in this issue
JAN. 2 - 9, 2013
VOL. 23 ISSUE 41 ISSUE #1085
JOHN GREEN: NERDFIGHTER
An extensive, liberally footnoted interview with the local YA author, professional video blogger and expert on novels about conjoined twins written by MFA grads. BY SCOTT SHOGER • COVER PHOTO BY MARK LEE
MAPPING LOCAL CARBON EMISSIONS
Thanks to a new modeling tool, Indianapolis now has a detailed picture of local carbon emission patterns. BY ALEX MILLER
16 30 09 21 31 05 04 20 22 07 29
A&E CLASSIFIEDS COVER STORY FOOD FREE WILL ASTROLOGY HAMMER HOPPE MOVIES MUSIC NEWS WEIRD NEWS
Once a Fleet Fox, now a solo minstrel, Father John Misty chats about ayahuasca, podcasts and “hippie shit.” BY KATHERINE COPLEN
from the readers
In praise of pantyhose I found that my warm breath, out the nose created moisture that would then either glom up or even freeze, later in the season (“Bicycle Diaries of a Big Girl: Winter Snapshots,” Katelyn Coyne, posted Dec. 14). The very best material I ever found is pantyhose material. It definitely keeps anything under it warm, and it’s too thin to allow accumulation of moisture...or other fluids (like mucus [sorry]). Since it’s weird to ride around looking like a bandit, I only used it from 20 degrees to minus 20 degrees. You can either
let your nose get smashed down or cut holes in the essentially ski mask. Either way, somehow the warmth around the nose keeps the air from being cold in the lungs. Between these 40 degree temperatures and 20 degrees, I have found that face grease works. Bonne Bell makes one called Weather Proofer. Again, although it’s illogical, the warmth around the nose keeps the air from being cold (maybe, it’s the moisture). Vaseline is okay, although it’s a little thin. Congratulations on your dedication!
— Christy Stossmeister NUVO.NET
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100% RECYCLED PAPER // NUVO // 01.02.13-01.09.13 // toc
Need An Outlet for Your Singing Talent?
HOPPE Is local food trumping art? Come and get it
Capital City Chorus is the place for you! Please join us for our Global Open House Thursday, January 17th at 6:30 PM! All Souls Unitarian Church 5805 East 56th Street 317-241-SONG
BY DAVID HOPPE DHOPPE@NUVO.NET
n artist was overheard complaining not long ago about the local restaurant scene. It wasn’t that he was unhappy with the quality of what some of our better eateries offer. What stuck in this artist’s craw was what he perceived as competition. He pointed out that many artists in Indianapolis have a difficult time selling their works. While more people than ever turn out for First Friday gallery hops, and the quality of work on offer gets more interesting all the time, this has not translated into actual sales, even though many works of art can be purchased for a few hundred dollars or less. What was getting the artist was his suspicion that a lot of the people who have been telling him they can’t afford to buy his art were going to our ever-growing number of independent restaurants and spending their money on top-shelf cocktails, grass-fed beef, and free-range pork. Local food, in other words, is trumping local art. Or, put another way, local food is becoming our newest art form — and it’s taking the town by storm. Questions about whether or not food qualifies as art and, if so, what kind of art it is (visual? performance? conceptual?) have become an entertaining diversion in cyberspace. Author William Deresiewicz got the ball rolling with an essay in The American Scholar in which he argued that, “food has replaced art as the object, among the educated class, of aspiration, competition, conversation, veneration.” But food, asserted Deresiewicz, is not art. That’s because it “is not narrative or representational, does not express ideas or organize emotions, cannot do what art does and must not be confused with it.” It wasn’t long before another writer, Sara Davis, responded via Drexel University’s Table Matters website. She said that asking whether food was art was the wrong question. After launching into a mini humanities seminar about what art is and how we experience it, she concluded by asking some questions of her own, all of which she answered in the affirmative: Can food be crafted with artistry? Can it convey meaning? Can food be a vehicle for inspiration for some of humanity’s better qualities? And should it be taken seriously as a subject of study, a medium of expression, or a form of cultural exchange? I am inclined to think that a meal, in the
right hands or the right circumstances, can certainly provide an experience akin to what we’re used to calling art. This is partly due to what’s been happening in the food scene of late — and partly because of how we have come to think about art. Over the course of the past year and a half I worked on a book about Indiana food called Food For Thought: An Indiana Harvest. The project allowed me the opportunity to talk to farmers and food artisans, master chefs and grill cooks all over the state. I found that very few of these individuals would describe themselves as artists. But, as they told me their stories, I also found the temptation to draw comparisons between them and the artists I know irresistible. Like artists, people in the food movement — and a movement is what the burgeoning demand for what’s fresh, local and creatively prepared amounts to — tend to be individualists who marry hard-earned skill with a genuine love for what they do. Most of them see themselves as being part of a long tradition going back generations. They routinely risk material comforts and security to do something they find personally compelling. And that compulsion often has its roots in a desire to connect with something — call it a spirit — bigger than they are. At the same time more and more of us are becoming increasingly discerning about the food we eat and how it is presented, our relationship to what used to be called “the fine arts” seems increasingly tenuous. Art, in the early 21st century, seems to be whatever anyone says it is. The Museum of Modern Art in New York, for example, has dedicated a gallery to an installation by Martha Rosler called “The Meta-Monumental Garage Sale,” which the museum describes as “a large-scale version of the classic American garage sale, in which Museum visitors can browse and buy second-hand goods organized, displayed, and sold by the artist.” What makes it “meta” or “monumental” seems to be the works’ existence in a renowned museum, as opposed to, well, an actual garage. It seems we want our art to be less about aesthetic artifacts and more about experience itself, with an emphasis on the social. In this formulation, cities where art happens are coming to resemble nothing so much as oversized summer camps. The artists play camp counselors, coming up with lots of activities to help us pass the time. If this is true, then surely our best local chefs are artists who bring us together and illuminate, among other things, our sense of place through their use of locally sourced goods. In their hands, a meal becomes a kind of performance. And the restaurant where it takes place is, at once, a gallery and stage. A place where every work exists in three dimensions, plus one: you can actually taste it.
A meal, in the right hands or the right circumstances, can certainly provide an experience akin to what we’re used to calling art.
news // 01.02.13-01.09.13 // NUVO // 100% RECYCLED PAPER
Goodbye Mitch, old pal
Y our friends in the press will miss you BY STEVE HAMMER SHAMMER@NUVO.NET
All of these lengthy stories and columns I’ve been reading about the end of Mitch Daniels’ two terms as Indiana governor have made me realize just how much I will miss him. In fact, one three-part series inspired me to write my own remembrance of the Daniels years in a style I have become accustomed to over the last eight years. Note that the following is a work of parody. All of the quotes were made up, as were almost all of the events it describes. It is not intended to mimic the work of any individual journalist, pundit or TV talk show host but rather all of them.
mmediately after his successful campaign for governor in 2004, Mitch Daniels found himself riding his RV one last time. The vehicle, made famous in TV ads showing him traveling the state listening to ordinary Hoosiers, had one not-sominor flaw: Its toilet was notoriously unreliable. The stress of a long campaign had permanently rendered the potty unusable. And so it was that, once again, the RV pulled into a small town convenience store so the governor-elect and party could relieve themselves. As Daniels zipped up, the occupant of the urinal adjacent to his spoke up. “I’ve heard about your RV,” the man said. “You can’t use it anymore.” “You heard right, friend,” said the man about to become Indiana’s 49th governor. The man began washing his hands. “The way I see it,” he said, “that’s what you’re going to do to this state. You’re going to ride around Indiana for the next eight years until it’s us, not you, who doesn’t have a pot to piss in.” Years later, the boyishly handsome Daniels remembered the story and laughed. “People always think that politicians, whether Republican or Democratic, aren’t going to do what they say. But I told that man I keep my promises. He’s right. He doesn’t have a pot to piss in. The business where he worked closed down after spending all the state money we gave it. He barely can eat.” There are many ways in which to interpret the administration of Mitchell Elias Daniels Jr. One could say he stripped the state of many of its most valuable assets and sold them on the cheap to foreign businesses. Others might note that he ravaged the state just in time to parachute to a lucrative new job free of even the minimal scrutiny of the state’s media. Still others can point to Daniels and say that he was a man wise enough to understand he would lose convincingly to Barack Obama and
to stay out of the 2012 presidential campaign. Yet others, particularly those who have covered the Statehouse for too many years, look at the tenure of Daniels with an admiration bordering on sycophancy. They take a look at his record of almost complete lack of positive achievement and see in it the makings of legend. From 2004 to 2012, Daniels enjoyed unprecedented success at accomplishing nothing while making a national name for himself with frequent 10,000-word speeches and articles full of quasi-intellectual, mostly incoherent words about “restoring America’s greatness” and “earning the peoples’ respect.” Looking back with pride, Daniels says he once went through back-to-back-toback interviews with Fox News, Politico and CNN without saying even one thing of substance. “It was so tough,” says the governor, whose tanned features and stately physique earned him more than one backward glance in the White House gym men’s locker room during the second Bush era. “I ran out of things to say while I was talking to Politico,” Daniels says, “and so I found a booklet on how to assemble a Craftsman table saw and read from that for five minutes. I just threw in phrases like ‘right-sizing’ and ‘future-gripping.’ They loved it. Said I was almost as exciting as Tim Pawlenty.” It was exactly that kind of dogged Hoosier determination that melted the hearts of the members of the Statehouse media, a small but important corps with connections to some of the least-watched TV shows and infrequently viewed political websites. His predecessors were all hounded by the media for minor infractions but the passionate nature of the media’s love for Daniels ensured he would not be seriously bothered by any allegation, at least from the media. “I guess we always knew he was strip-mining the government,” says one shy reporter over coffee at a downtown Starbucks, “but, coming from his mouth, in those adorable, cleverly phrased sound bites, I guess we didn’t care.” The reporter adds, “Daniels did what we can only dream of. He really did wreck state politics, laughed about it and then found a better-paying job destroying another institution. His name will live forever.” On the November day in 1992 when the U.S. closed its Subic Bay naval base in the Philippines, hundreds of red-light district workers of many genders stood at the dock and cried as the final American servicemen departed. So it shall be between the Statehouse pundits and Mitch Daniels. His departure signals the end of an era not unlike the one mourned by the Filipino B-girls in Subic Bay. There’s a new governor in town, and he intends to take a wrecking ball to whatever Daniels left of the state government. But in the hearts and minds of those who were there, the Daniels years will stand out as a magical time where nothingness and lack of achievement were glorified to a level never seen before. It is the legacy of an amazing politician.
The media’s love for Daniels ensured he would not be seriously bothered …
100% RECYCLED PAPER // NUVO // 01.02.13-01.09.13 // hammer
by Wayne Bertsch
HAIKU NEWS by Jim Poyser
post Christmas snowstorms included tornadoes, flight delays and white-outs icy streets caused cars to careen, felled power lines put folks in the dark as if the weather was punishing us for our holiday excess or pummeling us for having moved away from mom, pop, homes of birth or it’s comeuppance for our carbon emissions and consumer waste
Mon-Fri specials $4 All import/micro brew drafts $2.50 All domestic drafts 1/2 off appetizers from 4pm til kitchen closes $6.99 lunch specials until 2 College Football specials $4 Stoli Vodkas $8 Miller Lite pitchers $10 Coors Light Buckets NFL Sundays $8 pitchers of Bud/Bud Light $12 Bud Light buckets $5 Stoli bloody marys $4 Sailor Jerry
in small scale tribal societies people don’t stray far from their homes they don’t spend and waste either, at least not beyond their capacities but that’s elsewhere, here we’re cajoled into buying things as proof of love we crisscross the sky to say hi, rub molecules with laws and in-laws Scott Russell Sanders wrote a book called Staying Put: home and heart entwined
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28 S. Pennsylvania . coachestavern.com 6
news // 01.02.13-01.09.13 // NUVO // 100% RECYCLED PAPER
THUMBSUP THUMBSDOWN PRO SOCCER IS WITHIN INDY’S GRASP
At the behest of an unnamed group of investors, Peter Wilt, former president and general manager of the Chicago Fire Major League Soccer team, has set up shop Downtown to investigate the feasibility of bringing pro soccer to Indiana. Based on what he’s heard so far, Wilt says, he is “cautiously optimistic … there’s going to be professional soccer in Indianapolis.” Expect a decision and formal announcement at the annual convention of the National Soccer Coaches of America, which will be held in Indy Jan. 16-20. Meanwhile, soccer fans can visit IndyProSoccer.com to pledge support (organizers estimate a season pass could cost as little as $125). The Brickyard Battalion fan club is hosting meet and greets with Wilt — both from 7-8 p.m., on Jan. 4 at the Claddagh Irish Pub in Plainfield and Jan. 8 at the Indiana Soccer Academy in Westfield.
On this Winter Solstice, Indy community members gathered together Downtown to honor 45 people who died homeless in Indy during 2012. This represented a steep increase from the 29 people memorialized in 2011. The Homeless Persons’ Memorial is organized each year by the Coalition for Homelessness Intervention and Prevention. On any given night in Indianapolis, more than 1,600 individuals experience homelessness, according to CHIP’s 2012 report “Faces of Homelessness.” Overall in 2012, CHIP estimated that between 5,000 and 8,500 people experienced homelessness in Indy — thousands of them children. For information on volunteering or donations, visit chipindy.org.
GET PAID TO GET ON THE BUS
Along with its plans to expand it service in 2013 (including a new crosstown route across 82nd/86th Street), IndyGo is also expanding its workforce. The company offers paid training along with decent pay and benefits. If public service and mass transit warm your heart, it may be time to get on board. Check out indygo.net for more details. Random Note: The U.S population will hit 315,091,138 on New Year’s Day, up 0.73 percent, or 2.3 million from a year earlier, according to U.S. Census Bureau projections released in December. The U.S. growth trend is expected to continue throughout the month of January with one birth expected to occur every eight seconds, more than offsetting one death every 12 seconds.
THOUGHT BITE By Andy Jacobs Jr. Three cheers for pharmaceutical ads which give you more reasons not buy their product than to buy one.
news Hestia carbon tracking model comes alive New model displays carbon emissions at street level BY A L E X M I LL E R E D I T O RS @N U V O . N E T
team of researchers led by Kevin Gurney, a professor and researcher at Arizona State University, has recently developed a model that can predict carbon emissions on the street level. This model, named “Hestia” after the Greek goddess of the hearth, may prove essential in curbing and perhaps slowing the effects of global warming. One of the model’s first publicized runs utilized Indianapolis, providing the city with tangible emissions data while positioning Indianapolis as a strong representative for carbon emissions modeling nationally. Currently, the model tracks carbon emissions, particularly carbon dioxide, the compound most responsible for global warming. Carbon dioxide is one of many greenhouse gases. Other greenhouse gases include water vapor, methane, ozone and nitrous oxide. Despite common belief, carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases are beneficial to Earth, and, without them, human life would not exist. Greenhouse gases trap infrared radiation, heating Earth to habitable temperatures. Without greenhouse gases, on average, Earth would be a chilling -0.67°F, a temperature well below the 59°F global average we enjoy today. When large amounts of anthropogenic carbon dioxide — carbon dioxide traced to human activity — are released into the atmosphere, however, Earth heats uncontrollably, resulting in global warming. For decades, scientists have studied carbon dioxide concentrations and their effects on the atmosphere. One of the first, and perhaps most famous, carbon dioxide stations in the United States is the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii. It has been tracking atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations since the late ’50s. Scientists have developed a number of computer-based models to measure carbon dioxide emissions. Taking data from various points across a region, researchers are able to project carbon dioxide emissions for a large area, typically the county- or Census tract-level. These models have left much to be desired. While these models can numerically predict carbon emissions on a regional level, they fail to pinpoint the exact coordinates of carbon emitters within a
FOR MORE ON HESTIA hestia.project.asu.edu/audience_public.shtml asunews.asu.edu/20121009_Hestia
Previous coverage of Hestia: nuvo.net/indianapolis/the-hestia-project/ Content?oid=1209514#.UMirI7be9DE
Kevin Gurney, professor and researcher at Arizona State University.
county. Instead of providing a precise location, they merely bunch all carbon emitters into one geographic result. The county itself becomes the carbon emitter, instead of each individual entity being a carbon emitter.
