BULL The Triangle celebrates a historic Biden-Harris victory
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November 11, 2020
The ArtsCenter Arts NC State Carolina Theatre of Durham Carolina Performing Arts Cat’s Cradle Duke Performances Dr. Jodi Foy, DDS, PA GoRaleigh Kane Realty Corporation Kenan Institute of Ethics Motorco Music Hall Nasher Museum NC Museum of Art Peace Street Playmakers Repertory Company Quail Ridge Books & Music The Regulator Bookshop Teaser’s Men’s Club Unscripted Hotel Contact firstname.lastname@example.org today to learn how you can become a member of the INDY Corporate Press Club.
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Biden-Harris win celebrations, p. 8 PHOTO BY JADE WILSON
CONTENTS NEWS 10 A new online expungement tool offers nonviolent offenders a second chance. BY THOMASI MCDONALD
A Chapel Hill woman gives the gift of life with bone marrow. BY MARIN WOLF
How houses of worship are adapting to the pandemic. BY SERGIO OSNAYA-PRIETO
ARTS & CULTURE 15 A women-led hemp collective in Rougemont celebrates its first harvest. BY HADASSAH PATTERSON
Piano prodigy Justin-Lee Schultz is just getting started. BY WILL ATKINSON
Two new albums are adaptive, experimental reflections of our time. BY GRANT GOLDEN AND YAIR RUBINSTEIN
19 OutSouth Queer Film Festival goes virtual. BY MARY KING
THE REGULARS 5 15 Minutes
COVER Photo by Cornell Watson
WE M A DE THIS PUBLIS H ER Susan Harper
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Interim Editor in Chief Leigh Tauss Interim A+C Editor Sarah Edwards Interim News Editor Eric Ginsburg Staff Writer Thomasi McDonald
Voices Columnists T. Greg Doucette, Chika Gujarathi, Alexis Pauline Gumbs, Courtney Napier, Barry Saunders, Jonathan Weiler
Contributors Will Atkinson, Paul Blest, Jameela F. Dallis, Michaela Dwyer, Spencer Griffith, Laura Jaramillo, Kyesha Jennings, Drew Millard, Glenn McDonald, Josephine McRobbie, Neil Morris, James Michael Nichols, Marta Nuñez Pouzols, Bryan C. Reed, Dan Ruccia, David Ford Smith, Michael Venutolo-Mantovani, Chris Vitiello, Ryan Vu
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November 11, 2020
Last week, our intern Ann Gehan wrote about how tiny homes could make a big impact on Durham’s affordable housing crisis. Gehan’s story focused on
The End of an Error Biden wins, but red flags abound for Democrats BY T. GREG DOUCETTE @greg_doucette
Haven Modular, a factory coming to Durham that will produce
small, prefabricated dwellings that can be used as backyard cottages.
Facebook user DAVID STRAUGHAN balked at the company’s definition of “affordable.” “$225 per square foot is affordable housing?” Straughan wrote. “And their whole business plan revolves around the taxpayers footing the bill for them to build housing? It would be us, the taxpayers, making a big impact. These dickheads would just be collecting the checks. To me, this looks like someone trying to cash in on Durham’s affordable housing crisis under the guise of creating a solution. That is morally repugnant.” “Carpetbagging Gentrifiers Look To Cash In On Durham’s Affordable Housing Crisis With Help Of Taxpayer Money,” he added. “There. I fixed your headline for you.” “How are these different from trailers?” asked AMANDA LEE MORRIS. “They tend to be even smaller than trailers, but with nicer finishes than your typical trailer (I watch too many tiny house YouTube videos!),” replied MEGHAN ALLISON MCARTHUR. “So… a bougie shed [wink emoji],” Morris replied. In our previous issue, we published an infographic showing North Carolina’s unprecedented early voting turnout. By the Monday before the election, 62 percent of registered voters in the state had already cast a ballot, 95 percent of the total votes from 2016. “While it is cool so many people voted, it is hard to feel good about what the voting showed,” mused Facebook user D RYAN ANDERSON. “More than half of people in this state and at least 1/3 people in any state looked at what happened during the last 4 years and said, ‘Sign me up for 4 more years of that.’ This is like being excited that so many people took a test, but then seeing half of them failed it.” “Think of how stupid the average person is, and realize half of them are stupider than that,” replied DAVID GREEN.
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November 11, 2020
hings are going to get worse before they get better.” That’s the standard line I’d shared with my left-leaning friends since November 2016—and especially over the past few months— whenever they asked me for some assurance that Donald Trump could be ousted and turned into a one-term president. “Yes, he’s going to lose,” my answer had always been. “But things are going to get worse before they get better.” After the election, I find myself wondering if I got things reversed, and things are going to get better before they get worse. Let’s start with the good news. Joe Biden dominated Donald Trump in the popular vote and is on track to win 306 electoral votes (humblebrag: the exact number I predicted before the election)—a sizable win, and one that Trump’s sycophants described as a “landslide” back in 2016. Biden also appears to have flipped Georgia and Arizona, states that haven’t gone blue since Bill Clinton in 1992 and 1996. There were also no significant voting problems; thus far, the shambolic lawsuits from the president’s legal team have been laughed out of court by Democrat and Republican judges alike. And in an election with the highest voter turnout rate since 1908, Democrats will control the U.S. House of Representatives. Here at home, Governor Roy Cooper’s exemplary leadership in handling the COVID-19 pandemic was rewarded as he decisively thumped Dan “He’ll Get You Sick and Then Leave You with the Bill” Forest. And as of this writing, it looks like Attorney General Josh Stein will be returning as well. But there are some serious red flags in the results that suggest this country and our state still have a rough ride ahead. Republicans have elected several new congresscritters who are just plain nuts, including open believers of QAnon— the Crusher Creel of conspiracy theories—like Representatives-elect Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia and Lauren Boebert of Colorado. North Carolina isn’t exempt; we’re sending an Adolf Hitler enthusiast to Washington with the election of Madison Cawthorn, an accused sex pest and inveterate liar who decided to share with us the quality of his upbringing by tweeting “Cry more, lib” when he won. That brand of lunacy will continue on the Council of State with the election of new Lieutenant Governor Mark Robinson. Just the second Black person elected to statewide executive office in North Carolina (former State Audi-
tor Ralph Campbell, Jr. was the first), Robinson became a darling of the GOP two years ago, after a diatribe on gun rights he delivered to the Greensboro City Council went viral. As a firearms enthusiast myself, I understood the appeal; that understanding didn’t extend to Republicans elevating a guy who rants about Jews running Hollywood, claims former First Lady Michelle Obama is a man, and somehow still thinks—with more than a quarter of a million dead Americans—that the coronavirus is a globalist hoax and no worse than the flu. But Robinson provides a useful Black face for Republicans to point to when they need to explain away the neo-Nazis rallying in their name, so you can expect more of this conduct to be excused away over the next few years. You can also expect the same dysfunction in our state legislature, with Republicans gaining a handful of seats in the North Carolina state house while losing one in the state senate. The same muppets who were so inept that they couldn’t pass a budget on time despite controlling both chambers, and who appointed patently corrupt members to our university system’s Board of Governors, will get to continue grifting off the public for another two years. And they’ll have a court system that will let them get away with it, as Republicans appear to have swept all of the appellate judicial races. That includes intellectual featherweight and son-of-the-senate-majority-leader Phil Berger, Jr., who will apparently be our newest associate justice on the state’s Supreme Court. All with redistricting on deck for a fresh round of political gerrymandering that will last through the 2020s. It’s going to take several months of data analysis to accurately figure out what went wrong for Democrats this election cycle. In particular, I wonder what grade of street pharmaceuticals one has to smoke to split one’s ballot for both Donald Trump and Roy Cooper at the same time, or to vote for both Roy Cooper and Mark Robinson. But Democrats will need to figure it out—fast—because midterms typically benefit the party opposing the president. That means Republicans are on deck to make even deeper gains in 2022, potentially returning them to the same legislative supermajorities of the last decade. For now, though, let’s all enjoy the impending end of the error that is Donald Trump’s presidency. And enjoy things getting better before they get worse. Voices is made possible by contributions to the INDY Press Club. Join today at KeepItINDY.com.
