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Nearly 3,000 Runners Take to the Streets! p. 10
Charter Schools Are They for Students or for Profit? p. 8
Tricks and Treats for You p. 35 and the Little ‘Uns p. 11
Campaign Strategies p. 4 · Ott p. 16 · Lera Lynn p. 19 · Gov’t Mule p. 24 · Schtick or Treat p. 26
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Charter Schools Takeover Charter schools = good, when local and public. Charter schools by out-of-town corporations using public money = bad. Amendment #1 would allow out-of-town corporations to run charter schools for their own profit, subsidized by public funds siphoned away from our public schools. Amendment #1: Vote NO!
Signs of the Times Somebody is pulling up Obama signs in Five Points. Sue Wilde has been walking around the neighborhood, and she remarked to husband Ed Wilde that she thought it strange there were so few Obama signs. After talking with neighbors, the Wildes found out that itâ€™s hard to keep an Obama sign up. Janice Flory, on Catawba, has lost two, as have her neighbors on Highland Terrace. A woman on Milledge Circle stopped putting hers out because thieves were trampling her flowers when they stole her signs. Dennis Waters, also on Milledge Circle has lost two and is considering video surveillance. Flory says she doesnâ€™t think the sign thefts deserve much attention; she attributes them to kids playing pranks. She says she just got replacements and distributed them to the neighbors, and at the end of last week they were still up.
Darwin vs. McCommunist Congressman Paul Brounâ€™s latest outburst trashing scientific thought focused national attention again on Georgia, since it made rich fodder for television and YouTube (where you can see it). Brounâ€™s latest antics spawned a petition asking the Speaker to remove him from the House science committee, but more disturbingly, it brought forth a new protest write-in candidacy with the potential to dilute the growing strength of the anti-Broun write-in campaign for Pete McCommunist. The idea is to get as many votes as possible for a symbolic protest vote against Broun. Thatâ€™s all we can do, because the Democrats declined to run a candidate against him. Some, like my friend Dennis Waters, who believe a protest vote is warranted, have started a campaign to write in Pete McCommunist. Now comes the counter campaign for Charles Darwin. I personally would hate to see the protest vote split among two or more candidates, and it is too late to hold a protest primary to decide who will go up against Broun. Now, I know Pete McCommunist, even though he does not actually exist, and I know he has only the best interests of Athens and the 10th District at heart. I have to acknowledge, though, that Charles Darwin might make a stronger candidate, especially where science is concerned. And, although McCommunist is probably better known in Athens, Darwinâ€™s name no doubt more strongly resonates with voters throughout the district. So, please donâ€™t think me biased when I bring up the fact that Charles Darwin is dead. While it is true that this was not an impediment to voting in Georgia prior to the requirement of a photo ID, it has rarely been an advantage for a candidacy. I would argue that in the scientific universe which Broun inhabits, an imaginary candidate beats a dead one. As a medical doctor, even one with Brounâ€™s bizarre beliefs, he probably accepts the reality of death. But Broun lives by his imagination, and his fantasies have turned him into a powerful votegetter. Thatâ€™s why I believe an imaginary candidate pulls more weight against him than one who is legendary but deceased. I defer to the will of the voters. If you think Darwin makes the stronger candidate, let me know, and Iâ€™ll switch faster than you can say Mitt Romney. Meanwhile, here in Athens, the seat of the University of Georgia, alma mater of Congressman Paul Broun, Jr., we must protest. He does not represent those of us who believe that science is the very essence embodied in the motto that has guided the university for over 200 years: â€œEt docere et rerum exquirere causasâ€”Both to teach and to inquire into the causes of things.â€? (Yeah, I know; the university has corrupted its own motto, which is written in clear and straightforward Latin. The university pretends that it says something about â€œservice.â€? Perhaps they consulted Congressman Broun for advice on how to ignore reality.) Pete McCommons email@example.com
News & Features Athens News and Views
Rep. Paul â€œPit of Hellâ€? Broun is here to stay, and Terrapin praises ACC.
Athens Rising . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6
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Arts & Events The Reader . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 34 Neverending Battles
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Upstart Roundup . . . . . . . . . . . . 18 Introducing Athensâ€™ Newest Talent
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$ CITY DOPE. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 CITY PAGES . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 CAPITOL IMPACT. . . . . . . . . . . . 5 ATHENS RISING . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 WILKES. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7 CHARTER SCHOOLS. . . . . . . . . 8 ATHHALF MARATHON . . . . . . . 10 KIDDIE DOPE . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11 GRUB NOTES . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12 WTH? ATHENS. . . . . . . . . . . . . 13 MOVIE DOPE. . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14 MOVIE PICK . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15
THREATS & PROMISES. . . . . . 16 OTT. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .16 UPSTART ROUNDUP . . . . . . . . 18 LERA LYNN. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19 THE CALENDAR!. . . . . . . . . . . 20 BULLETIN BOARD. . . . . . . . . . 28 ART AROUND TOWN . . . . . . . . 29 COMICS. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30 REALITY CHECK. . . . . . . . . . . 31 CLASSIFIEDS . . . . . . . . . . . . . 32 CROSSWORD . . . . . . . . . . . . . 33 THE READER. . . . . . . . . . . . . . 34 MISCELLANY. . . . . . . . . . . . . .35
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Oren Jack Turner
Frouning at Broun: Rep. Paul Broun’s recent an email from co-founder and President John statements that the Big Bang and evolution Cochran tells a different story. are “lies straight from the pit of Hell,” the “Over the years, I have heard business ownEarth is 9,000 years old and it was literally ers complain about how hard it is to work created in six days have the rest of the counwith the ACC government,” Cochran wrote to try wondering, yet again, just what exactly is the mayor and commission Oct. 5, three days in the water in Georgia’s 10th Congressional after the vote to approve the zoning change. District. “I have to say, my opinion at this point is the Bill Nye the Science Guy pronounced Broun exact opposite. Admittedly, it was a learnunfit to serve on the House Committee on ing process for us to figure out the proper Science, Space, and Technology. A group of steps to take leading up to Terrapin’s rezone University of Georgia science professors wrote application. However, at each step of the way, an open letter explaining something that everyone at the planning department, as well ought to go without saying: Their teachings as the mayor’s office and the commission, has are based on evidence, not their own personal gone out of their way to help us whenever beliefs. Charles Pierce, proprietor of Esquire’s possible. “ terrific political blog, took local Democrats to task for not running anyone against Broun. Money Can’t Buy Me Love: Carter Kessler is “We do everything we can to encourgoing to find out if the Beatles were right. age people to engage politically and to run He has poured $90,000 of his own money as Democrats,” Clarke County Democratic into his longshot race for the state House of Committee Chairman Joe Wisenbaker told Representatives against Democrat Spencer Pierce. “Last time, we Frye, who has raised had a good candidate, less than half that a lawyer named Russell amount, according Edwards, and he went to campaign finance to work full-time records. The libertarian to run against Paul Republican has raised Broun, and he got a only about $1,000 third of the vote.” from other sources. He Since every time says he knew going Broun goes cuckoo in that mainstream for Cocoa Puffs, it Republicans wouldn’t sparks another round support him, but he’s of embarrassment, intent on upending the here’s why getting rid GOP establishment. of him is impossible. It’s hard to imagAthens Democrats, to ine thousands of their eternal chagrin, voters in the heavily are responsible for Democratic district putting him into office pulling the lever for in the first place. He President Obama, then Ever wonder why Albert Einstein had such crazy won 90 percent of the switching over to the hair? To hide his horns. vote in Clarke County Republican side downin a 2007 special elecballot; hardly anyone tion runoff against Augusta Republican Jim splits tickets anymore. But Kessler is making Whitehead—who had suggested that UGA a concerted effort to appeal to black voters, ought to be blown up, except for the football spending $3,000 to advertise on gospel stateam—providing Broun’s 494-vote margin of tion WXAG, as well as buying ads in Zebra victory. Incumbent congressmen are like bedmagazine. Frye, meanwhile, is ramping up his bugs: No matter what you do, they keep comcampaign with a fundraiser at 5:30 p.m. ing back again and again. Wednesday, Oct. 17, at the CCDC headquarIn 2008, another Augusta Republican, ters in the Chase Street warehouses. Barry Fleming, spent $1 million trying to off Broun, only to win a mere 29 percent. That A Public Service Announcement: The AthensNovember, Bobby Saxon, a Democratic Iraq Clarke Heritage Foundation has two upcoming war veteran from Nicholson, won 39 percent events that sound like fun. Preservation expert of the vote. As Wisenbaker noted, Edwards Jonathan Poston will speak at the UGA Chapel won 33 percent of the vote in 2010. And just Wednesday, Oct. 17, at 6 p.m., followed by this past July, another veteran, Republican a reception at the newly-renovated former Stephen Simpson of Milledgeville, garnered 31 Lamar Dodd School of Art building, now home percent of the vote against Broun. to the College of Environment and Design. What did these campaigns have in comACHF Executive Director Amy Kissane says UGA mon? They all attempted to paint Broun as an architects “did a really great job with it.” unhinged extremist. But the fact is, outside On Thursday, Oct. 25, is a pub crawl of the cozy blue confines of Athens, most of his five downtown watering holes in historic constituents agree with him. When Broun says buildings—The Branded Butcher, Volstead, the things that make Athens liberals slap their Mad Hatter, Walker’s and the Grotto—featuring foreheads, it only makes him more popular a different Terrapin beer at each stop. The in the rest of the district. deadline to register is Friday. See www.achfonline.org for more. Business Unfriendly?: Athens-Clarke commissioners are constantly pushing back But Wait! There’s More: News than we can against the notion in some circles that they fit into this column, that is. Bookmark are unfriendly to business. Commissioner Ed Flagpole.com, like us on Facebook.com/ Robinson spoke at length earlier this month FlagpoleMagazine and follow me on Twitter @ about what an awful time Terrapin Beer Co. BlakeAued. had securing permission to put a gravel parking lot at its Newton Bridge Road brewery, but Blake Aued firstname.lastname@example.org
