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INSIDE COVER P. 4 The northeast Oklahoma City com-
munity has experienced decades of redlining, disinvestment and neglect. Private development and even public investment has often ignored that side of town, but various developments in the area — many with the revitalization of the community as the main focus — provide a sense of optimism for the future. By Miguel Rios Cover by Phillip Danner
An Original Music Docuseries
COVER NE OKC developments
8 STATE People Not Politicians
EAT & DRINK
S t re a m i n g On l i n e Now
P LA YIT LOU D S HOW .COM
10 REVIEW Bellini’s Ristorante & Grill 11 FEATURE Notorious P.I.E.
13 FEATURE Razzoo’s Cajun Cafe 14 GAZEDIBLES probiotics
ARTS & CULTURE 16 ART Cosmic Culture: Intersections
of Art and Outer Space at SMO’s smART Space
17 THEATER Little Old Ladies in
Tennis Shoes at Jewel Box Theatre
19 OKG SHOP BodySpyce Luxe &
Candle Co. OKG Shop
MUSIC 22 EVENT Pearl Earl at Opolis
23 EVENT Black Violin at OCCC’s
Visual and Performing Arts Center Theater
24 LIVE MUSIC
THE HIGH CULTURE 26 CANNABIS vaping illness reactions 31 CANNABIS year in review
32 CANNABIS The Toke Board 32 CANNABIS strain review
FUN 34 PUZZLES sudoku | crossword 35 ASTROLOGY
OKG Classifieds 35
streaming november 25
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Northeast renewal projects
1. A tentative concept for 134 acres at NE 50th Street and N. Lincoln Boulevard envisions a hotel, residences, office, retail, parks and trail. Officials are currently seeking developers to contract projects throughout the property. 2. National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum is currently building Liichokoshkomo’ – a multimillion dollar educational expansion. 3. Cinemark Tinseltown just had a final hearing in the process to secure its liquor license. 4. Just west of Remington Park, work has started on Remington Town Center, a proposal that includes a restaurant, retail, hotel and multi-family housing. 5. Oklahoma City Zoological Park and Botanical Garden is getting new additions, including an approximately $700,000 expansion for a modern Galapagos tortoise habitat. 6. Softball Hall of Fame Stadium is receiving $21 million in enhancements as part of a contractual obligation to keep the Women’s College World Series in town through 2035.
4 3 2
COV E R
An often-neglected part of Oklahoma City is seeing reinvestments in the community. By Miguel Rios
After suffering from decades of redlining, disinvestment and neglect, northeast Oklahoma City is beginning to see an increase in development. Though Gary Royal is careful about calling it a “renaissance,” he admits it’s an exciting time for the area’s community. “I wouldn’t call it a renaissance because that would be much more of an organized kind of movement across the board,” he said. “Now, it may amount to that at some point because our vision is actually in little pieces. We’re trying to get the community to understand what this vision is that can happen here in five to six or seven years.” Royal is the project manager for the Freedom Center renovation and the creation of Clara Luper Civil Rights Center, a MAPS 4 project that would receive $25 million in funding if approved by voters in December. The vision Royal describes is a cultural hub that spurs additional investments and increases development in the area. “This will be a catalyst for more development,” he said. “When you create this kind of environment, it attracts investment. One hundred thousand folks coming in here would place a demand for restaurants and other kind of consumer services. It’s never happened here before, so it’s time. We’ve got to take advantage of this, as the stars are aligned. They don’t align very often.” MAPS 4 also includes millions more dollars for northeast Oklahoma City, like funding for Booker T. Washington Park renovations, Northeast Community 4
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Center enhancements, an entirely new park in the area, Henrietta B. Foster Center for Northeast Small Business Development and Entrepreneurship, Innovation Hall and beautification for NE 23rd Street. “This represents the largest investment in the history of the MAPS program [in northeast Oklahoma City],” Royal said. “There’s already been over $2 billion invested, but we don’t show anything here, so this really represents a once-in-a-generation kind of development for our community.” Another important project aiming to spur even more investment and development is Pivot Project’s EastPoint, a retail-driven project nearing completion. One of the tenants — Intentional Fitness by Emmanuel Sonsanya — has actually already opened. “We’re 70 to 80 percent leased, and they’re all minority tenants, and they all have [15 percent] ownership in the real estate,” said Pivot Project partner Jonathan Dodson. “If you sign a lease, you become an owner. The whole goal was trying to keep them from being gentrified out of an area that they actually create the value for. The tenants themselves will reflect the community that’s here, but they’re also doing things that will pull people from the west side of town to spend money. … There’s been like no private development in like 30 years over here. It’s great that MAPS is doing their thing, but we need to bring it on this side of the freeway.”
Through the EastPoint development, Dodson said they want to create opportunities for a community that has been starved of investments due of systemic racism. Pivot Project partnered with Sandino Thompson, a community developer who grew up in northeast Oklahoma City. “Because of the historic redlining that’s occurred, the black community hasn’t been able to redevelop their own community because of all the financing that has been pulled out,” Dodson said. “We reached out to over 25 banks, and we’ve been told, ‘No,’ because it’s on the black side of town. And me [and my partners] are three white dudes in an office sitting above a craft beer bar, so there’s no way a black kid who is 18 could have gotten a loan. We’re hoping now this will start to loosen up people’s ideas … so if Sandino wants to go do his own development or Sandino’s daughter wants to do development in 10 years, she can go get the funds and there’s not this systematic redlining going on.” Jabee Williams, who’s opening a Ground House Burger in EastPoint with a business partner from California, said racism decimated the community’s previous businesses and homes and remains ingrained in people’s minds. “Back then, if a business wanted to take out a loan for a business or even take out a loan for a house, banks won’t loan money. Why? Because they’re black. You don’t give money to black people because of racism,” he said. “You deal with that for 50 to 60 years and you get to today where people might say racism doesn’t exist. But if you go to get money from a bank for a house or for a business, you still can’t get it. Not because the bank is saying, ‘I’m racist. We don’t give to black folks,’ but by that point, after those conditions have been
Northeast renewal projects 7. The third senior center from MAPS 3 will be at NE 36th Street and Lincoln Boulevard, and it will be operated by Langston University once it’s completed in 2020. *8. Gary Royal is the project manager for the Freedom Center renovation and the creation of Clara Luper Civil Rights Center, a MAPS 4 project that would receive $25 million in funding if approved by voters Dec. 10. 9. COOP Ale Works secured 23rd Street Armory, which it will convert into its new brewery with hotel villas in the neighboring building that would be connected through a pool and outdoor area. 10. Oklahoma State Capitol is undergoing a massive restoration project. *11. The EastPoint development’s tenants are 100 percent business owners of color and 50 percent female entrepreneurs. 12. Lincoln Terrace is a historic neighborhood situated on either side of N. Lincoln Blvd. south of the Capitol. 13. A new 4-plex 14. The historic Walcourt building is being restored for office use. 15. A proposal for an office building with rooftop terrace was heard by city council Nov. 5. 16. OU Medical Center is building a new medical tower to meet increasing demand. 17. Oklahoma City’s Innovation District is growing and set to receive more money through MAPS 4. 18. The proposed Lincoln Square would allow for housing, offices and retail. *19. The Page Woodson development near OU Health Sciences Center is one of several projects taking place in northeast Oklahoma City. 20. Construction finished early last month on Dunbar Commons, 52 senior housing units in the restored Dunbar Elementary. 21. The new Douglass Recreation Center will have youth facilities equitable to the ones that would be created if MAPS 4 passes.
set in place for 50 to 60 years, that’s just something you don’t do. … [EastPoint] was an opportunity, in a lot of ways, for people to right their wrongs and also to be an example for other groups that want to come in and do the same things.” Systemic racism, he said, not only pigeonholed them to a particular area of town but also displaced them from their communities. “Whenever people or a certain community can’t afford to finance their homes or their businesses or things like that, then you have a few things that continued on page 6
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continued from page 4
happen. One of the things that happens is you have [Oklahoma City Urban Renewal Authority] coming in and saying, ‘We’ll buy it up. We’ll fix it,’” he said. “Not only that, what they would do back then is they would come in your house and literally encourage people to move. … So you have a group of white people telling you where you should live after 50 years of them telling you where you can’t.” For Royal, who said OU Health Sciences Center is not truly part of the northeast Oklahoma City community because black families were displaced from the area, new developments like EastPoint and the MAPS investment present a way for the community to find a sense of place again. “All of our communities used to be located where the OU Health Sciences Center is and where the Innovation District is proposed. That was the heart of the black community some decades ago, but we were displaced,” Royal said. “We’re still trying to find a sense of place. Folks say ‘northeast’ now, so you think maybe we’re where we are now because this is where we have [always been], but it wasn’t like that.” Thompson, who has been securing tenants for EastPoint, said the northeast community is skeptical of developers coming in, as they have been taken advantage of, exploited and lied to repeatedly in the past. There’s a reputational risk for people from the community who work with white developers, but Thompson said the benefits are worth the risk, particularly because he trusts the Pivot Project team. Part of their its steps in the EastPoint development was getting Centennial Health, formerly Oklahoma City Clinic, to relocate to NE 23rd Street, essentially becoming the first tenant to buy into the developers’ goal of revitalizing the community. Thompson said that was especially poignant for him because he remembers his grandmother, along with four other women, spearheading an effort to establish Mary Mahoney Memorial Health Center in Spencer, Oklahoma. “So two generations later, the opportunity for me to bring a medical facility right here to 23rd Street that’s going to target all of these neighborhoods, it’s worth the risk,” Thompson said. “There’s a lot of distrust, a lot of skepticism and then a lot of examples of exploitation in developments, so you actually have to be willing to take some of those risks on.”
COV E R
and Holiday Open House
Apart from the EastPoint and MAPS projects, a slew of other developments and enhancements are happening in northeast OKC. The Adventure District is seeing improvements to many of its attrac-
N OV E M B E R 6 , 2 0 1 9 | O KG A Z E T T E . C O M
tions like an expansion at National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum, new additions at Oklahoma City Zoological Park and Botanical Garden and a nearly $30 million improvements for USA Softball Hall of Fame Complex, which will ensure the Women’s College Softball World Series stays in OKC through 2035. Historic properties are being restored, like 23rd Street Armory, which is now owned by COOP Ale Works and will become its new brewery with hotel villas in the neighboring building that will be connected through a large pool and outdoor event area. The Walcourt at NE 13 Street and Walnut Avenue is also being redeveloped for offices. Just east of The Walcourt at 301 NE 13th St. is a proposal for an office building with a rooftop terrace. The project made it through the Planning Commission and was heard by the city council Nov. 5. Near University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center (OUHSC), the Page Woodson development continues moving forward. Developers already redeveloped the former Douglass High School building into 60 housing units as The Douglass at Page Woodson. Construction of an adjacent building, The Douglass Next Door, provides an additional 68 units. Developers also built The Seven at Page Woodson — 14 buildings with about 80 more rental units — which developers previously told Oklahoma Gazette was named after seven important black historical figures. Construction is also underway on a “state-of-the-art” medical tower at OUHSC to meet demand. The patient tower will provide 450,000 square feet of additional space, eight floors, 144 added beds, 32 new operating rooms and new amenities. It’s set to be completed in 2020. Earlier this month, construction ended at Dunbar Commons, 52 senior housing units in the redeveloped historic Dunbar Elementary at 1432 NE Seventh St. While some developments evoke mixed reactions from a community wary of gentrification and further displacement, Williams said he is cautiously optimistic. “That’s the hard part, trying to balance the ownership that you feel or the pride that you feel with opening your doors and letting people come in and help you,” he said. “That’s hard because there have been so many broken promises. There have been so many lies and so many projects that were halted, so many people that came in and were doing it for God or whatever and ended up doing it for money or didn’t do it at all. So yeah, it makes you cautious about all that because up to this point, we did it all on our own for the most part. But I think it’s good. My goal is to get as many people who grew up on the east side to move back, to move their businesses back, to stay, to buy a house. Me, my mom and my
sister live on the east side ... within a few blocks of each other. That’s important.” And though Royal agrees that the developments are positive, he is more focused on where the black community is located now and the future of the area. “[Many developments] are over into the Health Sciences Center, the OU medical school and the Innovation District. I wouldn’t say anything negative about it, but I will say that that’s still not the northeast community,” he said. “We support the Innovation District, but we were displaced from that area. … We just say now that we have identified where the heart of our community is. Now help us develop it. We won’t even be looking back because we’ll be looking forward.”
The EastPoint development has only a few outstanding leases under negotiations. Secured tenants include Williams’s burger joint, Intentional Fitness by Emmanuel Sonsanya, the headquarters for Oklahomans for Criminal Justice Reform, a bar, an optometrist, a travel agency and an art gallery and studio. Pending tenants are a restaurant and a juice shop. The development has already drawn people who moved out of the area or had their businesses outside northeast OKC back to their own community. “Emmanuel’s spot is a great example,” Thompson said. “He’s somebody that’s done fitness stuff all over the city and was just waiting for an opportunity, looking for an opportunity to do something over here. That’s why he’s the first person over here because he’s been ready for a year.” Freedom Center and Clara Luper Civil Rights Center is designed to be a state-of-the-art museum with exhibit space and an event center for the community. Royal said that, along with EastPoint development and prospective investments from MAPS 4, could completely transform what he now calls the heart of the community. “When this happens, it will put some more demand in that people are coming here. So it’s cultural, but it also has an economic component to it. We haven’t had this kind of opportunity before. … We’ve got something we can embrace as ours, and it will become the cultural hub of northeast Oklahoma City,” Royal said. “The Washington Park and the Henrietta B. Foster Center and all of these kinds of things within another five years will come into focus. The citizens get excited when they can see that vision. This is part of it. [Ward 7 councilwoman Nikki Nice] is sharing the vision for some other projects in MAPS 4. They will all come together, and so then you might say that we went through a renaissance.”