T. GREG DOUCETTE is a local attorney, criminal justice reform advocate, and host of the podcast #Fsck ’Em All. Follow him on Twitter @greg_doucette.
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North Carolina District 18 Senator-Elect BY LEIGH TAUSS firstname.lastname@example.org
What made you decide to run? I ran initially in 2014 because I saw the Republican-controlled General Assembly really taking away everything we know makes North Carolina a great place to live, work, and raise a family. They hadn’t expanded Medicaid; they were not funding schools. I just couldn’t sit by and watch that happen to the state I love.
Dems hoped for a blue wave this election that would help them gain footing in the legislature, which obviously didn’t happen. But you managed to flip Wake County’s District 18, one of the county’s last Republican strongholds, previously held by Republican John Alexander, Jr. What will you do to make your first term count? I spent yesterday lamenting what could have been when we didn’t get the [seats] we wanted to flip the state senate. I certainly dreamed of going into Tuesday that we would flip the Senate and get a lot done in the first few weeks— expand Medicaid, give our teachers raises. I had all those hopes and dreams, but of course, that’s not what happened. So I spent yesterday thinking about what does being on the defensive mean. Some of the things I am interested in doing is to make sure people still have access to affordable, equitable health care. I would like that to be done through Medicaid expansion. Republicans haven’t been interested in doing that before; I’m not sure they will be interested in doing it now, but I am looking for ways to work across the aisle.
PHOTO COURTESY OF THE SUBJECT
There are things that this district needs. We have to make sure we have the infrastructure to support the growing district, and that means things like roads and universal broadband, so I’m hoping we can work with the other side on some of those things that will really make an impact in District 18.
As a rookie senator, what’s something folks would be surprised to learn about you? I think what people might not know about me is I actually started my career in constituent services, working for Congressman David Price. It was such a good way to cut my teeth working in government, because I learned a lot about helping constituents. There’s a big component of this, which is making and passing laws for the betterment of North Carolina. But another big service senators and house members provide is constituent services and helping cut government red tape, helping people figure out what they need in order to thrive. I’ve talked to so many people this year that need so much help in the wake of COVID-19. So I’m really looking forward to not just advocating for laws, but really providing constituent services. Then the other thing that I’ll say is that I am an avid runner. I was never an athlete growing up. Later in my adult life, I became a runner, and I have run all sorts of distances. My biggest accomplishment running is I did the Dopey Challenge down in Disney World. It’s a four-day race where you start with a 5k, then a 10k, then a half marathon, and then a full marathon. I did it with my dad, who at the time was 67 years old. We crossed the finish line together. W
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November 11, 2020
Q UICKBA I T
oung North Carolinians made their votes count this year, casting a higher portion of the ballots than in 2016. Data supplied by Clean and Prosperous America, a nonprofit Political Action Committee, shows voters under age 30 made up a greater share of early voting this year, jumping more than 13 percent since the last General Election. W
Early vote count aged 18-29
3 99, 3 3 5
67 0 , 5 9 0 2020
6 7. 9 % Increase in youth turnout for early voting from 2016 to 2020
Early vote share among North Carolinians aged 18-29 (2016 v. 2020*) 100% 75% 50% 25% 0%
13 % 2016
1 3 .1 %
increase in early vote share aged 18 to 29 from 2016 to 2020*
7, 3 5 9 , 7 9 8
Estimated total eligible N.C. voters**
74 . 6 % Estimated total N.C. voter turnout**
* As of Nov 8, 2020, 7:08:40 PM EST. Source: cleanprosperousamerica.org/young-voter-turnout/ ** The unofficial number from election night, Nov. 3, 2020. Source: www.ncsbe.gov
November 11, 2020
OP - E D
The Big Sad Stressed, depressed, not at our best—why mental health needs more focus
BY LESLIE BONEY email@example.com
here’s a lot we are yelling about right now, and rightly so. There’s the pandemic, of course. Lost jobs. The slow recovery. The election. Racial justice issues. But we’re only whispering about one of the most important issues facing our state—and our nation—right now: the toll this era is taking on our mental health. We’ve always been shy talking about mental health. It’s time to get over that. The U.S. is in the middle of a mental health crisis the likes of which we haven’t seen in a lifetime. The latest surveys from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show that 41 percent of respondents report mental health issues. That’s three times more than last year. The percentage of people reporting serious mental health issues is seven times higher than it was a year ago. The pandemic is affecting everyone, but we know some groups are more impacted than others. Young adults ages 18 to 24, young children, seniors, caregivers, essential workers, and Black and Latinx communities are especially hurting. This is not something that will just go away as the pandemic continues. In fact, many have predicted a surge of mental health challenges coming as the reality of prolonged grief and sustained stress takes a toll on more and more of us. There are things all of us can do to bring this issue to greater visibility. At the Institute of Emerging Issues (IEI) at North Carolina State University, we convened two statewide virtual conversations in late October to highlight the problem. But if we are truly going to raise awareness of this issue and get more people more help, the real work needs to happen on a community level. We’ve looked across the state and found six community efforts we believe could inspire the rest of the state. We want to lift up their work in addressing mental health challenges and nearterm needs while building support systems to thrive in a post-pandemic world. El Futuro, with a presence in Durham and Siler City, is one of the organizations leading the way in North Carolina. El Futuro encourages families to live out their dreams by providing culturally responsive mental health and substance use treatment for low-resourced Latinx families in an outpatient setting. They bring services to the community through telebehavioral health, school-based treatment, case management, and group programs.
