FREE EVERY WEDNESDAY | METRO OKCâ€™S INDEPENDENT WEEKLY | MAY 16, 2018
UNFRIEND How Facebook is killing local journalism By Gazette staff, P. 4
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inside COVER P. 4 As local journalism faces challenges, Facebook emerges as a threat to both truth and the bottom line. By Laura Eastes, George Lang, Ben Luschen and Jacob Threadgill Illustration by Jim Massara
NEWS 4 Technology Facebook’s impact on
7 Health Oklahoma Commission on
9 Education Emerson South 10 Chicken-Fried News
EAT & DRINK 13 Review Falcone’s
14 Feature EÔTÉ Coffee Company 16 Feature Black Cat Food Truck
20 Gazedibles plant-based dishes
ARTS & CULTURE 21 Art Paseo Arts Festival
22 Art Oklahoma City Art Museum’s
Roof Terrace series
23 Theater The Lonesome West
24 Marijuana CBD edibles for pets
26 Community The Dragonfly Home 27 Calendar
MUSIC 29 Event James Taylor and his
30 Event John Calvin Abney
32 Feature Mainframe Trax Family 33 Live music
FUN 33 Astrology
34 Puzzles sudoku | crossword
OKG Classifieds 35
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cov e r
In a recent survey of 1,000 Americans by the research group Techpinions, 9 percent of responders reported deleting their Facebook account in wake of data misuse reports. | Photo bigstock.com
As local journalism faces challenges on many fronts, Facebook is not an allied force. By Laura Eastes, George Lang, Ben Luschen and Jacob Threadgill
In early March 2015, a YouTube video emerged featuring members of the University of Oklahoma’s Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity singing a racist chant on a charter bus ride to Oklahoma City Golf and Country Club. The Lost Ogle jumped on the story and then local and national news outlets followed suit. Oklahoma’s “Obscure Local Social Blog” post on a local fraternity in hot water reached 1 million people on Facebook and earned the site about 400,000 page views. These days, Patrick Riley, The Lost Ogle founder and editor, reminisces on that post and others from 2012 through 2015 when a post on Facebook, depending on the content, could go viral in the Oklahoma City metro or across the nation. Riley could watch his clickthrough rate from Facebook and Twitter climb and climb. “Those were the glory days of publishing,” Riley said. “Back when anybody could create a website and generate a ton of clicks and awareness pretty quick. Those days are gone unless you have a big checking account, which we know most publications don’t have right now.” About a decade ago, Facebook introduced the “Like” button. Soon after, through an algorithm change, Facebook users’ news feeds began to show the most popular posts first. Users began to not only share personal information, but they shared recipes, local services and news. Facebook traffic became critical to news organizations. So much so, those news organizations studied the algorithm to learn how to best post to Facebook and earn the most clicks. “Clickbait” headlines like “See this kid on a beach? You won’t believe what happens next” lured users to take the bait. Following the 2016 presidential election, Facebook entered the spotlight for 4
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all the wrong reasons, including influencing elections with fake news posts and data privacy issues. Meanwhile, about two-thirds of American adults were relying on social media platforms, including Facebook, for their news, according to a Pew Research Center survey from last fall. Internally, Facebook was changing. While likely not noticed by the average user, media organizations saw likes and shares decrease. Even more troubling, there were fewer clicks to their websites. In January, Facebook announced what was happening: In an overhaul of the news feed, Facebook would now show users more posts from friends and family than news. And then a month later, the social media company announced its Facebook Journalism Project: the Local News Subscriptions Accelerator program to funnel users towards digital subscriptions of metro newspapers. “Facebook, for news organizations, is a curse that has fewer and fewer blessings,” said Tres Savage, editor in chief of NonDoc, a journalism and media site based in Oklahoma City. Back in 2015 when NonDoc launched, its founders recognized that social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter were critical to reaching an audience. As an onlineonly publication, Savage saw Facebook as the modern “newspaper delivery boy.” This delivery boy was difficult to work with and he couldn’t be fired. “With Facebook, they are in charge of everything,” Savage said. “They control the way in which they place stories in front of
people. They have an unknown set of algorithms. We try to the best of our ability to make adjustments. There is no phone number you can call for tips.” These days, to keep an audience and reach new readers, news organization are left with the reality that spending money to “boost” a post means better traffic to their website. At NonDoc, the editorial department faces an ethical dilemma: To boost or not to boost? “If you have a story about a politician — we cover the legislature a lot — you can put $10 on that to make sure it reaches your entire audience,” Savage said. “Does that look like you are playing political because you boosted this negative story about a Democrat but you didn’t boost the positive story about a Democrat? What is the public’s response to this?” At The Lost Ogle, Facebook bills for boosting posts went from $50 to around $1,000 last month. It’s all in an effort to keep Facebook readers seeing The Lost Ogle in their feed. Riley summarized Facebook’s everchanging business model as a successful business strategy. News organizations became hooked on Facebook when no money was needed. Now, news organizations want to keep what they once had and Facebook offers it with a price tag. “The people are still there,” Riley said. “They want to get their news. They want to see The Lost Ogle. …The articles wouldn’t reach as many people unless we pay to reach those people. That’s the fact of the matter.”
Aggregation and aggravation
In September, Pew Research Center reported that 66 percent of Americans use Facebook, and 45 percent of all Americans get news from the social media giant. While Facebook is not helping media outlets like it once did, its algorithm also no longer favors trustworthy sources.
The social media analysis site Newswhip reported in March that the Top 10 reporters on Facebook were only reporters in the loosest possible sense. Robert Costa of The Washington Post and The New York Times’ Maggie Haberman didn’t make the cut. Instead, two came from Truth Examiner, a Facebook page dedicated to anti-Donald Trump messaging; four were authors from Daily Wire, an alt-right propaganda site; and one came from Washington Press, a leftist propaganda site. The remaining three winners were a parenting blogger on the Today show’s website, a reporter from the British “clickbait” site Ladbible.com and the India-based site RVCJ.com, which reported on May 12 that Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson has “officially filed for 2020 USA presidential elections.” He has not. The result is an information crisis. Concurrent with the financial problems facing local journalism, nearly half of all U.S. residents are getting their information from unreliable sources, most of which are pushing extreme agendas rather than unbiased news, and Facebook is a conduit for those sources. Kenna Griffin, an assistant professor and director of student publications at Oklahoma City University, said most people don’t go to Facebook looking for news. Instead, they get it while passing through on the way to checking in on their friends and family. “We’re going there for affirmation. We want to see how many people liked our post or photo or whatever,” Griffin said. “What happens then is we bump into the news while we’re there.” And while people are on Facebook, they’re frequently skimming the surface of posts, half-absorbing the headlines and moving on, often without clicking links or even knowing the source. “We don’t actually read our Facebook feeds. We scroll and scan, usually on our smartphones,” Griffin said. “Which means my husband might say, ‘Gosh, did you hear about that man who killed his daughter’s dog because she wouldn’t continued on page 6
The Lost Ogle, a local Oklahoma City-based news blogsite, uses Facebook to attract users to its site. | Photo Gazette/File
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do the dishes?’ And I’m like, ‘Yeah, I did,’ but the truth is I really don’t have any information about that story. What I saw was a headline.” So fake news is a problem, but even that term is problematic, since journalists define it as false or misleading information while politicians and agenda pushers ascribe it to things with which they disagree. In January 2015, long before the subject became part of the national discussion, the Stanford History Education Group began a study on students’ ability to discern real news from the fakes. In one instance, students were asked to evaluate two separate Facebook entries announcing Trump’s presidential candidacy, one from Fox News, and another one labeled Fox News but not featuring the blue checkmark verifier. Only onequarter of the students recognized the checkmark as an indicator of a verified source, and 30 percent thought the fake page was more reliable due to its graphic content. “The interesting thing that was found later is that Pew said, ‘Let’s look at their parents. Do their parents know the difference?’ They found that it was almost the same,” Griffin said. “Sometimes we think fake news is more obvious than it is.”
Out of the shadow
When Facebook debuted its news feed in 2006, its 8 million users still needed a school email address — high school or college — to access the site. It became the first time the social media company was hit with privacy concerns, but it set the stage for a decade later as the same newsfeed — now with over a billion users — would play a major role in disseminating misinformation leading up the 2016 presidential election. The role of Facebook as an unreliable modern-day newsy culminated in March with the revelation that the OKC-based creative consultant Nicole Allen-Fisher said it would be impossible to do her job without a Facebook account. | Photo Jason Fisher / provided
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includes a petition sent to Zuckerberg asking for all of the settings to be deactivated with one click. The activist group’s research found that disabling the settings requires visiting 11 different Facebook sections, clearing out three different personal interest caches, limiting four advertising types, and seven additional actions for information only available to other Facebook friends. Even after all of those steps, it doesn’t completely free a user from the possibility of advertising scrapes. “This is so frustrating,” Citizens Against Monopoly director Sarah Miller told The Intercept. “We think people will have the same experience seeing how intentionally hard this is.”
In college, communications student Nicole Allen-Fisher was assigned to pick an issue and write a paper arguing both sides of it. Because the Oklahoma City resident’s career is so entrenched in social media, she thought it would be a good idea to look into the pros and cons of such platforms. When Allen-Fisher began to read a study on the mental health effects Facebook and other social networking sites can have on its users, it was a bigger wake-up call than she was expecting. “It made me go, ‘Why am I doing this?’” Allen-Fisher said. Allen-Fisher wrote her paper before news of Cambridge Analytica’s data access was publicly known. Skepticism and weariness have been piling up on some Facebook users for at least a few years now, and for many reasons other than privacy concerns. Negative posts, comments and news articles can flood one’s feed as easily as precious puppy photos. Having a constant window into the selectively shared lives of Facebook friends can breed feelings of anxiety, envy and annoyance. And, of course, there is also the site’s potential as a vehicle for spreading fake news. For a while after the Cambridge Analytica news broke, the hashtag #DeleteFacebook was trending on Twitter. The movement gained support from celebrities like Jim Carrey, Cher and tech entrepreneur Elon Musk. The total number of private accounts that have been deleted since March is unknown, though the research group Techpinions conducted a survey in which 9 percent of respondents report-
Advertising preferences after the installation of Facebook’s purity browser extension from the activist group Citizens Against Monopoly. | Photo Jacob Threadgill
ed deleting their accounts. However, the survey was limited to just 1,000 Americans, and Facebook has a worldwide following. Even if millions of users left Facebook in the last couple of months, the social networking giant reported more than 2 billion global users in 2017. The vast majority of its users still have their accounts despite any negative associations they might have with the service. Though Allen-Fisher has contemplated ditching her account, she still uses Facebook because it would be impossible to do her job without it. AllenFisher works as a creative consultant doing everything from writing to event planning for local businesses and private contractors. Facebook has become the unquestioned king when it comes to event planning and marketing. There is no other way to reach as many people while spending little to no money. “It’s like the new society pages,” she said. Allen-Fisher said Facebook’s past actions have caused her to lose faith in how responsibly the site handles her data, but she also believes engaging in the internet world in any significant way is hazardous to one’s privacy. “I try to stay aware of it so it never takes me by surprise,” she said, “but in this day and age, it’s kind of par for the course unless you’re just going to completely unplug.” Rather than labeling it as inherently good or bad, Allen-Fisher views Facebook and social media as a reality of the times that is not going anywhere. “There have been some definite effects on our life that are negative because of social media in general, but I believe it has been the same thing with television or radio,” she said. “Any time we open ourselves to a larger experience we’re going to have some negative effects.” Facebook is still a free platform — at least for now. Allen-Fisher knows the act of actually deleting an account is simple. But withdrawing from the many conventions of modern work and social life that come with it is much more difficult. “I figure I know what I signed up for,” she said.
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Stemming the tide
Oklahoma Commission on Opioid Abuse works to solve the epidemic. By Laura Eastes
In April 2017, as the opioid crisis continued to ravage Oklahoma, the state’s Attorney General Mike Hunter stood beside two state lawmakers — Sen. AJ Griffin and Rep. Tim Downing — to announce formation of the Oklahoma Commission on Opioid Abuse. Three months later, a federal report issued by the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration ranked Oklahoma No. 1 nationally for non-medical use of painkillers for all age groups 12 and older during 2012 to 2014. Even prior to that haunting statistic, Hunter was convinced a commission dedicated to studying the issues around the misuse and addiction to opioids was imperative. “The more we looked at the opioid epidemic, the more we were convinced that we had to focus our efforts,” Hunter said in a recent Oklahoma Gazette interview. When Hunter formed of the Oklahoma Commission on Opioid Abuse, he had been the state’s chief legal
advisor for a little over two months, replacing Scott Pruitt, who became administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. In that short amount of time, Hunter quietly assembled a team to take on the opioid epidemic. “When we broke it down into component parts, we saw there was a need for policy changes that would better equip the state to deal with the crisis,” Hunter said. “The second part of that was holding entities accountable for the epidemic, and that is the litigation. Lastly, we made a decision that there was a law enforcement piece that we needed to start holding people accountable for oversupply and reckless prescribing.” More than a year after Hunter committed to helping to solve the crisis, Gov. Mary Fallin signed seven policy recommendations were signed into law. These laws will, among other things, “give the state more tools” for dealing with the crisis, which has seen more than 3,000
Oklahomans succumb to overdoses in the last three years. “The overarching goal is a recognition that there is oversupply and overprescribing,” Hunter said. “This state needed more safeguards, more of an ability to oversee and regulate that problem. That’s the principle that knits these bills together.”
These aren’t just data points on a spreadsheet. These are people. Mike Hunter
Oklahoma’s legislation to address the overprescribing of opioids and the addiction that often follows attacks the issue from various fronts. The commission, which represents a broad crosssection of Oklahomans with expertise in areas connected to the opioid epidemic, recognizes that law enforcement measures are critical as well as those impacting the medical community. The commission’s first policy recommendation became the first piece of legislation to win approval by both the House
and Senate and eventually earn Fallin’s signature. Senate Bill 1078 criminalizes the trafficking of fentanyl, a synthetic narcotic painkiller that can cause an overdose from a few inhaled grains. Lawmakers found favor in the commission’s policy recommendation requiring prescribers to write opioid prescriptions electronically to prevent forgery and altered prescriptions. They also endorsed a “Good Samaritan Law,” which intended to protect those who report opioid overdoses from being arrested on drug-related offenses. House Bill 2798 creates the Opioid Overdose Fatality Review Board, which will be similar to the state’s child fatality review board. Hunter said Senate Bill 1446 was the “most important legislation that came out of the Capitol.” The legislation directs Oklahoma Board of Medical Licensure and Supervision to require continuing medical education on opioid abuse and misuse for prescribers. Additionally, the law limits opioid prescriptions to seven days for first-time patients with acute pain. The law is in line with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines regarding opioid use. “All the research shows the longer you are taking an opioid the more risk continued on page 8
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you are to exposing yourself for becoming addicted,” Hunter said. “We did our best to recognize there is a doctor-patient relationship. We took note of what was the general view that you needed to give prescribers the option to go up to seven days.” The bill passed during a particularly difficult legislative session, where lawmakers were challenged with fiscal issues and pressure to increase funding to the state’s core services including education. Hunter named lawmakers and commission members Griffin and Downing as influential in championing the bills’ through the Capitol. Lori Carter, the attorney general’s office director of legislative affairs, played a significant role in overseeing the commission and in finalizing its policy recommendations. “The commission’s work will be a turning point that we can point to in the future and say this is where Oklahoma drew the line to curb its opioid epidemic,” Griffin said in a press statement on the passage of the commission’s recommendation.