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S TAT E
A group of concerned Oklahomans want redistricting to be done independent from the Oklahoma Legislature. By Miguel Rios
A coalition of citizens wants to end partisan redistricting. Members argue that the practice, known as gerrymandering, essentially lets politicians pick their voters instead of the other way around. People Not Politicians, the coalition led by Let’s Fix This and League of Women Voters of Oklahoma, filed an initiative petition last week in hopes of changing the way redistricting is done. Oklahoma Secretary of State must review the petition before setting a date for signature collection to begin. Proponents will then have 90 days to gather nearly 180,000 signatures. Andy Moore, founder and executive director of Let’s Fix This, said gerrymandering was a concern he heard repeatedly when talking to citizens. “We did kind of a listening tour around the state to see what issues people cared about, and gerrymandering was one of those things that kept coming up,” he said. “I thought that was kind of odd because most people don’t even necessarily know about it, but it’s been in the news in other states and people, I think, just look at the maps here and can see that there’s weirdlooking districts.” Senate District 30, represented by Julia Kirt (D), is perhaps the most wellknown “weird-looking district,” as it is commonly compared to a laboratory microscope. The district includes nine different ZIP codes and actually encompasses all of Lake Hefner. However, Moore said gerrymandering happens from both sides of the aisle. “It’s important for people to know that both parties have gerrymandered forever,” he said. “Whoever is in power gerrymanders to try to stay in power. In years past, both parties have filed legislation trying to create something like this (independent redistricting). … Of course, the majority party, whoever it is, doesn’t ever hear those bills.”
gardless of how they performed in office, and if they know their seat is safe, then they are by very nature less accountable to voters,” Moore said. “If they’re worried about gerrymandering their own districts, they are maybe less concerned about addressing our real problems like roads and bridges and schools that are still underfunded and rural hospitals closing. The other thing is that the current process where politicians get to pick their own voters happens totally in the dark. We don’t know who is drawing the maps. We don’t know how much they’re being paid. We don’t know what data they’re using. They go into a back room, they do it and there’s no accountability.” A handful of states have fully independent redistricting commission, but the practice is relatively new. Only four years ago, in an Arizona case, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that independent commissions do not violate the U.S. Constitution. Across the country, more states are being challenged over what some call unfair maps and unconstitutional gerrymandering. “There have been lawsuits in the past about unfair maps that were unsuccessful,” Moore said. “I think it’s clear that the Legislature, the politicians themselves, have no interest in policing themselves on this issue, so it’s left to the people, which is why we have the ballot initiative process. When legislators are unable or unwilling to make the changes that we think they need to, we have a way to make it happen.”
To create the commission, the chief justice of the Oklahoma Supreme Court would designate a panel of three retired judges to review applications and unanimously narrow down prospective commissioners. Judges are to make decisions based on who they believe best demonstrates “experience in organiz-
ing, representing, advocating for, adjudicating the interest of, or actively participating in groups, organizations or associations in Oklahoma” and have relevant “analytical skills, the ability to be impartial and the ability to promote consensus on the commission.” Judges then hold a random drawing to select two Republican, two Democratic and two Independent members of the commission. The six commissioners would then, with approval of at least four of them, appoint one additional commissioner from each party. But to ensure as much independence as possible, citizens can’t have been involved in partisan politics for five years before applying and can’t run for office in a district they redrew. “No lobbyist, no partisan elected officials, no legislative staffers, no party staffers and no one who is an immediate family member of one of those groups [can be on the commission]. And once you’re on the commission, you can’t run for one of those offices — legislative or congressional. You can’t run for office where you draw the lines for that 10 years,” Moore said. “We want this commission to be entirely independent of the Legislature. We’re not trying to make it nonpartisan; we’re partisan people. We have parties; that’s how the system is structured. That’s why we have the three groups. … It’s almost 74 impossible to make it nonpartisan; we Edmond want it to be independent from the politicians who serve in those districts.”
How it works
The coalition hopes to get the initiative on the November 2020 ballot, as redistricting is set for 2021 — it happens the year after the U.S. Census each decade. Currently, the Republican-led state Legislature alone is in charge of redistricting. People Not Politicians’ initiative — State Question 804 — would Yukon and create amend the state constitution a nine-member independent commission to redraw districts. 270 “Politicians draw districts in a way that virtually ensures they get reelected reSenate District 30 is commonly compared to a laboratory microscope for its odd shape. | Photo Oklahoma State Legislature / provided
N OV E M B E R 6 , 2 0 1 9 | O KG A Z E T T E . C O M
Senate District 30
77 Nichols Hills Warr Acres
235 35 77
Andy Moore, Let’s Fix This founder and executive director, said gerrymandering allows politicians to pick their voters. | Photo Alexa Ace
House Speaker Charles McCall (R) criticized the initiative, saying it was a “solution in search of a problem.” “The convoluted 14-page process the petitioners want makes the system more complicated and less accountable to voters. The existing process is much simpler and more accountable because the buck stops with the legislators who the voters can keep or replace depending on how they feel about their work,” he said in a statement. Senate President Pro Tempore Greg Treat (R) also criticized the initiative, saying liberal politicians use the proposals “as a way to support radical progressive viewpoints in Oklahoma and other states.” “This is a redistricting coup, not an attempt at fair maps. This is a power play by out-of-state liberals in an attempt to force an agenda on Oklahomans,” Treat said in a statement. “The Oklahoma Senate will do its job and handle redistricting in a fair manner.” But Moore points out that the only pushback he has heard comes from those who benefit from the current system, including Republican leadership and lobbyists. “The criticism is kind of ridiculous. This commission is required to hold public meetings in all congressional districts,” he said. “I’m certain that the commission will engage in some kind of outreach and due diligence that we would expect from an independent commission of people who want to do the right thing.” People Not Politicians hosts a stateJones wide town hall tour throughout the rest of the year. The next one is 6-8 p.m. Thursday at Cole Community Center, 4400 Northwest Expressway, in Oklahoma City. After that, the group will be in Norman 6-8 p.m. Monday at University of Oklahoma’s Tom Love Innovation Hub, 201 David L. Boren Blvd. The coalition will alsoChoctaw host town halls in Woodward, Tulsa, McAlester, Ardmore, Ada and Enid. Visit peoplenotpoliticians.org.
friedNEWS Gambling problem
Remember in 2016 when Oklahoma overwhelmingly voted in favor of State Question 780, which allows the more than 60,000 Oklahomans convicted of simple drug possession to seek parole and expunge felony drug possession? It wasn’t until 2019 that Gov. Kevin Stitt retroactively signed the state question into law. The state district attorney’s association and local law enforcement pushed back against the bill for years, arguing that they were for common-sense criminal justice reform as long as it didn’t require more work for them. The inner workings of the movement against criminal justice reform were revealed last week as William Muller, a former investigator for Oklahoma County District Attorney’s Office under DA David Prater, filed a ”notice of claim” alleging Prater ordered improper investigations against leaders of Oklahomans for Criminal Justice Reform as part of a potential wrongful termination lawsuit, according to the Associated Press. The claim alleges that Prater obtained a grand jury subpoena against the criminal justice reform group led by Republican former state House Speaker Kris Steele without probable cause. Muller’s attorney told the Associated Press that he was fired after he refused to continue the investigation against the group and notified Oklahoma Association of Police Chiefs, making it more difficult for Muller to get another job. The claim states that the DA thought “any reform to criminal justice was bullshit,” which goes against the District Attorneys Association’s talking points and sounds like a guy who probably has a lot of stock in private prisons. Prater told KFOR that the allegations are “ridiculous” and hit them with the old “if I wasn’t so busy, I’d be really able to mount my defense” claim. “This was carefully orchestrated to be released during a week, when I would be busy, in a courtroom,” Prater said in a statement. Ah, yes, the one week out of the year that a district attorney might be in a courtroom. Because we should totally provide the DA more chances to prove his innocence than the thousands of people he has locked up for nonviolent offenses.
Last year, the tribal nations operating Oklahoma’s more than 100 casinos paid $139 million to the state in “exclusivity fees,” according to Associated Press, but Gov. Kevin “Never Count Your Money When You’re Sitting at the Table” Stitt wants to raise the stakes. The fees — currently 4-10 percent of the casinos’ net revenue paid for the right to operate exclusively in the state — were negotiated between the state and tribes in 2004 following the passage of a ballot measure legalizing slot machines, poker, blackjack and other games of chance. In a July Tulsa World op-ed, Stitt wrote that this agreement expires on Jan. 1 and must be renegotiated to reflect the current realities of Oklahoma’s gaming industry, which made more than $2 billion last year and employs thousands of people throughout the state. On Oct. 28, new negotiations began, but the tribal nations in a closed-door meeting with Attorney General Mike Hunter at Citizen Potawatomi Nation’s Grand Casino Hotel & Resort in Shawnee had a fundamental disagreement with Stitt’s negotiation tactics before numbers could be discussed. “The 35 tribal nations with gaming compacts are unified in their position that the agreements automatically renew after Jan. 1 if an agreement can’t be reached on new terms, and that that issue must be resolved before negotiations can begin,” Associated Press reported.
Along with a host of other plastic products and lax regulations on huge corporations, a massive illegal turtle trade network — yes, a black market for turtles — is also a major threat. In fact, Oklahoma Department of Wildlife conservation is getting $250,000 in restitution from William Gangemi, a New Jersey man who pleaded guilty to smuggling box turtles from Oklahoma. He will also pay a $100,000 fine to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, as he has also pleaded guilty to other federal charges for trafficking wildlife across two other states. Game Warden Carlos Gomez told News On 6 that a tip helped connect Gangemi to the case. “He’s one of the big buyers that’s collecting the turtles from around the country from the lower level people that are actually capturing the turtles, and then he’s shipping them to try and get them in the marketplace in Southeast Asia,” Gomez said. A year and a half ago, wardens were sent to a motel room where they found tubs of turtles, Gomez said. They were able to track the turtles through the shipment process and worked with other local and federal agents to arrest Gangemi, who had been working with a group of people to illegally collect more than 1,000 Oklahoma box turtles and ship them to Asia. In a National Geographic report from last week, experts said turtles have become a “rare, coveted item to collect” and “demand has already wiped out large numbers of native turtles in Asia, making American turtles even more attractive.”
Asian consumers “love the taste of their meat or covet turtles with dramaticlooking shells as pets,” according to a 2018 Reuters report. Box turtles can sell for anywhere between $5 to $2,000 dollars depending on the condition of the turtle and how ornate the shell is. While there are a large number of smugglers connected to the
illegal trade network, Gomez said reporting suspicious behavior could help solve crimes and save animals. In the meantime, while plastic straws only account for a minute amount of pollution harming the environment and animals, reducing plastic use and reusing what you can is still worth your time.
Former governor Brad Henry, who was in office from 2003-2011 (i.e., during the original negotiations) told Tulsa World he thought at the time the government would benefit if the compacts renewed automatically because he was afraid the tribes would want to negotiate lower rates. Anyone confused about why Native Americans might be wary of the government changing the terms of a previously negotiated agreement should go ahead and Google “Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868.”
Believe it or not, plastic straws aren’t the only things harming and killing turtles. O KG A Z E T T E . C O M | N OV E M B E R 6 , 2 0 1 9
EAT & DRINK
Back in the hands of its founder, Bellini’s Ristorante & Grill offers diverse and expansive Italian and seafood offerings. By Jacob Threadgill
Bellini’s Ristorante & Grill 6305 Waterford Blvd., Suite 100 | bellinisristorantegrill.com | 405-848-1065 WHAT WORKS: The meatballs are tender and the lobster bisque is a balance of cream and seafood stock. WHAT NEEDS WORK: The bread on the sandwich got a little soggy. TIP: Its patio makes for a perfect brunch destination.
Over three decades, veteran Oklahoma City restaurateur Tommy Byrd has opened concepts all over the metro, but there’s nothing like coming home again. Byrd opened Bellini’s Italian Ristorante & Grill at the Waterford Properties office complex in August of 1990 and sold the restaurant in 2010 as he opened his second Tommy’s Italian-American Grill on W. Memorial Road a year later. When Diana Buthion closed Bellini’s Underground in March of this year, the opportunity to return to the space he helped start was too much to pass up for Byrd. He sold the building that housed Tommy’s to Emerging Brands, a group with whom he has worked in the past, who turned it into the fifth Bricktown Brewery metro location. A full renovation was completed for the Bellini’s space in just eight weeks that put in a new bar, overhauled the kitchen and generally made the space
brighter, placing an emphasis on its patio overlooking the complex’s water feature. The new (old) Bellini’s opened in June. “We’re thrilled to death to be back; it’s like coming home,” Byrd said. “We’ve got customers that you knew growing up and their children. It’s kind of just a neighborhood restaurant and always was.” I’ve lived in Oklahoma City less than three years, so I have no experience with the original iteration of Bellini’s and never dined there when it was Bellini’s Underground, but I always wondered about the restaurant when I drove past it at NW 63rd Street and Pennsylvania Avenue. The first thing I wondered was, How do I even get to the restaurant? Little things like that can prevent people from going to an establishment. From the intersection, you can see Bellini’s on the ground floor of one of the office buildings, but there’s no (apparent) street access. It turned out be much ado about nothing because if you enter the Waterford complex from its entrance on Pennsylvania Avenue, there is a Bellini’s sign directing drivers to enter the first parking garage on the left, and there are designated parking spots for the restaurant on the north end of the parking garage. Guests enter through the parking garage and find a restaurant space that lives up to Byrd’s vision to brighten it.
I stopped in for a lunch service, and it has a lot of natural light pouring in from its patio windows, and the ceiling has been raised to the rafters, which helps create more space. Bellini’s has a dedicated menu for lunch and brunch, but the entire menu is available all day, and it’s the thing that stands out. Normally, I would feel anxious about a restaurant with a huge menu. It’s generally a bad sign because it’s difficult for a kitchen staff to pull off every dish on a consistent level, but I think Bellini’s has an advantage because Byrd has worked with the same staff for at least 16 years. “All of those guys have been with me and know everything on the menu,” Byrd said. The full menu is almost 80 items, and it’s basically a greatest hits of menus from the original Bellini’s and Tommy’s. Byrd said his daughter sat down over a weekend and looked over every menu they’ve done at the two concepts and made a list of her favorites. The new Bellini’s menu includes old Bellini’s favorites that are returning like chicken lasagna, a white cream sauce-based dish with cheese and vegetables served over fresh spinach and sautéed mushrooms, and pollo spiedino, capellini pasta tossed in white wine and garlic herb butter with a marinated chicken skewer rolled in breadcrumbs. “We’ve had so many comments from customers like, ‘So glad you brought back this dish or that dish,’” Byrd said. The menu also includes new entrees like lamb chops — two 6-ounce chops served with vegetables and garlic mashed potatoes. Byrd is also excited Artichoke dip appetizer at Bellini’s | Photo Jacob Threadgill
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Meatball sub at Bellini’s with fries | Photo Jacob Threadgill
about the amount of seafood they’ve added to the menu, which is showcased with appetizers like blue crab claws, crab cakes, mussels in white wine and beer sauce, two shrimp dishes, smoked salmon and fried calamari. Entrees include seafood pastas, three salmon preparations and snapper. Pizza is baked in a deck oven on handtossed dough made fresh daily, and the same goes for focaccia bread. “We still do it the old way with fresh sauces every day,” Byrd said. “Everything is made to-order. It’s kind of old-school, but it’s the way we like to do it, and the customers seem to appreciate it.” I’d like to return to try some pizza and pasta dishes, but for lunch, I couldn’t pass up a meatball sub served on a grilled herb loaf with marinara sauce, sautéed peppers and onions with melted provolone. I also tried an appetizer of artichoke dip, a cup of lobster bisque and a Caesar salad. My only complaint for the meal is that the bread got a little soggy under the weight of its ingredients. I might toast it under the broiler rather than put it on the grill. The meatballs are made inhouse and were tender, but my favorite part of the sandwich was the accompanying fries. They had a crispy, well-seasoned exterior with an almost creamy interior, like a crispy baked potato. I’m glad Bellini’s is back because it offers a unique dining setting that makes it a perfect brunch destination and has plenty of dinner appeal for families because its menu is sure to have something for everyone. Visit bellinisristorantegrill.com.