PHOTO BY ISAAC HOLMGREN ON UNSPLASH
North Carolina’s one million Latinx residents are one of the state’s strongest assets, yet disproportionate levels of traumatic experiences related to poverty and migration, combined with significant barriers to accessing quality mental health treatment, mean they are also one of our most vulnerable communities. “There’s something called the immigrant paradox, where when people migrate to North Carolina and to the U.S., they’re generally more healthy when they first come,” Dr. David Lucas “Luke” Smith, executive director of El Futuro, said during the Mental Health & Well-Being virtual gathering. “The longer they stay, the more they take on characteristics of our community, which is we see higher rates of mental illness.” The disparities in health and economic outcomes presented by the COVID-19 pandemic only increase those vulnerabilities. In partnership with La Mesita Mental Health
Provider Network (with more than 800 members around the state) and other community partners, El Futuro is improving the standards of culturally responsive treatment available to Latinx families in N.C. and implementing creative and therapeutic placemaking to encourage healthy social connectivity and exposure to the natural environment in support of improved Latinx mental health. If we are going to make progress in meeting people where they are during the pandemic, we need to stop whispering and start speaking up about making mental health services available to everyone who needs them. People all across the state can learn a lot from El Futuro. W Leslie Boney is the Director of the Institute for Emerging Issues at NC State University. Leslie leads the institute’s efforts to identify key issues of importance to the state and develop consensus for action to address them. INDYweek.com
November 11, 2020
November 11, 2020
A Celebration of Democracy WORDS + PHOTOGRAPHY BY JADE WILSON
Before Joe Biden was announced President-Elect this past Saturday, November 7, North Carolina’s Team Democracy had already organized a rally in Raleigh to demand that every vote be counted and celebrate democracy. So the event, which kicked off shortly after news broke of Biden’s win, felt extra special. Many people showed up to Halifax Mall and danced. A celebration was also going on in downtown Durham; it lasted all through the night. It was a win that people needed to feel. W
November 11, 2020
N E WS
Second Chance A new tool offers nonviolent North Carolina offenders a clean slate BY THOMASI MCDONALD firstname.lastname@example.org
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November 11, 2020
efore the young activist Umar Muhammad, 30, was tragically killed in a traffic accident in 2017, he had conducted 60 “Clean Slate” clinics across the state, helping thousands of people who were trying to expunge charges from their criminal records. Now, a new project bearing his name will continue that work. Muhammad, the father of twin boys and a newborn daughter when he died in a motorcycle accident, was a leader of All of Us or None, an organization that lifts up the voices of those most affected by mass incarceration and the prison-industrial complex. He first began working with the Durham-based nonprofit Southern Coalition for Social Justice on various reform efforts in 2014. “His work was immediately satisfying,” Chantel Cherry-Lassiter, the Southern Coalition’s counsel for justice system reform, tells the INDY. “He had the personality, the drive, the dedication. He had a knack for making people feel hopeful and reaching out to members of the community they were trying to reach.” That’s why the Southern Coalition is launching an online program named in Muhammad’s honor, designed to carry on his work and give people a second chance at life. The group unveiled the Umar Muhammad Clean Slate Toolkit in October. Cherry-Lassiter says the purpose of the toolkit is “to empower people with a stepby-step guide to remove charges and convictions from their criminal records.” The idea is to make the process easier, cheaper, and more accessible to state residents. “We dedicate this toolkit to Umar, who opened every Clean Slate Clinic by stating, ‘You are not the sum of your worst mistakes,’” Cherry-Lassiter said in a press release.
The organization made the toolkit public after Governor Roy Cooper signed the Second Chance Act into law on June 25. The law—which makes it easier for nonviolent charges to be expunged from North Carolinians’ records—goes into effect on December 1. Cherry-Lassiter says that the group will hold webinars next month to explain how to use the toolkit. “I have been wanting to do this since last year,” she says. “The governor signed it into law, but you still have to know how to do it. I wanted to help them through the process.” At least two million people in the state have a criminal record. Prior to the pandemic, hundreds contacted Cherry-Lassiter each month wanting help. A survey by the National Employment Law Project found that 92 percent of employers conduct background checks during the interview process, she notes. That background check often blocks people from employment. “Better job opportunities lead to better housing,” Cherry-Lassiter explains. “To come to a place where they can get their record expunged can lead to better opportunities.” Certain occupational licenses are unavailable to people with criminal records, she says. Some housing opportunities are also off-limits, including public housing. “They can’t volunteer at school—not even the school of their child,” she adds. “Think about how that feels for a parent who wants to be there for their child.” Thanks to the work of the Southern Coalition and their new toolkit, Jesse King may fulfill his dream of becoming a law enforcement officer.
That dream was derailed in 2003, when King, then 18, was convicted of felony crimes against nature. He was originally charged with—but not convicted of—statutory rape of a 14-yearold girl. That charge was dismissed when his accuser told police she lied about her age to King, who was also a teenager at the time, he says. Instead of becoming a police officer, King lived a life marred by erratic decisions and instability: a year-long marriage that ended in divorce, one year of community college without graduating, and a series of low-paying jobs, he says. His weight ballooned up to 500 pounds, and he underwent gastric bypass surgery; other health issues compounded by his obesity nearly killed him, King says. King, now 36, started to get his life back on track in 2009, when he enrolled at Beaufort County Community College and earned an associate’s degree in criminal justice. Then, in 2012, he earned a business degree from the school.
