Little Village Central Iowa issue 13: April 2023

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ISSUE 013 Apr I l 2023 ALWAYS FREE Little Village Central Iowa’s 1st AnniversAry issue ! TAKE ONE! TAKE ONE! From coffee shops to factories to backstage of Iowa’s biggest shows, workers across the state are getting organized.
Set the Stage

Des Moines Metro Opera’s 2022 production of Porgy and Bess. Jen Golay


Can You lend a Hand?


19 river’s Tributaries

Wrangling 150 Iowa musicians for one album is nothing compared to touring in a family band.


Anand Varma uses nature photography “to peel back hidden layers” in the animal kingdom.

Little Village (ISSN 2328-3351) is an independent, community-supported news and culture publication based in Iowa City, published monthly by Little Village, LLC, 623 S Dubuque St., Iowa City, IA 52240. Through journalism, essays and events, we work to improve our community according to core values: environmental sustainability, affordability and access, economic and labor justice, racial justice, gender equity, quality healthcare, quality education and critical culture. Letters to the editor(s) are always welcome. We reserve the right to fact check and edit for length and clarity. Please send letters, comments or corrections to

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6 Top Stories

7 Ad Index

9 In Memoriam 14 Interactions

11 En Español

12 Contact Buzz 14 Stagehands Union 16 Bread & Butter 14 State of Labor 19 Prairie Pop 20 A-List 23 Events Calendar 27 Dear Kiki 29 Astrology

31 Local Album Reviews 35 Local Book Reviews 39 Crossword




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The show can’t go on without the skillful members of Iowa’s stagehand union. SMOKEY ROW COFFEE
Since 2001 SAVE,
The Bats & the Bees
The HUndred Dresses, 2022-23 Season The Piano Lesson, 2022-23 Season • 831 42nd St • Des Moines, IA Scan for more info on what’s happening at The Playhouse! HAPPENING NOW Summer Camp Registrations now open! CLASSES Native Gardens Apr. 10, 2023 Little Shop of Horrors May 22, 2023 AUDITIONS SHOWS How I Became a Pirate Apr. 21-May 7, 2023 FRIDAY FUNDAY PRESENTS Snow White May 12, 2023 FINAL ACT ENSEMBLE Spring Show May 23, 2023 2023-24 SEASON TICKETS AVAILABLE NOW!
Kinky Boots, 2022-23 Season


Publisher Genevieve Trainor


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Arts and Culture Editor

Isaac Hamlet

News Director Paul Brennan

Art and Production Director

Jordan Sellergren

Multimedia Editor Associate Publisher—DSM Adria Carpenter

Photographer, Designer Sid Peterson

Multimedia Journalist Courtney Guein

Spanish Language Editor Summer Santos

Calendar/Event Listings


April Contributors

Benjamin Jeffery, Britt Fowler, Allu Frame, John Busbee, John Martinek, Kent Williams, Lauren Haldeman, Loren Thatcher, Mike Kuhlenbeck, Sam Locke Ward, Sarah Elgatian, Teri Underhill, Tom Tomorrow


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Meet this month’s contributors:

Ally Frame is a Des Moines based illustrator and muralist. She loves making everything cute and whimsical.

Avery Gregurich is a writer living and writing at the edge of the Iowa River in Marengo.

Claire Thoele is an illustrator, formerly of Iowa City, who now works and resides in the Wilds of Northwest Illinois.

Don McLeese teaches journalism at the University of Iowa. He has been writing about books and music, movies and TV, politics and popular culture, since the dawn of time.

John Busbee works as an independent voice for Iowa’s cultural scene, including producing a weekly KFMG radio show, The Culture Buzz, since 2007.

Kembrew McLeod is a founding Little Village columnist and the chair of Communications Studies at the University of Iowa.


Issue 013 , Volume 2 April 2023

Cover by Ally Frame

Workers behind counters, curtains and production lines are organizing across Iowa, but the state’s complicated relationship with labor looms large. Plus: Iowa roots music, up-close with a National Geographic photographer and more!

Max Adams was born in Nebraska and raised between there and Iowa Falls. He is now a post-graduate student living in Des Moines. His writing interests include politics, people and culture.

Michael Roeder is a self-declared Music Savant. When he isn’t writing for Little Village he blogs at

Rob Cline is a writer and critic who would gleefully give the current state of things a negative review.

Sarah Elgatian is a writer, activist and educator living in Iowa. She likes dark coffee, bright colors and long sentences. She dislikes meanness.

Summer Santos earned her Ph.D. in Medieval English Literature and MFA in Literary Translation from the University of Iowa in 2019. She now works in immigration law as a paralegal.

Culture writers, food reviewers and columnists, email:

Illustrators, photographers and comic artists, email:

us a pitch!
could see your bio here.

From the Newsletter

Four of the top stories featured last month in the LV Daily, Little Village’s weekday afternoon email written by Paul Brennan. Subscribe at

Iowa legislature passes bill restricting gender-affirming care for trans children, even if prescribed by doctors

Thursday, March 9

On Wednesday, Iowa House Republicans followed the example of their Senate counterparts and pushed through a bill banning gender-affirming care for any transgender person under 18 in the state, even if the person’s doctors and parents agree such care is necessary. Unlike the vote in the Senate, where every Republican voted for the ban, five Republicans joined all the House’s Democrats in opposing it.

Iowa governor says ‘it’s not easy for me either’ as she signs laws considered life-threatening by trans care providers

Wednesday, March 22

After not commenting on the bill to ban gender-affirming medical care for trans minors, Gov. Reynolds confirmed on Tuesday she will sign the bill. She compared the medical care to health- and safety-threatening behavior such as smoking and drinking alcohol, and said the ban “is in the best interest of the kids.” Reynolds also signed a ban on trans Iowans using school bathrooms or locker rooms that match their gender identity.

Iowa City Starbucks files to become first unionized store in the state

Tuesday, March 28

Workers at the Starbucks in downtown Iowa City have begun the formal process that will allow them to unionize. Unionization drives at the coffee chain have swept through locations around the country during the last two years, but the workers at the Starbucks at the corner of Burlington and Clinton Streets are the first in Iowa to file a petition for a union election with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).

Set to close after 181 years, Iowa Wesleyan University is ‘disappointed in the lack of state support’

Wednesday, March 29

Iowa Wesleyan University announced on Monday it will permanently close at the end of the current semester. In a statement posted on its website, the private university in Mount Pleasant cited financial problems, including a decline in donor support and Gov. Kim Reynolds’ refusal to provide assistance using American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds. Support

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This issue of Little Village is supported by:

Adamantine Spine Moving (27)

Broadlawns Medical Center (13)

Campbell’s Nutrition (8)

Catch Des Moines (32)

Des Moines Art Center (10)

Des Moines Metro Opera (25)

Des Moines Music Coalition (30, 36)

Des Moines Playhouse (4)

Des Moines Symphony (37)

Full Court Press (26, )

Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden (37)

Greubel Legal Services (29)

Grinnell College Museum of Art (22)

House of Glass (10)

Iowa Department of Public Health (38)

Iowa Public Radio (7, 29)

Nearwood Winery & Vineyards (13)


Orchestrate Hospitality (21)

Planned Parenthood (15)

Primary Health Care (39)

Raygun (17)

ReFocus Film Festival (34)

Sierra Club (40)

University of Iowa Stanley Museum of Art (2)

Varsity Cinema (25)

xBk (23)

Independent Highland Park/Oak Park Neighborhood (19)

- Chuck’s Restaurant

- The Collective

- Des Moines Mercantile

- Bill’s Window & Screen Repair

- The Slow Down

Independent Historic Valley Junction (28)

- Coffee Cats

- Historic Valley Junction

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Trevor lee Hopkins’ Small Stakes

This month Iowa City lost its Swiss Army knife, Trevor Hopkins. “Trigger,” “Sheriff,” sound guy, bartender, drummer, brother, dog dad, cook, uncle, tireless encourager, ray of social media sunshine, nickname artist, husband to wonderful Ashlee, and longtime Little Village distributor, Trevor’s big heart chose a quiet, cold, homebound Saint Patrick’s Day to finally give out overnight. He was 47, and I hope he was at peace.

Following his sudden passing,

social media (and his memorial service) overflowed with remembrances from people who had ideas and aspirations that Trevor had put a nickel into at one time or another. Day

via the Hopkins family

Better write about it!

after day, stories of these small stakes flooded my feed. They started to add up and, as is too often the case, I’m afraid they might have added up to more than he realized.

One of those endeavors that Trevor believed in was Little Village. Like anyone, we’ve had those days when it was hard to know if any of it was landing, or if we should even go on. As he was for so many others, there was a time or two when Trevor was that person for us—the one who was there, and wouldn’t hear it, and wasn’t going to let us leave until we looked each other in the eye and promised to keep going.

Trevor loved us (and, if you are reading this, that means you). I knew him for years and I still couldn’t tell his actual blood family from his chosen family, from new friends, from townies, or from musicians who had come through Iowa City only once or twice, or had one time promised/ indicated that they might. He was serious about all of it—serious about answering the call! And answer he did. Honestly whether you called or not, he was still around every corner, and always making a comeback—your comeback.

His ripples of encouragement spanned at least three generations, and it would be a very good thing in my opinion if they could span a couple more. He had such conviction and consistency, you have to at least consider the possibility that the truth was on his side: Maybe when he told us to keep going, that it was worth it, that we had to, that it mattered—maybe it really did. Maybe it still does.

Maybe Trevor was right, but this will be a different place without him. Our family won’t ever be the same. Hold each other close, and keep checking your pockets for Trevor. If you find him, you’ll know what to do: Help him out by putting someone up on stage, at least one more time.

Be famous. (Kinda.) Little Village is looking for writers. Contact:


Think of your favorite meal from a restaurant. Is the restaurant still open?

Full Steam Ahead

SINCE A STArBUCKS in Buffalo, New York became the first to union in December 2021, more than 290 other locations have started union drives. On March 27, workers at the downtown Iowa City Starbucks joined the movement, becoming the first in the state to file paperwork for a union election.

Soundings AND Q+A
Jordan Sellergren / Little Village
Yes! 33.3% No )’: 53.3% Yes but it’s not the same 13.3%
/LittleVillage READER

Conocer tus derechos laborales

Con los intentos recientes en Iowa y otros estados vecinos para debilitar protecciones existentes para trabajadores, decidí a consultar a una autoridad en la ley laboral en Iowa. Hablé recientemente con César Rosado Marzán, el Edward L. Carmody Profesor de la Ley en la Universidad de Iowa, y le pregunté a él algunas preguntas para obtener una comprensión mejor de que los trabajadores en Iowa deben entender sobre sus derechos y como luchar por ellos.

¿Cómo describirías el estado presente de los derechos laborales en Iowa? Como la mayoría de los EEUU, los derechos laborales en Iowa están en disminución empinada. Como la mayoría de los estados ‘rojos’ ellos están en gran peligro en Iowa. Dado que el gobierno quiere restaurar la labor de niños en Iowa, la evidencia de la degradación de los derechos laborales es muy alta.

la gobernadora reynolds soporta el derecho al trabajo – ¿Qué significa esta frase, en realidad? Se significa que, si los trabajadores eligen democráticamente un sindicato para representarlos a su empleador, uno, el sindicato estará obligada a representar legalmente cada trabajador a pesar de su afiliación o falta de afiliación con el sindicato, y, dos, cualquier trabajador en esa compañía puede rechazar legalmente a pagar la cuota por servicios del sindicato, aun si el sindicato esta requerido a representarlos. Es decir, derecho al trabajo significa que el sindicato debe representar cualquier persona en una compañía donde el sindicato representa trabajadores, gratis. Los economistas se refieren a este fenómeno como polizones. Mi abuelo se referiría como gorronear y quizás cosas más desfavorables.

¿Que son los efectos verdaderos de derecho al trabajo? Los estudios han demostrado que derecho al trabajo tiene impacto negative en afiliación en sindicatos y representación por sindicatos. Debilita a las uniones y por eso hace menos atractivas los sindicatos a la mayoría de los trabajadores.

¿Cuáles derechos son los más importantes de entender para los trabajadores de Iowa? Es una pregunta muy compleja y merece conversación más amplia. Si tengo que escoger un derecho, creo que el derecho de unirse a un

sindicato y la negociación del convenio es lo más importante. La democracia se depende de este derecho, y sin la democracia todos los trabajadores salen perdiendo.