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city pages 18–25. As for pedestrian crosswalks, “you’re playing dodging cars when you try to go across the street,” said Mayor Nancy Denson. Cars are supposed to stop when a pedestrian approaches a marked crosswalk, Jones said, Concerned about state laws that cripple but “people just disregard it.” speed-limit enforcement on local streets, Commissioners also will ask the legislaAthens-Clarke commissioners will ask state tors what’s next to fund transportation, since legislators next month to to revise the laws. area voters rejected a local sales-tax increase. Concerns about speed traps have led to “What’s Plan B?” asked commissioner Mike laws that bar local police from using radar in Hamby, perhaps a 0.25 percent Athens-only many places. For example, officers must be sales tax that could fund just the transportavisible from 500 feet away. Yet many subdivition projects that locals really want? “…Many sions have no sidewalks, Commissioner Andy of us had reservations about a lot of the bigHerod pointed out at last week’s work session, ticket projects,” Commissioner Kelly Girtz said. and speeding cars are a frequent complaint. And commissioners offered no objections “We need to ask our legislators to help us to allowing the planned Hyatt Place hotel to stop speeding in our subconnect internally with divisions,” Commissioner “You’re playing dodging the county-owned Classic Mike Hamby said. Center convention hall Municipal Court Judge cars when you try to go next door. “You get a lot Leslie S. Jones told more interest from the across the street.” commissioners that the meeting planners” who legislature will look at book conventions, said streamlining Georgia’s traffic laws during Rosser International architect John Wyle, if a its next session. Some traffic misdemeanors hotel entrance connects the center directly. might be reduced to less serious civil offenses And although he denied that conventioneers if ways can be found to enforce them. State fear walking Athens streets, Classic Center prosecutors oppose such changes, Jones said, Director Paul Cramer said bookings could while a defense attorney’s group favors them. “increase dramatically” if the adjacent hotel Even civil laws can be very effective in had an internal entrance to the Classic Center. reducing traffic violations, she said, citing The commission meets with area legislathe dramatic reduction in red-light running tors twice yearly. Next month, they will also where cameras have been installed in Athens. ask state lawmakers to give the county back Although legislators “have not been very much its former commission districts (which include in favor of red-light cameras,” challenges to two “superdistricts,” each covering half the their use have failed in the courts, Jones said. county) and to return commission elections to Commissioner Andy Herod asked about using their earlier November date. State Rep. Doug cameras to enforce speed limits, as well. They McKillip, who blocked the locally approved are widely used in Britain, he said. commission district map last spring, lost his Traffic offenses are a serious matter, Jones re-election bid in July. said. “People speed all the time,” and accidents are the biggest killer of people age John Huie email@example.com
Commission Tackles Neighborhood Speeding
Athens Leader in Classic Boots Since 1975
Whatâ€™s a few tax dollars among friends? Itâ€™s become the tax break for developers that no one in state government can figure out how to give away. On the last day of the 2011 session, the General Assembly passed legislation, House Bill 234, to give the developers of â€œtourist attractionsâ€? a tax credit equal to 25 percent of their construction costs. Developers of amusement parks, resorts and other tourism destinations would be able to recoup their expenses by holding on to 25 percent of the sales tax revenues generated by the tourist attraction. One of those who stood to benefit from the tax break was Rep. Earl Ehrhart (R-Powder Springs), who was part of a group proposing to build a baseball and entertainment complex in Bartow County costing an estimated $1 billion, which would have meant a $250 million tax payback. Ehrhart and his colleagues never did get that tax breakâ€”nor has anyone else. Rep. Ron Stephens (R-Savannah), the billâ€™s primary sponsor, asked the governorâ€™s office about the possibility of the a break being for the developer of a convention hotel near Savannah. Deal said he had some â€œconcernsâ€? with the hotel proposal, and the tax break was not granted. More recently, the developers of a Westin hotel at Jekyll Island state park inquired about the tax break. Once again, it was no sale. â€œThat investment needs to be made on a level playing field with other competing hospitality businesses on the island and in the area,â€? Deal spokesman Brian Robinson said. â€œThe governor has said weâ€™re not going to use this sales tax rebate in instances where the new entity competes with existing Georgia job providers.â€? With this piece of legislation, the devil is in the details. Tax experts with two state agencies have tried to draft regulations for administering the tax rebate equitably but have been unable to come up with a workable solution.
Several provisions of HB 234 raised concerns. One is the low threshold of eligibility; you could qualify for the tax break if your project cost as little as $1 million. Another concern was that the final decision to award the tax break would be made by the governor. Thatâ€™s unprecedented for a tax incentive. In all other cases, a business either qualifies for an exemption or it doesnâ€™t, and approval doesnâ€™t depend on the governorâ€™s say-so. Critics of the bill pointed out the obvious: Giving any governor the final authority to grant a lucrative tax break could result in decisions benefitting political cronies. Another bill may be introduced next session to try to fix the problems with the tourist tax credit, but it could have just as tough a time getting through the General Assembly as the original bill did. Legislation similar to HB 234 was passed during the administration of Gov. Sonny Perdue, but Perdue vetoed the measure because he said it would set a bad precedent. HB 234 barely made it to final passage at the end of the 2011 session. It passed in the House by a 91-73 margin only after Speaker David Ralston cast a rare vote to give it a constitutional majority. The bill ran into opposition among some lawmakers during debate. Rep. Mark Hatfield (R-Waycross) described HB 234 as â€œlegalized extortion,â€? while Rep. Jason Spencer (R-Woodbine), a tea party member from Camden County, said the tax break was a handout by state government to big businesses that donâ€™t need subsidies from taxpayers. Their comments angered House leadership, but Hatfield and Spencer were correct. The governor and legislators usually hand out tax breaks and financial incentives to any lobbyist who comes along with a halfway plausible proposition. On this one, they canâ€™t figure out how to give taxpayersâ€™ money away.
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athens rising Whatâ€™s Up in New Development Walking through Athensâ€™ historic downissue. So, what then? Do those with the larger town on an early October day, I canâ€™t help but economic interests take precedence? Does imagine what this place means to everyone the steering committee have the final say? else as I encounter a diverse representation Does the majority win? If majority rules, what of inhabitants: street musicians, old men in about othersâ€™ interests? Are they simply out of suits, a student hurrying to class, a panhanluck? How will the master plan dictate what dler, a mother running errands. happens to our city? How do we navigate our Since I arrived here, the downtown area community values and individual preferences? has been an integral part of my life. Itâ€™s a Furthermore, what are our community values? place to eat, stroll, people watch or enjoy cofA community should provide an environfee while writing. More than functional, down- ment in which its citizens can be happy. This town is beautiful! The essence of Athens, with is a constructive relationship: Our community its laid-back, quirky attitude, shines through is as much a product of our actions as it is a every storefront. Every block presents somefactor in steering us towards positive action. thing straight-up cool, whether it be a mural This definition can be used for any commuor a semi-demolished wall. With all it has to nity. But what is unique here? What is the offer, itâ€™s no wonder that people turned out to essence of Athens? University of Georgia College of Environment Once this question is answered, let the and Design professor Jack Crowleyâ€™s presentaplanning begin. How do we preserve and tion regarding the downtown master plan at a enhance those aspects of the city we wish to Federation of Neighborhoods meeting. promote? What scene do we want to emphaOne lady in front of me posed a good size? More bars? More music venues? More art question: What exactly is a master plan? galleries? More affordable housing for musiIt is a tool that outlines the future of our cians and artists? More parks? More parking? city through 2030, and its process provides Better public transit options? citizens a forum to voice their input. Unfortunately, after that question, the remainder of the meeting dissolved into the entire room posing their concerns about their individual property. So goes a town hall meeting. While I was more interested in what Crowley had to say than why some woman couldnâ€™t get home insurance, I am pleased that the master plan is so focused on gathering citizen input. There will be several public meetings where one can voice opinions, and Crowley will be meeting with a variety of groups interested in downtown planning. Later, The Athens Farmers Market outside City Hall on Wednesdays shows how downthere will be meetings town serves as a gathering place. for citizens to vote on matters like whether a street should be one way or two ways and How we do this in terms of infrastructure whether College Avenue should be turned into and land use is the question at hand. What is a pedestrian mall. the right thing to do to better ourselves, not One factor the planners will consider is as individuals, but as a community, which is how to relate downtown to the North Oconee greater than just the sum of its inhabitants? River. No connection? A footpath? A new Only an omniscient view can tell what the riverside development? Reutilizing existing ideal design is. It is the role of the city plannearby structures? The latter is my preferred ner to get as close to the ideal as possible. option. Without further intrusion upon the After learning of all relevant interests, the river, Athenians could enjoy a coffee with a planner should be the one to decide. Economic great view. With its close proximity, how can interests, moral values and political leverage a downtown district ignore a potentially great will be ever-present factors. The planner must gathering place? balance these forces and do whatâ€™s best for Parking certainly will be a hot topic. At the city as a whole. the meeting, ideas were already tossed around As Crowley said, we are â€œbetter off encouron how to encourage public transit, increase aging a good thing than preventing a bad parking, decrease parking, etc. Nearby resithing.â€? Letâ€™s figure out what is this good dents expressed concern about visitors parking thing we want to encourage, then work in neighborhoods if the downtown district towards achieving that. Within a year, we doesnâ€™t properly accommodate them. I donâ€™t should have an idea of what the future of the blame them; I wouldnâ€™t like my street packed townâ€™s center should be. For the time being, with cars and bar-goers loudly stumbling back it is our duty to consider these questions and past my porch. participate in the process. With the diverse interests Athens has, itâ€™s a slim chance everyone will agree on any Kellan Lyman