“He had a knack for making people feel hopeful.” Late last year, King contacted Cherry-Lassiter, and she helped him file a petition with the Pitt County, North Carolina Superior Court to have his conviction expunged. A judge signed off on his petition, and with the conviction no longer on his record, he enrolled in basic law enforcement training, which starts in January. But King, who still resides in Pitt County, was still worried that the original charge of statutory rape—which remained on his record despite being dismissed—would hinder his chances of becoming a cop. Last month, he went online and used the new toolkit to petition the expungement of the dismissed charge, along with prior traffic violations. He worries that his paperwork may stall in the court system because of the pandemic, but he’s hopeful that the charge will be expunged before his law enforcement training begins. “I could have given up,” he says. “But something in my heart said, ‘Don’t give up.’” W
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Giving Life She shared her bone marrow to give someone a second chance BY MARIN WOLF email@example.com
elody Kramer was filled with energy as she got out of her car that early October morning. The Chapel Hill resident was nervous, just as she was before giving birth years earlier. But this was different; the medical procedure she was about to endure, no matter how routine or safe, felt daunting. Donning a surgical mask and a white speckled hospital gown, Kramer walked to interventional radiology—the place patients go when the veins in their arms don’t stick out enough—so that she could have a port placed in her neck. Before she was injected with pain medication to dull the sting, Kramer’s journalist instincts kicked in: She declined to listen to music, and instead asked the nurse to explain each step of the procedure. By the time the nurse placed her port, Kramer’s wife had returned from dropping their kids off at daycare. Kramer was hooked to a machine that looked like a small washing machine, and it began stripping her blood of the extra stem cells she produced. More than anything, Kramer was excited. After two months of planning, tests, and outreach, the day was finally here for her to donate her bone marrow to an anonymous recipient. As she sank into her hospital bed, giving in to the medication-induced drowsiness, Kramer willed her body to empty enough healthy cells into the clear bag hanging above her.
ears earlier, during her time at the University of Pennsylvania, Kramer
decided she wanted to play the trumpet, an instrument she’d never touched before. Her novice status didn’t stop her from becoming a vital member of the Penn marching band. “Deciding you want to play the trumpet is a challenging thing if you haven’t been learning since the fourth grade,” Assistant Band Director Kushol Gupta says. “A lot of students wouldn’t put themselves in that position.” Before long, her personality washed over the organization, and her infectious humor filled the long road trips to-and-from the campuses of Penn’s Ivy League rivals. Penn Band fell in love with Kramer. But Kramer’s heart was torn. “Her true love during her undergraduate days came out in her writing,” Gupta says. Her column, “Perpendicular Harmony,” ran in The Daily Pennsylvanian on Wednesdays and covered everything from professional sports to injustices in the university chemistry department. Her witty anecdotes and wise observations garnered a large following. Still, Kramer prioritized her band family. She quickly befriended Kevin Rakszawski, a talented musician who stood next to her in the trumpet section at Franklin Field for Saturday football games. When she found out that Rakszawski was diagnosed with lymphoma, she reached out to offer her support. She knew the pain and fear Rakszawski and his family were feeling about his upcoming chemotherapy treatments and scary survival statistics; her dad had been diagnosed with lymphoma just four years prior.
Melody in the hospital
PHOTO BY ABIGAIL HAYDON
Between her dad’s Friday chemotherapy appointments and the empty space Rakszawski left in the trumpet section during his recovery, cancer became a constant in Kramer’s college life. She wanted to do more for the thousands of patients that are diagnosed with lymphatic cancers each year. So, she did what she did best—she wrote. On the Friday before homecoming in 2005, Kramer shared the stories of Rakszawski and her dad on the pages of her school paper in an impassioned plea to visiting alumni to join the Nation-
al Marrow Donor Program. “You share things like fight songs and traditions and camaraderie,” she wrote. “What if you shared your bone marrow, too?” The stories she told resonated with her university community; she signed up 200 new potential donors for the registry. And, of course, she also registered. With a quick cheek swab, her genetic information was thrown into a database with what is now 22 million other donors. The chances of getting called to donate are one in 430, said Kate McDermott, public relations specialist for the Be The Match program. INDYweek.com
November 11, 2020
Kramer didn’t think much more of it. Why would she, with odds like that?
oday, Kramer and her wife work next to each other in their spare-bedroom-turned-home-office in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Their desks are made of the same butcher block material, but that’s where the similarities end. The desk belonging to Kramer’s wife, who asked not to be named, is neat and organized. Kramer’s is cluttered with papers and yesterday’s coffee mugs. Despite her messy workspace, Kramer excels at organizing around big ideas. In her years working in public media before she became the Carolina Population Center’s director of communications, she made connections spanning industries and cities. “She really thrives when she can come up with an idea and just pull in people from these different networks and communities,” her wife says. “She can spin this new thing out of nothing.” It was in her office that Kramer got the phone call as she worked, protected from the blistering July heat outside. She went silent and her eyes widened. Exactly 19 years after her dad’s 2001 diagnosis, Kramer was matched to a patient who needed a bone marrow transplant. The recipient and the donor stay anonymous for a year after the transplant, the person on the other end of the phone said, so Kramer wouldn’t know who she was donating to. They needed to run some more tests to confirm she was still a match. “Yes,” Kramer said over and over as the caller explained possible next steps. “I want to do it. I’m on board.” Her wife, who still didn’t know who was calling, said it sounded like she’d won some magical prize. In reality, “she got to take uncomfortable shots for five days and spend six hours hooked up to a crazy machine that took her blood.”
he process from the initial match to the actual procedure is slow and relatively hands-off. Kramer knew about her selection for more than two months before she donated. In the meantime, she reached out to her social media network for advice and to document her experience. She reconnected with her old friend from college, Kevin Rakszawski. After college, Kramer and Rakszawski went down divergent paths. Kramer took her knack for storytelling to NPR, National Geographic, and the Carolina Population Center, with a fellowship at Harvard and an appointment in the Obama administration thrown somewhere in between. Rakszawski went to medical school and specialized in oncology and hematology. Some of his patients in Hershey, Pennsylvania today have the same cancer he battled less than two decades ago. He walks patients through bone marrow transplants weekly. Wh e n K ra m er announced her upcoming donation on social media, Rakszawski had both personal and professional advice. He’d had his own bone marrow extracted and saved years before in case his cancer returned. He told her about the side effects and how you just kind of sit there while your blood is removed, filtered, and replaced. A bone marrow transplant isn’t as nearly as exciting for the donor as it sounds. He advised her to take Claritin when she started the shots she’d have to take leading up to the extraction. For some reason, it helps with the bone pain, he said. Rakszawski said no one really knows why. Armed with new information and a donation date, Kramer took to educating her Twitter followers about what she was experiencing. She set a goal reminiscent of the one she set in college, only amplified by her years of experience: She wanted to sign 500 potential donors up for Be
“Oh, I guess this isn’t something that an altruistic stranger is doing, but it’s something that I could do too.”