¿Qué pueden hacer los trabajadores de Iowa para mejorar sus derechos en el lugar de trabajo? Pueden hacer muchas cosas. Pueden unirse a sindicatos. O soportar a los trabajadores en huelga o con ganas de unirse a un sindicato. O convencer a sus iglesias para soportar los trabajadores necesitados, tal como cuando los trabajadores con salario bajo dicen que su empleador no les pagaba justamente de acuerdo con la ley.

Knowing Your rights as a Worker


With recent efforts in Iowa and neighboring states to weaken existing protections for workers, I decided to consult an authority on labor law in Iowa. I recently spoke with César Rosado Marzán, the Edward L. Carmody Professor of Law at the University of Iowa, and asked him some questions to help get a better picture of what Iowan workers should understand about their rights and how to fight for them.

How would you characterize the current state of labor rights in Iowa? Labor rights in Iowa, like in most of the United States, are in deep decline. Like in most “red” states, they’re even in bigger trouble in Iowa. The fact that the government wants to restore child labor in Iowa is perhaps more than good evidence of how degraded workers’ rights are in Iowa.

Gov. reynolds supports “right to work”— what does that mean, really? It means that if workers democratically choose to have a union represent them at work, that, one, the union has to legally represent all the workers in that workplace, whether they want to be union members or not, and, two, any worker in that workplace can legally opt out from paying the union service charge even when the union must represent them. In other words, right to work means that the union must represent for free anyone in a workplace where a union must represent employees. Economists call this “free riding.” My grandpa would have called it “freeloading,” and perhaps worse things.

Tres verdades sobre los sindicatos, según de profesor Rosado Marzán

1. Los sindicatos protegen tu derecho de negociar y obtienen resultados mejores que la negociación individual.

2. Los trabajadores en sindicatos reciben más dinero y beneficios mejores que los trabajadores no sindicados. La cuota vale la pena.

3. Un sindicato no es un forastero. Un sindicato es elegido y compuesto de los trabajadores y debe representar justamente todos los trabajadores de la unidad/departamento de negociación. Mas frecuentemente, los forasteros son los empleadores y los dueños de la compañía, no los sindicatos.

Three truths about unions, according to Professor Rosado Marzán

1. Unions protect your right to negotiate and obtain better outcomes than individual negotiation.

2. Unionized workers make more money and better benefits than non-union workers. The dues are worth it.

3. A union is not an outsider, but is elected by and composed of workers who must fairly represent all workers in their bargaining unit. More often, the outsiders are the bosses and company owners, not the unions.

What are the actual effects of “right to work”? Studies have shown that right to work negatively impacts union membership and union representation. It weakens unions and, because of that, unions become less attractive to most workers.

What rights are most important for Iowan workers to understand? This is a complicated question better left for a wider discussion. But if I had to choose one right, I think that the right to join a union and bargain collectively is the most important labor right of all. Democracy depends on this right. Without democracy, all workers lose.

How can Iowans best improve their workplace rights? They can do many things, from joining unions to supporting workers who want to join unions or who are on strike, to getting their churches to support any group of workers who seek help, such as when low-wage workers claim their employer failed to pay them adequately under the law.

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Contact Buzz labors of love

“Volunteerism is the voice of the people put into action. These actions shape and mold the present into a future of which we can all be proud.”

–Helen M. Dyer (1895-1998), American biochemist and cancer researcher

Much attention is given to volunteerism in the realms of advocacy, human rights, community and education. Arts and culture gives heart to all these efforts—and typically relies on volunteers, as well. Without the tens of thousands of volunteer hours, central Iowa’s theater scene would crumble.

Central Iowa is blessed with a dedicated group of volunteers who offer their time across an array of venues. These include the nationally recognized Des Moines Community Playhouse (The Playhouse) now five years into its second century of delivering live theater, to Iowa Stage Theatre Company (ISTC), Ankeny Community Theatre (ACT), Tallgrass Theatre Company (Tallgrass), Carousel Theatre of Indianola



(Carousel), Class Act Productions (CAP Theatre), Des Moines Young Artists’ Theatre (DMYAT), Pyramid Theatre Company (Pyramid) and Urbandale Community Theatre (UCT). Each relies on a contingency of people to prepare every show for opening. There have been other companies producing shows, too—some long gone, some still present —adding their artistic contributions to the mix.

Operating at a much different, national level is Des Moines Performing Arts (DMPA), anchored by its Willis Broadway Series which brings national tours, often during first runs, to the Civic Center stage. DMPA does support the local scene, even serving as the performing venue for several companies in the Stoner Theater which shares a building with the Civic Center.

The Playhouse’s ambitious programming and success is the result of more than a century of community building. With an annual seven-figure budget, it’s able to finance a full- and part-time staff to provide the professional framework for its continued success.

Programming includes classes and productions aimed at everyone from preschoolers to adults. These include the Kate Goldman Children’s Theatre, the Playhouse’s mainstage shows in the John Viars Theatre and many additional projects, such as the recent Penguin Project. A welcoming environment for its volunteers is supported with excellent training so that each person who gives their time to the

Volunteer work keeps central Iowa’s many community theaters running smoothly.

Playhouse is prepared to confidently contribute.

“We have more than 750 volunteers annually,” according to Lee Ann Bakros, the theater’s marketing and PR director. “I don’t know that we’ve tabulated hours, but my conservative estimate of the past 12 months is 25,700 hours.”

The elder statesman of Playhouse volunteers may be Al Downey. Named a Playhouse Legend in 2011, he’s been a part of more than 25 shows as a stage manager or other backstage crew role, and he’s worked with the Final Act Ensemble, the Playhouse’s radio troupe.

“I did my first show, The Madwoman of Chaillot, in 1961. I was hooked, I’ve been there ever since,” Downey shared.

When asked the core reason for giving his time at The Playhouse, he said, “it’s the people. Everyone is so friendly.”

While the Playhouse represents the largest community theater operation in Iowa, the passion and commitment of volunteers at other companies is no less impressive. Tom Perrine is the artistic director at Tallgrass Theatre Company, frequently alluded to as West Des Moines’ community theater.

“We often refer to our many volunteers as ‘family.’ Our volunteers help with every aspect of running the theater,” said Perrine. “We encourage our volunteers to find what interests them. Then we support and encourage each of them to get the most of their volunteer time.”

Tallgrass has retained a special intimacy with its relatively new performing space, opened in late 2021, seating less than a hundred. Except for Seedlings Children’s Theatre (Tallgrass’ youth programming) and some front-of-house staff who receive a small stipend, Tallgrass is an all-volunteer theater operation. With almost 20 years under its creative belt, Tallgrass has learned that volunteering builds strong bonds of personal support, growth, fulfillment and that feeling of belonging to a community.

Of course, those seeking to volunteer their time to local theater are not limited to Tallgrass and the Playhouse.

CAP Theatre often has parents of students in the productions as the core volunteer crew, many transitioning into continued roles with the company. ACT has more than four decades, Carousel more than five, as all-volunteer, full-season theater operations. All-volunteer UCT focuses its energy into a summer musical, often engaging entire families in the volunteer experience.

For those seeking short-term ways to get involved and contribute to the local theater scene in central Iowa, the opportunities are endless.

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Show Business

Workers behind some of Iowa’s biggest productions are joining hands for

more “voice, power and protection” on the job.

Hancher Auditorium’s relationship with the local stagehand union dates back to when the University of Iowa first created the venue.

“Hancher opened the same fall that CAMBUS started [1972],” recalled Mark Falk. “That was my freshman fall. [I thought] ‘Look at all this new stuff, that’s cool.’ As long as there’s been a Hancher, IATSE’s been involved with it.”

IATSE is the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, which has five locals in Iowa including Local 690 based out of Iowa City. Falk, who often works behind the scenes at Hancher and remains involved with IATSE, is the union’s former vice president. Falk stepped out of the role roughly around the time current Local 690 president Greg Wicklund assumed his own current title.

Though Wicklund’s presidency is just over a year old, he’s been involved with IATSE for about a decade. According to Wicklund, Local 690 covers “Iowa City, Coralville and anything south of North Liberty, down to the bottom of the state.”

Local 690 was charted in June of 1930. As Wicklund explained, Local 690 started its life as a projectionists’ union. As time went on, however, the location’s jurisdiction broadened.

“If there’s lights [or] there’s sound, we’re gonna be there,” Wicklund said. “On a national level there’s thousands of contracts; on the local level we maintain about five and, in addition to that, there’s so many single events that come in and they only need a contract for a day or a week.”

A noteworthy single event is Fox Sport’s Big Noon Kickoff, which has been hosted in Iowa City the past two years. In terms of established contracts, the most significant in the area include the Xtream Arena in Coralville, which opened in 2020, and Hancher Auditorium, which reopened in September of 2016 eight years after flooding forced the venue to close.

Last fall, Iowa City’s 110-year-old theater added its name to the list of venues whose stage hands have unionized.

“I’m so proud of those employees,” Wicklund said. “You put your job on the line with things

like that. They came out and they voted.”

Following a unanimous vote of 13 in favor, The Englert Theatre’s stagehands are in the process of joining IATSE.

“We started making a concerted effort a year ago; we signed authorization cards in the summer and the union approached the theater at the end of August to let them know that we were seeking representation,” said Justin Comer, a production technician at the Englert who also delivers copies of Little Village.

One of the reasons he favored joining IATSE, Comer said, is a desire for more standardized work hours. He pointed out the hours stagehands might work on a given day can vary wildly, which Wicklund and Falk further attested to.

It’s work that typically has to be done the day of the performance, and can vary in scope depending on the performer.

For example, Comer tends to focus on sound at his job. When a touring band arrives for sound check, he needs to make multiple mixes. Speakers must be arranged to project sound toward the singer, so they can get a sense of the full balance of sound and, particularly, hear themselves. That balance will be different from what the drummer needs to hear, which is different from what the bass player needs to be hear, and all of those are different from what the audience is hearing.

By Comer’s estimation, he’s had to work on as many as eight different mixes for a performance.

“Some days we’ll work a small production and we’ll be there for two hours. Other days it’ll be a huge touring act and we’re working a 14- or 16-hour day,” Comer said. “Some weeks, those’ll be the only two shows that we work, so our pay for that week is a straight 18-hour week.”

Comer’s hope is that, by joining IATSE, he and his fellow Englert workers can have work conditions more in-line with industry standards, including a minimum wage and time-and-a-half for going over an eight hour shift.

“We have certain industry standards that we stand by in terms of minimums number of hours, fair working conditions and equitable working conditions for everyone that’s covered under union contracts,” Wicklund said. “That’s one of the principal tenets of unionism, is that workers feel safe and comfortable and happy in their jobs.”

Safety and comfort are especially important given the impact of the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic on the entertainment industry. The Bureau of Economics reported that Iowa’s Gross Domestic Product fell by 3.5 percent in the first quarter of 2020, with the art and entertainment industry bearing the brunt of that fall.

While COVID-19 may not have led directly to

Claire Thoele / Little Village

stagehands at the Englert unionizing, Comer did muse that the pandemic caused a lot of people to reassess their situations.

Meanwhile, in central Iowa, a different kind of backstage worker has also made moves to join a union. It was announced last year that the stage managers of the Des Moines Metro Opera (DMMO) will unionize and join the American Guild of Musical Artists (AGMA).

“The stage managers of Des Moines Metro Opera thank DMMO management for voluntarily recognizing our Union with AGMA,” read a statement from DMMO stage managers. “We believe this collaborative partnership will continue to flourish as we bargain our first AGMA contract.”

According to James Odom, the Midwest business representative with AGMA, “DMMO is the first shop AGMA has organized in Iowa,” and will represent both stage managers and assistant stage managers at the opera.

AGMA was founded in 1936 as an independent organization and was chartered a year later to cover grand opera, concert and recital. That same year it was granted a charter, AGMA negotiated and signed a deal with the Southern California Symphony Association, and began negotiations with the Chicago Opera Company and the Philadelphia Civic Grand Opera Company.

In an email with Little Village, Odom went on to explain that AGMA largely represents singers, dancers and production staff (like choreographers and stage managers) while IATSE represents crew members (such as carpenters, electricians and make-up artists).

“The overlap is that both unions almost invariably have bargaining units with the same employers,” Odom said in his email, speaking on a national level. “While the members represented by each union work closely together, they are separate groups with separate priorities, but similar interests. AGMA and IATSE have a good working relationship.”

