arts H Music H culture
Volume Two | Issue Ten
Su st a i na b l e Stor ies Goats! Perma c ult ure Souths id e G re e n s
Tu n e s Music in t h e Ro u g h : J a z z Me tal Head UAA M id d ay
Or i g i n a l Co n ten t Jack Get te P r i scilla Hens l ey Je sus L an d in-To rrez III D.C. M c Ken zie
LettEr FRom The EdiTor Dear Readers, Even though I’ve lived in Alaska for years, it seems I can still be surprised at how different life is here. Last month, I was upstairs in the living room when I was hit with the smell of horses, that musky tart smell of livestock and feed. So I wasn’t completely surprised when I went downstairs to find four sheep hanging in the garage, being prepped for butchering. My landlord and several of his friends had gone out to the valley to purchase live animals to bring home and stock their freezers with. The closest thing to this I’d ever personally experienced before was a Christmas tree farm, where you cut down your own tree and bring it home to dress. The gathering of goat skinners below my living quarters, however, had a much stronger sense of community to it (and smell!). They were preparing their winter meat supply together, assisting one another with space and skills. The culture of food is rich wherever you go: the Ethiopian tradition of using injera (a
spongy type of bread) in lieu of silverware to scoop up the food, and being lucky enough to experience gursha – the process of your friend or lover feeding you; in Turkey, the culture of drinking raki (an anise-based drink) with fabulous appetizers called meze before almost every full meal; the 2,000 years of rice culture in Japan – the sowing, weeding, harvesting, preparation and eating. It’s all culture! And Thanksgiving Day in America is most certainly a food-culture event. This being the month of harvests and a foodie holiday makes it the best time for F Magazine to deliver to its readers a smorgasbord of food culture stories. We’ve taken a closer look at the some of the oftenoverlooked aspects of food culture in this part of the state – not the obvious hunting/ fishing culture, but the horticulture and permaculture, the raising, purchasing, preparing and consuming of food. Localizing everything, including our appetites, is a concept that is rapidly growing in popularity. Is this burgeoning food culture a bi-product or kindling for community?
We’re not just about food this month. We also have some terrific new talent gracing our pages delivering morsels of other cultures, art and music. The theme for fiction, poetry, art (and a comic!) this month was “Altered States.” As the theme is open to interpretation, you’ll see that each of the published submissions this month interpreted it quite differently - from Alec Fritz’s comic, implies hallucinogens to Jack Gette’s short story about the heinous reality of landscaping (which ties in nicely with the horticulture/permaculture stories.) The random piece by Jesus Landin-Torrez III, who has consistently submitted and been published in every issue (but one) since our inception, is noticeably … different from those in the past. It is a tad shocking, and some readers might find it a bit offensive. It is not our intention to offend, but more importantly, it is not our desired ethical practice to censor art. As we learned from our first issue, however, there is a fine line between censoring art and detracting readers. We hope with this issue, we’ve done neither. Viva las Artes!
Table of Contents | November 2010 | Volume Two | Issue Ten
G o ats Sustainable in Anchorage A verdant couple
S o uthside Cu lt u re
Po et r y S el ec t i o n s
By Jesus Landin-Torrez III
W. A . T. T.
M ake M ine M e t al
By D.C McKenzie By Priscilla Hensley
Music in the R o u gh
By Jack Gette
Passio n, Fr u it
Pi cea G l a u c a
By Theodore Kincaid
The hard core sceen
UAA N o o n Mu s i c
Stop and hear the music
Front Cover [photo by Teeka A. Ballas] Chinook Wind Django – This five-month-old buck is one of two dozen or so goats found at Cottonwood Creek Farm. The farm offers a goat share program – where folks pay to have a goat cared for – in essence, “own” the goat – and in return, receive raw goat milk. This networking of food is growing in popularity all over South Central Alaska.
Edith Barrowclaugh Katie Blake Alec Fritz Jack Gette Priscilla Hensley Theodore Kincaid Jesus Landin-Torrez III David McElroy D.C. McKenzie Melissa Newton Riza Parsons Michelle Saport Clark Yarrington Teeka A. Ballas executive editor Bruce Farnsworth poetry editor Gretchen Weiss art director
F Magazine fh ide O ut.org
Back Cover [photo by Rachel Droege] Art Splendor – Last September, Renegade Art, a seemingly random showing of art, music and the sensual erotic movements of Pulse Dance Company took place in an empty house in South Anchorage. Stephanie Wonchala (PDC director) supplied the legs for this shot, and Walter Barillas (artistic director) bared his chest. Stay posted for the company’s January debut performance.
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Sharing Goats Story and Photos by Teeka A. Ballas
The Project I’ve set aside an hour to interview her. I arrive modestly early to the salmon colored house with raspberry vines clinging to the side trying to survive the fast encroaching winter. I know nothing about this woman other than she goat shares. I hear a clatter from inside the house, the kind of rushing about that I can only assume is the sound of someone preparing for company. But when she opens the door, Barbara Rowland pleasantly smiles, completely relaxed. As I enter her home, I realize the noise is just the sound of her moving about; stacks of “projects,” which could be mistaken for clutter consume every corner, every open space. “It’s not because it’s economical,” she says as I walk into her kitchen. She’s referring to her projects. “It would be cheaper just to hop over to Costco, but it’s about feeding myself wholesome food and supporting local organizations.” She grows vegetables, raises chickens for eggs, makes her own wine (which we drink a good amount of while we separate quinoa seeds she grew over the summer), and participates in a goat share. Along with about 11 other women in her goat share group, she pays to have a goat raised and fed, and in return collects its milk every week. “I want to support people who do this,” she says. “It’s important for the sustainability of Alaska that we have this sustainable food source. And I’m very happy to be a part of that.” So am I! Six and a half hours later, I leave Barbara’s house, numbers swapped, future plans made, thrilled that I’ve been invited into this niche of culture.