Hunter said the work is far from over. In the next year, his office will dedicate much of its energy to preparing for the state’s 2019 trial against the nation’s leading opioid manufacturers includOklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter | Photo provided
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ing Purdue Pharma, Inc. In June 2017, the state filed a lawsuit against companies making and marketing opiumbased painkillers, claiming they misrepresent the risk of addiction. The case is slated for a May 16 status conference in a Cleveland County courtroom. “We are committed to trying this case in state court and having an Oklahoma jury look at the damages, look at the evidence and hold these companies accountable,” Hunter said. “We think that the fraud and deception they’ve practiced to convince prescribers [opioids] weren’t addictive is … the prime cause for the epidemic. We think the damages to the state are in the billions of dollars, not millions.” Next session, Hunter expects his office to once again work with legislative leaders on policy solutions for addressing the opioid crisis. One recommendation not pursued by lawmakers was a tax on manufacturers, wholesalers and distributors of opioids, which would serve as a funding mechanism for addiction treatment. Hunter said it was too early to determine what legislative recommendations would be pushed for the 2019 legislative session. “If you are not affected by this directly, it is easy to just view this as statistics and data points,” Hunter said. “I want to really challenge [people] to not look at this that way. If you are affected, you know that this is a stark reality. These aren’t just data points on a spreadsheet. These are people.”
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Emerson South students who have struggled in school get a second chance to earn a diploma. By Laura Eastes
This month, Emerson South principal Brad Buxton received a few phone calls from parents asking that he perform graduation checks on their students; however, Buxton doesn’t mind. In fact, he looks forward to delivering the news that their sons or daughters will walk across the stage to receive a high school diploma. “That’s why you take this job: graduation,” Buxton said during Oklahoma Gazette’s visit to the school located in a shopping center near the corner of S. Pennsylvania Avenue and Interstate 240. Emerson South is one of Oklahoma City Public Schools’ two alternative education schools. In Oklahoma City, as well as elsewhere, alternative schools and programs exist to help at-risk students meet academic standards and requirements. Students can earn credit at their individual paces and on their timelines through flexible academic days. By design, students become graduates, even after years of neglecting their studies with few credits on their transcripts. “They just need an alternative option,” said Beth Harrison, the district’s chief communications officer. “They want to graduate, but they need to work, care for a family member or they have their own child. We need another tool in the toolbox to meet the needs of those kids.” For alternative education students and their families, graduation is extra special. Some never thought they would reach such a milestone, said Buxton, who served as principal at Oklahoma’s Office of Juvenile Affairs Oklahoma Youth Academy Charter School in Tecumseh before taking the Emerson South post last summer. It’s likely there won’t be a dry eye in the crowd when 100 Emerson South seniors participate in the school’s graduation ceremony May 24.
“They were the students who people thought, for whatever reason, wouldn’t graduate,” Buxton said. “We took them and put them in the right direction. We have challenges. We have kids who don’t want to come to school. We have kids with all sorts of personal issues at home. … I am very excited and ready to see them walk across that stage.”
Half of my job is sitting and listening to kids. Brad Buxton
Last August, Buxton, along with fellow administrators, teachers and staff, opened the doors of Emerson South for the first day of its inaugural year. In the former Wright Career College space, the school serves middle and high school students and mirrors the district’s first alternative education school, Emerson High School, which is now referred to as Emerson North and is one of the longest-standing alternative programs in Oklahoma. Emerson North, which is located at the corner of NW Sixth Street and N. Walker Avenue in downtown OKC, has operated at full capacity in recent years. With pages of student names on a waiting list, district leaders sought to open a second school and locate it in south OKC, where the district is experiencing the fastest growth rates. “We were really proud to open Emerson South,” Harrison said. “There was such a need with the long waiting list. We knew the need was there, even to add the middle school. We really fasttracked getting Emerson South opened
because we wanted to make sure we didn’t lose those kids along the way.” Nearly 200 students were enrolled when the school year began, with about 50 students who lived in south OKC transferring from Emerson North to the new southside school. With a oneto-one technology model, each student received a Google Chromebook. With the guidance of their counselors, they enrolled in traditional academic subjects, but also arts, Spanish language, family and consumer sciences and technology courses. With the flexible school schedule, all students receive a class schedule that accommodates their needs. Some students only take classes in the morning, while others are strictly on campus during the afternoon. This allows students to care for their children or ill family members or work part-time and full-time jobs. “Our biggest asset is our flexible schedule,” Buxton said. “Say a kid comes to us who is low on credits. Say they are 17 and they want to graduate in the next year. They can take all eight classes. After a year, more than likely, they can graduate.” As this past academic year went on, Emerson South leaders received referrals from other OKC schools and former dropouts who wanted to complete their high school degrees. Now, the school is serving 500 students through its morning and afternoon sessions. The average class size is 10-12 students.
It is common for Buxton to visit with a student in his office. The reasons have little to do with disciplinary action. Instead, Buxton listens as students take a deep breath and explain what’s bothering them. Emerson South’s first T-shirt hangs on the cafeteria wall. Designed by a student, the T-shirt shares the message of second chances. | Photo Laura Eastes
Brad Buxton, principal of Emerson South, devotes half of his day to listening to his students and supporting them through difficult life decisions. | Photo Laura Eastes
“Half of my job is sitting and listening to kids,” Buxton said. He cited an early May conversation as an example of the life decisions his students face. The student shared they recently began spending more time with a friend and smoking more marijuana. The effect was taking a toll on their life. Buxton responded with making one phone call to a local counseling agency and scheduling the student an appointment. “That’s what I am most proud of,” said Buxton, who viewed it as an honor to have a student be so truthful in asking for help. “I want to give our kids as many resources as I can. So, if they come in with a problem, I know the person to call.” Buxton believes that students’ mental health can impact their ability to be successful in school. This year, Emerson South piloted a weekly group counseling session for the middle school students. Next academic year, the program expands to reach high school students. Emerson South students, Buxton said, are just like many local teens dealing with anger, relationships, conflict or even drug and alcohol abuse and addiction. Emerson South students share in Buxton’s school pride. Flyers on the walls advertise the school’s first yearbook. In the cafeteria, the school’s first T-shirt is on display, but it can also be spotted on a number of students. The front reads “Emerson South” and the back reads “Emerson South gave me a second chance.” “That right there sums up our school,” Buxton said as he admired the T-shirt. “We love our kids. I feel like myself and the other administrators and teachers, we are their parents at the school. We want to sit down and help them through the life decisions they are making.”
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Oh my! Gov. Mary Fallin is in hot water again with the state’s Native American communities. This time, it has nothing to do with daughter Christina’s photos in a red Plains headdress or mimicking a war dance on the 2014 Norman Music Festival stage. In early May, Fallin vetoed House Bill 2661, proposed by Rep. Chuck Hoskin and Sen. John Sparks, who are both Cherokee citizens, which would have established Oklahoma Native American Day on the second Monday in October. Since 1937, the second Monday in October has been Columbus Day. In recent decades, natives and non-natives alike have debated whether Columbus, the man responsible for beginning the New World genocide, should be celebrated. As NewsOK reports, HB2661 would not have repealed Columbus Day but would have added another holiday to the calendar so Oklahomans could choose their holiday. Fallin, in her veto message, said “combining a new Native American Day designation with the current Columbus Day holiday could be viewed as an intentional attempt to diminish the long-standing support of November being proclaimed annually as Native American Heritage Month in Oklahoma and the third Monday in November as Oklahoma Native American Day.” Fallin’s decision and her explanation were not supported by Hoskin, who told NewsOK that HB2661’s veto is “a slap in the face to the 38 federally recognized tribal governments in Oklahoma.” Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker said, “This is a missed opportunity to honor tribal people and tribal government in Oklahoma.” Not just a missed opportunity. She used veto power, which is quite a statement on Fallin in the waning days of her administration.
Bonds. Seven bonds.
Before recently, the scientific community considered it impossible that a carbon atom could feature more than its natural four bonds. It was an accepted part of basic chemistry that Oklahoma School of Science and Mathematics (OSSM) chemistry teacher Fazlur Rahman taught all of his students. That is until he read a paper by a German scientist who found that, in some rare circumstances, the element can form six bonds. Rahman was fascinated by the study and told one of his classes about it. He sarcastically challenged them to do some calculations on the study. Most other high school students would not know how to even attempt to check the work of an established German scientist, and some would probably shrug it off and play another round of Fortnite online instead even if they could. But this is OSSM we’re talking about. No one should expect their chemistry challenge to go unanswered within those walls.
George Wang, a senior at the school, had recently learned to use a supercomputer lab in Norman. He decided to first verify the work of the German scientist, which checked out. After that, he ran some calculations to see if seven bonds was possible. “I tried multiple compounds, and one of them turned out to work,” Wang said in an interview with local NPR affiliated KGOU. “I was very surprised.” “Very surprising” certainly is one way to describe a new discovery in fundamental chemistry theory by an 18-year-old. But Chicken-Fried News thinks a more apt descriptor might be “REALLY FREAKIN’ AWESOME!” Wang’s peer-reviewed findings, checked by University of Oklahoma chemical engineer Bin Wang (no relation), have now been published in a scientific journal. The discovery could have uses in the plastic-making process or for storing hydrogen. As a senior, Wang is getting ready to graduate from OSSM and plans to attend Stanford University in the fall. He has not settled
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on a major yet. We’re no talent scouts here at Chicken-Fried News, but we suggest Wang pick something in the realm of science or engineering. Call it a hunch, but we think he might have a knack for such things.
Texas is really feeling their oats ever since the Oklahoma teacher of the year moved to the Lone Star State due to a higher salary and better infrastructure. Drivers on Classen Boulevard might’ve noticed a new billboard that reads, “Your future is in a Fort Worth classroom. Teacher starting salary $52,000.” It’s one of several billboards from Fort Worth Independent School District that have popped up in Oklahoma City, Norman and Tulsa, according to KOKH. Geez, Texas; you don’t have to rub it in our faces. Oh wait; we guess this is par for the course for Texas exceptionalism. The average starting teacher salary in Oklahoma is $31,919, according to KOKH, but that’s not factoring in the recent pay raise signed by Gov. Mary Fallin. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Oklahoma’s average income for high school teacher was $42,270, meaning they will earn an extra $6,369 per year at the low end of
the 15-18 percent teacher hike, which is still lower than the starting salary in Fort Worth. Former Norman High School teacher Shawn Sheehan gained national headlines in 2017 after the 2016 Oklahoma Teacher of the Year moved to Lewisville, Texas, in search of better pay. Even after the teacher pay raise, the Oklahoma teacher walkout continued in search of better overall funding for schools. Perhaps there will be a day when Oklahoma restores the 7 percent gross production tax on oil and the Oklahoma City Public Schools District will be able to pay for a billboard of their own in Austin.
Earlier this month, Bricktown began losing bricks as crews started carefully removing them from the six stories of bricked-up windows at 101 E. Sheridan in Bricktown. Historically, the building was the home of Oklahoma Furniture Manufacturing Company, but it is most recognizable to Bricktown pedestrians as the more recent home of The Spaghetti Warehouse Restaurant, which closed in 2016 after 28 years of serving pasta to out-of-towners unfamiliar with OKC’s food scene.
According to NewsOK, new owners Sam Coury and Danny Wright bought the building in 2017 for $3.8 million and, after what Chicken-Fried News assumes was a comprehensive and costly carbohydrate abatement, tested one opening to see if it was possible to unbrick a window without unbricking the entire building. The experiment in January worked, and now the building is becoming less and less defenestration-proof by the day. This is a damn fine building that will be a great place to live once the full residential conversion takes place, and the prime location will have great views of the city. But what were they thinking by bricking this thing up in the first place? CFN thinks this was taking the Bricktown concept to an illogical conclusion. Actually, the windows were bricked up about 50 years ago and the building was painted white around the time the old warehouse district was falling into steep decline. Even the street it was located on, Grand Boulevard, was renamed Sheridan Avenue in the late 1960s because Oklahoma City Council
didn’t think it was so grand anymore. Chances are, if you were looking out of one of those windows in 1964 or so, you didn’t like what you saw. CFN wonders what it would feel like to have pulled a Rip Van Winkle and fallen asleep while they were bricking up the windows. Besides being old, pale as a Carlsbad Caverns insect and reeking of three decades of marinara sauce, you’d wake from your slumber to discover that Skid Row was now some of the most valuable property in Oklahoma City. So cheers to the newly ventilated building. CFN calls dibs on any vaults filled with sweet, sweet Eisenhowerera bills.
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Matt Spivey tosses fresh pizza dough inside Falcone’s Pizzeria. | Photo Jacob Threadgill
Back on solid ground, Falcone’s pizza by-the-slice is worth a visit. By Jacob Threadgill
Falcone’s Pizzeria 6705 N. May Ave. | 405-242-2222 bestpizzaokc.com What works: The chocolate waffle and French Bomber are irresistible. What needs work: The chicken in the chicken Parmesan is dry and didn’t soak up the sauce. Tip: Call ahead to pick up from the drive-thru window.
Falcone’s Pizzeria is a case study in the pitfalls of rapid expansion. Six months after founder Danny Falcone opened the original location at 6705 N. May Ave. in 2006, there was a prominent Bricktown location, and by 2009, there were four Falcone’s locations in the metro. A decade later, only the original location remains operational. J.P. Wilson purchased the remaining location from Falcone’s business partner in 2014 and found that it had strayed from its initial success of serving pizza-by-the slice using ingredients from scratch. “After they closed the others and kept the original, it was sad to see them change things to try to bring the food costs down to save money,” Wilson said. “When the opportunity presented itself to move in, buy the restaurant and restore things back, a lot of people in the neighborhood were behind us.” Wilson discovered the staff was using pre-made pizza dough and essentially reheating other store-bought in-
gredients to cut corners. “We restored everything to how it was made originally, and it started to increase business and how it used to be when Falcone’s first opened,” said Wilson, who is an in-demand magician performing at NBA halftime shows across the country, including Thunder games. Wilson also operates JAM Events and Productions, a catering and eventplanning company. He said he was attracted to Falcone’s because of fond memories eating at the original location and its kitchen, which could be used to prepare for JAM events.
We restored everything to how it was made originally. J.P. Wilson
Wilson also added a drive-thru window for customers to call ahead and pick up orders without leaving their cars, but it also functions for those in a hurry at lunchtime. “We have a quite a few people that pull up and just say that they need a slice of pepperoni, and boom, we get it out to them,” Wilson said.