Along comes Hestia Hestia, unlike traditional carbon emissions models, measures carbon emissions at a much more granular level from roads and individual buildings. “I think we are the first effort to do something at this scale. We have taken a very different approach to solving this problem,” Gurney explained. Hestia uses traffic reports, among other data, to predict exact carbon emissions. The model can be modified for every part of the day and week, outputting results every hour. This flexibility allows researchers to compare high traffic times of the day, such as rush hour, with low traffic times of the day, such as the few hours after midnight. Gurney and his team chose Indianapolis for a number of reasons. For one, the majority of Indianapolis fits snugly within the boundaries of a single county. Furthermore, most of Indianapolis’ carbon dioxide emissions data is reported on the county level. Indianapolis also has flat and symmetrical terrain, and the city’s population is distributed fairly equally in all directions from the city center. Perhaps most important, Indianapolis is an “island” city, surrounded primarily by rural landscape. Because it is surrounded by rural land, most of the city’s pollution is from the city
Remembering 2012’s homeless deaths by Steph Griggz In memory of Johnny Flynn by Lori Lovely Pro soccer is within Indy’s grasp by Rebecca Townsend
itself and not from surrounding areas. Using Indianapolis was also simply practical for Gurney and his team. “I was at Purdue at the time [of the research]. Indianapolis being physically proximal was helpful,” Gurney explained. By being so close to the team, Gurney could take regular trips to Indianapolis and talk with the city’s environmental staff. In addition, Indianapolis has an ideal terrain, which increases the accuracies of Hestia’s readings.
Planes, cars and coal As expected, Indianapolis’ major roads are the largest source of automobile carbon emissions. While the city’s major roads, interstates and highways make up just 15 percent of Indianapolis’ roadways, they are responsible for 62 percent of the city’s roadway carbon emissions. Moderately busy roads, which account for about 10 percent of Indianapolis’ roads, are responsible for approximately 22 percent of the city’s vehicular carbon emissions. The remaining 75 percent of Indianapolis’ roads, which are used lightly, account for the rest of the city’s roadway carbon emissions. Carbon emissions from roadways are highest during the morning and early evening rush hours. According to Hestia, the Harding Street Power Station, a coal power plant on the Near Southside, and Indianapolis International Airport are the largest individual sources of anthropogenic carbon emissions in the city. Both of these emitters are located in Decatur Township, which, coincidentally, emits more anthropogenic carbon than any other Marion County township. Gurney found Hestia’s results for the Harding Street Power Station particularly interesting. When asked if the power plant’s carbon footprint was surprising, Gurney responded, “I would say they were what we
expected. The power plant within the city limits is distinct, large and very noticeable. It is not necessarily surprising, but it is still alarming.” His results reflect general findings from the Harding Street Power Station. Data from the Commission for Environmental Cooperation, an early 2000 study, says the power plant released more than 3.6 million pounds of carbon dioxide per year. Still, city officials say they should not just focus on the largest emitters in the city. “While some sources are highlighted as larger emitting facilities, it is important to not lose sight of an important educational message from this project. Everyone can play a part in reducing emissions associated with energy and transportation,” explained Matt Mosier of the Indianapolis Office of Sustainability. While smaller emitters may not output as much carbon dioxide as the Harding Street Power Station and Indianapolis International Airport, together they release a substantial amount of air pollution. Elsewhere, Hestia found that the majority of carbon emissions from residential properties are emitted during the evening hours. The majority of carbon emissions from businesses, on the other hand, are emitted during the day. Seasonally, homes and businesses have a higher carbon footprint during the winter months, due to increased energy usage for heating.
Expansion of Hestia Gurney and his team have big plans for Hestia’s future. They plan to implement methane in their model, considering it is the second most abundant greenhouse gas in cities. They also want to expand Hestia’s reach. Gurney said a lot of cities including Los Angeles and Phoenix have already expressed interest in implementing Hestia. Still, Gurney and his team want to do more with Indianapolis. Other research groups have already taken note of Hestia and recognize what it may bring to carbon mapping. “This is a visually compelling view of carbon emissions, identified down to the individual building level,” explained Gabriel Filippelli, a professor and biogeochemist at IUPUI. “Given that no limits currently exist for carbon emissions, this model does a better job at present in developing public awareness of greenhouse footprints than in developing definitive policy actions.” In the future, Gurney could see Hestia being used as a policy tool in cities like Indianapolis. Before that can happen, however, the Hestia team wants to make their product more user friendly so that city officials can use it with ease on a day-to-day basis. City officials, such as Mosier, could see Hestia fitting nicely into their already dedicated environmental policy making. “[Already] the City has proactively led by example with aggressive energy efficiency improvement at city-county buildings, city operations and in promoting alternatives to residents and businesses,” Mosier said. “The Hestia project is an easy to understand simulation of carbon dioxide emissions from the Indianapolis community.”
Audit uncovers more revenue department problems by Lesley Weidenbener Top 10 Local Stories of 2012 posted by Abdul-Hakim Shabazz Lugar and the leadership of the long-distance runner by John Krull
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DON’T FORGET TO BE AWESOME John Green: novelist, blogger, nerd uniter, force for good
BY SC OT T S H O G E R | S S H O G E R @ N U V O .NET P H OTO S BY M A R K L E E
ohn Green’s Broad Ripple office has something of a rec room feel. Its central axis has at one end, a flat screen TV equipped with an Xbox 360 and at the other, a recliner. On the periphery are a standard-issue office desk (off to the corner, looking largely unused), a treadmill overlooking the Broad Ripple Canal where it meets the White River (equipped with a desk where he says he writes just about every morning), bookshelves filled with hardcovers of his five novels and plenty of artwork on the walls, much of it inspired by Green’s fiction. On the coffee table in front of Green — who’s seated comfortably in his leather recliner this morning, sipping on his drink of choice, Diet Dr. Pepper — are three stacks of posters, each bearing a quote from one of Green’s books rendered in water colors by a Malaysian fan. Green signed all 150,000 copies, or the entire first print run, of his latest book, The Fault in Our Stars. Apparently addicted to the activity, he’s going to sign the hundreds of posters sitting in front of him, employing his professional athlete-style signature, a single swipe with a Sharpie that leaves behind something resembling “JG.” Green, 35, has called himself a “professional Person of the Internet,” and, to be sure, he’s amassed quite the following, with 1,315,820 Twitter followers as of Dec. 30, 2012. Many of those followers would consider themselves Nerdfighters, or super-fans of the work of John and his brother and fellow video blogger, Hank, who have taken the brothers’ lead in raising money for charity (including over $400,000 in December 2012 during an annual YouTube-based fundraiser, Project for Awesome), or, say, reading good books other than those written by John. The term describes, to be sure, nerds fighting against global injustice (or “worldsuck,” as it is called within the Nerdfighter community), and not those who fight nerds. The slogan of the community is “Don’t forget to be awesome,” an effective summing up of the Green brothers’ unashamedly optimistic approach to life and learning. Green has found readers from the beginning — his first novel, 2005’s Waiting for Alaska, won the young adult fiction world’s top award, the Printz — but 2012’s The Fault in Our Stars could be described as his breakout hit, riding atop the New York Times bestseller list for weeks. NUVO spoke to Green in September 2012; since then, plans have come together for John and Hank Green’s Carnegie Hall debut in January. Called An Evening of Awesome, it will celebrate the one-year anniversary of the release of The Fault in Our Stars, and is currently sold out.
John Green tapes his YouTube educational series, CrashCourse, at a Carmel studio, finishing several 15-minute episodes during an afternoon session.
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Good, living novelists
I have nothing to add
NUVO: A representative quote about your work: “Adult readers need to look in the teen section if they’re tired of what passes for literary fiction.”
NUVO: Was The Fault in Our Stars more taxing to write than your other books?
GREEN: I like adult literary fiction a lot, and I feel bad when people say to adult r eaders, “You should also consider this novel, this novel and this novel” which are published for teenagers because adult literary fiction is bad. Much of it is — there’s no question that a lot of it has become very disconnected from emotional reality, but also very disconnected from this kind of pleasures and consolations of storytelling and story reading. But not all of it; I mean there’s tons of it. There’s no shortage of good, living, American novelists who write great fiction for adults. That said, I like being published for teenagers. I don’t want to be published for anyone other than teenagers; I don’t want to write any other kind of books. But most of my readers, of this book at least, are adults. And I like them, and I’m grateful for them, and I’m glad that the book is finding so many adult readers. In the end, a really good book, if it’s a good book, it doesn’t matter. My friend said something that at the time I thought was a little bit pretentious, but now I find myself agreeing with it. He said, “When someone reads my book, and then puts it on their bookshelf in their home library, I don’t want it to go into the young adult fiction section or the adult fiction section. I want it to go into the ‘my favorite book section,’” and that is true. That is what you want. NUVO: Why do you think that this has come to find more adult readers than not? GREEN: For me, traditionally, it’s been half high-school, half college. Which is great; I love that because they’re reading critically in school. They’re reading Gatsby, and they’re reading Catcher in the Rye, and they’re reading all the books that I want the char acters in my novels to be conscious of. 1 But I don’t know why it’s reaching a much larger adult audience. Some days I think it’s because my other books aren’t as good, some days I think it’s marketing. And then also I think, in the new publishing world, some of the genre distinctions are breaking down a lot, particularly if you read on devices.
JOHN GREEN: Yeah, definitely. It was more emotionally taxing; it was more personal to me in a lot of ways. I tried to write the book for 10 years, so in that sense it was my first book. I t’s just that I could never make it work. I’d given up on it entirely by about 2008, but then suddenly it became possible. But it wasn’t easy, I guess. Although I should hasten to add that as my dad always tells me when I complain about writing, that it ain’t coal mining. This book in particular was much more physically taxing because I was constantly thinking about illness, which I think about too much anyway, and it was emotionally taxing because I think I was maybe pr ocessing. Some of it, at least, was a response to my own anger and grief, so it was harder. It’s not a book I’d want to write again. But it was also complicated by the fact that I sat there day after day thinking no one will ever want to read this book and that proved incorrect. That tempers a lot of the complicated feelings I had towards the book when I was wr iting it because now obviously it’s found such a great audience and such a generous one.
to agree with the school of literary criticism that proclaims the death of the author. There’s no question that authors are a character in their books, that authors exist inside their books, but I believe that authors are generally the least interesting characters in their books. When I wrote this book, I thought every single person who read it was going to be someone that I knew on the Internet. Most of them also knew Esther in some way, and I knew that people would make a connection between Esther and Hazel, for obvious reasons.3 Then the book is dedicated to Esther, this young woman who I cared about very much, and she died when she was 16 and Hazel was 16. And I don’t deny all these connecting points. Esther was a huge inspiration for the book, but I did not want people to think that I was appr opriating Esther’s story or that Hazel was Esther. I
don’t buy into this whole argument that books or art can revive the dead or help the dead to survive or anything like that, so I wanted to state that at the outset. One of the challenges of writing novels these days is that, because we live in such a personality-driven culture, and because authors are known as people, it’s very hard to lose the awareness that the book was written by a person who you sort of know. I’ve had that experience reading books written by my friends, where I’ll be reading a book and
NUVO: Given your success that was almost an irrational thought, right? GREEN: No! My books never sold that well before. They sold OK. They would have big first weeks because I have kind of a built-in audience, but then the hockey stick would go in the wrong direction. I’ve been very lucky and really, since the beginning of my career, my books have had a pretty consistent audience, but I think The Fault in Our Stars sold more in the first month than any of my pr evious novels. There was a good buzz behind the book and the early reviews were very positive and all that stuff helped. And then I think, although I genuinely did not understand the power that at the time it had, I think signing all the books helped, too. Hence, the signing of all these posters that you see. NUVO: The disclaimer that starts this book — and, in general, the way you handle authorial intent — is interesting. GREEN: I stand by the author’s note.2 I think authorial intent is pretty irrelevant, and I tend
“I want the reader to live inside the story, and that’s a big challenge in this author-driven world.” — John Green
FOOTNOTES 1. Alaska Young, the narrator’s love interest in Waiting for Alaska, talks of her “Life’s Library” early in the book: “Every summer since I was little, I’ve gone to garage sales and bought all the books that look ed interesting. So I always have something to read. But there is so much to do: cigarettes to smoke, sex to have, swings to swing on. I’ll have more time for reading when I’m old and boring.” 2. The author’s note to The Fault in Our Stars reads in its entirety: “This is not so much an author’s note as an author’s reminder of what was printed in small type a few pages ago: This book is a work of fiction. I made it up. Neither novels or their readers benefit from attempts to divine whether any facts hide inside a story. Such efforts attack the very idea that made-up stories can matter,
which is sort of the foundational assumption of our species. I appreciate your cooperation in this matter.” 3. Esther Earl, a Quincy, Mass., member of the Nerdfighter community and a prolific video blogger, died in August 2010 at age 16, four years after being diagnosed with thyroid cancer. In July 2010, Green encouraged Nerdfighters to vote on behalf of Esther for the Harry P otter Alliance, a charitable organization formed by Harry Potter fans, in an online contest for a grant from the Chase Community Giving Foundation. Earl, also a member of online communities for Harry Potter fans, was a supporter of the organization; the campaign, dubbed “Vote Esther” by Green, helped the alliance to win a $250,000 grant. From Green’s video eulogy for Earl, posted to YouTube in August 2010: “Esther was a great friend to many people in Nerdfighteria and a great
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friend to me, personally. ... Esther was an amazing kid. She was astonishingly empathetic, she was very thoughtful, she was very funny. But she wasn’t an angel or a model of perfection or anything. She was a person, she was a teenager. She answered Formspring questions like, ‘Do you have names for your butt cheeks,’ with, ‘Not as of yet, but that is a good idea?’ ... Even though Esther has died, we will continue to do projects with her, for it will be when we work to decrease Worldsuck [a synonym for injustice popular in the Nerdfighter community] and when we show our love for others that Esther will be with us most.” Hazel Lancaster, the narrator of the Indianapolis-based The Fault in Our Stars, has lived for several years with a terminal cancer diagnosis when the novel opens with her reluctant trip to a support group . 4. The YouTube video channel Hankgames, launched in
November 2010 by Hank Green, chronicles the video gaming exploits of the Green brothers, showing unexpurgated on-screen action accompanied by wide-ranging, digressive commentary by the brothers. Their FIFA 11 team, known as the Swindon Town Swoodilypoopers, is rarely victorious. 5. Hazel’s favorite book, An Imperial Affliction, is the sole published work by Peter van Houten, a reclusive Amsterdambased author. She says of the book: “Sometimes, you read a book and it fills you with this weird ev angelical zeal, and you become convinced that the shattered world will never be put together unless and until all living humans read the book” (The Fault in Our Stars, pg. 33). She travels to Amsterdam with her mother and boyfriend, Augustus Waters, who is likewise living with cancer, in order to meet van Houten, who proves a disappointing souse and refuses to answer her questions
everything will be going fine and then I’ll be like, “Oh, that happened in Detroit. I remember that. I was there,” and then it’s distracting. But you want to live inside the stor y, or I want the reader to live inside the story, and that’s a big challenge in this author-driven world. NUVO: Trust the tale, not the teller. GREEN: Exactly, and also give yourself some power as a reader. I think we’re so used to narratives being something that we lean back and watch, whether it’s NCIS or Modern Warfare 3 or whatever, that we are just sort of led through a story.4 People always say Grand Theft Auto is a world you make, but in fact if you play it, you are led in a very specific way through a very specific story. At best it’s like a “choose your own adventure” book. Most of the narrative, first-person shooter games are very “lean back, we will do the narrative work for you.” And one of the things that I still r eally love about books is that they do empower readers and they ask a lot of readers and I wanted to do that in my books. NUVO: And Augustus ends up being able to speak for himself; he doesn’t need to rely on the author to be his mouthpiece. GREEN: Thanks for noticing that! I wanted to disempower the author a little bit. You know, the last thing Van Houten says in the book is “I have nothing to add.” And then Augustus gets his voice, which he never trusts, even in his last moments. I think that the most courageous and heroic thing that the author does in the whole book, although he sets a very low bar for heroism, is to not take this good piece of wr iting and try to make it better, but accept that Hazel should see what he wrote about her.5
Sex scenes & bromances NUVO: Was Alaska ever banned? GREEN: Oh, yes. Repeatedly.6 NUVO: And you’ve made the point that is wasn’t intended for children, but for a teenage audience. GREEN: This is an American problem. We lead the industrialized world in censorship of novels, and we also lead the world in production of pornography. To me, it says a lot about our very strange relationship with sex. In the end, what concerns parents about my books is not the values of the books or the language in the books, even when I use curse words. That sex scene in Alaska, such as it is, is 700 words long in a 70,000 word novel, so I think that reflects the fact that I think sexuality is an important life of human life, but maybe about one percent? 7
My readers will all act directly to make sure that my books hang around, but what worries me is the chilling effect that it has on discourse. It says to publishers, “Don’t publish these books”; it says to writers, “Don’t write these books”; and it says to schools and libraries, “Don’t even try to put these books in your school, because it’s just gonna be trouble.” And it is trouble. The people behind these challenges and the banning of these books tend to be very well-organized and extremely passionate. I’m busy, you know. And most people are really busy. NUVO: On that note of chilling of discourse, do you think you helped open up discourse with Will Grayson, Will Grayson, showing that it can be commercially viable to publish a young adult book with a gay character in it? GREEN: We didn’t think about it that way because for us, living inside the world of literary fiction, there are tons and tons of novels about gay kids. But it was very satisfying to prove that a novel about gay kids could not only be published, but could be successful. Even though we didn’t imagine it as a “coming-out” story, I think it has been a gr eat comfort to a lot of people. In my mind, that whole conversation is so over and I wanted to write it as a novel about what comes after the acceptance of gay high school students. But what’s interesting is that for a lot of kids, that isn’t their experience yet. And I think those kids find a lot of hope in that stor y, which is great.