Spaces Just like with Barbara, I show up early to my interview with Amara Liggett. Only not so modestly – I am a day early. Hardly missing a beat she invites me into her home, a spacious, immaculate spread; she’s well-accessorized with an overall bohemian flare. Her downtown apartment is conservatively adorned with local art and her kitchen looks like it’s a feature spread in a Better Homes magazine. For someone not expecting company, I’m surprised at how well put together both she and her home are. Amara has been a vegetarian for eight years, though she partakes in local meats when they’re available. She says she goat shares because she supports buying local, and doesn’t agree with the heinous things some farmers do to their animals. “If everyone cuts back, even if it’s just a little
bit, then there wouldn’t be such a demand,” she says with subdued passion. Without the demand, ranchers and farmers would be under less pressure to create a faster, fatter, leaner product. There would be no real need to do ghastly things like staple chickens’ feet to small dark boxes to decrease muscle, and no need to slam cattle together without air to breath or room to move, feeding them deceased diseased cows instead of grass. But she says all that without having to say all that. Amara makes everything look so easy. Her home is functional and organized. She works two jobs. She gets her goat share milk every week. She makes her own chevre. It’s no big thing.
The Source I don’t know much about goats. I once stayed at a commune in Northern California where they grew their own food and raised goats. They used the milk to churn butter, make a wide assortment of cheeses, and the best damn cheesecake I’ve ever had. I never got to see the alleged churning, but the idea inspired my imagination: women in pinafores, tall wooden chairs, a big wooden keg with a long stick and a lot of grunting and sweating. I drive out to see Suzy Crosby and her husband Mike Pendergrast of Cottonwood Creek Farm in Wasilla, with the full anticipation of churning. “Well, I guess I could get Mike to go out to the shed and clean up the old churn if it’s still back there.” Suzy seems befuddled as to why in tarnations I would ever want to churn butter. Evidently you must first separate the cream – a
A simple way to make homemade goat cheese/chevre: Pour a gallon of goat milk into saucepan. Heat it to 185°F. Bring it down to almost cool (about 110° F). Squeeze in some lemon juice and stir slowly until curds form. Pour through cheesecloth and let it continue to drain in the refrigerator overnight. FHideout.org
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“It’s important for the sustainability of Alaska that we have this sustainable food source. And I’m very happy to be a part of that.”
grueling task, and then there are a whole slew of kitchen aids now that have since retired the old butter churn. Why would anyone want to use a churn? I give up the notion of making butter, and instead let Suzy take me around to meet all the goats and point out the different types. Aside from their disconcerting eyes, they’re a lot like dogs. Though it takes some coaxing, they answer when called by name, they like to be pet, and will rub their heads against you to get a good scratch. Best for last, she takes me down to meet the two ornery bucks; I now understand where the term “horny old goat” comes from. As the young does prance around the bucks’ pen, the old buggers get up on their hind legs and lean their heads over, raising their upper lip over their teeth, licking the air like lecherous old men, peeing straight up to show off their odor and their order. The air is thick with the smell of their hormones. It smells like sour or aged goat milk. Seemingly embarrassed for the lascivious conduct by her boys, Suzy ushers me off and into her home. “I told Mike that when we got a place to live, I wanted goats,” she laughs as she multitasks in her large kitchen making goat ice cream, lattes, bread, and sour dough pancakes from a 100 year-old starter. She simultaneously starts pulling out yogurt, milk and kefir for me to sample. Plates and bowls stack up as she twirls about the kitchen like Mary Poppins – Mike has his head down in the computer, occasionally announcing different goats for sale on Craigslist: Alpines, Nubians, Nigerian, $200 each, $300 a pair, a mix breed for $600. (“$600? That’s asinine!”) “We were still building the house at the time,” Suzy says to me over the whir of machines and the clatter of dishware. “Mike was working in Fairbanks during the week and building the house on the weekends. We were living – Here, try this,” she hands me a bowl from the ice cream maker and lets me wipe it clean with my index finger (freshly washed after petting goats). “We were living in the trailer. I pulled up one day in the truck and yelled out to him, ‘Do you want a latte?’ He said yes, and that’s when Latte, our first goat jumped out to greet him.”
Mike chuckles from his computer without looking up. “He just rolled his eyes at me. But they were close. Latte followed him all over the place.” The beginning of Cottonwood Creek Farm. In seemingly no time, Suzy and Mike have inherited a good number of goats. To sell goat milk, one has to have a Class A license. Suzy says she won’t be doing that any time soon. Evidently, many of her inherited goats have come from folks who opted to make the step up, and shortly thereafter have had crummy luck ensue. But to be able to give unpasteurized goat milk to others, goat share is really the only answer – to “own” a goat, pay for its keep, and get its milk in return. As part owner of the goat, it’s completely legal. And if there’s any concern about the quality of goat share milk at Cottonwood Creek – a visit will surely squelch them. According to their goat share agreement, antibiotics are only used as a last resort. Mike and Suzy primarily treat their goats with naturopathy, and grapefruit seed extract – though expensive – is used in bulk. And the process they use for milking their goats is like watching the behind the scenes inner machinations of Willy Wonka’s Factory. Every day the goats are herded through the process. It’s quick, efficient and clean. “The trick is,” says Suzy, wiping down teats with a fresh rag sprayed with grapefruit seed extract, “is to make sure the milk goes immediately into a glass jar with a plastic lid.” Evidently, metal lids taint the milk and create an adverse reaction. “And immediately get it into a super cold refrigerator. Ours is set so cold it creates a little ice on the top.” And she is adamant that if you’re a goat sharer, you pick up the milk with an ice chest full of ice, to ensure it stays cold the entire way home. To say the least, the goat milk and bi-products she lets me sample are truly delectable. And though I don’t get to churn anything like I’d hoped, I take a stab at milking a goat by hand. That’s a different, more embarrassing story … " To learn more about goat sharing, contact them via their website: cottonwoodcreekfarm.org
Passion, Fruit Anchorageites are putting down deep roots and working on creating a shelter of branches.