F E AT U R E
Hal Smith Restaurants expands into downtown Norman with by-the-slice pizza concept Notorious P.I.E. By Jacob Threadgill
During his career as managing partner with Hal Smith Restaurants, Brandon Kistler has helped usher in The Garage Burgers & Beer, Pub W and The Winston from opening to expansion, but Kistler’s work on the newest concept, Notorious P.I.E., takes on special meaning. “We’re at 20 Garages now, just opened the fifth Pub W in Edmond and Winston was a year and a half of work and it’s doing great,” Kistler said. “We’re looking for a second [Winston location] now. Creating a new concept is a creative process that is so fun and rewarding. Day-to-day is such a different beast than creating and getting it open. It is such a relief to get it open, but then day-to-day management becomes a different chore to get it going in the right direction.” Notorious P.I.E. — a neighborhood pizza joint opened at 305 W. Main St. in downtown Norman in September — offers daily by-the-slice options as well as whole pizzas with fresh and funky topping combinations. Kistler first met James Clifford when Clifford started working at a Pub W that Kistler was managing, and Clifford kept telling him about his dream to open a new pizza joint after he experienced owning and running Mimi’s Pizza. Clifford’s experience mirrored Kistler’s lifetime of growing up in the restaurant industry, as his parents owned and operated Pump’s Bar and Grill until 1996. When Kistler moved over to help expand The Garage, he brought Clifford to manage a location. It helped earn his stripes with Hal Smith, and after a successful few years with The Garage, Notorious P.I.E. was born when the location that formerly housed Puebla Tacos y Tequileria became available. “Jimmy has been open with Hal
Individual slices change daily at Notorious P.I.E. and cost $3-$4. | Photo provided
[Smith], and I know that pizza is his passion and he wanted the opportunity to do it again,” Kistler said. “He did a great job for us as a manager at The Garage [1021 Interstate 240 Service Road] location, and this location came open and we took the Notorious P.I.E. concept and ran with it.”
We would never go right next to Upper Crust, and it’s a different neighborhood feel and things of that nature. Brandon Kistler Notorious P.I.E. differs from Hal Smith’s other pizza concept Upper Crust by offering several daily slice offerings that cost $3-$4 in addition to larger, 18-inch pizzas and a 10-inch gluten-free cauliflower crust. Kistler said Notorious P.I.E. has more of a focus on cocktails compared to Upper Crust’s wine focus, but the two concepts co-existing is akin to the similarities shared between other Hal Smith restaurants Louie’s Grill & Bar, Pub W and Charleston’s and Redrock Canyon Grill. Any additional Notorious P.I.E. expansion will be based on market, where bythe-slice sales make sense. “We would never go right next to Upper Crust, and it’s a different neighborhood feel and things of that nature,” Kistler said. “There aren’t any cross-compete concerns. We just continued on page 12
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EAT & DRINK Pesto Dream; Hot, Hot, Heat; and Big Peppa pizzas at Notorious P.I.E. | Photo provided
F E AT U R E
continued from page 11
space them out and keep them unique in their own regard.”
Clifford and Kistler collaborated to create the Notorious P.I.E. menu with Clifford bringing over recipes for the house marinara and Italian beef sandwich from his experience with Mimi’s Pizza. The Italian
beef is available on a toasted baguette as a sandwich or on the I Dip, U Dip, We Dip sandwich that includes a side of au jus for dipping. Pizzas are baked in a deck oven and take about 8-10 minutes, Kistler said. The Big Peppa lines the five-cheese blend with 90 total pepperonis and then follows in the Oklahoma tradition established by Jack Sussman and Nomad of using fried pepperonis as an additional topping. Fried pepperonis are also used
on the banana pepper Caesar salad. “[The fried pepperoni] add texture, and it’s fun,” Kistler said. “It’s also a nod to tradition.” Kistler’s favorite pizza on the menu is Greens, Eggs & Ham, which has a base of garlic- and basil-infused olive oil topped with spinach, chopped bacon, capicola ham, garlic, roasted tomatoes and baked eggs. Pesto Dream is a spinach-and-cashew pesto with fresh mozzarella, fivecheese blend, shrimp, spinach, roasted tomatoes, artichoke hearts and goat cheese-roasted cashews and is one of two shrimp options on the menu. Cured Meat Overlord includes pepperoni, salami, Italian sausage, chopped bacon and capicola ham and is a topseller; it is the antithesis of the vegetarian options, which gain a new offering in November to go along with The Screamin’ Vegan (roasted carrot and jalapeño hummus as a base, crimini mushrooms, roasted onion, red bell peppers, kalamata olives, artichoke hearts and cantaloupe). The roasted fruit also makes an appearance on Livin’ Off the Wall with cheese, red grapes, red onion, basil and honey. “We were working with the guys from Sysco, and they had the idea to do cantaloupe and prosciutto like a canapé, and it wasn’t really working,” Kistler
said. “Then we got the idea to pre-roast the cantaloupe, and it holds up to the cooking process. It was a group effort.” With a new menu in November, Notorious P.I.E. will offer a fried cheese pizza that tops its regular cheese pie with fried cheese sticks, extra marinara and Parmesan. It will also add Bomb Snacks — pizza dough stuffed with pepperoni, sausage, cheese and deep-fried — to the appetizer menu full-time. While a lot of gluten-free crusts are thin and crackerlike, Notorious P.I.E. stocks a Sysco-provided version that rises into a thick and flavorful crust. “There’s so much flour in that kitchen that there was no way we could make our own dough and say it’s a gluten-free dough without flour contamination,” Kistler said. “It’s got a nice rise and chew to it.” The outdoor patio at Notorious P.I.E seats additional 60 people and is the kind of place to enjoy one of its house punches: Derby Boombastic made with Four Roses bourbon, Bitter Truth falernum, grapefruit and lemon juices and Tornadocane made with two types of rum, pineapple, cranberry and lime juices with a splash of ginger beer. It also offers a pineapple frosé and four house cocktails made with fresh juice, including a take on an Old Fashioned that uses Cynar in place of muddled cherry and orange and an Italian margarita that substitutes triple sec for amaretto. Visit notoriouspienorman.com.
Saturday, November 23 4:00pm – 8:00pm Broadway Ave. and side streets between NW 4th and 10th Join Automobile Alley for the 4th annual holiday open house, where the neon and holiday lights shine bright. Visit the Alley’s unique retailers and restaurants for holiday shopping and merriment, and enjoy free carriage rides, visits with Santa, live artists and musicians, and more as the light curtains glow for the first time this season!
Visit DowntownInDecember.com for more info. 12
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F E AT U R E
Dallas-based Razzoo’s Cajun Cafe opens its first Oklahoma location in Chisholm Creek. By Jacob Threadgill
On an indoor deck at the new Razzoo’s Cajun Cafe location in Oklahoma City in the Chisholm Creek development, 1340 W. Memorial Road, diners sit surrounded by photos and knickknacks of Mardi Gras culture as open windows overlook the development’s lake. Founded in 1991 in Dallas, Razzoo’s has expanded from a humble shack — founder Jeff Powell and partners cobbled together just enough décor to make the concept work on a minimal budget — into a Texas powerhouse with 20 locations across the Lone Star state. The privately owned company has expanded into North Carolina and opened in Oklahoma City in October. “It goes back with Oklahoma City because we’re not too far south and Dallas-Fort Worth is a destination for people in that market, so we made a lot of friends,” Powell said by phone. “I can recall a couple of people — it was goodnatured — but they were on me, ‘When are you coming [to Oklahoma City]?’” Powell was quoted in a 2006 Dallas Business Journal story about eyeing expansion into Oklahoma City. He said it became a priority after stabilizing its reach around Texas, and the opportunity at Chisholm Creek was too good to pass up. “If we can find that circular placement with solid neighbors, and any type of outdoor seating with a water feature really fits well with the concept,” Powell said. “The timing was right, but so is the [Chisholm Creek] development; the placement and feel of the building is really outstanding.” The 8,000 square-foot building seats as many as 225 customers who are greeted with a colorful glass bottle chandelier in the neon green, gold and purple colors of Mardi Gras that lead into the concept’s signature horseshoe-shaped bar that serves Bourbon Street-themed alcoholic and nonalcoholic cocktails.
The design is representative of where the brand is headed and has been replicated at its three most recent stores while the others will be updated to reflect a theme that screams Mardi Gras but isn’t over-the-top. “In 1991, when we first started the original location was a shack, and as we grew, there were more stuff and artifacts on the wall that you’ll see in New Orleans,” said Oklahoma City manager Matt Hubbard. “We had a tornado display and looks like something you’d see in a tornado: boats, oars, ice coolers, accordions, lawn chairs all wrapped in Christmas lights. We scaled down, but it still looks like a Razzoo’s inside and out.”
The timing was right, but so is the [Chisholm Creek] development. Jeff Powell Powell said there was a time early in the company’s expansion when they veered too far into fine-dining territory with things like marble countertops before realizing “the real warmth and comfort in that authenticity is what was very important to [their] guests.” Razzoo’s growth into Oklahoma City hasn’t been a linear upshot. A previous attempt to expand into the Atlanta market failed after a few years, and a San Antonio store was closed last decade, but the company successfully spun off its Tricky Fish menu into a standalone concept with two locations that recently split off from the main company so they could grow at a deliberate rate while Razzoo’s eyes national expansion and reinvestment into its existing locations. One of the biggest question marks
for a restaurant during expansion is consistency, especially when cooking Cajun and Creole dishes, a lot of which begin with the time-consuming process of making roux — a combination of flour and butter or oil that must be constantly stirred so it turns dark brown rather than burns. Instead of handling 22 kitchens and the individual variables they introduce to the roux process, Razzoo’s makes all of its roux off-site. “It’s a give and take [during expansion],” Powell said. “The measure of success is when a guest says, ‘I love it; it’s great.’ If you’re making a roux in 22 different locations every day, it requires a lot of attention because you’re dealing with hot fat and flour, but you’d have subtle differences location to location.” Other than a few base sauces, everything else in the Razzoo’s kitchen is prepared fresh daily. This includes longtime favorites like Rat Toes, which are shrimp and crab-stuffed jalapeños, and Cajun fondue with shrimp, crawfish or chicken — the top-seller is the shrimp and catfish combination. Grilled alligator is served over jambalaya filled with Andouille sausage, chicken and crawfish. Étouffée and gumbo is served with seafood and chicken and sausage varieties, and the restaurant is a go-to for fresh oysters. In recent years, Razzoo’s has expanded its menu to include a hickory burger in addition to its already popular Big Easy burger, a buttermilk fried chicken sand-
left Blues and jazz artifacts line the wall at Razzoo’s Cajun Cafe in Oklahoma City. above Chicken and sausage gumbo | Photos Alexa Ace
wich and salads to eliminate the “no vote” among anyone who might not be in favor of ordering hard-to-pronounce or spicy dishes like chicken Tchoupitoulas or shrimp en brochette. Powell said that watching Razzoo’s grow over the years is a tremendous source of pride, but he’s most proud of the work his staff has done to help make that happen. “To still be around to have the reputation that allows you to open the doors in Oklahoma City and be absolutely blown away, there is a lot of return there,” he said. “I don’t take it for granted.” It’s people like Hubbard, who started working for Razzoo’s in 1997 as a bartender and has worked his way through the company over the years. “One of the things that intrigues me is that we have a ‘Whatever it takes’ attitude, whether it’s finding a champagne bottle for an anniversary or going to the store to buy chips because a kid really wanted nachos,” Hubbard said. Razzoo’s in Oklahoma City celebrates its grand opening with a ribboncutting Thursday that includes giveaways and free samples. Visit razzoos.com.
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EAT & DRINK
A healthy gut can eliminate all types of health problems. A key to getting your insides in order is to consume healthy types of bacteria, also known as probiotics, but it doesn’t have to be a chore. These seven options will make eating healthy fun. By Jacob Threadgill with provided and Gazette / file photos
Big Oak Kombucha 44 NE 51st St. bigoakkombucha.com 405-310-9724
Made by introducing beneficial strains of bacteria, yeast and sugar to tea and allowing it to ferment, kombucha is one of the best sources of probiotics. Founded in 2015, Big Oak is the best local source for the product. You can order its five flavors — orange ginger, blueberry lavender, white peony, prickly pear lime ginger, grapefruit rosemary juniper — online or find it at retailers like Urban Agrarian, Native Roots Market, Packard’s New American Kitchen and many others.
Taste of Korea 5 S. Western Ave. 405-208-7788
The key to a Korean meal (and why South Koreans have some of the longest lifespans in the world) is the rotating set of side dishes showcased with the collection of banchan. Kimchi is probably the most well-known of the bunch, but there are others (fermented and non-fermented) that rotate depending on the day at Taste of Korea and other Korean restaurants in the metro area.
3401 S. Sooner Road
royal-bavaria.com | 405-799-7666
Sauerkraut is probably the most ubiquitous high-probiotic food in the U.S. diet besides yogurt. You might as well get the best sauerkraut from the metro area’s longest-running traditional German restaurant and brewery. Get some of the health benefits of sauerkraut while pairing it with the likes of indulgent housemade sausages, fried schnitzel, smoked pork chop, shank and others.
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Ocean 81 Sushi Bar
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Elemental Coffee Roasters
This kitchen inside The Collective food hall is focused on providing high-vibrational foods that will leave your body and mind feeling good. Get any dish topped with Feel Good Kimchi that includes fermented bok choy, cabbage, beets and other tasty and nutritious ingredients. Add some tempeh to the dish to find another great source of probiotics.
Miso is an excellent source of probiotics, which means that you’re doing great when you order the soup as an appetizer. But are you bored by the perfunctory options found a lot of restaurants? Behold, the red miso soup at Ocean 81 that includes shrimp, scallops and tofu. Pair the soup with some sushi (which has plenty of heart-healthy omega-3s) as well as the probiotic-promoting pickled ginger and wasabi on the plate.