Though not as old as the Englert, DMMO is a longstanding company in central Iowa. Based out of Indianola, the organization has been operating for more than 50 years. Over the course of its existence, the opera has brought established works to Iowa for the first time and even created new operas, such as last year’s adaptation of the Jane Smiley novel A Thousand Acres

Just as with the contract between the Englert and the unionizing stagehands there, the contract between DMMO and its unionizing managers is still being worked out.

“Forming a union with AGMA creates a Cont. >> on pg. 30

APRIL 20-24
4-H Building at the Iowa State Fairgrounds


The barista with the circle-rimmed glasses and well-trimmed mustache who greets me at Morning Bell Coffee Roasters (111 Main St Suite 101, Ames) seems to clock my coffee novice immediately. Still, they’re patient and accommodating, which I appreciate more than they’ll ever know.

They recommend a “Con Limon,” pointing to a rather simple description on the drink list between us. A Con Limon, I learned, is a concoction of cold brew coffee and lemon juice, which seems like a prank to my inexperienced Midwestern self. I take them at their word, though, and fork over the $5 (plus tip), receiving a Morning Bell branded pint glass full of an enticing amber mix.

It’s at this point that I take in the environment. Clean white hexagonal tiles pattern the front and sides of the counter, contrasting the jet-black ornate ceiling and deep brown hardwood floor. The walls are bare in a classy way, speckled with art and photography. A full roastery resides in the back, cordoned off by a wall with some plate glass windows that let a curious cat like me check things out.

The aroma of roasted beans is alluring, and it takes everything I’ve got not to float back there like a rascally cartoon character to a cooling pie. I keep my cool though, claiming one of the black leather chairs at the front of the shop.

It strikes me how comfortable the Morning Bell staff seem to be. They work when they have work to do, and allow themselves to shoot the shit and relax when possible—a way of being that my former Fareway boss would insist is impossible. These workers take care to keep the customers satisfied, the ship running smoothly and themselves sane.

They act as if they own the place, which makes sense given that, actually, they do own the damn place. Morning Bell made history on New Year’s Day 2022, transitioning from a privately owned coffee shop to Iowa’s first worker-owned cooperative business.

People familiar with Ames or Iowa City may be acquainted with Wheatsfield Cooperative or New Pioneer Food Co-op, which are member-owned cooperative grocery stores. There, the members are the owners. Membership is established by

paying for a membership share, which can come with perks such as specials and discounted prices, as well as the ability to cast a vote for the co-op’s decision-making board. Thus, a member-owned cooperative serves its members and, in theory, makes decisions that are best for its customers.

In a worker-owned cooperative like Morning Bell, the business’s workers are the owners, meaning each employee earns a share of the business by working there. They, too, are enabled by their share to vote on business matters, allowing for a more egalitarian method of operation as opposed to the American standard top-down model. It’s possible for a worker-owned cooperative to be completely and directly democratic, with every

shop experience.

worker voting on every business decision, but typically the workers at large elect some of their colleagues to a board that can make decisions more efficiently. Thus, a worker-owned cooperative serves its workers who, in theory, make decisions that are best for themselves and their customers. This seems to be the case at Morning Bell, and the labor-first mentality behind their organization certainly lends itself well to an enjoyable coffee

When I’ve had coffee in the past, I’ve preferred it the same way I do alcohol: mostly sugar. This Con Limon, though, is a revelation. Hesitant at first, each subsequent swig solidifies the simple genius of the Con Limon, a not-too-sweet, nottoo-sour, not-too-dark and not-too-bright elixir, unsurprisingly reminiscent of an Arnold Palmer. Put a 12-gauge under my chin and I still couldn’t give you a memory of any particular chai latte or white chocolate mocha I’ve guzzled in the past. I say with certainty, though, that this Con Limon will stay with me for the rest of my life, and I couldn’t be happier.

Most coffee shops in Iowa are fine, some are great, but only one puts its workers and, by extension, its patrons, first. Morning Bell is a hit by any metric—five stars, 10/10, two thumbs up, what have you—and anyone sauntering about Ames’ Main Street owes it to themselves to check it out.

“Take your time, let me know if I can help with some recommendations.”
lV recommends
Ames’ Morning Bell Coffee Roasters is making Iowa labor history—and some memorable caffeinated confections.
Bread & Butter
THESE WO r KE r S TAKE CA r E TO KEE p THE CUSTOME r S SATISFIED, THE SHI p r UNNING SMOOTH lY AND THEMSE lVES SANE. Above: Morning Bell’s Con Limon. Right: a worker-owner keeping sane. Courtesy of Morning Bell at the request of Little Village

How Did We Get Here?

A massive uprising by pearl button makers in Muscatine more than a century ago may shed some light on Iowa’s current labor woes.

When lawmakers in Des Moines are seriously discussing rolling back laws against child labor, it can be hard to believe there’s anything positive about the state of labor in Iowa. But despite years of Republicans raging against unions, union membership in Iowa slightly increased last year. In 2021, 6.5 percent of the state’s workers were in unions. In 2022, it grew to 7 percent.

If that number seems low, it’s worth remembering that in 1947—70 years before Republicans in the 2017 Iowa Legislature gutted collective bargaining rights for public sector unions, except police and other public safety unions—Iowa became the first state outside the deep south to pass a right-to-work law, undermining the ability of unions to organize workplaces.

Beyond that small uptick in union membership, there were a few other bright spots recently.

John Deere workers succeeded in getting a decent contract after a 34-day-long strike last

year. In January, workers at Ingredion in Cedar Rapids brought a 175-day strike to a successful conclusion. A few days later, Case-New Holland workers in Burlington ratified a new contract after eight months on the picket line. And at the end of March, it was announced that workers at the downtown Starbucks in Iowa City were joining the fast-moving labor organizing effort in the country, and had taken the first steps required to form a union, the first at a Starbucks in Iowa.

It’s not surprising those bright spots are hard to see. Every big newspaper in the country has a Business section; none have a Labor section. The gyrations of the stock market, even when clearly irrational, are treated like a reliable sign of the national economy’s health, while decades of wage stagnation and the yawning wealth gap between the working class and those living off investment income aren’t.

Labor history is scantily covered in American history textbooks, and any discussion in Iowa schools of class conflict in the country’s labor disputes, current or historical, might run afoul of the ban on teaching “divisive concepts” that Gov. Kim Reynolds signed into law in 2021.

The political climate in America for the last 40 years has been unhealthy for the labor movement. Republicans have done almost everything possible to oppose unions (except police unions), while the Democratic Party has been a half-hearted ally for unions since the ’80s (except for police unions).

Cont. >> on pg. 32

Your Village
Interior of Schreurs Pearl Button Factory, showing workers on assembly line. Muscatine, Iowa, circa 1912. Special Collections, State Historical Society of Iowa, Des Moines

Born into Music

He started on a tiny violin. Now, River Glen’s releasing the most ambitious Iowa music collab in recent memory.

“Iwas born into music,” River Glen Breitbach said. “I’m my parents’ fourth child, and by the time I came to be, they already had an existing family band with my older siblings called The One Hat Band.”

Less than a year after the Dubuque native began attending his siblings’ Suzuki method lessons around the age of 3, he was given a 1/32size violin and was taught to pluck the high E string to create the “pop” in the song “Pop Goes the Weasel.” The rest is (family) history.

“My parents wasted no time incorporating this undeniably cute effort by such a tiny human into their act with The One Hat Band,” Breitbach recalled. “I clearly remember loving that when my part came, I received everyone’s attention and was, for just a few moments, a ‘star’—and thus began my career as a performer.”

Before long, Breitbach was regularly playing bluegrass and other styles of roots music at the local farmers’ market, where his parents also had a vendor booth. The One Hat Band was led by his mother, who played upright bass, and his father, who played guitar and was joined by Breitbach’s siblings on violins, mandolin and other stringed instruments. If the group managed to draw a standing crowd, they’d do their best couple of songs and pass a hat for tips, which is how the family band got its name.

Soon enough, the One Hat Band was traveling to Galena, Illinois on weekends and holidays and, for several years, they made a handful of street corners their home, along with the downtown park where they busked. Breitbach and his siblings were homeschooled, which gave them the freedom to travel to big camping festivals in Wisconsin, Ohio and New York, and they also took the Amtrak train to Seattle a few times to play at the Northwest Folklife Festival, along with other street fairs around the country.

“We were a string band flirting with being a family circus,” Breitbach recalled. “I can remember failed attempts to incorporate things like juggling and walking on stilts. I think the lasting effect of this musical upbringing is that I am open to the humor and silliness that can be found in this life. I’ve grown into a prolific lyricist who writes about belonging and cherishing loss and

death as a natural part of life, along with your standard love songs and all that, but I know not to take myself too seriously.”

After being homeschooled through primary school, Breitbach’s parents decided that the kids needed the socialization of high school, where he and his brother Jackson formed a band with other students. The band was called River and the Tributaries. They were essentially a folkrock group, though with an eclectic style and a broad pallet of sound that incorporated four-part harmony, percussion, guitars, violin, mandolin,

observes in the introductory track, this record is a “patchwork quilt woven lovingly with voices and instruments of over 150 people.” Yes, you read that right: more than 150 musicians!

“I played the part of curator by demonstrating the depth of my understanding of the sound and style of each artist in how I grouped them with other guests,” Breitbach said. “I sought out ‘road dogs,’ the ‘weekend warriors,’ many of the working musicians who have been working their circuit in Iowa for years.”

A small sampling of artists include Kevin B.F. Burt, Bo Ramsey, Denny Garcia, Alyx Rush, Annie Savage, Courtney Krause, Ginny Luke, Penny Peach, Bob Black and Dave Zollo, along with members of Bridges 2 Harmony Gospel Choir, Flash in a Pan, The Host Country, Jack Lion, The Maytags, NOLA Jazz Band and the Uniphonics, to name a few.

keys, bass, drums, flute, trumpet, cello and other instrumental odds and sods. The group created two albums, toured the Midwest and ventured out to Colorado before going their separate ways in college.

These combined life experiences have fed into River Glen & Band’s ambitious new album, As Above, So Below, which incorporates a kaleidoscopic array of musicians who call Iowa home.

As longtime Iowa Public Radio DJ Bob Dorr

Breitbach recorded As Above, So Below in Lone Tree at Flat Black Studios, where the recording engineers remained patient and supportive as he experimented and sometimes failed during the process of executing “this crazy endeavor.” The Iowa Arts Council also played a key role in bringing this project to life after Breitbach was awarded an Artist Fellowship in 2017.

“It was from this encouragement that I thought up the idea to create an album featuring as many Iowa artists as I could,” he said. “I saw it as a way

prairie pop
river Glen & Band album release show, xBk, Des Moines 6 p.m., Sunday, May 7, $15-$17
River Glen & Band (Justin Leduc, Dan Padley, River Glen, Blake Shaw and Megan Roeth) pose on the Flat Black Studios stage in Lone Tree. Michael Weber / Shadow Fox Photography

to think of more than just myself, to show appreciation for the larger community that brought me up, to help all ships rise with the coming tide. So, I pitched the idea to the Iowa Arts Council and they were willing to work with me in terms of funding, which got the project started.”

He explained that the arc of As Above, So Below loosely mirrors the cycle of a life. One is born, one grows, leaves home, moves away from the familiar, finds love, loses love, hopefully finds more love and then reflects on where they’re from as the curtain draws to a close.

Referring to the album’s second-to-last song, “In Another World,” Breitbach said, “Death makes its presence known, in this case as the sound of a bagpipe, and after all the living and loving and reflecting, just like everyone who came before, just so naturally, one dies.”

The title track, “As Above, So Below,” was Breitbach’s attempt to connect the “personal” to something more “universal”—a plea for people to establish a shared understanding so that we might learn to appreciate, celebrate and respect our differences.

“I come from a very Catholic town, but my parents raised me without any specific religion or religious practice,” he explained. “As a songwriter, I see it as my duty to metabolize my culture and the world around me and to reflect it back to my listeners. On one hand I’m saying, ‘this is us,’ and on the other hand I’m asking, ‘this is us?’ or ‘is this us?’ There is a common saying among Catholics, ‘... thy will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven,’ and I found myself comparing that to the hermetic saying, ‘as above, so below,’ and just generally thinking about the sacred geometry of the world, or life itself.”

As Above, So Below closes with “Live Right, Love, Give, Die and Then… ,” which features dozens of singers trading off lyrics—creating an aural patchwork of vocal tones, timbres and singing styles from around the state of Iowa. This is the end of the album, and it feels like everyone has shown up to say goodbye.