JOHN GREEN, BY THE PROJECT VlogBrothers
The VlogBrothers YouTube channel was created to make possible Brotherhood 2.0, a project that saw the Green brothers resolving to cease all communication for a year, save for a series of video blogs posted publicly to YouTube each weekday. The project has since expanded to incorporate videos by other bloggers, and has been the launching point for projects undertaken by the Nerdfighter community.
LAUNC HED IN 2007
The Project for Awesome, an annual YouTube based fundraiser created by the Green brothers, raised $483,446 in 2012, for various charities. According to the project’s website (projectforawesome.com). The Uncultured Project (see note 18) was, in part, behind the installation of pond sand filters in Bangladesh villages, working in concert with Save the Children and with support from Project for Awesome participants. Subsequent work in Haiti — done in collaboration with Water.org, a massive developmental aid organization co-founded by actor Matt Damon — was a core part of the 2011 Project for Awesome.
Actual giraffe sex NUVO: I was watching the one-thousandth video on VlogBrothers, which notes that people have collectively spent 1,500 years of human life watching your videos.
Founded by the brothers Green, VidCon, a conference or convention for online video — VidCon’s FAQ page remains agnostic on what “Con” stands for — was cited by Rolling Stone as “one obvious indication that [YouTube[ has graduated from cultural phenomenon to monstrously influential media institution, like the old models it’s crowding out.” Approximately 8,000 people attended this year’s VidCon, up from an estimated attendance of 1,400 at the first VidCon, held in 2010.
LAUNC HED IN 2012 about what happens to the characters following the end of the novel. Augustus, who refers to himself a “shitty writer,” sends van Houten a letter asking him to write a eulogy for Hazel in advance of her death. Van Houten declines his request and sends Augustus’s letter, unedited, to Hazel. From the letter: “Here’s the thing about Hazel: Almost everyone is obsessed with leaving a mark upon the world. Bequeathing a legacy. Outlasting death. We all want to be remembered. I do, too. That’s what bothers me most, is being another unremembered casualty in the ancient and inglorious war against disease. I want to leave a mark.” 6. From School Library Journal, May 2012: “A Tennessee school district has banned John Green’s award-winning novel Looking for Alaska (Dutton, 2005) from the school curriculum. ‘Our director of schools reviewed it and decided it probably
Project for Awesome
NUVO: And it’s sort of a twist to y our books, which are usually about “boy meets girl,” “girl meets boy.” GREEN: I wanted my story to be about a best friendship between a straight guy and a gay guy because I hadn’t seen that a lot and because we live in this world that is so hyper-focused on sexualizing and romanticizing love. The term bromance exists entirely because it’s not OK for guys to like each other. Like friendship is becoming sexualized, and it has to be like a romance. Why can’t we just be friends? So I wanted to write a book about a gay guy who is genuinely not attracted to his best friend, and a straight guy who is also genuinely not attracted to his best friend, just like every other platonic best friendship in the world. They have to navigate a world that doesn’t expect or allow for that.
shouldn’t be required reading’ says Jeremy Johnson, spokesperson for Sumner County Schools, where the book was pulled. ‘We’re not using it in the curriculum, but it will still be used in the libraries.’ ... The book was withdrawn from schools in Depew, N.Y., in 2008, and in March from classes in Knox County, Tenn., according to The Tennessean.” 7. In part of the scene, the narrator, Pudge, and his girlfriend, Lara, find themselves puzzled by the mechanics of oral sex, and resolve to ask their ostensibly more experienced friend, Alaska, for guidance: “So we went to her room and asked Alaska. She laughed and laughed. Sitting on her bed, she laughed until she cried. She walked into the bathroom, returned with a tube of toothpaste, and showed us. In detail. Never have I so wanted to be Crest Complete.”
LAUNC HED IN 2007
LAUNC HED IN 2010
PHOTO BY GAGE SKIDMORE/FLICKR
CrashCourse (youtube.com/ crashcourse) is an educational YouTube channel featuring video series that offer fast-paced, “crash courses” on subjects in the sciences and humanities. Hank Green handles the science topics; his first course, now completed, was biology, and he is currently teaching ecology. John Green’s first course was world history, and he is now teaching English literature.
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GREEN: I think it’s actually closer to, like, 750 years of human life. On average, people don’t watch all the way through, and a bunch of our videos that are the most viewed are viewed for about six seconds because they’re about giraffe sex, so... People realize that it’s a video about the mechanics of giraffe sex instead of actual giraffe sex and then they stop watching. NUVO: That kind of points up to the promise as well as the pitfalls of the Internet. GREEN: Exactly! We love to disappoint our viewers! NUVO: It started as a kind of fun experiment in staying in touch and using the Internet, and it’s transformed into something else, into, “How can we harness this for good?” GREEN: Even in the beginning, we wanted to do projects with the audience. We wanted to be interactive, not just have it be about the two of us. I was never that close to my br other because I left for boarding school when he was, I think, 11, but now we’re just extremely close. We talk on the phone every day. NUVO: Why do you think that is? How did that develop? GREEN: I think we needed a shared endeavor. We needed a project, something that we did together, that we could talk about together. And for the first year we couldn’t actually communicate, which meant that we talked about the project mostly in the videos. But then after that, when it started to grow so much and it became a business, it kind of forced us to talk all the time. Which is great, you know, my brother is one of the people I trust most in the world. I think he is extr aordinarily talented and smart and savvy, so it’s really fun. It started out as a project to mostly become closer and then when it became quite popular, we realized that we had this platform and we had to use it. NUVO: Professional video blogger. What does that title mean to y ou? I guess it’s technically true. GREEN: It is true. It’s a weird job description. I used to think of myself mostly as a pr ofessional video blogger more than a writer. I’m always uncomfortable identifying as a writer because when you start to think of writing as your full-time job, it puts all kinds of pressure on book writing. There are thousands of people that make a living on YouTube. Many of them are making a living making really, really interesting videos and really interesting community-oriented projects. It’s something you participate in, it’s something that you’re part of, it’s something that you comment upon and I read your comment and often reply to them. And on YouTube, the great thing is that all that happens in the same page. NUVO: And you have a festival or conference for bloggers. What was the idea behind that?
GREEN: We felt that there needed to be a conference; there was a need both for a fan conference and a trade conference to talk about the business and where it is going. In many cases, to have those frank discussions that you can’t have unless you bring together people from around the world because some of the people that do this for a living live in Germany, Brazil, Iceland. The first year was very small, the second year was bigger and then this y ear it was like going to a real conference. I kept thinking, as I was walking around, that this looks like every other conference that I go to. All of a sudden, it looks legit.
Brought to you by Diet Dr. Pepper NUVO: Is there a concern about being co-opted with Disney8 and other corporate elements coming in? Is there a concern that it might compromise that authenticity and interaction? GREEN: I don’t think it’s just a concern; I think it’s a reality. It’s already happening. We have fought very hard to stay independent but it is a losing battle. There are very few big channels left on YouTube that are independent; it might be single digits, actually. NUVO: Are you independent? GREEN: We are. We haven’t signed with a network. But almost everyone has and we may. It’s very hard. Look, I can’t sell ads. I don’t want to do that. Our biggest problem is that the real way to make a living on YouTube is to say something like, “Enjoy delicious Diet Dr. Pepper, I know I always do.” Literally for everyone else, advertising is the biggest part of how they make a living, but for us is not. 9 I want to maintain independence. I want to continue to own the intellectual property for CrashCourse. We work with YouTube, but we own them, they’re our show. But that model is going away. To me, it’s very much like what Hollywood looked like in the ‘20s, where all of a sudden things started to consolidate very fast. I would love to see what happened in Hollywood, which is that United Artists emerged and people who were independent content creators were able to continue and function as a studio.9 But that’s not something that I’m going to do; that seems like a lot of work. This always happens when there’s a big boom of something like this.
NUVO: A lot of people are seeing CrashCourse in classes? GREEN: There is a campaign going on at the moment. It’s more a campaign to tr y to get YouTube into schools so that it ’s possible to use CrashCourse.
NUVO: And you get to be the cool teacher? GREEN: Yeah, I get to do the things that teachers can’t do because I get to eviscerate students, whereas teachers, because they are real people interacting with other real people, have to be generous and kind and patient and loving and caring, and when kids are unbearable and annoying, they have to not give up on them. And I don’t have to do any of that, which is really nice. One of the many characters in the show is me from the past, like my high school self, and all of that stuff is
NUVO: There’s a nice pace to those videos; they’re fun. It accomplishes what maybe some other projects have failed to do, which is to achieve the r ight balance between intelligence and accessibility. How did that come about? GREEN: I mean, we though a lot about it. We wanted it to be thoughtful and reasonably in-depth, given the length of the videos. But we also wanted it to be something that people who grew up on the Internet, watching Internet-based content could relate to, and wouldn’t find visually disorienting, as I do when I watch educational content. There are so many poor knock-offs of the Ken Burns-style documentary. The stuff that actually gets licensed to schools and that schools pay lots and of money for is stuff that, in my opinion, most students cannot relate to, either because it’s too dry or because it’s,
GREEN: Yes, it started out as a conscious choice. She is a private person and has her own career and is very successful, and her career is very far away from my job.10 NUVO: How intense are your fans? How many road trips do they make?
A jack-of-all-trades in the John Green world, Danica Johnson is Green’s assistant and an associate producer of CrashCourse. The globes on Green’s desk are from her personal collection.
8. The 2012 edition of VidCon was sponsored in part by the Disney Interactive Media Group and YouTube. 9. As an aside, I put it to Green that it’s tricky to use United Artists as an example of a viable, artist-run business, given that one of its founders (pioneer filmmaker and inveterate racist D.W. Griffith) had dropped out within five years of its founding and that, even in the early years, its founders rarely delivered their agree-upon yearly quota of five films per filmmaker. Green, in reply: “Yeah, when you think of United
The Periodic Table rap
say, some old guy rapping the periodic table, which is just incredibly awkward. That’s not what we wanted to do. We wanted to treat our viewers seriously, but we also wanted them to have fun, because I’m of the unpopular opinion that learning is actually fun.
NUVO: Your wife, Sarah, isn’t often featured in your videos. Is this a conscious choice?
GREEN: A lot. I’ve seen on Tumblr people
go around and find the places from The Fault in Our Stars and take pictures of the Speedway and North Central.11 The biggest concern for me is that we do get people coming to the house, and that’s not OK, obviously. When I’m out, it’s not a problem at all. I’m always very happy to talk to people. It’s actually really nice to meet them and take a picture or whatever.
Artists, you think of, like, four years of glory.” 10. Sarah Urist Green, associate curator of Contemporary Art at the Indianapolis Museum of Art, most recently curated Graphite, an exhibition considering non-traditional uses of the titular material. She also curated the 2010 IMA exhibition Andy Warhol Enterprises, which cast Warhol as an entrepreneur who declined to distinguish between commercial and fine art. 11. Hazel’s boyfriend, Augustus, is a sophomore at North
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Central High School when The Fault in Our Stars begins. He calls upon Hazel to rescue him at a Speedw ay gas station at 86th Street and Ditch Road when he finds himself dealing with a malfunctioning feeding tube. The couple also spends time at the IMA’s 100 Acres, where they picnic near the sculpture “Funky Bones”: “Two things I love about this sculpture,” Augustus said. ... “First, the bones are just far enough apart that if you’re a kid, you cannot resist the urge to jump between them. Like, you just have to jump from rib cage to skull. Which means that, second, the sculpture
essentially forces children to play on bones . The symbolic resonances are endless, Hazel Grace.” 12. Green co-wrote the world history edition of CrashCourse with his high school history teacher Raoul Meyer. 13. Following Alaska’s death, a shell-shocked Pudge: “I am sleeping, and Alaska flies into the room. She is naked, and intact. Her breasts, which I felt only very briefly and in the dark, are luminously full as they
GREEN: I don’t even know if I was interested in learning back then because I was just so angry and depressed. I was just out of control with my emotions and had no idea what was going on inside of myself.
buy this whole high culture-low culture distinction. I’m grateful my books are taken seriously but I really don’t like it, particularly in Hollywood, when they’re like, “This is a high culture book so it has to be a cer tain kind of movie.” I did like Die Hard 4 very much; I like The Expendables too. I like pop art, and I don’t think it’s bad just because it’s populist. I always say that. My actual favorite movies are Rushmore and Harvey, but I can’t say that because they’ll think...well, of course, Wes Anderson...
The story begins today
It works if you work it
NUVO: Your books often start with characters being thrust into a new situation. They’re receptive and adjusting to their circumstances.
NUVO: I like how, in The Fault in Our Stars, you approach how certain slogans or approaches may work for certain people, but they can be really inadequate for others. You talk about how this whole notion of “you need to be happy” can work out to blaming the victim. You weren’t happy, so you died.
true. I was so horrible to my teachers and I hope that CrashCourse can pay back so that I can maybe make amends to what I did for my teachers.12 NUVO: Have you become more interested in learning as an adult?