Tempeh is similar to tofu because they’re both soy-based, but it goes through an extra fermentation process, which means it’s also an excellent source of probiotics. Its firm texture means it’s perfect for The Earth Cafe’s tempeh tacos, which are combined with farmer’s cheese (or Daiya for vegans), mixed greens, tomatoes and carrots.
Elemental is much more than a place for a great cup of coffee or tea. It’s also an excellent eatery focused on providing healthy and indulgent options. Dive into some gut-healthy products like tempeh on the Beast breakfast sandwich or the Joan Rivers, which is tempeh bacon, sauerkraut, vegan cheese and stoneground mustard. Elemental also sells Big Oak Kombucha.
308 NW 10th St. thecollectiveokc.com | 405-724-7682
7508 N. May Ave. ocean81.com | 405-842-3764
309 S. Flood Ave., Norman theearthnorman.com | 405-364-3551
815 N. Hudson Ave. elementalcoffee.com | 405-633-1703
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O KG A Z E T T E . C O M | N OV E M B E R 6 , 2 0 1 9
ARTS & CULTURE
Science Museum Oklahoma’s Cosmic Culture explores the intersection of artistic inspiration and scientific discovery. By Jeremy Martin
Long before people could explore space, they were imagining it. “In the beginning of man’s interest in outer space and what was up there and what was going on up in the sky, the only way to document it was through art, by drawing it and writing about it,” Alyson Atchison, curator of Science Museum Oklahoma’s smART Space. “We see scientists and artists working hand in hand, but in the very beginning, scientists had to be artists, too.” Cosmic Culture: Intersections of Art and Outer Space — on display through March 29, 2020, in the smART Space gallery at Science Museum Oklahoma, 2020 Remington Place — investigates the interplay between creativity and scientific discovery. Inspired by the solar system, the exhibit is arranged in “a heliocentric manner” orbiting Brooklyn-based artist Jacob Hashimoto’s The Other Sun, an installation constructed from 2,000 bamboo and paper kites. Art critic Margaret Zuckerman, reviewing The Other Sun for Daily Serving in 2012, wrote, “Elegant white, solid gold, or patterned, the cascading assemblage of kites moves like a flowing river of shimmering color, rolling through the space with extraordinary buoyancy and energy. It’s difficult for the eye to focus
Paintings from Kysa Johnson’s The Long Goodbye illustrate the life cycle of stars using the formula for charting subatomic decay. | Photo provided
on an individual kite without getting lost in the whole, all-encompassing space. Some of the more decorated kites are like tiny paintings; each ‘superflat’ composition floats above or below its surrounding neighbor, intrinsically incor16
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porated into the design like the patterned scales of a fish.” Atchison said visitors to Cosmic Culture seem to be equally impressed. “My office is just outside of the gallery, and on my whiteboard, I’ve thought about ticking off every time I hear someone walk into the gallery and says, ‘Wow!’” Atchison said. “It happens multiple times a day, which is so fun because part of our mission is inspiring wonder. So hearing people say, ‘Wow!’ is really cool.” The exhibit also includes pieces from Los Angeles-based artist Kysa Johnson’s The Long Goodbye, a series of paintings illustrating the life cycle of stars using the formula for charting subatomic decay. According to a statement on Johnson’s website, “pairing these two iterations of the same process of birth, transformation, decay and regeneration highlights the basic similarity of processes across scale, the inevitability of change and the demise of the status quo whether measured in nanoseconds or millennia.” Atchison said Johnson’s paintings creatively reveal fundamental facts about the universe. “She expresses through her art the fact that everything around us is always decaying,” Atchison said. “Everything has a lifespan. She’s using the subatomic decay pattern formula to draw out the life cycle
of a star, so when you look closely, you see scientific data and formulae and pi signs and all that stuff, and then when you step away, you see a constellation of stars that are moving and slowly burning out. Talk about the crossover of arts and science.” Like all of the pieces on display, Johnson’s work can be appreciated from either a scientific or a creative perspective.
“My brain is more on the artistic side,” Atchison said, “so sometimes when I’m talking to an artist like Kysa, I don’t 100 percent understand exactly what she’s doing. I get to learn about it. We got these paintings and hung them up, and our education director walked in and said, ‘Oh, she’s using the subatomic decay formula.’”
While the artwork on display depicts far-away subjects, some of the featured artists are based in Oklahoma. Tulsa artist fellow Carrie Dickason creates mixed-media artworks from found and recycled objects, and Norman fiber artist Darci Lenker conveys cosmic scales through small embroideries. “One goal that we had for this exhibition was to show a wide array of media,” Atchison said. “It’s not just a photography show; it’s not just a painting show.” Prints of paintings by highly influential artist Chesley Bonestell, who worked on backdrops for films such as Citizen Kane before he began painting scenes from outer space and extraterrestrial landscapes, are also on display. The International Space Hall of Fame at New Mexico Museum of Space History credits Bonestell’s artwork in the 1949 book Conquest of Space with helping to convince millions of “dazzled” readers “that the exploration of outer space was worth whatever risks and costs might be required.” Former Adler Planetarium director Joseph Chamberlain suggested that “without Bonestell and his early space age artistry, the NASA era might have been delayed for many years, or it might not even have happened at all.” Atchison said that Bonestell’s artwork was based on the
Cosmic Culture — on display through March 29, 2020, in the smART Space gallery at Science Museum Oklahoma — orbits around Jacob Hashimoto’s The Other Sun, an installation constructed from 2,000 bamboo and paper kites. | Photo provided
most accurate information available at the time, and the results when compared to actual photographs is impressive. “In the ’40s and ’50s, NASA would provide him with data that they were collecting about outer space, and Chesley would take that information and paint what he imagined outer space was going to look like,” Atchison said. “Next to the prints of his paintings, we put NASA images of what he was painting. For example, we have a 1951 painting titled ‘Descending Toward the Moon,’ and then we’ve compared it to the actual moon landing in 1969, and they line up. It’s so fascinating.” Like smART Space, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is also interested in finding the crossroads where creativity meets scientific advancement. “NASA has always had a strong interest in the arts,” Atchison said. “They’ve always been open to working with artists and how they can document space exploration.” Cosmos host and NASA consultant Carl Sagan said these artworks inspired his imagination. “I didn’t know what other worlds looked like until I saw Bonestell’s paintings of the solar system,” Sagan said. Admission is $13.95-$16.95. Visit sciencemuseumok.org.
Cosmic Culture: Intersections of Art and Outer Space through March 29, 2020 smART Space gallery Science Museum Oklahoma 2020 Remington Place sciencemuseumok.org | 405-602-6664 $13.95-$16.95
T H E AT E R
Jewel Box Theatre finishes a 62-season run in its current location with Little Old Ladies in Tennis Shoes. By Jeremy Martin
For the final play of Jewel Box Theatre’s 62nd season in its current location, director Deborah Franklin wanted to do something she’d never done before. “It’s fun to revisit our old favorites,” Franklin said, “but this time I was just in the mood to bring something new. So when I found the play, I was really excited because I thought it was perfect for the Jewel Box audience, and I didn’t think most of them would have seen it because it’s not a really widely known play, but I think it’s one that they are really going to enjoy.” The play, Little Old Ladies in Tennis Shoes by Sandra Fenichel Asher, runs Nov. 14-Dec. 8 at Jewel Box Theatre, 3700 N. Walker Ave. Franklin said she chose it because it offers substantial roles for several veteran actresses — something she loved about working on Jewel Box’s 2014 production of The Dixie Swim Club — and its valuing of intergenerational friendships. “In our theater world, we’re used to that,” Franklin said. “We work with people younger than us and older than us, and we become very fond of those people and those friendships. … But it isn’t something that everyone experiences.” Franklin chose to set the play, which chronicles “not lower middle age” Kate Corrigan’s attempt to settle in the suburbs without becoming one of the neighborhood’s titular old ladies in the mid-’80s, around the time Franklin began working with Jewel Box Theatre. Chris Harris, Denise Hughes and Mark Ingham star in Little Old Ladies in Tennis Shoes. | Photo provided
“I was a young woman during that time, just like the lead character,” Franklin said. “I was actually younger than she is, but still, I was a young career woman, so I really related, and I liked the message of the play about living life to its fullest no matter where we are in life. I just think you can’t go wrong with that message for an audience.” Audiences will laugh, Franklin said, but not every scene is treated lightly. “People call it a comedy, but it has some real serious moments in it, too,” Franklin said. “Sometimes in theater, we call those ‘dramedies’ because it’s that mixture of comedy and drama, which really reflects life when you think about it. If people are just coming in for the comedy, they’re going to be a little surprised but not disappointed by the poignant moments that balance out the script.” Denise Hughes plays Corrigan. Franklin said she cast Hughes for her ability to appear “always in control of her life” in one moment and believably pivot to uncertainty when necessary. “She’s very organized,” Franklin said. “She’s career-driven. I was looking for someone who could play the change when she ends up in this neighborhood around all of these people generations beyond her, because then she’s a bit of a fish out of water. She’s a very successful advertiser, but what works for her in the corporate world doesn’t always work for her in this new neighborhood. So she is discovering how to deal with different situations in life, things that are just unfamiliar to her. She even says at one point, ‘This isn’t like me at all. I’m usually so organized,’ so I wanted someone who could show the contrast between the really puttogether career
woman and the woman who was a bit disconcerted in her new lifestyle.” While Corrigan sees an uncertain future in her new neighborhood, her presence gives her elderly neighbors a new perspective. “The little old ladies in tennis shoes have kind of stalled out in their lives, and the young woman who is moving forward kind of shakes things up for them,” Franklin said. “You don’t want to give away too much about the play, but it is about these little old ladies who are really needing a path for going on in life and where they’re going, what they’re going to do with their lives at this point.”
Like Franklin and Hughes, Chris Harris, who plays neighbor Molly Blumenthal, is a familiar name and face to the theaters’ regular patrons. “At Jewel Box, there’s this connection between actors and the audience,” Franklin said. “We were rehearsing the other day and … one of the audience members kind of peeked through at our rehearsal and said, ‘I love every time you’re on stage.’ They recognize her, and they feel a familiarity with her. We may not always recognize the audience members, but we feel the familiarity with them. … There’s so many people who have seen us year after year, and we’re so appreciative of them.” Franklin, who first performed at Jewel Box in a 1983 production of The Star-Spangled Girl, said she didn’t realize until recently that Little Old Ladies in Tennis Shoes would be the final Jewel Box production in the current location at First Christian Church, but she is proud to direct it. “There is certainly, I hate to say, pressure because I don’t want it to sound negative, but there’s definitely an honor in being the last show that is going on in that space,” Franklin said. “Jewel Box has been a really important part of my life, and I have such great memories of all of the fabulous actors and directors and tech people I’ve worked with there,
Katy Hayes, Denise Hughes, Asa Brittan and Chris Harris star in Little Old Ladies in Tennis Shoes Nov. 14-Dec. 8 at Jewel Box Theatre. | Photo provided
so knowing that I am wrapping up at the theater is a real honor to me. It is bittersweet because I’m so excited to do my show, and it’s sad to see the theater close. But the theme of this play is living life to its fullest no matter where you are.” Jewel Box production manager Darron Dunbar said that though First Christian Church plans to relocate, the church is “very committed to keeping Oklahoma’s longest running community theater alive and kicking” after it relocates. “They haven’t found a definite place, but they’re definitely bringing the theater with them,” Dunbar said. “We’re still very successful. We’ve still got loads of season ticketholders and people who come for various shows. We don’t want to lose that or end that, so I’m going to do my best to make that continue to happen.” Though the final play in the original location is one many people aren’t currently familiar with, Franklin said it has potential to become a new favorite. “It’s a little scary when you pick a play that people haven’t heard of,” Franklin said. “I thought it was good, and the people who selected it thought it was good … and so far the people who’ve been working on the show, backstage and onstage, have been really excited about it. My cast is really honored and excited to perform this last show for the audience. … We hope they have a good time, and we hope we leave them with things to think about.” Tickets are $20-$30. Call 405-521-1786 or visit fccokc.org/jewel-box-theatre.
Little Old Ladies in Tennis Shoes Nov. 14-Dec. 8 Jewel Box Theatre 3700 N. Walker Ave. fccokc.org/jewel-box-theatre | 405-521-1786 $20-$30
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A metro entrepreneur built an entire brand out of a desire to be more mindful about what products she brings into her home. By Charles Martin
Relaxation doesn’t come easy in the modern world where billion-dollar companies are battling for screen time on smart phones designed to listen to every word we say (though companies deny it) and respond with targeted ads, news flashes and social media updates. Tuning in has become way easier than tuning out. Add kids into that mix and finding quiet moments in a very loud world often seems impossible. That’s where Keisha Cornelius and her company BodySpyce Luxe & Candle Co. comes in.
Keisha Cornelius started BodySpyce in 2015. | Photo Alexa Ace
“It all started as a process for mothers and fathers to find relaxation time,” Cornelius said. “You light a candle, you get the bath started, have a bar of soap or a bath bomb. Afterwards, you put on body butter. It’s a full, start-to-finish relaxation process.” She built the BodySpyce brand as a way to provide products that help make space in busy lives for a calming recharge. The inspiration came as a reaction to the cryptic ingredient lists she found on mass-marketed bath products and candles. “I figured let me take a look at the ingredients that I’m buying for my own
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home,” Cornelius said. “I started seeing things like paraffin, which is essentially petroleum fuel, something I didn’t want to be burning in my home or putting out into the environment. It’s the same fumes you breathe in while filling up at the gas station.” Cornelius began experimenting just for her own family, starting with simple and safe ingredients she could trust. “I wanted to be more environmentally conscious and look for options to make myself so I knew they burned clean and my children wouldn’t have allergic reactions,” Cornelius said. “With BodySpyce, I wanted to create something that I knew exactly was in each candle.” Cornelius describes herself as a smallbatch company and limits her output to about 100 candles a month on top of the body washes, fragrance sachets, soaps, bath bombs and other collections in her line. “I actually started with bath products in 2015, and the candles were an afterthought,” Cornelius said. “I started out making loaves of soap for my family to use, and it kind of expanded out from there. My son has allergies, so I needed to make something that he could use.” BodySpyce’s top-selling products are the bath bombs, candles, wax melts and whipped sugar scrubs, all handcrafted using simple ingredients. This might make upscaling production difficult, but it pays off for Cornelius through the level of trust she has with her clientele. She also has been able to shift completely over to a full-scale vegan line and all sustainably sourced. “Twenty or thirty years ago, doing it this way might not have been as easy, but now you can find all these ingredients at Sprouts and Whole Foods [Market],”
Cornelius said. “When you think about vegetation, something as simple as olive oil or spinach or kale, these are things you can go to any market and find. You take those products and mix them with other ingredients you want to use in your care line and end up with a beautiful product.” She only expanded into candles last year, starting with a soy wax but moving to a coco-soy blend that is vegan and clean-burning. “The wax lasts a lot longer, the scents the candle throws are better and it’s environmentally conscious,” Cornelius said. “We’re not using ingredients from countries where there may be child work issues. I want anyone who buys our product to be confident that it really is vegan.” BodySpyce sales come mostly from Cornelius’s website and pop-up shop opportunities around the city, but she does envision in-store opportunities down the road. “I actually have products in the Hampton Inn lobby in their Made in Oklahoma section,” Cornelius said. “Placement in stores is a goal, maybe not a strong goal, but is something I’m looking into. I’m being very careful because wholesale accounts require large amounts and I’m still just a small-batch provider.” Since quality control is so critical to her brand, she doesn’t want to increase
BodySpyce Luxe & Candle Co. candles are made with a coco-soy blend that is vegan and clean-burning. | Photo Alexa Ace
production until she feels like BodySpyce is ready. In the meantime, she wants to continue expanding its presence in the city and get a better feel for how to expand demand. “I run analytics on my website and social media, and the demographics are all over the place,” Cornelius said. “With the popular brand of Lush cosmetics, the millennials are a big market for the bath bomb craze because they came up as that was becoming a thing. But I also have customers ranging from 75 years old to 7-year-olds assuming they can get their parents to buy it for them.” Cornelius said her story tracks with the modern trend of female-led entrepreneurship. “More moms are jumping out of corporate America and are wanting to create businesses where they are able to provide a life for their family and still be able to do more things focused on children,” Cornelius said. “I still do have my day job, but BodySpyce allowed me to focus more on what products my own family was using and what was absorbing into our skin, the largest organ on our body.” Visit bodyspyce.com.