By Riza Parsons Photos by Teeka Ballas
“Permaculture is a vision of regenerative abundance, of every person being able to provide for their own basic human needs of food, shelter, clothing and convivial human contact while improving the environment around them. It is about empowering people to make the world a better place instead of feeling victimized or waiting for the government to do it. There are so many reasons that I can’t imagine NOT doing it. It is just a way of life, a way of thinking about the world. I see abundance and possibility everywhere...not just in my garden, but also in this city and in this world.”
- Saskia Esslinger
It is a gorgeous fall day; one of those days that would have been much welcomed in the summer but is no less beautiful for arriving at the beginning of October. It is a day for celebration, with golden leaves twirling like confetti from the skies and sunlight saying its fierce goodbyes. It is also harvest time. And Saskia’s belated birthday party. I have basically invited myself to dinner, under the guise of “journalistic research.” I don’t know
the hosts, Saskia Esslinger and Matt Oster, or any of the guests save one, but I have heard a lot about them and their little community. I know that they build greenhouses and have several on the property; they make their own goat milk and goat cheese; they are intense proponents and practitioners of sustainability; and they serve up some damn good food. The last is all I need to know before I am throwing two bottles of wine into my car and driving over to a stranger’s house. “I first heard about Permaculture when I was studying Environmental Science in college. It was very evident to me during my studies that humans were not living sustainably on this earth. Permaculture offered me a vision of humans living in harmony with nature. It focused on easy, practical commonsense solutions instead of dwelling on all the problems we face. Besides, who wouldn’t want a beautiful, abundant oasis in the city?” - Saskia Esslinger A German-shepherd-looking dog trundles out to sniff my wine and my
legs as I walk up the driveway. I don’t see a number on the house but I know it’s the right one because the yard is brightly, verdantly green, with hopscovered greenhouses and tons of plants; I practically get high off of the massive amounts of oxygen emanating from the place. Saskia’s husband, Matt, is in the kitchen, preparing halibut and salmon he caught himself. They are vegetarian, for the most part except for fish and game they have personally procured. He is gracious and soft-spoken, immediately offering me a glass of wine and telling me about the moose that had gotten into the garden earlier that day. “They were eating the tops of our beets. I had to chase them out and now I’m a little behind,” he says, gesturing towards the pans of sliced leeks and packages of fish in the sink. I offer up my services and he puts me to work toasting fragrant rosemary bread and cutting up cheese. The cheddar is store-bought but the goat cheese is handcrafted, encased in black wax. Also on the counter is a sheet pan full of garnetcolored and candy-striped beets, awaiting FHideout.org
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roasting, and a bowl of smoked salmon. Throughout the kitchen is freshly harvested produce. A box by the door contains celery, carrots and kohlrabi. In the arctic entry is a tangle of beet greens and bins of potatoes. A white plastic bucket is filled to the brim with green tomatoes still on the vine. Saskia emerges from her shower, wearing a festive batik-print dress, just in time to greet the first guest. Teeka comes in bearing more food; Turkish vegetables - “Really every vegetable you can think of flavored with spices I got in Turkey,” she says. Some of it had spilled in her car and I take note of the fact that Matt hands her a dishtowel instead of a roll of paper towels. I see the bowl for compost scraps, the abundance of beer growlers on top of the refrigerator, two burlap sacks filled with shallots and garlic from their garden, and begin to extrapolate the possibilities. From Saskia’s website, rededgealaska.com: “Taste. Have you ever had a home-grown tomato right off the vine? Every vegetable tastes better fresh. Think you don’t like beets…you just haven’t had them young and crisp, right from the ground, roasted with sea salt…mmm. Nutrition. From the moment a vegetable gets harvested it starts to deteriorate, losing valuable nutrients. After it travels halfway around the world to get to Alaska, your food is just a shadow of its former self. Convenience. No need to run to the store twice a week, you just have to step outside for a moment to harvest what you need when you need it.”