GREEN: The story begins today. Yeah, I like writing those stories. One of the pleasures of the story is that it allows you to live all the way inside of it. You don’t want to feel that you need anything more at the beginning. You want to feel like you’re taken right to the place where it starts. NUVO: Without haunted characters and flashbacks. GREEN: I don’t like flashbacks and I don’t really like dreams. I wrote one dream in Alaska.13 I still kind of regret it. NUVO: I guess that all contr ibutes to readability. GREEN: I want to write books that stand up to critical reading and that can be read over and over again. And I also want them to be fun to read and to have good pace. I know that I don’t write great plots — I’m never going to be Stephen King — but you don’t actually need that much plot to get pace. I think that’ll keep me from ever being a good screenwriter, but hopefully I can hang around as a novelist. NUVO: Your assistant says your favorite movie is Die Hard 4? GREEN: (Laughs as his assistant comes in to confirm that he did actually make such a statement in public, at VidCon 2012.) Well, for the record, my favorite movie is not Die Hard 4. I say that because...they expect me.... NUVO: Like David Foster Wallace picking Tom Clancy as one of his favorite novelists? 14 GREEN: Exactly! When Hollywood people ask you who’s your dream director and then they mention this very mediocre independent film that came out five years ago. But what would be really great is if Bruce Willis was in [that dream movie]. I say that mostly because I want to make the point that I want my books to be fun to read, and I don’t
hang down from her body. She hovers above me, her breath warm and sweet against my face like a breeze passing through tall grass.” 14. Though Wallace said in a 1996 Salon interview that he was fond of everyone from Socrates to Schopenhauer to Don DeLillo, he took a different tack for a 2007 “10 favorite books” list solicited by the Christian Science Monitor, picking mainstream favorites by Stephen King, Robert A. Heinlein and Clancy.
GREEN: Right, particularly, “You’re dying, that must be because you weren’t happy six months ago, when you ‘had a chance’,” which totally fails to understand the actual mechanics of disease in our bodies, and also it gives this “other-worldly” power to our brains which I have not seen an evidence of. Some studies show some slight benefit in positivity, but we’re talking about such tiny margins. What was important to me was to present a variety of responses, both secular and theological, to illness and to the particularly complicated problem of illness in children because it is, on some level, unnatural. Parents should never bury their kids, but childhood cancer has been with us as long as we have been a species. So how are we going to make sense of that? To some people, like you say, that battle metaphor is very useful. To some people, it isn’t useful. To some people those AA phrases are. I wanted Hazel and Augustus to be very different in the way that their belief system surrounding illness and its meaning. 15 And also whether meaning in human life is constructed or intrinsic. Not so much to make judgments about “which of this is best” or “which of this is helpful,” but just to say, “This is all part of the landscape of how we think about this stuff,” and what holds up to scrutiny and what doesn’t and what provides us with real comfort, because a lot of these things sound comforting but they actually don’t provide much internal peace. I worked as a chaplain at a children’s hospital in 2000, and that somehow started the book for me. I’d read plenty of theology about the problem of evil. I had a pretty water-tight theology that allowed for all of the things that I saw in the hospital. I didn’t see anything that intellectually contradicted the theology that had been built for me by these philosophers. It just didn’t matter; it just wasn’t comforting. It didn’t help. It
15. Hazel’s criticism of how Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs seems to inadequately address those who can’t climb up his pyramid toward “self-actualization” because of chronic illness is particularly sharp: “According to Maslow, I was stuck on the second level of the pyramid, unable to feel secure in my health and therefore unable to reach for love and respect and art and whatever else, which is, of course, utter horseshit: The urge to make art or contemplate philosophy does not go away when you are sick. Those urges just become transfigured by illness.”
JOHN GREEN, BY THE BOOK 2005
Looking for Alaska
Green’s first novel follows Miles Halter, aka Pudge, a skinny non-entity obsessed with the last wor ds of famous people, as he escapes from his boring, safe home life to a boarding school. There he befriends his roommate, the fearless Colonel, and falls for the fr eespirited, troubled Alaska. Hijinks ensue, but a pall is cast over the entirety of Alaska; the book’s countdown structure — leading day by day to an unspecified event that demarcates before and after for Pudge — was inspired by the events of 9/11, according to Green. Winner of the 2006 Michael L. Printz award, the top prize in the young adult fiction world, Alaska has been published in more than 15 languages.
An Abundance of Katherines
Whereas Alaska’s Miles Halter is endearingly unintellectual (missing references to great literature made by his more sophisticated friends), Colin Singleton, the narrator of An Abundance of Katherines, is altogether the child prodigy, inspired, according to Green, by Salinger’s Glass family — and like the Glass kids, finding it more than a bit difficult to apply book learning to the real world. Singleton, who says he’s dated 19 women named Katherine , sets out on a road trip with a buddy, with the goal of determining a theorem that will predict the success of any relationship. Katherines was shortlisted for the 2007 Michael L. Printz award.
High schoolers Margo and Quentin, aka, Q, ransack their town during a night of scor e-settling mischief. And then she disappears. Puzzled, Q looks for clues as to her wher eabouts, happening upon a poster of Woody Guthrie that leads him to Guthrie’s song “Walt Whitman’s Niece” (first recorded by Wilco and Billy Bragg), which in turn leads him to a copy of Leaves of Grass suggestively highlighted by Margo. Q follows Margo’s leads down several forking paths, some of which end up in dead ends (including a fruitless trip to an abandoned subdivision in Florida). A 2009 Edgar Award winner for Best Young Adult Mystery.
Will Grayson, Will Grayson
Written in alternating chapters by Green and David Levithan, a YA writer known for including gay teens in his books , Will Grayson, Will Grayson features two teenagers who happen to share the same name: one a depressed gay teenager who falls hard for someone he meets online, and the other the straight best friend of a novel-stealing giant football player, Tiny Cooper, who has been openly gay since the fifth gr ade. Here’s the straight Grayson on his best friend — described as a “flaming Falstaff” in a New York Times review — from a chapter written by Green: “Tiny Cooper is not the world’s gayest person, and he is not the world’s largest person, but I believe he may be the world’s largest person who is really, really gay, and also the world’s gayest person who is really, really large.”
The Fault in Our Stars Green’s first book set
in Indianapolis opens as Hazel Lancaster, who has lived several years with a terminal cancer diagnosis , is nudged by her mom to attend a cancer support gr oup. She meets there another reluctant attendee, Augustus Water; equipped with a prosthetic leg, he’s a bit more outgoing than Hazel, and the two soon fall for each other. They eventually make a trip to Amsterdam to meet Hazel’s favorite author, a passage which gives Green the opportunity to spoof himself and the kind of fans who ask him about what really happened in one of his books. Green signed the first 150,000 copies of Stars; more than 270,000 copies had been sold by the beginning of December 2012, according to Neilsen BookScan. 100% RECYCLED PAPER // NUVO // 01.02.13-01.09.13 // cover story
didn’t make it OK; it didn’t make it survivable for me. And the people who I admire the most, who work in children’s hospitals for 20 or 30 years as social workers or chaplains or nurses or physicians or whatever, those people all have some kind of secular or r eligious worldview that allows them to go there, do the work and be OK. I admire the hell out of that. I just could never find it. NUVO: How did you find that people manage to compartmentalize? GREEN: I was 22, it was literally my first job. I graduated from college two or three weeks before. I remember I worked these 24 hour shifts, and so I’d been awake for, like, 32 hours. And I’d never seen anyone die. Not even an old person, let alone children. I remember getting in the car and listening to the Barenaked Ladies as I drove, which was the most disorienting experience, like, “How on earth can the Barenaked Ladies sing a jovial song in the face of this reality?” And then I turned off the radio, and I drove for like 20 miles, and then I turned on the radio again because I was ready to listen to it again. All the many years I was working on this story that I was trying to write, it was always set in a children’s hospital and always featured this chaplain. And then, finally, it was when I took the chaplain out and made the story about the kids that it star ted to work.
On death NUVO: I think your first book has that element of having an intellectual interest in death without genuine experience of it. GREEN: Yeah, that first book was about tr ying to puzzle through my own lingering frustration or trauma, because it was very hard. There was this kid who was really badly burnt, and it was just the worst possible story. The father was burning trash and saw that the fire was out of control, and he said to the kid, “Stay right here,” and then he ran inside and called 911. He ran back and the kid was standing ther e in the fire — but the kid did what the father told him to do. It is totally unbearable to think about, from a father’s perspective. So he comes into the hospital, and the mother is just so angry with the father. He feels responsible and in some ways he is. He should’ve done differently. But everybody does something equivalent to that everyday and it always works out fine, except when it doesn’t. He was there for, like, a week and then he went to a burn center closer to where he was from, and that was it. I never saw them again, never heard from them again. That, in a lot of ways , is what Looking for Alaska was about. What do you do if you do something negligent? Pudge should have said, “Don’t go.” 16 He should’ve said, “Go in the morning. Whatever it is, go sober.” And he failed
NUVO: Why did you end up becoming a chaplain? GREEN: I’d studied religion in college. Mostly, I studied early Islamic history, but I was Episcopalian. I thought I would become an Episcopalian priest and maybe have some kind of work and inter-religious dialogue with Muslims. That was my plan. I enrolled to the University of Chicago Divinity School, and then I didn’t go. NUVO: Because of that experience? You were at the hospital the summer befor e you were supposed to go? GREEN: Yeah, it was during the six months before Fall. Then I moved to Chicago, and I still thought I might go. And then I got a temp job with Booklist.17 NUVO: And that’s when you got on the conjoined twin beat. GREEN: You’d be amazed how many books there are; at least a couple a year still roll in.
GREEN: It’s being built, we’ll see. Our community has built a couple of pond sand filters in Bangladesh, which are these water filters that last hopefully a ver y long time and provide clean water to villages that are often pretty far from the nearest clean water source. One of the big issues in development in that part of the world is that a huge amount of the labor, particularly of women, is spent in the two hours walking to the water and the two hours walking back from the water every single day. If you can turn those four hours into something that can be more directly economically productive, it could have a huge impact on these communities. We’ve done that, we’ve done some similar work in Haiti with water.org, and every year on YouTube we do this thing called the Project for Awesome, which is both a fundraiser and an event where thousands of YouTube creators make videos about charities instead of videos about cats or whatever. NUVO: And aside from all that, there’s the social benefit of nerds uniting. GREEN: Yeah, I hope so. I hope there’s some social benefit to them. We really want our community to be a space where people, instead of being made fun of for their excitement and their enthusiasm, are celebrated for it. Hopefully, it can be a place where not only is it cool to like stuff and cool to have intellectual engagement with the world, but where those passions and be furthered and — John Green deepened.
“Indianapolis is a weird mix: It’s an industrial town in a post-industrial America.”
NUVO: It’s such a metaphorically charged subject. GREEN: Exactly! That’s exactly what it is! Where does one person end and the other begin? But when you’ve read 15 of these conjoined twin novels ... NUVO: I’m sure a lot of the same points are made. GREEN: Right, it does get a little bit r epetitive, particularly when it’s a first novel out of an MFA program. I’m like, I know this story backwards and forwards, and, yes, we are all inter-connected.
Nerdfighting NUVO: Let’s talk about your charity work. There’s a school named after y ou in Bangladesh? 18
NUVO: I wonder how you fit in writing between all the other stuff you do. GREEN: Traditionally, I write in the morning, and then I do other stuff in the after noon. NUVO: Do you write here? GREEN: Yeah, I write on the desk [points to treadmill desk]. But I wrote most of The Fault in Our Stars at a Starbucks. And I spend a lot of time walking and trying to get the voice r ight or think of ideas or something.
DFTBA NUVO: Unpack this quote for me? “As we say in my hometown, ‘Don’t forget to be awesome.” 19 GREEN: Yeah, I say that to imply that my hometown is the Internet. That phrase
“Don’t forget to be awesome” has been in our community since early 2008. I t’s kind of a motto, I guess. But no, my hometown is Indianapolis. NUVO: How have you found it, compared to other cities where you’ve lived? GREEN: I lived in New York and Chicago before that, but I grew up in a small suburban city, smaller than Indianapolis. But same type of life, a sprawling new American city. I love it here. I think the first couple of years I had a really hard time, but I don’t know that had anything to do with Indianapolis, I think it had to do with a lot of other stuff. I think it ’s a very American city, which is a ver y good place to live if you’re an American writer writing about America, as opposed to New York or Chicago, which are very different from where most Americans live and from where American life is really taking place, in my opinion anyway. Indianapolis is a weird mix: It’s an industrial town in a post-industrial America. But it’s also a place that’s experiencing a lot of growth in a lot of interesting ways. There’s a great cultural and civic spirit here. All of our interests are a little bit odd, which I like. I like that we draw more people to our open wheel r ace than to our NASCAR race. I like our weird bookstores, our libraries. I think the museum is one of the best in the countr y. And I like that it’s affordable, and it’s a good place to raise my family, and the schools are good and the people are nice. I have no desire ever to live anywhere else. NUVO: And now you’re getting recognized by our home state.20 GREEN: Yeah, it’s a big honor, and it’s great to be recognized alongside writers I admire a lot. It’s really cool; I’m very, very grateful. NUVO: Awards and acclamation, do those matter to you? GREEN: It matters a lot less to me than it used to, but that’s easy to say. I remember I once said to my fr iend — the big award in our field is called the P rintz Award — and I said the P rintz Award is cool, but what really matters is the relationship with your readers. And she said, “That’s easy to say for y ou because you’ve won the Printz Award twice.” NUVO: Do you hate Harry Potter? I’ve talked to some store owners that lament his influence on the industry. GREEN: Oh, they lament him and not Twilight? I think Harry Potter made my life possible and made my job possible . It became possible to publish the kind of books I publish for teenagers instead of doing it for adults because there’s much more investment in young adult literature after Harry Potter.
16. In Looking for Alaska, Pudge and his friend, the Colonel, allow their friend, Alaska, to drive away, alone, from their boarding school in the middle of the night after a night of drinking, facilitating her escape by throwing firecrackers to distract the school’s hyper-aware dean of students. She dies instantly in a car crash shortly after leaving the campus . 17. Green first became interested in YA literature during his time at Booklist, according to a 2011 talk at Butler University. He also took over a deceased
to understand her pain, he wr ongly thought that she could take car e of herself. And that book is, in a lot of ways , a direct response to that experience, which was so unprocessed. But anyway, the punchline of this stor y is that 11 years later I Googled this kid. And then every week for years. I wanted to know if he survived and everything that happened to him. He turns 14, he gets a fucking Facebook. I go on his Facebook: He’s fine. His parents are married. I see a picture of his parents, who I remember, whose memories are seared into my brain.
reviewer’s carnival book beat, writing reviews of books about conjoined twins and little people . 18. Founded by Shawn Ahmed, a Canadian born to parents who emigrated to Canada from Bangladesh, The Uncultured Project seeks to harness the power of online communities to do good in the world, and, in particular, in Bangladesh. Ahmed, a prominent member of the Nerdfighter community, friend to the Green brothers and video blogger who attended this year’s VidCon, has been coordinating the construction of a school in a
cover story // 01.02.13-01.09.13 // NUVO // 100% RECYCLED PAPER
Bangladesh village that, because it is being constructed using concrete, will also serve a tornado shelter for villagers. Ahmed noted in a recent post to his Tumblr page that his decision to name the school after Green w as based, in part, on the support of the Green brothers (who helped him with the project’s logistics), as well as a quote by John Green that he found inspirational: “There is no them, there are only facets of us.” 19. The Green brothers typically sign off their blogs by saying “Don’t forget to be awesome,” often following
the phrase with a gang sign modeled after the Vulcan salute. The phrase, initialized as DFTBA, is something of a shibboleth within the Nerdfighter community. 20. As the National Author Winner in the 2012 Indiana Author Awards, given in recognition of a “writer with Indiana ties, whose work is known and read throughout the country,” Green was given a $10,000 cash prize and $2,500 w as granted to the Indianapolis Public Library on his behalf.
After Dark JAN 05 Poparazzi JAN 11 Johnny Mac Band JAN 04
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CONTINUES 02 WEDNESDAY
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Need somewhere to take the wee ones in these waning days of their winter break? Winterfest should do the trick, what with its professional yo-yoist (Jan. 2), juggler (Jan. 4) and magician (Jan. 5), plus a photo op with the leg lamp from A Christmas Story and other winter-related stuff. Winterfest is included with admission to the Indiana Experience, which is featuring a new You Are There exhibit, Healing Bodies, Changing Minds, that recreates the office of African-American physician Dr. Harvey Middleton as it was on June 24, 1939, when he held an open house to show off some new electrocardiographic technology.