BodySpyce’s body washes, fragrance sachets, soaps, bath bombs, candles and other items are made with simple, clean ingredients in small batches. | Photo Alexa Ace
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CALENDAR family she left behind in playwright Lucas Hnath’s sequel to Henrik Ibsen’s 1879 play, Nov. 8-24. CitySpace Theatre, Civic Center Music Hall, 201 N. Walker Ave., 405-594-8300. FRI-SUN
are events recommended by Oklahoma Gazette editorial staff members For full calendar listings, go to okgazette.com.
Holmes & Watson playwright Jeffrey Hatcher’s mystery thriller tasks Arthur Conan Doyle’s Dr. Watson with determining whether any of three asylum inmates claiming to be the famous detective Sherlock Holmes is telling the truth, through Nov. 9. Carpenter Square Theatre, 806 W. Main St., 405-2326500, carpentersquare.com. FRI-SAT
BOOKS Brunching with Books a book club meeting every other week, with reading selections chosen by group preference, 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturdays. Buttermilk Paseo, 605 NW 28th St., 405-605-6660, buttermilkokc.com. SAT
Jen Kirkman live comedy show, 8-10 p.m. Nov. 7. The Paramount Room, 701 W. Sheridan Ave., 405887-3327, theparamountroom.com. THU Monday Night Blues Jam Session bring your own instrument to this open-stage jam hosted by Wess McMichael, 7-9 p.m. Mondays. Othello’s Italian Restaurant, 434 Buchanan Ave., 405-701-4900, othellos.us. MON
Comic Book Club a monthly book club discussion focusing on comics, zines and graphic novels with Novembers topic being “Monstress”., Sat., Nov. 9, 2-3 p.m. Literati Press Comics & Novels, 3010 Paseo St., 405882-7032, facebook.com/comicbookclubpaseo. SAT Mid-Oklahoma Writers a meetup for local writers featuring guest speakers and literary discussions, 7-9 p.m. the second Tuesday of the month. Eastside Church of Christ, 916 S. Douglas Blvd., 405-7320393. TUE Second Sunday Poetry hear the works of a variety of local poets, 2 p.m. second Sunday of every month. The Depot, 200 S. Jones Ave., 405-307-9320, pasnorman.org. SUN
FILM The Stories We Tell (2012, Canada, Sarah Polley) a documentary about a family of storytellers reveals the subjective nature of memory, 2 p.m. Nov. 13. Oklahoma City University, 2501 N. Blackwelder Ave, 405-208-5000. WED VHS and Chill: Blockbusted Video riff along with comedians and film fans at this monthly movie screening where audience participation is encouraged, 7-9 p.m. first Wednesday of every month. The Paramount Room, 701 W. Sheridan Ave., 405-8873327, theparamountroom.com. WED
HAPPENINGS Afro Beats a dance party with soca, hip-hop, Caribbean, dancehall and other genres of music provided by DJ Sinz, 11 p.m.-2 a.m. Fridays. Glass Lounge, 5929 N. May Ave., 405-835-8077, glasshouseokc.com. FRI
Small Works, Great Wonders Start or add on to your art collection with smaller than typical pieces starting at lower than typical prices at this annual art sale, which also allows patrons to leave with their purchases that evening. The art sale also features live music, cocktails and hors d’oeuvres, and the museum store will host several trunk shows in conjunction with the event, making it a classy and rustic one-stop holiday shop. The sale begins 6 p.m. Friday at National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum, 1700 NE 63rd St. Tickets are $65-$75. Call 405-478-2250 or visit nationalcowboymuseum.org. FRIDAY Photo Gazette / file
what you would like to see accomplished, Sun., Nov. 10, 3-5 p.m. Northwest Library, 5600 NW 122nd St., 405-606-3580, metrolibrary.org. SUN
ment with cash prizes, 3 p.m. Sundays. Bison Witches Bar & Deli, 211 E Main St., 405-364-7555, bisonwitchesok.com. SUN
Devon Ice Rink ice-skate in Myriad Botanical Gardens and enjoy seasonal food and beverages, Nov. 8 through Feb. 2. Devon Ice Rink, 100 N. Robinson Ave., 405-7086499, downtownindecember.com/devon-ice-rink.
Rodeo Hall of Fame Weekend an annual celebration honoring inductees selected by the Rodeo Historical Society, Nov. 8-9. National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum, 1700 NE 63rd St., 405478-2250, nationalcowboymuseum.org. FRI-SAT
The Friend Zone: Speed-Friending make new friends five minutes at a time at this platonic meetup, 7 p.m. second Monday of every month. Oak & Ore, 1732 NW. 16th St., 405-606-2030, oakandore.com. MON
Trivia Night at Black Mesa Brewing test your knowledge at this weekly competition hosted by BanjoBug Trivia, 6:30 p.m. Tuesdays. Black Mesa Brewing Company, 1354 W Sheridan Ave., 405-7781865, blackmesabrewing.com. TUE
Full Moon Extravaganza celebrate the Beaver Moon with exclusive sales, tarot and oracle readings with snacks and drinks at this after hours event, 9 p.m.-midnight, Nov. 11. Craig’s Curious Emporium, 3004 Paseo, 405-524-9447. MON
Trivia Night at Matty McMillen’s answer questions for a chance to win prizes at this weekly trivia night, 7:30 p.m. Tuesdays. Matty McMillen’s Irish Pub, 2201 NW 150th St., 405-607-8822, mattymcmillens.com. TUE
Holiday Shopping Extravaganza shop unique and local vendors and take pictures with Santa and Mrs. Claus while enjoying live music, wine tastings and more, 11 a.m.-5 p.m., Nov. 10. OKC Farmers Market, 311 S. Klein Ave., 4054860701, oklahomagypsyglam.com. SUN
Jackbox.tv Game Night play interactive party games with host Alex Sanchez, 8-10 p.m. Mondays. Oak & Ore, 1732 NW. 16th St., 405-606-2030, oakandore.com. MON
Brightmusic Chamber Ensemble: From Café to Concert Hall Composer Clara Schumann’s 1846 composition Piano Trio in G minor, Op. 17 is often paired in concert with a trio her husband Robert wrote the following year, but here, Schumann’s work will have an all-too-rare chance to be heard on its own merits. Instead, Brightmusic performs Schumann’s trio on a bill that also includes works by Antonín Dvořák (Piano Trio No. 4 in E minor, Op. 90, Dumky) and Paul Schoenfield (Café Music). The concert is 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at St. Paul’s Cathedral, 127 NW Seventh St. Tickets are free-$20. Visit brightmusic.org. TUESDAY Photo performingartsphotos.com / provided Board Game Day enjoy local craft beer while playing old-school board and arcade games with friends, 5-8 p.m. Sundays. FlashBack RetroPub, 814 W. Sheridan Ave., 405-633-3604, flashbackretropub.com. SUN Broadway Ball a fundraising event benefitting Lyric Theatre and featuring an awards presentation, dinner and a cabaret performance by Tony-nominated actress Emily Skinner, 6:30 p.m. Nov. 8. Embassy Suites Hotel, 1815 S. Meridian Ave., 405-239-3901, embassysuites.hilton.com. FRI Community Conversation join Congresswoman Kendra Horn as she listens to your concerns and 20
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Landscaping With Natives learn about planting native species in your yard and garden at this three-part series hosted by the Central Chapter of the Oklahoma Native Plant Society, 6:30 p.m. Nov. 7. OSU-OKC Campus, 900 N. Portland Ave., 405-9474421, osuokc.edu/home. THU Learn to Dance learn the steps to both Dominican style and sensual Bachata., Wed., Nov. 6, 7-8:20 p.m. Salsa Maritza, 7312 Cherokee Plaza, 956-457-4270, salsaokc.com/bachata. WED LIVE! on the Plaza join the Plaza District every second Friday for an art walk featuring artists, live music, shopping and more, 6-10 p.m. second Friday of every month. Plaza District, 1618 N. Gatewood Ave., 405-426-7812, plazadistrict.org. FRI Mistletoe Market shop unique clothing, jewelry, children’s items and more from 100 handpicked Oklahoma vendors to support the Junior League of Oklahoma City., Nov. 8-10. Cox Convention Center, 1 Myriad Gardens, 405-602-8500, jloc.org. FRI-SUN OKC Reptile Show featuring snakes, geckos, frogs and more as well as small exotic mammals like sugar gliders to purchase straight from the breeders, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Nov. 10.Biltmore Hotel, 401 S. Meridian Ave., 405-947-7681, biltmoreokc.com. SUN Oklahoma Grows Confernce and Trade Show learn about horticulture and see the latest products and services for the industry, 10 a.m., Nov. 7-8. Hilton Garden Inn Edmond / Oklahoma City North, 2833 Conference Drive, 405-285-0900. THU-FRI PAMBE Ghana Global Market shop for handmade and artisanal crafts, clothing and other items at this holiday pop-up shop benefitting bilingual education, through Dec. 24. 50 Penn Place Gallery, 1900 Northwest Expressway, 405-848-5567, 50pennplacegallery.com. TUE Pooches on the Patio bring your best friend to this dog-friendly happy hour with drink specials, appetizers and free pet treats, 4-7 p.m. Saturdays. Café 501 Classen Curve, 5825 NW Grand Blvd., 405844-1501, cafe501.com/. SAT Renegade Poker compete in a 2-3 hour tourna-
Moscow Ballet’s Great Russian Nutcracker this touring production features hand-painted sets, colorful costumes and 10-foot-tall puppets, 7 p.m. Nov. 13. Rose State College, 6420 SE 15th St., 405733-7673, rose.edu. WED Music-palooza Lucas Ross joins the Oklahoma City Philharmonic for a concert of classic Americana songs, 2 p.m. Nov. 10. Civic Center Music Hall, 201 N. Walker Ave., 405-297-2264, okcciviccenter.com. SUN OKC Improv performers create original scenes in the moment based on suggestions from the audience, 7:30 and 9:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. Oklahoma City Improv, 1757 NW 16th St., 405-4569858, okcimprov.com. FRI-SAT The Spongebob Musical the animated aquatic hero must help save Bikini Bottom in this stage musical, Nov. 12-17. Civic Center Music Hall, 201 N. Walker Ave., 405-297-2264, okcciviccenter.com. TUE-SUN Tony Roberts and Red Grant the standup comics perform, 7-11 p.m. Nov. 6. Tower Theatre, 425 NW 23rd St., 405-708-6937, towertheatreokc.com. WED
ACTIVE Full Moon Bike Ride & Run a monthly evening bike ride and run through downtown OKC, 7 p.m. Nov. 11. Myriad Botanical Gardens, 301 W. Reno Ave., 405-445-7080, myriadgardens.com. MON Monday Night Group Ride meet up for a weekly 25-30 minute bicycle ride at about 18 miles per hour through east Oklahoma City, 6 p.m. Mondays. The Bike Lab OKC, 2200 W. Hefner Road, 405-603-7655. MON
OKC Farmers Market a year round farmers market featuring fresh produce, honey, baked goods, meat, hand made goods and more., Saturdays, 9 a.m.-2 p.m. OKC Farmers Market, 311 S. Klein Ave., 405-486-0701, okcfarmersmarket.com. SAT Refreshing the Palette sample 20 different wines with 20 different original artworks based on the wine labels benefiting Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition, 4-6 p.m., Nov. 10. The Metro Wine Bar & Bsitro, 6418 N. Western Ave., 405-840-9463, metrowinebar.com.
