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FREE EVERY WEDNESDAY | METRO OKC’S INDEPENDENT WEEKLY | MAY 8, 2019

HOMELAND INSECURITY OKLAHOMA DACA RECIPIENTS STRUGGLE WITH THE THREAT OF DEPORTATION TO PLACES THEY BARELY KNOW. By Miguel Rios, P. 4


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INSIDE COVER P. 4 Oklahoma Gazette reporter Miguel Rios looks into the shared experiences of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients — including his own. By Miguel Rios Cover by Tiffany McKnight Photo by Alexa Ace

NEWS 4 CITY DACA update

8 CITY NE OKC Renaissance, Inc.

and oNE OKC

11 CHICKEN-FRIED NEWS

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14 FEATURE Try It, You’ll Like It podcast 16 GAZEDIBLES nontraditional

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ARTS & CULTURE 19 ART The Skies Have It at Mainsite

Contemporary Art

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20 THEATER La Tragédie de Carmen at 21 THEATER Honk Jr. at Lyric at the Plaza 22 BOOKS Wilma’s Way Home 23 CALENDAR

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31 CANNABIS The Toke Board

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NEWS

Shadow of doubt

Seven years after DACA was implemented, Dreamers continue wrestling with the uncertainty of their future. By Miguel Rios

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) opened doors for me that had been locked for a long time. It gave me and 800,000 other Dreamers a two-year work permit, a social security number, relief from the threat of deportation and the opportunity to get a driver’s license. With all that, it also opened the door for Dreamers to pursue a higher education and jobs we never thought we could get. But the program’s future is uncertain. President Donald Trump’s administration tried to end DACA in 2017, but federal judges ordered that renewal applications continue to be processed. However, new applications are not granted and the program as we know it is still in jeopardy. Though I still have a work permit and protection from deportation, it feels like those things could end at any time. It does not feel like we can adequately plan our futures because we do not know where we will be five years from now. Fear and uncertainty are perpetual realities of being undocumented. I was 2 years old the first time I was brought to the United States. That is why my first memories are from Denver, Colorado. My family and I lived there on and off when I was between 2 and 6 years old. I loved it. When we moved to Juarez, Mexico, I could not stop talking about Denver. I would ask my mom when we were “going back home,” and she would tell me we were already there. I was born in Juarez, but I do not really know Juarez. I remember the neighborhood I lived in for two years before we moved to Oklahoma, but I never had the chance to truly feel like it was my home. I was 7 when I was brought to Oklahoma. I still wondered when we would make it back to Denver, but I learned to appreciate this state and eventually started telling people I was “from Oklahoma.” 4

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I found out I was undocumented in middle school, after thinking I was born in Denver for a good part of my life. Learning that made me question everything I did. It felt like a cloud constantly hanging over me. I never wanted to get in trouble in school. I thought that if I did, somehow my undocumented status would get out and my family would get deported. Of course, that is not how things typically work, but that is what I worried about.

“[My parents] decided to come to this country because it was the right choice for our family; otherwise, we would have starved to death or a number of things could’ve happened. Yovana Medina Life before DACA was constant stress, and to an extent, everything I did felt like a waste of time. I loved making my parents proud with how well I did in school, so my grades were typically good. But I did not think I would get to go to college, and I even worried about going to high school. Often, I would question why I was trying so hard in this country when I would almost surely have to start over. But my parents’ unwavering support and encouragement kept me motivated. The whole reason we came to the U.S. was to have a better life. My parents wanted me to have opportunities they never had. They wanted me to pursue higher education like they never could.

So I kept going, fighting to make sure my parents’ sacrifices were not in vain and to prove that I was just as smart and had as much potential as anyone born on the other side of the border. But living as an undocumented teenager was scary. It is hard to live in Oklahoma without a car, so I started driving without a license. Anytime I drove anywhere, the thought of being pulled over for something minor and getting deported was there. Anytime I was at any school or community event with police officers, the thought of getting deported was there. Even when I was not actively thinking about it, the though of deportation was there. It was exhausting to carry that fear and anxiety day in and day out.

Out of the shadows

Then there was some relief. On June 15, 2012, former president Barack Obama stood in the Rose Garden and announced DACA. In his speech, Obama called for Americans to put themselves in our shoes. “Imagine you’ve done everything right your entire life — studied hard, worked hard, maybe even graduated at the top of your class — only to suddenly face the threat of deportation to a country that you know nothing about, with a language that you may not even speak,” he said. “It makes no sense to expel talented young people, who, for all intents and purposes, are Americans.” Obama’s speech spoke to immigrants all over the country — documented or not. It felt like our hard work was being rewarded. All of a sudden, that exhaustion built from cycles of anxiety, fear and uncertainty felt lighter. The initial DACA application was tedious. We had to provide a lot of evidence, including proof of continuous residency from 2007-2012. School records helped, but filling the gaps of summer was more difficult. I did not attend any summer programs, so I resorted to using anything I could, like monthly receipts from my contact lens provider. It worked. As Obama put it in later speeches, DACA allowed Dreamers to “come out of the shadows and get right with the law.” Personally, DACA filled me with hope

from left Miguel celebrates his baptism and first birthday; Miguel’s parents and godparents; Miguel poses for a picture with his brother after graduating kindergarten. | Photos provided

that I would be able to attend college and go on to live a “normal” life without worrying that one misstep would mean game over. I knew DACA was a temporary fix. It was not perfect, but it was the most Dreamers had received in a long time. That is why it was so hard to wrestle with the fact that the program, which basically opened up a world of possibilities, could come to an end. In many ways, it feels like we are back at square one. Dreamers can still work and live without worrying about deportation, but we know this protection, now more than ever, is just temporary. We are back to worrying about our future in this country and about the possibility of having to start from scratch in a place we do not know. As of Feb. 28, nearly 700,000 people are protected through DACA, according to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Though most DACA recipients are from Mexico, there are also many from counties like Peru, South Korea, Philippines, India and Poland. I spoke with five local Dreamers who shared their stories in hopes of educating more people and allowing others to see the human aspect of a program like DACA. Tasneem “Taz” Al-Michael was 9 months old when he came to the United States. Javier Hernandez and Brisa Ledezma were 1. Miriam Ortega was 7, and Yovana Medina was 8. Today, they are professionals with careers in politics, law, education, marketing and social work, but before DACA allowed them to pursue those careers, they struggled with their undocumented status.