“When I die don’t you go bury me in no grave / don’t have me hanging ’round taking up space / When I’m gone, when I regain my innocence, please pass around my instruments and coalesce… I fight the good fight knowing it don’t guarantee a good life / I’m just trying to live right, love, give, die and then … ”

As Above, So Below releases officially on May 1 Kembrew McLeod is currently surfing the astral plane.

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A-list Bee roll

Nature photographer Anand Varma

gives an up-close view of wild pollinators, bats and mindcontrolling parasites.

Honeybee populations have been declining for more than a decade. To keep one of nature’s most prolific pollinators alive and busy, the USDA has been mixing mite-resistant bees and bees kept by commercial beekeepers.

“To say it like that makes it sound like we’re manipulating and exploiting bees, and the truth is we’ve been doing that for thousands of years,” Anand Varma explained in his 2015 TED Talk, where he covered the first 21 days in the life of a honeybee.

Varma is an award-winning photographer whose work focusing on the more miniscule parts of the natural world has been prominently featured in National Geographic. Bees are just one of many creatures he’s captured under his lens.

“We took this wild creature and put it inside of a box, practically domesticating it and originally that was so that we could harvest their honey,” he said in that TED Talk. “But over time we started losing our wild pollinators, and there are many places now where those wild pollinators can no longer meet the pollination demands of our agriculture.”

Varma goes on to explain that, in his view, saving bees involves saving our relationship with bees by understanding their biology. That’s where his photography comes in. By finding unique ways to photograph creatures like bees, he hopes to broaden our knowledge of the organisms we share the planet with.

When Varma arrives at the Des Moines Civic Center on April 30, he’ll be doing exactly that. His presentation—titled Invisible Wonders—will help audiences understand bees, and a few more of Earth’s most fascinating organisms.

“I go through four stories that I’ve photographed for National Geographic,” Varma told Little Village when asked about central Iowa engagement. “That ranges from hummingbirds, to honeybees, to mind-controlling parasites to carnivorous bats.”

His work photographing bats took him to the Yucatán’s rainforests where he documented the woolly false vampire bat in the act of hunting. On the avian end of capturing creatures in flight, Varma’s footage and photographs of hummingbirds has provided details of the creature

typically unseen by the human eye, like how its forked tongue facilitates the drinking of nectar. The portion of the show on mind-controlling parasites represents Varma’s first National Geographic story, published back in 2014.

Though Varma has been working with National Geographic for roughly a decade, his time with the publication has been somewhat accidental. In fact—after graduating from UC Berkeley with a degree in integrative biology—he didn’t originally intend to become a photographer.

“It happened almost by accident. I was dead set on being a biologist,” Varma said, recalling his childhood in Atlanta, Georgia. “At the end of high school I picked up my dad’s old camera just to kind of experiment. My favorite thing to do was to explore the woods with my friends … it became a fun hobby that I brought with me to college, but I had never really aspired to be a photographer.”

That changed when he got a summer job where he got to put his picture taking to use, helping to document cave dwelling creatures. That job led to another in Hawaii and another in Costa Rica and then South Africa and so on.

“I was really resistant to becoming a photographer—but having traveled and met lots of cool scientists—every project that passed I’d tell myself, ‘I can’t say no to this—I’ll finish up this project and I’ll still go to grad school,’” Varma said with a laugh. “I’d say that I’m still sort of in that position.”

For the moment at least, he’s still hard at work on his photography. He’s been working on photographing jellyfish and he’s in the process of constructing a facility that’s one part photo studio, one part biology lab to help inspire new generations.

“This is kind of formalizing what I’ve been doing about my career in informal ways, which is

drawing on science to produce innovative photography [and] drawing on photography to advance science,” he said.

Whether in a magazine article or during this upcoming appearance, what Varma wants most is for people who encounter his work to view the world differently—to consider the parts of the planet they don’t often or ever see.

“I hope this is a glimpse of the hidden secrets that the world has yet to share,” Varma said. “I hope I’m just peeling back one hidden layer, to glimpse just a fraction of the wonder that’s out in the world.”

Anand Varma Invisible Wonders, Des Moines Civic Center, Des Moines, 6:30 p.m., Sunday, April 30, $15-48 Anand Varma
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For updated information about events visit


APRIL 2023

Planning an event? Submit event info to calendar@littlevillagemag. com. Include event name, date, time, venue, street address, admission price and a brief description (no all-caps, exclamation points or advertising verbiage, please). To find more events, visit Please check venue listing in case details have changed.

Central Iowa Indie Bookstore Day, Various Bookstores, Greater Des Moines Area, Saturday-Sunday, April 29-30, Free

via the event

Though the DSM Book Festival may have passed, there’s still plenty of reason to celebrate books and, in particular, indie bookstores. On the last two days of April, celebrate Independent Bookstore Day in central Iowa. The nationally recognized date encourages book buyers to visit their local bookstores; for central Iowans that ranges from the stalwart Beaverdale Books to the new Reading in Public Bookstore + Cafe in West Des Moines to Pageturners Bookstore in the heart of Indianola and many more. Seven area shops are encouraging locals to pick up a “bookstore passport” and participate in a bookstore crawl – those who do get stamps from all seven locations by Sunday will be entered to win a bag of book-related swag.

Literary Luxuries

Thursday-Saturday, April 6-8 Poetry Palooza, Franklin Jr. High School & Mainframe Studios, Des Moines, Free

Friday, April 7 at 5 p.m. First Friday Found Poetry, Storyhouse Bookpub, Des Moines, Free

Wednesday, April 12 at 6:30 p.m. Meet the Author: Jann Freed, Beaverdale Books, Des Moines, Free

Thursday, April 13 at 7 p.m.

AViD: R.F. Kuang, Central Library, Des Moines, Free

Friday, April 14 at 7 p.m. Poetry Open Mic Night, Beaverdale Books, Free

Sunday, April 16 at 2 p.m. Poetry Event, Des Moines Art Center, Free

Sunday, April 16 at 2:30 p.m.

Meet the Authors: Tony D. Thelen, Matthew C. Mitchell, Jeffrey A. Kappen, Beaverdale Books, Free

Tuesday, April 18 at 6:30 p.m. Meet the Author: Corinne Stanley, Beaverdale Books, Free

Wednesday, April 19 at 6:30 p.m. Meet the Author: Sandy Moffett, Beaverdale Books, Free

Thursday-Monday, April 20-24

Planned Parenthood Book Sale, Iowa State Fairgrounds, Des Moines, Free$20

Friday, April 21 at 6:30 p.m.

Meet the Author: Katherine Linn Caire, Beaverdale Books, Free

Saturday, April 29 at 12:30 p.m.

Meet the Author: M. Chris Fabricant, Central Library, Des Moines, Free

22, exhibition presents work in the creative arts by third- and fourth-year Grinnell College students. Left: McKenna Doherty. Colorized, 2022. Polymer clay, family photos, mixed media. Right: McKenna Doherty and Hannah Agpoon. Panes, 2022. Vinyl and plexiglass.

Bruce-O-Rama Starring

Bruce Campbell, Hoyt Sherman Place, Des Moines, Wednesday, April

26 at 8 p.m., $27.50-59.50

Looking for a groovy time this month? Bruce Campbell – best known for his role as Ash in the Evil Dead franchise – is coming to central Iowa. Over the course of the evening, Campbell leads audience members through a geeky game show focused on genres like horror and fantasy. After that, Campbell will host “a groovy Bruce movie.” With Evil Dead Rise set to release on April 21, just days before this appearance, the timing could barely be better.

Theatrical Thrills

Friday, April 7 at 7 p.m. Dwight Simoons: Stand-Up Comedy, Teehee’s Comedy Club, Des Moines, $15-20

Saturday, April 8 at 7 p.m. Matty Ryan: Stand-Up Comedy, Teehee’s Comedy Club, $20-25

Closing Saturday, April 8 at 7:30 p.m. Kinky Boots, Des Moines Community Playhouse, $29-53

Closing Sunday, April 16 at 6:30 p.m. Disney’s The Lion King, Des Moines Civic Center, $89-145

Tuesday-Sunday, April 18-23 The Second City Swipes Right, Temple Theater, Des Moines, $20-48

Opening Friday, April 21 at 7:30 p.m. Wonder of the World, Tallgrass Theatre Company, West Des Moines, $33-35

Opening Friday, April 21 How I Became A Pirate, Des Moines Community Playhouse, $14-19

Friday and Saturday, April 21 and 22 Comedy XPeriment, Stoner Theater, Des Moines, $15

Saturday, April 22 at 7 p.m. Denim-A-Palooza, Teehee’s Comedy Club, $15-20

Saturday, April 22 at 7:30 p.m. Hits! The Musical, Hoyt Sherman Place, Des Moines, $32-102

Thursday, April 27 at 8 p.m. Latrice Royale, Wooly’s, Des Moines, $35

Thursday-Sunday, April 27-30 Ballet Des Moines: She, Stoner Theater, $54.50

Friday, April 28 at 7:30 p.m. Rob Schneider, Hoyt Sherman Place, $38-78

Friday, April 28 at 9:30 p.m. Tyler Walsh, Teehee’s Comedy Club, $15-20

Saturday, April 29 at 11 a.m. Air Play, Des Moines Civic Center, $12-25

Thursday, May 4 at 7:30 p.m. Ronald K Brown Dance: Evidence, Des Moines Civic Center, $15-61

Blair Gauntt / Little Village

Earth Day Trash Bash, Fort

Des Moines Park, Friday, April 21 at 12 p.m., Free Queer Hikers, a community built around queer identities and a love for the outdoors, has teamed up with Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation and Polk County Conservation to organize a trash bash in honor of Earth Day. Head out to Fort Des Moines Park and assist the organizations with cleaning up trash and removing invasive species. Volunteers will meet at the park and enjoy a free lunch before getting to work. Be sure to register online prior to the event at and check out @queerhikers on Instagram.

Community Connections

Thursday, April 13 at 6 p.m. Capital City Pride Speaker Series: Intergenerational Discussion, Temple Theater, Des Moines, Free

Thursday, April 13 at 8 p.m. No Hate: Town Hall, The Garden, Des Moines, Free

Friday-Sunday, April 14-15 Middle of the Map Tattoo Convention, Iowa Events Center, Des Moines, $20-39

Saturday, April 15 at 9 a.m. Confluence South Side Cleanup, Confluence Brewing Company, Des Moines, Free

Saturdays, April 15 and 30 at 1:30 p.m. Firat Erdim: Field Harp Soundings & Q/A, Des Moines Art Center, Free

Saturday, April 15 at 4 p.m. GDP Pre-Party & 80/35 Garage Sale, Big Grove Brewery, Des Moines, Free

Wednesday, April 19 at 5:30 p.m. Recycling Q/A w/Des Moines Public Works, South Side Library, Des Moines, Free

Shift: The RAGBRAI Documentary, Varsity

Cinema, Des Moines, Thursday, May 4 at 7 p.m., $9-12

Are you signed up for this year’s RAGBRAI? If so, you may want to consider snagging tickets to the Varsity’s Cinema premiere of Shift: The RAGBRAI Documentary. The documentary is directed by Kelsey Kremer and Courtney Crowder, two Des Moines Register journalists, who will be at the premiere, and conduct an in-person Q/A following the screening. The film shares the stories of three riders and a pair of community leaders and highlights their individual experiences as they bike across Iowa.

Thursday, April 20 at 6 p.m. Capital City Pride Speaker Series: Finding Mark Lowe Fisher, Des Moines Art Center, Free

Saturday, April 22 at 10 a.m. LGBTQ+ Legal Clinic, Drake Legal Clinic, Des Moines, Free

Thursday, April 27 at 6 p.m. 75 Years of Iowa Art Gallery Talk w/Artist Duane Slick, Des Moines Art Center, Free

Saturday, April 29 at 10:30 a.m. Lemon Trail Ride, Exile Brewing Co., Des Moines, $30

Saturday, April 29 at 1 p.m. Greater DSM Botanical Garden’s Spring Ephemeral Hike, Brown’s Woods Forest Preserve, West Des Moines, $8-10

Sunday, April 30 at 1 p.m. Explore Intaglio Prints, Des Moines Art Center, Free

Sunday, April 30 at 6:30 p.m.