If everybody made these little changes (simple changes, really) then much of what plagues the world today - pollution, lack of natural resources, starvation, exploitation, a host of food-related medical issues and a decline in mental health as well - would be greatly lessened. Matt and Saskia are two people who don’t drive to the grocery store three, four times a week. They reuse plastic bags, eschew one-time use items and don’t waste anything. Food that can’t be composted goes to the animals. They are constantly educating themselves on how to reap the most bounty from the resources they are given. While guests begin to arrive and mill around, I take the opportunity to explore the living areas. The bookshelves are filled with both esoteric and familiar titles: Fast Food Nation, Small Is Possible, two volumes of Edible Forest Gardens, two copies of Root Cellaring, Discovering Wild Plants and a massive tome, Permaculture: A Designer’s Manual. The magazines strewn on the coffee table are a perfect representation of what this dinner party is all about. Scientific American, Wired, National Geographic and Food and Wine would have told me plenty about Matt and Saskia even if I had never met them. By this time, the food is being pulled hot from the oven and smells fantastic. Roasted halibut and salmon on a bed of leeks, Teeka’s Turkish vegetables, an earthenware crock filled with potato gratin and bowls filled with just-picked produce perfume the kitchen. Someone hands me a green bean and I pop it into mouth, then inadvertently reach for more - they taste like candy,
|6 so sweet and crunchy that I have to actually look at the bean to make sure it is what I think it is. I sip on my wine in between bites and eavesdrop on a few conversations. A couple of young parents are discussing their adorable toddlers and what they will and won’t eat; Matt is talking to his friend about raising chickens and butchering them; I overhear Saskia say, “We should work a little bit and live a lot”; almost everyone is raving about the delicious food. “Permaculture is an ecological design system for sustainability in all aspects of human endeavor. It teaches us how to build natural homes, grow our own food, restore diminished landscapes and ecosystems, catch rainwater, build communities and much more. You could say that Permaculture encompasses horticulture, but it is much broader. The word comes from joining the two words: permanent and culture.” - Saskia Esslinger
I leave when the party is still in full swing and look back at the people framed in the lighted windows. They are enjoying good wine, home-brewed beer, food that was either caught or tended to with their own two hands and they are having a great time. So many people think that this kind of lifestyle is beyond their reach. I have heard people scoff at the ludicrous idea of not eating tomatoes because they’re not in season; and yet, when I have had a tomato in the dead of winter, on a sad version of a BLT, I’ve pulled it off. It was anemic, watery and tasted terrible. Like with so many things, people don’t know because they aren’t willing to try. I used to be someone who couldn’t fathom getting in the dirt on a daily basis; then I realized that it made sense for me to have a garden. It made sense not to buy chemical-laden products. It made sense to eat good food because it tasted good and to by-pass fast food because it didn’t. Matt and Saskia are way ahead of the game and it gives me hope and inspiration. They teach classes, attend workshops and most importantly, lead by example. Their
brand of consciousness requires more work than swinging by Carrs every time you run out of onions, but the payoff is evident. “I suppose some people who practice Permaculture may not see this big vision,” Saskia says. “They may be more focused on one of the other reasons such as saving money or eating fresh food, but to me the garden is just a symptom of the big vision. The rewards are infinite. There is amazing empowerment that comes from being able to provide for your own basic needs.” Permaculture is a merging of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and the Food Pyramid, ancient custom melding with trends in modernity and our current culture being held accountable for future cultures. But, as Matt and Saskia have so beautifully demonstrated, being more conscious is a pleasurable pill to swallow. "
Scrub your garden fresh beets and cut into one-inch chunks. Toss with olive oil, salt and pepper and spread out onto cookie sheets in a single layer so that they aren’t touching too much. Bake at 400° for about 20 minutes or until they can be easily pierced by a fork. Enjoy!
*Other root vegetables can be substituted, such as potatoes, carrots, turnips, parsnips or Jerusalem artichokes.
akpermaculture.ning.com rededgealaska.com Gaia’s Garden by Toby Hemmenway Permaculture: A Designer’s Manual by Bill Mollison
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South Side Culture
On a wing and a spoon
By David McElroy Photos by Edith Barrowclaugh Three peregrine falcons, high in a tree on a corner of our mid-hillside lot, were carrying on again with their high-pitched cries. It was late summer, and the juveniles wanted more food than ever. Although they were full-fledged and spectacularly airworthy, they were apparently not yet signed off to hunt. During the summer, weather permitting, we eat our meals out on our back deck. For a month this summer, the falcons entertained us with their family issues and rooftop swoops across the yard. The nightly rain we’d been experiencing stopped momentarily, so we wiped off the table to eat breakfast outside. Quite pleased to have our conversations interrupted by falcons, our own quest for food came to mind. It was a Saturday. Time to make our mental list (because the table is still too wet to write on) of things to buy at the market. While some complain that the moving of the Tap Root Café from Huffman, with its good food and live music, has left a hole in society here, we contend that culture (and art!) in South Anchorage still exists, especially in the genre of local organic food. Two good reasons for living here, in addition to falcon neighbors, are Summit Spice and Tea Shop, and the South Anchorage Farmers’ Market. That day, the sun was out and so were the shoppers. Unlike the impersonal super market experience, people were clearly having a good time striking up conversations with strangers, greeting old friends, fondling the snow apples and zucchini, tasting the cheeses and breads, and admiring the alchemy of sunlight shining through jars of jams and jellies. There is also the petting of one another’s dogs. Nothing rewards the needy personality so much as receiving a compliment about one’s dog, and nothing mellows a crowd so much as a few well-mannered canines in the midst. So the people were happy and, bless their hearts, paying with cash. Remember cash?