November 11, 2020
The Match, which manages the largest marrow registry in the world. Her effort, which has almost reached its goal, is especially important this year, as holding in-person donor drives is nearly impossible during a global pandemic. Sarah Todd, a senior reporter at Quartz, was one of more than 100 people who wrote to Kramer to say she registered. “Reading (her tweets), I thought, Oh, I guess this isn’t something that an altruistic stranger is doing, but it’s something that I could do too, which is something that wouldn’t have occurred to me otherwise,” Todd says.
xplaining a bone marrow donation to a toddler is as comical as it is challenging. Kramer was charged with trying to help her children understand why she had to take shots and why she was going to the hospital. “My 3-year-old thought I was giving all my blood away,” Kramer said. The donation became a family affair. Kramer or her wife would administer two shots every morning into her stomach and thigh that would stimulate her body’s stem cell creation. Her three-yearold helped put on the Band-Aids. Her oneyear-old watched. As her stem cells went into overdrive, Kramer’s bones began to ache. She was tired and mentally preparing for the donation. She had to be extra cautious about any potential exposure to COVID-19. She made a playlist of podcasts with the help of Twitter. For four hours on the day of her donation, Kramer lay in her hospital bed, staring at blue walls and the nurse’s station. Her wife watched a movie. By mid-afternoon, the process was done. With the pride of a mother holding her newborn baby, Kramer lifted a see-through bag filled a third of the way with a murky purplish liquid. Her fear of not producing enough melted away; her body had done exactly what she needed it to do. In her hands was the product of months of planning, days of shots, and rearranging work schedules. It was the product of bone pain, exhaustion, and a long, boring day in a sterile hospital room. It was the product of her college drive to sign hundreds up to donate their own bone marrow. Kramer didn’t think about that, though. The pain and the uncertainty were far from the front of her mind. In her hands was the product of love and commitment and her dad and Rakszawski’s perseverance. In her hands was someone’s second chance at life. W
Exhale...life’s different beyond the water
November 11, 2020
N E WS
Keeping the Faith Houses of worship continue to adapt to COVID-19 BY SERGIO OSNAYA-PRIETO firstname.lastname@example.org
he ritual had remained the same for centuries. The parishioner approached the priest, who lifted the pale wafer before the parishioner’s face. “The Body of Christ,” the priest said. “Amen,” the parishioner replied, his or her hands lifted, ready to receive the Eucharist followed by the wine—the blood of Christ. But even millennia-old rituals, like Catholics’ communion, have had to adapt to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. At St. Raphael Catholic Church in Raleigh, Father Phil Hurley walks around the sanctuary with a procession of volunteers who have a new, unexpected—and unofficial—title in the Catholic Church: the Ministers of Hand Sanitizer. Now, parishioners lift their hands to receive and apply hand sanitizer from a minister. Then, Hurley, donning a facemask and a face shield, approaches each parishioner and places the wafer in his or her hands. The parishioner replies with the customary “Amen,” but waits patiently for Hurley to move at least six feet away to consume the wafer. “The Eucharist is like the center of our faith, so it’s important to receive it as often as we can, you know—within reason, of course,” Andrew Kaveler, a volunteer during communion, said. “People have probably various woes and worries and depression onset by the pandemic, so it’s especially important to receive the graces that we believe we receive through the Eucharist.” This adaptation is the result of careful months of planning by the church’s leadership to reopen for in-person services, said Jeff Rice, pastoral associate for liturgy and music at St. Raphael—joining a growing number of houses of worship across the state that are opening their doors to worshippers once again. 14
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Religious leaders are choosing to reopen after the state’s Department of Health and Human Services issued new guidelines recommending houses of worship limit any indoor gatherings to 100 people, or 30 percent capacity. However, in-person religious services have been under scrutiny recently, after Mecklenburg County Health linked more than 150 COVID-19 cases and six deaths to a convocation event at a United House of Prayer church in Charlotte. Houses of worship reopening for in-person services have also adapted their religious services to meet health officials’ recommendations—altering rituals and reducing people’s interactions. Dr. Ayaz Pathan has attended the Islamic Association of Raleigh for nearly 35 years and was a member of the mosque’s reopening committee. He said the mosque usually received 3,000 visitors for Friday prayers before the pandemic. Now, a maximum of 1,200 people are allowed to visit the mosque’s four prayer services. Visiting the mosque now comes with a few additional precautionary steps, Pathan said. Those steps include registering online and performing wudu—the Muslim cleansing ritual performed before prayer—at home, as the washrooms are closed. “Obviously, I used to just kind of show it to the mosque prior without having to worry about any of those things, with plenty of bathroom facilities and places to wash before prayer,” he said. “Now, obviously, I walked in with a mask on and a
prayer rug over my shoulder, which obviously was not the case prior.” Whereas visitors could use a shoe rack prior to the pandemic, now worshippers receive a plastic bag to keep their shoes before entering the prayer room. Those who forget their prayer rug receive a plastic sheet to pray on. For about 30 minutes, the imam delivers a sermon and leads worshippers in prayer. In the main prayer room, masked men of all ages sit, stand, and kneel six feet apart on their own prayer rugs, which rest on top of long green rugs with beige arabesque patterns that decorate the room. Due to the social distancing rules, latecomers pray in the gymnasium directly behind the prayer room. Sermons are shorter, as are the moments to gather with others after the service: “So sit down, listen to sermons, and kind of leave without a bunch of fanfare,” Pathan said. Rabbi Lev Cotlar from the Chabad Center of Raleigh described similar procedures at his synagogue, which now receives about 15 people for in-person services compared to the regular pre-pandemic attendance of 50 people. Cotlar said he’s also cut down his usual 10-minute sermons to about three minutes to limit the amount of time worshippers spend inside the synagogue. “I try to keep them uplifting and optimistic,” Cotlar said. “And I think people really need that right now. It’s, of course, a time of great anxiety and stress. And so I think an uplifting, optimistic message is just something that people find really, really important right now.” Cotlar’s is one of few synagogues in the Triangle open for in-person services. For many houses of worship, the decision to reopen has been difficult—leaving many to remain closed, offering livestream services or other programming online. The Reverend Nancy Petty of Pullen Memorial Baptist Church in downtown Raleigh had even sent out a newsletter mes-
“An uplifting, optimistic message is just something that people find really, really important now.”