Falcone’s is one of the few pizzerias to offer pizza by-the-slice in Oklahoma City. If you want pizza but not a whole pie, you’re left with the options of Empire Slice House or Easy E Slice Shop in 16th Street Plaza District, chain buffets like Tulsa-founded Mazzio’s or CiCi’s or driving down to either Sandro’s Pizza and Pasta location in Norman. Falcone’s quick operation always caught my attention when driving down May Avenue, but it piqued interest even further when I noticed that Falcone’s website address is bestpizzaokc.com. That’s quite the boast in a city with a lot of good pizza: Empire, The Wedge Pizzeria, Pizzeria Gusto, The Hall’s Pizza Kitchen and, of course, Hideaway Pizza. I knew I was in for a good experience after I navigated the small parking lot around Falcone’s and made it inside to see chef Matt Spivey tossing fresh dough into the air. Guests can get a cheese slice for $3.49 or two-topping slice for $4.49. There are also pasta dishes like spaghetti and meatballs and three-meat lasagna that Wilson said are top sellers outside of the pizza. You can also get a calzone, stromboli, toasted sandwiches, hamburgers and salads or order a 14-inch or huge 18-inch pizza ($18.99 for one topping) made to order. Falcone’s serves large New Yorkstyle slices and, according to Wilson “if you can take a slice out of it, fold it half, and there is a droop at the end, it is New York-style.” It’s like The Office’s Michael Scott’s favorite pizza, Sbarro, that can be found in mall food courts and airport terminals across the country, but exponen-
tially better. A fresh pepperoni slice bubbles with plenty of mozzarella, but the fresh dough is the star to me. Compared to Empire Slice House, which has more inventive toppings and f lavors, Falcone’s crust is much sturdier but still plenty soft when you bite into it. Two slices is enough of a lunch meal to make you want to take a nap under your desk like George Costanza if you have to go back to the office. In a subsequent trip to Falcone’s, I ventured away from pizza and ordered the chicken Parmesan sandwich with a side salad ($9.49). The best part of the sandwich was the roll, which arrives fresh from the La Baguette bakery in Norman multiple times a week. The overflowing mozzarella made for some fun bites to see how far it can stretch, but I found the underlying chicken disappointing. The chicken breast didn’t take on the sauce very well, and it was dry. The bread and cheese is good, and I would recommend going with the meatball to satisfy the sandwich craving. Also not to be missed is a slice of strawberry or chocolate cake ($4.99), which comes from Joni’s Signature Cakes in Edmond. The strawberry cake is full of real strawberries and topped with shaved chocolate. Mother’s Day weekend signified a new addition to Falcone’s menu: brunch, which will be offered Saturday and Sundays going forward. Wilson is excited to expand the offerings that will include eggs Florentine, a housemade English muffin topped with spinach, shallots, mushrooms, bacon or sausage served with red pepper hollandaise, home fries and fresh fruit.
Falcone’s Pizzeria is located at 6705 N. May Ave. | Photo Jacob Threadgill
Grilled tenderloin filet is used for steak and eggs, and Falcone’s griddle is a piece of grilled sourdough topped with potatoes, bacon, sausage, eggs and tomatoes. The brunch service will also include waffle and omelet bars. Of course, it wouldn’t be brunch at Falcone’s without breakfast pizza featuring completely user controlled topping selections. I’m not sure Falcone’s is a runaway best pizza in Oklahoma City like its website boasts, but it certainly deserves to be in the conversation. If it has been awhile since your last visit, it’s worth giving it a try with fresh taste buds. O kg a z e t t e . c o m | M ay 1 6 , 2 0 1 8
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Coffee compassion EÔTÉ Coffee Company spreads a message of outreach and goodwill. By Jacob Threagill
The flag hanging high in the EÔTÉ Coffee Company roasting facility, 416 NE 48th St., depicts the globe, but not in an American-centric manner that permeates classrooms across the United States. Getting inspiration from Acts 1:8, “EÔTÉ” is an acronym for Ends of the Earth. “Being Americans, we’re really good at being the centers of our own universe,” said founder Todd Vinson. “It’s a good reminder for perspective and to focus on other people. How can we bring out the best in other people and call them up to highest possible good? You can do that by spending time with somebody.” EÔTÉ has become an outreach and fundraising arm for Vinson’s Willow Springs Boys Ranch in Chandler, which works to mentor young boys going through family crisis.
It adopted the French caret or circumflex accent over the “O” to symbolize the safety provided at the home at Willow Springs, which housed the beginning of the EÔTÉ operation in 2012. The idea was long simmering, like a pot of coffee at the end of the day, which Vinson realized was always at the center of life’s most important decisions. “Everything I’ve done of significance where life decisions are made seemed to happen at a table over a cup of coffee,” Vinson said. “Am I going to marry this girl? Am I going to pursue this career? It’s been while seeking wisdom from folks, usually over a few cups of coffee.” While on a business trip to Albania,
Vinson was intrigued when the conversation with his traveling partner turned to his personal home coffeeroasting hobby. “My head goes on a swivel,” Vinson said. “Every free moment on that trip for about a week, we talked about coffee-roasting.” One of the first things Vinson did when returning home was to buy a desktop roaster, and one turned into three once he realized the difference between a fresh roast and a national store-bought brand that was roasted months before hitting the shelves. Out of the garage at Willow Springs, Vinson bought a 3-kilo coffee roaster and began selling fresh roast at local farmers markets under cottage food laws. Vinson established EÔTÉ as the de facto for-profit arm of Willow Springs shortly thereafter and moved into a warehouse space just off Lincoln Boulevard, a few miles from the state Capitol, in 2016. At the beginning of 2018, $1 for every bag of one of EÔTÉ’s 10 varieties of coffee sold either retail or wholesale goes back to support Willow Spring Boys Ranch.
Heart of compassion
Vinson received an undergraduate degree from the University of Oklahoma in psychology and a master’s in children’s and family relations. Vinson’s uncle donated 180 acres in Chandler to Vinson to help establish the boys ranch in 1996, and the first guests moved into the home, which has a capacity of 12 people, in 1998.
EÔTÉ Coffee currently has 10 varieties of coffee available for wholesale at more than 30 retail locations. | Photo Jacob Threadgill
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“It’s kids in need of supervision or in a family crisis, usually circumstances not of their own doing,” Vinson said. “Maybe [there has] been a death in the family or substance abuse issue or a legal problem.” Willow Springs focuses on preventative care, working with children and their families to provide one-on-one care and emotional training. “You don’t have to hoard clothes or food [like in a state-run group home facility],” Vinson said. “They’ll graduate from high school and get their spiritual needs met.”
Everything I’ve done of significance ... seemed to happen at a table over a cup of coffee. Todd Vinson A few of the program’s recent graduates have gone on to get jobs with some of EÔTÉ’s more than 30 retail partners, which includes Interurban Restaurant Group, 84 Hospitality Restaurant Group, Hungry Town Concepts and Sunnyside Diner, among others. EÔTÉ does about 80 percent of its business through its retail partners and the remaining percentage through its website and online wholesale through sites like Amazon. “When I’m out selling, we like to align ourselves with the best. It is places that replicate integrity and greatness. It sounds kind of snotty, but you’re only as strong as our weakest link, and our website refers to them as friends because that’s what they are to us,” said Patrick Will, EÔTÉ’s director of business development.
Todd Vinson roasts a fresh coffee blend, using a roaster from Oklahoma City’s own U.S. Roaster Corp. | Photo Jacob Threadgill
At the warehouse, they are not licensed to sell coffee, but customers can pick up prepaid orders, drop by for a free tasting every afternoon between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. or receive barista training. There is a tip jar that goes back to Willow Springs. On a midweek morning at the end of April, there was a steady stream of customers coming to pick up retail orders or just dropping by to shoot the breeze. A few retail clients had stopped in for barista training with Tracy Allen, president and founder of Kansas Citybased Brewed Behavior. Allen, also president of Specialty Coffee Association, developed the coffee blends for such corporations as American Airlines and Chick-fil-A and was even commissioned to brew coffee for Pope Francis when he visited the United States in 2015. Allen was introduced to Vinson when he was still roasting at Willow Springs, and the two have maintained a friendship as EÔTÉ has expanded. “I liked his mission,” Allen said. “They’ve had a lot of growth in the last two years, and I like to be a reference when he needs stuff. I provide some training out of the goodness of my heart because of Todd’s heart.” EÔTÉ has grown from garage roaster to local facility in the past two years, and Vinson has a goal of making a regional imprint before hopefully going national. “I want to invest in your success emotionally and spiritually,” Vinson said. “It’s more addicting than a cup of coffee. We’re all addicted to something, but when you’re addicted to something that brings out the best in you and inspires to do that for somebody else, it’s hard to beat.”
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Chef Beth Ann Lyon opens Black Cat food trailer at Delmar Gardens. By Jacob Threadgill
Chef Beth Ann Lyon walked out of her front door one morning, and the bright yellow food truck sitting in her neighbor’s front yard called to her. Lyon has shaped menus across the city (Provision Kitchen, The Mule, Anchor Down, The Press) since establishing an eponymous LLC two years ago, but life as a consultant has its ups and downs. After a few consulting jobs fell through late in the process, Lyon said she knew a positive outcome was on the way. It arrived in the form of a long yellow food truck that her neighbor Tommy Hand’s mother Kathleen used to serve fried peaches and ice cream as Odie May’s during the summer. “I walked out of my house one day, and there it was. It was like a light shining from heaven,” Lyon said. “The clouds opened, and there was this food truck. Before I even talked to Tommy, I knew it was there for us to use. I know when I’m in alignment with things the universe presents to me.” Tommy Hand and his wife Tess are longtime friends of Lyon’s husband Gerald. After Kathleen Hand died, the food truck had no caretaker. Instead of selling it to a stranger, the Hands are allowing the Lyons to use it to start Black Cat Food Trailer, which held its opening service May 5-6 at Delmar Gardens Food Truck Park, 1225 SW Second St. “It’s worked out pretty great,” Tommy Hand said. “I ran [mobile catering service] for Big Truck Tacos, I’ve been in the restaurant industry and I helped my mom with concessions. This was the perfect circumstance because Beth is so skilled. I like that we didn’t sell the truck, and hopefully this 16
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becomes the start of something bigger for Beth.” Lyon is a graduate of Kurt Fleischfresser’s apprenticeship program and rose through the ranks of kitchens across the city, becoming the first executive chef at Kitchen No. 324 and Provision Kitchen. Her work there and as a consultant earned her a spot on Food Network Guy’s Grocery Games in early 2018, but Black Cat is her first independent operation. “I’ve always belonged to somebody, been someone’s executive chef,” Lyon said. “It is so exciting. I had Arlo, my youngest son, running around [Delmar Gardens], and he came and wanted me to pick him up. I was able to do that while I continued cooking on the stove. Things like that make a difference.”
Lyon practices what she refers to as “intuitive eating.” While she primarily eats a plant-based diet in her personal life, she isn’t one to shy away from grass-fed chicken or local cheese. In the end, local and mindfully sourced organic ingredients win out over processed items like tofu. The menu at Black Cat will change according to seasonal ingredients, but it will also be 50 percent plant-based and 50 percent meat options. “I know my market. I know that I can’t throw out 100 percent vegan. For my animal-eating friends, I want people to get a juicy grilled onion cheeseburger from me, but they know the beef is grass-fed. Who else has organic, pasture-raised fried chicken?” The top seller the opening weekend
Beth Ann Lyon serves chipotle chicken tacos and the Clucker out of her new Black Cat Food Trailer in Delmar Gardens Food Truck Park. | Photo Jacob Threadgill
were chicken chipotle tacos, fried black beans, avocado mash and jalapeño slaw, but they were followed by the Clucker, a fresh biscuit topped with fried chicken, an over-easy egg and chicken gravy served with salt-fried potatoes. There was also a vegan biscuit with onion gravy, vegan squash fajitas and a mushroom melt featuring spinach from next door’s Urban Agrarian.
Who else has organic, pasture-raised fried chicken? Beth Ann Lyon “I had girls that came in and said they were Whole30, and I said, ‘I got you,’” Lyon said. “I made them an amazing lunch, and they were so happy about it. People should know that when they come into Black Cat, their grandfather can get chicken and biscuits, Dad can eat paleo and kids can get grilled cheese and fruit. There is always something for everybody.” Lyon’s training is showcased on the salt-fried potatoes, which she handcuts in different sizes to create different textures and parboils in salt water before deep-frying to-order.
“Here’s the deal with most fried potatoes: They’re bland,” Lyon said. “You get the potatoes and all of the salt is at the bottom of the container. I blanche them in salt water — it’s like the ocean it’s so salty — to induce flavor. I fry them in peanut oil because it’s my favorite, so sorry, peanut allergens.” Lyon said that the chicken chipotle tacos will be a menu staple through the rest of the summer, but the menu will shift depending on what comes from local markets. She’s excited to feature fresh peaches and strawberries this summer and envisions taking the trailer to serve at area lakes, which is the inspiration for the trailer’s name, as Lyon thought back to setting off Black Cat-brand fireworks at the lake. “I knew this food truck would be amazing to haul out to [Lake] Eufaula and serve near the boat ramps,” Lyon said. “It is my nudge to summertime and the nostalgia of being a kid, eating hamburgers and shooting fireworks.” As Black Cat expands, Lyon wants to use it as a type of apothecary, where clients can pick up bulk items like shredded chicken or pasta primavera every two weeks. Inquiries can be made through bethlyon.com. Lyon will establish a card program for Black Cat so that every 10th meal with the trailer is free. To follow updates on the food truck, check @bethlyonsblackcat on Instagram.
Chicken chipotle tacos from Black Cat food trailer | Photo Jacob Threadgill
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It’s starting to heat up, and we’ve got a long summer around grills ahead of us. Before stuffing our bodies with charcoal-kissed meats, check out a few of the best plantbased dishes in the city. by Jacob Threadgill | Photos Gazette / file and provided
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The Red Cup
Nourished Food Bar
The Loaded Bowl
Everything on The Red Cup’s menu is plant-based, and it’s entirely vegan except for a few instances of an egg. The dish that showcases what it does best is the chorizo mac and cheese. Chef Patrick Clark could’ve easily used processed tofu for chorizo, but instead, it’s a proprietary plant mixture that is sturdy and gives the dish a crunchy contrast from the smoky pasta that benefits from the acidity of tomatoes.
As the facts around food science are ever changing, there are a few common denominators for a healthy diet: Limit processed foods and focus on nutrient-rich ingredients that haven’t been cooked to death (preferably raw). The rotating food bar at Nourished is a direct link to local ingredients that will fill you up without weighing you down.
Freshness is the key to The Loaded Bowl’s vegan nachos. Using the same cashew cheese as its macaroni and cheese that paved the way to a brick-and-mortar location, the nachos are highlighted by freshly fried chips, fresh pico de gallo and guacamole. Add in the crunch of cabbage, the smokiness of black beans and lentil chorizo, and the nachos will keep you coming back to the Farmers Market District.
3122 N. Classen Blvd. theredcupokc.com | 405-525-3430
131 Dean A. McGee Ave., Suite 115 nourishedfood.co | 405-740-7299
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Stone Sisters Pizza Bar
Tucker’s Onion Burgers
There are certain items at The Pritchard that will never rotate off the menu, like the crispy Brussels sprouts, but chef Shelby Sieg likes to introduce seasonal dishes about every six weeks. One of her newest creations is a beet risotto ($12) paired with local nasturtium leaf pesto and topped with crispy chickpeas. There is Pecorino Romano cheese in the risotto, so it’s not vegan, but all the ingredients are mindfully sourced.