“A dollar goes from hand to hand,” is a line in an old blues song, reminding us of the obvious, but often forgotten, human connections in commerce. Of course, in the context of the song the simile is of a wayward woman … and the benefit to society, not so much. A couple sits on a curb eating barbequed ribs, their own little world at peace. “Make It, Bake It, Grow It, or Catch It,” would be an appropriate motto for the South Anchorage Farmers’ Market. It takes place every Saturday from May 8 to Oct. 2 in the Subway Arena parking lot off of Old Seward Highway opposite (in more ways than one) the entrance to Lowe’s. Starting from just a handful of tented booths a few years ago, the market has grown and is popular with the locals. Along with other vendors, in the summer months you will find fresh valley vegetables from the Rempel Family, VanderWeele, and Gray Owl Farms, fresh cheeses from the Matanuska Creamery made from milk supplied by the Havermeister Dairy, an original colonial farm, and organic whole wheat breads from Rise and Shine Bakery. Usually, there is a booth selling fresh seafood as well.
|8 To remind us that we live in a natural orbiting world, most of the goods on sale vary with what is in season. To over simplify, leafy greens dominate in early summer; fruit, squash, and root crops do so later. I watched as one man walked off to his car with a bright green bent zucchini the size of a child’s leg thrown over his shoulder. Signaling late summer; farmers’ market season nearing its end. A special feature of the South Anchorage Market is that to date it is ticky-tacky free. Some might wish for musicians, and this could be nice (depending), but if this happens would jugglers and mimes be far behind? Some might wish to attract the tourist business with bling-bling and T-shirts printed in Alaska but made in China. But we probably don’t need to further feed the Outside with images of our state as the home of moose-nugget jewelry and soap opera politicians. So far the market just carries real stuff for real people. As for other little nuggets of culture, if you’ve ever doubted the existence of art in South Anchorage, consider the craft that goes into artisan bread making. Try several of the breads made by Dan and Alison of the Rise and Shine Bakery. Their delectables once found at the old Tap Root Café, have found a new home. During the summer months they can be found at the Farmers’ Market; during
the winter blitz they sell their bread via website order with Wednesday pick ups available every other week at Rainbow Toys next to the Huffman Post office (with additional pick ups at Side Street Espresso on G Street). And then let’s have tea! First impressions matter, and perhaps the best part of the Summit experience happens when you simply walk in. The atmosphere is a rich amalgam of spices, teas and fair trade chocolate. Many locally prepared products are here as well: biscotti, sauces, vinaigrettes and Summit’s own house blends of teas and spices. To further lure you in and back again, owner Audrey Paule has a policy of recycling plastic bags that you bring in. In exchange for your bag of bags you can have a cup of spiced tea or hot chocolate. Periodic tasting events are held at the shop for food nerds wanting to learn more about specialty foods such as olive oils, chocolates, teas and balsamic vinegars. “The tastings give us a chance to gas about how things are made and blended, to compare different tastes of similar products, and to say something about their geography and history, too,“ says Audrey. I managed to get out of there with only two purchases of local products, a jar of Alaskan Umami Sauce and a bottle of Mosquito Mama’s marinade, and, of course, because I brought in bags
to recycle, a cup of hot spiced chocolate. As we headed up the road through the trees to our aerie we reflect on the several good reasons for living here. In addition to falcons, Summit and South Anchorage Farmers’ Market there are Title Wave Bookstore, Bear’s Tooth, and the new Tap Root Café, but they are to the north in Spenard, a distant part of the forest. "
Just because summer is over doesn’t mean you have to give up the quest for locally grown vegetables. Not much is growing right now, but Wednesdays at the Northway Mall is good place to find your roots. Also, use word of mouth. There are lots of farmers who will sell their winter wares if you’re willing to drive to the valley for them. Needing the winter carbs? Order some fine local artisan bread: Riseandshinebread.com Hot tea in the belly? Summitespiceandtea.com It’s gone now, but there are loads of contacts, recipes, and winter storage techniques: Southanchoragefarmersmarket.com FHideout.org
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Music i n the Rough
By Michelle Saport Photo by Clark Yarrington
Nick Petumenos and the Monday Night Society -Oct 5, 2010
The introductory column is at once awkward and brambling, ambitious and pragmatic, broad and abridged, and intimate and formal. Call it a first date. Music in the Rough is dedicated to the city’s live music with particular fondness for blues, jam, jazz, and open mics. Music that, like the diamonds in the appropriated phrase, is unpolished and uncut, but exceptional. Music that often gets skipped over. This week: jazz. Put lightly and politely, my experience with jazz is limited. I know it can make good background music and I lied about liking it on a freshman housing survey since I thought it would get me a more interesting roommate (it didn’t). I know that it’s always a two-sided coin … Jazz has an equally solid reputation for both background and active listening. Jazz is at once mellow and tense. It’s probably the most controversial and complicated music you’ll ever hear in an elevator as so-called muzak. And that’s about it. Jazz though, with its dual nature, has always intrigued me. Factor in as well that jazz is often improvised and rarely (or, rather, difficultly) duplicated note-for-note and you have the basis of what led me to conscript for a column on something I know little about. The first encounter was to be at Tap Root on Oct. 5 for Jazz After Dark, their recurring Monday night jazz event. I set off, after a little over a week’s worth of immersion had left my head swimming with a general idea of the difference between swing, hard bop, bebop, cool, fusion, and free subsets of jazz, but I had no idea how to classify what I heard beyond “jazzy.” An example of my ignorance: I made notes about a cello player, but as the Internet has so grandly demonstrated to me, most cellos involve sitting. So, post-research, I’m calling it an upright bass. I also needed to reaffirm that the “giant simple horn” they had was indeed a trombone. The house band every week is Nick Petumenos and the Monday Night Society, although jammers are welcome to join in. The night I went, the band had a bassist, drummer, guitarist, pianist, trombonist, and trumpeter on board for the evening. They swelled up briefly to include a singer and the aforementioned upright bassist. The temporary vocalist (blond, female, deep-voiced, and not
too scatty) provided the most recognizable musical anchor. Lyrics and vocals, after all, are found in pop music, pop-jazz fusion, and jazz. The upright bassist wore a fedora, played rabidly, and might be a regular member (upright basses are extraordinarily large instruments to carry around!) As for the rest of the band, no sheet music was used and every instrument had its solo. A bass solo sounds a bit like porn groove even at the forefront of a jazz composition. The trombone took the chance to caterwaul like a heavy metal vocalist. One of the horn instruments was reverbed with the classic muter that resembles a toilet plunger. The piano riff sounded almost classical. The drum solo was magnified by a resounding relaunch by all the other instruments. The solos cascaded through the Society seamlessly and seemingly without effort. Yet even when one instrument was playing lead and tooling on its own, every piece still fit together. The band maintained cohesion and a certain synchronicity in switching from one sound to another. Part of my ignorance toward the night can be blamed on trying to train myself all wrong (or trying to train myself period). I thought if I came armed with a general understanding of the different types of jazz and the music’s history, I’d be able to pin it down. The majority of jazz these days, however, is rarely straightforward or confined to one genre. Outside of staunch concert halls, maybe, performers tend to pull freely from the potpourri that is jazz history. While some jazz does have easily isolated components (e.g., solos, vocals), the music tends to encompass so many different attitudes, styles, and definitions that it’s difficult (especially for a beginner) to really distill it down for defining or reviewing purposes. Despite all this, the music is approachable (contrary to popular opinion) and, with a biergarten outside and Last Supper-length table inside, Tap Root is as good a place as any for a showcase of such jazz. It’s not a scene of berets and martinis out of a period piece; it’s still Anchorage after all. Michelle Saport isn’t from these parts. She briefly studied journalism (and neuroscience and math/philosophy and every other major) before taking time off to avoid student loans and experience life in different cities. She’s indecisive.