sage to her congregation informing them about the church’s intention to reopen for a small number of parishioners after months of only online services. However, after the number of COVID-19 cases began to spike again in early October, Petty retracted the decision before the reopening occurred. “You just can’t do that safely, when numbers are continuing to rise—even with that smaller number, and as large a space as we have,” Petty said. “It’s hard. I have found that it’s very difficult for people who have not seen each other in a long time, particularly church people—it is very hard for them not to go hug, and greet, and get too close to one another when they finally see each other.” Religious leaders said that despite the public health concerns, the decision to reopen is important to fulfill worshippers’ religious duties and fulfill a need for community after months of isolation. Pathan said prayer is a pillar of Islam, and attending Friday prayer services is an obligation for Muslims, so the decision to close the mosque earlier in the pandemic was met with pushback. “So it was a tough decision, I think,” he said. “So it really became very important that when we felt we could safely be open, that we very aggressively looked at those options.” Pathan said the mosque also serves to create a support system for its congregation, offering people a place to pray, eat, participate in sports activities together, and more. That sense of community is one that Cotlar said people need “now more than ever,” which has motivated the synagogue to connect with all worshippers through online portals, ensuring that all members feel connected. For Rice, the safety measures taken during services at St. Raphael have also highlighted the respect community members have for each other and the desire for connection—even behind face masks, shields, and hand sanitizer. “But actually, our experience is that people slow down—they act more reverently,” Rice said. “They act more reverently for receiving communion because they’re slowing down, they’re being more intentional. And they’re obviously showing much more reverence towards one another.”W
FOOD & DR I NK A hemp plant PHOTO COURTESY OF HANDÈWA FARMS
Back to the Land Rougemont collective Handèwa Farms is harvesting for the future BY HADASSAH PATTERSON email@example.com
ight-foot tall spires of bright green hemp line an acre of well-kept furrows, looming like Christmas trees over every human working. The sun is still hot to work under, but it’s quiet out. The pungent, earthy aromas of soil and piquant leaves hang in the air. It’s the first harvest season at Handèwa Farms, a collectively owned, women-led hemp farm in Rougemont, North Carolina. Surrounded by woods and tucked into a tract of Occaneechi Saponi ancestral land off Hobgood Road—about 40 minutes north of Durham, between
Roxboro and Oxford—the farm would almost be easy to miss. But it’s well-worth paying attention to. Handèwa describes itself as an “Afro-Indigenous led farming effort.” The farmland it sits on was gifted by Respite in the Round, a neighboring retreat center, and the restorative effects of the center spill over to the farm space, where founders A.yoni Jeffries, Chef Abbi Jeffries, and Chelsey and Kiaro Holts work with other cooperative members and volunteers to harvest the plants. They bend down to the root of each of the
hemp cultivars and cut the base, before hanging plants to dry in greenhouses. Handèwa is one of the rare Indigenous farming operations in North Carolina. The Jeffries are enrolled members of the Occaneechi Band of the Saponi Nation, and Holts is a member of both the Lakota Nation and the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Nation. Historically, Native women have often led tribal farming efforts. Generations later, at Handèwa, they produce organic hemp sustainably, following the Indigenous philosophy of caring for the land. Handèwa’s is a reclamation of cultural dignity. “It really means a lot to us to work on ancestral Indigenous land,” Holts says of the connection to the land. “Most of us have Indigenous ancestry, and it gives a deeper sense of purpose ... For me, I’ve been looking into our ancestry and learning more about native practices. So I feel like this has been a learning experience overall.” Hemp is no stranger to North Carolina. It was historically cultivated by the Tuscarora Nation, whose name translates to “the hemp gatherers” and who used the plant for numerous uses, including for insulation and medicinal purposes. The latter use was the main draw for the cooperative, who wanted to produce CBD for its healing properties, incorporating it into salves, lotions, and tea. “All of us are very interested in holistic health and not having to resort to pharmacy drugs to treat medical issues,” Holt says. “We are really into returning to the earth and seeing how the earth can be our medicine. So hemp was a big product for us, because we could treat anxiety, pain, even recovery from postpartum conditions naturally.” It’s been a challenging first year for Handèwa. After forming the collaborative in late 2019, they built it against the backdrop of the pandemic, incorporating in March and planting in late April and early May. Several members of the collective—including A.yoni Jeffries, whom the INDY profiled in March—are musicians who have suffered an acute loss of income during the pandemic. The farm’s budget is still scrappy, and they rely on help from volunteers. This first season has focused on hemp, potatoes, and corn. In late October, high winds from Tropical Storm Zeta swept through the Carolinas, destroying several hoop houses that contained a portion of the crops. “We got on site last week, and everything was flipped over,” Holt says. “We were disappointed—feeling like we’d INDYweek.com
November 11, 2020
Handèwa collective member Will Jenifer just have to start over. We were so close. We were able to salvage as much as we could. All of the funds that went to the greenhouses—we’re not going to get that back.” To process the remaining harvest, the collective will need more space. To fund this, they’re rolling up their sleeves and focusing on the farm’s Generational Campaign, a fundraiser to help Handèwa meet several goals, including purchasing harvesting equipment and an adjoining tract of land. To date, they’ve raised about $15,000 of their $75,000 goal. “We still have a long way to go, but we’ve been really overwhelmed and appreciative of the support from the community,” Holt says. In the Tutelo-Saponi language, Yesanechi, “Handèwa” means “generational.” “With everything going on, we want to be out in the country, turning back to those roots,” Holt says. “Everyone is dealing with the anxiety of public spaces and staring at computer screens all day.” The long-term plan is to build a legacy. Indigenous culture teaches that our actions affect the next seven generations. In the future, the cooperative hopes to have a setup where they’re able to teach urban gardening, provide food to food-insecure areas, and potentially start satellite versions of the farm. Holt says they would also like to expand 16
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PHOTO COURTESY OF HANDÈWA FARMS
“It really means a lot to us to work on ancestral Indigenous land. Most of us have Indigenous ancestry, and it gives a deeper sense of purpose.” their crop variety, possibly growing corn, beans, and squash. For now, their main focus is the hemp harvest. It’s a business, but for Holts, it’s also personal. She says that helping people deal with pain and anxiety naturally, as well as working with farm volunteers and seeing their personal progress, has been rewarding. “For all of us at Handèwa,” Holt says, “the most important thing is giving back to our community.” W
M U SIC
JUSTIN-LEE SCHULTZ: GRUV KID
[Shanachie; November 13]
A Class of His Own Durham piano prodigy Justin-Lee Schultz is just getting started BY WILL ATKINSON firstname.lastname@example.org