The ethos of The Press is to present modern Oklahoman food. This means the same menu that features a chicken-fried rib-eye steak also features vegan dumpling soup, a vegan burger and an Indian taco. The dish that delivers with a light and refreshing house dressing is Greens & Beans. Kale is massaged to work out the nutrient-rich green’s toughness, and the composed salad is one of the best things on the menu.
Stone Sisters Pizza Bar has become a haven for those with gluten intolerance because its options include sprouted spelt crust. Its commitment to organic toppings includes three vegan pizzas. The No. 1 Vegan Schmeegan pizza includes white bean hummus, nutritional yeast, vegan cheese, smoked eggplant, red onions, banana peppers, arugula pesto and potatoes and is finished post-baking with an arugula salad.
You no longer have to eat meat to enjoy one of the best burgers in the country. Ranked by Thrillist as the 53rd best hamburger in the country, Tucker’s signature onion burger is getting the Impossible Burger brand treatment. Recently introduced as a limited time offer, the veggie burger will be added to the permanent menu at Tucker’s multiple metro locations if it receives enough support.
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ARTS & CULTURE The 42nd Annual Paseo Arts Festival features art, entertainment and food. | Photo The Paseo Arts Association / provided
turing the works of more than 90 artists. “When it first started, it was a craft fair in the middle of the street,” Bleakley said, “but after years and years have gone by, it’s continually improved. And now I think it’s really gotten to a point where top-quality art is what people expect.” Artists applying to the festival are selected by a jury of their true peers: creators working in the same type of medium, whether that’s painting, sculpture, photography, jewelry or “other.” Bleakley said the juried selection holds the festival to a higher standard, even if she doesn’t always agree with their decisions.
Every year, we try to make it better.
Paseo Arts Festival returns for its 42nd year. By Jeremy Martin
There wasn’t much Amanda Bleakley could do in 2014 when she took over as executive director of The Paseo Arts Association, at least not right then. The Paseo Arts Festival, the association’s largest annual fundraising event, was just a few weeks away, and the previous executive director had left months before. Bleakley busied herself proofreading signs and posters and hoping to hold it all together. “I just tried to control the chaos,” she recalled. In the years since, Bleakley said she has mostly made minor tweaks to the festival, which runs 10 a.m. Saturday-5 p.m. Monday. “I’ve just done little things,” Bleakley said. “I added craft beer. I switched from Pepsi to Coke.” A more noticeable change this year is the new information tent located at the intersection of NW 30th and Paseo
streets, which should ease congestion in the association’s headquarters. “In the past, we’ve used our office as information, artist check-in, artist hospitality, sometimes first aid and credit card sales,” Bleakley said. “So it’s really crowded and there’s not very much space here and people come in here looking for things. So we thought maybe if we had a place up at the top of the hill, people could go there and they could get their map there and ask questions. Just to be a little more accommodating.” Bleakley has also made an effort to give greater recognition to the festival’s volunteers, who get a free T-shirt and drink ticket for three hours of work.
Now in its 42nd year, the festival has gradually evolved from a small neighborhood event into an annual tradition attracting thousands of art lovers and fea-
“They have the skill to know what’s the best quality, and I don’t think that anyone can be an expert in every area,” she said. “Sometimes it’s really tough because there are some things that maybe I would’ve liked to see, but you go with how the jurors have scored because we want them to come back.” Though the festival typically only changes in small ways from year to year, Bleakley said, the arts association is always aiming to improve it. “Every year, we try to make it better,” she said. “One of the big things for us was getting more sponsors because it’s really important to get the financial support of the community so that we can put on such a large event over three days. It’s expensive to set up a festival. It’s like setting up a little mini-city in the middle of a neighborhood.” In addition to changing soft drink brands, the association under Bleakley’s direction has attracted more sponsors, including COOP Ale Works craft beer, new this year, offering three low-point beers on tap. The ongoing mission to add more food options for festivalgoers has again increased the number of vendors to include offerings such as empanadas and fried plantains from The Fried Taco and marinated 8-ounce sirloin steak kebabs from Fat Stacks, both making their debut. Many vegetarian and healthy options are also available, but those craving traditional street fair food can still find funnel cakes, corndogs and nachos. Two live music stages will host more than 50 musical acts ranging from Americana act Kyle Dillingham & Horseshoe Road to classic rockers Electric Okie Test to reggae band Jahruba & The JAH Mystics to performers from Aalim Bellydance Academy. The festival is the association’s biggest annual fundraiser, providing much of the money for upcoming artistin-residence programs and free children’s events including the fantasythemed Fairy Ball in June and Magic Lantern fall festival in October.
“We don’t ever slow down,” Bleakley said. “We ramp up. We are constantly going all year round, and then when the festival comes, we’re in overdrive. So as soon as the festival’s over, people always say, ‘Oh, I bet you can relax now,’ but no, we go on to the next thing.” In at least one way, the festival is repeating the past by moving the children’s area back to its original location, the parking lot of Contemporary Art Gallery at 29th Street and Dewey Avenue. The free activities offered will include everpopular spin art and, new this year, finger-painting with oil pastels. Because parking is limited, the festival is offering free shuttle service departing every 15 minutes from the parking lot of First Christian Church at 3700 N. Walker Ave. Bleakley said the festival’s small size — a two-block square, which hasn’t expanded much since its days as a craft fair in the middle of the street — is one of its most challenging aspects from an organization perspective. “We have a limited amount of space,” she said. “So many people want to be down here. We get phone calls six months before the festival starts from people wanting to be part of our festival.” Commercial vendors are often turned away because the small size forces exclusivity and an emphasis on quality over quantity, but at 42 years old, the Paseo Arts Festival continues to evolve, even if it doesn’t expand. “We can’t grow out,” Bleakley said. “We can just grow up.”
Paseo Arts Festival 10 a.m. Saturday-5 p.m. Monday The Paseo Arts District 3022 Paseo St. thepaseo.org | 405-525-2688 Free
left and above The 42nd Annual Paseo Arts Festival is Saturday-Monday. | Photo The Paseo Arts Association / provided
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OKCMOA reintroduces its rooftop series as the monthly Third Thursday event. By Ben Luschen
There are few better places to be on a warm summer evening than perched atop the Oklahoma City Museum of Art, taking in picturesque aerial views of the surrounding skyline with a cold drink in hand. For years, OKCMOA has welcomed guests onto its Roof Terrace Thursday nights for drinks and live music coinciding with Art After 5, its weekly night of extended hours and reduced admission. But beginning this year, guests will only have one night a month to enjoy the sunny rooftop bar. While OKCMOA still offers extended hours every Thursday night, it is rebranding its weekly Roof Terrace series as the monthly, museumwide event Third Thursday. The first night of the new series, given the theme My Life/My Movie, runs 5-9 p.m. Thursday. Admission, which includes a museum ticket and access to the rooftop bar, is $5 (free for museum members). The next Third Thursday will be June 21. Becky Weintz, OKCMOA’s director of marketing and communications, said the move to a monthly series will allow the museum to more intently focus on making each night a special experience. “We’re consolidating into one really great, really exciting event that will happen once a month,” Weintz said. There has always been a live music component to the Roof Terrace series, but OKCMOA hopes to further emphasize local music through its Third Thursdays. R&B, neo soul and hip-hop duo Adam & Kizzie perform for the first night of the series. The husbandwife combo recently progressed to the final round of R&B star Usher’s $1 million Megastar competition. Their highly anticipated new album The Book of EEDO Vol. 3 is set for a June 3 release. OKCMOA is also incorporating a focus on local visual artists into the series. This Thursday’s event features artist Nicole Emmons-Willis, who will be doing a stop-motion collaborative art project in the museum lobby. Guests are welcome to participate, watch or go on to view the museum’s other galleries and exhibitions. Weintz said the museum wants to use Third Thursdays to spotlight great things going on in the local community. “We’re viewing this as an opportunity to partner with local artists and local musicians,” she said. Many of the artists and musicians OKCMOA will partner with in future months are still to be determined. Weintz said guests can keep up to date on monthly themes and programming
Oklahoma City Museum of Art’s new Third Thursday series will continue through at least the next year. | Photo Oklahoma City Museum of Art / provided
on the museum’s website and social media accounts. The Third Thursday series is sponsored through at least the next 12 months, and Weintz said OKCMOA would like to extend the event into other years as well. While the Roof Terrace series has been a summer and early fall event in the past, the museum is toying with the idea of keeping the roof open for Third Thursdays in the colder months as well. Weintz said the roof is usually open for New Year’s Eve celebrations, which are popular and well attended. Still, no final decision has been made on whether the roof will be open for winter and, as always, the availability of the roof remains weather-dependent. Aside from local music and art presentations, Third Thursdays will also be a time for guests to enjoy the rest of the museum, including possibly catching a film screening in its theater or dining at Museum Café, which offers a special menu on Thursday nights. There are plenty of art districts in the metro area that have special monthly art nights that bring a lot of people into one part of town at one time, and OKCMOA is hoping its new series can become something similar. “Hopefully we will turn downtown into a destination on Third Thursdays,” Weintz said. Visit okcmoa.com.
Third Thursday: My Life/My Movie 5-9 p.m. Thursday Oklahoma City Museum of Art | 415 Couch Drive 405-236-3100 Free-$5
t h eater
ARTS & CULTURE
Carpenter Square Theatre explores the aftermath of violence in The Lonesome West. By Jeremy Martin
Other than the town priest, practically no one in Leenane believes that Coleman Connor shot his father on accident. “Everybody knows he did it on purpose, ’cause his dad was a mean old SOB and probably deserved it,” said Rhonda Clark, artistic director at Carpenter Square Theatre, which begins staging a production of the darkly comedic play The Lonesome West on Friday. Written by Martin McDonagh — screenwriter and director of films including In Bruges, Seven Psychopaths and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri — The Lonesome West chronicles the ongoing and often violent feuding between Coleman and his brother Valene, recently complicated by Coleman murdering their father for making fun of his hair. Clark has previously directed two other McDonagh plays for Carpenter Square: The Beauty Queen of Leenane in 2001 and The Cripple of Inishmaan in 2004. “I really have an affinity for his odd characters,” Clark said, “and he inferred to a degree during this time that he was writing these, he said Quentin Tarantino was kind of his hero in a way, but we’re talking back in the ’90s. This play’s set in 1997, so we’re talking about 20 years ago, and he inserted some interesting violence into some of his plays, just like he does in his movies. He has a unique look at human nature; I’ll say that.” Some of McDonagh’s plays are so violent, Clark said, that staging them can be difficult or even dangerous. A few years ago, Clark was considering staging McDonagh’s The Lieutenant of Inishmore, which features fake blood and limbs and firing blanks, but she decided against it Girleen (Alexis Perry) surprises Father Welsh (Matthew Moreillon) with her teasing in The Lonesome West. | Photo Carpenter Square Theatre / provided
when she realized what an ordeal it would be for the crew. “I went online and I actually just did a search of ‘cleaning up after The Lieutenant of Inishmore,’” Clark recalled, “and sure enough, a stage manager or a technician had done a blog about working on a production of The Lieutenant of Inishmore and ... how they had a crew of 10 people and how proud they were when they got the post-show cleanup down to an hour. And this is 10 people cleaning up blood and body parts and whatever, and of course, in the blog he says, ‘Well, the stage really never got clean. There was always a stickiness to it. You couldn’t really clean it after every performance, but at least we got it down to an hour.’” The Lonesome West is more about the aftermath of bloody brutality, Clark said. “The worst violence has happened offstage,” Clark said, “although the two brothers scuffle and wrestle and even pull a gun on each other.”
With only a couple of exceptions, the onstage action takes place in a two-bedroom cottage and features four characters: the Connor brothers (Michael Relland and Rick Lockett); Father Welsh, a priest (Matthew Moreillon); and a young bootlegger named Girleen Kelleher (Alexis Perry and Katlyn Skaggs). Father Welsh attempts to make peace between the two brothers as a way to feel better about the impact he has on the community. “He’s in the midst of what you’d call a crisis of faith,” Clark said, “because he doesn’t feel like he’s having any positive effect, not only on them but on really his parish as a whole.” Kelleher, meanwhile, sees a side of the townsfolk they don’t even reveal in the confessional.
“If you were to just see her, you might think, ‘Oh what a pretty, innocent young lady she is, 17 years old,’” Clark said, “but she makes her money selling her dad’s moonshine. So that takes her all over the area, pedaling his moonshine. So she has a real interesting view of everybody and kind of knows everybody’s business.” Though McDonagh’s plays are often very violent, Clark said they are also very funny, which can be a difficult balance for the actors to find. “You can’t go too far one way or another,” Clark said. “You really have to walk the line between humor and drama, and you can’t let one overpower the other.” The dark comedic tone of the play can sometimes cause confusion for the actors, who can be unsure about which parts are supposed to make the audience laugh. Crucial to the successful execution of the play, Clark said, was casting the right person to play murderous but charming Coleman. “I thought I needed someone who is inherently likable,” Clark said. “I thought that any good actor could bring the believability that he was capable of killing or injuring someone he thought had done him wrong, but if we had an actor with a cold energy, that was something big to overcome. But if you had someone who was just naturally likable, then that really helps, ’cause the audience, I think, should have mixed feelings through the whole thing. While you’re laughing, you should be like, ‘Oh, maybe I shouldn’t be laughing at that.’” Coleman and Valene’s bickering, forever in a state of adolescent arrested development, is the source of a lot of the humor. “You know, in so many ways, they’re still those boys that had to share a bedroom and took each other’s things,” Clark said. The juxtaposition of childishness with extreme violence is a common aspect of McDonagh’s work, which The Independent once compared to a combination of Deliverance and Tom and Jerry cartoons. “But the one thing I can say is that people like the combination of humor and violence,” Clark said, “if they like the tone of McDonagh’s movies, then they would like The Lonesome West. It’s that same combination of likable characters doing very unlikable things, and it’s pretty funny along the way.” The Lonesome West runs through June 2 at Carpenter Square Theatre, 800 W. Main St. Tickets are $5-$25. Call 405-2326500 or visit carpentersquare.com.
The Lonesome West
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ARTS & CULTURE
Mann’s Best Friend sells CBD for pets using the same research that goes into natural foods. By Jacob Threadgill
Since taking over as owner of natural pet food store Mann’s Best Friend in 2016, Lisa Jensen takes pride in the fact that she is a salesperson’s nightmare. The store at 10600 S. Pennsylvania Ave., Suite 15, has been open since 2006. Jensen became a frequent visitor after moving near its southside location and becoming good friends with the original owner. When the owner moved to Texas, Jensen jumped at the chance to continue the store’s commitment to healthy pet food. Jensen listens to each pet food salesperson that comes to the store to pitch a new product, but she’s never one to pull the trigger without doing her own research. “Reps can’t stand me. To get in my store, you need a good product and a good company,” she said, noting that her research has included visiting packing facilities. “I want to know you’re credible. … I want to know where the ingredients are coming from and where it’s manufactured. A lot of companies co-pack, and it could be with a lesser quality food and there are cross-contamination issues.” Jensen said her two biggest passions in life are working with children and animals. As a volunteer with Safe Haven Animal Rescue, she’s often fostering dogs at home, some of which are dealing with physical ailments. Thinking back to her original career as a licensed professional children’s counselor, she remembered the success of cannabidiol (CBD) hemp oil, which has miniscule amounts of the psychoactive element of marijuana, in treating children with seizures. Not long after Oklahoma legalized the sale of CBD oil in 2017, Jensen heard from a friend whose husband used the CBD oil to treat a back injury, and it jogged her memory of its success with children. Just like with the pet food product pitches she receives at the store, she did her digging into the effects of CBD oil. “I started researching the living daylights out of it, and I couldn’t find anyMann’s Best Friend serves a variety of snacks and treats, including pet cookies. | Photo Jacob Threadgill
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thing negative,” Jensen said. “Everything is either, ‘Well, it didn’t hurt anything, but I didn’t do a whole lot.’ If it can’t hurt anything, then why not try?” Jensen said that she was further emboldened to make the plunge into CBD oil after realizing that even if the hemp byproduct doesn’t provide pain or anxiety relief, the hemp’s naturally high levels of Omega 3 and fiber have their own benefits.