In the dark

Al-Michael, Hernandez and Ledezma found out they were undocumented when they were 16 years old because they were unable to go on school trips, continued on page 6


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COV E R

fill out scholarship applications and get their driver’s licenses. “I didn’t find out, like I said, until I was 16, and so this entire time, I was just like, ‘You know, college is going to be easy, getting a driver’s license was going to be easy, getting a job was going to be easy.’ I mean, not easy per se, but at least more accessible,” Al-Michael said. “As a DACA recipient, you have all these obstacles that come in your path that prevent you from being able to … have the same level of access. Dreamers — undocumented people — don’t have welfare. They don’t qualify for food stamps. They don’t quality for FAFSA or federal student aid. They can’t take out student loans. They do all of this out-of-pocket. They work two or three jobs at the same time as going to school.” Paying for college is one of the biggest obstacles for undocumented students because we do not quality for state or federal financial aid, even with DACA. “The big difficulty really came when I started applying for colleges and trying to get scholarships,” Hernandez said. “I graduated high school and I had some scholarships and all from a few schools; I had a couple full-ride scholarships to [Oklahoma State University] and [University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma].” Hernandez said he went to both schools to explain his situation, but a few months before he started college, OSU officials called and said they could not fulfill the scholarship commitment they had made. “As an undocumented student, I couldn’t accept any state or federal money, so at that time, they retracted all the scholarship money that they had offered me,” he said. “The same thing kind of happened at USAO. I don’t blame the schools.

Brisa Ledezma, a middle school social studies teacher, worries about what the future of DACA could mean for her husband and baby son. | Photo Alexa Ace

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Javier Hernandez is the first DACA recipient admitted to Oklahoma Bar Association. He is an immigration attorney at Lambert Dunn & Associates. | Photo Alexa Ace

I think it was more of a lack of knowledge on how to handle the situation.” Ledezma never thought college was accessible for her. She was encouraged by teachers in high school to pursue a higher education but discouraged when she had trouble receiving financial aid. Eventually, she found a private scholarship and was able to attend college, but then driving and working became bigger issues before DACA. “Commuting to college and back, I would always think, ‘If I get pulled over right now, I’m over 18, I don’t have a driver’s license, I am undocumented.’ My crime would have been going to school,” she said. “I struggled with not being able to get a job. Internships and stuff like that, I couldn’t get none of that.” Because of DACA, they were able to attend college, drive and work legally and pursue careers where they could give back to their communities. AlMichael is now a legislative assistant for House Reps. Merleyn Bell and Chelsey Branham. Ledezma is a sixthgrade social studies teacher at Santa Fe South Public Schools. And just last month, Hernandez became the first DACA recipient admitted to Oklahoma Bar Association. Miriam Ortega, promotions coordinator at Historic Capitol Hill, and Yovana Medina, director of YWCA’s domestic violence assistance program, were always aware of their undocumented status. Both their parents brought them to the U.S. out of necessity. “I was diagnosed with something that pretty much told my parents that I only had a couple months left to live,” Ortega said. “When I think about this, it really makes me think of that reason and how much it took my parents to make the decision to leave their own family behind and ... the world that we knew.” Ortega refused to let her undocument-

ed status stand in the way of attending college, so she found a private scholarship. “I didn’t want that to stop me from to my dreams, which were to go to college and achieve a higher education, but it did cause me to reflect on my life and what my options were,” she said. “There were a lot of closed doors that, you know, we’re just one after another, one after another. I wasn’t able to get this, I wasn’t able to participate in that.” Medina crossed the border with her parents and grew up accepting there were things she would not be able to do. “I was born in Jalisco, Mexico, in a super small, rural community of maybe about 30 people; it was almost like a village,” she said. “[My parents] decided to come to this country because it was the right choice for our family; otherwise, we would have starved to death or a number of things could’ve happened.” Medina received DACA benefits from 2012 to 2017, when she got married. She is currently a green card holder, and she will get to send her citizenship application next year. But DACA allowed her to drive legally, begin working at a bank and develop skills she thought she would never have.

going to happen tomorrow. It’s important to keep in mind that every day, we’re still in limbo, still trying to figure out what we’re going to do. And that was one of the issues I’ve had, you know, kind of growing up and trying to become a professional in what I do. I don’t know how much I can create and have because it can just be taken from me tomorrow.” Every person I interviewed said the best thing you can do to make things better for Dreamers is to just get to know them and learn their stories and learn about the positive effect DACA has on the country’s economy. “How many cars did they buy? How many homes did they buy if they could buy homes? How did that impact the economy? How much did we contribute? What was our impact?” Medina said. “I will never be removed from the human part of it because no one should ever feel what it’s like for your parent

DACA’s future

Now, with uncertainty of what will happen to DACA, Dreamers feel like they are back to square one with the nagging uncertainty that was there before the program offered relief. “I remember when it was announced [DACA was ending] that I was so angry because I felt like for the first time in such a long time, I was able to have a little bit more certainty about what was going to happen to my life, and at that moment, it went back to square one; you didn’t know. And that’s how my whole life has been; you don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow, you don’t know if your parent’s going to come home or not or what can happen,” Ortega said. “That anger just motivated me to do something about it. … It just made you want to do more. To do more of what you were doing and not lose hope because once you lose hope, everything just disappears and it minimizes who you are and what you’ve done to get to where you’re at.” Waiting has become common for Dreamers, but they encourage people to take the opportunity to learn more about DACA or get involved with local advocacy organizations like Dream Action Oklahoma. “We’re in limbo; that’s the easy way to say it,” Hernandez said. “We’re all just kind of waiting to see what happens, and we’re just kind of waiting for Congress hopefully to take the next step on that. If we’ve kind of paid attention to the news, immigration and DACA has kind of gone out the window and we’ve talked about other things, and so it’s important to keep in mind that DACA is still an issue, that immigration is still an issue and that we’re still waiting. As DACA recipients, we don’t know what’s

Miriam Ortega, promotions coordinator at Historic Capitol Hill, shared her story as a DACA recipient to grow personally and bring more awareness. | Photo Alexa Ace

to be taken by immigration. … We need to talk about this and we need to be sensitive to it because people’s stories are important and they’re just as important as the data.” If DACA recipients are allowed to remain in the U.S. and work, it is estimated they would add $350 billion to the economy, resulting in $90 billion of tax revenue for the federal government, according to a senior fellow at CATO Institute. Nearly 100,000 Dreamers graduate from high school annually, according to Migration Policy Institute. A bill has been introduced that offers further relief from the threat of deportation. The American Dream and Promise Act of 2019 would put Dreamers who meet a certain criteria on a path toward permanent resident status. It will be heard by the subcommittee on immigration and citizenship.