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Perversion of Justice
A Double Murder in Henry County Re-examined “Now I don’t know how killers normally work, but I would guess that if you had just blown two people’s brains all over the place, you would not stand alongside the road waiting for the police, with a shotgun in your hand, particularly if you were black.” —Charles L. Sargent
harles L. Sargent, a retired Georgia businessman, has written a book that everyone should read and none should forget. It is (amazingly) the first book ever written about one of the most shocking perversions of criminal justice in the history of this state. Sins of Henry County (privately published, available from Amazon, 2012) tells the true but terrifying and tragic story of an innocent man who was railroaded by corrupt police and sent to Georgia’s death row, and of the brutal double murder for which he was framed: execution-style killings which remain unsolved after nearly 40 years. Marvin King, 38, band director at Jonesboro High School, and Melanie Ann Hartsfield, 19, who attended Clayton County Junior College and was one of King’s former students, were murdered together on a lonely dirt road in a rural part of Henry County around 2:30 p.m. on Nov. 7, 1974. Both victims where white. They were probably taken to the isolated site at gunpoint. While standing near King’s parked car with their backs to their killer, each victim was shot from behind with a shotgun. When they had fallen face-down on the ground, each was shotgunned a second time—this time in the back of the head, causing instant death. The headshots were classic coup de grace wounds designed to make certain the victims did not survive. The killer (perhaps with an accomplice) dragged the bodies to a thicket about 100 feet away and covered them with a blanket taken from King’s car. The car was then driven off and abandoned in a field three miles away. The only person ever charged with or convicted of the murders was innocent. He was Jerry Banks, a 23-year-old married black man with three children, whose home was less than a mile from the murder site. Jerry Banks was out hunting with a flimsy, break-top singleshot shotgun when he discovered the bodies about two hours after the slayings. He flagged down a passing motorist, asked him to call police, and patiently waited there for over an hour until police arrived. When they did arrive, Banks led them to the bodies and cooperated fully. Nevertheless, a month after the murders, Banks was arrested and charged with committing them. He was indicted by the grand jury one month later, and put on trial the following month. The trial, which lasted all of four days, resulted in guilty verdicts, and on Jan. 31, 1975, Banks received two death sentences. We now know that the criminal proceedings against Jerry Banks were trumped-up. The case against him was a frameup masterminded by police—the Henry County Sheriff’s Office—in charge of investigating the crime. (Because it would require too much space, this book review omits discussing the reasons Sins of Henry County gives as to why police framed Banks.) The evidence of guilt was entirely circumstantial and, except for the ballistics evidence, extremely weak. The ballistics evidence itself was fraudulent in that it was based upon empty shells police planted at the crime scene after firing Banks’ shotgun. Police who testified repeatedly committed perjury. Exculpatory evidence was suppressed by police. Furthermore, police at the crime scene failed to perform basic investigatory procedures. For example, instead of taking photographs or making casts of suspicious shoe prints they simply made drawings of them! They showed little interest in the old shotgun Banks was holding when they arrived. They didn’t check to see if it had been recently fired; they didn’t inquire what shotgun shells Banks had; they didn’t look to see if there was a spent round in the chamber. To compound the injustice, Banks’ incredibly inept defense attorney did not adequately investigate or prepare to try the case; and, to put in mildly, he was an unskillful practitioner in the courtroom, utterly failing to mount a meaningful challenge to the evidence against his client. He put only two witnesses on the stand. (The lawyer was later disbarred.) Although there is no solid proof that they knew police were framing Banks for a crime he did not commit, prosecutors— the Henry County District Attorney’s Office—must have realized that their theory of the murders was highly unlikely and extremely difficult to believe. A reasonable prosecutor would
have noticed that the police investigation was suspiciously irregular and that Banks probably was not guilty. As Sins of Henry County points out, the prosecution’s case requires us to believe that (1) for no apparent motive, Banks murdered, execution-style, two people he had never seen before in broad daylight using an old, single-shot weapon; (2) Banks dragged two bloodied corpses over 100 feet; (3) Banks walked back to Marvin King’s car, retrieved a blanket, returned to the bodies, and covered them; (4) Banks went back to the murder scene, entered that car and drove it a distance of three miles; (5) Banks left the car and returned on foot to the murder site where he waited for an hour or so for police to arrive; (6) Banks did all this without getting any blood on himself or leaving any fingerprints on the car; and (7) rather than trying to dispose of it, Banks decided to keep possession of the alleged murder weapon he still had in his hands at the murder scene when police arrived.
On appeal the following September, the Georgia Supreme Court reversed the convictions and sentences because police had concealed evidence concerning the identity of the motorist that Banks had flagged down and asked to call police. Four days after Banks was sentenced to death, the motorist contacted the trial judge and told the judge that he had been flagged down by Banks and that he had accordingly then called police over the telephone, giving them his name in the process. Prior to the trial he had even talked with the sheriff, whom he knew, about whether and when he would be called to testify at Banks’ trial. The sheriff told him “that he didn’t think they would need my testimony.” Banks’ attorney had not put the motorist on the stand at the trial because his identity was unknown to the defense. At that trial police, including the sheriff, had adamantly denied knowing the identity of the motorist that Banks told them he flagged down. Following the reversal, prosecutors cynically offered to drop their request for the death penalty and to settle for a life imprisonment sentence if Banks would plead guilty. Banks refused the offer. Coercing defendants charged with a capital crime to plead guilty in exchange for taking the death penalty off the table is a common practice among American prosecutors. Capital punishment is thus transformed into a prosecutorial bludgeon. Is this a proper purpose of the death penalty—using it as a weapon to extract guilty pleas? A number of inmates, incidentally, have been put to death solely
because they would not plead guilty, tarnishing and discrediting both capital punishment itself and the plea bargaining system. Executions should be based on guilt and culpability, not on what plea the defendant entered. Executing someone as punishment for invoking the right to a trial is repugnant. Barely two months after the Georgia Supreme Court reversed his convictions and death sentences, Banks was retried. Once more he was convicted of both murders and sentenced to death. The retrial lasted only two days. “The second trial was a bigger joke than the first,” Sins of Henry County acidly observes. The case for the prosecution was identical to the case presented at the first trial. For a second time Banks’ incompetent defense attorney did a terrible job for his client. Once again he called only two witnesses to the stand (one of whom was the motorist Banks had flagged down). Nonetheless, on appeal in July 1976 the Georgia Supreme Court upheld the convictions and sentences. Two years later the same court, in a habeas corpus proceeding, curiously held that Banks had not been denied the effective assistance of counsel at the retrial. In the summer of 1978, Banks, now represented by new, pro bono attorneys, filed an extraordinary motion for a new trial. At a hearing on the motion the attorneys presented a mass of newly discovered evidence that Banks was innocent. Much of the new evidence had been known to police within days of the murders but hidden from Banks’ defense counsel. After the trial court denied the motion on the strange ground that the new evidence was merely cumulative, Banks appealed to the Georgia Supreme Court, which in June 1980 reversed the denial of the motion and awarded Banks a new trial. The Henry County district attorney promptly announced that he would try Banks for a third time, but changed his mind when Banks’ attorneys produced even more evidence that Banks was innocent and that his trial had been unfair. On Dec. 22, 1980 the charges were dismissed, and Banks was released. He had been imprisoned as an accused or convicted double murderer for over six years, with three of those years spent on death row in a state prison. Banks joyously returned to his home and was reunited with his wife and children. He soon discovered, however, that while he was imprisoned his wife had fallen in love with another man and wanted a divorce. After all that had happened to him, Banks couldn’t handle this jolting news. He was suffering from terrific headaches; he was mentally and emotionally crushed; and he was afraid of losing custody of his children. On Mar. 29, 1981, Banks shot his wife and then himself. He died; his wife survived in a coma for a month before also passing away. Banks’ last written words: “They had taken all that I had, all that I held dear to me.” None of the corrupt police who deliberately framed an innocent man and tried to railroad him into the electric chair were ever held civilly or criminally accountable for their enormous illegalities. Nor did any of them ever truthfully acknowledge their wrongdoing. Banks’ prosecutors never acknowledged his innocence, never admitted that he had received unfair trials, never confessed that they had made a catastrophic mistake. Sins of Henry County admirably recounts both a horrifying perversion of criminal justice and an immense human tragedy. A talented musician and a beautiful young woman were methodically and cruelly murdered. The members of their families were devastated beyond description. An innocent man was diabolically framed, twice sentenced to electrocution and imprisoned for years. That innocent man, driven by the horrors of his experience, ended up killing himself and his wife, leaving their three children orphans. Prosecutors, seemingly oblivious to police misconduct, relentlessly pursued a capital murder prosecution against a defendant any reasonable person would have realized was probably innocent. Conscienceless officers perverted our criminal justice system and then escaped all liability. And finally, to crown all, a cold-blooded murderer and his probable accomplices committed the most horrific crime in the history of Henry County and then got away with it. Sins of Henry County impresses upon us the profundity of something a Georgia judge said nearly a century ago: “One of the most dangerous manifestations of evil is the lawlessness of the ministers of the law.” For this reason, Sins of Henry County is an essential book. Buy it. Read it. And never forget it. Donald E. Wilkes, Jr.