National Geographic Live: Invisible Wonders, Des Moines Civic Center, $15-48

Films in Focus

Friday, April 7 at 6:30 p.m. Field of Dreams, Varsity Cinema, Des Moines, $9-12

Saturdays and Sundays, April 8, 9, 15, 16 The Sandlot, Varsity Cinema, $9-12

Thursday, April 13 at 10 p.m. Samurai Cop, Varsity Cinema, $9-12

Saturday and Sundays, April 22, 23, 29, 30 Rookie of the Year, Varsity Cinema, $9-12

Monday, April 24 at 6:30 p.m. Columbus, Varsity Cinema, $9-12

Friday, April 28 at 7 p.m. Joyland, Varsity Cinema, $9-12

Conservation still from ‘Shift: The RAGBRAI Documentary’
Polk County



The High Liner,

Reliable Street, Iowa Railroad Historical Museum, Boone, Friday, April 21 at 5 p.m., $45-275

Ames’s Reliable Street has an incredibly special event planned this month, and it’s going to take place on a train. Grab your friends or fly solo to the High Liner, a two hour train ride showcasing local art, music and talent. Local featured artists include Siricasso, Max Ramirez, It’s Kai, The Stewardesses, Vella, Lindsay Nissen are more. Be sure to get to the Iowa Railroad Historical Museum early, as the train will leave promptly at 5 p.m.

Explore Ames!

Saturday, April 15 at 9 a.m. Great Gardening: Methods & Materials, Reiman Gardens, Ames, $17-27

Saturday, April 15 at 10 a.m. The Writers Lab, Dog-Eared Books, Ames, Free

Monday, April 17 at 7:30 p.m. Annie, Stephens Auditorium, Ames, $35-89

Wednesday, April 19 at 6 p.m.

Puzzlepalooza Jigsaw Puzzle Competition, Alluvial Brewing, Ames, $40

Thursday, April 20 at 8 p.m. Tinsley Ellis and Marcia Ball, The M-Shop, Ames, $30-35

Saturday, April 22 at 8 p.m. Kainalu, The M-Shop, $15-20

Tuesday, April 25 at 7 p.m. Off the Map: Stories of Iowa Abandoned and Disappearing Towns, Ames Public Library, Free

Tuesday, April 25 at 7 p.m. The Goldfinch Room: Ryne Doughty and Royce Johns, Stephens Auditorium, $15

Thursday, April 27 at 8 p.m. Music Walk, Downtown Ames, Free

Thursday, April 27 at 8 p.m. LANNDS, The M-Shop, $10-15

APRIL 2 NATIONAL THEATER LIVE: The Crucible 4 IN FROM THE SIDE Varsity Pride 7 FIELD OF DREAMS • PAINT 11 LITTLE RICHARD: I AM EVERYTHING One night only 14 RENFIELD 24 COLUMBUS One night only 28 JOYLAND Varsity Pride EVERY SAT. & SUN. AT 1PM: The Sandlot 4/8-16 Rookie of the Year 4/22-30 THURS. NIGHTS AT 10 PM: Samurai Cop 4/6 & 4/13 Eraserhead 4/20 & 4/27 RAGE OF CAGE Vampire’s Kiss 4/7 • Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans 4/14 • Face/Off 4/21 + MORE!MUCH
via the event

Gross Domestic Product (GDP) Festival, Hoyt Sherman

Place, Des Moines, Saturday, April 15

at 5:30 p.m., $20-35 This year’s annual all-Iowa music festival, Gross Domestic Product (GDP) will be taking place at Hoyt Sherman Place and will feature seven local musicians. The Envy Corps, a Des Moines indie rock band that’s been playing since the early 2000s is headlining the fest. Don’t miss them as they plan to play their debut album, Dwell, in full with a string section, to celebrate its 15th anniversary. B.Well, Annalibera, Geneviève Salamone, James Tutson, EleanorGrace, Lani are also in this year’s lineup. GDP is presented by the Des Moines Music Coalition and Little Village

Musical Marvels

Friday, April 7 at 8 p.m. Dazy, xBk Live, Des Moines, $10

Saturday, April 8 at 7 p.m. Abbie and the Sawyers Album Release, xBk Live, $15-20

Saturday, April 8 at 9 p.m. Love is Love, Platform, Des Moines, $10

Sunday, April 9 at 5 p.m. Hardcore & Thrash Easter Show, Lefty’s Live Music, Des Moines, $10

Tuesday, April 11 at 7 p.m. The Cactus Blossoms, xBk Live, $15

Friday, April 14 at 7 p.m. The Grand Marquis, Noce, Des Moines, $18-45

Friday, April 14 at 9 p.m.

Professional Music Showcase w/ South 35, Other Brothers, The Crust, Gas Lamp, Des Moines, $5

Saturday, April 15 at 7 p.m. Spencer Crandall, Wooly’s, $15

Saturday, April 15 at 7:30 p.m. Gina Chavez, Temple Theater, Des Moines, $20-45

Saturday, April 15 at 7:30 p.m. Boris & The Joy and The Burning Sons, Gas Lamp, $12

Saturday, April 15 at 9:30 p.m. GDP After Party, Carl’s Place, Des Moines, Free

Sunday, April 16 at 7 p.m. Halen Album Release w/Andrew Hoyt, xBk Live, $12

Wednesday, April 19 at 7 p.m. Bendigo Fletcher, Gas Lamp, Des Moines, $15-18

Annalibera, Sid Peterson / Little VIllage


Thursday, April 20 at 8 p.m. The Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band, xBk Live, $15

Friday, April 21 at 7 p.m. NOLA Jazz Band, Noce, $18-45

Friday, April 21 at 8 p.m. Mae Simpson, xBk Live, $12

Friday, April 21 at 9 p.m. Americature w/MORE CHEESE, Joint Pain, Bigby Woods, The Sleepover, The Getaways, Gas Lamp, $10

Saturday, April 22 at 7 p.m. All Things Considered, Wooly’s, Des Moines, $25

Saturday, April 22 at 7 p.m. Twen w/Mr. Softheart, xBk Live, $12

Saturday, April 22 at 10 p.m. N0Ne (CH)iLLeR! Album Release, Teehee’s Comedy Club, Des Moines, $15

Saturday and Sunday, April 22-23 DM Symphony: April in Paris, Des Moines Civic Center, $15-70

Sunday, April 23 at 2 p.m. Original Mind, Caspe Terrace, Waukee, $30

Monday, April 24 at 7:30 p.m. Chris Botti, Hoyt Sherman Place, Des Moines, $45-75

Tuesday, April 25 at 7 p.m. Mustard Service w/ Treesreach, xBk Live, $15

Wednesday, April 26 at 7:30 p.m. Black Flag, Gas Lamp, $25-30

Thursday, April 27 at 8 p.m. Ghost Funk Orchestra w/Rudy De Anda, xBk Live, $15

Friday, April 28 at 6 p.m. Damien Jurado, Lefty’s Live Music, $20

Friday, April 28 at 7:30 p.m. Benny Benack III Quartet, Temple Theater, $48.50-78.50

Saturday, April 29 at 7 p.m. Saxophonist Adam Larson, Noce, $20-45

Saturday, April 29 at 8 p.m. Widow7 EP Release Show, xBk Live, $14-15

Sunday, April 30 at 6 p.m. The HIRS Collective, Teehee’s Comedy Club, Des Moines, $10

Friday, May 5 at 8 p.m. Chastity Brown & Sawyer Fredericks, xBk Live, $15-40

Dear Kiki, I’m a sexual obsessive. I think about sex constantly, am pretty constantly horny, and have obsessive thoughts about having sex with most people I come in contact with. It can be scary sometimes when I have intrusive thoughts that are illegal or harmful, but I’m dealing with that bit in therapy. The question, though, is this: I feel like I can come across as off-putting to people because I’m thinking about them sexually as I interact with them. I know they’re intrusive thoughts and aren’t real manifestations of desire, but it feels like it can warp my ability to communicate, despite that. I’m in a happy relationship and I don’t think I want to open it up or anything, but what’s the best way to be sure I’m not creeping people out without having to explain my condition?

Dear Obsessive, The good news is this: People, by and large, think far more about themselves

morning, the coworker who grabs coffee the same time you do every day. Those encounters are trickier, aren’t they?

Although the same principles are in play as before (really! no one cares!), repeated exposure can make you feel more, well, exposed. Even with that, though, your perception is probably out of whack with reality. You can never be “sure” that you’re “not creeping people out,” because you can’t get inside their heads. But the more you worry about it, the less organic and natural your interactions will be.

Easier said than done, of course. But if you’re working with your therapist to draw boundaries, maintain a sense of right and wrong, and develop techniques to mitigate your intrusive thoughts, that’s really the best anyone can ask. You say you’re in a happy relationship; maybe you can ask your partner to offer an exterior view of how you behave socially.

The question of whether people find you

than about others. Unless you’re inserting an inordinate amount of Freudian slips into these casual conversations—or, of course, engaging in sexual harassment, for which there’s no excuse—it’s unlikely that most people will care or even notice that you’re struggling with this while you chat.

We’re all awkward in one way or another, so chances are others are far more concerned with how they’re coming across to you than vice versa. Or, if they’re like me, they’ll feel relieved when you seem a little “off-putting,” because it takes away the pressure for the social interaction to go perfectly on their end.

It’s easy to look around and assume everyone’s got their shit together except you. But in reality, we’re all just isolated balls of weird bouncing into and off of one another, trying to make it through each day without a story embarrassing enough that it becomes an anecdote.

The less-good news is, not every social interaction is superficial. For every bank teller and grocery store clerk, chances are there’s a different swathe of people who you’re slightly more familiar with: the neighbor you wave to every

“off-putting” is ultimately on them, not you. It’s not our job as humans to achieve or even aspire to perfection in our interactions. We can only be kind, patient and respectful.

You certainly have no obligation to reveal your personal mental health history. Ever.

LITTLEVILLAGEMAG.COM/LVDSM013 AprIl 2023 27 DEAR KIKI KIKI WANTS QUESTIONS! Submit questions anonymously at or non-anonymously to Questions may be edited for clarity and length, and may appear either in print or online at

Floodwater Comedy Festival: Sarah Perry & Jamie Shriner, Joystick

Comedy & Arcade, Iowa City, Saturday, April 29 at 9 p.m., $5-65

More than 70 comedians are said to be pouring into Iowa City as part of this year’s Floodwater Comedy Festival, a three-day affair that fills downtown Iowa City venues. While there are plenty of shows to pick from, one to keep any eye on is a dual appearance from Sarah Perry & Jamie Shriner at Joystick on Saturday, April 29, starting at 9 p.m. Both Perry and Shriner are Chicagobased comedians with their own individual events over the course of Floodwater –Saturday night show, however, gives audiences a chance to see both over the course of one hour. As Floodwater attaches a cause to its comedy, proceeds from this year’s festival will be directed towards CommUnity and the Johnson County chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Health.

Farmers Market

Thursdays | May–September

April 21 Gallery Night

April 29 Sidewalk Sale

May 6 Cinco de Mayo Festival

May 21 Arts Festival

June 25 Vintage in the Valley

Eastward, ho!

Thursday-Saturday, April 6-8 Mission Creek Festival, Downtown Iowa City, $60-110

Tuesday, April 11 at 7 p.m. Out of the Archive: 70s/80s Shorts, FilmScene–The Chauncey, Iowa City, Pay-What-You-Can, $10

Saturday, April 15 at 12:30 p.m. UI’s Annual Powwow, Johnson County Fairgrounds, Iowa City, Free

Saturday, April 15 at 8 p.m. Fruit Bats w/V.V. Lightbody, Codfish Hollow Barnstormers, Maquoketa, $30-35

Sunday, April 16 at 7 p.m. Halen Album Release w/Andrew Hoyt, xBk Live,

Tuesday, April 18 at 7 p.m. World Ballet Series: Cinderella, Paramount Theatre, Cedar Rapids, $35-89

Saturday, April 22 at 10 a.m. EcoFest, NewBo City Market, Cedar Rapids, Free

Music in the Junction

5-8:30 p.m.