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Northeast development

Efforts to create a commercial district along NE 23rd Street continue with a focus on ethical development. By Miguel Rios

A community is working together to ethically revitalize and develop its neighborhoods. Northeast Oklahoma City Renaissance (NEOKCR) aims to establish a commercial district on NE 23rd Street. It is hosting the fourth annual oNE OKC, a street festival that showcases different projects and supports NEOKCR’s mission. “The organization is really set up to be a representation of northeast Oklahoma City, to really have ethically placed development that’s taking place in our community and to really be a liaison between the community,” said Greg Jones, member of the NEOKCR board of directors and co-facilitator of the commercial district launch team. “Our organization was established really to be around and make sure that we have an opportunity to participate, provide input but also preserve the culture of the area.” NEOKCR wants to establish the commercial district through ethical development, making sure to honor the current community and its culture. “A lot of what we see happening in the greater metro area people could call gentrification, where community members aren’t being included in the building and conversations that are happening. … A lot of people are getting pushed out of those spaces,” said Ashley Chatman, oNE OKC co-chair. “[NEOKCR] is trying to have ethical revitalization where community members have input and equity and ownership in their community. It’s not just, ‘OK, we’re going to take some land, build

on it and then things become too expensive for you to live there.’ It’s a conversation with community members.” The organization is bringing property owners, business owners and residents of the community together to collaborate and establish a district with goals centered on their needs. “Myself, along with members of [Oklahoma City Black Chamber of Commerce] and other influential community leaders, came together about five to six months ago and said, ‘How can we utilize our contacts to be able to come together to establish a commercial district very similar to the Plaza, The Paseo, Stockyards, Uptown?’” Jones said. “And so we put a call out the community to respond. We’ve had meetings now on a monthly basis since December.” On average, there are roughly 40 people at each meeting, contributing ideas and providing feedback to board members. “The first step is a merchant association, so establishing the criteria, establishing some goals. The group has thought about different primary areas,” he said. “The first one is business to business; how to do business with each other and ways of being able to promote businesses within the district. Second thing is that we have safety. Third thing is looking at beautification. There is a fourth thing, which is branding the actual community itself.” The NEOKCR board will also establish a board of directors for the commercial district, which would then


Poet and writer Anthony Crawford entertains the crowd at oNE OKC in 2018. | Photo Trey Wiles / provided

establish bylaws, begin the application to become incorporated and narrow down the group’s ideas. “There are a lot of things that have been identified by this group that are needs for the community,” Jones said. “A full-size grocery store’s been talked about, a number of retail outlets, even knowing where to go get your tools and handyman-type of things. You know, there’s not even a hardware store that’s located within the community. So the reality of it is that by developing this commercial district hub, the assets that are within the community are able to be showcased … and it will draw and attract other businesses in this community that we desperately need.” NEOKCR hopes the merchant association will be formed in the next two months. “Then we will move on to the process of establishing a business improvement district,” Jones said. “We’re doing that a couple of months, and easily by the end of this year, we hope that the business improvement district would be official.”

“It’s starting to come into summer; it’s a good way to have fun on the weekend. Like I’ve mentioned, it’s free, it’s family-friendly,” Chatman said. “But outside of that, I think it’s important to see what’s going on in the area around you. … If you don’t know what’s happening on the northeast side and you live near there, why would you want to go check it out? I think it’s important to go and know your city, like know the space in which you live. And I think it’s important to engage with different people. ... We’ve got all these great things that are already here, and we’ve got more coming. So I think it’s important for the greater metro area to come and see all the awesome work that is happening on the northeast side.” Visit neokcr.org.

Mission support

oNE OKC is noon-4 p.m. May 18 at NE 23rd Street and Rhode Island Avenue to raise money and engage people with new developments in the area. Oklahoma couple and nationally recognized music duo Adam & Kizzie headline the festival. “The mission of oNE OKC is to pretty much bring greater unity with the eastside and the metro area as well as showcase and highlight all the really awesome revitalization projects that are happening,” Chatman said. “It’s just a free, family-friendly community block party that’s going to have live music, entertainment, kids zones. And then there’s also [the Building Tomorrow Tent], a giant space in which we will be showcasing the new developments and seeking feedback from community members to let us know and to let the stakeholders in the areas so everyone can have a conversation about ‘What do you want to see in this area? What do we need? What do you want to see get impacted by any new projects?’ Things like that.” Attendants will have a chance to provide feedback on what they think the commercial district should be like. “We’re actually asking the community to help us name the district,” she said. “At the event, we will have an opportunity for individuals that have ideas about naming the district to present their ideas. Write those ideas down so we can make that part of the consideration as the board is establishing the commercial district.” Various organizations will be showcasing projects, there will be feedback stations to receive input on what people would like to see in the community and artifacts from Oklahoma Historical Society will be presented.

Greg Jones is on the NEOKCR board of directors and serves as co-facilitator for the commercial district launch team. | Photo provided

Ashley Chatman, oNE OKC co-chair, said the event will showcase important development projects in northeast Oklahoma City. | Photo provided

oNE OKC noon-4 p.m. May 18 NE 23rd Street and Rhode Island Avenue neokcr.org Free

O KG A Z E T T E . C O M | M AY 8 , 2 0 1 9

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chicken

friedNEWS

No class

Columbus circling

Less than two years after being acquitted for manslaughter, former Tulsa police officer Betty Shelby, who shot and killed unarmed Terence Crutcher in September 2016, is scheduled to teach a National Rifle Association pistol-shooting course at Tulsa’s United States Shooting Academy. While we could accuse NRA of having impure motivations here, we will just offer a little bit of constructive criticism in case any of the people involved with this tasteless, terrible idea are somehow genuinely confused about why this is a tasteless, terrible idea. Here are three simple suggestions for making this class not just acceptable but beneficial to society. 1. Make it exclusively about firearm safety, specifically about how firearms are equipped with safeties and why you should make sure to leave them on when you are, say, pointing said firearm at an unarmed father who is walking away from you with his hands up. 2. Make Shelby one of the students, not the teacher. 3. Schedule the class for sometime before September 2016. Otherwise, what’s the point? In November, Tulsa World reported Shelby, who now works as a sheriff’s deputy in Rogers County, was scheduled to speak at Southeastern Homicide Investigators Conference on the topic Surviving the Aftermath of a Critical Incident before criticism from civil rights groups including NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund caused the conference to rescind its invitation. As of press time, Shelby has mercifully never made an appearance on the ABC drama How to Get Away With Murder, probably because it does not air on NRA TV.

Last week, Gov. Kevin Stitt signed a bill into law that merges Native American Day and Columbus Day into one holiday, which is like honoring vegan awareness and slaughterhouse operators at the same time. Stitt, who is a member of Cherokee Nation and the only governor in the country who is a recognized member of a Native American tribe, told Associated Press, “I don’t see any downside to it at all. It just gives us one opportunity to celebrate Columbus, but also indigenous people here in America.” Stitt’s action is an about-face from former Gov. Mary Fallin, who vetoed a similar bill last year, saying a singular holiday “could be viewed as an intentional attempt to diminish” support for national Native American Heritage Month in November. Inter-Tribal Council of the Five Civilized Tribes urged support of the bill while Chickasaw Nation and Cherokee Nation officials praised the move for its recognition of Native American history. The decision comes as other states, including New Mexico earlier in April, have replaced Columbus Day entirely. The second Monday in October remains a bank holiday, but who are the people using the day to passionately celebrate Christopher Columbus?

f s u n i o j e com

Are there people waving pennants that say “genocide” while “well, actually”-ing people on the street? It is pretty Eurocentric to think that Columbus “discovered” a “new world” where millions of people already lived. Besides, most people know that Vikings expeditions landed on the coast of New England hundreds of years before Columbus, and there is significant evidence to suggest that West African explorers sailed to Central America centuries prior to the Norse expeditions.