Mann’s Best Friend began carrying CBD oil in the first half of 2017, and its section has expanded. At first, Jensen was not expecting to carry CBD dosages for humans, but the demand became large enough that she carries supply for her customers.
I started researching the living daylights out of it, and I couldn’t find anything negative. Lisa Jensen After finding Norman’s Ambary Health, which produces its own CBD oil using isolate crystals refined at owner Jimmy Shannon’s Colorado grow house and shipped to Oklahoma for final production, Jensen became a full convert for CBD. Mann’s Best Friend works in conjunction with three other likeminded pet food stores to service different parts of the metro area and is the supplier for their CBD. Jensen often brainstorms and hosts events with Yukon’s Pawtopia, 335 S. Mustang Road, Suite E; North OKC’s Britton Feed & Seed, 708 W. Britton Road; and Edmond’s All Fur Paws, 15220 N. Western Ave., Suite E2. Mann’s Best Friend offers a variety of CBD products, including tinctures that absorb under the tongue, balm that is good for specific local applications and things like CBDinfused honey and shakers that pour CBD and other nutrients over dog food. “ My hands started to throb with the beginning of arthri-
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tis, so I put balm on, and I’d get relief,” Jensen said. “I added the tinctures, and after a few months, I realized I hadn’t put the balm on in forever because I didn’t need it. The combination of the two is great.” She also carries a CBD gel that is perfect for cats — but can be used for dogs too — because it squeezes out of the tube in 1 milligram doses, which can be easily applied by rubbing into the pet’s ear. “Have you ever tried to give CBD to a cat? They’re so finicky, and if you put it on their food, they will say, ‘Nope,’ so the gel is really the best way,” Jensen said. She said that most customers administer CBD oil to pets to combat
Mann’s Best Friend owner Lisa Jensen with her dog Annabella | Photo Jacob Threadgill
arthritis and help soothe storm anxiety. She is particularly proud of Oscar, a dachshund that was rescued from a puppy mill in her work with Safe Haven who was completely paralyzed and needed a wheelchair when he came to her care. Oscar underwent surgery to restore stability and strength to his back legs, but after a few months, his condition worsened. He has started CBD oil, and while he still uses a wheelchair in public, he’s able to stand and walk on his back legs with his new adoptive family. “Look how happy he is,” Jensen said, showing off a video of Oscar from his new owner. She has heard success stories of elderly dogs getting a burst of energy in their final months thanks to CBD oil. “It’s not as if it is lengthening lives, but it makes the quality so much better,” Jensen said. With CBD oil becoming a hot commodity, Jensen worries about the overall quality with more storefronts quickly opening around the city. “I’m constantly pitched new CBD products, and I’m wary,” she said. “You need a medium chain triglyceride mixed into the solution to break the blood vein barrier for it to be effective; otherwise, you are wasting your money. Don’t just throw anything in there.” Visit mannsbf.com. Mann’s Best Friend offers a variety of CBD products, including many from Norman’s Ambary Health. | Photo provided
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co mmu n i t y
ARTS & CULTURE
Place of solace
Oklahoma City’s Dragonfly Home serves all survivors of human trafficking through unique programs that cultivate hope after crisis. By Laura Eastes
When survivors of human trafficking enter The Dragonfly Home — the state’s first and only state-certified human trafficking crisis center — they walk into an inviting space with pops of color and encouraging wall decor. The foyer, located inside a nondescript and unmarked building in Oklahoma City, sets the tone for those coming out of a crisis — it is a place of refuge. “We offer a place where the peace and the hope are palpable,” said Whitney Anderson, executive director of The Dragonfly Home. “They can feel safe for the first time in a long time. There are people who are willing to help and meet them right where they are without any judgment.” Human trafficking is a form of modern slavery. Victims, which can include children, teenagers, women and men, are subjective to force, fraud or coercion for the purpose of commercial sex or forced labor. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, human trafficking ties with the illegal arms industry as the second largest criminal industry in the world. Many cases go unreported, making it a difficult crime for law enforcement to investigate and organizations to aid victims. After discovering the injustices of trafficking in Oklahoma, Anderson, along with two others, co-founded The Dragonfly Home in March 2016. “Once we knew about it, we couldn’t turn a blind eye,” she said while seated on the couch in the organization’s group counseling room. “We needed to do something about it.” From its early days, The Dragonfly Home sought to fill existing gaps in services offered to human trafficking survivors, said Melissa Eick, one of the cofounders and the nonprofit’s director of
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communications and development. The Dragonfly Home specializes in providing comprehensive trauma-informed, victim-centered direct care and protection to survivors. As a non-residential model, the organization provides counseling, medical and dental care, food and clothing, legal assistance and advocacy, substance abuse and addiction support and recovery. The Dragonfly Home offers services to women and men as well as minors. “Everyone’s story is so different,” Eick said. “What we found was that if somebody doesn’t need a shelter, doesn’t qualify for a shelter or doesn’t want to be in a shelter, then they are not getting the specialized services geared towards trafficking victims. In fact, they might not get any help.”
Over the past 14 months, The Dragonfly Home has served more than 100 survivors. Through its own 24-hour human trafficking helpline, the organization has fielded more than 1,000 calls. Increasing interest and need for services has led to The Dragonfly Home’s upcoming expansion. Later this year, the crisis center will move to a large space to accommodate more therapy sessions. With a need for residential services, the organization plans to open an emergency sex-trafficking shelter, which will be OKC’s only state-certified sex-trafficking shelter, according to Anderson and Eick. In the decade between 2007 and 2017, the National Human Trafficking from left Whitney Anderson and Melissa Eick are two of the three cofounders of Dragonfly Home, an Oklahoma City organization that serves survivors of human trafficking through a variety of services and resources. | Photo Laura Eastes
Hotline received 1,554 calls from Oklahoma residents and reported nearly 660 victims during that decade. In recent years, federal studies have singled out Oklahoma for its high numbers in human trafficking activity. The state’s highway system has been viewed as an attributing factor. No one knows just how many people are victims of human trafficking; however, studies suggest that human trafficking is tied to the vulnerability of victims. Traffickers target people who are poor, struggling and disenfranchised. In Oklahoma, where more families live in poverty than the national average, where child abuse and neglect are rampant issues and where a large number of residents struggle with drug abuse and addiction, Anderson said, societal ills explain human trafficking’s persistence. “In our work with survivors, we see that this is a very complex issue,” Anderson said. “We understand that childhood trauma absolutely affects the vulnerability and the likelihood that someone could be extorted. … We have all of these issues that feed into the vulnerability of trafficking. At the end of the day, it is a business. It is supply and demand. We have individuals here who are willing to pay for sex, and we have people here who want free or cheap labor.”
The Dragonfly Home earned its name after its founders sought a title that symbolized resilience and strength. “We realized [the dragonfly] symbolized what we saw in the people we served, that incredible strength, resilience and the agility to survive,” Eick said. “[The dragonfly] also symbolizes what we wanted for the people we served: happiness, victory and a deep transformation.” Once the name Dragonfly was decided, the founders added the word “home.” In general, homes are safe places. Despite not offering residential services initially, the founders wanted to send a message to its future clients that the organization would come to “feel like home” for survivors. As Eick and Anderson walked down the halls of the crisis center, they said the inspirational wall art in the hallways and in the counseling rooms were inspired by survivors. In a way, it’s the survivors sending a strong message to the next person to enter The Dragonfly Home. “We get told, ‘I have hope for the first time in a long time,’” Eick said. “Once they get into safety and their needs are met, they can begin to think about a different future, one they can build for themselves.” Call 405-212-3377 to reach The Dragonfly Home’s 24-hour human trafficking helpline or visit thedragonflyhome.org.
calendar River Tours (Narrated) this fully narrated tour also offers a fun and informative look at historic and contemporary landmarks along the Oklahoma River, 6-7:30 p.m. May 19, $15-$20. Regatta Park Landing, 701 S. Lincoln Blvd., 405-702-7755, okrivercruises. com/specialty-cruises. SAT
are events recommended by Oklahoma Gazette editorial staff members For full calendar listings, go to okgazette.com.
Share at the Showroom: Dustin Ragland Oklahoma City musician, producer and educator Dustin Ragland will discuss the world of music software and its impact on the contemporary music industry, 6-8 p.m. May 17. Free. 405-604-0042, oklahomacontemporary.org/exhibits/showroom/share. THU
Books Linda Harkey Book Signing the Oklahoma author will be reading and signing copies of her children’s book Hickory Doc’s Tales, Sat., 11 a.m. May 19, Best of Books, 1313 E. Danforth Road, 405-340-9202, bestofbooksok.com. SAT
The Wrap Party an evening with hors d’oeuvres from participating restaurants, along with two drink tickets per person offered with your ticket purchase and proceeds benefiting OK Foster Wishes, 5:308:30 p.m. May 22. Dunlap Codding, 609 W. Sheridan Ave., 405-236-5437, oica.org/events/wrapparty. TUE
Mid-Oklahoma Writers a meetup for local writers featuring guest speakers and literary discussions, 7-9 p.m. May 16 Eastside Church of Christ, 916 S Douglas Blvd., (405) 732-0393. WED
Zen Meditation Classes a free class to practice reflecting inward into our own minds to develop an insight into reality, and thereby gain true wisdom to deal with life’s different situations, 7-9 p.m. Tuesdays. $0. Buddha Mind Monastery, 5800 S. Anderson Road, 405-869-0501. TUE
Ron Wallace the Oklahoma Book Award winner will read from his collection Renegade and Other Poems, 2 p.m. May 20. Norman Santa Fe Depot, 200 S. Jones Ave., 405-307-9320, pasnorman.org. SUN Song of the Plains Linda Joy Myers signs her book of family history on the Oklahoma plains, 6:30-8 p.m. May 21. Full Circle Bookstore, 1900 Northwest Expressway, 405-842-2900, fullcirclebooks.com. MON
Film Batman: Mask of the Phantasm (1993, USA, Bruce Timm and Eric Radomski), an animated action feature film in which Batman is falsely accused of murdering crime bosses, 7 p.m. May 23, Tower Theatre, 425 NW 23rd St., 405-708-6937, towertheatreokc.com. WED Filmography: Smash His Camera (2010, USA, Leon Gast) the story of infamous New York City paparazzo Ron Galella who photographed celebrities in the 1970s, 8-10 p.m. May 18. 21c Museum Hotel, 900 W. Main St., 405-982-6900, 21cmuseumhotels. com. FRI Oh Lucy! (2017, Japan, Atsuko Hirayanagi), a dark comedy about an unfulfilled middle-aged woman who takes an English class where she discovers her alter ego, Lucy, 5:30 p.m. and 8 p.m. May 11-12, 2 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. May 13, 5:30 p.m. May 17. Oklahoma City Museum of Art, 415 Couch Drive, 405-236-3100, okcmoa.com. FRI-THU RBG (2018, USA, Julie Cohen and Betsy West), chronicles Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s historic legacy, 5:30 p.m. and 8 p.m. May 18-19, 2 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. May 20, 5:30 p.m. May 24, 4:30 p.m. May 25-26, 2 p.m. May 27. Oklahoma City Museum of Art, 415 Couch Drive, 405-236-3100, okcmoa.com. FRI-SAT Wizards (1977, USA, Ralph Bakshi) this dystopian sci-fi fantasy blends Bakshi’s
Growing Marvelous Melons A succulent staple of the summer cookout, watermelons and cantaloupes are also great for growing in Oklahoma’s climate. Join Langston University horticultural educator Micah Anderson for an overview of the history and botany of various melons and instructions on how to plant, care for and pollinate them, and leave with seeds for your own garden. The event is 1011:30 a.m. Saturday in the second-floor conference room at Myriad Botanical Gardens, 301 W. Reno Ave. Tickets are $10-$12. Call 405-445-7080 or visit myriadgardens.com. SATURDAY P hoto Myriad Botanical Gardens/provided
uniquely psychedelic rotoscope animation with actual footage from World War II, 7 p.m. May 20. Tower Theatre, 425 NW 23rd St., 405-708-6937, towertheatreokc.com. SUN
Happenings 150th Anniversary of the Elks join OKC Elks Lodge in celebrating 150 years of history and community involvement with free food, kid-friendly fun, and live music provided by Shades of Gray, 2 p.m.midnight May 19. Oklahoma City Elks Lodge, 5550 NW 72nd St, 405-603-6923. SAT 15th Annual Blue Dome Arts Festival promotes and showcases local crafters, chefs, performers, artists and more, 11 a.m.-10 p.m. May 18-19, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. May 20. Blue Dome, 202 S. Elgin Ave., 9188578487, bluedomearts.org. FRI-SUN
Food Fork + Bottle Dinner: Corsair Distillery this ongoing dinner series pairing beverages and food welcomes Nashville’s Corsair Distillery for a fivecourse meal including grilled peach with sweat tea honey and grilled octopus with okra, 6:30 p.m. May 17, Mary Eddy’s Kitchen & Lounge, 900 W. Main St., 405-982-6960, maryeddysokc.com. THU The Lost Ogle Trivia for ages 21 and up, test your knowledge with free trivia play and half-priced sausages, 8-10 p.m. May 22, Fassler Hall, 421 NW 10th St., 405-609-3300, fasslerhall.com. TUE Oklahoma Craft Beer Festival more than 100 local and international national breweries offer tasting samples of more than 400 beers to patrons of this annual festival, 7-10 p.m. May 18, and 1-4 p.m. & 6-9 p.m. May 19, Cox Convention Center, 1 Myriad Gardens, 405-602-8500, coxconventioncenter.com. FRI-SAT Rosé and Cheese Class learn how to pair the popular wine with a selection of artisanal and farmstead cheeses, 6:45-8:30 p.m. May 18, Forward Foods-Norman, 2001 W. Main St., 405-321-1007, forwardfoods.com. FRI Splendor in the Gardens a farm-to-table gala dinner with a reception followed by a feast inspired by the south of France, 6-9 p.m. May 17. Myriad Botanical Gardens, 301 W. Reno Ave., 405-445-7080, oklahomacitybotanicalgardens.com. THU
Youth Art Adventures Bring your young artists ages 3 to 5 to experience art through books with related art projects, 10:30 a.m.-noon Tuesdays through June. Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art, 555 Elm Ave., 405325-3272, ou.edu/fjjma. TUE Early Explorers toddlers and preschoolers can participate in fun scientific activities they can repeat later at home, 10-11 a.m. Thursdays, Science Museum Oklahoma, 2100 NE 52nd St., 405-602-6664, sciencemuseumok.org. THU
Explore It! get your questions answered of what, why and how about the natural world we live in, 11:30 a.m.-noon Saturdays, through Dec. 29. Sam Noble Museum, 2401 Chautauqua Ave., 405-325-4712, snomnh.ou.edu. SAT Little Sapling Series an hour of songs, games, and interactive nature fun for toddlers to learn about the world of gardens, 10-11 a.m. May 22. Myriad Botanical Gardens, 301 W. Reno Ave., 405-445-7080, oklahomacitybotanicalgardens.com. TUE OCU Basketball Position Camp for incoming 7th graders through high school seniors looking to improve their skill level at their particular position of guard or forward, 9 a.m.-3 p.m. May 19. 85.00. Oklahoma City University Campus, Kirkpatrick Auditorium, 2501 N. Blackwelder Ave., 405-208-5310, ocusports.com. SAT Sprouting Chefs: Strawberries Galore learn about the strawberry plant and prep techniques and then enjoy a strawberry feast, 2-3 p.m. May 19. Myriad Botanical Gardens, 301 W. Reno Ave., 405445-7080, oklahomacitybotanicalgardens.com. SAT Storytime Science the museum invites children 6 and younger to hear a story and participate in a related scientific activity, Tuesdays, 10:30 a.m. Science Museum Oklahoma, 2100 NE 52nd St., 405602-6664, sciencemuseumok.org. TUE Summer Camp Contemporary keep kids creative and learning in camps featuring visual arts, music, hip-hop, fiber, clay, performance, robotics and more, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Mondays-Fridays, through Aug. 10. 405-951-0000, bit.ly/OCsummer. WED-FRI Wild Kratts Live a stage version of the PBS Kids TV show featuring animal facts and comic action, 2 p.m. May 20. Civic Center Music Hall, 201 N. Walker Ave., 405-297-2264, okcciviccenter.com. SUN
Performing Arts A Concert of Jazz Favorites — The Beat Goes On the Oklahoma Community Orchestra, conducted by Irvin L. Wagner, will perform works by Cole Porter, Duke Ellington and other composers, 3 p.m. May 20, Garvey Center at Oklahoma Christian University, 2501 E Memorial Rd., 316-261-5325, oc.edu/campus/building/garvey-center. SUN Gabriel Iglesias fans call him “Fluffy,” but standup comic and actor Gabriel Iglesias is also known for roles in films including The Nut Job and Magic Mike, 7 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. May 18, Riverwind Casino, 1544 W. State Highway 9, 405-322-6000, riverwind.com/. FRI The Lonesome West a darkly comedic play about two brothers violently feuding over their inheritance after their father’s murder in a small Irish town, 8 p.m. May 18-19, 806 W. Main St., 405-232-6500, carpentersquare.com.