Roly is a single mom in a one-horse Texas town. Guapa, a determined young lad who wants to be a pro soccer star, shakes things up when he joins Roly’s family. As a National New Play Network Rolling Premiere, Caridad Svich’s play, Guapa will open at three theaters during the course of the 2012/13 season, with the Phoenix Theatre getting a $7,000 grant for the production — and Svich getting the opportunity to develop the work with three different companies and before three different audiences.
Winterfest @ Indiana History Center
Guapa @ Phoenix Theatre
Jan. 2-5, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; tickets $7 adult with senior, youth and member discounts; indianahistory.org
Caridad Svich’s play, Guapa
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where there’s gonna be multiple casts doing multiple cities on the same day. It’s really starting to pick up where it’s going to be all over the place.
Spank! The Fifty Shades Parody @ Old National Centre
NUVO: What do you think about Fifty Shades?
Well, the reviews are in from the Chicago run of Spank! The Fifty Shades Parody, and they aren’t so great: “jokes are lazy and obvious,” “a sadomasochistic experience in which the pain outweighs the pleasure” (Time Out Chicago); “insipid, wildly overpriced” and inferior to another Fifty Shades parody (50 Shades! The Musical!) that was in town just before Spank! (Chicago Tribune). But, hey, one’s mileage may vary, and as Gabe Bowling, who plays the male lead in the Indy production, notes, the production was written by some Second City Toronto vets, which says something. Still, one wonders if they’ll get rid of the “non-sequitirs about Canadians” that so puzzled the Tribune reviewer as the show makes its way through the states. Jennifer Troemner chatted this week with Bowling. NUVO: Can you tell me about the play? GABE BOWLING: It’s a musical parody loosely based on Fifty Shades of Grey, the sort of bondage S&M romance novel that’s sort of swept the world of late. And I play Hugh Hanson, a young 28-year-old billionaire with some strange sexual proclivities.
Jan. 3-20; tickets $18 first weekend (Jan. 3-6), then $28 adult and $18 ages 21 and under; final two performances (Jan. 19 and 20) in Spanish; phoenixtheatre.org
One of several Spank! casts.
NUVO: So what’s the story behind this production? BOWLING: Basically, there were seven writers who are all comic genius. Most of them are from Second City Toronto, which hosts alumni like Mike Meyers and a lot of the Saturday Night Live crew. These guys got together, decided to write this thing, and they just started writing completely free of ego. They would throw out any ideas that weren’t working, even if they were somebody else’s. Nobody got their feelings hurt. And they put together this show, and the result is absolutely hilarious. It was originally opened in Toronto, then they did a sit-down in Las Vegas, and there’s been a different cast in Chicago that did a three week run there. At this point we’ve started to expand to
Complete First Friday reviews by Charles Fox and Dan Grossman
go&do // 01.02.13-01.09.13 // NUVO // 100% RECYCLED PAPER
BOWLING: The reason it’s so popular isn’t because it’s a work of literary genius by any stretch of the imagination. I think you’ve got a lady who kind of recognized a certain trend. Maybe there is some forbidden material there that a lot of middle aged women who are a bit bored of their lives and their husbands and their kids or whatever — it might have been appealing to them, whether they admit it or not. She took that old format for a romance novel and added a little bit of an edge to it, and for whatever reason it was a perfect storm, a perfect cocktail for commercial success. They have certainly made millions off of it. But it’s not well-written. NUVO: There’s some controversy about the book. What’s your take on that? BOWLING: Like I said, I don’t take it too seriously. I don’t think it’s changing anybody’s life. I think it’s just a little sugary, fluffy piece of entertainment, and some people who find it a little guilty pleasure might enjoy it, but it’s just not well written. It’s not in danger of winning a Pulitzer Prize or anything. And so, people who get all up in arms about it — everybody’s got their right to an opinion, I wouldn’t want to deny anyone the right to have whatever feelings they have — but if you’re asking what my personal take on it, I think it’s harmless for the most part.
Wug Laku exit interview by Dan Grossman
Polar Bear Pedal II Less likely to induce a heart attack in the susceptible than those kind of insane polar bear swims is the Mayor’s Polar Bear Pedal, presented by Coca-Cola, a 10-mile recreational ride starting and ending at the Indy Bike Hub, taking place rain, snow, sleet or shine. The route will include the Cultural Trail, Georgia Street and Garfield Park, highlighting Indy’s bike lanes, many of which have been installed under Ballard’s watch. Registration begins at 9 a.m.; 10 a.m. ride leaves from 222 E. Market St.; free (registration required); indy.gov/polarbearpedal
NUVO: When you first found out about the part, were you at all apprehensive? BOWLING: I was a little apprehensive to invest hours of my time into reading [Fifty Shades of Grey], because it’s not something I would spend my time reading, but I’m not that faint of heart. It was explained in the breakdown before the audition that [Spank!] was all very light hearted, so I knew I wasn’t putting myself in any compromising situations by actually doing it. Any time that more adult, risqué content comes up in the play, there’s always some way getting around it so you’re not actually seeing anything extreme, and it’s done in a really lighthearted way, so you’re not going to walk away traumatized or anything. NUVO: What’s it like rehearsing? BOWLING: Oh, it’s fun. We rehearse in Toronto, in Second City, and it’s just a hoot. It’s great as an actor just to be working, let alone to be working on something that you believe in and is really hilarious, so everybody is in good spirits, and all of us like each other. It’s the ideal job, where you don’t hate your boss, you don’t hate your coworkers, and you really enjoy the actual job itself, it’s a dream. NUVO: Though if you did hate your boss, you already know where the handcuffs are. BOWLING: Well said. Jan. 3 and 4, 7:30 p.m.; Jan. 5, 6 p.m.; tickets $27.50-37.50; oldnationalcentre.com
Reviews of Beef and Boards’ Arsenic and Old Lace, EclecticPond’s 10X10 and Phoenix Theatre’s Guapa
Tapha Lewis, from Moments of Thaw at the Harrison Center (left); Wug Laku and Nancy Lee in 2010; from Todd Matus’s Twinrocker Series at Litmus Gallery.
It’s the slowest First Friday of the year, to be sure, with plenty of galleries making like a combined issue of [insert favorite magazine here; let’s say, The Believer] and extending December’s show well into January. This means there’s plenty of time to catch up with TINY at Gallery 924 (miniscule art remains available at a reasonable price for “sorry for drinking so much eggnog and puking into your family’s stockings” post-holiday gifts); George Kim’s wood sculptures at the Indianapolis Art Center (a “gorgeous, stunning” first show by an Indy artist who long labored in anonymity, according to NUVO’s Charles Fox); and iMOCA’s Global Space, with its clever conceptual pieces like Clement Valla’s experiment in having Chinese oil painters for hire recreate and/ or alter canonical works by 19th-century American painters. Plus, the IMA’s Islamic art exhibition Beauty and Belief closes Jan. 13; and while you’re there, check out Graphite, a unique show exploring the use of graphite to different ends than drawing, in the museum’s top floor contemporary exhibition gallery. But there are a few new shows of note. First off is the Harrison Center, which can always be counted on to offer up something fresh. This month the whole shebang is named Animal House, and it features Moments of Thaw, a collec-
STARTS 05 SATURDAY
EclecticPond’s 10X10 @ Irvington Lodge That’s 10 Shakespeare plays at 10 minutes each, including Twelfth Night and Richard III, presented by an, er, multi-national company co-founded by ElectricPond, two Yankees and a Brit who met while living in Stratford upon Avon. We gave high marks to EclecticPond’s riff on the letters of Heloise and Abelard, noting that “director Sarah Neville skillfully walked the line between crude comedy and sardonic satire, poking fun at religion without desecrating it.”
tion of cyantotype sculpture by Tasha Lewis and glass sculpture by Mike Davis; Creature Mythos, a group show including work by Brandon Schaaf, Stacey Holloway, Aaron Nicholson and Rachel Bleil, among others; and new work by Quincy Owens in the City Gallery. And the Circle City Industrial Complex is worth a stop, as one of its long-time residents, Wug Laku, closes up his garage doors for good, and a new space, Litmus Gallery, puts on its second show in as many months. Litmus, a microgallery run by Todd Matus, whose work has been exhibited at the IMA, Indianapolis Art Center and elsewhere, will present The Twinrocker Series, featuring images by Matus of the Twinrocker Handmade Paper Company, founded in 1972 in Brookston, Ind., and a key player in the mould-made paper and private press world. And Wug Laku has announced that he’ll close his gallery after this month’s show, a thesis exhibit by Herron student Jake Glover called All War Out. Laku noted on his Facebook page that “as inspiring and enjoyable as these nearly six years have been for me, all the hard work and fun hasn’t covered the finances, so I’ll be closing my doors and moving on. However, I have worthy successors lined up to take my space, and every available space at the Complex, from the Center Studios to the South Studios and Second Floor Studios, now has a top notch, accomplished artist or artists occupying it.” Dan Grossman has more with Laku on nuvo.net.
Indy Magic Monthly @ Theatre on the Square We’ve got magic to do, just for you. The Kentucky Magic Dinner Theatre’s John Shore headlines Taylor Martin’s monthly variety show, with Lebanon, Ind.’s Marcus Lehmann supporting. Plus a sneak preview of a new “play with magic,” Magically Ever After, “rising star of restaurant magic” Skott Hughes in the lobby, and door prizes. 7:30 p.m.; tickets $20 adult, $12 senior, student and military (bulk rates available); indymagicmonthly.org
Jan. 5, 11 and 12, 7:30 p.m.; Jan. 13, 5:30 p.m. @ 5515 E. Washington St.; tickets $10; eclecticpond.org 100% RECYCLED PAPER // NUVO // 01.02.13-01.09.13 // go&do
Jarrod Harris (left) and Ryan Singer will roll through Indianapolis on Sunday on their Organic tour.
An exciting time for standup
Comedy doc filming at Sinking Ship Sunday BY BEVERLY BRADEN EDITORS@NUVO.NET Jarrod Harris is on his fourth RV. “I’ve had vans too,” says the Redondo Beachbased comedian, who’s been described by Creative Loafing as achieving “an oddly comfortable mix of trailer-park filth, comic angst, and hipster irony.” “Lived in a van for about three years when I started doing comedy,” Harris continues. “I loved every minute of it too. An RV was just a step up; it’s a Cummings turbo diesel pusher. Engine is in the back. Glides like a cloud and purrs like a kitty; this is way more comfortable.” Harris’s RV is central to a project being launched by him and his tourmate Ryan Singer: a feature documentary called Organic, being filmed as you read this article in clubs around the Midwest. The two comedians, each of whom has put in eleven years in the comedy scene, are looking to document their experiences on the road, thereby shining a light on the tight-knit alternative comedy scene that’s finding life in spaces like The Sinking
Ship, the Northside punk-ish bar that’ll host Singer and Harris this Sunday. “Vibrant, organic comedy scenes have sprung up all around the country and have been the life support system for comedians,” says Singer, recently selected as a “Comic Who Should Be Big” by Rolling Stone and a frequent opener for podcast star Marc Maron. “These scenes are all uniquely driven by the love of standup comedy by the comedians who live there. This tour will showcase the freedom of the art form these venues allow and the people who have unwittingly created a place for comedians to come into their own before breaking through to the next level.” Singer and Harris aren’t operating the equipment alone: “The road for a month straight, with filming all the time, I worry a bit about the crew,” Harris says. “They are doing the hard work. I hope we can keep them happy and glad they chose to be a part of the experience.” But neither comic seems particularly daunted by the miles, and Singer has a ready plan for how to divvy up driving duties: “I think whoever weirds the least people out at the show that night should be forced to drive more the next day.” The Sinking Ship — where for nearly two years standup host Cam O’Connor and company have brought burgeoning comics and new fans together — is the tour’s second stop. “The room is unique because it’s in a very cool bar filled with open minded individuals,” says O’Connor. “Now there is a culture in the building on Sundays where the show is respected, and com-
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ics love performing there. We’ve had so many fantastic comedians. The crowd gets good comedy, so they realize that it’s in their best interest to listen and pay attention. Our show is closer to comedy club quality, while still allowing creative freedom.” The weekly show was created to give local comics an opportunity for more stage time. But O’Connor says it soon became something more: neutral ground at a time when comics had to choose one club or the other to play (Crackers or Morty’s), or risk becoming persona non grata in both. And though it’s become easier in recent months for comics to work both rooms, The Sinking Ship contiues to be a place for comics from both clubs to do shows together and to meet emerging talent from around the country. The word gets around, according to O’Connor: “These great comics came and did amazing shows that won over the crowds that were there, and the people told people, and the comics went home and told other comics about this show in Indiana.” O’Connor’s list of favorite shows includes previous gigs by both Singer and Harris: “Meeting your heroes is priceless. Booking a comic that makes me laugh and gathering people to see them perform is really something.” And Singer returns the affection: “I love the Ship. The energy and the fun that room provides is ridiculous. Some venues, some comedy rooms just feel like magic from the start and I think the Ship is one of those places. Cam
has done such a great job of making it a place where comedy can thrive, it is wonderful. I love Indianapolis, too. Since I started in Dayton, Indy has always been close and I would visit open mics there when I was first starting out. It was a critical comedy city in my development. The Ship is a place that I have specifically chosen in the past to polish and explore my comedy knowing how wonderful of an environment it is to grow the wildest of bits.” As for Organic, plans are still up in the air, but Harris knowns one thing for sure: “Personally I want the film to give younger comics some inspiration. Basically let them know that they can do this stuff too. As for the shape it takes, I guess that’s just gonna have to be seen in post production.” “There is going to be over a hundred hours of footage, is my guess, and that could take months to go through and edit together. I hope that we have this out by sometime early 2014,” says Singer. “I hope the film is entertaining and funny, and also shows a side of standup comedy that no other documentary has shown before. It is a really exciting time to be a part of standup comedy right now.” SUNDAY NIGHT STAND UP FEATURING RYAN SINGER AND JARROD HARRIS Sunday, Jan. 6, 9 p.m., 21+ The Sinking Ship, 4923 N. College Ave.
PHOTO BY MARK LEE
Irving Fink in his Northeastside home, with his wife, Bea. Fink’s new collection of poetry (right) was designed by his grandson, Gideon; the walls of his home are decorated with paintings by his youngest daughter, Laurel (far right).
Civil liberties and poetry
92-year-old Irving Fink on thumbing rides and getting old BY MARC D. ALLAN MALLAN@NUVO.NET After all, if we live long enough we get old. And most dislike the alternative.
— IRVING FINK, FROM HIS POEM “I OBJECT TO ‘SENIOR CITIZENS’
Rare is the 92-year-old – only about 0.63 percent of the population reaches 90. Far rarer is the 92-year-old left-wing Jewish lawyer who still goes to work every day and writes poetry on the side. That exclusive club belongs to Irving Fink, who moved to Indianapolis in 1945 and is still setting up corporations and writing wills, even though “most of my clients have died off or moved to Florida.” Fink is in his Northeastside kitchen with his wife of 67 years, Bea, serving up a lunch of sausages and peppers and talking about his new book, To Stretch a Heart and Other Poems. He’s been writing poetry since the early 1940s, most of it in longhand. His daughter Elaine said, if he gave her his files, she’d see that everything got typed. He did. The next thing he knew, he had an 80-page book, designed by his grandson Gideon. They printed enough books for the family, and some to sell. They’re available at lulu.com. In his poems, Fink muses about love, family, nature, politics and aging. As you might imagine, he includes some meditations on dying.
When new infirmities strike me And I know I’m losing the race I hope I’ll remain determined To face what comes with grace.