Beverage Garden

Free | All ages

May 4 The Unfortunate Sons

May 11 Molly Nova & the Hawks

May 18 Black Diamond Loons

May 25 Dick Danger Band

June 1 Suede

June 8 Gut Feeling

June 15 Cover That

June 22 Steam Boars

June 29 Standing Hampton

July 6 Simply Seger

July 13 Toast3r

July 20 Get Off My Lawn

July 27 Fahrenheit

Aug. 3 Brother Trucker

Aug. 10 The Sons of Gladys Kravitz

Aug. 17 Raquel & the Wildflowers

Aug. 24 Boomerang

Aug. 31 Gimikk

Sept. 7 Rhythmatics

Sept. 14 Drive Thirty 5

Sept. 21 The Uniphonics

Sept. 28 The Crust

Shop. Dine. Celebrate. Local. 312 5th St. | 515-897-5410 | @coffeecatswdm Tues-Sat: 9-8 | Sun: 10-5 | “Delicious drinks, tasty food, relaxation, and fun with adoptable cats. Coffee Cats is the purr-fect place to visit!” INDEPENDENT Historic Valley Junction Shop • Eat • Drink • live Support the businesses that make Iowa unique.
Sarah Perry via Floodwater

Saturday, April 22 at 7:30 p.m. Dos Santos and Ratboys, Hancher–Strauss Hall, Iowa City, $10-20

Sunday, April 23 at 1 p.m. Public Space One Art Market, Big Grove Brewery, Iowa City, Free

Sunday, April 23 at 3 p.m. Physics, Art & Music, CSPS Hall, $30

Monday, April 24 at 7:30 p.m. Neil Hamburger, Trumpet Blossom Cafe, Iowa City, $15-25

Friday, April 28 at 7 p.m. Bijou Open Screen Spring, FilmScene–The Chauncey, Free

Opening Friday, April 28 The Roommate, Riverside Theatre, Iowa City, $15-35

Saturday, April 29 at 8:30 p.m. Halfloves w/ Jim Swim, Bella Moss, Gabe’s, $10

Monday, May 1 at 7:30 p.m. An Evening with Rainn Wilson, Englert Theatre, Iowa City, $38



ARIES (March 21-April 19): Aries-born René Descartes (1596–1650) was instrumental in the development of modern science and philosophy. His famous motto, “I think, therefore I am” is an assertion that the analytical component of intelligence is primary and foremost. And yet, few history books mention the supernatural intervention that was pivotal in his evolution as a supreme rationalist. On the night of Nov. 10, 1619, he had three mystical dreams that changed his life, revealing the contours of the quest to discern the “miraculous science” that would occupy him for the next 30 years. I suspect you are in store for a comparable experience or two, Aries. Brilliant ideas and marvelous solutions to your dilemmas will visit you as you bask in unusual and magical states of awareness.

TAURUS (April 20-May 20): The dirty work is becoming milder and easier. It’s still a bit dirty, but is growing progressively less grungy and more rewarding. The command to “adjust, adjust, and adjust some more, you beast of burden” is giving way to “refine, refine, and refine some more, you beautiful animal.” At this pivotal moment, it’s crucial to remain consummately conscientious. If you stay in close touch with your shadowy side, it will never commandeer more than 10 percent of your total personality. In other words, a bit of healthy distrust for your own motives will keep you trustworthy. (PS: Groaning and grousing, if done in righteous and constructive causes, will continue to be good therapy for now.)

GEMINI (May 21-June 20): “‘Tis the good reader that makes the good book,” wrote Gemini philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson. “In every book he finds passages which seem confidences or asides hidden from all else and unmistakably meant for his ear.” In the coming weeks, a similar principle will apply to everything you encounter, Gemini—not just books. You will find rich meaning and entertainment wherever you go. From seemingly ordinary experiences, you’ll notice and pluck clues that will be wildly useful for you personally. For inspiration, read this quote from author Sam Keen: “Enter each day with the expectation that the happenings of the day may contain a clandestine message addressed to you personally. Expect omens, epiphanies, casual blessings, and teachers who unknowingly speak to your condition.”

CANCER (June 21-July 22): Traditional astrologers don’t regard the planet Mars as being a natural ally of you Crabs. But I suspect you will enjoy an invigorating relationship with the red planet during the next six weeks. For best results, tap into its rigorous vigor in the following ways: 1. Gather new wisdom about how to fight tenderly and fiercely for what’s yours. 2. Refine and energize your ambitions so they become more ingenious and beautiful.

3. Find out more about how to provide your physical body with exactly what it needs to be strong and lively on an ongoing basis.

4. Mediate on how to activate a boost in your willpower.


LEO (July 23-Aug. 22): I won’t ask you to start heading back toward your comfort zone yet, Leo. I’d love to see you keep wandering out in the frontiers for a while longer. It’s healthy and wise to be extra fanciful, improvisatory, and imaginative. The more rigorous and daring your experiments, the better. Possible bonus: If you are willing to question at least some of your fixed opinions and dogmatic beliefs, you could very well outgrow the part of the Old You that has finished its mission.

VIRGO (Aug. 23-Sept. 22): The Supreme Deity with the most power may not be Jehovah or Allah or Brahman or Jesus’s Dad. There’s a good chance it’s actually Mammon, the God of Money. The devoted worship that humans offer to Mammon far surpasses the loyalty offered to all the other gods combined. His values and commandments rule civilization. I bring this to your attention, Virgo, because now is an excellent time for you to deliver extra intense prayers to Mammon. From what I can determine, this formidable Lord of Lords is far more likely to favor you than

usual. (PS: I’m only half-kidding. I really do believe your financial luck will be a peak in the coming weeks.)

LIBRA (Sept. 23-Oct. 22): It’s an excellent time to give up depleted, used-up obsessions so you have plenty of room and energy to embrace fresh, succulent passions. I hope you will take advantage of the cosmic help that’s available as you try this fun experiment. You will get in touch with previously untapped resources as you wind down your attachments to old pleasures that have dissipated. You will activate dormant reserves of energy as you phase out connections that take more than they give.

SCORPIO (Oct. 23-Nov. 21): “The best revenge is not to be like your enemy,” said ancient Roman philosopher Marcus Aurelius. I’m tempted to advise every Scorpio to get a tattoo of that motto. That way, you will forever keep in mind this excellent advice; As fun as it may initially feel to retaliate against those who have crossed you, it rarely generates redemptive grace or glorious rebirth, which are key Scorpio birthrights. I believe these thoughts should be prime meditations for you in the coming weeks.

SAGITTARIUS (Nov. 22-Dec. 21): Sometimes love can be boring. We may become overly accustomed to feeling affection and tenderness for a special person or animal. What blazed like a fiery fountain in the early stages of our attraction might have subsided into a routine sensation of mild fondness. But here’s the good news, Sagittarius: Even if you have been ensconced in bland sweetness, I suspect you will soon transition into a phase of enhanced zeal. Are you ready to be immersed in a luscious lusty bloom of heartful yearning and adventure?

CAPRICORN (Dec. 22-Jan. 19): What shall we call this latest chapter of your life story? How about “Stealthy Triumph over Lonely Fear” or maybe “Creating Rapport with the Holy Darkness.” Other choices might be “As Far Down into the Wild Rich Depths That I Dare to Go” or “My Roots Are Stronger and Deeper Than I Ever Imagined.” Congratulations on this quiet but amazing work you’ve been attending to. Some other possible descriptors: “I Didn’t Have to Slay the Dragon Because I Figured Out How to Harness It” or “The Unexpected Wealth I Discovered Amidst the Confusing Chaos.”

AQUARIUS (Jan. 20-Feb. 18): It’s sway-swirl-swivel time for you, Aquarius—a phase when you will be wise to gyrate and rollick and zigzag. This is a bouncy, shimmering interlude that will hopefully clean and clear your mind as it provides you with an abundance of reasons to utter “whee!” and “yahoo!” and “hooray!” My advice: Don’t expect the straight-and-narrow version of anything. Be sure you get more than minimal doses of twirling and swooping and cavorting. Your brain needs to be teased and tickled, and your heart requires regular encounters with improvised fun.

PISCES (Feb. 19-March 20): When I was growing up in suburban America, way back in the 20th century, many adults told me that I was wrong and bad to grow my hair really long. Really! It’s hard to believe now, but I endured ongoing assaults of criticism, ridicule, and threats because of how I shaped my physical appearance. Teachers, relatives, baseball coaches, neighbors, strangers in the grocery store—literally hundreds of people—warned me that sporting a big head of hair would cause the whole world to be prejudiced against me and sabotage my success. Decades later, I can safely say that all those critics were resoundingly wrong. My hair is still long, has always been so, and my ability to live the life I love has not been obstructed by it in the least. Telling you this story is my way of encouraging you to keep being who you really are, even in the face of people telling you that’s not who you really are. The astrological omens say it’s time for you to take a stand.


collective voice, power and protection for artists,” Odom said, speaking broadly about AGMA members. “As union workers, AGMA artists have the right to bargain over the terms and conditions of their employment, including wages, benefits, health and safety, and more, as well as the right to request and receive information from employers, including financial information. As union workers, artists have the backing of AGMA and its professional staff in enforcing their contractual guarantees and their legal rights, and when reporting incidents of harassment or discrimination.”

Back in eastern Iowa, Falk is just thrilled to see more workers unionizing.

“I’m a real pro-union guy, have been all my life, so I’m real pleased to see workers get representation,” he said, regarding Englert workers unionizing. “I’m pleased as punch that we got that organized. We’ve got [roughly] a dozen new members in, it brings a new perspective.”

That new perspective goes two ways. Though it’s not entirely clear at this point how much the Englert members will intermingle with the other stagehands, the newly unionized workers will have access to the experience of their IATSE peers.

“We can give them more training,” said Falk, “which will only help their profession when they go back to Englert.”

July 7-8 • Downtown Des Moines, Iowa

Cautious Clay · Blu DeTiger · Thumpasaurus · William Elliott Whitmore

Etran de L’Aïr · Disq · McKinley Dixon · Ax and the Hatchetmen · Lipstick Homicide · Kiss the Tiger · Ancient Posse · Annie Kemble · Us Vs Them · Emma Butterworth · Penny Peach · Hurry Up, Brothers · Allegra Hernandez · Lady Revel · Flash in a Pan · Chill Mac · Surf Zombies · Basketball Divorce Court · Zap Tura · Glass Ox · Salt Fox · Belin Quartet · The Crust Band · Lost Souls Found · Girls Rock! Des Moines Sudan Archives · Deerhoof · Ric Wilson · Gustaf House of Large Sizes · Elizabeth Moen · Maxilla Blue · Pictoria Vark · Tayls · Ramona and the Sometimes · Neil Anders and the Brothers Merritt · Monstrophe · Des Moines Music Coalition Summer Camps
Community >> Cont. from pg. 15
Isaac Hamlet is Little Village’s arts and culture editor.

Midwestern Daydreams

Debut albums are always about moving boxes, and Bella Moss’ debut album Midwestern Daydreams is full of them. Throughout, this seven-song set feels like a “summer’s surely over” album delivered here at the blustery start of spring.

“Change” is the not-so-secret word in these songs, and Bella Moss sings about loves losing their effect and friends leaving friends behind for brighter places. They are all strung together with sparse melodies delivered over a

somewhere else.

On “Flower Beds”, Moss reveals a Phoebe Bridgers influence that permeates the whole of this debut. Complete with a sweeping strings section, Moss cleans the footprints off of her dashboard, then crosses her fingers behind her back.

The song “Slow Burn” features a strumming guitar and the most adventurous vocal harmonies that Moss builds on the album. Her voice finds its power in restraint and layered on top of itself until finally each line becomes simultaneously a whisper and its resounding echo. There’s a lot of wandering possibility in these songs, like on “Sudden Strangers” when Moss admits that she’s still grieving the end of a relationship that only might have been. Not all of the moving boxes can be full of things you need.

On the track, “Candle Lit,” Moss wants to hear the whispered secrets of an old love who’s delivering them to someone new. And


Anear-fatal lung infection gave multi-instrumentalist Donald Curtis a sense of urgency to follow his passions for music and form a band, the bio for Madison–Cedar Rapids band Histo reveals. The etymology of the word fragment “histo” medically refers to body tissue, but it also can mean “structure” or “set upright” (as in a histogram bar chart)—either of which could have been on Curtis’s mind following his medical crisis.

JGDC is Histo’s third full-length release since the band’s self-titled debut in 2019.

The album is a more collaborative work than Histo’s previously release, Asleep in the Firehole, in 2020.

and Toro y Moi. Curtis’s reaching vocals recall Dean Wareham of Luna and Wayne Coyne of the Flaming Lips. Vocal harmonies add a depth and substance that buoys them up over the layers of instruments below.

It’s clear that Curtis has a decent collection of guitar effects and he’s not afraid to use them. Every time I listen to “Cosmic Trends,” I note a chiming vibrato pedal evoking Robin Guthrie of Cocteau Twins. Galloro’s bass walks give the listener another melodic path to follow through the song. Curtis delivers an existential chorus. “Celebrate / Feel alright / In my death / Live your life.”