or almost as long as there have been pianos, there have been piano prodigies. Mozart famously composed his first pieces by age five; Chopin, at seven, was not far behind; Franz Liszt made his concert debut at 11. At 13, Durham’s Justin-Lee Schultz is the latest pianist to receive that title. But the closest analog to Schultz’s musical talent may be a more recent prodigy: Stevie Wonder, whom Schultz considers a hero. On his classic albums, Wonder was known for playing nearly every instrument in the studio. And while Schultz mainly handles keyboard duties on his debut album Gruv Kid, which is out on November 13, he’s hardly stopped there. At five years old, he had already mastered the piano. Not long after, he picked up the guitar. These days, if you check his Instagram page—where he has amassed a following of over 300,000—he’s often jamming on the harpejji, an unusual stringed instrument that splits the difference between a piano and a guitar. In the future, Schultz says, he’d like to learn saxophone and harmonica. (“And drums,” he adds. “And trumpet.”) But the piece of gear most representative of Schultz’s young career might be the talk box. A sort of proto-vocoder, a talk box takes the sound from an instrument and filters it through the musician’s mouth, producing a robotic “vocalizing” effect. Stevie Wonder popularized it during a television appearance in 1972, and it’s no coincidence that Schultz has taken to the talk box in many of his videos, including an appearance on America’s Most Musical Family with his father
Julius, a guitarist, and his 17-year-old sister Jamie-Leigh, a drummer. He’s channeling the spirit of his idol. “The fact that he was doing that back in the ’70s and the ’80s—he was so far ahead, in terms of musicality,” Schultz says of Wonder. “It’s like he’s got his own thing.” Gruv Kid includes a cover of Wonder’s “Do I Do,” and the musician’s influence is palpable across the album’s 11 tracks, with easygoing arrangements that foreground Schultz’s jazz piano. Recorded and produced remotely from Schultz’s home studio in Durham, it features collaborations with veteran keyboardist Bob James and the Philadelphia-based jazz-fusion group Pieces of a Dream. Julius composed seven of its tracks, reimagining some of his previous releases as a guitarist. The album is officially credited to Schultz, but it’s just as much a showcase of Julius and Jamie-Leigh, whose contributions are essential to each track. Before moving to the U.S., the family had lived in South Africa, where Julius enjoyed a career as a professional jazz guitarist, releasing three albums as a solo artist. When his children began to show an interest in music, he says that he encouraged them but was initially resistant, remembering his own experiences in what he describes as an unstable, “mafia-like” industry. “That was the main reason why we moved to the States—because I was so frustrated at the music industry in South Africa,” Julius says. “I didn’t want my kids to go through that as well.” At concerts, Julius would sometimes bring Jamie-Leigh out to play drums for a song. Unlike his older sister, young Justin-Lee initially showed little interest in music. It didn’t stay that way for long.
PHOTO BY JADE WILSON
“There was a keyboard in the house, and I just started fiddling around with it,” Schultz says. Soon, Schultz and his sister were regularly joining their father onstage, and their profile grew in South Africa. As with many contemporary musicians, social media hype brought the Schultz family a wider audience. Shot with a front-facing camera, the clips that earned them a loyal following on Instagram and Facebook are typically short and informal; they might show Schultz trying out a new song, covering a jazz standard, or playing a duet with Julius or Jamie-Leigh. But in each one, his musical dexterity is on full display. When Julius got a job as a music director at a church in Michigan and the family relocated to the U.S. in 2015, that online success translated to an American audience. Appearances on Harry Connick, Jr.’s talk show and America’s Most Musical Family followed, and Schultz began attracting attention from more experienced musicians, including the ones who would end up on Gruv Kid.
The family moved from Michigan to Durham this past February. The reason was simple: “We were tired of the cold,” says Julius. Because they moved just before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Schultz and Julius say they haven’t had a chance to explore the city’s music scene. But for an artist whose biggest platform has always been online, the increased time indoors—where Schultz takes remote classes and enjoys playing Mario Kart when he isn’t working on music—hasn’t been much of an obstacle. When it comes to his viral fame, it helps that Schultz has a charisma beyond his years, equally at ease in front of a camera as he is behind the piano. What makes his videos so entertaining isn’t just the playing itself but his expressiveness—sometimes grimacing, sometimes grinning, as he immerses himself in the music. Even with the growing attention, it’s clear that he’s motivated by the genuine joy of playing. “It’s always fun for me,” he says. “And that’s the main thing: My dad always told me, “If you’re not having fun, then don’t do it.’” W INDYweek.com
November 11, 2020
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World of Possibilities Two albums born in the pandemic are adaptive, experimental reflections of our time BY GRANT GOLDEN AND YAIR RUBINSTEIN email@example.com
JPHONO1: YOU ARE HERE TO BE AROUND
HHH [Potluck Foundation; Nov. 13]
John Harrison has been a fixture of the Triangle music scene for decades, with his work with The Comas and North Elementary and as the founder of Potluck Foundation. In recent years, his ever-expanding project Jphono1 has become a focus. The solo endeavor has morphed into an amalgamation of musical ideas, including an iteration as a roots-tinged band called Jphono1 and the Chevrons. But, as with so many others in the musical universe, Harrison had to toss his plans for 2020 aside because of COVID-19. Thus, a project slated as a full-band excursion became a reflective solo record, You Are Here to Be Around. The album explores the outer reaches of Harrison’s songwriting, blending plainspoken psych-folk tracks with sonic explorations. “Safety Sherpa” hums with soft synth pads and ambient electronic whirring as Harrison noodles with weightless piano keys. “HOMe” is equally entrancing, with a meditative mantra composed around 18
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acoustic guitar and an overdubbed refrain of “home.” Harrison embraces wildly different ends of the musical spectrum on You Are Here To Be Around, from cerebral electronics to fingerpicked acoustic guitar—a contrast that lends the pacing a spastic feel. The woozy “Baked Burrito No 2” slides into a psychedelic haze with its trailing guitar lines and oscillating synths—but before you realize it, you’re thrust into the bare-boned guitar rhythms of “Freedom, LARGE.” Listeners will discover the album’s most straightforward arrangements on the titular “Here to Be Around,” as well as on “The Wolves That Raised You,” “Shake,” and “Turning to Sky.” The twists and turns that Harrison takes to arrive at these tracks are what makes the record so enjoyable. With its haunting woodwinds and cacophonous percussive hits, “Cycles and Circles” feels ripped from an early ’90s “Drums/Space” take from a Grateful Dead set. “Dirty Drums” is a two-minute jaunt into fervid psych-rock. “Peyote Brunch,” meanwhile, is a quick peek into gassed-up free jazz. Harrison deploys vocals sparsely throughout, making them that much more potent when he sets in with his weighty reflections. The expansive “Turning To Sky,” told from the perspective of an astronaut, closes the record with a timely refrain: “Daybreak is gold/The Earth will spin/It’s on fire, but I’m sleeping in/Hits all at once, then it is gone/Comes back around if you leave it alone.” In the liner notes, Harrison talks about the album becoming a portal for “unfinished ideas.” The fragmentary throughlines remind us that this is not the album he set out to make, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing: These hastily arranged recordings serve as aural bridges that guide the listener into new sonic territories.