OKC Improv Join OKC Improv troupe for an evening of improvised comedy, 7:30-11 p.m. May 18-19, NOIR Bistro & Bar, 701 W. Sheridan Ave., 405-4569858, OKCImprov.com. FRI-SAT Oklahoma Renaissance Festival step back into 1569 England to see the royal quest for knighthood, a full-contact jousting tournament, birds of prey exhibitions, and traveling acrobats, 10:30 a.m.-6 p.m. May 5. The Castle of Muskogee, 3400 West Fern Mountain Rd., 9186873625, okcastle.com. SAT-SUN
Beyond ART: Artist Talk join Oklahoma Citybased abstract artist Beth Hammack for a discussion about her show “Reassembling Reality,” 2-3 p.m. May 19. JRB Art at The Elms, 2810 N. Walker Ave., 405528-6336, jrbartgallery.com. SAT Ceremonial Ribbon Cutting: Cocktails and Community celebrate one year of sweat, strength and community with food and cocktails, networking, tours and more, 4-6 p.m. May 18. 405 Yoga, 1004 N. Hudson Ave., 405-778-8905, 405yoga.com. FRI Cocktail Cruise this evening offers stunning views of the downtown skyline with cocktails; all ages are welcome, 8 p.m. May 18, Regatta Park Landing, 701 S. Lincoln Blvd., 405-702-7755, okrivercruises.com/ specialty-cruises. FRI
Mexican Dinner Combining the efforts of two chefs and two mixologists, this four-course Café 501 dinner pairs upscale Mexican food with imaginativeyet-appropriate cocktails, from the queso fundido served with an avocado margarita to the dulce de leche pots de crème with a spiked horchata. Tip your servers generously; there will be muchos platos to carry. The dinner is Monday at the restaurant, 501 S. Boulevard, in Edmond and costs $59 per person. Reservations are required. Call 405359-1501 or visit cafe501.com. MONDAY Provided bigstock.com
Educational Forum on Medicinal Cannabis features speakers Mario Garcia from Oklahoma Cannabis Business Network , Dana McMurchy, public Liaison of SQ788 and more, noon-2 p.m. May 19. Duncan Public Library, 2211 N. Highway 81, 580-255-0636, youseemore.com/ duncan. SAT Food For Thought OKC features guest speakers Mary Mélon and Carl Milam, who are actively engaged in sparking community change in Oklahoma City, 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. May 17. $25.00. Will Rogers Theatre, 4322 N. Western Ave., 405-525-3131, facebook.com/foodforthoughtOKC. THU Indoor Flea Market seek out hidden treasures at this flea market featuring more than 60 vendors, 8 a.m.-4 p.m. May 19. Sugar Creek Casino, 5304 N. Broadway Ave., 405-542-2946, sugarcreekcasino.net. SAT Midtown Walkabout participating Midtown businesses offer specials, discounts and giveaways, 2-6 p.m. May 19. (downtownokc.com). Midtown Plaza, 330 W. Gray. SAT
IgniteOKC 11 Halfway between a TED Talk and an open mic, IgniteOKC offers guest speakers no more than five minutes to make their point aided by exactly 20 PowerPoint slides, which advance at an automatic rate of 15 seconds per slide even if the presenter would rather they stayed put. Anxiety-inducing time constraints aside, IgniteOKC allows speakers on any topic that isn’t religious, political or outright advertising. Watch them try to beat the clock 7-10 p.m. May 24 at Tower Theatre, 425 NW 23rd St. Tickets are $20. Call 405708-6937 or visit igniteokc.com. MAY 24 Photo IgniteOKC/provided
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VelaShape Treatments with
Mention Gaz-Rej-5/23 to Receive discount
Bike to Work Day riders participating in national Bike to Work Day are invited to meet up at the botanical gardens for a complementary breakfast provided by Junction Coffee, 7:15-9 a.m. May 18, Myriad Botanical Gardens, 301 W. Reno Ave., 405-445-7080, oklahomacitybotanicalgardens.com. FRI Co-ed Open Adult Volleyball enjoy a game of friendly yet competitive volleyball while making new friends, 6-8 p.m. Wednesdays. Jackie Cooper Gymnasium, 1024 E. Main St., 405-350-8920, cityofyukon.gov. WED Get Your Rear in Gear racers raise money for the Colon Cancer Coalition in a kid’s fun run, a 5K timed run and a 5K walk, 9 a.m. May 19. Journey Church, 3801 Journey Parkway, 405-217-8700, journeychurch.tv. SAT Open Badminton hit some birdies in some morning pick-up games of badminton with friends, 10 a.m.-noon Saturdays. Jackie Cooper Gymnasium, 1024 E. Main St., 405-350-8920, cityofyukon.gov. SAT River Trail Relay compete individually or with a team in a three event relay including a 5K run, a 12K bicycle run and a short kayak course, 8 a.m. May 20. RIVERSPORT Rapids, 800 Riversport drive, 405552-4040, riversportokc.org. SUN Water, Landscape and Environmental Education Expo provides learning opportunities such as rain barrel and irrigation system demos, pollinator talk and more education booths, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. May 19. free. OSU Cooperative Extension, 2500 NE 63rd St., 405-713-1125, oces.okstate.edu. SAT Yoga in the Gardens bring your mat for an alllevels class with Lisa Woodard from This Land Yoga, 5:45 p.m. Tuesdays. Myriad Botanical Gardens, 301 W. Reno Ave., 405-445-7080, oklahomacitybotanicalgardens.com. TUE
Visual Arts 14th Street Open Studios Come explore, interact and buy art directly from local artists including Tony Dyke, Susan Morrison-Dyke and Nicole Lawhon; light appetizers, wine and beer available, 5:30-9 p.m. May 18. Free. 14th Street Studios, 5 NE 14th Street, 405-604-7947. FRI Apichatpong Weerasethakul: The Serenity of Madness features films by award-winning artist Apichatpong Weerasethakul who was born in Thailand and earned a master of fine arts degree in Chicago, through June 10. Oklahoma City Museum of Art, 415 Couch Drive, 405-236-3100, okcmoa. com. SAT-SUN
RBG Iconic Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, known to many as “The Notorious RBG,” is the subject of this Sundance-selected documentary by Julie Cohen and Betsey West that chronicles her early groundbreaking success as a lawyer and judge and her present-day impact on the U.S. legal system. Show times are 5:30 p.m. and 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2:30 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. Sunday at Oklahoma City Museum of Art, 415 Couch Drive. Call 405-2363100 or visit okcmoa.com. FRIDAYSUNDAY Photo RBG/ Magnolia Pictures
The Art of Oklahoma celebrate the 110th anniversary of Oklahoma statehood with a diverse collection of art including works by John Steuart Curry, Oscar Brousse Jacobson, Nellie Shepherd, David Fitzgerald and Woody Big Bow, through Sept. 2. Oklahoma City Museum of Art, 415 Couch Drive, 405-236-3100, okcmoa.com. THU-FRI Chromatic Ritual features paintings and fused glass creations by Fringe: Women Artists of Oklahoma with a portion of sales to the Homeless Alliance, March 29-June 1, through June 1. Verbode, 415 N. Broadway Ave., 405-757-7001, fringeokc. com. THU-FRI Dale Chihuly: Magic & Light the galleries incorporate a unique design that features a threedimensional approach to viewing some objects in the collection of glass art, through July 1. Oklahoma City Museum of Art, 415 Couch Drive, 405-2363100, okcmoa.com. WED-SUN Decomposition: Discovering the Beauty and Magnificence of Fungi the kingdom of fungi is on display at SMO’s smART Space Galleries exploring the uses, benefits and beauty of fungi, through Aug. 12. Science Museum Oklahoma, 2100 NE 52nd St., 405-602-6664, sciencemuseumok.org. WED-SUN
Docent-Guided Signature Tour enjoy some of the finest Western art from Albert Bierstadt’s glowing landscape “Emigrants Crossing the Plains” to pieces by Frederic Remington and Charles Russell, 1-2 p.m. National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum, 1700 NE 63rd St., 405-478-2250, nationalcowboymuseum.org. SAT-SUN
Heard on Hurd Don’t be deterred by downtown construction; this monthly street festival and concert sponsored by Citizens Bank of Edmond is currently scheduled in conjunction with the city to prevent the bands from being drowned out by industrial machine noise. Taking the stage this month are local rock acts The Old Bulldog Band, Dr. Pants and Lincka, sharing the bill with a plethora of food vendors, pop-up shops and local artists. The family-friendly fun starts 6 p.m. Saturday in downtown Edmond, 32 N. Broadway Ave. Admission is free. Visit facebook.com/pg/heardonhurd for more information. SATURDAY Photo Heard on Hurd/provided
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Submissions must be received by Oklahoma Gazette no later than noon on Wednesday seven days before the desired publication date. Late submissions will not be included in the listings. Submissions run as space allows, although we strive to make the listings as inclusive as possible. Fax your listings to 528-4600 or e-mail them to firstname.lastname@example.org. Sorry, but phone submissions cannot be accepted.
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James Taylor and his All-Star Band bring a deep repertoire of hits to Chesapeake Energy Arena. By Ben Luschen
The release dates of their respective debut albums are separated by nearly 50 years. One has a viral YouTube music video in which he vows to “get it on” like Marvin Gaye, and the other has turned an actual Gaye cover (1975’s “How Sweet It Is (to Be Loved by You)”) into a top-five Billboard hit and classic radio staple. While 26-year-old pop vocalist Charlie Puth and 70-year-old, five-time Grammy winner James Taylor are many figurative oceans apart in career experience, years of recording and performing have not put Taylor above studio jitters, at least in Puth’s personal assessment. Puth — most known for “See You Again,” his 2015 Wiz Khalifa-assisted, tear-jerking hit tribute to late The Fast and the Furious actor Paul Walker — features Taylor as a surprising guest vocalist on the song “Change” off his recently released sophomore album Voicenotes. In an interview with ABC Radio, the singer said that when he met James Taylor | Photo Timothy White / provided
Taylor in the recording studio for the first time, he was shocked by the legend’s apparent shyness. “I was walking in, about to record with the guy [who’s] the reason that I do what I do,” Puth told ABC. “When I saw that he was anxious to get started and worried if he’d be able to deliver, I assured him he would.” And of course, Taylor more than delivers on “Change,” a song about love and understanding as a cure for society’s ills that is thematically right up the “Shower the People” singer’s alley. The extent to which Puth might be confusing anxiousness with modesty or mature professionalism cannot be known for sure, but Taylor has long been associated with a private and somewhat timid persona. Regardless, the young performer certainly knows how fortunate he is to add Taylor, who has sold over 100 million records in his lengthy and eventful career, to his list of collaborators. Taylor will put a sample of his im-
pressive resume on display when he brings hits like “Fire and Rain,” “Carolina in My Mind” and “You’ve Got a Friend” to OKC with a show 7:30 p.m. May 25 at Chesapeake Energy Arena, 100 W. Reno Ave. Fellow Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee Bonnie Raitt was originally scheduled to join Taylor on this tour but had to cancel some of her appearances (including the OKC show) to recover from an unspecified medical condition. Her prognosis is reportedly good.
‘Fire and Rain’
Though it would take more time to truly get the ball rolling on what would become an all-time career, Taylor’s musical journey got a bold start as an artist signed to The Beatles’ Apple Records. Taylor recorded and released his selftitled debut in 1968. The album was produced by his manager and former British pop star Peter Asher. It was recorded in London’s legendary Trident Studios at the same time the fab four were putting together The Beatles, a.k.a. the “white album.” Bass from Paul McCartney and backing vocals from George Harrison can be heard on “Carolina in My Mind,” and while the song would achieve popularity with a 1976 rerecorded version, neither the single nor the album earned much attention in their initial debuts. Taylor’s career fortunes did not hit an upswing until 1970’s Sweet Baby James, which was driven by the undeniable, introspective songwriting on No. 1 hit “Fire and Rain.” The song alludes to Taylor’s fierce battle with drug addiction, particularly heroin. The songwriter actually checked himself into mental institutions (formerly thought to be appropriate for drug rehabilitation) multiple times in his early career. Sweet Baby James also marks the beginning of his working relationship with pianist and songwriter Carole King, whom he would later cover on another No. 1 hit “You’ve Got a Friend.” Over the course of his career, Taylor has turned several covers into his own highcharting hits. When Taylor established himself as a force in the entertainment world, he was seen as the start of a new wave of restraint and refinement in popular music. The perception long stood in contrast to his struggles with hard substance abuse and depression. But despite some career ups and downs, Taylor has been sober since the mid-’80s and has been actively performing and recording in the early stages of what might be his career’s last act.