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Poor execution

Oklahoma is still struggling with killing its people — quickly and intentionally, at least. If you recall the last two executions in Oklahoma, which were definitely cruel and highly unusual, you might remember that the lethal injections did not go according to plan. Clayton Lockett and Charles Warner were supposed to go numb and become paralyzed, and then their hearts were supposed to stop. But the injection was botched and they felt pain. "My body is on fire" were Warner's last words. That was almost five years ago. The state of Oklahoma has not executed anybody since, partly because they could not get drugs for lethal injections. So officials decided to switch to nitrogen gas for their executions, but they are still having issues. The Frontier’s Dylan Goforth summed up Oklahoma’s issue nicely, reporting, “When it comes to the death penalty, Oklahoma is Sisyphus pushing a rock up a steep hill.” Oklahoma attorney general Mike Hunter said at a recent meeting that "the challenge is getting the equipment that we need, and we're at a point where we're probably going to look for an instate manufacturer," according to The Frontier. Despite this, Hunter hopes to resume executions in 2020. Last March, when Hunter an-

nounced the new execution method, he called it "the safest, the best and the most effective method available," even though little scientific evidence exists to back it up and veterinarians refuse to use it on animals. “No one has done this before, so whatever the state comes up with, obviously it’s going to be untried and no one will know or even can know how it is going to work or if it’s going to work," Dale Baich, an attorney representing Oklahoma death row prisoners, told The Frontier. So let us get this straight. Oklahoma plans to start using an unproven method of execution — that, again, even vets do not recommend for cats and dogs — by next year? Yikes! Maybe it's a good thing many of Oklahoma's elected leaders treat deadlines like general suggestions instead of, well, deadlines.

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EAT & DRINK

Midtown move

Ludivine feels at home in its new midcentury modern location in the heart of Midtown. By Jacob Threadgill

Ludivine 320 NW 10th St. ludivineokc.com | 405-778-6800 WHAT WORKS: Ora King salmon and all things chimichurri highlight the confluence of salt, acid and fat. WHAT NEEDS WORK: The pesto lagged behind other pasta preparations. TIP: Check out the Monday lunch burger deal.

The biggest challenge for Ludivine owner and chef Russ Johnson as he moved the restaurant from its longtime home on Hudson Avenue to its new location at 320 NW 10th St. was retaining continuity in a different space. The ossified longhorn skull that once held daily specials in its mouth at the old space now hangs prominently on golden bricks and greets guests as they enter the main dining room in the midcentury modern building in the heart of Midtown.

The new Ludivine location features much lower ceilings than the Hudson Avenue space. | Photo provided

It is the same Ludivine committed to delivering locally sourced ingredients in inventive ways, but it has a whole new bag of tricks. “I wanted to have some continuity,” Johnson said. “How do we take this concept and restaurant that is so established, that people have come to know and love as far as vibe and aesthetic? How do we translate that into this building that is so radically different in terms of architecture?” Johnson, who worked with architect Brian Fitzsimmons of Fitzsimmons Architects on renovation but served as the restaurant’s main interior designer, fulfilled his continuity mission by keeping a similar material for the chef’s bar and the

open-air kitchen — a Ludivine staple — and the same style of banquet for booths. The new restaurant opened at the end of April and has lunch service 11 a.m.-2. p.m. Monday-Friday, everyday dinner service 5-10 p.m. and lunch 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday-Sunday. “We’re very excited that it has finally materialized; it’s been an idea we’ve been kicking around for while now,” Johnson said. “It feels like an upgrade in a lot of ways First of all, it’s a better geographical location. We have more space for a private dining room, which we’ve never had before. It’s actually less seats overall in the dining room and fewer seats at the bar, but with the addition of the private dining room and the larger patio, we actually have more seats overall. What I like about it is that it feels more intimate and cozy even though it is bigger.” Nestled on a green banquet under a southwestern desertscape painting, I got a chance to sample Ludivine’s new lunch menu, and it’s a more affordable way to experience the restaurant as plenty of natural light pours in from the windows on the north end. First up were Ludivine’s salads. Perfect Little Salad ($7) is a simple mixture of baby lettuces, good olive oil, lemon, salt and pepper. This salad accompanied a few entrees, and it is tasty. It should serve as a reminder to always salt and pepper your salads because salt brings out the natural flavors in the vegetables. I am usually not a big fan of blue cheese, but I enjoyed the arugula salad with blue cheese dressing and walnuts ($9). Maybe it is a sign that I have burned off enough taste buds in my life to finally enjoy blue cheese, but it is likely more of a sign that the restaurant is using a high-quality product. My favorite salad was Grilled Little Gem Caesar ($9) with Caesar dressing, bread crumbs and pecorino cheese. The most interesting salad is the salade de chevre chaud ($14), which is served with radishes, pistachios and a bucheron gratinée — goat’s cheese baked inside a pastry — that is salty, ooey and gooey. Ludivine offers fresh pasta available in your choice of preparation: pesto, cacio e pepe or puttanesca for $11. I am usually a big pesto fan, but this preparation was actually my least favorite of the trio. The puttanesca had plenty of pop from the olives and tomatoes, and the cacio e pepe allows the butter, pepper and cheese to shine. The lunch entree manager Andy Bowen expects to sell the best is the chicken schnitzel, which is pounded thin and fried in breadcrumbs before being finished in a creamy sauce featuring lemon and capers with a side of sautéed spinach. At $15, it’s a good deal and was a massive hit among our table. Ludvine shows off its Wagyu beef in a variety of ways. The burger ($14) changes daily, but the one with chimichurri and white Mexican cheese is one

Chicken schnitzel with lemon, capers and sautéed spinach | Photo Jacob Threadgill

of the best burgers in the city. Every Monday, the restaurant offers the burger with a side of truffle fries for $10. You can also get a steak sandwich on house-baked sourdough with a mediumrare Wagyu flank, arugula, shaved onion, dijonnaise, chimichurri and truffle fries for $16. The steak frites ($22) features the flank with truffle fries and chimichurri. A well-made chimichurri is hard to beat with its blend of herbs, fruit acidity and a little spice. My favorite entrée was actually the pan-roasted Ora King salmon with vegetables ($18). The skin was perfect and crispy, and the fish was buttery. Ludivine is one of a handful of restaurants serving Ora King, which is sustainably fished in New Zealand and is the Cadillac of salmon. I was surprised at how much I enjoyed the tarte flambée, a house-baked Alsatian flatbread with fromage blanc, onion, house-smoked bacon and the Perfect Little Salad ($12). It is the most affordable main item but one of the tastiest on the lunch menu. The combination of the soft cheese works well with the bacon and the acidity of the salad. The galette complete ($16), a buckwheat crêpe with rosemary ham joined with Emmenthal and raclette cheeses and topped with an over-easy egg was a well-made dish, but I would have to go through a bunch of trips to the restaurant before I ordered that one again. The meal was finished with a vanilla bean crème brûlée ($8) that was exactly what you want from the dish: a caramelized exterior and a creamy custard with notes of vanilla bean. I enjoyed the chocolate banana brûlée dessert crêpe more than the citron variety, which needed some extra fruit or whipped cream to complete the dish. The move into the heart of Midtown allows a little easier access to Ludivine and provides Johnson and the operators easier access to their adjoining restaurant, The R&J Lounge and Supper Club. He said they plan to open a tapas restaurant in the old Ludivine space, and work will begin on that this year.