With this release, Harrison has crafted a captivating ode to acquiescent self-exploration. –Grant Golden
MAISON FAUNA: FIELD GUIDE VOLUME I
HHH [Maison Fauna; Nov. 13]
A tinge of sadness seeps through Maison Fauna’s excellent new compilation, Field Guide Volume I. Eight months ago, the upstart record label and party crew was set to put Durham’s fledgling club scene on the map. Mere days after a major profile in this very paper, the onset of COVID-19 halted its plans. Instead of throwing in the towel, though, Maison Fauna redoubled its efforts to grow its roster of rising local talent. The superbly curated collection is a reflection of Maison Fauna’s ability to adapt. Field Guide Volume I is front-loaded with bangers, beginning with the dark and booming bass of Blursome, a North Carolina-raised producer and vocalist. From there, we seamlessly segue into “Tell Me,” a sumptuous house anthem from Durham producer Treee City. Anchored
by a soulful vocal sample that plaintively repeats the song’s titular request, it’s got a simple yet effective bassline that delicately scales up and down its brief, blissful runtime. Field Guide rounds out this strong opening with the delightfully titled “Ambien Roller Rink,” an unapologetic slice of rave revivalism from Willem Wolfe that wouldn’t sound out of place alongside Zomby’s “Where Were You in ’92” or Scuba’s “NE1BUTU.” From there, the tracklist settles into a nice combination of deep house grooves, synth-driven disco jams, and shuffling 2-step rhythms reminiscent of peak UK garage. What sets Field Guide Volume I apart from other label compilations is how successfully it promotes its catalog without sacrificing its dancefloor readiness—not a small feat considering that the compilation contains a whopping 19 tracks. Perhaps that shouldn’t be surprising when you consider that the label’s four cofounders are veteran DJs, party promoters, and former club kids. Maison Fauna’s own Sarah Damsky, who deejays as Kir, contributes her own track, “Fine by Me,” to the proceedings, a charmingly quick runthrough of UK bass music at its leanest and cleanest (are we noticing a developing theme here?). Other highlights include Durham producer 2Dwave’s “Flood Cove,” an instantly catchy four-to-the-floor jammer which laces together percussive ricochets, verdantly lush field recordings, and a gliding analog bassline that echoes IDM pioneers Squarepusher and Aphex Twin. Altogether, Field Guide Volume I confidently sets a new sonic standard for the Triangle’s growing dance scene. Here’s to hoping that Volume II will be celebrating a new era of club music throughout the Triangle. –Yair Rubinstein W
SC R E E N
OUTSOUTH QUEER FILM FESTIVAL
Friday, Nov. 13-Sunday, Nov. 19 | $12-$90 | carolinatheatre.org/festival/outsouth
Still from Cicada PHOTO COURTESY OF THE FILMMAKERS
Pride and Joy Renamed last year and reborn virtually this year, OutSouth Queer Film Festival celebrates 25 years BY MARY KING firstname.lastname@example.org
s queer Americans weather a contentious election season and a Supreme Court appointment that could jeopardize their rights, Durham’s decades-old OutSouth Queer Film Festival stands as a beacon of LGBTQ community resilience. “It’s a reminder that we are still here,” festival director Chuck Wheeler says. Since 1995, the festival—formerly known as the North Carolina Gay + Lesbian Film Festival—has packed thousands of attendees into the Carolina Theatre of Durham. It’s 2020, so of course things look different this go-around: This year, the festival will celebrate its twenty-fifth anniversary virtually. Beginning Friday, November 13, patrons can digitally rent collections of short films or individual, full-length features. Alternately, patrons can purchase an all-access pass to the festival’s lineup of 41 films. Wheeler says that he expects around 25 to 30 percent of usual ticket sales. Hosting a virtual festival is far less expensive than managing a physical event,
though, so despite the inevitable revenue decrease, the festival will come in well below budget. Wheeler also adds that donors and sponsors have remained “incredibly supportive” through the transition to a virtual format. The festival has always aimed to select programming that features diverse identities. “I think this year, though, is exemplary,” he says. In rom-com Breaking Fast, which has racked up awards at festivals from Vancouver to Austin, that diversity is particularly evident, with a Ramadan love story between two gay characters: a devout Muslim doctor named Mo and a non-Muslim, “All-American guy” named Kal. Writer and director Mike Mosallam says he wanted to create a story in which the characters live the totality of their queer and religious identities without compromising them for others. “Probably the most meaningful part of the process are so many folks from the LGBTQ community, either Muslim
or otherwise, who have reached out and said, ‘I’ve never seen myself represented. I’ve never heard my story represented,’” Mosallam tells the INDY. Intersecting identities also come into play in 2 Dollars, a short film written and directed by comedian Robin Cloud. In the film, Syd, a Black nonbinary artist, works a dreary day job in an office fraught with discrimination and false allyship—until a lottery ticket worth millions offers the promise of liberation. “I want to show us in the light outside of just coming-out stories or stories around the typical tropes that you see, the typical struggle,” Cloud told the INDY. “I wanted to see us exploring other issues and living life outside of the coming-out space.” Other festival highlights include the documentary Ahead of the Curve, which covers the evolution of the prominent lesbian and queer magazine Curve. The charming semi-autobiographical film Cicada, meanwhile, explores an interracial romance between Ben and Sam, two men who meet at a bookstall on a New York City street. 2020 marks the fiftieth anniversary of the first Pride march in the United States, so Wheeler says he’s grateful for the community’s support in keeping the OutSouth tradition afloat this year—especially when many festivals, including the Tribeca Film Festival, are being canceled altogether. Although taking the festival remote was an adaptation implemented specifically for the pandemic, Jim Carl, the Carolina Theatre’s senior director of film programming, believes virtual film is here to stay. He says that 2020 has forced programmers like himself to embrace new technology and learn how to adapt to virtual platforms. As a result, he says, it’s possible that the Carolina Theatre will start hosting the festival virtually as well as physically—and he predicts that festivals across the country will follow suit. W
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There is really only one rule to Sudoku: Fill in the game board so that the numbers 1 through 9 occur exactly once in each row, column, and 3x3 box. The numbers can appear in any order and diagonals are not considered. Your initial game board will consist of several numbers that are already placed. Those numbers cannot be changed. Your goal is to fill in the empty squares following the simple rule above.
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