Taylor gave an interview to Londonbased Uncut magazine in its April issue. In the article, he says the widespread recognition that has come with a wildly popular music career has never been a comfortable reality for him — even decades into his career. “The fact is that I never trusted ce-
lebrity or fame; I still don’t,” Taylor told the magazine. “[I’m a] cloistered and very private person… it’s [a] major challenge: with something that’s extremely private, how do you take that to market?” If merely finding a way to make a living off personal vulnerability is the obstacle, Taylor has cleared the threshold with miles to spare. But Taylor, as much as anyone, has endured the pain of public exposure in times of weakness. It’s the cost of fame and fortune, but the pain involved is still real. Taylor told Uncut that he still fights with addiction, even though he has been sober for the last 35 years. “It never goes away,” he said. “You prioritize your recovery on a daily basis or it’ll come back and get you again… It was 1983 when I finally got the [12steps] program and I credit it with saving my life.”
If merely finding a way to make a living off personal vulnerability is the obstacle, Taylor has cleared the threshold with miles to spare. Most of the fights Taylor takes up today, however, are political and social. He actively campaigned for President Barack Obama and performed “America the Beautiful” at his second inauguration. Taylor cancelled a 2017 concert in the Philippines to protest its government’s extrajudicial killings of civilians. In 2013, he played at the memorial service for Massachusetts Institute of Technology police officer Sean Collier, who was killed by Boston Marathon bombers Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. Taylor told Uncut that he has not been pleased with what he has seen from President Donald Trump’s administration. “The fact that [Trump’s election] happened at all and is tolerated is very alarming,” he said. “Every day I shake my head and wonder what’s going on.” Taylor has often used his music and comforting voice as a soothing force in the face of adversity, but he also recognizes that it takes lot more to bring tangible change. “It’s food for the soul and a connection with the universe,” he said. “I don’t think music will save the world, it’s just a beautiful part of it.”
James Taylor and his All-Star Band 7:30 p.m. May 25 Chesapeake Energy Arena 100 W. Reno Ave. chesapeakearena.com | 1-800-745-3000 $65-$450
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Always-going John Calvin Abney slows down and reflects on his highway album Coyote. By Ben Luschen
Whenever John Calvin Abney needed to step away from life and think, he would cross the street from his old house on Tulsa’s S. Yale Avenue and visit the historic Route 66 diner Tally’s Good Food Cafe. The classic ’50s-themed diner is a far cry from a peacefully quiet coffee shop. The booze-serving, 24-hour establishment is popular among locals and Route 66 tourists alike. Tally’s is not the place most other people would pick to focus, but it was conveniently located, and perhaps Abney is the kind of person who subconsciously needs things to be just a little hectic. “It’s funny that I spent most of my time touring and lived right on Route 66,” Abney said in a recent Oklahoma Gazette interview. “It’s kind of symbolic.” Abney spent almost all of 2017 traveling the nation as guitarist for nationally renowned Tulsa country crooner John Moreland. While many people recognize him as a sideman, Abney is a tremendous musician and songwriter in his own right. His last two albums — 2016’s Far Cries and Close Calls and 2015’s Better Luck — achieved critical acclaim and praise from fans. It could be said, however, that Abney has never been truer to himself as an artist than he is now. His new album Coyote, which is more of an indie-folk and dream-pop project than the type of Americana effort Moreland fans might be expecting, debuts Friday and gets a
proper kickoff 8 p.m. Saturday with a release show at The Blue Door, 2805 N. McKinley Ave. Samantha Crain opens the show, and Abney will perform his new songs with a full backing band that includes bassist Shonna Tucker (formerly of Drive-By Truckers), keyboardist/violinist Megan Palmer and drummer Paddy Ryan. Abney spent a lot of his time at Tally’s over an omelet, a coffee and maybe a spot of gin, reflecting on his life and sketching out lyrics for songs. His song “South Yale Special” is an homage to his old neighborhood diner. “I ordered the daily special once, had some drinks and then wrote a terribly sad song,” he said. Coyote is Abney’s monument to a challenging but fruitful 2017. It was not a devastating year; he was not personally pushed to the brink of death. But it was a tough year, and sometimes tough can be just hard enough to break a person. “It’s not a boo-hoo record,” Abney said. “It’s just me learning how to deal with things we all have to deal with at some point or another.”
The past year playing and touring with Moreland was a nonstop speeding train unlike anything Abney has experienced before. He was always locked in and mentally engaged on either one thing or the next.
John Calvin Abney | Photo Brittany Phillips / provided
“You don’t really get a day off,” he said. “You’re still traveling; you’re still playing; you’re still working.” The relentless commotion never gave him the time to fully process everything else going on around him. He had friends and relatives die in that year; he went through a hard breakup; he was diagnosed with minor health issues that were aggravated by stress and an endless travel schedule. Everything seemed to be rising up around him at once. Abney was just fighting to stay afloat, and the invincibility of his youth was lost somewhere downstream. “You get old,” he said. “I’m 29 — it sounds crazy, but I just feel like I’m learning more.” Writing mellow and melancholy (but never distraught) Coyote was the way Abney finally dealt with his crazy year. But he had other coping mechanisms as well. Abney picked up his hobby of recreational running again. He also had the chance to play on a lot of other people’s albums, which sparked his own creativity. Ultimately, Abney has come to a conclusion of gratitude for the chance to play with Moreland at the peak of the artist’s popularity thus far. It is important to him not to dwell on the negative. “John and I had a good year of working together, and we got to do a lot of really wonderful things,” he said. “It was amazing.”
Abney remembers opening for Moreland one day at Norman’s Bluebonnet Bar. It was not long after the release of Moreland’s 2013 album In the Throes, and Abney was already a huge fan. He approached Moreland after the show and told him that he admired his songwriting and that if he ever needed a guitarist, he was available. Moreland called Abney up three weeks later to work out the details. The two became fast friends. “He’s just a smart guy, man,” Abney said. “It’s really awesome to be such good friends with him now because I respected him so much.” Abney has strengthened his own performing and career through osmosis. Watching Moreland’s rise to national stardom has been an inspiration. “It’s like wordless teaching,” he said. “You’re just there; you experience it and it becomes a part of you.” The album earned its Coyote name as a symbol for Abney himself: aloof and wiry, wandering rural highways distanced from the pack. It is unquestionably an Oklahoma record and repeatedly references the state’s landscape. But Coyote is also a record that is uniquely fit to Abney himself. The artist listed Penny Pitchlynn (known as a member of Broncho),
Camille Harp, Samantha Crain, Kierston White and others as local songwriting inspirations. But his goal is not to emulate any style. “I’m not trying to sound like any of them,” he said. “I’m trying to sound like me, and I feel like Coyote is a step in that direction.”
I ordered the daily special once, had some drinks and then wrote a terribly sad song. John Calvin Abney
May 17 ApOCAlypTiCA May 18 COOp SHOWCASE May 22 FREnSHip May 25 AMERiCAn AquARiuM June 2 HORSE THiEF
Abney said the lead into every album feels different from the last one. Each record was its own journey. “Album releases are funny because they’re obstacles to be overcome,” he said. “You complete all these tasks and it’s a good time to kind of measure yourself and what you’ve learned.” What Abney has learned this time around is that any challenge left neglected will eventually consume you. Life can be tough, but it is always rolling forward. “You have to fight your battles,” he said, “and even if you lose them, you have to keep moving. That’s something I have to tell myself every day.” Abney knows his suffering is not special. In 2017, he dealt with the same things countless other people have before and many will go on to experience in the future. It’s not the challenge that makes anyone unique, but what comes from it. “Everyone deals with these things,” Abney said, “it’s just a matter of how you’re going to deal with it.” Visit johncalvinabney.com.
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Coyote | Image provided
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OKC hip-hop collective Mainframe Trax Family brings experience to a blossoming local scene. By Ben Luschen
Hip-hop emcees wrote rap songs about all kinds of things in the 1980s, but one subject they rarely broached was their parents’ medicine cabinets. Today, however, the most pervasive (or at least the most infamous) subsect of the youngest generation’s rap movement seems obsessed with bragging about opioid and prescription drug abuse. Andre Stubbs, also known as rapper and producer And-1 in the local hip-hop collective Mainframe Trax Family, playfully speculates on how the trend could possibly build upon itself. “What’s going to happen in 2020?” And-1 said. “Are the drugs themselves going to start rapping?” And-1 and the rest of his Mainframe associates, which include rapper/producers Keon “A.D. Trax” Ellison and Lemuel “Element Life” Kelly, grew up in what many call hip-hop’s golden era. They are also often joined by Keith “Epitome” Anthony. When they say they are loyal to hip-hop culture, they don’t mean the rap world of glorified excess depicted in decades of mainstream music videos. Instead, they are firm believers in the core disciplines hip-hop culture was founded on in the later 1970s: rapping (emceeing), DJing, graffiti art, breakdancing and knowledge. As outside money flooded into the rap world, commercial music floated further and further away from those tenants. But while the music industry pays little regard for the culture’s roots, plenty of underground groups and movements around the country keep it thriving. Oklahoma City is no exception. Mainframe Trax has been an official hip-hop collective in the city since 2006. Its current trio of members was brought together through shared connections and mutual acquaintances. From these common threads, they have created a bond that, over the years, outlasted many other rappers and DJs who have passed through the city. Many within the city’s younger generation of emcees now call the Mainframe Trax collective “OGs,” or elders. Element Life said it is an honor to be thought of in that way, but nothing was farther from the group’s minds when they started making music together 12 years ago. “I don’t think we ever expected that title,” he said. While the group might be known as rap veterans, they are far from venerable. A.D. Trax partially attributed the group’s longevity to a healthy sense of competition between group members. That competitive sense extends beyond the Mainframe family. 32
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“I ain’t old,” A.D. said. “I challenge anyone to get up on a stage with us. You’re going to have to do something.”
A.D. had already been writing raps for a while, but he bought his first piece of recording software in 2004. Later that year, he got together with a friend, and the two of them constantly recorded new songs together. “It was a lot of days and a lot of nights cranking out whatever,” he said. “We were just trying to do as much as we could.” A .D. was working for Cox Communications at the time and met Element Life through the emcee’s girlfriend at the time, who also worked at the company. When A.D. mentioned his music to her, she told him about Element Life, who had several MySpace uploads and performances under his belt but no proper CDs. The two eventually met and formed an instant bond. Both shared a vision of forming a collective like New York’s Wu-Tang Clan in Oklahoma. They started performing together almost right away and took on the Mainframe Trax name in 2006. They played all kinds of bars and clubs and toured across the state. In the early days, they often even paid to perform. “We definitely got taken advantage of,” A.D. said, “but as you learn, you’re like, ‘Hey, we put in our dues; we’re not paying anymore.’” Before And-1 was in the group, he was rapping and producing on his own. He grew up as a friend of several of Element Life’s cousins, and the two of them were connected through Facebook. One day, Element Life put out a status update saying he needed someone to put singing vocals on a song he was working on. And-1 responded and gave him a chorus. It wasn’t until after meeting that Element Life discovered he rapped, too. Everything that happened to Mainframe Trax — including big bookings and recording opportunities — seems to have come about through some kind of mutual connection. “A lot of stuff has happened to us, which has just been a blessing,” Element Life said. “And it’s just through someone knowing one of us and reaching out.” While they are a model for a longlived presence in the rap community, the Mainframe collective has never made the pursuit of money its main priority. Money was just the means that enabled them to do what they were really passionate about: sharing their love for hip-hop culture with other
people in the city and around the world. “We just wanted to show everyone that we’re here,” And-1 said, “that we exist and we’re a collective that’s going to be a staple of the scene for a long time.”
Each member of the Mainframe Trax family plans on releasing a solo album sometime within the next year: A.D. Trax has The THINK Initiative, Element Life is planning Epic Epidemic, And-1 is finishing Violence, and Epitome will release The Truth Lies Here. Element Life has said his love for hip-hop began with his first tape, EPMD’s 1988 debut Strictly Business. He got his start rapping by freestyling with friends over early Wu-Tang and other instrumentals. He said he has come a long way since then, particularly as a songwriter. “I was just rhyming to be rhyming without making sense,” he said. “But if you care anything about criticism and being your own worst critic, you’re not going to put just anything out there.” Similarly, A.D.’s passion started with playing and replaying cassette tapes from LL Cool J, Run-DMC, Beastie Boys and Ice-T. Though the Mainframe family is now known for its dynamic performances, A.D. said music has helped him overcome a crippling case of stage fright. “I played sports in front of hundreds of people all my adolescent life,” he said. “But put me out in a classroom in front of a podium and I would sweat bullets.” Still, And-1, who grew up in a musical family and has been playing piano by ear since he was 12 or 13, said stage fright has never been an issue for him. “If I was on stage, I knew I had the power,” he said. “When you’re in front of all those people, you don’t think about what could go wrong. Just get your message across and say it with conviction and people will believe you.”
Rap music has recently emerged as the most popular form of American pop music, and the influence of hip-hop culture and style can be seen in a
from left Mainframe Trax Family emcees And-1, A.D. Trax and Element Life perform at Tower Theatre. | Photo Nathan Poppe / provided
number of areas unrelated to music. Oklahoma City has warmly embraced hip-hop culture for several years now, but A.D. still remembers performing in the early 2000s when the local powers that be would have rather seen rap music disappear. “At the time, it was kind of tough for hip-hop in Bricktown,” he said. “They didn’t really want it in the clubs like that, and DJs couldn’t really spin a lot of it. There was just this aura around it, like they were scared something was going to happen.” Mainframe Trax eventually got the chance to perform at the former downtown venue Bricktown Live and became regular performers. They were not the first rap act to perform in the downtown entertainment district, but they were aware of their platform. “We definitely wanted to show them why they should have the culture down there,” A.D. said. These days, there are way more rappers and producers in the local scene than there were when Mainframe Trax began. A lot of that has had to do with the increased availability of recording and production software. The internet not only connects local artists to other locals, but to artists and fans around the planet. And-1 estimates the field of performers has tripled since the ’90s, which is a good thing. “The more rappers and emcees out there, the more exposure the state is getting in the rest of the world,” he said. Nothing about the Mainframe Trax journey has been expected. A.D. said they are as surprised as anyone else about where the group and local hip-hop in general have gone. Through whatever surprises remain, he knows the trio will face them as an eternally united front. “Technology is going to go where it’s going to go, relationships are going to suffer, but family remains,” he said. “Once you’re Mainframe, you’re forever.” Visit mainframetraxfamily1.bandcamp.com.
LIVE MUSIC These are events recommended by Oklahoma Gazette editorial staff members. For full calendar listings, go to okgazette.com.
Thursday, May. 17
Sunday, May. 20
Darku J, Greystone Lounge. ELECTRONIC Emily Faith, National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum (3). COUNTRY
Ambassadors’ Concert Choir Presents All Gospel Concert, St. John Missionary Baptist Church. gospel
Eric McDaniel/Caleb McGee, Bluebonnet Bar. BLUES
Carrie Nation & the Speakeasy, Norman Santa Fe Depot. FOLK
Kalyn Fay, The Root. SINGER/SONGWRITER The Lunar Laugh, VZD’s Restaurant & Bar.