— FROM “ON REACHING NINETY-TWO”
“I came home one day and said to Bea, ‘I finished a poem today,’” he recalled. “She said, ‘Are you dying again?’” Irv Fink grew up in Newton Falls, Ohio, near Youngstown. He liked to memorize poems, and his brother Stan liked to hear him recite poems. That established his lifelong love of poetry. Rarer than 90-year-olds are the number of people who make a living as a poet, so Fink went to Northwestern University to become an actor. As a sophomore, he developed an interest in saving the world – and theater lost its importance. He worked on newspapers, as an organizer for the Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union, spent four years in the military and, along the way, met Beatrice Borman of Toledo. (Today, they have five children, eight grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.) When Fink finished his military service, he didn’t know what he wanted to do. His father suggested law school, saying it would be good background for other fields even if he never practiced. He went to University of Michigan for law school. After graduation, a friend he’d met in the military enticed him to come to Indianapolis and practice law. “We weren’t prepared for how southern a city Indianapolis was,” Fink said, launching into a story about his friend, who owned a downtown restaurant and had a waitress who quit rather than serve black customers. During the second civil case Fink ever tried, the opposing lawyer called him a communist. Fink said he’s always had a strong sense of justice, though he’s not sure about its origins since he grew up in an all-white community. His son Hugh, a comedian/ comedy writer, shared this remembrance:
“In the early ’70s, my dad took me to the Butler Fieldhouse for a Butler basketball game. The Bulldogs were playing against St. Joseph’s, whose star player was Jimmy Thordsen, this amazing player from Puerto Rico. After Thordsen scored several buckets in a row, some burly guy sitting right behind us heckled him by yelling out an offensive racial slur that included the n-word. My dad whipped his head around and just stared at the guy for a few seconds, without saying a word. The guy, visibly ashamed by my father’s look, shut up the rest of the game. At that moment, my dad seemed like a real life Atticus Finch.” In the early 1950s, Irv and Bea were among the founders of the Indiana Civil Liberties Union (now the ACLU of Indiana). Having the ICLU around came in handy when Bill Chaney, the grand dragon of the Ku Klux Klan, came into Fink’s office. The Klan wanted to protest school busing in Anderson but was denied a permit. Chaney wanted Fink as his mouthpiece. “I told him, ‘Before you go any further, there’s two things you ought to know – one, I’m Jewish, and, two, I hate everything you guys stand for,’” Fink said. “He said, ‘We know all about you, but we’d like to hire you.’ I said, ‘Let me think about it. I’ll call you.’” He went home that night and told Bea. She said she didn’t want the Klan capitalizing on her husband’s good name. He told her: “If I represent them, you’ll be able to get that new couch you’ve been wanting.” She responded: “I don’t want a couch with Klan money.”
The ICLU took the case. Fink became known around town for hitchhiking to work. He didn’t thumb a ride so much as he stood and waited for someone to pick him up. They always did. That became the subject of a poem called “Hitchhiker”: While standing Along Allisonville Road Waiting for a ride So many cars With only a driver Pass—Alas I find that I Can’t help but wish They all run Out of gas. Over the years, Fink made his way downtown to try his share of memorable cases. He represented Crispus Attucks students who were refused service at a downtown restaurant. A Jehovah’s Witness fired from his school principal job because he wouldn’t say the Pledge of Allegiance. Eight Marian College students who picketed the school president’s house because he’d fired a teacher who was active in the anti-Vietnam War movement. He also remembers the case of a woman who went to see him because she wanted to divorce her husband immediately. When he asked the standard questions – like, when was the last time she and her husband had sex – she looked at her watch. “Most of the cases that meant the most to me,” he said, “are the cases where I didn’t earn a dime.” Spoken like a poet.
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MOVIES and Sue are cast as villains. Watching Steve grapple with his self-image is interesting, as is his ongoing snarking at Dustin Noble (have you ever heard a name that sounds more made-up?). There’s even a sorta rivalry between the guys over a charming townie (Rosemarie DeWitt). The situation doesn’t go anywhere, but it provides Steve more opportunities to give Dustin the skunk-eye. I wondered why Steve hadn’t had his identity crisis earlier. Was this really the first time he had been challenged? I wondered why the townspeople changed their stances so quickly after hearing from Dustin and Frank. One would think that they would have googled “fracking” on their own and
Promised Land r Promised Land is a ham-handed, but entertaining drama about ethics and identity written and starring Matt Damon and John Krasinski (The Office) and directed by Gus Van Sant (Good Will Hunting, Milk). The script contains a number of wonky moments, balanced out – at least for me – by the rich atmosphere and fine performances of the leads as rivals sparring over a controversial corporate practice. The process in question is fracking (hydraulic fracturing), a type of mining in which cracks are created in shale in order to obtain gas, oil or other substances inside it. The term “fracking” should not be confused with the term “fracking,” an expletive commonly used by denizens of the spaceship Battlestar Galactica and their admirers. Proponents of the mining style claim that fracking provides economical access to formerly inaccessible hydrocarbons, while opponents complain that the process can
BOOKS BEHIND THE COPPER FENCE: A LIFETIME ON TIMPANI BY THOMAS N. AKINS e This delightful memoir tells of a boy with a singular desire to play drums and how that dream grew into a stellar professional career. Along the way we learn what it takes to gain the training and experience to make it into a full-time orchestra and earn respect from colleagues and the public. Akins, who played with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra from 1965 to 1991, and then became a senior manager with the orchestra until 2007, is a born storyteller with the timing of a comedian who knows how to summon a laugh to lighten or heighten a moment. Spun out chronologically, we become part of Akins’s story from the day he tells his mother drums are his instrument and she suggests he go for anything else but. How he wins her over is the start of an amazing story of a young boy overcoming to become someone at the top of the game. We follow him through high school,
contaminate ground water, impact air quality and cause harmful migration of gases and chemicals to the surface. In short, many environmentalists maintain that fracking is fracking dangerous. As an issue-movie, Promised Land presents both viewpoints on the process in a balanced fashion until the last few minutes when it twists and turns to find a noble ending. I didn’t buy what they were selling, but I enjoyed the melodrama. While the cheese is tasty, the dilemmas of Damon’s character are more nourishing. Damon plays Steve Butler, an up-andcoming employee of Global Crosspower Solutions who travels to impoverished farm towns, buying the mining rights from the landowners along with his partner, Sue Thomason (Frances McDormand, reliably fine). An ex-farm town boy, Steve views himself as a good guy, impressing his employers while making struggling local farmers rich. Everything changes in the latest small town, when retired teacher/respected scientist Frank Yates (Hal Holbrook, very good) and environmental activist Dustin Noble (Krasinski) challenge the company’s sale pitch. Suddenly Steve
WINTER NIGHTS: THE FALL (2006)
The Fall’s story-within-a-story about mythical heroes in the desert and stuff is certainly lovely, owing more than a little to Ron Fricke’s IMAX productions (notably in its filming of the monkey chant seen in Fricke’s Baraka). Alas, the frame around that story — which has the most pitiful silent film stuntman in the world telling his tale to the most adorable and preternaturally insightful gamine in the world while both are laid up in an L.A. hospital — is insipid, clumsy and weird in a sort of “I should design films but not necessarily write them” way. Jan 4, 7 p.m. and Jan. 6, 2 p.m. @ The Toby, Indianapolis Museum of Art; tickets $9 public, $5 member. The Fall kicks off the IMA’s Winter Nights series, made up of films considered to be “visual feasts.” All films are shown in 35mm or 16mm (assuming the print arrives on time). The remaining films in the Winter Nights series are Sin City (Jan. 11), Dangerous Liaisons (Jan. 18), Days of Heaven (Jan. 25), Apocalypse Now (1979), 2001: A Space Odyssey (Feb. 8 and 10), Top Hat (Feb. 15) and The Night of the Hunter (Feb. 22).
Instead, Akins studied in Cincinnati and upon graduation accepted a position with the ISO. Akins shares the backstories, “the politics,” behind each of his triumphs, near misses and misses. We learn a good deal about timpani playing and the workings of an orchestra, particularly the ISO. Akins’s description of his first appearance at Carnegie Hall is the finest I’ve read about playing that hallowed venue. Filled with photographs and a sprinkling of surprises, it’s a worthy book to read and share.
In “Twisted Blue Venetian,” a blown glass vase that’s part of Ben Johnson’s show at Carmel’s ArtSplash Gallery, a blue line rises on clear glass like a road winding its way up a mountain. Johnson, who works out of Cicero, Ind., mastered many of his glass-making techniques in Italy — hence the title of the aforementioned work. Johnson seems happy to make work like this — vases that you can appreciate for their decorative qualities and masterful craftsmanship — but his work is most engaging when he creates with conceptual elements in mind.
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— RITA KOHN
— ED JOHNSON-OTT
college and the audition that didn’t happen. We have to wonder what his career and life would have been like had his mother not had the final say about Julliard. It was the one time young Tom could not sway her resolve that he was too young to live in New York City on his own.
Akins will speak and sign at the Jan. 7 meeting of the ISO First Monday Club meeting in the Wood Room at the Hilbert Circle Theatre starting at 6:30 p.m. The public is invited at no charge. Enter from the theatre door adjacent to the parking garage at Pennsylvania Street. Books are available at most local bookstores, along with The ISO Symphony Store.
considered the dangers themselves. Two scenes really left me scratching my head. After Dustin did an anti-fracking elementary school classroom demonstration including a fire, why wasn’t he escorted out and the teacher canned? And did Steve truly believe that putting together a town fair would really win over his opponents? But my issues with the film did not affect my enjoyment of it. The cast is quite good, especially the charismatic Krasinski. Most of the townspeople are presented as smart and thoughtful. And the Steve/Dustin dynamic is consistently engaging. Promised Land is worth a look for forgiving viewers.
BEN JOHNSON: CROSSING SMOOTHNESS ARTSPLASH GALLERY, THROUGH JAN. 30 e
His vessel “Lines into Shapes II” bears multiple X-shaped motifs that look like graffiti tagging by an alien species. Johnson demonstrates with the piece that his work can carry conceptual weight and be as colorful as any painter’s canvas. Other works abandon any pretense of functionality — not that anyone would want to use even one of his functional vases for any old flowers — and journey into the world of
Ben Johnson, “Lines into Shapes,” from Crossing Smoothness glass sculpture. “Ascension into the Unknown” is such a work. It suggests a boat, perhaps, crossing into the celestial realm, and was realized through a variety of hot and cold glass-working techniques. But my favorite work here, the phenomenal “Moonfield,” maintains a vessel form even as it suggests the spherical shape of the earth’s closest celestial companion. This work of sandblasted, blown glass approximates, if such a thing is possible, a lunar mirror turned upon Hoosier corn country in the dead of winter. — DAN GROSSMAN
FOOD Gastronomic good times
Mixing and matching at Cerulean BY N E I L CH AR LE S N CH A RL E S @N UV O . N E T I don’t claim to be much good at arithmetic, but I’ll bet that if you were to calculate the number of possible lunch combinations you could create from Cerulean’s concise, varied menu, it would run into the hundreds. Eschewing the tedium of more conventional lunchtime menus, Cerulean offers diners the opportunity to create their own dishes by choosing up to three sides (out of eleven) with each (generally protein) main. The possibilities aren’t quite limitless, but they might as well be, especially if there are two or more partaking. At dinner the choices are less flexible, which is in part what makes lunch here so exciting. Situated in the new City Way development, Cerulean is the latest venture from Caleb and Courtney France, who already own and run a successful establishment in Winona Lake, Ind. Atmospherically, the restaurant is a bit on the sterile side: It clearly doesn’t benefit from being situated inside a building which makes Bauhaus look like a rococo fantasy. Much has been made of the scrap wood shack near the front door, a structure which might double as a discreet shelter for clandestine assignations or a safe haven if the natives get restless. Although to be fair, it’s not something you encounter every day, so kudos on that front. As for the food, all fourteen dishes we recently sampled were prepared with
GRAPE SENSE BY HOWARD HEWITT
If there is ever a time to splurge on something special, it’s the holidays. For five years Grape Sense has focused on value wine under $20. That’s not going to change. But for one column, here are some suggestions that will range $10-S20 higher than the wines normally mentioned here. Lange Willamette Valley Pinot Noir: The Lange Pinot at about $22 is one of the best ‘entry level’ Oregon Pinot Noirs on the market. The wine is light bodied and well balanced — the key characteristics of great Oregon Pinot Noir. Klinker Brick Zinfandel: There are plenty of under $15 Zins on the market but few under $20 that provide the bang for the buck that Klinker Brick delivers. This is on my all-time list for great wines under 20 bucks. Tamarack Cellars Merlot: The oft-maligned red grape is making a comeback of sorts. Washington state producers have been leading the pack in developing interesting Merlot wines with dark fruit, spice, and chocolate flavors. It can be found at $20-$25. Ca’ De’ Rocchi Ripasso Montere: This is the best value Italian red wine I’ve ever tasted.
339 S. Delaware St. 317-870-1320 www.ceruleanrestaurant.com
MON-SAT: 11 a.m.-2 p.m., 5-10 p.m.
PHOTOS BY MARK LEE
A sampling of Cerulean’s mix-and-match offerings.
imagination, precision and clear love of the subject. There is no faulting the quality of the ingredients, the inspired combinations of flavors and textures, or the thought which has gone into producing so many disparate yet harmonious elements. The standard of cooking is top notch and, best of all, consistently so. Desserts, which I won’t have space to discuss, are among the best in town and are prepared in house. Try them all if you can. Relying heavily on locally-sourced ingredients from by now familiar family farms, preparations often emphasize sweet-savory contrasts with spice or herb highlights. It’s a winning approach, especially when you’re dealing with heftier fall dishes such as pork, duck, carrots, squash and brussels sprouts. Main courses are served in Japanese-style bento boxes, which might seem a bit fussy or pretentious, but it’s a
reliable way to keep the ingredients from running into one another, especially when the elements are so seemingly dissonant. Typically outstanding is the duck breast, the fat perfectly rendered, skin nicely crisp, the flesh an immaculate medium-rare and well-rested, served atop a slightly sweet and subtly spiced pear jelly. A simple exercise in the classic marriage of sweet and savory, perhaps, but it’s still uncommon these days to find duck so expertly prepared. Similar principals apply to the brilliant, heavily caramelized Brussels sprouts served with maple syrup and bacon: the definitive winter vegetable dish if there ever was one. And who would have thought of carrot and ginger soup as a side dish? This one is a must try, uncannily capturing the earthy rooty fragrance of a carrot freshly pulled from the earth; if you’ve ever dug carrots, you’ll know what I mean.
FOOD: e ATMOSPHERE: r SERVICE: y
With so many combinations available Cerulean seems to beg the question: Is it possible for everything we eat and drink capable of being enjoyed independently of everything else we eat and drink? I think it is. I’ve long believed that food and wine matching is basically just an excuse to publish books on the subject, and the menu and wine list at Cerulean seems to bear this out. Although the wines are cunningly arranged in loose comparative groups of old and new world, there’s no indication of style, sweetness or weight. There is no right or wrong; it’s all down to personal taste. Sample, taste, mix and enjoy whatever you prefer to drink with whatever you choose to eat. There’s no magic or mystery, just great flavors, textures and sensations. And that, I believe, is a recipe for success, not to mention endless gastronomic fun.
Ripasso style wines from the Valpolicella district have been hot. It’s perfect for food and friends who may not always be big wine drinkers. Look for it at $20-$24. Obra Prima Reserva Malbec: As much as the Ripasso above is good for wine novices, the Obra Prima isn’t for newcomers. For the wine drinker who likes big dark fruit, dark chocolate, wonderfully balanced acid and tannin, here is a pick for you. The 2007 vintage in current release sells for $17. Fleur Cardinale Grand Cru Saint Emilion: If you want to go all out for a special night or impress your friends, reach for Bordeaux. This Merlot driven blend is a great way to see what the wine world swoons over when it comes to the iconic French region. It really does taste well above the not-so-cheap price point of $45. Billaud-Simon Premier Cru Montee de Tonnerre: Taste the terroir of Burgundy with this great bottle of Chablis (Chardonnay) from one of the region’s greatest producers. This wine is stunning with poultry or smoke salmon. It’s rare you can enjoy a bottle of some of the world’s very best wine for the average price of $25. Read Howard Hewitt’s wine column at redforme.blogspot.com. Write him with questions or comments at email@example.com.