Make Mine Metal By Katie Blake In the last decade or so, live metal shows were in garages, warehouses and sometimes on the sly at the sand pits – that place now dotted with homes, or by Portage Glacier and rockin’ it en plein air style. I once saw an early Delmag at a Sled-head event where they played in front of a giant snow berm with headlights illuminating them. Where metal shows are no longer an underground event in Alaska, per se, it can still be a little tricky for promoters to find venues. There used to be a few clubs for those under 21. Now only Club Millennium holds the constant court, with the exception of places like Moose’s Tooth and Family Tree Presents, if they should have such acts on tap. Rock and metal promoters Dan Fiacco of Moose’s Tooth, Sarah Pedersen of Family Tree, and Kurt Bunde of AKSoul represent more than 30 years of understanding this unique market. Despite their experience, offering all-ages metal shows is a fairly risky business; a small population spread across a massive state and then sifted through the morass of musical taste to find potential fans to brave the weather for a show. Not to mention trying to convince parents that metal doesn’t mean tattoos and rage but an opportunity to enjoy live music safely. Pedersen says one of her goals is to make Alaska a viable market – to get booking agents to consider putting Alaska on the list when setting tour dates. Bunde, who has been producing rock and metal shows for 11 years, agrees with Pedersen. “One of the most interesting things I experienced when we first started AKSoul is how bad the reputations promoters had in Alaska. When dealing with vendors, sponsors and venues it was always cash up front and a suspicious look. Either they didn’t trust promoters or had no concept of what we were trying to do. After hearing horror stories of promoters blowing into town and selling
36 Crazyfists -Feb 24, 2006 tickets to a fictional show or them skipping out on bills to local vendors it became very apparent why people generally treated promoters with distrust.” Occasionally, outside acts have already heard about the enthusiastic crowds to be found in Alaska from their contemporaries. AKSoul brought up Straight Line Stitch and Twelve Tribes who are friends with homegrown metal Alaskan ambassadors, 36 Crazyfists. Without that positive word-of-mouth, promoters of all genres face time-intensive haggling that could cost them an open date. Promoters know and support local music, but picking opening bands can be difficult. Some of the bigger acts have final say in this, so holding audience-deciding challenges could end up as another ‘road to nowhere’. But there is a greater chance of that happening in this state. “Alaska is unique because if you lived in the lower 48 and were a local band you would rarely, if ever, get the chance to open for a national band,” says Pedersen. Katie Blake has done everything from selling tickets to hauling equipment and counting merchandise. For seven years she has been a promoter rep. She supports and is a fan of local music like Donkey Punch, The Hoons, and The Audio but still misses Daisy Chain and Freedom 49.