Run the Alley a three-mile social run for athletes of all abilities ending with beers at The Yard, 6:30 p.m. Thursdays. OK Runner, 708 N Broadway Ave., 405-702-9291, myokrunner.com. THU Yoga Tuesdays an all-levels class; bring your own water and yoga mat, 5:45 p.m.-7 p.m. Tuesdays. Myriad Botanical Gardens, 301 W. Reno Ave., 405445-7080, myriadgardens.com. TUE
Yoga with Art workout in an art-filled environment followed by a mimosa, 10:30 a.m. Saturdays. 21c Museum Hotel, 900 W. Main St., 405-982-6900, 21cmuseumhotels.com. SAT
Art Adventures children can enjoy story time and related activities, 10:30 a.m. Tuesdays. Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art, 555 Elm Ave., 405-325-3272, ou.edu/ fjjma. TUE
Between Pastures & Skies: Art from the Ranch, 2014-2019 view mixed-medium works, paintings, drawings, installations, photos and videos created by Irmgard Geul and Skip Hill, Oct. 11-Nov. 16, Through Nov. 16. MAINSITE Contemporary Art, 122 E. Main St., 405-360-1162, mainsitecontemporaryart. com. FRI-SAT
OKC Drag Queen Story Hour children and their families are invited to a story and craft time lead by Ms. Shantel and followed by a dance party, 4 p.m. second Saturday of every month. Sunnyside Diner, 916 NW Sixth St., 405.778.8861. SAT Sankofa Chess Club children 7 and older are invited to learn chess in this club meeting weekly, 6-7:30 p.m. Wednesdays. Nappy Roots, 3705 Springlake Drive, 405-896-0203, facebook.com/pg/nappyrootsbooks. WED Signing Time Sign Language Class children can learn American Sign Language at this class taught by Mrs. Stacy, 4-5 p.m. Thursdays through Dec. 19. We Rock the Spectrum, 64 E 33rd St., 405-657-1108, werockthespectrumoklahomacity.com. THU Storytime Science the museum invites children age 6 and younger to hear a story and participate in a related scientific activity, 10 a.m. Tuesdays and Saturdays. Science Museum Oklahoma, 2020 Remington Place, 405-602-6664, sciencemuseumok. org. TUE-SAT
PERFORMING ARTS Bianca Del Rio the standup comic RuPaul’s Drag Race champion will perform on her It’s Jester Joke tour, 8 p.m. Nov. 6. Hudiburg Chevrolet Center, 6000 S Trosper Place, 4052972264. WED Category Is a monthly variety show hosted by Tilly Screams and Robin Banks, 10 p.m.-midnight second Saturday of every month. Frankie’s, 2807 NW 36th St., 405-602-2030, facebook.com/frankiesokc. SAT A Doll’s House Part 2 Nora Helmer returns to the
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brown, carmine, and blue an exhibition of visual, installation and performance art about blackness, queerness, and femininity by artist Le’Andra LeSeur, through Nov. 21. Melton Gallery, 100 N. University drive, 405-525-3603, uco.edu. THU Colors of Clay an exhibition of clay pots, bowls, pitchers and jars created by Native American artists, through May 10, 2021. National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum, 1700 NE 63rd St., 405-478-2250, nationalcowboymuseum.org. FRI-SAT Fall Night Carving Series learn to carve wood to create a variety of printmaking projects at this workshop led by Emma Difani, 5:30-8:30 p.m. Tuesdays through Nov. 12. Artspace at Untitled, 1 NE Third St., 405-815-9995, 1ne3.org. TUE Grown-Ups Retro Christmas Tree Painting Party pick from a variety of Christmas tree themed ceramics to paint while enjoying hot cocoa and cookies, 7-10 p.m. Nov. 8. Unpluggits Paint & Play, 575 Enterprise Dr., Suite 110, Edmond, 405-340-7584, unpluggits.com. FRI Leviathan I: The Aesthetics of Capital an experimental exhibition created by artist Pete Froslie exploring climate change, moral and political philosophy through electro-mechanics and game engine-based digital projection, through Dec. 31, Through Dec. 31. Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art, 555 Elm Ave., 405-325-3272, ou.edu/fjjma. WED-TUE Live from OKC, It’s Saturday Night: A Sketch Comedy Art Show an art show by Any Night Art
Gallery highlighting 44 years of comedy through visual, culinary and performance art with a live sketch comedy show hosted by Senator Carri Hicks, 7 p.m.-2 a.m. Nov. 9. 51st Street Speakeasy, 1114 NW 51st St., 405-463-0470, 51stspeakeasy.com. SAT
The Oklahoma City Community College E.L. and Thelma Gaylord Foundation Performing Arts Series Presents
Renewing the American Spirit: The Art of the Great Depression an exhibition of paintings, prints, photographs and more created in the 1930s, Through April 26, 2020. Oklahoma City Museum of Art, 415 Couch Drive, 405-236-3100, okcmoa.com. SAT
An Evening with Joe Bob Briggs: How Rednecks Saved Hollywood Despite the disdain rednecks and Hollywood often seem to have for each other, their symbiotic relationship has heavily influenced American culture for better and worse and helped haul in truckloads of box-office cash. Who better to shed light on that relationship than Texas-born television personality and film critic Joe Bob Briggs, whose reviews of B-movies have helped a generation of movie buffs re-discover and re-evaluate Hollywood’s lesser-lauded curiosities? The cinematic history lesson is 7-10 p.m. Sunday at Rodeo Cinema, 2221 Exchange Ave. Tickets are $25. Call 405815-3275 or visit rodeocinema.org. SUNDAY Photo provided
Welcome Home: Oklahomans and the War in Vietnam explores the impact of the war on Oklahoma families as well as the stories of Vietnamese families relocated to Oklahoma, Through Nov. 6. Oklahoma History Center, 800 Nazih Zuhdi Drive, 405-521-2491, okhistory.org. MON-WED Wild West Wasteland a refashion show with bell bottoms and dustersfrom Prairie Rebellion and LBJ Vintage of Dig It and live music from Space Cowboy, 7 p.m. Nov. 8. Bad Granny’s Bazaar, 1759 NW 16th St., 405-528-4585, facebook.com/badgrannysbazaar. FRI
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 email@example.com. Sorry, but phone submissions cannot be accepted.
“Their music will keep classical music alive for the next generation.”- NPR
Breaking preconceived notions of viola and violin concerts, as well as overcoming stereotypes and cultural barriers.
Thursday, November 14, 2019 7:30 p . m . tickets.occc.edu • Box Office (405) 682-7579 Visual and Performing Arts Center Theater 7777 South May Avenue
For OKG live music
see page 24 O KG A Z E T T E . C O M | N OV E M B E R 6 , 2 0 1 9
The single “Something’s Gotta Change” was released in May. | Image provided
Psychedelic garage rock band Pearl Earl stops at Norman’s Opolis on the way to starting a new chapter. By Jeremy Martin
Pearl Earl, frontwoman Ariel Hartley would like you to know, is not breaking up. “Even though I’m moving and [drummer Bailey K. Chapman] moved, it doesn’t mean our plan for this band is over,” Hartley said in a phone interview conducted the day before she planned to move from Denton, Texas, to Minneapolis, Minnesota. “We’re still a band. It’s so annoying. You have no idea. All around town, everyone’s like, ‘Oh my god! What’s happening?’ It’s like, ‘It’s fine. A lot of people do this.’” Pearl Earl plays 9 p.m. Nov. 15 at Opolis, 113 N. Crawford Ave., in Norman. The four-piece psychedelic rock band is now divided between Minneapolis, Los Angeles (Chapman) and Denton (bassist Stefanie Lazcano and keyboardist/per-
cussionist Chelsey Danielle), but Hartley emphasized that the concert will not be Pearl Earl’s last Oklahoma show. She added that the band, which released single “Something’s Gotta Change” in May, is currently making plans to meet up in December to record a follow-up to its 2017 self-titled debut. “We already have a whole album, really, ready to go and be recorded,” said Hartley, who serves as the band’s primary songwriter, “but I wanted to include some more new material that we haven’t gotten to go over together and practice it as a whole so we can lay it down, too. … I feel like I’ve always been an album and a half ahead of what we already have out there, but it’s so hard to get everyone together with their schedules and record. And then even once you do that,
there’s release date stuff with PR and all that. I don’t know. It’s a lot of stuff.” The material for the new album is “more multi-dimensional” than the band’s previous releases, Hartley said, but she’s not entirely certain how it will play onstage. “It’s not going to be as much garage rock,” Hartley said. “We haven’t recorded yet, so achieving it live, I’m not sure because we do play very aggressively and very garage-rocky. In the future, I do want to find something more polished and more fully fleshedsounding. I do want to add another member, but that’s going to happen after this album.” Hartley has also recorded a four-song EP without the rest of the band. She describes the music as “chiller” dream pop, simpler and more accessible than Pearl Earl’s prog-influenced glam rock. “These EP songs, some of them are only like two-chord, three-chord songs, and they’re very repetitive, a more typical pop-song structure,” Hartley said. “I did that as a challenge to make simpler songs to see if I could pull that off and how that would work, songs that I thought were more boring because they didn’t have a bunch of changes to see if it was something that could still sound good to me, and it does.” Though Hartley ultimately makes most of Pearl Earl’s creative decisions, recording the EP, which took two and a half years to finish, was difficult because Hartley couldn’t rely on the rest of the band for a second opinion. “I only had myself to decide on what sounded good and what didn’t, and it took a lot longer because, also, the songs that I chose to record alone were songs at the time that I didn’t feel fit directly in with what my Pearl Earl alter-ego was,” Hartley said. “I didn’t want to throw them away, but there’s songs that I wasn’t 100 percent in love with. They weren’t my number ones. So whenever I recorded those, it was hard, too, because I think I felt like they would come alive. Now I appreciate it and I love it.” The experience taught her not to spend longer than necessary recording songs. “When you let too much time go in between mixing sessions or when you record something and then you come back like months later and mix it, you start picking apart the material to where you hate it and you don’t want to release it because you don’t think it’s good enough,” Hartley said. “When you first learn the song as a band, you’re excited about it because it’s like ‘Whoo! A new song!’ and then you record it, and then you play it a million times, and it’s not that exciting anymore. … When Pearl Earl plays 9 p.m. Nov. 15 at Opolis, 113 N. Crawford Ave., in Norman. | Photo Ellie Alonzo / provided
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you lay it down for recording, then it takes on new life, but if you wait too long in between sessions, it’ll become old news just like everything else does. … It’s best to just take that inspiration and do everything you can with it and when you use it all up then move on to the next thing because sometimes it’s really hard to find the inspiration to keep going with it.” She eventually found a new creative spark collaborating with producer Brack Cantrell and members of Denton band Acid Carousel. “The songs didn’t inspire me anymore, so I actually had some friends come in, and if they heard something that they thought would sound cool, like a guitar line, I’d be like, ‘Yeah, sure. Lay it down,’” Hartley said. “Some of it I kept, and some of it I didn’t, but it helped ignite a newness into the song that I didn’t hear … even though I wrote the whole song structure and I recorded almost all the instruments. … I learned that next time I do something like that, it’s a lot more work than I thought it was.”
We do play very aggressively and very garage-rocky. Ariel Hartley Pearl Earl’s live performances have also recently become more inspired as its members get excited for the new chapters in their own lives. “If anything, the last shows we’ve been playing have been some of our best shows in the area because, I think, people know we’re not going to be locals here anymore,” Hartley said. “Our last Denton show was huge, and it was probably one of my favorite Denton shows. The energy was there, and I think we just also gave it our all. It’s not like we’re turning off; we’re just focusing our energy towards actually getting new material out, so we’re saying no to shows, to focus on that, and I think we’re all looking forward to the rejuvenation of not having to play live shows all the time. It’s taxing. We get tired, and we party really hard, so we’re looking forward to going a month without playing shows and then just concentrating it to one weekend where, where we give it our all and we get a month off and then we do it again, and then, who knows?” Locals Helen Kelter Skelter and Psychotic Reaction share the bill. Tickets are $8-$13, and the show is allages. Visit opolis.org.
Pearl Earl 9 p.m. Nov. 15 Opolis 113 N. Crawford Ave., Norman opolis.org | 405-230-0311 $8-$11
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Black Violin brings its genre-defying mashup of hip-hop and classical music to OCCC’s Visual and Performing Arts Center Theater. By Jeremy Martin
In college, Black Violin’s Wil Baptiste and Kev Marcus studied classical music during the day and made hip-hop beats at night, but the duo didn’t initially think to combine them. “At the beginning, they were really separate,” said violinist Marcus. “It took a while for us to figure out how to blend them together because at the beginning, hip-hop and violin didn’t even make sense to us. … We’d play these beats for all these up-and-coming rappers, and they’d come in and be like, ‘Man, that’s fire. That’s great.’ Then we’d go in the other room and grab our violins and start playing our violins on the beat, and they were like, ‘What is that? How did you do that?’” Black Violin plays 7:30 p.m. Nov. 14 at Oklahoma City Community College’s Visual and Performing Arts Center Theater, 7777 S. May Ave. Marcus said he and violist Baptiste originally started developing their genre-defying style by playing the melodic hooks from then-popular songs by Destiny’s Child, Ja Rule and Mariah Carey on their classical instruments. “We were like, ‘This is so easy. Why don’t we just put a CD together and do this over and over on all kinds of songs?’” Marcus said. “It was the simplest thing in the world to us, and people would just lose their minds over it. We were like, ‘Hmm. How can we make money doing this?’” Following 2012’s Classically Trained and 2015’s Stereotypes, Take the Stairs, released Nov. 1, marks about 17 years of incremental progress from that point, from making beats in the college library to playing President Obama’s 2013 inauguration. “It’s for everyone, but it’s probably our most mature album,” Marcus said. “We’re older. We’re wiser. We’re saying more with it. We’re a bit more socially conscious, and we use our art to speak to that more than we ever did before. I think we expect more out of ourselves as
Take the Stairs was released Nov. 1. | Image provided
artists and as men, and we want to use our platform to spread positivity more than just make music and make noise.” In addition to celebrating that progress, Marcus said, Black Violin wants the new album to serve as a reference listeners can return to for renewed inspiration in their own lives, the way he continues to read Sun Tzu’s The Art of War.
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It was the simplest thing in the world to us, and people would just lose their minds over it. Kev Marcus “It’s really about hope and the idea you can do anything you put your mind to,” Marcus said. “It’s not necessarily an in-your-face kind of thing. It’s just supposed to make you attack every single day with intention and with effort. … Basically, it’s a metaphor of our career. … It’s been this long, tough road that we’ve taken, and we like to think of it as taking the stairs.”
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Baptiste and Marcus first met in an orchestra class in their south Florida performing arts high school. The duo, which played for more than 100,000 students last year, now works with John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts’ Turnaround Arts educational outreach program. “There are still performing arts schools,” Marcus said, “but from our travels across the country, we’ve learned that these schools are farther and fewer in between, and schools that aren’t necessarily art schools, they don’t have art. They don’t even have PE … so I think continued on page 24
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MUSIC continued from page 23
that budget cuts are affecting everything, but art seems to be the first to go.” The nonprofit Black Violin Foundation works to provide students with more access to highquality, potentially life-changing music programs. Basically, we’re trying to connect the dots,” Marcus said. “When I was a kid, I grew up in the inner city, didn’t have an instrument, didn’t have access to private lessons, but I was always very talented, and someone noticed that and helped me get an instrument when I was in 10th grade. That’s so important for a violinist. You’ve got to have a really good instrument to really be able to grow. That was crucial for me. I got so much better when I got that instrument. It kept me going. Senior year came, and they got me private lessons too, and those private lessons turned into a full scholarship to college, which later turned into Black Violin. Wil and I have similar stories of not just being talented and in the right place, but of someone helping to make sure that we have the best chance to succeed. That’s what we want to do with our foundation.” Developing the right method for combining the classical music their instructors introduced them to with the hip-hop they listened to after class took
Marcus and Baptiste years, but listeners of different ages and backgrounds instantly appreciate it when they hear it. “Most of the time, I think that people are just super receptive to it,” Marcus said. “We had a moment in the show last season where we were playing Mozart’s 40th symphony, but we mix it in with Cardi B’s ‘Bodak Yellow.’ We’re playing a trap version of Mozart’s 40th … and the DJ drops in the a cappella [verse from ‘Bodak Yellow’]. If you only know about Mozart and you’re not really into Cardi, don’t even know who she is, you won’t even hear that part really. That won’t be what draws you in. You’ll be sitting there listening, like, ‘Wow. This Mozart’s so beautiful,’ and next to you, you’ve got the 8-year-old girls like, ‘If you wanted to / These exclusive / These is red bottoms.’ It’s two different people sitting at a concert having completely different experiences, but they’re listening to the same thing. And I think that took us a while to kind of understand that formula, that mix, that proportion. Because if you go too far either way, it’s exclusion. You use both. It should be right down the middle. We’ve got to walk a tightrope, where we mix things together so that if you’re really into the classical, it’s there for you; if you’re really into the hip-hop, it’s there for you.” However, the latest trends in hip-hop can be difficult to incorporate into classical playing.