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music Slaying Goliath
Father John Misty at Bluebird
BY K A T H E RI N E C O P L E N K CO PL E N @N U V O . N E T
spoke with Father John Misty aka Joshua Tillman on a breezy November day not long after I’d seen him perform at Austin City Limits. It was the second time I’d seen the rail-thin singer-songwriter. He’s a sort of sardonic folk Gumby, who, unfolded from behind the drumset, seems about eight feet tall. Out on front of the stage he contorts his rubbery limbs, shakes his hips, twists his arms around the microphone and –– often –– reaches for his bottle of whiskey. The so-called reverend gained recognition as the drummer for Fleet Foxes during their breakout self-titled album and followup Helplessness Blues. He left the group early this year to focus on his solo career; after recording as J. Tillman since 2005, he made the switch to Father John Misty for the release of his 2012 full-length Fear Fun. The album began with a book –– a rollicking psychedelic narrative about bedbugs on the moon written by Tillman after a “heroic dose” (his words) of mushrooms. And that book is hidden inside the album, inscribed in incredibly tiny print inside the liner notes of Fear Fun. Tillman’s release exploded –– possibly tangentially related to the solid success of Fleet Foxes, but more directly to the cynical religious storytelling and reverb-soaked hooks of the album’s 12 tracks. Fear Fun explores anarchy and religion, drugs (of course) and loneliness; the result is something not altogether precise, but completely beautiful. Since, Tillman’s played the festival circuit and back-to-back regional tours. He’ll perform in Bloomington next Thursday at the Bluebird. NUVO: How are you? TILLMAN: I’m pretty good. Sitting around, half-naked, talking about Fear Fun. NUVO: Well, that’s the only way to do an interview. I wanted to ask you –– honestly –– how tired are you of talking to press people right now? You’ve had a long year. TILLMAN: Well, that’s a problematic question. If I say I’m very tired, I sound like a princess. But if I say I’m not tired, I sound like a mouth-breathing sycophant. I try to just let the brilliance of my interview questions speak for myself. NUVO: I was wondering –– TILLMAN: You would know. You would know if I was very tired. I would be screaming and crying and ranting.
NUVO: I really, really loved the episode of the Duncan Trussell Family Hour [podcast hosted by comedian Duncan Trussel] when you were a guest. I think the interesting thing about a lot of comedy podcasts happening right now is that they’re so much deeper than, for example, the ten minutes we’re going to have right now –– and not just about comedy. Tell me about recording that. TILLMAN: I think that was in September. It was on some short time in between tours. I loved that there are a couple dudes in the comedy world –– and I think it’s literally a couple of dudes, like Joe Rogan and Duncan –– who are doing these hybrid esoteric knowledge combined with humor [podcasts]. The reason I like it is because, especially living around here in L.A., there are people here who just have this completely humorless take on esotericism and gnostic faiths and energy and hermetic law, and all that shit. It’s totally humorless. But my perspective has always been that the deeper you get into that stuff, the closer you get to the cosmic joke. There’s a real line of continuity to me. Shamen are typically really funny, irreverent, hedonist weirdos. I have a lot of interest in that stuff; I’ve been asked to do an interview with Daniel Pinchback and stuff like that, but I’m very reticent to talk about that stuff in a medium where there isn’t some undercurrent of humor or flippancy to it.
Dan musical perfectionism doesn’t really smack of a psychedelic thing, per se. But what’s the point of psychedelics if they can’t be personally curated? ... It’s very religious to me. I think if those experiences and the psychedelic influence doesn’t give you the liberty to pursue whatever you want to pursue, then what’s the point? NUVO: I’ve seen you perform live twice –– both at festivals in Texas, as a matter of fact. One was when you were at South by Southwest. You played at a showcase and had problems with the sound. You climbed on top of –– TILLMAN: Oh, at Peckerheads! NUVO: Yes, at Peckerheads. TILLMAN: I loved that show. I actually really enjoyed that whole SXSW experience. NUVO: How many times did you play there this year? TILLMAN: I played 13 times. It was ridiculous. I’ve played SXSW quite a few times before. This was just a very different experience. It’s kind of an antagonistic experience to try and play music there, especially with just an acoustic guitar. I felt like I was slaying Goliath or something. I felt armed with this set of songs. I had recently emerged into this comfort with my humor and my ability to orate and whatever. It was kind of like running a steeplechase or something. I felt very frictionless.
NUVO: The second time was just a few weeks ago at Austin City Limits. I guess I had it stuck in my head that you would be playing alone, but you were with a full band. TILLMAN: To me, it just makes sense to play this material with a full band. I enjoy the solo thing when I get an opportunity to do it... Whether it’s with a band or just solo –– there’s a show that needs to be put on. Whether it’s with a band or solo, I enjoy adapting. NUVO: Last question: I would love to know if you’re considering writing another novel. TILLMAN: I probably have another year of immobilizing self-loathing and doubt to percolate before I can start doing that. But I would really like to do that. I was just this morning reading a short story that I hadn’t read in a few years. I was just saying, it’s no wonder that I don’t write more often. It’s so intense. The writing is very dense and relentless. It requires a real Herculean amount of concentration and absorption.
FATHER JOHN MISTY
The Bluebird, 216 N Walnet St. Bloomington Thursday, Jan. 10 9 p.m., $15, 21+
NUVO: I’ve read that during the writing process of Fear Fun that you took a “heroic dose” of mushrooms, drove down the California coast and immersed yourself in the wild. Tell me about the difference between writing those songs in such an organic environment –– just yourself and the trees and the shrooms –– and performing on Conan, and in other very controlled, sterile environments. TILLMAN: I see what you’re saying. This is also a problem. Well, not a problem, but I’ll call it a problem. The aesthetics and affectation around the psychedelic thing are so unmaleable to a lot of people. That’s kind of part of the problem I had with the ayahuasca [a brew of various psychoactive natural ingredients said to provoke spiritual revelations] experience I had. The language was so didactic and the imagery was so didactic. You were almost being coaxed into thinking purely in this one set of imagery. I do like the disparity between the role that psychedelics have played in accessing my personal truth and how different the end product looks. And yeah, a white suit and a string section and this creepy Steely
Father John Misty and his band of witches. (Above) album art for Fear Fun.
New Year’s Eve in Indy, Shiny Penny and the Critical Shoes at Rock House Cafe, Year in Review 2012
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Birth of Fountain Square, New Year’s Eve around Indy
A CULTURAL MANIFESTO
WITH KYLE LONG
Kyle Long’s music, which features off-the-radar rhythms from around the world, has brought an international flavor to the local dance music scene.
BRINGING COMEDY TO INDY FOR 32 YEARS
Like one beating heart
N. COLLEGE AVE. BROAD RIPPLE 6281 317-255-4211
“I am 100 percent samba; it’s in my blood,” says Celso Guimarães. This Brazilian-born percussion maestro has been living in Indianapolis for the last few years. As Carnaval season approaches I thought it would be a good time to catch up with Guimarães, who played in one of Brazil’s most prestigious samba schools, Acadêmicos do Salgueiro. Celso is now part of an Indy-based hard rock band called Accept Regret, I spoke with the percussionist after a recent gig on the city’s Eastside.
KEVIN DOWNEY JR JJAN AN 22-55
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NUVO: Tell me how you got into music. CELSO GUIMARÃES: I’m from Nilópolis in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. I’m from a Jewish family and my father did not want me to play music. He forced me to go to law school, and I did for two years. But the building for the law school was right next to the school of music. One day on my way to law school, I just said “I’m gonna change,” and I went to apply for the music school. It changed my life. I never had any support from my parents. My dad always said, “You can play music for fun, but you’ll never make a living as a musician.” But I’ve never had a job in my life, I never worked in a restaurant or worked on cars. I always paid my bills with music. NUVO: You’ve played with some of the greatest samba artists in Brazil; how did those experiences come about? GUIMARÃES: My style is a little different; whenever I played people would always notice me. I played with Elza Soares, Beth Carvalho, Dona Ivone Lara, Jorge Aragão and Leci Brandão. I was just a kid when I played with Beth Carvalho and she was like a godmother to me. She showed me that Brazil is too small for me. She opened up a lot of possibilities for me. NUVO: You’re from Nilópolis, which is the home of Beija-Flor samba school. Why did you choose Salgueiro? GUIMARÃES: Yes, my whole family supported Beija-Flor. But Beija-Flor are too traditional –– they don’t experiment with percussion. Salgueiro had an open mind; if I came to them with an idea about a rhythm, they might say, “Are you crazy?” But they would give it a try. NUVO: What’s it like being in the middle of the samba parade during Carnaval? GUIMARÃES: It’s indescribable. Imagine over 400 percussionists playing together. You could touch and feel the vibrations of the drums. We would play together for hours and we would become like one beating heart. In 1993, we won Carnaval with the song “Peguei um Ita no Norte.” When we finished the parade my father was there, he was proud. He hugged me and said “You made it.” It was a nice moment. NUVO: Soon after that you left Salgueiro –– and you also left Brazil. Why?
GUIMARÃES: I played with Salgueiro for eight years and I needed a change. I went to London. At first I was just playing on the street –– playing my pandeiro, hustling for money. One day I went to a bar and somebody called my name. It was a guy I knew from the favela, Heitor Pereira. He was the guitarist for Simply Red. He said, “What are you doing here?” I told him I was looking for a job so he gave me his card and told me to call him. I called the next day and he hired me to be a roadie for Simply Red.
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During their concerts I would pick up a drum and play along from behind the stage. People would see me and say, “What is he doing?” I changed from being a roadie to being a musician in the band. I traveled with Simply Red for almost two years playing percussion. After that, I came to the United States to play with James Taylor. I played with James for nineteen months and I moved to Cape Cod, Mass. with his band. Working with James opened a lot of doors for me to play with big artists. I played with Sting, The Cure, Elvis Costello, The Wailers, all the Marley kids and many others. NUVO: What brought you to Indianapolis? GUIMARÃES: I came here to produce a album for jazz violinist Cathy Morris. She had a project to record a Brazilian album. I worked with her for a few weeks and then I broke my arm and I basically had to stop everything I was doing. NUVO: While recovering you decided to stick around Indianapolis and you joined a local hard rock band called Accept Regret. Is there connection between this and your history playing samba? GUIMARÃES: I’m playing rock and roll now, but if you listen close you’re going to hear the samba. The speed is different, it’s not as fast as samba –– but it’s the same beat. I never change –– I always play samba. LISTEN UP Kyle Long creates a custom podcast for each column. Hear this week’s at NUVO.net.
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Shiny Penny and the Critical Shoes is: Dean Schimmelpfennig (vocals), Tommy Kinne (bass), Brad DiCarlo (guitar), Collin Irish (drums).
Shelby County Sinners SHELBY COUNTY SINNERS 6 SELF-RELEASED
e On their new EP, 6, Indianapolis’ Shelby County Sinners have thrown down their best recorded effort yet: a taste of Hoosier rock filtered through key ‘60s and ‘70s folk rock influences. It is rock and roll hillbilly country music, with lyrics that raise the stakes for the band. Is this their peak, or is there more –– and better –– to come? Eric Grimmett’s guitar jumps out, song after song. Singer Shelby Kelley finds the pocket for his nimble, twangy voice, and has written a batch of songs that sound good with the band’s minimalist approach. Mo Foster powers the songs with a forceful-yeteconomic stand-up bass groove. No song is very long, trading length for impact, and paying homage to influences without losing creative spark. “21st Century Bail Out Blues” opens the EP with Kelley spitting out Bob Dylan Highway 61 Revisted-style lyrics. A righteous electric guitar appears early, with barbed wire lines and a solo proves to be a harbinger of the sound and strength it will bring to the album. The small but cracking band delivers –– think Johnny Cash and The Tennessee Three in 2012. The EP, smartly recorded (live, according to Kelley) at Pop Machine with Eric Klee Johnson, is punchy and full. It plays without too many tricks –– other than some megaphone vocal effects –– and nicely straddles a line between backwoods party and studio gem. The two standout cuts on the album show up near the back of the set. “Down the Road” splashes Springsteen-esque harmonica while
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a pretty and gutsy Kelley vocal pushes the tune into anthemic territory. Once of the most accessible cuts on the record, it’s instantly likable and lovingly played throughout, all the way to a sweetly abrupt ending. “Hey Old Man” feels like a old Byrds tune, recreated by a country rock band from Indiana, and radio-ready for a WTTS spin. A great surprise appears when the band rips into the opening lines of Springsteen’s “Blinded by the Light,” near the end, perfectly placed and terrifically poignant. “East Side” continues a rockabilly slant, with a shade of Todd Snider. “Down and out place, where blood flows and running away is the best thing you can do. If there is Lord above, he better shine a light On the souls on the East Side of the city tonight ”
“Wuntz” (as in “wuntz I loved you) is classic corn country written by Foster with a smiling, tongue-sorta-in-cheek gang-sing about lost love set to a Southern-drawling vocal. A line about getting out of prison appears at one point, proving that the circle remains unbroken when it comes to sturdy country music cliches. “Say Baby” bookends the record with another Dylan-style blues number. The band works a dirty guitar to great effect, with shouts of “Blows your mind baby” neatly wrapping up a cohesive little album of Hoosier rock and twang. Kelley emailed and said they are working on a full-length release for 2013. If they can build on what is contained in 6, the rockabilly bar band may find themselves with a bunch more critics as fans, and music fans as friends. –– ROB NICHOLS
ROOTS ATTAKULLA, JAMES AND THE DRIFTERS The Melody Inn, 3826 N. Illinois St. 8 p.m., $5, 21+
Huntington’s James and the Drifters inject bits of The Band and The Grateful Dead into their rootsrock sound. They’ll play with Attakulla, a six-piece group of Southern rockers named for a sunken lodge at the bottom of South Carolina’s Lake Jocassee. It’s fitting, then, that one of our favorite tracks from the group is called ‘Drowned in a Lake.”
OTHER WEDNESDAY PICKS Electroshock at Tru, 21+ Retro Rewind at the Vogue, 21+
DANCE MARCUS BLAC
The Mousetrap, 5565 N Keystone Ave 9 p.m., free, 21+
This edition of Altered Thurzdaze featured Marcus Blac from Lafayette, DJ Deanne and Neighbz. New to Altered Thurzdaze? It’s one of the most reliably crazy nights in Indy –– from jam to EDM to glitch to house to techno, and on and on. It’s anchored by the G-9 Collective and IndyMojo. Check out a schedule for events announced in 2013 online at NUVO.net. DANCE UNAPOLOGETIC THURSDAYS RA Nightclub 9 p.m., free, 21+
Broad Ripple’s newest nightclub has a designated night for you to do whatever you please. Dance “Gangum Style” to every track played? Don’t apologize. Wear a Snuggie to the party? Don’t apologize. Only want to drink Liz Lemon’s signature drink, Funky Juice? Don’t apologize. Seriously. It’s Unapologetic Thursday. DJ Ninja Toji is at the helm.
Jason Wells Band, Steepwater at Beale St., 21+ Aotearoa, The Breakdown Kings at Monkey’s Tale, 21+ Rod Tuffcurls & The Bench Press at the Vogue, 21+ Juicy Jan with DJ Buck Rogers at Blu Lounge, 21+ Exiting the Fall, Foreveratlast at The Hoosier Dome, all-ages
Radio Radio, 1119 Prospect St. 9 p.m., $5, 21+
We wrote about Indy’s favorite party boy in early December –– Andy D’s been on tour (basically) all year, with several stops back in Indy through the year. This date with Cincinnati’s Night Beast and a couple local DJs and emcees is his latest. Expect plenty of material from Warcries, his latest LP. Log on to NUVO.net for our story on Andy and his musical collaborator and wife Anna Vision.
