakras, Counting Stars, V-Twin Sin, The Let Downs, Red Soul Rising, Sinful Crow, Shocker, Lying in Ruins and The New Machine. 4:30 p.m. Rock/Various. $10.

Northside Tavern - Sexy Time Live Band Karaoke. 9 p.m. Various. Free.

Bromwell’s Härth Lounge Steve Schmidt Trio. 8 p.m. Jazz. Free.

Southgate House Revival (Sanctuary) - Derek Alan Band (album release party) with One Louder, KY Myle and DJ Ryan Fisk. 8 p.m. Country. $10-$25.

Urban Artifact - Take the Listermann Brewing ComH Power Back, The Slippery H pany - Sylmar (single release Lips, Tiger Sex and Lipstick Ficparty). 7 p.m. Indie Rock. Free.

Arnold’s Bar and Grill - Cincinnati Dancing Pigs. 9 p.m. Americana/Jug band. Free.

Blue Note Harrison - Gen X, Excalibur and Flipside. 9 p.m. Various.

Southgate House Revival (Lounge) - Ben Knight. 9:30 p.m. Acoustic. Free.

MOTR Pub - Zac Granger Quintet. 9 p.m. Jazz. Free.

Southgate House Revival H (Sanctuary) - Amanda Shires with Andrew Leahey & the Homestead. 8 p.m. Americana. $18, $20 day of show.

Urban Artifact - Drunk & Sailor. 7 p.m. Pirate music. Free.

Monday 05 The Celestial - Tom Schneider. 6 p.m. Piano. Free. Knotty Pine - Open Mic. 8 p.m. Various. Free.

Brew House - John Ford & Billy Alletzhauser. 8 p.m. Roots/ Blues/Various. Free. Christ Church Cathedral - Music Live@Lunch with Queen City Sisters. 12:10 p.m. Swing/Various. Free. Crow’s Nest - Open Mic Nite. 8 p.m. Various. Free. Jag’s Steak and Seafood - Zack Shelly and Chon Buckley. 6 p.m. Piano/Vocals. Free. McCauly’s Pub - Stagger Lee. 7 p.m. Country/Rock. Free. MOTR Pub - Writer’s Night. 10 p.m. Open mic/Various. Free. Northside Tavern - The Stealth Pastille. 10 p.m. Psych/Rock/ Pop. Free. Shaker’s - Open Mic/Open Jam with TC and Company. 7:30 p.m. R&B/Funk/Jazz. Free. Southgate House Revival (Sanctuary) - Cody Jinks with Ward Davis. 8 p.m. Country. $20. Stanley’s Pub - Trashgrass Night with members of Rumpke Mountain Boys. 9 p.m. Jamgrass/Bluegrass/Jamgrass/Various. Cover. Taft Theatre - Pete Yorn. 8 H p.m. Pop/Rock. $25, $30 day of show. Woodward Theater - RubbleH bucket. 8 p.m. Indie/Dance/ Pop. $15, $17 day of show.

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45. “The Magnificent Seven” studio 48. Adopted family member 49. Suddenly lose power 51. Model Delevingne 52. “Couldn’t be clearer” 54. One who falls for Apple’s voice assistant? 56. Tag number 57. Dele breaker 58. Well-groomed 59. Wasatch Mountain ski resort 60. Romance

novelist ___ Blake 61. Salt the sidewalk, say 62. Layoff’s reason, perhaps 63. Algerian setting for Camus’ “The Plague” 64. Following Dow n

1. Nacho dips 2. Longtime Bowie collaborator Carlos 3. Singing barber 4. Business that serves as the bad guys in “Mr. Robot” 5. Outlook folder 6. Like envelopes and Ziploc bags 7. Mookie Wilson or Dwight Gooden, e.g. 8. Tops 9. Monte Carlo’s nation 10. Just ducky 11. Kraft “cheese” brand 12. Neo’s last name in “The Matrix” 13. Cafetière contents 21. Quick on one’s feet 25. Souped-up car

28. Uneasy feeling during customs 30. Have-___ 31. Bulgarian ruler title, once 32. ___-Niacin (controlled-release pills) 34. Scorching hot 35. US goalie with the most career clean sheets 36. Parts of some vision quests? 37. Big name in allergy medicine 38. Hog conversation 42. Throw in the direction of 43. Parents boss 45. Achieve your goal 46. Country with the most archaeological museums 47. Crayola product 50. Battle ground 51. Viola’s staff symbol 53. They might affect 28-Down: Abbr. 55. Food inspection letters


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City Beat Nov. 30, 2016  
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