Ora King salmon pan-roasted with seasonal vegetables | Photo Jacob Threadgill

O KG A Z E T T E . C O M | M AY 8 , 2 0 1 9

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F E AT U R E

EAT & DRINK

Taste buds

Try It, You’ll Like It podcast confronts food fears with comedy and cooking chops. By Jacob Threadgill

On one level, the Try It, You’ll Like It podcast is a comedy podcast hosted by talented improvisers and “taste buds” David Zwick and Winston Carter. On another level, it is an intersection of psychology and experience as they ask guests to eat a food item they do not enjoy. Surrounded by racks of ribs, Carter and Zwick keep asking guest Nadia Osman if she’s punking them, but her aversion to slow-cooked pork comes from having a Muslim father who did not eat it, and the only time she tried ribs in the past was at a chain restaurant. Not to be outdone, Carter and Zwick — who own a smoker together — prepare an overwhelming amount of meat for the episode, including barbecue-glazed smoked spareribs, Japanese yakiniku spare ribs, braised beef short ribs over cheese grits, oven-baked spareribs cooked to mimic the flavor of sausage with fennel seed and orange and slow-cooked spare ribs turned into a gourmet McRib. “I really dig the [yakiniku] ones and the ones that are heartier versus fattier,” Osman said when Zwick asked her if she would order ribs in a restaurant. “I don’t know; the whole bone thing is still freaking me out.” Carter asked her if she ever buys a rotisserie chicken at the grocery store. “On the rare occasion that I do, I shred the meat off the bone immediately,” Osman said. “I like to pick at it [on the bone] like I’m a hyena, and I’ll hiss at my cats so they know their place,” Carter said with his quick im-

provisational wit. Carter, who is originally from Tulsa and worked in food service in Stillwater before and after attending Oklahoma State University, met Zwick — a native of northern Chicago suburbs — while taking improvisation classes with Upright Citizens Brigade in Los Angeles and began performing as a duo. Carter uses his knowledge from working in kitchens and Zwick leans on his years of being a passionate home cook to impart food factoids throughout episodes of the show, which began at the beginning of 2018 and includes guests from the Los Angeles comedy scene as well as restaurant owners and chefs. “Let’s have the guest confront this potential fear in a safe setting,” Zwick said in a phone interview with Oklahoma Gazette. “A lot of human life is dictated by fear, and I think that’s what is interesting to us, why someone might not like something, and present them with if they should still maintain that fear or if they should change their approach to food.” Carter and Zwick estimate that nearly 80 percent of guests like at least one item presented to them, but only about 20 percent become full converts, like the strawberries and mango episodes. “People can make these giant claims about hating onions or whatever, and it’s usually tied to something in your past, and odds are good that you’ve never revisited it,” Carter said to Gazette. “Food and smell are really tied to our memories and our emotions, and I think it’s fun to have other people to try it, but it also forces me to try things I would not normally try or ask myself why I’m not

David Zwick and Winston Carter host Try It, You’ll Like It. | Photo Wyoh Lee / provided

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eating this one thing.” Zwick notes that while doing the show, he has learned Carter is a pickier eater than him. “Everyone in the world is a pickier eater than you,” Carter sarcastically responded. “I had to start a podcast so that I would try new shit. I like to travel, and that’s part of the reason I travel; so that I’m forced to try new things, but I also like a lot of trash food like diner food or something you can get in a bowling alley.” Every Try It, You’ll Like It episode is approximately an hour long and begins with a rotating opening segment to flex their comedy chops before showcasing their cooking skills. They try to present sweet and savory options of the food item even when it veers in the unexpected. The Buffalo wing episode featured a hot sauce cupcake topped with blue cheese frosting. Zwick baked a turnip pie (unusual for an otherwise savory root vegetable), and Carter crusted a steak in cocoa powder for a chocolate episode. “Bitter melon is a good example because it contains a tremendous amount of quinine, which is also in tonic water,” Zwick said of his process. “What if we boiled the bitter melon into a syrup and made a gin and tonic? Would you be able to make it more approachable?” “The answer is no,” Carter deadpanned. Zwick said he started to become a passionate home cook about 10 years ago, when he moved to Los Angeles to attend University of Southern California. Now he has black garlic fermenting on the porch, makes his own kombucha and brews beer with a roommate. “The philosophy is that if I want something bad for me, I need to make it myself,” Zwick said. “I

make my own ice cream.” Zwick’s self-reliance led to a meta episode of the show in which he was forced to eat Taco Bell for the first time, culminating in a show-stopping moment. In homage to one of the most famous cooking movies — Big Night — Carter unveiled an il timpano filled with different Taco Bell items. Carter worked at the original Hideaway Pizza location and a Chinese restaurant in Stillwater before working in catering in Florida and then moving to California with family about 10 years ago. Despite growing up in Tulsa, when Carter returns to Oklahoma, it is to visit Oklahoma City, where his girlfriend is from. “Growing up, there’s a rivalry between the two cities [Tulsa and Oklahoma City],” Carter said. “I used to be like ‘OKC, whatever,’ then I went out and had pho for lunch, went out to a few places at night and was like ‘OK, I get it; there’s a lot of fun to be had here.’ I went to Pho Cuong three times on the last trip. I was like, ‘This is not-messingaround good.’” Carter craves food from Oklahoma that he cannot get in Southern California, like Braum’s chocolate softserve and Tex-Mex-style queso. “I’d say he mentions Braum’s on 20 percent of our episodes,” Zwick said. “He’s planted that seed in a significant way.” Try It, You’ll Like It is a Campfire Media production available through all major podcast providers. New episodes are released every T h u r s d a y. Follow @tryitlikeitpod on Instagram.