OCTOBER 17, 2012 · FLAGPOLE.COM
Charter School Amendment For Students or For Profit? In
taught a “gifted” curriculum that’s meant to strengthen reading and math skills through lessons in subjects such as television production or gardening. As a charter school, it has the flexibility to change its curriculum in exchange for higher academic targets, according to CCSD. The career academy blends high school classes with other skills needed in the workforce. When a group approached the school district early last year about starting a third charter school in the district—nicknamed STEAM for its science, technology, engineering, arts and math curriculum—initial discussions didn’t show much of a difference between the STEAM curriculum and the one already offered throughout the district, where students have access to computer labs, art and music, and specialized math instruction, Clarke County School Superintendent Phil Lanoue says. Ultimately, the group proposing the STEAM curriculum, which also approached several other school districts across Georgia, never made a formal proposal to the school board, he says. “The bigger issue is the control of who makes the decisions of the schools
“If a charter school wants to apply for a statewide attendance zone, they do not have to go to the Clarke County school board for any sort of review process,” says Bryan Long of Better Georgia, an Athens-based progressive group. “If they apply as a statewide attendance zone, they go straight to the state bureaucracy of political appointees. That’s where the chaos comes in.” State Sen. Bill Cowsert, R-Athens, who supports the amendment, credits CCSD for creating two charter schools. “From what I’ve observed, local school boards have embraced the concept of charter schools,” Cowsert says. But not all school districts have been open to charter schools, even when the proposals set high standards and would benefit students, says Mark Peavy, the former head of the Charter Schools Commission who now heads up the pro-amendment Families for Better Public Schools. “It’s clearly not a willy-nilly approval process,” he says. “The ones we’ve approved have, in many cases, been rejected for very subjective reasons.” From its founding in 2008 to the Supreme Court’s ruling in 2011, the Charter Schools
2007, parents in Greene County’s Reynolds Plantation—home to some of the richest and politically best connected people in the state— petitioned to open a charter school. The proposal split wealthy, white newcomers near Lake Oconee and mostly black, poorer longtime residents in the northern part of the county. Charter school supporters wanted to pull their children out of private schools and subpar public schools; opponents called it a private school at public expense and a throwback to Jim Crow. After pitched battles in Greensboro and Atlanta, the state Board of Education eventually approved Lake Oconee Academy. Proponents tweaked attendance lines to allow anyone in Greene County to apply, although students who live in the gated communities near the lake still get preference. Right around that time, state Rep. Keith Heard, D-Athens, says he started hearing talk at the Capitol of a new, easier way to approve charter schools. Then, in 2008, the legislature created the state Charter Schools Commission. But in 2011, the state Supreme Court struck down that law, ruling that the Georgia Constitution gives local school boards the sole authority to open charter schools. Republicans—backed up by right-wing advocacy groups and for-profit school management companies—leapt into action, voting last spring to put Amendment 1 on the Nov. 6 ballot, asking voters to reauthorize the Charter Schools Commission. If it passes, Heard says he expects more Lake Oconee Academies in the future. “I don’t want to see us go back to the way we were in this state,” he says. “Resegregation. Let’s call it what it is.”
Local Control Of course, charter school advocates say the charter school amendment is about improving education, not race. The status quo isn’t working, says Jim Geiser, who worked at an inner-city charter school in Baton Rouge, LA and now runs an internship program at the University of Georgia. “Kids who are dropping out, and kids who are refusing to go Karen Solheim and Bob Googe discuss charter schools at an Oct. 9 forum at Clarke Central High School. to public school in the first place, the kids who choose private school, home going into your area,” Lanoue says. “Can Commission approved 14 of about 80 applicaschool,” Geiser says. “They’re choosing those someone else make a decision?” tions, Peavy says, denying accusations that because they see the results of traditional Incoming state Rep. Regina Quick, the board will be a rubber stamp. About 100 public schools.” R-Athens, has raised similar concerns. She have been approved statewide. The fight is not over charter schools, hasn’t taken a position on the amendment, “If you’re not doing something new or betthough. It’s over who has the power to but says she has serious qualms about state ter than your local district, perhaps it’s not approve them. bureaucracy run amok. “From a government really justified why you need a charter school Clarke County school officials say that accountability standpoint, I’m having difhere,” he says. they—not an appointed state board—should ficulty taking local control away from local Geiser, the reform advocate originally from be the ones to decide whether charter schools districts,” Quick says. Louisiana, says he’s seen how a charter school are right for this community. And the county Under the current system, any group can can engage both parents and students. It’s Board of Education has already approved propose a charter school to their local school about a balance of choice, he says, and he two charter schools, Judia Jackson Harris board. If the proposal is denied, the group can feels Clarke County can do better. Elementary and the Athens Community Career appeal to the state Department of Education. “In a lot of these charter schools that are Academy, a vocational high school that’s a Amendment 1 would create a separate, sevenserving the inner city community, the school partnership with UGA, Athens Tech and the member board, appointed by the governor, goes out to them,” he says. “We would go anti-poverty group OneAthens. president of the state Senate and speaker of out to the public housing projects; we would These schools opened to address students’ the House, which allows groups to bypass take the kid to the parent and deal with the needs that weren’t being met elsewhere. local elected officials by creating a new, state- issue on their territory, and it’s that kind of Students at J.J. Harris, for example, are wide school district. mind-set that a charter school can bring in
FLAGPOLE.COM ∙ OCTOBER 17, 2012
addressing these issues. We’ve got to totally change how we think about public education; it’s a different way of doing business.” Geiser and Lanoue disagree on how well CCSD is educating students. They even disagree on how CCSD measures how many students are dropping out. They agree, though, on the benefits of charter schools, which can have a different calendar, for example, or flexible hours. But opponents of Amendment 1 fear the Charter Schools Commission would be more likely to approve startups run by outof-state, for-profit companies that otherwise wouldn’t get local approval. And it’s the local, grassroots efforts that Geiser says are key to charter school success. “I much prefer creating the schools from the community,” he says, noting that an out-of-state company can recruit local residents to serve on a charter school’s board, although Long argues that local board members wouldn’t be required for a charter school approved by the governor-appointed board. “Charter schools are not a magic solution to the issue of public education,” Geiser says. “They are a piece, and to me the piece is how we govern our schools.”
Big Money Amendment 1 is not just about education, or race, or local control. It’s also about money—both funding for traditional public schools and the profits private companies earn by contracting to charter schools. The sources of the cash that’s funding a $2.7 million campaign to convince voters to approve the amendment have critics wondering what’s their motivation. “This is about big money,” Heard says. “It’s not about educating our kids.” The Georgia Association of Educators has dubbed Amendment 1 “crony capitalism.” Almost all of the money behind the proamendment campaign comes from out-of-state, including contributions from Walmart heiress Alice Walton, tea party bankrollers the Koch Brothers, disgraced Christian conservative Ralph Reed’s Faith and Freedom Coalition and private companies that earn profits operating charter schools, according to campaign finance records. The bill putting the amendment on the ballot was based on one written by the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC, a corporate-funded conservative group that writes model legislation for state lawmakers. “It really concerns me where all these groups are getting money from,” says Brett Johns, a Democratic blogger who spoke on an Amendment 1 panel last month. School management companies are getting involved because they believe in charter schools, not because they see dollar signs, Peavy says. “There’s not a whole lot of profit out there,” Peavy says. “The only way to do it is to do it way more efficiently.” How do they do it more efficiently? Charter schools are so called because they abide by a charter, not state and federal regulations. They don’t have to hire certified teachers, so they can pay lower wages. Nor do they have
EVERY WEDNESDAY 1:00 pm on College Square in Downtown Athens
grab your lunch and come enjoy some free live music!
Fourth-grader Elvia Tisoco works on a project as part of a “cluster” group at J.J. Harris Elementary School, a locally approved charter school in Athens. to bus or feed students, or accept expensiveto-educate children with special needs, as long as special-needs services are provided elsewhere in the district. Low-income parents are finding innovative ways to transport their children, and charter schools do make arrangements for lunch, according to Peavy, but CCSD board members contend that many charter schools are only an option for middle- and upper-income families, not students whose parents can’t drive them to school or buy them lunch. “It’s going to create a caste system, and it’s going to create private schools at public school prices,” Denise Spangler says. Although state-chartered schools don’t receive local property taxes, they do get about $6,800 per pupil from the state—the average of the five lowest-funded counties in the state, according to Peavy. That’s about $2,000 more than the state pays to educate a student at a traditional public school, and it’s about $2,000 less per student than the average Georgia school when local property taxes are factored in. The money comes from a special fund—not the regular education budget—and amounts to $34 million this year. Educators fear that, if the state approves more charter schools, they could drain the already-shrinking pot of money for traditional public schools. State School Superintendent John Barge estimates that, if the Charter Schools Commission is revived, the schools it approves will cost the state $430 million over five years. Lawmakers have promised not to cut other schools’ funding to pay for charter schools, but they haven’t identified how they would cover the cost of new charter schools. The new expenses would come at a time when schools across the state are dealing with
state budget cuts totaling $4 billion since the 2007 recession began. The cuts blew a $15 million hole in this year’s CCSD budget, leading the school board to eliminate first-grade and media center parapros, among other controversial decisions. “It’s like I have eight children; I can’t feed them, but I [have] four more,” Clarke County school board member Vernon Payne says. Stakes are so high that Amendment 1 proponents are trying to muzzle critics. State Attorney General Sam Olens ordered Barge to take down anti-amendment materials from the Department of Education’s website, citing a law barring elected officials from using taxpayer resources to campaign. As Democrats have pointed out, however, Olens didn’t order Gov. Nathan Deal to remove pro-amendment speeches from his website. Conservative activists also filed a lawsuit in Fulton County seeking to stop school officials from speaking out against Amendment 1, but a judge declined to issue an injunction last week. All the “noise,” as people on both sides refer to it, isn’t helping voters make up their minds, and the amendment’s fate is unclear. Polls taken by pro-amendment forces in July and September found that 58 percent of voters support it. But one released Oct. 11 by the anti-amendment Georgians for Education Excellence shows 52 percent of voters opposing it. An Atlanta Journal-Constitution poll has voters roughly evenly split. “If Republicans aren’t strongly in favor of it, I don’t think it’s going to pass,” UGA political scientist Charles Bullock says. “It’s not going to get a whole lot of support from Democrats.”