“When we started, hip-hop was just so different,” Marcus said. “Everybody was sampling old jazz records or old R&B records, that kind of thing. It had a melody to it. … Hip-hop lacks melody now. It’s just kind of a lot of mumbling. … I’m like, ‘OK. You’re not really giving me any notes to play here.’ I like it, though. It gets me crunk in the car, but it’s hard for me to do what we’ve always done with this art form in this way.” But Marcus said Black Violin won’t chase trends any more than it will bow to traditional expectations. The duo is on track to play 137 shows this year, at universities, theaters and concert halls across the country, but rather than tailor each show for specific cities or venues, Black Violin plays to its own rhythm and lets listeners catch up.
Black Violin plays 7:30 p.m. Nov. 14 at Oklahoma City Community College’s Visual and Performing Arts Center Theater. | Photo Photo Mark Clennon / provided
“We don’t conform,” Marcus said. “We don’t want to change it. We make every audience we come across change their perception of what they were going to see, and we’re not trying to make it easier or cop out.” Tickets are $30-$45. Call 405-6827579 or visit occc.edu.
Black Violin 7:30 p.m. Nov. 14 Visual and Performing Arts Center Theater Oklahoma City Community College 7777 S. May Ave. tickets.occc.edu | 405-682-7579 $30-$45
LIVE MUSIC Rugged Grace, Hollywood Corners. COUNTRY
These are events recommended by Oklahoma Gazette editorial staff members. For full calendar listings, go to okgazette.com.
Static-X, Diamond Ballroom. METAL
MONDAY, NOV. 11 Jabber/Long Knives/Little Kicks, Blue Note Lounge. PUNK
WEDNESDAY, NOV. 6
Jason Hunt, Sean Cumming’s Irish Restaurant. FOLK
Jacuzzi Boys, 89th Street-OKC. ROCK
TUESDAY, NOV. 12
John Carlton & Kyle Reid, The Winston. SINGER/ SONGWRITER
Caleb McGee and The Underdogs, The Deli. BLUES
THURSDAY, NOV. 7
Country Clique, Friends Restaurant & Club. COUNTRY Kyle Reid, Scratch Kitchen & Cocktails. SINGER/
Hot House Band, Othello’s Italian Restaurant. JAZZ
Issues, Diamond Ballroom. ROCK Josh Sallee, Ponyboy. SINGER/SONGWRITER Shelly Phelps & Dylan Nagode, Jazmo’z Bourbon St. Café. ACOUSTIC Strung Out/The Casualties, 89th Street-OKC. PUNK Tracy Grammer, The Blue Door. FOLK
FRIDAY, NOV. 8 Chris Young, Eli Young Band & Matt Stell, Chesapeake Energy Arena. COUNTRY
WEDNESDAY, NOV. 13 Angel Olsen Critics called Angel Olsen’s meticulously composed string-and-synth symphony All Mirrors, released in October, a “bravura turn” (Pitchfork), “an impossible reprieve in a crumbling structure … a riveting, wrenching, and absurdly rewarding experience” (Tiny Mix Tapes) and “as expansive as it is overwhelming” (The Independent) so hearing it resonate live in a larger space than your ear buds might help you navigate it more successfully. Opener Vagabon, who also released a critically acclaimed album last month, will undoubtedly take the audience on a journey of her own. The show is 8 p.m.midnight Saturday at The Criterion, 500 E. Sheridan Ave. Tickets are $25-$30. Call 405840-5500 or visit criterionokc.com. SATURDAY Photo Cameron McCool / provided
Electric Okie Test, The Deli. COVER Gregory Alan Isakov w/ Luke Sital Singh, The Jones Assembly. SINGER/SONGWRITER Kurt Vile & the Violators w/ Dinosaur Jr., The Criterion. SINGER/SONGWRITER The Lost End/ Crooked Vinyl/ Poolboy, 51st Street Speakeasy. PUNK Wakeland, VZD’s Restaurant & Bar. ROCK
SATURDAY, NOV. 9 DJ Tangerine, Fassler Hall. DJ Flock of Pigs and The Fey, The Deli. EXPERIMENTAL On Holiday/Tribesmen/Caught Stealing, Blue Note Lounge. PUNK/INDIE
Wolves At The Gate/My Epic/Comrades/Empty, 89th Street-OKC. ROCK
SUNDAY, NOV. 10 Brad Fielder, Lost Highway. COUNTRY Hosty, The Deli. ROCK Igor and the Red Elvises, Ponyboy. ROCK
GO TO OKGAZETTE.COM FOR FULL LISTINGS! 24
N OV E M B E R 6 , 2 0 1 9 | O KG A Z E T T E . C O M
Greyhounds, Ponyboy. INDIE John Carlton & Kyle Reid, The Winston. SINGER/ SONGWRITER
Koffin Kats, 89th Street-OKC. PUNK
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Sorry, but phone submissions cannot be accepted.
O KG A Z E T T E . C O M | N OV E M B E R 6 , 2 0 1 9
THE HIGH CULTURE Miranda Mitto and Talon Hull, co-owners of Sage Wellness | Photo Alexa Ace
comfortable about a lot of these companies, just that everybody seems to kind of know where their processes are coming from, where the terps are coming from. … A lot of us are really trying to get ahead of the hardware problem because I think, in the end, we’re going to find that some of this was due to crummy Chinese hardware that had heavy metal leakages and just bad solders on the hardware and all that kind of stuff. I think we’re gonna see that this was much bigger than one isolated thing, and so the hope is that all of us in the industry are looking at this now and really trying to make sure that we get ahead of any and all of those problems.”
AJ, business development for Mary Mechanix
Sage Wellness hosted a group of prominent companies in the cannabis vaping industry to meet with patients and discuss vaping illness. By Matt Dinger
Sage Wellness hosted the Vape Safe event at its dispensary, 4200 N. Western Ave., Suite A, on Oct. 25 in order to bring patients face to face with some of the leading producers of cannabis vape cartridges. As of this week, there have been nearly 2,000 cases of what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are calling “e-cigarette, or vaping, product use associated lung injury,” or “EVALI,” that resulted in 37 deaths. In Oklahoma, only four cases — none fatal — have been reported, according to the state health department. While the culprit behind the illness has not been deduced, the available evidence indicates the outbreak is primarily the result of using black-market vape cartridges containing THC. While there is nothing to suggest that legal cartridges from the Oklahoma medical cannabis market are to blame for any cases of lung injury, multiple manufacturers have reported decreased sales during the health concern. To mitigate that, Sage Wellness hosted a number of Oklahoma producers to meet with patients and answer questions. “When all the hubbub started, we got a lot of calls, we got a lot of texts or DMs and emails and people from Weedmaps, just shit-tons of, ‘How do we know we’re safe?’” Sage Wellness co-owner Miranda Mitto said. “The reason why we decided to hold this event is to keep our community safe and so that they can trust in our brands because a lot of our patients have been
N OV E M B E R 6 , 2 0 1 9 | O KG A Z E T T E . C O M
given black-market cartridges or any products, rather. … So I thought, well, let’s meet the maker and ask and put them to the test. The whole vision here is for Sage to be able to deliver the best products that the industry has to offer, so I thought this went hand in hand with that, and I think it also helps support our vendors that have worked so hard on making the best products, so I thought this would be a good way to support them as well because I think it has hindered everybody. Really, in a nutshell, it’s just to protect our community and give everybody a peace of mind.” Oklahoma Gazette asked some of the companies on hand to weigh in on vaping illness and what impact it has had on the industry.
Derek Kern, co-owner of Mammoth Processing
“I don’t know realistically how much it has affected us. I haven’t really got to look at any kind of real numbers to see if it has. We definitely have had many more people reaching out, just asking and wanting some reassurance. Definitely seen an uptick in that and just people wanting to know about our process, wanting to know, ‘Do I need to worry?’ It’s the most common question. I think after even going around to all the tables today and talking to a lot of these people, I think even I feel more Legal, licensed vaporizer cartridge brands found in Oklahoma’s medical cannabis market. No brands pictured have been connected to vaping disease. | Photo Alexa Ace
“There’s always somebody, like, trying to take a shortcut, and we’re talking about criminals that are making blackmarket vape carts to try to capitalize on people doing it the wrong way. This costs money and investment and time and effort and people’s dreams that are put into this so we can provide a good medicinal product, and the black-market stuff has just put a stain on what we’re doing legally and in a very healthy and safe way. You have, what, 400,000 opioid deaths a year that nobody says anything about, and all of a sudden, a couple people take some bad black-market stuff and get sick and the president’s talking about it? Give me a break.”
Lance Kimball, managing partner of Simple Cure
“Everything is 100 percent cannabis and strain-specific in ours. … This is a dirty distillate that they’re using to formulate with, and they’re then compounding it with dangerous constituents, and they are selling these illicit cannabis cartridges on the streets, and in most instances, it was people that
didn’t have the option to purchase legal cannabis, so their only option was to get illegal cannabis. Vitamin E acetate is one of the cutting agents that has been highlighted, and it’s an oil that’s not water-soluble, so when you heat it and vaporize it into your lungs, it recongeals as a fat, and that’s causing problems; the pesticides in the THC that they’re using is a problem. The confusing part for the public is then they go and get this packaging that’s very accessible, that looks pretty professional, that’s widely available online, and some of this has got a little bit of traction as a brand of sorts on the street.”
Tanner Fielding, co-owner of Sunday Extracts
“We are a new company. We just started selling our products since Labor Day, so we’ve not seen any effect in our sales. What we’re going to do moving forward is just be as transparent as possible, just keep learning of what’s happening with this crisis. We do not use any additives. We do BHO extraction. We do a distillate cartridge, and we also do a cured resin cartridge. Nothing is taken out or put back in. It’s just the cannabis oil resin; that is it. Our distillate cartridge is just the terpenes, the distillate and the cartridge.”
Aaron Sawheb, engineering director of Moon Mix
“We source quality hardware, and we create a distillate that is provably clean, as in free from pesticides, heavy metals, mycotoxins, bacteria. … The CDC has essentially hopped from one culprit to another culprit to another culprit to another. At first, it was vitamin E, then it was potentially lipid, and then now they’re talking about heavy metals. All of these things can be mitigated by using a high-quality input and high-quality hardware, and that’s something we did before the vaping crisis.”
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N OV E M B E R 6 , 2 0 1 9 | O KG A Z E T T E . C O M
THE HIGH CULTURE
Both Oklahoma and Oklahoma Gazette are celebrating the first year of THC and The High Culture. By Matt Dinger
Oklahoma has made it through its first year of legal cannabis containing THC. Meanwhile, Oklahoma Gazette is now marking its first year of THC itself — the High Culture section, that is. In early October 2018, I was asked to start writing a freelance piece each week on the legal cannabis market. From the time that I met my first source, J. Blake Johnson, then the cochair of Crowe and Dunlevy’s Cannabis Industry Practice Group and now founder of Climb Collective and Overman Legal Group, for a chat and interview over drinks on a sunny day at The Pump Bar, I knew that my new gig was going to be much different from the past decade I had spent covering crime and breaking news. Like many others, I was caught unaware on Oct. 26 when a handful of dispensaries were bold enough to start selling cannabis flower, edibles, concentrates and clones on the first day they were legally able. By a stroke of coinci-
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dence, one of the first dispensaries to open was Cannabis Aid, and some quick research led me to discover that one of my previous sources, Elijah Mothershed Bey, was one of the co-owners. I picked up the phone and dialed the store’s number. “I’m looking for Elijah,” I said to the man who answered. “May I ask who’s calling?” came the reply. “Yes, it’s Matt Dinger. Elijah will recognize the name.” “Matt! Get down here.” And so it began. Little did I know that just shy of three months later, I would be attending Elijah’s funeral, as he was a victim in a triple homicide at his home in northeast Oklahoma City that still remains unsolved. While spending opening day with Elijah was a high, no pun intended, and his funeral the nadir of my first year documenting the first year of Oklahoma’s medical cannabis market, some of the
discussions we had in those early days informed the nine months of coverage since his death and will have an impact on The High Culture in the coming year. As I write this, a list containing the names of the largest mass commutation in American history sits on Gov. Kevin Stitt’s desk. By the time you read this, nearly 500 men and women, doubtlessly some of whom were imprisoned on cannabis-related crimes, will walk free. Replacing cannabis possession, which had the punishment of jail time in Oklahoma City rescinded on the same day cannabis sales became legal, is a wave of cannabis-related property crimes. While no link has been made between Cannabis Aid and the murders of Elijah and his family, the implication is there. Aside from that and one reported armed robbery of a cannabis business in Oklahoma City, the rest remain burglary cases. While it might seem from the headlines that these break-ins represent a wave of crime unique within the cannabis community, that is simply not so. Retailers, restaurants, convenience stores and so on still outnumber dispensaries for
Oklahoma’s first Cannabis Cup was met with mixed reviews. | Photo Alexa Ace
burglaries and robberies but have become so commonplace that they rarely make the news. While cannabis prices by the gram spiked to a head-spinning $35 during the first days, the market quickly stabilized and $20 a gram price tags are now the exception, not the rule. While pricing does provide an important reference point to where the market currently stands and the direction that it is heading, so do the businesses that comprise the legal cannabis space. Cannabis Aid and Strange Leaf, which did good trade this time last year, both have since closed their doors. In their places are now 1,651 other licensed dispensaries as of Oct. 1, though that number will certainly change as more receive licenses while others close their doors or choose not to renew theirs. While there was no special legislative session to provide a regulatory framework prior to the start of business, the state has also seen a wave of adjustcontinued on page 32
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THE HIGH CULTURE continued from page 31
ments, both good and bad, to the way that cannabis companies do business both from the legislative session and from special rulemaking committees within state agencies. With the next legislative session around the corner in February and more rules adopted by Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority (OMMA) this week, expect to see the landscape shift again. Undoubtedly, owners have seen their businesses evolve in the first year with the market that now includes more than 200,000 licensed cannabis patients, more than doubling predictions after the passage of State Question 788. I was invited to tour the facility of Blue Collar Criminals Collective during the days when it was being built out and reported on it. I was there on the day of its first full-sized harvest, and I was there the day flower went into its second, larger grow room. I was also there the day that the dispensary opened its doors and the day it closed them to the public for now. BCC Collective has been my barom-
eter for the growth and evolution of the industry in the city that I have always called home, though it is but one of the dozens of dispensaries, growers and pro-
Social media has not welcomed medical cannabis advertisements with open arms. However, Oklahoma Gazette has been a great source for advertising. | Illustration by Phillip Danner
TOKE BOARD PATIENTS
cessors that I have met, visited, interviewed and profiled in this first year. On a personal note, my Christmas present to myself was my own medical cannabis card, which arrived on Christmas Eve. From the front row, I have watched as the higher price tags for cannabis containing more THC are mostly removed from the equation as a legal cannabis consumer market quickly became savvy to the influence of other cannabinoids and, most importantly, the terpenes that direct Oklahoma’s legal highs. I like to think Oklahoma Gazette’s sister publication, Extract, which began publishing in April, has played a role in educating cannabis patients new and old in our market. While we are all enjoying the shiny new object that is THC and building our own personal favorites among local, legal brands, last year’s farm bill rescheduled on a federal level hemp, a form of cannabis sativa containing trace THC that is used as the basis for the CBD market that boomed here before the passage of State Question 788. While it has gotten less attention than it deserves in the first year of The High Culture, expect to see more stories about this rapidly developing industry that had deep roots in the Sooner State prior to
CONSUMERS Natural person or entity in whose name a cannabis license would be issued
DISPENSARIES Allows the entity to purchase medical cannabis from a processer licensee or grower licensee and sell medical cannabis only to qualified patients, or their parents or legal guardian(s) if applicable, and caregivers
GROWERS allows the entity togrow, harvest, and package medical cannabis for the purpose of selling medical cannabis to a dispensary, processor, or researcher
N OV E M B E R 6 , 2 0 1 9 | O KG A Z E T T E . C O M
World War II for its industrial uses. It has been a wild ride this first year, with our first Green Grow Expo, two CannaCons and a High Times Cannabis Cup under our belts. There have been as many surprises as fulfilled expectations. The only thing we know for sure is that there will be plenty of unknowns as we move forward. Whatever direction the industry takes, The High Culture will be there to cover it.