The instrumental guitar workout appropriately named “Fuzzy Feelings” works as a prelude to my favorite track on the album, “Regression Never Ends.” (By the way: a Gish-era Billy Corgan with hair wants his Big Muff pedal back.)

finger-picked acoustic guitar. For a record made amid this collective mess we share, Midwestern Daydreams remains musically mellow, gentle and, at times, even delicate. Moss’s lyrics, however, are anything but.

“Time For Change” stays true to the best of those last-night-of-summer songs. Somebody is always about to head out to California in them, and Moss can already imagine them there, singing, “I like to picture you / Sitting at a tiny hip cafe.” Those are the ones that you wind up missing the most, the ones you can already imagine being

she doesn’t seem scared by it. On “Out West,” Moss tries an old trick when trying to forget about a relationship that somehow fell away: laying the picture frame face down. Her I-wish-you-well line takes on double meaning in this broken new world that she’s been handed: “I hope you like it where you ran to / I hope the climate treats you well.”

Bella Moss has learned life lessons early, and exhibits full grown feelings across a serene and dream-filled debut collection.

––Avery Gregurich

From the Histo press kit: “Don reached out to previous band member Joe Galloro, who played bass on the first eponymous album, and asked if he’d ‘consult’ on the next phase of the band. In the end, Joe became an essential part of the new album, writing a lot of the musical progressions and melodies, playing bass, synths and guitar and even mixing the album.”

Galloro lives in Cedar Rapids; among his other gigs, he plays bass and collaborates with LV’s own Jordan Sellergren.

The resulting album is a melody-forward pop trip through layers of delicious guitar. A convenient (if not pinpoint-accurate) description of the music places it somewhere between laidback chillwave and shoegaze. It fits well next to my current diet of bands like Tame Impala

“Regression …” has a strippeddown-to-drums-and-bass backing to the verses that lends a sober and ominous tone to the depressing vignettes. “Onward and outward with the trash / aggressive glances with the bears / How can I forgive myself if I don’t at least put up a fight” paints a stark picture of how nature quickly moves to adapt to the presence of humans, even if the humans have seemingly stopped their own march.

The chorus blooms gloriously, like a noxious cloud birthed from a trainwreck. “Regression never ends / Engines spin up but we destroy ourselves again.” A depressing message, but a clarion call for us to pay attention.

Curtis’s near death experience continues to propel his desire to share his perspectives in music and his lyrics. In that way, I suppose the band name is more accurately defined as “setting upright”—asking all of us, perhaps, to set things upright.

ALBUM REVIEWS Submit albums for review: Little Village, 623 S Dubuque St., IC, IA 52240


The “erasure of workers from our collective sense of ourselves as Americans is a political act,” labor historian Erik Loomis wrote in his

there were plenty of cuts on workers’ hands. A complete lack of safety guards on the machinery made mangled hands and missing fingers com-

women worked sorting buttons by size and sewing them onto cards.

Workers were paid by the piece. For sewing 168 buttons onto cards, women were paid oneand-a-half cents. What few laws existed to protect workers were routinely ignored, including those prohibiting child labor.

There were failed attempts to unionize

factory in Muscatine shortly after moving there, where he and his assistants made the buttons using hand tools. Pearl buttons quickly became fashionable.

As the buttons became more profitable, the work was mechanized and factories proliferated. By 1901, there were 27 pearl button factories in Muscatine. Ten years later, there were 43. Only New York produced more pearl buttons than Iowa, and Muscatine was the state’s button capital.

The button factories were by far the city’s largest employers. Everyone in Muscatine either worked in a factory or knew someone who did.

Working conditions appalled and horrified observers who visited the factories. Before being cut, the shells had to be softened by soaking them in water. Cutting rooms had barrels of standing water filled with shells that turned the water rancid. In addition to the stench, the water was also toxic, causing cuts on hands to become infected. And


pg. 17
Cont. >> on pg. 34


Heart Notes


Poetry Palooza! performance including Caleb Rainey, Mainframe Studios, Des Moines, 7 p.m., Friday, April 7, Free

When two artists who work in different forms or genres or tones come together to collaborate, there is a range of possible results.

On one end, there is the danger of a kind of subtraction by addition. In that sort of collaboration, neither artist is truly well served by the blending of their work—and the audience is not served either.

On the other end, there can be a kind of alchemy through which the collaborators make something precious and rare by coming together—something the audience can feel in the moment and carry forward with them.

Of course, there are countless spots between those two extremes where a collaboration might land. In the case of Heart Notes Live, which finds poet Caleb “The Negro Artist” Rainey and jazz fusion/electronic ensemble Wave Cage sharing the stage, the amalgamation yields something engaging and often moving. It may not be all the way to alchemy, but it is far from subtraction by addition.

Heart Notes is a collection of poems about love—its ups and downs, joys and heartbreaks. At one point in the album, Rainey explains how the project differs from much of his other work:

“So this whole collection is my own experiences,” he tells the audience. “I have always been a big softie, which means I’ve also loved

a lot, been hurt a lot, and I’ve also hurt other people a lot. And so this collection is often one of the hardest collections of poems I’ve ever written. It is way easier when I do poems that can point at a system and tell you that system is messed up than it is to go, ‘I’m part of the messed up system of love,’ right? Or to say, ‘I’ve made mistakes,’ or, ‘Your mistakes hurt me at a deep level that has nothing to do with the systemic world around us. But the fact is, you didn’t treat my heart well,’ right? That’s way harder to say sometimes.”

Rainey, however, has a knack for saying those hard things in his poems and for capturing the real delight that love can inspire. He is able to turn a cliché into something new and he is able to mine the quotidian for meaning. His tenor speaking voice might break or soar or be infused with laughter, and in each case he brings the listener along.

For its part, Wave Cage—a band I have praised in these pages before— manages to avoid the potential trap that comes with performing with a spoken word artist. It would be all too easy to become mere background

THE r U r A l ISTS Trying

“Iprayto the saints,” begins the Ruralists’ “pandemic album,” Trying. Then, later, with the strained tension of drawn out tones and stretched-then-resolving chords, album opener “HereNow” continues, “And I wait / on the word / on the whisper never heard / though I listen with all my might.”

The northwestern Iowa band includes several members who teach at Sioux City’s evangelical Dordt University. And, like every intersection of faith and learning, Trying is exploring meaning in ways both familiar and discomfiting, tying the shit we see happening around us to the reality we believe underpins all truth—or, well, it’s trying to.

“What is this ache / threatening to break / my heart in two?” It’s the experience of swimming through the languid ecstasy of track three, “Time.” The choral assertion is tinged with acceptance of futility: “The trouble with time is / the line that it flies / is straight and true.” But later, the track’s crashing cymbals still, and the lyrics admit, “Course, a shortness of breath / doesn’t always lead to death.” The slowing metronome closer allows “Time” to continue even past its end.

Tracks like “Strange Machines” (“Aren’t we strange machines / human beings?”) and “People Are People Too” drive themes of acceptance home in unsubtle ways that might be redundant or reductive if they weren’t wrapped in such engaging instrumentation. The lyrics and music intertwine, passing off intent like a baton, exploring new territory when they can and at other times reinforcing the lessons of the other.

Then comes “Helluvathing”: “When I mention, ‘Jesus Christ,’ I know you roll your eyes. To tell the truth, most days I do, too.”

music, a kind of sonic wallpaper onto which the poems are projected. But the band clearly has engaged with Rainey’s work on a more than superficial level, allowing them to punctuate and elevate individual moments. And when they sit out on the poem “Wendy the Good Little Witch & Casper the Friendly Ghost,” the band adds by subtraction. It’s a nifty trick midway through the set.

If you are in the mood for musings on love accompanied by a talented and thoughtful group of musicians, you may well find Heart Notes Live heart-stirring.

Yes, I said evangelical back there. If you’re alive in the 21st century in America, you probably have a complicated relationship with that term. There’s a strata of Christian churches that claim it and utilize it as a way to persecute and judge. But at its core, it’s a practice of questioning and understanding. And besides, I wouldn’t be using these few sparse words to throw some Stryper or even Jars of Clay at you. The Ruralists, and this album, strike a more sonorous chord; they use faith as a lens, not a hammer.

Coming in hot at track two, “Mother Mary” delivers smooth jazz vibes recalling a certain corner of the 1980s that rejected that decade’s frivolity for denser excesses. Both the tonality of the piece and the rolling sax line in the background are echoes of the best collaborations between Sting and Branford Marsalis.

It’s a plaintive, longing track, anchored in a shared search that carries more weight than any one answer ever could. “And we both might find ourselves awake asking what all of this means.”

The choral outro, which echoes the final line (“We’re here because we’re here because we’re here”) sung to the tune of “Auld Lang Syne,” works both at the surface level and deeper, when you discover or recall that in World War I, British soldiers sang that in the trenches, as they pondered meaning in ways unfathomable to most of us now.

The rest of the album persists in mixing facts and philosophy in ways that comfort and challenge in equal measure, wrapping up with a discordant, carnival-esque chorus of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” at the end of album closer “Right‽” which leaves you wondering whether there might be more answers to the question of life in the living than in the questioning.

Submit albums for review: Little Village, 623 S Dubuque St., IC, IA 52240

Muscatine button workers in 1897 and 1903. But in 1910, things began to change.

That year, there was a major strike by garment factory workers in Chicago. Its effects were felt in Muscatine in two ways. First, the example of workers standing up for better treatment was inspiring. Second, with fewer garments being produced, demand for buttons decreased. Production was cut in the Muscatine factories, and so were wages.

In November 1910, nine men and 29 women formed the Muscatine Button Workers Protective Union (BWPU). Factory owners and managers derided the organizing effort, but membership grew quickly. By February, the BWPU had almost 2,500 members. It was the largest union in Iowa. The attitudes of owners and managers changed.

On Feb. 25, 1911, almost all of Muscatine’s button factories, including all of the largest ones, suddenly shut down. Owners claimed the closings weren’t coordinated and had nothing to do with the new union. They cited national economic conditions as the cause. But two weeks later, the factories reopened with only nonunion workers. BWPU members were locked out. The union declared a strike, and called for a boycott.

The BWPU was affiliated with the American Federation of Labor (AFL), which had started by organizing craft labor and had only relatively recently, and somewhat reluctantly, begun to organize factory workers. But the strike in Muscatine was different from other industrial labor actions.

A large percentage of factory workers in early 20th century America were immigrants for whom English was a second, often difficult, language. Xenophobic and racist imagery colored how other Americans viewed those workers, and since Jewish workers were often prominent among union organizers, antisemitism joined the other fears and prejudices. Major newspapers and national political leaders portrayed unions as the work of dangerous subversives determined to undermine American business and society.

Muscatine broke that mold. The striking workers were unambiguously white, overwhelmingly American-born and from the sort of rural communities Americans romanticized as repositories of wholesome values. National labor leaders saw a chance to change the public image of industrial unions.

The AFL sent a top official to negotiate on behalf of the BWPU. Factory owners remained united in rejecting any deal that recognized the union. Leaders from the Industrial Workers of the World

(IWW), the AFL’s biggest rival for organizing workers, also came to Muscatine to observe the strike. Newspapers around the country carried stories on the strike when it began.

Women in the BWPU took the lead on relief efforts to make sure striking workers and their families had food and other basic necessities. That work was made easier by support from the broader community, with many people recognizing the strikers as their friends and neighbors.

Community support, however, faded as the strike dragged on for 15 months.

In retrospect, it’s remarkable the strike in Muscatine lasted into 1912. As Loomis documents in his book, “There is simply no evidence from American history that unions can succeed if

Your Village >> Cont. from pg. 32 Community
Cont. >> on pg. 36

In Nick Holmberg’s debut novel, The Emergent, he asks whether we can come to understand and know a person through the way they tell their story. The book shows the psychological and moral growth of the narrator, a young woman named Kat, as she challenges her audience to piece together the account she gives them of her time between San José, California and New York City to form a more complete portrait of her through the details of her life both shared and omitted.

The novel follows Kat—a queer woman of color simultaneously discovering and revealing her identity—through her schooling, family tragedies, an earthquake and the dawn of the internet. At times, she experiences frustration as she finds herself conveying the stories of her family word for word from her brother’s and grandfather’s accounts, struggling to find her own voice and to understand why she was told some things and left in the dark about others. She watches her family try to pull together in the face of hardships only to eventually scatter, she can’t help but wonder whether people are born into behaviors and destinies or whether it depends on how they react to their circumstances and their circumstances to them.