oct. 17 - KILLICK oct. 24 - arvin scott, drumming for success oct. 31 - rose of athens ghost stories
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Topic: The Presidential Election - with an Athens angle Length: 750 words Send stories to: email@example.com or 112 Foundry St. Athens, GA 30601 Graphic stories email: firstname.lastname@example.org for specs Winners published in the Oct. 31 Flagpole
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1. Local school boards can already approve charter schools. A constitutional amendment on the Nov. 6 ballot would let an appointed state Charter Schools Commission approve them as well if locals object. 2 . School choice advocates—including the Koch brothers and Walmart heiress Alice Walton—are spending big bucks to get the amendment passed. 3. Although nonprofits govern charter schools, they can hire for-profit companies, paid with tax dollars, to run them. 4 . Charter schools created under the amendment will cost the state an estimated $430 million at a time when funding for regular public schools is being cut. 5. Statewide teachers’ organizations, the Clarke County Board of Education, almost all Democrats and even some Republicans oppose the amendment. Blake Aued
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Blake Aued and Kristen Morales
five things you should know about amendment 1
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OCTOBER 17, 2012 · FLAGPOLE.COM
AthHalf: Run Like You Stole Something
et ready, Athens! This Sunday morning, a record 2,900-plus participants of the AthHalf Half Marathon could be running (or walking) down your street, and they need encouragement. “People cheering along the race course definitely helped me enjoy the race more and distracted me from the pain,” says 2011 runner Laura Rhicard. My first morning as a resident of Athens, I set my alarm and walked out to the street to cheer on the AthHalf runners because a friend who was running in it told me to. I figured if she and a bunch of other people were running 13.1 miles in the cold for a good cause, the least I could do was walk 20 feet and clap my hands for a few minutes. What I walked into was a neighborhood party of upbeat music, hot drinks, warm muffins, festive signs, enthusiastic cheering and the appreciative smiles of exhausted runners as they trod by. I even got a highfive from a smiling Bertis Downs as he ran past me. What I didn’t know was just how much support these runners were giving the community in return. “Proceeds go to AthFest Educates!, which supports music education in the region,” says AthFest board member Julie Roth. “Last year our big project was to donate instruments to the UGA/Clarke County School District Strings Program, so we bought cellos and violins and donated them to Clarke County School District for use in their strings program so that children who couldn’t afford them could use the instruments without having to rent or buy them.” According to Roth, this past fall semester AthFest Educates! also provided teachers with between $10,000 to $12,000 in mini-grants for music and arts programs in schools for anything from classroom instruments to a play at the Morton Theatre. They also pay Athens musicians (another way of directly helping the Athens music scene) to go into the schools for a lunchroom or classroom performance, with discussion and possible student participation. “Before we hadn’t had a lot of money to give away,” says Roth, “but the half marathon [through runner registration and sponsorships] has helped us raise a lot more money, so we’re now able to have a bigger impact.” The half marathon has also had an impact on the neighborly festivities along the route as it winds its way through town. Two years ago, Anna Dondero’s husband and sister were running the AthHalf, so she’d planned to cheer from her porch on the course. “Then it occurred to me that many people had loved ones running, but in order to see them run by, family members and friends would have to go to some impersonal street corner, and stand in the chilly half-morning light,” she explains. “So, I invited friends and neighbors to join us on the porch and in the yard to cheer on the runners. And, in the morning, people want coffee. And coffee goes well with muffins and chocolate croissants. And thus, a party was born.” Runners Scott Simpson and Eric Vaughn took AthHalf motivation to the next level. “The first year the half marathon passed by our house, we got up in the dark and dragged out our stereo system on the front lawn, and put out some signs we had quickly made the night before the race,” says Vaughn. “The runners loved the blasting dance music and signs as they ran by, and all our neighbors came out to cheer on all the racers. So, last year we decided to do it again, except we mixed a super-pumped dance mix playlist and constructed huge banners lifted high from cut bamboo stakes from our back yard. We also rented a helium tank and blew up tons of red balloons to greet the half marathoners as they sprinted by. We haven’t decided what we are going to do this year, but we still have time to figure it out!” “I’ll always remember Cobbham with its live band and handpainted signs every few feet, and the guy dressed in a tux, sitting on a throne in the front yard of a house on Milledge, toasting us runners with a glass of red wine,” says Rhicard. “Even though I, unfortunately, am not running this year, I’ll be out there cheering at the end of my street, returning the favor.”
FLAGPOLE.COM ∙ OCTOBER 17, 2012
“It’s just so uplifting and entertaining to see all those signs,” says runner Julie Darnell. “It’s so much fun to see everyone out having a good time, cheering on the runners. Last year, as we approached Cobb Street on Milledge, you could hear a band playing, and they had a whole line of people giving high-fives as you rounded the bend going onto Cobb Street. It’s fun to see the turnouts in the various neighborhoods. And I always love the music along the course. The first year as we hit one of the last hills coming into downtown from
the river, there was this lone guy with a boom box playing ‘Sweet Home Alabama.’ Loved it!” This year, the half marathon committee arranged music throughout the route, ensuring the runners will keep the beat from DJ Ted Kuhn, Red Ravine, Old Smokey, Kate Wright, Death of the Peanut King and the Cedar Shoals Marching Band. After a final lap around the Sanford Stadium hedges, they’ll end up at the finish line in a party with celebrity starter and award presenter Olympic medalist Reese Hoffa and the funky, indie-soul band—appropriately named—The HEAP. “After running for so long and trotting along, I know how much that means to the runners, and how it makes people want to come back the next year and bring their friends,” says Roth. “So, having that support along the way really makes the race successful.” For the good of our schools’ music and arts programs, whether it’s a neighborhood party or a lone cheerer on an empty stretch of course where the runners need it the most, it appears Athenians are ready to meet these runners more than half way. Marilyn Estes
For more information, visit www.athhalf.com. At 6:30 a.m. on Sunday, runners, volunteers and spectators are also invited to come to First Presbyterian Church downtown prior to the race for a brief service and a warm place to enjoy coffee and hospitality.
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NEWS FROM THE JUICE BOX SET One of my favorite things about Athens is the hoopla that surrounds Halloween. In the years after my husband and I moved to town, weâ€™d wander downtown, grown-up costumes and all, and check out the others who magically showed up for the unofficial gathering. The scene rivaled a similar happening in West Hollywood, CA, near where I used to live, that had the benefit of professional costumers and make-up artists working on the creations. When my daughter was a babyâ€”still at that age when you can dress them up in whatever you want, and they never know the differenceâ€”we wandered the streets and kept her up past her bedtime on that one night a year, just so we could see the creativity that Athens has to offer. But somewhere between ages 1 and 3, I forgot that bedtime really means something, and toting a toddler to the Wild Rumpus parade, in all its crazy costumed glory, probably wasnâ€™t the smartest thing to do. At 10 p.m. on a Saturday night, with a frightened, tired toddler in tow, it wasnâ€™t my proudest parenting moment.