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O KG A Z E T T E . C O M | M AY 8 , 2 0 1 9

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GAZEDIBLES

EAT & DRINK

New ’cue

May is National Barbecue Month, and we’re celebrating by honoring some new and inventive concepts in the metro. By Jacob Threadgill with photos provided

Maples Barbecue

1800 NW 16th St. maplesbarbecue.com | 405-604-3344

The longtime food truck opened its 16th Street Plaza District location at the end of 2018, where it showcases true Texasstyle smoked meats using post oak and two huge smokers that are manned around the clock. The Pitmaster sandwich offers pulled pork, chopped brisket, sausage, jalapeño and slaw on a bun. Be sure to save room for the custard mac and cheese that cuts like a cake and has a crispy top.

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The Krow’s Nest BBQ & Catering

1715 NW 16th St. thekrowsnestbcc.com | 405-430-0116

Located inside Saints in 16th Street Plaza District, The Krow’s Nest offers delectable mash-ups like smoked hot links and pulled pork on top of a smoked burger. The menu includes both wet and dry ribs and smoked brisket, but The Krow’s Nest also caters to non-meat eaters by smoking eggplant and tofu and offering a vegan chili twice a week.

Smoked Out BBQ

6220 Northwest Expressway, Suite B smokedoutbbq.green | 405-985-6328

Another successful food truck to brickand-mortar transition, Smoked Out BBQ opened in August of last year. Building off generations of a family recipe, it offers chicken, pulled pork, hot links, smoked sausage, brisket and pork ribs. It has indulgent desserts like banana pudding, triple fudge brownies, fried peaches and Apple Crescents.

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Deckle Smokehouse BBQ 324 W. Edmond Road, Edmond decklesmokehousebbq.com 405-657-2992

Cornish Smokehouse

Fatty’s Smokehouse

Jo-Bawb’s is home to an accomplished competition barbecue team, competing in some of the nation’s most prestigious events. After opening a restaurant in Wyoming, the team has partnered with local operators to open a mobile smokehouse in Oklahoma City last year. It is set up most days at Northside Drive, but check its website for details. Wednesday wing specials can’t be beat.

Since debuting its brick-and-mortar last year, Cornish Smokehouse stands out from the pack in the barbecue field with its smoked fried chicken and jerk sauce made with ingredients shipped from Jamaica. You can also check out its soul food offerings on Sundays.

This recent addition in Moore smokes its burgers that can be topped with smoked bologna, bacon jam, brisket or pulled pork. It also offers smoked chicken and jalapeño cheddar sausage, chili made with smoked meats and deviled eggs topped with pulled pork, sauce, bacon jam, bacon dust and chives.

7921 Northside Drive jo-bawbsbbq.com | 405-479-0187

Operator Andrew Liu has a successful barbecue history, and he brings his Texasstyle fare — using three types of oak — to Edmond. The menu is full of huge sandwiches on housemade brioche rolls, and there is a pair of food challenges for the adventurous. But it also offers interesting side items like Asian-inspired coleslaw, edamame-spinach hushpuppies and taro root brisket tostadas.

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O KG A Z E T T E . C O M | M AY 8 , 2 0 1 9

17


List your event in 15 YEARS DOMINATING OILFIELD CATERING

PECAN CREEK c at e r i n g

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.

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Submit your listings online at okgazette.com or email them to listings@okgazette.com. Sorry, but phone submissions cannot be accepted.


ART

ARTS & CULTURE

Threatening beauty Local artist David Holland’s dramatic cloudscapes are highlighted in a residency at Mainsite Contemporary Art. By Jacob Threadgill

Oklahoma’s unique connection to the weather is felt every time Oklahoma City-based artist David Holland puts brush to canvas. Holland takes photos of large thunderstorms after they move east past the city and turns them into large, oil-based paintings, a process that will be highlighted in his three-month residency that begins Friday at Mainsite Contemporary Art, 122 E. Main St., in Norman. Holland will set up his studio inside the gallery for people to watch his process to finish a five-foot by six-foot cloudscape painting from start to finish. His residency — The Skies Have It — has receptions 6-10 p.m. Friday (May 10), June 14 and July 12 in conjunction with the 2nd Friday Norman Art walk each month. “Being an Oklahoman, [clouds] were always something I was interested and fascinated by,” Holland said. “As a kid growing up, I was always looking at storms and interested in lightning.” While working on a series dedicated to the sweeping curves of highway overpasses, Holland took a photo with a thunderstorm in the distance. When he turned it into a painting, something about drawing the thunderstorm clicked in him. “It was the first time I put a thunderstorm in my art, and I liked the way it Artist David Holland will set up his studio so gallery visitors can watch him at work painting Oklahoma storms. | Photo Mainsite Contemporary Art / provided

looked and felt,” he said. “I started developing that as my path in art.” Holland studied art as a young boy and took a few classes at Oklahoma City University, where he graduated in 1983, but it largely remained a hobby. He worked at a stained-glass manufacturer and then owned a business that produced copper bird feeders for retail distribution across the country. In 2012, he and his business partner sold the company and he began to pursue art full-time, but not without some self-doubt.

I searched for things that I love, and thunderstorms were at the top of my list. David Holland In the intervening years, he drew using oil pastels because they didn’t require the set-up time of mixing paint and waiting for it to dry. He did a series of drawings depicting the change modern life has had on technology and families. “I did a show with them in 2005, and I had 35 pieces that weren’t terribly expensive and only sold two of them,” he said. “It was a huge, huge wake-up call for me. As an artist, you need to be able to sustain yourself. I realized that wasn’t the path and had a huge crisis of

confidence, not knowing if I wanted to continue art. I loved doing that series and I felt it had a lot of meaning, and so did other people, but it wasn’t something they necessarily wanted on their walls.” Holland took classes through Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition, which teaches artists the business side of the industry, how to market their work, do their taxes and get gallery representation. Holland, who is now represented by Howell Galleries in Oklahoma City, credited the classes with allowing him to jump into being a full-time artist in 2012, when the opportunity presented itself. The second big epiphany was finding inspiration from the weather. “I had to figure out something I loved to paint,” he said. “You have to have that sincerity behind your work in order for it to resonate with people. I searched for things that I love, and thunderstorms were at the top of my list.” Holland tracks storms as they move through the city, waits until they get 25 or 50 miles east of the city, so that they can be seen in entirety, and takes photos. “The beauty is what I key-in on and what I want to enhance the most,” he said. “So that people, even though they see it as a severe weather, they can ap-

“On Shoulders of Giants” by David Holland | Image Mainsite Contemporary Art / provided

preciate the beauty I see in them.” Holland mentioned a recent conversation with someone who recently returned to Oklahoma after living in Australia and New York. “They noticed that the skies were different and the skies in Oklahoma were spectacular compared to other places in the world and the country because of the weather and the flatness of Oklahoma — you can see storms coming,” Holland said. “The beauty of storms is something to me that is completely overlooked, especially in Oklahoma, where people are so ingrained in the technical aspects — the dry line, sheer line, all of the National Weather Center jargon that you hear. I was used to the severity of storms, so the beauty was something that I could show naturally.” Norman Arts Council executive director Erinn Gavaghan approached Holland with the opportunity for the Mainsite residency, and Holland is hoping to tap into Norman’s market around the National Weather Center to make an impact with his paintings. He will work with local scientists to include facts in the captions for his artwork and in his presentations of the art. “This opportunity, I cannot express how excited I am; it is the fulfillment of a dream,” he said. “I want it to be interesting to both general public, but also scientists and weather researchers in the industry.” Mainsite Contemporary is open 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday, and admission to the gallery and exhibitions is free. The Skies Have It runs through July 12. Visit mainsitecontemporaryart.com.