Cannabis effects vary wildly from patient to patient based on a multitude of factors, including THC tolerance, brain chemistry and personal taste. This review is based on the subjective experience of one patient. Strain name: Grandpa’s Stash
A mural by Jeks on BCC Collective | Photo Alexa Ace
Grown by: Therapo Acquired from: Sage Wellness Date acquired: Oct. 14 THC/CBD percentages: 19.95 percent/.09 percent (per Scissortail Laboratories)
of minutes. It feels like getting high used to feel, which is not surprising, considering that it is a cross between three cuts of classic strains. Once the sativa-like effects taper off, this one is a calm, long-lasting high, but the come-on might be a little much for some. In that case, do not sleep on Therapo’s Sapphire Scout if you come across it.
Physical traits: light green with dull orange stigmas and densely frosted trichomes Bouquet: sweet and herbal Review: I have had several different runs of Grandpa’s Stash over the past year. All were powerful, all looked similar (with very dense trichomes throughout), but all had very different highs. Therapo is a name that was suddenly in everyone’s mouth across the Oklahoma City cannabis market during the course of a single week, so I sought it out. Its Sapphire Scout was the strain that kept getting name-checked, but since I had no frame of reference, having not tried that strain before, I was especially curious about this one. Just a fair warning: It heats up slowly but definitely gets your heart racing in a matter
Grandpa’s Stash | Photo Phillip Danner
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1 Iraq War concern, in brief 4 An earl outranks him 9 Billiards maneuver 14 Exclaim “@#%!” 19 Tilling tool 20 QB defenders, collectively 21 Relating to a certain arm bone 22 ____ Kenyatta, president of Kenya starting in 2013 23 Something set by a stove 25 Year of the final flight of the Concordes 26 French-speaking African nation 27 Eyedropper, essentially 28 Submission to a record label, once 30 Rodeo loop 31 Accessory with a bass drum 32 Major fuss 33 Wedding bands? 34 Way out there 38 Hand over 39 Take a mulligan on 40 “<<” button: Abbr. 41 Ricochet like a hockey puck 43 To a certain extent, colloquially 45 Ad phrase indicating higher pricing tiers 49 Amtrak stop: Abbr. 50 Infomercial imperative 52 Pill bug, biologically 54 Intake suggestion, briefly 55 Unlock, to Shakespeare 56 Third-longest river in Europe, after the Volga and Danube 58 Tear to shreds 59 Partner of 46-Down in the frozen-food business 60 Brown seaweeds 63 U.S. island owned almost entirely by the billionaire Larry Ellison 65 Manic-looking, in a way 67 Neutral response from a therapist 68 Pattern once used for hospital volunteer uniforms, with a hint to this puzzle’s theme 70 Loser of a beauty contest, in myth 71 Birds known to mimic car alarms and human speech 73 Graduate’s “honor” 74 Carousel mount, to a tot 75 Mark of a scam artist 76 Hooked on 77 Laura of Big Little Lies 78 Emulate Johnny Appleseed 79 H, to Hellenes 80 “Ya dig?” in more modern slang 82 Get up in the face of 85 Emma Stone’s role in La La Land 88 Protagonist in Toni Morrison’s Beloved 90 Skate-park features 92 Place for regulars 93 Handel’s “____, Galatea e Polifemo” 94 Glenn Frey’s “The Heat ____” 96 Bad thing to come up in a title search 98 Total failure 100 Important members of the community, so to speak 103 Where menisci are found 105 What socks usually do
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14 Gold digger’s goldmine 15 Alma mater of Tesla’s Elon Musk 16 Jazzman Blake 17 Like a crowd when the headliner takes the stage 18 Pipsqueaks 24 Like some servings of Scotch 29 “You get the idea” 30 New Guinea port that was Amelia Earhart’s last known point of departure 33 Large, purple Hanna-Barbera character 35 Campaign … or a campaign topic 36 Original NYC subway line 37 Nonpro 42 Heaps DOWN 44 Steamy Big fat lies 46 Partner of 59-Across in the Where you might need to get a grip frozen-food business In one’s heart of hearts 47 Dairy sources Pop covers 48 Biweekly occurrence, for many Stopped a flight 51 Actress Fay of the original King Frosty encrustation Kong Its square equals its square root 53 Neuf + deux Types who think school is too cool 55 Abbr. between * and # They’re kept under wraps for a 57 Separation at a wedding? long time 60 What x’s sometimes represent Nut extract used in skin care 61 Executor’s charge Derisive chuckles 62 Pounce on, as an opportunity Didn’t just hint at 63 The “two” in “two if by sea” Verdi’s “____ tu” 64 Portuguese-speaking African nation
65 What lettuce lends to a sandwich 66 Popular DIY site 68 Endeavor recognized by the César awards 69 Reid of The Big Lebowski 72 They come through when you need them most 74 Total stunners 77 Sketch out 78 W-2 IDs 81 Its closest neighbor is Andromeda 83 Mr. Wrong 84 All-vowel avowal 85 Carry some relevance for 86 Mode, on a menu 87 Scatterbrains 89 Neon marker 91 Is blinded by rage 95 Cent : euro :: ____ : krona 97 Modern, in Munich 99 Epic narrative 100 Tiny objections 101 What many a navel-gazer gazes at 102 Treatment for Parkinson’s 104 Jag 107 Word repeated in “____ ou ne pas ____” 108 Lake bordered by four states and a province 109 Yarn 111 Just ducky 113 Person who might call you out
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SKULLDUGGERY LANE By Ingvard Ashby
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Puzzle No. 1103, which appeared in the October 30 issue. S A G E L Y R E D I D E B E R T
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C H I A P E T
A L A R M I S T
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B R I U R A T E D R A S A M P G O R O R I S N A V A I V V I L O I G E Y C I G A V E R E S
A R O D P L U N G I N G J A M E S
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FREE WILL ASTROLOGY Homework: You don’t have to believe in ideas that make you sad or tormented. Drop them. FreeWillAstrology.com ARIES (March 21-April 19)
Aries psychologist James Hillman said we keep “our images and fantasies at arm’s length because they are so full of love.” They’re also quite flammable, he added. They are always on the verge of catching fire, metaphorically speaking. That’s why many people wrap their love-filled images and fantasies in metaphorical asbestos: to prevent them from igniting a blaze in their psyches. In my astrological opinion, you Aries folks always have a mandate to use less asbestos than all the other signs—even none at all. That’s even truer than usual right now. Keep your images and fantasies extra close and raw and wild.
TAURUS (April 20-May 20)
Poet James Merrill was ecstatic when he learned the Greek language. According to his biographer, he felt he could articulate his needs “with more force and clarity, with greater simplicity and less self-consciousness, than he ever could in his own language.” He concluded, “Freedom to be oneself is all very well; the greater freedom is not to be oneself.” Personally, I think that’s an exaggeration. I believe the freedom to be yourself is very, very important. But for you in the coming weeks, Taurus, the freedom to not be yourself could indeed be quite liberating. What might you do to stretch your capacities beyond what you’ve assumed is true about you? Are you willing to rebel against and transcend your previous self-conceptions?
GEMINI (May 21-June 20)
Musician Brian Eno made a deck of oracular cards called Oblique Strategies. Each card has a suggestion designed to trigger creative thinking about a project or process you’re working on. You Geminis might find it useful to call on Oblique Strategies right now, since you’re navigating your way through a phase of adjustment and rearrangement. The card I drew for you is “Honor thy error as hidden intention.” Here’s how I interpet it: An apparent lapse or misstep will actually be the result of your deeper mind guiding you to take a fruitful detour.
CANCER (June 21-July 22) We devote a lot of energy to wishing and hoping about the meaningful joys we’d love to bring into our lives. And yet few of us have been trained in the best strategies for manifesting our wishes and hopes. That’s the bad news. The good news is that now is a favorable time for you to upgrade your skills at getting what you want. With that in mind, I present you with the simple but potent wisdom of author Maya Angelou: “Ask for what you want and be prepared to get it.” To flesh that out, I’ll add: Formulate a precise statement describing your heart’s yearning, and then work hard to make yourself ready for its fulfillment.
LEO (July 23-Aug. 22)
What are the key parts of your life—the sources and influences that enable you to be your most soulful self? I urge you to nourish them intensely during the next three weeks. Next question: What are the marginally important parts of your life—the activities and proclivities that aren’t essential for your long-term success and happiness? I urge you to corral all the energy you give to those marginally important things, and instead pour it into what’s most important. Now is a crucial time in the evolution of your relationship with your primal fuels, your indispensable resources, your sustaining foundations.
VIRGO (Aug. 23-Sept. 22)
“When she spoke of beauty, he spoke of the fatty tissue supporting the epidermis,” wrote short story author Robert Musil. He was describing a conversation between a man and woman who were on different wavelengths. “When she mentioned love,” Musil continued, “he responded with the statistical curve that indicates the rise and fall in the annual birthrate.” Many of you Virgos have the flexibility to express yourself well on both of those wavelengths. But in the coming months, I hope you’ll emphasize the beauty and love wavelength rather than the fatty tissue and statistical curve wavelength. It’ll be an excellent strategy for getting the healing you need.
LIBRA (Sept. 23-Oct. 22)
Libran blogger Ana-Sofia Cardelle was asked, “What is
your signature perfume?” She said she hadn’t found one. But then she described how she would like to smell: “somewhere between fresh and earthy: cinnamon and honey, a rose garden, saltwater baked in the sun.” The coming days will be an excellent time to indulge in your own fantasies about the special fragrance you’d like to emanate. Moreover, I bet you’ll be energized by pinpointing a host of qualities you would like to serve as cornerstones of your identity: traits that embody and express your uniqueness.
SCORPIO (Oct. 23-Nov. 21)
Studies suggest that on average each of us has a social network of about 250 people, of whom 120 we regard as a closer group of friendly acquaintances. But most of us have no more than twenty folks we trust, and only two or three whom we regard as confidants. I suspect that these numbers will be in flux for you during the next twelve months, Scorpio. I bet you’ll make more new friends than usual, and will also expand your inner circle. On the other hand, I expect that some people who are now in your sphere will depart. Net result: stronger alliances and more collaboration.
SAGITTARIUS (Nov. 22-Dec. 21)
I blame and thank the Sagittarian part of me when I get brave and brazen enough to follow my strongest emotions where they want to lead me. I also blame and thank the Sagittarian part of me when I strip off my defense mechanisms and invite the world to regard my vulnerabilities as interesting and beautiful. I furthermore blame and thank the Sagittarian side of me on those occasions when I run three miles down the beach at dawn, hoping to thereby jolt loose the secrets I’ve been concealing from myself. I suspect the coming weeks will be a favorable time to blame and thank the Sagittarian part of you for similar experiences.
CAPRICORN (Dec. 22-Jan. 19)
Persian polymath Avicenna (980–1037) wrote 450 books on many topics, including medicine, philosophy, astronomy, geography, mathematics, theology, and poetry. While young, he tried to study the Metaphysics of Aristotle, but had difficulty grasping it. Forty times
he read the text, even committing it to memory. But he made little progress toward fathoming it. Years later, he was browsing at an outdoor market and found a brief, cheap book about the *Metaphysics* by an author named al-Farabi. He read it quickly, and for the first time understood Aristotle’s great work. He was so delighted he went out to the streets and gave away gifts to poor people. I foresee a comparable milestone for you, Capricorn: something that has eluded your comprehension will become clear, at least in part due to a lucky accident.
AQUARIUS (Jan. 20-Feb. 18)
In addition to being a key figure in Renaissance art, fifteenth-century Italian painter Filippo Lippi had a colorful life. According to legend, he was once held prisoner by Barbary pirates, but gained his freedom by drawing a riveting portrait of their leader. Inspired by the astrological factors affecting you right now, I’m fantasizing about the possibility of a liberating event arriving in your life. Maybe you’ll call on one of your skills in a dramatic way, thereby enhancing your leeway or generating a breakthrough or unleashing an opportunity. (Please also re-read your horoscope from last week.)
PISCES (Feb. 19-March 20)
“Stand high long enough and your lightning will come,” writes Piscean novelist William Gibson. He isn’t suggesting that we literally stand on top of a treeless hill in a thunderstorm and invite the lightning to shoot down through us. More realistically, I think he means that we should devotedly cultivate and discipline our highest forms of expression so that when inspiration finds us, we’ll be primed to receive and use its full power. That’s an excellent oracle for you.
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.
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