If you bring two canned food items, youâ€™ll receive $1 off admission. For middle schoolers, thereâ€™s Scary Oozy, Slimy Day (4â€“7 p.m., Oct. 20 at Sandy Creek Nature Center; $3 per person). Or, for kids who donâ€™t want to get their costumes dirty, thereâ€™s the Willy Wonka Haunted House, an annual tradition organized by local teens (6â€“9 p.m., Oct. 26, Oconee County Library). That same Friday is the start of fall break for local schools, and Good Dirt has a special â€œscaryâ€? pottery class for kids (9 a.m.â€“3 p.m., $55; www.gooddirt.net). The next day, Saturday, Oct. 27, (noonâ€“2 p.m.) Treehouse Kid and Craft will host a Halloween Party with a craft and costume contest, plus a photobooth. And for the high schoolers who arenâ€™t quite ready to hop off that candy gravy train, perhaps you can divert their attention toward some of the local ghost tours going on this time of year. Just thinking back (way back!) to my own glorious teen years, it seems like something my mom probably could have talked me into. In Watkinsville, North Georgia Tours will take you past the haunted Eagle Tavern at 8 p.m. every Friday and Saturday in October for the â€œHaunted History Toursâ€? ($12, www. northgeorgiatours.net), and the Athens-Clarke Heritage Foundationâ€™s â€œAthensâ€™ Darkest History Tourâ€? takes you past spooky spots around downtown and on the UGA campus (8 p.m., Oct. 26 & 28; $15, achfonline.org). There is one event, though, where Iâ€™m sure Iâ€™ll part ways with some of you: trunk or treats. I have to admit, Iâ€™m a Halloween purist, and Iâ€™m also hardcore about the holiday. I feel that if youâ€™re a kid searching for One of the great joys about Halloween in Athens is trick-or-treating around candy, you need to go find our neighborhoods. But please, parents, get out of your cars and join your it. The candy should not kids in walking from house to house. Collecting candy with your kids while come to you. So, the idea costumed? five miniature Snickers bars out of five. of a bunch of people pulling into a parking lot and But even if Wild Rumpus (starting at simply handing candy to any kid who walks by Clayton and Pulaski streets at 8 p.m., Oct. seems like it misses the point of ringing the 27) is too late or scary for your little ones, doorbell and wondering what the mysterious they can have tons of Halloween fun anyway. neighbors will give you. Christmas is probably at the top of most kidsâ€™ And while Iâ€™m on my soapbox, I have one lists of favorite holidays, but thereâ€™s no way other rant for all you parents out there. Itâ€™s you can go wrong with dressing up as your cool if, say, you live out in the country, or favorite character, knocking on doors and getyou live in a bad neighborhood, and you want ting a bagful of candy. to bring your children to another place to Iâ€™ve always been a sucker for a carnival, go trick-or-treating. I totally get that. But and another reason to love Halloween is the please, for the love of all good Halloween bevy of cotton candy and silly games that go ghosts, park your car and walk with your child. along with its parties. Athens-Clarke County There is nothing that irritates me more than a Leisure Services does a great job of organizing parent slowly driving up and down the streets several carnival-like parties this time of year, of a subdivision while their child gathers free including my personal favorite, the annual candy. At least try to burn off some of the Halloween Carnival at Memorial Park (5â€“8 calories you know youâ€™ll be consuming later p.m., Oct. 20; $4 per child). Bring some extra that night. (Oh wait, scratch thatâ€”parents cash for the snacks and silly games, and kids never steal their childâ€™s candy.) can also go trick-or-treating through Bear Like I said, Iâ€™m hardcore. Iâ€™ve also denied Hollow Zoo. If you canâ€™t make it, there are candy to kids knocking on my door at 9 p.m., competing carnivals, 6â€“8 p.m. on Oct. 30, claiming their oversized T-shirts are costumes. for even more Halloween excitement: The This is Halloween, people, one of the most Halloween Spooktacular at Lay Park ($3 per creative holidays of the year. You have to put person, ages 5â€“12) and the Halloween Havoc some effort into it. Fall Festival hosted by UGA at the Livestock Arena (2550 S. Milledge Ave.; $4 per child). Kristen Morales
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Helping People with HIV/AIDS is as easy as going out to eat or drink! Simply visit any one of the Participating restaUrants on
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see aidsathens.org for list of restaurants sponsored by:
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OCTOBER 17, 2012 Âˇ FLAGPOLE.COM
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Truth in Advertising: When Maba Grill closed downtown, across from the Arch, in the space I will always think of as belonging to Guaranteed, I was briefly disheartened before learning that it would soon reopen as Yummy Pho (167 E. Broad St.), also Vietnamese, under basically the same ownership. “Whew,” I thought. “It’s not that people don’t appreciate Asia’s most accessible and possibly most reliably delicious cuisine.” Plus, I’m a strong believer in the power of competition to keep even good restaurants from slacking off. Just Pho… and More remains as tasty as ever, and there’s plenty of room in this town for two Vietnamese joints, if not for more. In addition to a significantly expanded menu that brings its offerings much closer to Just Pho’s, Yummy Pho has switched from counter to table service. This method doesn’t always work more smoothly, especially if your server neglects to tell you that you need to go up to the counter both to get and to pay your check (you do), but it does avoid the line that could otherwise build up at the register. Servers are efficient and not overly chatty, and your food arrives reasonably fast.
totally worth not getting kissed over. Yummy Pho is open for lunch and dinner every day and takes credit cards. Food of the Gods: When Tlaloc El Mexicano opened on Chase Street about three years ago, I assumed it was the kind of delicious but flaky operation that wouldn’t stick around very long, with its (then) cash-only policy and somewhat intimidating atmosphere to nonSpanish speakers. Thankfully, that wasn’t the case. The restaurant’s low prices, endearingly party-like attitude and tasty food found it an audience, including chef Hugh Acheson, who promoted it to GQ. Back in June, it expanded to a second location, this one in Watkinsville (2061 Hog Mountain Rd.), in the Bell’s shopping center in the old Cactus Cafe space. If you prefer a lack of carpeting and a less sedate environment, you should stick to the original, but if you don’t mind a little in the way of creature comforts, it is totally worth the drive to Watkinsville. The food is as good as ever, served in the kind of massive portions that make customers beg for less.
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Yummy Pho I’d have to compare the pho side by side with its competition to determine a winner, but that’s a plus. It’s rich, flavorful and eminently drinkable, which may seem uncouth but is a far better method for draining the bowl. The meatballs, in particular, are worth your time, and although I didn’t try it, I hear the vegetarian pho is tasty. I guess. The banh mi have changed not at all, meaning the bread is maybe a little too prone to crumble everywhere, but the taste is good and the price right. The cóm (rice dishes) don’t work as well as the bún (vermicelli dishes), mostly because the rice isn’t cooked particularly well, with hard bits and little taste. The proteins, however, are good, cooked on a grill behind the big counter that can make the space a little humid but also supplies great fragrance. Shrimp rolls are fine and arrive speedily if you’re starving but aren’t really worth $2, paired with a sort of boring peanut-y sauce. If there’s one item on the menu you should make more of an effort to consume, it’s the garlic chicken wings, fried crisp and bedazzled with chunks of garlic. Salty, faintly sweet, meaty and with wonderful texture, they are
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The tortas, huge but amazingly light considering their size, enfold a wonderful range of ingredients. You could do a lot worse than the Hawaiiana, which includes grilled pineapple as well as meat, mayo, avocado and vegetable, covering every food group in one package. If you’re the kind of person who enjoys being the center of attention and/or is apt to enter an eating competition, the molcajetazo is for you. Served in a huge mortar, which arrives on a heated stone topped with aluminum foil and literally on fire for a good couple of minutes, it is not for the shy or the faint of appetite. Containing nopales (cactus leaves), whole onions, diced chicken, crumbled chorizo, whole jalapenos, pork, triangles of pupusa/ quesadilla and probably more I’m forgetting, it also includes handmade tortillas and a plate of rice, beans and fixin’s for $15.50. I haven’t found a weak spot on the menu yet, and there are always nice surprises, like the presence of three salsas one day with the complimentary chips. The restaurant is open every day for lunch and dinner. Both locations take credit cards. Hillary Brown email@example.com
wth? athens Invisible Economies â€œLeeâ€™s Wigs,â€? suggests a Flagpole staffer. â€œHow does that place stay open?â€? Janet G., the lone Yelp reviewer of the store, has the same question. â€œThe downtown Athens mystery,â€? she writes, â€œHow does a perpetually empty wig shop on Claytonâ€Ś remain open year after year?â€? I visit the empty store, and hundreds of heads stare down at me from the shelves. â€œHello!â€? says a male one sporting a very realistic-looking short wig. Then the head moves, and I see itâ€™s attached to the body of Mr. Kevin Lee. Heâ€™s peering at me over the stairway railing, where heâ€™s working to unload stock. Heâ€™s unsure why anyone would want to write a story about wigs and asks me to come back later to speak to Jasmine Lee, his wife. ROBIN WHETSTONE
Jasmine Lee, proprietor of Leeâ€™s Wigs A few days later, Iâ€™m back, and again, Iâ€™m the only customer. Mrs. Lee is beautiful, and elegant, and gamely tries to answer my repetitive questions. Iâ€™m too polite to say â€œYou have no customers, how do you stay open?â€? so I ask instead about her patrons. If she can answer these questions, I figure there must be some. She canâ€™t say how many customers she averages during the week, but says that most of her clientele are African-American. â€œWell, where are they?â€? I blurt. â€œI mean, do you do a lot of in-store business, or is it mainly online?â€? â€œOh no, they come in the store.â€? â€œThey do? When? When do they come in the store?â€? â€œWhen they want to buy a wig,â€? says Mrs. Lee, enunciating carefully. â€œNo, I mean, do you have a busy season?â€? â€œWell, tax time is good for us. Lots of ladies use their returns to purchase wigs.â€? I ask Mrs. Lee if she has anything else she wants to add. She considers and then says something that sounds almost like a warning. â€œIf you donâ€™t need a wig, you donâ€™t think about wigs. But when you do need a wig, you really need a wig.â€? I come back a few days later to stake out the front of the store. After awhile, a pale redhead enters the shop while her male