The Skies Have It opening reception 6-10 p.m. Friday Mainsite Contemporary Art 122 E. Main St., Norman mainsitecontemporaryart.com Free

O KG A Z E T T E . C O M | M AY 8 , 2 0 1 9

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T H E AT E R

ARTS & CULTURE

Stripped-down Carmen

Painted Sky Opera takes a minimalist approach with Georges Bizet’s classic opera. By Jeremy Martin

Premiering in Paris in 1875, Georges Bizet’s Carmen is one of the most famous and influential operas in history, featuring a huge cast and large-scale production numbers in its more than three-hour runtime. Peter Brook’s La Tragédie de Carmen — to be staged by Painted Sky Opera May 17 and 19 at Freede Little Theatre in Civic Center Music Hall, 201 N Walker Ave. — is decidedly not that. Premiering in 1981, Brook’s minimalist, 90-minute reimagining retains some of the most famous music from Bizet’s opera but eliminates all but six characters. A 1983 New York Times review called it “a bird that makes noises like an opera but looks like a play.” Painted Sky artistic director Rob Glaubitz said Brook’s version, which eliminates the choruses of factory workers, children and soldiers to focus on the complicated, tragic relationships between the four principal characters, is an “intimate form of opera” that is “really direct and forceful.” “It is an interesting, dramatic work, and it is a little different than a lot of shows,” Glaubitz said. “It has that kind of immediacy that I think a lot of plays do and some operas do not because a lot of the 19th-century operatic whimsy a lot of the composers added to their works is really stripped away.” Caitlin McKechney plays the title role in Painted Sky Opera’s La Tragédie de Carmen May 17 and 19 in Freede Little Theatre at Civic Center Music Hall. | Photo Mutz Photography / provided

In Brook’s version, as in Bizet’s, beguiling Carmen lures soldier Don José away from the innocent Micaëla into a life of crime, resulting in heartbreak, jealousy and murder. The runtime has been halved, and only four singing parts remain — Carmen (mezzo-soprano Caitlin McKechney, making her Painted Sky debut), Don José (tenor and University of Oklahoma associate professor Joel Burcham), Micaëla (soprano Hanna Brammer, also making her Painted Sky debut) and the bullfighter Escamillo (baritone Tom Sitzler) — but Glaubitz said the opera retains the same spirit as Bizet’s work.

Every character in this show is kind of hanging on to their place in society with their fingernails, like everything is just a step from falling apart. Rob Glaubitz “Some of my favorite parts of the opera have been taken out, but it still has most of the really famous music that everyone associates with Carmen,” Glaubitz said. “It still has all of Carmen’s

famous arias. It still has the ‘Toréador Song’ that everyone knows. It still has a lot of the orchestral music that people recognize from commercials and things like that. So at its core, it’s still Carmen.”

Max inspiration

Bizet’s work continues to enthrall audiences even in the rapid-paced 21st century, but Glaubitz said Brook’s version might be more appealing to viewers accustomed to the shorter running times of films and TV shows. “I’ve never felt bored in a production of Carmen,” Glaubitz said. “I think one of the reasons why it’s a top-five-in-theworld opera is because it captures your attention. It’s well constructed dramatically. So I don’t think the threehour run time is a big deal in Carmen. Having said that, I think that some of today’s audiences, with the way we consume entertainment right now, will be more drawn to this version of Carmen because it has that directness and that immediateness. … I really do think that almost anyone could come to the original version of Carmen and just be entranced. If you see a good production of it, you would enjoy it, but I think this will have a wider appeal to those who prefer shorter entertainment.” The “bleak, stark feeling” of the opera inspired Glaubitz to look to an unexpected source for set and costume ideas — George Miller’s Mad Max films, violent science-fiction action movies set in a desperate, dystopian future. “Every character in this show is kind of hanging on to their place in society with their fingernails, like everything is just a step from falling apart … and every character interacts with each other in a more instinctual and base way rather than with always a lot of forethought and consideration,” Glaubitz said. “Society is kind of constructed out of whatever they find from where society was before, so a lot of costumes kind of look like

they’re almost found items … like patchwork skirts for Micaëla, and our Escamillo, who in the show is a fancy bullfighter, he’s going to be more like a Thunderdome gladiator type.” While Glaubitz does not have to worry about wrangling a large cast, the smaller-scale production presents different challenges to him as the opera’s stage director. “Bigger opera is a lot of times about creating incredible stage pictures, and sometimes the stereotype is that the actual dramatic interaction is lost between the characters because of the attention that’s placed on other things,” Glaubitz said. “So when you’re doing a show like this with four or five or six people, it is more like directing a play, and that’s a really attractive thing to me as a director. I want to be able to work with actors on dramatic intention and creating these relationships between characters that sometimes you don’t get a chance to do as much in the bigger operas because of the nature of the beast.” For his reimagining of the story, Brook returned to Carmen’s source material, an 1845 novella by French author Prosper Mérimée, and in some ways, Glaubitz said, La Tragédie de Carmen is a more faithful representation of Mérimée’s original intent. “The original novella was called Carmen, but it was really about Don José,” Glaubitz said. “What this does is it shoves that focus onto Don José while letting Carmen be almost, strangely enough, a supporting character in the opera that’s named after her. So we were really tracking the way that he falls apart from the beginning to the end of the show, his descent that has been brought on by his interaction with Carmen.” The additional focus on Don José’s character makes the role more challenging for Burcham. “I don’t think he goes offstage for almost the entire show, so that’s 90 minutes of being onstage, which is a long time to really maintain that concentration in an opera, especially with that kind of intensity,” Glaubitz said. “Opera has, and it’s probably justified, the stereotype that the actors don’t always act; they get up there and they have wonderful voices. And for this show, you can’t do that. It doesn’t work. You have to have singers who can really portray characters. … Little things become very important on a smaller stage. Gestures, exact placement — some things that aren’t as important on a bigger stage become very important.” Tickets are $35-$45. Visit paintedskyopera.org.