UAA Noon Music By Melissa Newton Although 50 or more students fill the Student Union, it appears few are there for the afternoon event. The performer takes his place on the stage. He begins to play, and suddenly, silence falls over the crowd, hanging in the air like an overpriced gaudy chandelier. Something very mysterious happens: the contemplative decision made by the audience. Sometime in the next five minutes they will unanimously decide if this performer is worthy of their attention. Slowly but surely, someone starts to clap. The others follow suit, and the success of the performer is obvious to everyone passing by in the hallway. Subtle, but still noticeable is the slight lessening of the bustling pace of the passing students. All attention is focused on the stage and hints of smiles become apparent. “I think these events bring a little more life to campus, and provide a break from
the more scholastic side of things,” says Eve Van Dommelen, a French major at University of Alaska, Anchorage. Noon Music has been taking place every Wednesday on the UAA campus for more than 20 years. It’s organized by Student Activities, and features a variety of musicians. The majority of those who perform are the best of the best when it comes to the local talent, and there are some performances by out-of-towners as well. The performers vary widely, and they provide a mixture of standards, classics and originals. “I like these events because they kind of keep students going during the middle of the week,” says Stephanie Stewart, an accounting major and employee of the Student Activities office. Stewart says she really likes working for student activities because she enjoys
organizing the events and knowing what’s going on around campus. These mid-week events provide an oasis of sorts for stressed out students, when assignments loom over their heads. They also provide the service of better acquainting students with the local music scene in anchorage. In turn, it gives local performers some exposure. At the end of the afternoon performance, the musician stands and bows at his roaring round of applause, knowing that he has brightened the day and perhaps lifted the spirits of some college students who, like himself, are struggling to make it. Born and raised in Kodiak, Melissa Newton is a sophomore at UAA, majoring in journalism and political science. She hopes to one day integrate journalism and politics into a viable career. FHideout.org
November | 11 F |
Baby spruce trees are not soft. Their needles seem to be designed to offset any cute appearance they may have due to their small size. Evolutionarily their prickliness may be a means to ensure that larger creatures do not trample them, but in my case, their grouchy exterior was not necessary. I was in the middle of field of baby spruce trees with the task of clearing away the grass and weeds that overflowed the space like water from a clogged tub. The field had walls, twenty-foot high chain link fence topped with barbwire; the large gate featured an enormous lock that the gentleman who brought me here thoughtfully locked on his way out. Technically I was a free person. I wasn’t in prison or a work camp. I was just a college kid with a summer job. Why the fence was so high was a mystery, no thief I could think of would go after baby trees, specially the needle bearing kind. I looked down and grabbed a handful of grass and pulled. It easily came up, but the blades cut down in my palm leaving trails of red. This was going to be a painful endeavor. I left the first tree and began to wander, classifying the various types of weeds contained in the well-protected field. Little orange striped spiders were abundant. The flora was damp; to aid in my weeding the company king had ordered the field be watered. This may or may not have made it easier to pull up weeds, but one thing it did do was have me soaked, muddy and cold. I am from a middle class American family and I was unfamiliar with physical discomforts. I also
came equipped with a false sense that money would appear when it was really needed. So with my middle class upbringing at my side I squeezed through the still-locked gates and made my way back to the headquarters of the landscaping company. The look on the secretary’s face was enough to tell me I’d done wrong; my actions were down right shocking. “I need gloves and I didn’t wear any boots.” I indicated my muddy canvas all-star chucks and soaked jeans. The boss king’s purple face appeared. “What the Fuck are you doing!?” “I need gloves.” “Did you fucking lock the gate?” I nodded. “Fuck! I don’t have the fucking time to fucking …” he continued talking but I had phased out. I was never a very good listener. As I examined the grimy office, with a rough carpet so stained its original color was long deceased, some part of me stayed aware enough to count the number of times he said some variant of ‘fuck.’ Twenty-four. Another, older man broke the tirade. “I need help in the lot,” he said to the king. “You can help run hoses,” he said at me. “Come along.” This new man was decent. He was a schoolteacher from the Bush taking his summer in the city and making some extra money by managing The Lot. The Lot was an expanse of somewhat paved areas crisscrossing across a steep hill. It was a maze of portable green houses and trees in koi pond-sized pots. The hoses were coiled in various locations and “Teach” and I would snake them through the plants thoroughly
By Jack Gette
watering each – even though it was sprinkling anyway. Teach not only knew the name of each plant but also what sort of environment it preferred, what it could be used for and other various plant personality quirks. I soaked it up like my jeans continued to soak up the mud. I asked questions about the plants and Teach reveled in my eagerness. The following day I arrived ready to help Teach on The Lot. There were two strangers in the office when I opened the door. They looked like they had just gotten back from a camping trip and they each sported their own accent, New Zealand for the fella and some Germanic flavor for the frau. Frau and Fella were trying make out some paperwork under the scowl of the receptionist. “Just get these foreign trash in the fucking field. So much fucking paperwork.” Purple-face King spat over the group. Teach slid in behind the King. “Ready to run the hoses?” he looked happy to see me. “All fucking three of them will be fucking weeding! You don’t need any fucking help in The Lot.” “But, someone who knows about biology, is making a study of…” “Weed-ing, fuck-ing. Weed-ing. John will drive them over, open the fucking gate.” John had been standing in the corner his hat was indistinguishable from his head, the two must have fused together over the years. _________
J P o B R h o Utree n WeED C ssKing E Frau The S Lot
It really did make sense, squatting to pee in the field. The way Frau just did it, so nonplused, like brushing hair away from the face – a fact of nature, we all pee. Honestly, with the squat and all the baby trees I couldn’t really see anything anyway. We spent our time quiet. Circling around the trees on some sort of demented amusement park ride. Our backs were hunched and our ungloved hands continuously pulled at the weeds, never getting them all, but clearing some breathing space. I was slow. The grass still cut into my hands and being gifted in stature just meant I had to bend and hunch even more. I wasn’t used to this. Fella and Frau took pity on me and when they had finished their rows they would jump onto mine and help finish it up. Guilt contaminated me. When a row was complete it was tea and talk time. Frau and Fella would get into couples debates over the intricacies of life, such as whether or not hot water and honey really constituted tea. They had been traveling all over the US. Somehow they had gotten a ticket that was more of a punch card that allowed them to take so many flights in one year. They would travel around and when the money ran out they would stop and work for a bit. Currently they were staying in a tent on someone’s estate of a yard outside of town.
Fella and Frau would take turns trying to convince me to work in a café serving tables. They said that is what they would do if they were me and American. But I was never good at customer interaction. If I were lucky they would tell me stories of their homes. Both had been raised on country farms and I internalized and romanticized their tales until my weeding of spruce trees began to blur with being some farmer on a small alpine farm. My mate and I would be happy and loving to each other, growing what we needed, isolated from the populated world. For two weeks the three of us worked side by side, spinning around the trees, breaking for stories and tea, sore day and night with continuously bleeding palms. We arrived back in the office when the trees ran out. “Keep the local girl on for odd jobs and fire the fucking foreigners,” Boss King commanded Secretary. “I quit.” “What?!” I walked up to the Boss King. “I quit.” “Get the fuck out!!” I got out. A couple of weeks later I received a letter from Fella and Frau with the name of a café owner they had met in town, the owner was looking for someone to help serve tables.