01.04 Harvey & The Bluetones 01.11 Seismic Soul 01.18 The Blues Ambassadors
OTHER SATURDAY PICKS
Hiiiiii Power Saturdays at RA Nightclub, 21+ Blackberry Smoke, Drake White at Deluxe at Old National Centre (sold out), all-ages Skybar Saturdays at 247 Sky Bar, 21+
7038 Shore Terrace 298-4771
Our very own Wayne Bertsch puts together these Birthday Bashes for the King annually. Presley would have been 77 on Jan. 8 this year. And the event’s
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The newest version of The Mel’s perennial Tuesday night dance party features guest DJs Jackola, A-Squared Industries and Gigante. Launched by Rad Summer, this night will partially replace A-Squared’s Tuesday night takeover at the Lockerbie. There’ll be brand new guests every week. See you on the dance floor!
Radio Radio, 1119 Prospect St. 8 p.m., $10, 21+
Friday Night Blues
Melody Inn, 3826 N. Illinois St. 10 p.m., free, 21+
TRIBUTE ELVIS BIRTHDAY BASH
NEIGHBORHOOD PUB & GRILL
OTHER FRIDAY PICKS
OTHER THURSDAY PICKS
The Purified Show with Kevin D. Jimison at Birdy’s, 21+
been moved from the now-closed Locals Only to the home of the Bigger Than Elvis: Radio Radio. Danny Thompson will also perform with Danny Thompson Trio –– the first time he’s played sets with both groups. Kenny Dodson, best known for ‘70s soul single “Can’t You Understand” and Andra Faye, of Andra Faye and the Rays, will also perform. Wear your shiniest shoes, please.
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PLEASE ADD UNFORGETTABLE SUMMER, NORTHERN NIGHTS, SCOTT, TREES, MMMF, POET MUZIK, LASTNAMESONG, LOGIC1, GOLDEN, PATJ, TENNESSEE MANE, KEVIN D JIMISON, JAY SAPP, K-NO, MYBOYZ, BRIDGEZ TO THE KINGDOM, BEZO MACK, TRAJIK, 365
EVEN MORE See complete calendar listings on NUVO.net and our brand new mobile site.
by Wayne Bertsch FRI 01/04
THE FRAYED EDGES, GABRIEL HARLEY BAND, SCOTT KLINE AND THE DEPENDABLES
CHAKRAS, DELL ZELL, MINUTE DETAILS, MYSTERIANA, NO-PIT CHERRIES
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SAT PRESENTS 3RD ANNUAL WINTER 2/16/13 BLUES FEST HOSTED BY MIKE MILLIGAN AND STEAM SHOVEL
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NEWS OF THE WEIRD
Needing a lift
Plus, a conspiracy of legs Update: Gary Medrow, 68, has periodically surfaced in News of the Weird since 1991 for his unique behavior of using a false identity to persuade Milwaukee-area strangers over the phone to lift other strangers off the ground -- behavior for which he has occasionally been jailed and ordered to psychiatric care. After a recent period of calm, Medrow slipped in November and was charged with impersonating a photojournalist to convince two Cedarburg (Wis.) High School students to hoist each other on their shoulders (and four similar
incidents were under investigation). At an earlier hearing, Medrow said that his “addiction” helps him to relieve tension and anxiety.
The Continuing Crisis
• Floyd Johnson pleaded guilty to attempted murder in an odd scene in a New York City courtroom in November. Johnson has only one leg, and had been charged with stabbing a fellow homeless shelter resident who has no legs. Johnson’s public-defender lawyer (who caught the case at random) has only one leg, also. Johnson said he was taking the plea in part because of excruciating leg pain -- in the leg he doesn’t have (“phantom leg” syndrome), and Johnson’s lawyer said he suffers from the same thing. (The lawyer subsequent-
ly filed to withdraw the guilty plea because the pain had clouded his client’s judgment.) • Amber Roberts, 30, a resident of the unit for the criminally insane at Eastern State Hospital in Spokane, Wash., informed officials in November that “I (just now) murdered someone, but you’re going to have to find him.” As staff members searched the facility, Roberts offered to help by shouting “hot,” “cold,” “you’re getting warmer,” and so forth. Roberts yelled “Hot!” as they closed in on the room containing the body of a 56-year-old patient that Roberts then admitted strangling. (However, a few days later in court, she pleaded not guilty.) • Tunisia’s Ministry for Women and Family Affairs demanded in October that the government prosecute the publisher of the children’s magazine Qaws Quzah (“Rainbow”), aimed at ages 5 to 15, for an article in the then-current
RESEARCH STUDY NOW ENROLLING! IU Psychotic Disorders Clinic is currently seeking volunteers to participate in a research study of SCHIZOPHRENIA. If you qualify, all study medication and procedures are provided at no cost to you. Study lasts about 60 weeks and subjects will receive compensation for each visit for participation. Call (317) 274-0474 for more information. Refer to NIGHTLYTE study.
issue on how to construct a gasoline bomb (aka the “Molotov cocktail” in America). The country has been rocked by the same kind of upheaval experienced in other Arab countries, except less so since its longtime president stepped down rather quickly in January 2011. • Notwithstanding its nuclear submarines, ballistic missiles and spy satellites, France maintains Europe’s last “squadron” of military carrier pigeons. Legislator Jean-Pierre Decool lauds the pigeons and campaigns for their upgrade, warning that in the event of war or other catastrophe, the birds would be a valuable messaging network. (Pigeons have been used at times in the current Syrian civil war.) Until very recently, according to a November Wall Street Journal dispatch, pigeons wearing harnesses had been used by a hospital in Normandy to ferry blood samples to a testing lab (a 25-minute flight).
• Jason Schall, 38, who has retired as a financial planner and now devotes his energy to fishing, had a spectacular week in September when he won a catchand-release tournament in Charleston, S.C., came within 1 1/2 inches of a world record on another catch, and was notified of recently setting two Nevada state records for largest fish caught. Schall’s coup de grace, he told the Charleston Post and Courier, came a few days later when he caught a redfish while sitting on his living room sofa in Daniel Island, S.C., watching a Clemson football game with a pal. He had run a line with bait through a crack in the door, through his yard into the lake behind his home. NEWS OF THE WEIRD CONTINUED TO PG 30
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• How Drunk Do You Have to Be? (1) College student Courtney Malloy, 22, was
rescued in November after getting stuck at about 1 a.m. trying to cut between two buildings in Providence, R.I. The space between City Sports and FedEx Kinko’s was 8 to 9 inches, said firefighters, who found Malloy horizontal and about 2 feet off the ground and “unable” to explain how she got there. (2) Leslie Newton, 68, was pulled over by Florida Highway Patrol officers near St. Augustine in December while driving erratically. He also had a portion of a traffic sign embedded in his skull after colliding with it. (In both cases, officers said they believed the victims to be intoxicated.) • Helen Springthorpe, 58, with only three months on the job as the bell-ringer at St. Nicholas Church in Bathampton, England, was knocked unconscious in November when she became entangled in the bells’ ropes and was jerked tooand-fro around the belfry, her head
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• Researchers from the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston found recently in tests that 10th-grade students who play video games (especially shooting and sports games) regularly score just as high in robotic surgery dexterity as resident doctors. The lead researcher said that surgery simulations (for example, suturing) have built-in unpredictability, for training purposes, but since complex video games are laden with unpredictability, players logging at least two hours a day with the joystick in fact may even slightly outperform the residents.
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smashing against a wall. Fire and ambulance crews eventually lowered her about 20 feet to the ground.
• Homeless man Darren Kersey, 28, was jailed overnight in November in Sarasota, Fla., after being busted for charging his cellphone at an outlet at a public picnic shelter in the city’s Gillespie Park. The police report noted that “(T)heft of city utilities will not be tolerated ....” However, for owners of electric cars (less likely to be homeless!), the city runs several absolutely free charging stations, including one at city hall. The American Civil Liberties Union has accused the city for years of being aggressively inhospitable toward the city’s homeless. (Kersey was released the next day when a judge ruled the arrest improper.)
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Fetishes on Parade
• Stubborn: (1) Briton Robert Moore, 31, got a relatively light sentence in Bradford Crown Court in October when he convinced a judge that he only inadvertently possessed child pornography, in that he was largely interested in human-animal porn (including with a pig, a goat, a horse and an octopus). Moore was not eligible for a court-ordered “treatment” alternative to prison because he told the judge that he does not believe he has a deviancy. (2) Carlos Romero, 31, told arresting officers in Ocala, Fla., in September that Florida was a “backwards” state because it still punishes his sexual behavior with a donkey. He admitted to being aroused by animals “in heat” but explained that all he did was stand behind the animal and masturbate while fondling her genitals. Any genital-genital contact, he said, was “accidental.”
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open-hearted clarity, and in ways that don’t make people defensive. We will also inspire you to help others communicate effectively in your presence. I hope you understand that doing this work will empower you to accomplish feats that were never before possible for you.
TAURUS (April 20-May 20): Chickens and alligators share a common ancestor. Seventy million years ago, they were both archosaurs. That’s why chickens possess a gene that has the ability to grow teeth. A few years ago, a biological researcher at the University of Wisconsin managed to activate this capacity, inducing a few mutant chickens to sprout alligator teeth. I predict there will be a metaphorically comparable event happening for you in 2013, Taurus. The “chicken” part of you will acquire some of the gravitas of an alligator.
Additionally, one can not be a member of these four organizations but instead, take the test AND/OR have passed the National Board of Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork exam (ncbtmb.com).
GEMINI (May 21-June 20): “People wish to learn to swim and at the same time to keep one foot on the ground,” said French novelist Marcel Proust. An attitude like that is always a barrier to growth, of course, but in 2013 it would be especially ill-advised for you Geminis. In order to win full possession of the many blessings that will be offering themselves to you, you will have to give up your solid footing and dive into the depths over and over again. That may sometimes be a bit nerve-racking. But it should also generate the most fun you’ve had in years. CANCER (June 21-July 22): Here’s the horoscope I hope to be able to write for you a year from now: You escaped the chains that kept you enslaved to your primary source of suffering. You broke the trance it kept you in, and you freed yourself from its demoralizing curse. Now you have forged a resilient new relationship with your primary source of suffering -- a relationship that allows you to deal with it only when it’s healthy for you to do so and only when you feel strong enough to do it. Very nicely done! Congratulations! Excellent work! LEO (July 23-Aug. 22): “In this world,” said Oscar Wilde, “there are only two tragedies. One is not getting what one wants, and the other is getting it.” I’m counting on you to refute the last part of that questionable assertion, Leo. According to my analysis of the longterm astrological omens, you will definitely be getting what you want in the next six months. You will receive your prize ... you will earn your badge ... you will win a big game or claim your birthright or find your treasure. When that happens, I trust you will make sure it is an enduring blessing. There will be no sadness involved!
Least Competent Litigator
• Orly Taitz, an Orange County, Calif., dentist and lawyer, is America’s most prominent “birther,” having filed dozens of lawsuits, appeals and other legal petitions expressing her certainty that President Obama was not born in America. In her latest legal foray, a California judge tossed her lawsuit against Occidental College (to require it to disregard privacy rights and release Obama’s college transcripts and other papers). The loss brings birthers’ record (Taitz’s plus a few comrades’) to 0-for-258, according to the websites WhatsYourEvidence.com and LoweringTheBar.net. And of course, when Taitz’s lawsuit was dismissed in November, she merely appealed again. Taitz was described by one critic as “almost charmingly insane.”
• Daniel Greer, 24, told the New York Daily News that on Sept. 7 in Brooklyn, N.Y., a police officer who had been trailing the bicyclist stopped him and issued separate traffic tickets for riding through three red lights while listening to music through earphones. The three offenses, plus a related ticket, forced Greer to court, where he clumsily pleaded guilty, not aware of the amount of the fine. His multiple offenses made him a repeat offender, and he was fined $1,550.
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Send your Weird News to Chuck Shepherd, P.O. Box 18737, Tampa FL 33679 or WeirdNews@earthlink.net or go to www.NewsoftheWeird.com.
VIRGO (Aug. 23-Sept. 22): English poet Alfred Tennyson wrote so many memorable lines that he is among the top ten most frequently cited authors in The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations. One of his most famous passages was “’Tis better to have loved and lost / Than never to have loved at all.” When he was on his death bed at age 83, his enigmatic last words were, “I have opened it.” Let’s make that declaration your mantra for the coming year, Virgo. In your case, it will have nothing to do with death, but just the opposite. It will be your way of announcing your entrance into a brighter, lustier, more fertile phase of your life. Try saying it right now: “I have opened it!” LIBRA (Sept. 23-Oct. 22): Back in 1830, it was expensive to stay up and do things in your room after dark. To earn enough money to pay for the whale oil that would light your lamp for an hour, you had to work for 5.4 hours. And today? It’s cheaper. You have to put in less than a second of hard labor to afford an hour’s worth of light. I suspect that in 2013 there
will be a similar boost in your ease at getting the light you need to illuminate your journey. I’m speaking metaphorically here, as in the insight that arises from your intuition, the emotional energy that comes from those you care about, and the grace of the Divine Wow. All that good stuff will be increasing. SCORPIO (Oct. 23-Nov. 21): “I’ve been absolutely terrified every moment of my life,” said Scorpio painter Georgia O’Keeffe, “and I’ve never let it keep me from doing a single thing I wanted to do.” I think her declaration is excellent medicine for you. In 2013, you will have great potential for upgrading your relationship with your fears -- not necessarily suppressing them or smashing them, but rather using them more consistently as a springboard, capitalizing on the emotions they unleash, and riding the power they motivate you to summon. SAGITTARIUS (Nov. 22-Dec. 21): “Ambition can creep as well as soar,” said Irish philosopher Edmund Burke. That will be good for you to remember throughout 2013, Sagittarius. Later this year, the time may come for your ambition to soar -- in the month of April, for example, and again in the month of August. But for the foreseeable future, I think your ambition will operate best if you keep it contained and intense, moving slowly and gradually, attending to the gritty details with supreme focus. CAPRICORN (Dec. 22-Jan. 19): In Tom Robbins’ book Skinny Legs and All, one of the characters, Ellen Cherry, has a conversation with a voice in her head. The voice gives her a piece of advice: “The trick is this: keep your eye on the ball. Even when you can’t see the ball.” I think that happens to be excellent counsel for you to heed during the next six months, Capricorn. You may not always be able to figure out what the hell is going on, but that shouldn’t affect your commitment to doing the right thing. Your job is to keep your own karma clean and pure -- and not worry about anyone else’s karma. AQUARIUS (Jan. 20-Feb. 18): I’ll be bold and predict that 2013 will be a time when you’ll discover more about the art of happiness than you have in years. Here are some clues to get you started. 1. “It is not easy to find happiness in ourselves, and it is not possible to find it elsewhere.” — Agnes Repplier. 2. “There is only one way to happiness and that is to cease worrying about things that are beyond the power of ou r will.” — Epictetus. 3. “For the rational, healthy person, the desire for pleasure is the desire to celebrate his control over reality. For the neurotic, the desire for pleasure is the desire to escape from reality.” — Nathaniel Branden. 4. “Our happiness springs mainly from moderate troubles, which afford the mind a healthful stimulus, and are followed by a reaction which produces a cheerful flow of spirits.” — E. Wigglesworth. 5. “Happiness is essentially a state of going somewhere, wholeheartedly, one-directionally, without regret or reservation.” — William H. Sheldon. 6. “We act as though comfort and luxury were the chief requirements of life, when all that we need to make us really happy is something to be enthusiastic about.” — Charles Kingsley. PISCES (Feb. 19-March 20): In 2013, I pledge to help you feel at peace and in lov e with your body; I will do everything in my power to encourage you to triumph over mediainduced delusions that tempt you to wish you were different from who you actually are. My goal is to be one of your resourceful supporters in the comin g months -- to be a member of your extensive team of allies. And I will be working with you to ensure that this team grows to just the right size and provides you with just the right foundation. If all goes well, your extra help will ensure that you finish almost everything you start in the coming year. You will regularly conquer everyday chaos and be a master of artful resolutions.
Homework: Send me your New Year’s resolutions. Go to RealAstrology.com and click on “Email Rob.” For extra credit, also send me your anti-resolutions: Weird habits and vices that you pledge to continue.
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