companion waits outside. The woman, Meghan Jackson, comes back out after a few seconds, and I accost them. â€œWhy did you go in that wig store?â€? â€œBecause I like wigs,â€? she says. â€œPlus, I need a job. I wanted to see if theyâ€™re hiring.â€? â€œWell, Iâ€™m convinced this store is not really a wig store, but a front for something, like a dog-fighting ring.â€? â€œWe should have brought our pit bull,â€? says Meghanâ€™s companion, pragmatically. They walk on, and a man who has been standing on the corner for some time approaches. â€œYou need to come back around noon,â€? he says. â€œThere are tons of customers.â€? â€œTons?â€? I say, skeptically. â€œWhat are they doing there?â€? â€œGetting their eyes plucked,â€? he responds, disappearing into the fog. I turn back to the store and see a woman in a business suit exiting. â€œWhy were you in that store?â€? I yell, whipping out my notebook. â€œI was getting my eyebrows plucked. I come here all the time. So do all my friends. Ten dollars. Mrs. Lee is a genius.â€? Iâ€™ve never really had my eyebrows plucked before, but this will allow me to hang out in the store and maybe ask more questions. The Lees are delighted to see me, and Mrs. Lee gets right to work. Sheâ€™s careful, a perfectionist. While sheâ€™s working, two ladies come in. â€œIâ€™m gonna buy me a wig!â€? declares one of them, clapping her hands. â€œIâ€™ll pay $100 to find the one I want!â€? I plead with Mrs. Lee to stop fussing with me and go help some actual paying customers, but she is adamant. â€œEvery customer is important. I will spend time with them the same way Iâ€™m spending time with you.â€? When I go to the front to pay, I look in the mirror and am amazed. â€œI look soâ€Ś awake!â€? I tell her husband, â€œand so much less like Brezhnev.â€? â€œYes,â€? he agrees. â€œMrs. Lee is the best in town. But you must come in early. Everyone wants Mrs. Lee.â€? On my way out the door I pass an elderly lady coming in. â€œAre you going to buy a wig?â€? I ask her. â€œI bought the one Iâ€™m wearing here. Maybe Iâ€™ll get another one.â€? So, the real question, here, is not â€œHow does this place with no customers stay open?â€? The real question is â€œWhatâ€™s the matter with us that we think this place has no customers?â€? Leeâ€™s Wigs has lots of customers. But maybe the fact that this clientele is different from the typical downtown shopper makes them somehow harder to notice. What else are we missing simply because the reality doesnâ€™t mesh with what we expect to see? I donâ€™t know, but I do know that I am hightailing it back to Leeâ€™s Wigs the minute I need another eye-plucking. Mrs. Lee and her husband do what they do very well. Just ask any of their customers. Robin Whetstone
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movie dope Some releases may not be showing locally this week. • indicates new review ALEX CROSS (PG-13) Tyler Perry replaces Morgan Freeman as James Patterson’s psychologist detective. (In a perfectly awful world, I expect to see this trade completed as Freeman dons the Madea fat suit for Perry’s next movie.) In this adaptation of Patterson’s twelfth Alex Cross novel, Cross, the detective tracks a killer, Michael “The Butcher” Sullivan (Matthew Fox), who makes their game of cat and mouse personal. The Fast & the Furious helmer Rob Cohen directs. With Rachel Nichols, Edward Burns, Jean Reno and Cicely Tyson. ARBITRAGE (R) Richard Gere stars—and hopes for a Best Actor nomination—in this dramatic economic thriller. Gere’s hedge fund mogul turns to an unlikely source after messing up big time in an attempt to sell his company. Nicholas Jarecki, brother of Andrew (Capturing the Friedmans) and Eugene (Why We Fight), makes his fictional feature directing debut. (Ciné) • ARGO (R) Ben Affleck’s career revival continues with what might be his best directing effort yet; as life-ordeath as the tension gets, the movie is ultimately a less grueling entertainment experience than either The Town or Gone Baby Gone. Revealing the once classified story of how the CIA rescued six American hostages in the midst of the Iranian Revolution, Argo is both an intriguing modern history lesson and a compelling, old-fashioned Hollywood thriller. The first-act scenes of the revolution terrify with present day relevance; the middle sequence that sets up the outlandish rescue op humorously skewers late-’70s Hollywood, thanks to excellent work by John Goodman as real life, Oscarwinning makeup artist John Chambers, as well as Alan Arkin; and the climactic escape epitomizes edge-of-your-seat suspense. ATLAS SHRUGGED, PART 2: EITHER-OR John Putch directs this second installation of the adaptation of Ayn Rand’s 1957 novel, Atlas Shrugged. THE BOURNE LEGACY (PG-13) Tony Gilroy has been scripting exceptional Bourne films for a decade now. His first time directing one plays exactly like his previous two directing efforts (Michael Clayton and Duplicity); well-crafted but unexciting. Matt Damon’s unseen Jason Bourne is on the run, but another enhanced secret agent, Aaron Cross (Jeremy Renner, who’s an adequate replacement for Damon), is in the crosshairs of some nasty government spooks, led sociopathically by Edward Norton. Cross and pretty scientist, Marta Shearing (Academy Award winner Rachel Weisz), travels across the globe to find the means to permanently enhance the superspy’s mental abilities. BRAVE (PG) A good, not great, Pixar film, Brave strays into traditional Disney territory after a tremendously magical first act. Headstrong Scottish Princess Merida (wonderfully voiced by the lovely Kelly Macdonald) wants to choose her own destiny. She does not want to marry the first-born of the clans allied with her father (v. Billy Connolly), but her mother, Queen Elinor (v. Emma Thompson), will hear none of her complaints. In typical
stubborn teenage fashion, Merida short-sightedly asks a wood-carving witch (v. Julie Walters) for a spell to change her mother. The aftermath of the spell leads to some heartwarming and charming derring-do, but the sitcomish mix-up is a bit stock for what we’ve come to expect from the studio that gave us Wall-E and Up, two animated features that transcended their cartoonish origins. THE DARK KNIGHT RISES (PG-13) A brilliant blockbuster, TDKR cannot best its immediate predecessor; the three-quel lacks the Ledger zeitgeist and shockingly needs more Batman. Still, The Dark Knight Rises darkly comic-bookends the movie summer that blissfully began with Joss Whedon’s candy coated Avengers. I’m sad Nolan’s time in Gotham is over. DIARY OF A WIMPY KID: DOG DAYS (PG) The formula still entertains but has grown increasingly worn in the third installation of the unlikely Wimpy Kid franchise, based on the bestselling books by Jeff Kinney. As the school year gives way to summer, Greg Heffley’s (Zachary Gordon) adventures are infinitely more appealing than the average, uninspired kiddie movie. THE EXORCIST (R) 1973. When actress Chris McNeil’s (Academy Award nominee Ellen Burstyn) adolescent daughter, Regan (Academy Award nominee Linda Blair), starts exhibiting strange symptoms that medicine cannot explain, two priests, elderly Father Merrin (Max Von Sydow) and the faith-challenged Father Damien Karras (Academy Award nominee Jason Miller), are called in to perform an exorcism. (UGA Tate Theater) FINDING NEMO (G) 2003. I came late to the Finding Nemo party and have not taken to it like other Pixar greats. Maybe the addition of a third dimension will help. Clownfish Marlin (v. Albert Brooks) goes searching for his son, Nemo (v. Alexander Gould), who is lost in the big, scary ocean. Fortunately, Marlin has pal Dory (v. Ellen Degeneres), a blue tang fish, to help him out. FRANKENWEENIE (PG) I’m not going to tell you Tim Burton is back, but Frankenweenie is his best film since the 1990s. Going back to his animation roots and his love of classic horror invigorates the blockbuster auteur. Frankenweenie is certainly his best genre film since 1999’s underrated James Whale love letter, Sleepy Hollow. One excellent family friendly horror film this year (ParaNorman) was cause for excitement; two is cause for celebration. GONZORIFFIC (NR) Gonzoriffic screens their latest genre entries— “Completely Defective,” “Secret Shopper,” “The Uninvited,” “Space Boobs,” “Mae of the Dead,” “Travel Size” and the premiere of “Pajama Nightmare,” a collaboration with Effie’s Club Follies and Los Meesfits. Shame on me. The boobs, blood and feminism of “Pajama Nightmare,” inspired by Fred Olen Ray and Jim Wynorski, is really tempting. See the Calendar Pick on p. 22. (Ciné) • HERE COMES THE BOOM (PG-13) Adam Sandler’s made plenty of pictures worse than this Kevin James vehicle about outlandish ways to save
FLAGPOLE.COM ∙ OCTOBER 17, 2012
education. James’ Scott Voss is a high school biology teacher who turns to MMA to fund the extracurriculars at his struggling school. An appealing supporting cast includes Salma Hayek, Henry Winkler, Greg Germann and real life MMA fighter Bas Rutten (after an appearance in Paul Blart: Mall Cop and voice work in Zookeeper, he’s becoming a James regular) to assist the extremely likable James in an odd, family-friendly mash-up of educational messages and inspirational sports, where the sports are extremely vicious. It doesn’t NOT work, but more refined audiences will cringe at the movie’s genial attitude toward violence. HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA (PG) Unlike the superior ParaNorman, which was a genuinely, safely frightening family horror flick, Hotel Transylvania is an amusing, run-of-the-mill animated family movie where the main characters are harmless monsters. (The lesson that monsters aren’t dangerous is a terrible, hazardous message to teach children.) To protect monsters and his daughter, Mavis, from their dreaded enemies, humans, Dracula (genially voiced by Adam Sandler) sets up a hotel in the safe confines of Transylvania. On the eve of Mavis’
and Doris Dana. As part of Hispanic Heritage Month, screenings take place every Thursday through Oct. 18. Each film will be introduced by a faculty member or graduate student; Luís Correa Díaz, Romance Languages, is this week’s host. The film will be followed by a Skype Q&A with the director. (Georgia Museum of Art) LOOPER (R) Whoa! Ever since Brick, I have waited for Rian Johnson to make good on that coolly stylish teen-noir’s immense promise. Johnson might still have better films to come, but this tricksy, time travel, sci-fi noir ensures Brick’s promise has been fulfilled. In a future where time travel is an illegal reality, hitmen called loopers wait in the past for gangsters to send them their targets. Armed with a blunderbuss, Joe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) awaits his marks, knowing one day he will have to “close the loop,” meaning kill his older self. When Old Joe (Bruce Willis) finally shows, the showdown doesn’t go as smoothly as planned. Had The Terminator mated with a film noir, Looper would be the exciting result. THE MASTER (R) Auteur Paul Thomas Anderson’s tremendous, flawless cinematic masterpieces can be pompous, emotionally distant and