Kat observes that her life “has always hung in the balance of other people’s perceptions of me, my story, my race, my musical tastes, my family life, my reading preferences and my relationships.” Despite these frustrations, she recounts the

history of her shattered family in an effort to piece together her story, tracing back the events of her life to better understand herself. Even as Kat relays the account of her upbringing, she calls into question how she came to learn her personal history and, at times, her own telling of it.

The Emergent is more than just a family history—it’s Kat’s attempt at finding her own voice and defining herself on her own terms, crafting her identity by choosing what details of her life should make up the person she has become. Kat’s account of what appears as a family history spanning generations succeeds at holding the reader at bay much more effectively than can be understood until the novel reaches its close.

Holmberg’s story about Kat is a moving story of trauma and family and the ways in which we are defined. It also asks us, in more ways than one, to consider what stories are ours to tell.

Once a drummer, always a drummer? When Nic Brown landed a fellowship to enter the very selective Iowa Writers’ Workshop (where he earned his MFA in 2006), he figured his drumming days were done. He didn’t want to reference his years on the rock circuit with his new friends in Iowa City. At parties, the words he most feared hearing were, “Nic was in a band.” Though he’d been in Rolling Stone and on The Tonight Show, he’d suspected that, if anyone asked about his music career, they would never have heard of the band he’d been in (Athenaeum) or its signature hit (“What I Didn’t Know”). This might have embarrassed them, which would have embarrassed him. Better to let those sleeping dogs lie.

particular dream isn’t the right fit for him. His musical tastes change, as do his creative ambitions. The thrill he felt at first signing a contract can’t sustain him, even as his band’s music gets some serious play on the radio.

He also develops the “yips,” a term most often associated with sports, with baseball players or golfers, who overthink the throw or the putt that used to be instinct. What they could once do naturally they can no longer do as well, or sometimes at all. He had trouble finding the groove, or keeping the beat. Something was seriously wrong.

One of the memoir’s other unexpected revelations shows how he gained more confidence to switch from drumming to writing. He wrote a fake bio for one of his later bands. He thought it was as outlandish as anything, say, Cheap Trick had once issued, but others took it seriously. And it could have had serious repercussions, as the New Yorker (he’d aimed high to publish his own work) was interested in writing a piece on the band, based on this fake origin story.

While writing from a perspective that Holmberg acknowledges is not his own, he attempts to step outside of himself and his experience to provoke conversations about identity, history and the events that shape us without assuming the voice of any particular group. Whether or not he succeeds in this endeavor is up to the reader.

But as he admits in this self-deprecating memoir, he had trouble getting drumming out of his system. Even when he pivoted his career toward publishing novels and teaching aspiring writers, he would find a rhythm track coursing through his veins. His dentist asked if he’d been grinding his teeth. Not exactly. He’d been using them as a non-stop click track.

As a coming-of-age memoir, Bang Bang Crash isn’t your typical Behind the Music episode. No sex or drugs, nor detailed accounts of drama with the record label or management. Instead, it’s a more thoughtful rendering of how a kid achieves his dream—so fast and so young, with his high school band—and then discovers that this

It’s a funny story, and could have had serious consequences, but it gave Brown the confidence that he could craft a story that would connect with others. He appreciates the autonomy a writer has, though he missed a band’s collaborative spirit. And he discovers that the writing racket doesn’t necessarily provide a smoother career path or a road to riches. Though it seems to suit him as a better vocation for growing up and growing older, as he becomes a husband and then a father.

Ultimately, he decides to revisit what he had once wanted to outgrow. He reunites that first band for a 20th anniversary performance, partly to give this book its conclusion, but maybe a little to come to terms with what he’d never gotten past. And in the process he opens the door, at least a little, that he’d once been so determined to slam shut.

Submit books for review: Little Village, 623 S Dubuque St., IC, IA 52240

the government and employers combine to crush them.”

A month into the Muscatine strike, as fights between strikers and scabs became common, factory owners hired professional strike-breakers from Chicago and St. Louis. Known as “sluggers,” because they attacked strikers with baseball bats, the goons were sworn in as “special deputies” by the sheriff.

In April, the sluggers’ actions sparked a riot in the city. The special deputies left town, but the governor sent in three companies of state militia, who occupied Muscatine for three days.

Gov. Beryl Carroll also tried to impose a settlement in the strike, drafting his own proposed contract. But the BWPU rejected it, saying the terms of the contract were too vague to be effective. In the autumn of 1911, Carroll sent in the militia again.

In her study of the strike published in Annals of Iowa, Kate Rousamaniere explains it’s hard to reconstruct exactly what went on in the strike, because the “Muscatine News-Tribune, which was sympathetic to the union in the first three months of the strike, abruptly stopped coverage of the labor situation in mid-May.” After May, there were only sporadic stories in the News-Tribune and other Iowa papers.

No explanation was given for these editorial decisions, but it’s worth considering that striking workers weren’t the ones buying the ads that newspapers relied on for revenue.

Whatever national impression the BWPU strike in Muscatine made was quickly eclipsed when workers at textile mills in Lawrence, Massachusetts began to walk out of their factories in January 1912.

The walkout was sparked by a pay cut, but the reasons it grew into a strike of 20,000 men, women and child laborers went beyond just meager pay. They wanted better working conditions, and they demanded to be treated with respect.

Conditions in the factories were horrific, but that didn’t engender much public sympathy. The strikers were mostly immigrants, almost half had been in the country for less than five years. These were exactly the workers that made the AFL and the WTUL uncomfortable.

The IWW quickly assumed a leadership role. The Wobblies, as they were known, believed in “one big union” of all workers, no matter where they were born or the color of their skin. The Wobblies were political radicals who wanted workers to take power in the workplace and replace the rich as the people who set the rules for society.


(with strings)





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Your Village >> Cont. from pg. 34 Community Cont. >> on pg. 38 Find your next read. Discover new authors. Explore Iowa’s culture.
Charity Nebbe, Host

our precious three daughters were approaching … adulthood, and they only had exposure to 50 percent of their medical history.”







Katherine Linn Caire reading, Beaverdale Books, Friday, April 21, 6:30 p.m., Free

Itry to imagine myself learning, at age 52, that I have a sister. I think about my own sister and how important that relationship is to me. I think about how much life there is in 52 years—how much identity is formed, how awkward it becomes just making friends as an adult—and I can’t imagine it. Surely it would be confusing and scary and thrilling, but what would that even mean?

This is the premise of Katherine Linn Caire’s memoir, Accidental Sisters: The Story of My 52-Year Wait to Meet My Biological Sibling

A self-proclaimed happy adoptee from Des Moines, Kathe—who was heretofore uninterested in anything to do with her biological lineage— decides in her 50s that she should look into getting medical records for her own children.

(She says, “[E]xperience showed me that if children were not happy with their adoptive parents or their family life in general, they would be more likely to seek their birth mothers … This was my myopic view of adoption as a child growing up with adoptive parents.” She recants this idea a few times, aware of the privilege and naivete of this take.)

Kathe’s story is full of fateful moments, the first of which is her sudden impulse to procure a medical history for her children. “I found myself staring out the window into our very dark, quiet front yard and suddenly the thought came to me:

Divine intervention is a prominent theme, which is fitting for a story that started with a Catholic girl in a Catholic hospital giving up a child for adoption at Catholic Charities. Religion itself is not a major theme, though religion did connect the biological family to the adopted family. These instances are catalysts for near-misses and odds-defying revelations for Kathe. “[B]y that point in my life I knew that ideas that ‘come out of nowhere’ tend to have a distinct purpose,” she said.

The narrative is chronological, almost entirely exposition, and starts with Kathe’s adoption, including her parents’ application letters to the adoption agency. There are anecdotes about her early childhood and then her search for medical information. It’s an error in the redaction of one of the documents Kathe receives which sets off her journey to learn more about her biological mother and, eventually, to meeting her sister.

Kathe’s story includes watching her parents age, receiving the support of her family, extreme moments of synchronicity and a lot of introspection and exploration of her birth mother’s experience.

While the book’s subtitle assumes the climax of the narrative would be the meeting of two estranged sisters (and I would say that it is), that meeting is about halfway through the memoir, and is followed by further odd surprises from research, building the relationship between the sisters and cultivating a spiritual connection with the Maurer family. (Maurer being her biological mother’s maiden name.) Kathe’s journey (and her sister’s) are not that of self-discovery, but of an ongoing quest to learn one’s self.

BERLIOZ Roman Carnival Overture


Cello Concerto No. 1


D’un matin de printemps (On a Spring Morning)

OFFENBACH/Arr. Rosenthal Music from Gaite Parisienne






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The strike met with fierce resistance, but in late February, police working on behalf of the factory owners went too far. They attacked a group of women strikers and their children. Public outrage exploded across the country. President William Howard Taft condemned the brutality. Congress launched an investigation. Normally anti-union newspapers turned sympathetic. Within weeks, the factory owners agreed to most of the strikers’ demands.

As workers were celebrating in Lawrence, the strike in Muscatine was sputtering to a close. Workers couldn’t hold any longer, and went back to the factories. The BWPU continued to exist, but only on paper.

It would take 20 years and the election of the union-friendly Franklin Roosevelt for union sentiment to stir again in Muscatine, but by then it was too late. Plastic buttons became the standard in the 1930s, demand for pearl buttons nosedived. All the factories in Muscatine closed.

All that remained from the city’s industrial heyday were clams and the quickly fading public memory of one of Iowa’s biggest strikes.

Your Village >> Cont. from pg. 36 Community
Paul Brennan is Little Village’s news director.


1. Juice brand with a shapely bottle

4. Token of appreciation

9. Aubrey Plaza’s role on Parks and Recreation

14. Highway assistance org.

15. One appealing aspect of studying in a coffee shop

16. Organizing determinant at botanical gardens

17. The ___ (Showtime series)

18. “When I feel like it!” or

“Once in a blue moon”

20. Martial art with five different animal “fighting styles”

22. Subj. of the lawsuit in season 2 of Hacks on HBO Max

23. Mode of fashion in superhero movies?

24. Smooth sail?

26. ___-pitch

28. “Don’t try me!”

34. Bea Arthur title role

35. ___ and aahed

36. Drink commonly spiked with rum, brandy, or whiskey

37. Vegetable hidden in “cook raw”

38. Ford car featured in a Beach Boys tune

39. One-third of the hiphop group with the hit song “Shoop”

40. Tel. book figures

41. Tiny bit

42. Leading

43. “When hell freezes


46. Track and field star turned actress Aduba

47. Dips a toe into, maybe

48. Wading wetland bird

51. League whose mascots include Lucky the Leprechaun and Benny the Bull

54. Wiped

57. “Use some common sense!”

60. Odor of a middle school boys’ locker room

61. Girl’s name translating to “of the night” in Arabic

62. Impractical Jokers network

63. What one should call when this entry backwards is over .08

64. Lauder of beauty fame

65. Longer version of PIG

66. Essential worker, for short


1. Get ready for a trip

2. Honolulu’s home

3. The meat of it, perhaps

4. Dramatic announcement of someone’s arrival

5. Excite

6. Swear (to)

7. Middle Eastern country with a protected green turtle population

8. Novelist Alisa Rosenbaum’s pen name

9. Gp. for lawyers

10. Brooklyn bird

11. Word before “race” and “rage”

12. “Let’s do it!”

13. Screenwriter Waithe of Master of None and


19. Squashed, as with hopes

21. Cheese sibling to Edam and havarti

25. “___, so sad”

27. Cap

28. UkrainianAmerican comic Smirnoff

29. Andy Sambergism for “neat”

30. ___ Level

Midnight (Michael Scott’s screenplay in “The Office”)

31. “Give me some room”

32. Barrier for some receiving medical treatment

33. “Golly gee!”

34. Chronic college affliction

38. “Here! They’re good!”

39. Incriminating form of evidence

41. Tabloid named for a certain radius surrounding L.A.

42. Rid of sins

44. Blow one’s cover in a game of sardines, maybe

45. Supply stockpiles

48. Loafing

49. Drag neckwear

50. “She’s ___ for the right reasons”

52. English city named for its history of Roman-built fixtures of the same name

53. Angela Davis’s signature hairstyle

55. Something taken to get into college

56. Something taken on to get into college

58. Lovey

59. Non-gendered possessive


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Becca Gorman, edited by Quiara Vasquez.
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