November | 13 F |
The Reign of November
The ghost at my back casts a shadow no bigger than a sparrow being but the battery sprung from the body and taken flight. Autumn brings jack-o-lantern smiles and Taku wind’s gusty wiles; bleak through branches laced with sea-salt, and boulders that rise from the beach like the very teeth of the sea. November grasps at us, clutches at us unaware— winter is the thief of light we do not protect from its surly fingers. November rain, so near to snow, is to our bones as first frost is to blossom and leaf. Winter robs the ember heat from our heartwood, our so very fragile skin, of the summer rays and twilight moments that we have managed to gather against the Season of the Moon. November sets ice to growing in places, places too tender to be left bare; as even the frost-laden air sears lungs open to the wind. Winter makes static riddles of open water. The ground deep-frozen, root-frozen, makes icebergs of our dead, makes arthritic elders of white birch and alder; where relentless winds have etched bough and limb with the dark season’s tale.
Evening Star, Zuni once said— live a sweet life learn to dance on the ashes of your loss.
I am thinking about parents showing children a miracle, a thing you just never think you’ll see;
A prayer, to which I add— Dervish dancing, slap and stomp, throw your hands up to Moon. The ash, a corona floating silver-grey— smudging your face, wet with fresh tears, will reflect the light back to Her.
On a night when it snowed in Baghdad for the first time in living memory
I am feeling the casual love of my mother, which I know blossoms into wolverines when it’s time. My childhood is made of snowflakes. My life is blessed drifts. Still - the bursting of a child’s face into chiming smiles over snow is magic.
| 14 FHideout.org
November | 15 F |
W.A.T.T. First Thursday Lessons From Portland
By Theodore Kincaid
Twenty-four years ago the Portland Art Dealer’s Association (also known as PADA) started the First Thursday events in Portland, OR. What I’ve gathered from the folks I’ve talked to, it was originally on Fridays and the first mass art opening in the United States. Either way if you have not been to one of these, you need to. It is a carnival! If we’re smart (Anchoragites) we can take a little bit of this and make it our own. A good portion of the galleries close up around 8pm and unfortunately I started the walk a bit late, maybe around 6:30 or so. (Back home you can see everything in half an hour, but then I have a ridiculously short attention span). I headed home with a head full of art-overload around 9:30pm and still had only seen one third of the galleries. The first shop I stepped into was Gallery 903 and it was ridiculously full of walking meat-sacks. Right then it dawned on me why the Anchorage art scene is struggling: we ain’t got no monies! The patrons were wearing the fruits of their careers on their hides swilling the gallery wine. This wasn’t only a retail outlet for art, it was also a social event for the wealthy, and they were there to network, glad-hand, talk shop and be seen. I could only imagine the pressure to purchase art so to illustrate their wealth and taste for their friends. No disrespect, the artwork was amazing, something of a group show with price tags that would look like my down payment on a beginner house, figures bouncing on the lower side of the seven digits. They were making a career as an artist a viable occupation. Galleries upon galleries later, I made it down to the Elizabeth Leach Gallery, also a large dollar and fanciful place, albeit small. They had two small rooms with an artist in each. I overheard a lady talk about how she wanted to buy two of the works there, a couple mixed media prints about four foot by eight boot tall with stickers asking for about eight grand each. There were more galleries to look at, one of which was the Blue Sky Photography Gallery. It is freakin’ gigantic! If you took a medium sized box store and made it into a series of galleries with each room showcasing one of four artists, that’s what it looked like. The thing about this 35-year-old gallery that got
my attention was how in an art market only five times the size of Anchorage this gallery is possible. In New York I could see it, but something about the population ration of 5:1 Portland:Anchorage, something this size and this successful just seemed awe-inspiring and jarring. Anchorage has a hard time keeping a couple contemporary art galleries alive and Portland has a specialized photography gallery larger than any gallery we have. Finally, I got down to the Everett Street Lofts, government-run series of galleries for artists to inhabit while they work on their projects. Part of the stipulation for using them is that you have to open your home up to the public one day a month with a show for First Thursday. Things are ratcheted down for these exhibits as quality and price plummet. Though that is not to say they are crap, a lot of these pieces are great design-wise but the quality is not there and neither are the moneybags. This part of the Downtown art scene is mostly kids and scenesters and it is near impossible to get into some of these small rooms. The thing I really liked about the Everett Street Lofts was the culture and happenings; the streets were packed with people, like beehives, the worker bees wiping the social pollen in their catacombs. The blocks surrounding the Everett Street Lofts teamed with excited people drinking wine and eating cheese as they watched bands playing for change on the street corners. A gal with an accordion played for her friend’s gallery, a street performer juggled fire, and others rode handmade oversized bicycles. Whether you are into the art on the wall or not, it is just a great reason to get out and enjoy people and culture for free, and if you bought some art, then great! For me this is the piece that sticks out in my head as the definitive aspect of Portland’s art scene. It might not be lucrative right up front, but maybe down the road it can be. Send hate mail to: HookHandMonkeyAss@yahoo.com Kincaid is a 6’2” and 230 pound artist who makes it a habit of getting run over while riding brightly colored motorcycles on public streets.
| 16 “briliantly crafted” - Tap Root
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