Can I have a drink of water? Oh yeah…BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! 118th birthday, a human named Jonathan (v. Andy Samberg) discovers Drac’s hideaway. Thank goodness director Genndy Tartakovsky (“Dexter’s Laboratory,” “The Powerpuff Girls” and “Samurai Jack”) brings his visual creativity to this rather rote tale of prejudice and cross-cultural romance. HOUSE AT THE END OF THE STREET (PG-13) Another soporific, unscary PG-13 horror movie that will draw in the teens and tweenies, House at the End of the Street stars The Hunger Games’ Jennifer Lawrence as Elissa, who moves to a new town with her divorced mom (Elisabeth Shue). The only intriguing gambit is how the movie’s twist is perpetuated, not spoiled, by the trailer. However, that twist isn’t worth a theatrical viewing of this pedestrianly average horror flick. ICE AGE: CONTINENTAL DRIFT (PG) Manny (v. Ray Romano), Diego (v. Denis Leary) and Sid (v. John Leguizamo) return in a fourth adventure, which is good news for the millions not waiting for this fatigued franchise to go extinct. LOCAS MUJERES (NR) The 2012 Latin American Film Festival, Latin American Women Behind the Camera, concludes with Locas Mujeres, directed by María Elena Wood. The film recounts the love story of 1945 Nobel Prize Winner Gabriela Mistral
inscrutable to a fault. The Master proves no less perfectly composed and no less difficult to process. Volatile, World War II vet Freddie Quill (Joaquin Phoenix) is struggling to adjust to post-war life when he meets author Lancaster Dodd (Philip Seymour Hoffman), the founder of a spiritual movement called The Cause. (Ciné) THE ORPHANAGE (R) 2007. The Orphanage is a respectful ghost story on par with The Haunting or The Others. A family’s decision to turn the orphanage where the wife and mother, Laura (Belén Rueda), used to live into a home for sick and disabled children turns horrifically nightmarish when seven-year-old son, Simón (Roger Príncep), goes missing. (Seriously, when will people learn that living in giant, scary, old houses is a bad idea?) (UGA Tate Theater) m PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 4 (R) Catfish filmmakers Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman return to helm the latest entry in horror’s lone surviving franchise heavyweight. Five years after killing her fiancé, sister and brotherin-law, Katie (Katie Featherston) and her nephew, Hunter (now known as Robbie), move to the neighborhood. New neighbors, Alice (Kathryn Newton) and her mom, soon start experiencing strange occurrences that one must assume are connected to the series’
only recurring character. (UGA Tate Theater) THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER PG-13. Stephen Chbosky directs the adaptation of his 1999 book of the same name about a high school freshman dealing with isolation, new friends and a disturbed past. The book is one of the best realistic stories about less than golden high school experiences. (Ciné) PITCH PERFECT (PG-13) Infectious is the best word to describe the a cappella college comedy Pitch Perfect. The movie lacks any message stronger than a cappella is a lot of fun, and the comic ensemble, including John Michael Higgins and Elizabeth Banks, lend a spiteful, humorous edge to what could have just been a bland radio friendly hit. PONYO (G) 2008. From Sept. 27 through Oct. 21, Ciné presents the Studio Ghibli Film Series, a retrospective that includes four of animation legend Hayao Miyazaki’s masterpieces. Beloved animator and Academy Award winner Miyazaki’s Ponyo will delight anyone willing to venture beyond Pixar, Ice Age, and Shrek. A young goldfish princess named Ponyo must save the world with the help of a young boy. Featuring an all-star voice cast including Cate Blanchett, Matt Damon, Liam Neeson, Tina Fey, Lily Tomlin, Cloris Leachman and Betty White. (Ciné) PREMIUM RUSH (PG-13) A Manhattan bike messenger (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) picks up an envelope that puts him in the sights of a dirty cop (Michael Shannon). A citywide chase ensues. This team up of GordonLevitt and Shannon excites me more than the last De Niro-Pacino summit (Righteous Kill). Writer-director David Koepp has had loads more success on paper (he’s written some mega-hits like Jurassic Park and Spider-Man) than behind the camera (he’s directed The Trigger Effect, Stir of Echoes, Secret Window and Ghost Town). THE ROOM (R) 2003. Tommy Wiseau returns in this unintentionally hilarious and sympathy-enducing cult classic. Part of Ciné’s Bad Movie Night. (Ciné) RUBY SPARKS (R) The directors of Little Miss Sunshine, Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris, return with a fantastical romantic comedy about an author, Calvin (Paul Dano), who conjures the titular woman (screenwriter Zoe Kazan) out of thin air. Ruby ends up being Calvin’s one true love. But is it love if you can control the person’s every move, thought and emotion? With the underrated Chris Messina, Annette Bening, Antonio Banderas, Steve Coogan, Elliot Gould and “Arrested Development”’s Alia Shawkat. (Ciné) THE SESSIONS (R) In this Special Jury Prize and Audience Award winner at Sundance, where it was nominated for the Grand Jury Prize, Mark, living in an iron lung, desires to lose his virginity so he hires a sex surrogate (Helen Hunt). William H. Macy plays Mark’s priest. Sixty-something writer-director Ben Lewin (“Ally McBeal”’s highest rated episode, “Let’s Dance”) based the film on the story of Berkeley-based poet-journalist Mark O’Brien. • SEVEN PSYCHOPATHS (R) Martin McDonagh set the bar really high with his feature writing-directing debut, In Bruges. His sophomore effort, Seven Psychopaths, isn’t better than its excellent predecessor, but it does
clear the bar. The exceedingly meta film begs to be described as Tarantinoesque. An Irish screenwriter named Marty (Colin Farrell) is working on a script called “Seven Psychopaths.” His psycho pal, Billy (Sam Rockwell), wants to give Marty all the inspirational help he can, so Billy and his oddball partner, Hans (Christopher Walken), kidnap the beloved Shih Tzu of another psychopath, gangster Charlie (Woody Harrelson). Somehow, they all wind up in the desert for the climactic shootout of which Billy’s always dreamed. This movie is extremely violent, extremely bloody and extremely funny. SHAUN OF THE DEAD (R) 2004. This Britromzomcom (British romantic zombie comedy) treads well-worn territory, though in shoes that fit the film quite snugly. Creators Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright, who love their zombies and know them well, have created a well-balanced diet of guffaws, gore, and pop culture references that succeeds on every level to which it strives. (UGA Tate Theater) • SINISTER (R) Sinister, the new film from Scott Derrickson, is my favorite theatrical horror experience since The Strangers. Ethan Hawke intensely stars as true crime novelist Ellison Oswalt, who has moved his family—pretty wife, tween son, young daughter—into the murder house for the latest crime he is investigating. What he discovers is much deadlier and more demony than he could have imagined. Sinister utilizes found footage—Ellison finds a box of home movies in the attic of his new home—more uniquely than any of the glut of the latest (fading?) horror fad. These little short snuff films and Ellison’s drunk, terrified reactions supply some of the movie’s scariest moments, and Derrickson shows a lot of ingenuity in how he subtly shows the grisly kills. SLEEPWALK WITH ME (NR) Standup comic Mike Birbiglia cowrote, codirected and starred in this comedy about life as a sleepwalking standup comic whose career and relationship are stuck in neutral. The trailer is one of the best I’ve recently seen at Ciné. “This American Life” fans take note that the popular radio show and this film share producers. (Ciné) TAKEN 2 (PG-13) As a consequence of the violent methods he employed to retrieve his kidnapped daughter, Kim (Maggie Grace), in the first movie, retired CIA operative Bryan Mills (Liam Neeson), must face off against the Albanian dad (played by go-to Eastern European baddie Rade Serbedzija) of one of the sex traffickers he killed during his rescue mission. TROUBLE WITH THE CURVE (PG-13) You’ll have no Trouble with the Curve so long as old man jokes, spryly delivered by a grouchier than usual Clint Eastwood, can keep you entertained for two hours. He constantly mutters one-liners to himself, be he alone or sharing a scene with one of the movie’s terrific supporting actors, including Amy Adams, Justin Timberlake, John Goodman, or the gaggle of familiar old faces that play Gus’ scouting rivals. UNFINISHED SPACES (NR) The UGA College of Environment and Design presents the story of three architects who return to Cuba 40 years later to finish the ambitious National Arts Schools project. The screening, held in conjunction with the Southeast Chapter of the Society of Architectural Historians (SESAH) conference, is free for participants with registered conference badges. (Ciné) V/H/S (R) The well-conceived horror anthology from a cadre of directors including rising star Ti West bests 90 percent of the genre crap to which fans are regularly subjected. (Ciné) Drew Wheeler
movie pick That’s Just… Great SEVEN PSYCHOPATHS (R) If you’re looking distinctive voice at that same time with the for a viable candidate for best movie cast this plays The Beauty Queen of Leenane, A Skull year, look no further than Martin McDonagh’s in Connemara and The Lonesome West. The latest, Seven Psychopaths. Colin Farrell plays plays are indebted to Tarantino, particularly in an Irish expat living in Hollywood named the way McDonagh’s characters talk and how Marty who’s working on a screenplay called humor and cruelty are entwined, but there’s a Seven Psychopaths. There’s a big problem psychological weight on offer in McDonagh’s however: Marty can’t get past the logline. work that Tarantino doesn’t seem interested How Marty gets out of his creative funk by in pursuing. He also shares with Tarantino a hanging out with his goofy love of meta-fictional stodog-napping best friend rytelling, undermining the Billy (Sam Rockwell) and clichés of a genre with selfobserving a motley crew of aware winks to the audimisfits, depressed losers ence while embracing the and dangerous killers who impulsive need for seeing crowd into his world, makes men go furiously kill-crazy. for the comedic meat of In 2008, McDonagh the movie. Shots are fired, made the leap to makheads explode, and dogs ing feature films with In get snatched. Bruges, starring Farrell and McDonagh, partly chanBrendan Gleeson as hitneling numerous gods of men suffering existential cinematic violence and meltdowns in the European mayhem such as Scorsese Christopher Walken and Bonny city while on an assignand Tarantino (the two ment. Seven Psychopaths obvious nods), is clearly having a blast is a worthy follow-up, although the narrative working with so many expert scene-stealers rabbit hole McDonagh gleefully plunges us (Christopher Walken, Harry Dean Stanton and down is more conceptually daring. There’s a Tom Waits) giving it their all. It’s reckless real gonzo energy in the self-reflexive detours to think that McDonagh is just an imitative Seven Psychopaths takes. McDonagh may only hack. Although Seven Psychopaths seems like be jazzing about, but there’s no shame in a throwback to the sort of post-Tarantino that when your sly observations about life are comedy crime picture that inundated movie sharper than any steely stiletto to the ribs. screens and video store shelves in the midto-late 1990s, McDonagh honed his own Derek Hill
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