Tech N9ne, Diamond Ballroom. HIP-HOP
Blackthorne-Elite/Locust Grove/Will Hunt, 89th Street Collective. METAL
Toadies “Don’t be afraid; I didn’t mean to scare you …” Fort Worth’s Toadies are best known for the creepy-as-it-is-catchy hit “Possum Kingdom,” spawned from the band’s 1994 platinum-selling debut, Rubberneck, which also included grungy greats “Tyler,” “Away” and “I Come From the Water,” but last year’s The Lower Side of Uptown proved that the band hasn’t lost its knack for unhinged and unshakable riffs. Tulsa punk vets The Normandys start the invasion 8 p.m. Saturday at Diamond Ballroom, 8001 S. Eastern Ave. Tickets are $22. Call 1-800514-3849 or visit diamondballroom.net.
Friday, May. 18
Brandon Jackson, Anthem Brewing Company.
80z Enuf, Remington Park. COVER
DUEL, Blue Note Lounge. METAL
BC & the Big Rig/Jack Waters & the Unemployed, The Deli. ROCK
Honey Blue, Bluebonnet Bar. AMERICANA
Thunder & Rain, Rodeo Opry. COUNTRY
Howard Brady, Full Circle Bookstore. COUNTRY
Toadies/The Normandys, Diamond Ballroom. ROCK
Jimmy “Daddy” Davis, The Bottle Cap Barn.
Witch Jail/Doomstress/Fabulous Minx, Blue Note Lounge. ROCK
Apocalyptica, Tower Theatre. METAL The Cake Eaters, Blue Note Lounge. ROCK Dogs in the Fight/The Shame, The Drunken Fry. PUNK
On a Whim, Bossa Nova Caipirinha Lounge. JAZZ Patrice Pike/Wayne Sutton, The Blue Door. INDIE Rousey/Andy Adams/Jason Scott, Tower Theatre.
James Alan Johnston, The Criterion. ROCK The Jauntee, The Deli. ROCK Mitchell Trimmer Band, Red Brick Bar. COUNTRY Radney Foster, The Blue Door. COUNTRY Shane Henry, Sidecar Barley & Wine Bar. POP Spoon/Walker Lukens, The Jones Assembly. ROCK Stephen Baker, Bluebonnet Bar. JAZZ
Beau Jennings & The Tigers, The Oklahoma City Zoo. ROCK Kate Tucker & the Sons of Sweden, Othello’s. ROCK Crypt Trip, Blue Note Lounge. ROCK
Steve Crossley, Louie’s Grill and Bar. R&B
Saturday, May. 19 awakebutstillinbed/Speak, Memory/Sylvania Ave., Mom & Dad’s. ROCK Benjamin Carter, Mooney’s Pub and Grill. ROCK Big G, UCO Jazz Lab. BLUES
John Calvin Abney, The Blue Door. FOLK
Photo Right Angle PR/provided
ZuZusPetals, Bedlam Bar-B-Q. ACOUSTIC
Direct Connect Band, Elmer’s Uptown. BLUES Legends, UCO Jazz Lab. COVER The March Divide, Red Brick Bar. ROCK
Monday, May. 21 Hail Sagan, 89th Street Collective. METAL
Tuesday, May. 22 frenSHIP/Yoke Lore, Tower Theatre. POP
Wednesday, May. 23 Sunphaser/Morpho/Tyler Sexton, The Deli. ROCK Tyler Preston/Amanda Fish Band, Red Brick Bar. SINGER/SONGWRITER
Live music submissions must be received by Oklahoma Gazette no later than noon on Wednesday seven days before the desired publication date. Late submissions will not be included in the listings. Submissions run as space allows, although we strive to make the listings as inclusive as possible. Fax your listings to 528-4600 or e-mail to email@example.com. Sorry, but phone submissions cannot be accepted.
free will astrology Homework: Do something that you will remember with pride and passion until the end of your days. Testify at Freewillastrology.com.
of their charm. I suspect there’s a metaphorical version of Milk Duds in your future, Gemini.
ARIES (March 21-April 19) According to my
assessment of the astrological omens, your duty right now is to be a brave observer and fair-minded intermediary and honest storyteller. Your people need you to help them do the right thing. They require your influence in order to make good decisions. So if you encounter lazy communication, dispel it with your clear and concise speech. If you find that foggy thinking has started to infect important discussions, inject your clear and concise insights.
in the coming weeks, you’re hunting for the intimate power that you lost a while back. After many twists and trials, you find it almost by accident in a seemingly unimportant location, a place you have paid little attention to for a long time. When you recognize it, and realize you can reclaim it, your demeanor transforms. Your eyes brighten, your skin glows, your body language galvanizes. A vivid hope arises in your imagination: how to make that once-lost, now-rediscovered power come alive again and be of use to you in the present time.
TAURUS (April 20-May 20) A chemist named
LEO (July 23-Aug. 22) The etymological dictionary
Marcellus Gilmore Edson got a patent on peanut butter in 1894. A businessperson named George Bayle started selling peanut butter as a snack in 1894. In 1901, a genius named Julia David Chandler published the first recipe for a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. In 1922, another pioneer came up with a new process for producing peanut butter that made it taste better and last longer. In 1928, two trailblazers invented loaves of sliced bread, setting the stage for the ascension of the peanut butter and jelly sandwich to its full glory. According to my analysis, Taurus, you’re partway through your own process of generating a very practical marvel. I suspect you’re now at a phase equivalent to Julia David Chandler’s original recipe. Onward! Keep going!
GEMINI (May 21-June 20) One of the most popular
brands of candy in North America is Milk Duds. They’re irregularly shaped globs of chocolate caramel. When they were first invented in 1926, the manufacturer’s plan was to make them perfect little spheres. But with the rather primitive technology available at that time, this proved impossible. The finished products were blobs, not globes. They tasted good, though. Workers jokingly suggested that the new confection’s name include “dud,” a word meaning “failure” or “flop.” Having sold well now for more than 90 years, Milk Duds have proved that success doesn’t necessarily require perfection. Who knows? Maybe their dud-ness has been an essential part
CANCER (June 21-July 22) In my vision of your life
says that the English slang word “cool” meant “calmly audacious” as far back as 1825. The term “groovy” was first used by jazz musicians in the 1930s to signify “performing well without grandstanding.” “Hip,” which was originally “hep,” was also popularized by the jazz community. It meant, “informed, aware, up-to-date.” I’m bringing these words to your attention because I regard them as your words of power in the coming weeks. You can be and should be as hip, cool, and groovy as you have been in a long time.
VIRGO (Aug. 23-Sept. 22) I hope you will seek out
influences that give you grinning power over your worries. I hope you’ll be daring enough to risk a breakthrough in service to your most demanding dream. I hope you will make an effort to understand yourself as your best teacher might understand you. I hope you will find out how to summon more faith in yourself -- a faith not rooted in lazy wishes but in a rigorous self-assessment. Now here’s my prediction: You will fulfill at least one of my hopes, and probably more.
LIBRA (Sept. 23-Oct. 22) The Polish pianist Ignacy
Jan Paderewski once performed for England’s Queen Victoria. Since she possessed that bygone era’s equivalent of a backstage pass, she was able to converse with him after the show. “You’re a genius,” she told him, having been impressed with his artistry. “Perhaps, Your
Majesty,” Paderewski said. “But before that I was a drudge.” He meant that he had labored long and hard before reaching the mastery the Queen attributed to him. According to my analysis of the astrological omens, you Libras are currently in an extended “drudge” phase of your own. That’s a good thing! Take maximum advantage of this opportunity to slowly and surely improve your skills.
SCORPIO (Oct. 23-Nov. 21) The ancient Greek poet
Simonides was among the first of his profession to charge a fee for his services. He made money by composing verses on demand. On one occasion, he was asked to write a stirring tribute to the victor of a mule race. He declined, declaring that his sensibilities were too fine to create art for such a vulgar activity. In response, his potential patron dramatically boosted the proposed price. Soon thereafter, Simonides produced a rousing ode that included the phrase “wind-swift steeds.” I offer the poet as a role model for you in the coming weeks, Scorpio. Be more flexible than usual about what you’ll do to get the reward you’d like.
SAGITTARIUS (Nov. 22-Dec. 21) Here’s the operative metaphor for you these days: You’re like a painter who has had a vision of an interesting work of art you could create -- but who lacks some of the paint colors you would require to actualize this art. You may also need new types of brushes you haven’t used before. So here’s how I suggest you proceed: Be aggressive in tracking down the missing ingredients or tools that will enable you to accomplish your as-yet imaginary masterpiece.
CAPRICORN (Dec. 22-Jan. 19) Useful revelations
and provocative epiphanies are headed your way. But they probably won’t arrive sheathed in sweetness and light, accompanied by tinkling swells of celestial music. It’s more likely they’ll come barging in with a clatter, bringing bristly marvels and rough hope. In a related matter: At least one breakthrough is in your imminent future. But this blessing is more likely to resemble a wrestle in the mud than a dance on a mountaintop. None of this should be a problem, however! I suggest you enjoy the rugged but interesting fun.
AQUARIUS (Jan. 20-Feb. 18) One of the saddest
aspects of our lives as humans is the disparity between love and romance. Real love is hard work. It’s unselfish, unwavering, and rooted in generous empathy. Romance, on the other hand, tends to be capricious and inconstant, often dependent on the fluctuations of mood and chemistry. Is there anything you could do about this crazy-making problem, Aquarius? Like could you maybe arrange for your romantic experiences to be more thoroughly suffused with the primal power of unconditional love? I think this is a realistic request, especially in the coming weeks. You will have exceptional potential to bring more compassion and spiritual affection into your practice of intimacy.
PISCES (Feb. 19-March 20) In accordance with
astrological omens, I invite you to dream up new rituals. The traditional observances and ceremonies bequeathed to you by your family and culture may satisfy your need for comfort and nostalgia, but not your need for renewal and reinvention. Imagine celebrating homemade rites of passage designed not for who you once were but for the new person you’ve become. You may be delighted to discover how much power they provide you to shape your life’s long-term cycles. Ready to conjure up a new ritual right now? Take a piece of paper and write down two fears that inhibit your drive to create a totally interesting kind of success for yourself. Then burn that paper and those fears in the kitchen sink while chanting “I am a swashbuckling incinerator of fears!”
Go to RealAstrology.com to check out Rob Brezsny’s expanded weekly audio horoscopes /daily text message horoscopes. The audio horoscopes are also available by phone at 1-877-873-4888 or 1-900-950-7700.
O kg a z e t t e . c o m | m ay 1 6 , 2 0 1 8
New York Times Magazine Crossword Puzzle LET’S PLAY TWO!
By Brendan Emmett Quigley | Puzzles Edited by Will Shortz | 0506
ACROSS 1 Perpendicular to the ship’s middle 6 “Let’s do this!” 13 Larger of Mars’s two moons 19 Proof of purchase for some contests 21 Maines of the Dixie Chicks 22 Out of date? 23 Underwater mine? 25 Some end-of-season announcements 26 ____ Plus (grooming brand) 27 “Insecure” star Issa 28 Comparison middle 29 Peaceful protest 30 Get a copy of a 1965 #1 Beatles hit? 37 South America’s ____ Picchu 39 Left-winger 40 U.N. worker protection agcy. 41 “____ Music’s golden tongue / Flatter’d to tears this aged man …”: Keats 42 Actor Milo 43 Minute Maid Park player, informally 45 Formed for a particular purpose 47 Sultan Qaboos’s land 48 Something to be defended 50 Rather poor ambassador’s skill? 53 School in development? 54 Hat, informally 56 Bomb with the audience 57 Brand with an arrow through its logo 58 Grp. getting a pay cut? 59 “Roll Tide!” school, for short 62 Rolled ____ 65 Prefix with warrior 66 Formerly known as 67 Reason a computer program wouldn’t open? 70 Some touchdown scorers, for short 73 Zippo 74 “Am ____ sensitive?” 75 Existed 76 Thanksgiving serving 77 Things folded in the kitchen 80 “Cinderella” mouse 82 Big-eared animal 84 Past 85 Incredibly hard puzzle? 90 One with a confession to make
92 Consume 93 Responds wistfully 94 First name in fashion 96 Impressive hole 97 “____ reconsidered” 98 Padre’s hermano 99 Prefix with pressure 100 “Eww!” 101 Link a quartet of supermarket employees? 109 Aid for a tracking shot 110 Jumpy sort, for short? 111 Vehicle that often rolls over, in brief 112 ____ mater 115 Angry Shakespearean cry 117 Something you’re not allowed to do in math? 121 Mistakes 122 Bit of nonsense in a No. 1 Ella Fitzgerald hit 123 Not ruling out 124 Gadget for lemons 125 Goes back and forth (with) 126 A cylinder has two
DOWN 1 Band with a symmetrical logo 2 Bath toy 3 Pizzeria order 4 Some lawyers’ cases 5 Kind of biol. 6 Picks up later in life? 7 Red ____ (sushi fish) 8 Irish icon, for short 9 Ankle bones 10 Relating to the pelvis 11 Prefix with communication 12 Hair-raising cry 13 Pigtail, e.g. 14 Many a “… For Dummies” book 15 Transmitting 16 Comic who acted in “Ocean’s Eleven” 17 Smelling of mothballs 18 Part of O.S.: Abbr. 20 Original home of Paddington Bear 24 Moves effortlessly (through) 29 Streetside hangouts 31 Draw back in fear 32 River that rises in the Cantabrian Mountains 33 Player-coach Jason of the N.B.A. 34 K-12
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68 Teaching positions can be part of their work 69 Chest protector 70 “La La Land” actor 71 Rolls out of bed in the morning? 72 Messy treats 73 Fluorine’s atomic number 77 “Way to go!” 78 Purple flowers 79 Longtime Walter Berndt comic strip 81 Spot for wallowing 83 All-out attack 85 Stylish 86 Cry at a happy hour, maybe 87 Cry of excitement 88 “Well, Did You ____?” 89 Gate 91 Did some documentary work
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35 Constellation between Ursa Major and Ursa Minor 36 Kids’ rhyme starter 37 Big name in pain relief 38 Onto land 44 Code on a bag to Chicago 45 Annually 46 Like a space cadet 47 1847 novel of the sea 49 “Finlandia” composer 51 Rollickingly funny 52 “Time was … “ 55 Feature of a millpond 60 “You couldn’t possibly mean me!?” 61 Oil field? 63 Kind of job 64 ____ Bird, 10-time W.N.B.A. All-Star 67 Bite-size, say
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95 Bolivian capital 102 0%, in the dairy aisle 103 Highest-level 104 Nice forecast 105 Population classification 106 Settle down for the night 107 Sam who sang “Twistin’ the Night Away” 108 Corn syrup brand 113 Tiny bit 114 They always come with mayo 115 Flat-topped hat 116 Heat 117 Keyboard key 118 ____ minimum 119 Anthem contraction 120 One rampaging in 2018’s “Rampage”
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New York Times Crossword Puzzle answers Puzzle No. 0429, which appeared in the May 9 issue.
J A W S
U T A H
B E A D
P A N D A
A H P O P E P I L A F S 34
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