La Tragédie de Carmen May 17 and 19 Freede Little Theatre Civic Center Music Hall 201 N. Walker Ave. paintedskyopera.org $35-$45

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T H E AT E R

from left Ayden Hartel, Emma Wells, Estella Stevenson, Nikki Oliphant and Emma Poindexter rehearse for Thelma Gaylord Academy’s production of Honk Jr. | Photo provided

Duck now

Honk Jr. offers a poignant retelling of Hans Christian Andersen’s The Ugly Duckling. By Jeremy Martin

First published in the 1840s, Hans Christian Andersen’s The Ugly Duckling has been comforting people who feel like outcasts and misfits ever since. Thelma Gaylord Academy’s production of Honk Jr., a children’s musical based on Andersen’s tale, runs Friday-Sunday at Lyric at the Plaza, 1727 NW 16th St., continues the tradition. “Everyone can identify with it no matter their background because even if you feel like you have the best life in the world, there are still going to be parts of your life or people in your life that you don’t feel welcome or comfortable with,” said academy education associate Kassie Carroll Downey, the play’s director. “I think that everyone has felt out of place at some point in their life. No matter who you are or where you come from, that’s something you can relate to, especially kids these days with social media trying to fit in and trying to be the perfect image of what you think you should be. It’s very real for them at this point. Even though they’re playing animals, they can definitely identify with having to try to be something that maybe they’re not in order to fit in. ... We’ve all kind of felt left out at some point or at least seen someone bully someone else, and it’s not a fun experience to go through.” The production, starring 8-14-year-old theater students, is Downey’s first with the academy. Honk, which tells the story of Ugly, a hatchling bullied by the ducks around him until he discovers that he is actually a swan, originally premiered in England in 1993, and a Royal National Theatre production won the 2000 Laurence Olivier Award for best musical.

“When it premiered, it was adults playing these roles,” Downey said. “I thought it was a little funny to think of adults dressed up as ducks and cats and bullfrogs and things.” Though the musical originally starred adults, Downey said its theme resonates with the students in the Thelma Gaylord Academy production and in some ways could be more effectively conveyed by the younger cast. “There’s kind of a hopeful message at the end where [Ugly] says, ‘Different isn’t bad or different isn’t mean or different isn’t scary,’” Downey said. “‘It’s just different. Maybe I don’t look like you, but that doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with me.’ And we were talking about that at rehearsal. It’s a hopeful message that we are teaching the audience because there’s going to be some adults in the audience, I’m sure, and kids that are still kind of that bully type that need to hear that message, and who better to tell them than a child? It coming from the innocence of a child, I think, is so beautiful. It’s very pure and heartfelt rather than someone trying to lecture you, another adult or another person running for office or your boss. Sometimes it’s easier to learn from when you hear it from a child.”

some of the story’s darker scenes and subtext remain. “There is some death in this production, which is kind of absurd and a little strange, but there’s sort of a lesson in trusting strangers and someone that you can depend on and who is someone you can’t depend on,” Downey said. “The Ugly Duckling is so naive and so impressionable and young that if someone’s nice to him, he will just go along with whatever they say, not realizing the Cat might be trying to eat him.” While some of the musical’s lessons might not be fun to think about, Downey said they are important for adults and children to consider nonetheless. “The kids, some of them are like, ‘Oh my gosh! Did these animals just die?’ and I’m like, ‘Yeah,’” Downey said. “It is a kids’ musical, but there’s some real things that happen that people deal with in everyday life. They’re playing these cute little ducks or these frogs or these cats or whatever, these cute little animals, they’re all dressed up in really sweet and fun and exciting costumes and things, but there’s a lot of depth and a lot of darkness to what the story really is. And I think that helps us to realize it’s not just a story about, ‘Oh, he becomes beautiful and then life is good.’ There are other things that happen, like he loses some friends in the show. He gets tricked by people. So yeah, there’s a happy ending, but there’s a lot of lessons to be learned from this show that are outside of what you’re expecting.” The musical’s cast includes theater students of varying experience levels, which Downey said she enjoys as a director. “Some of these students, this is their first production ever,” Downey said. “Some of them are pros and they’ve been doing it forever, since they were really little. … So it’s kind of a fun challenge for me, and it’s a good thing for the students too because the young kids or the inexperienced kids, they can look up to the kids that are really solid and that have the big roles and know what they’re doing. It’s a way for those students to step up and be leaders and teach the younger kids them-

selves, and it’s a way for those younger, inexperienced kids to learn from their peers, which I think is also so important in educational theater.” While Downey has been teaching the students about choreography and stagecraft, she said they have been inspiring her as well. “I learn from them, too, every single day,” Downey said. “Their creativity, their talent level, their ability to pick up staging and even memorization, it blows my mind every time I work with children. I try my hardest to push them to the point where they will wow audiences. … It’s always amazing for people that have never seen students like this to walk in and be like, ‘Wow! How did you get the students to do that?’ And a lot of my responses are, ‘It’s them. They’re doing it. They have the ability. They always have had the ability.’ It’s just someone being able to give them confidence that they can do it, which is kind of my job as an educator in this field. … They just have to find the Ugly Duckling inside themselves and become that swan on the stage, which is amazing for me to watch.” Tickets are $15. Visit thelmagaylordacademy.com.

Honk Jr. Friday-Sunday Lyric at the Plaza 1727 NW 16th St. thelmagaylordacademy.com | 405-524-9310 $15

Life lessons

Honk Jr.is an abbreviated version of the original with its runtime cut from two hours to one to give children the chance to stage a “full-length musical without being overwhelmed,” Downey said, but Emma Poindexter has makeup done by makeup artist Brawna Gfeller. | Photo provided

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Homeward bound

Wilma Mankiller’s story is brought to life by an Oklahoma City illustrator in Wilma’s Way Home. By Charles Martin

Native Americans stormed the beaches of Alcatraz Island in 1969 to claim the notorious prison for the “Indians of all tribes.” For nineteen months, the shuttered federal facilities were reopened by the activists and turned into homes. They hoped to force the U.S. government to make good on the Treaty of Ft. Laramie that promised to return all retired federal lands to the native people who once occupied the area. Wilma Mankiller was one of the volunteers trying to keep the dream alive, an early step in her long career of advocacy for Native American communities. Mankiller’s landmark achievement was to become the first elected female principal chief of the Cherokee Nation, but that is just one aspect of her fascinating life to be explored by countless books and her own autobiography, Mankiller: A Chief and Her People. Disney Hyperion has also recently released Wilma’s Way Home, a children’s book written by Doreen Rappaport and illustrated by Oklahoma City artist Linda Kukuk. Kukuk, a member of the Choctaw Nation, said this is her first children’s book and the project came “out of the blue” when an editor from Disney reached out online. “They said, ‘We are doing this book and feel like it is very important that we get an illustration partner that is right. We think that is you,’” Kukuk said. “When I looked into the other books in the series, it seemed like Disney tries to make a connection between the subject in the book and the illustrator.” Kukuk will sometimes explore Native themes within her watercolor and scratchboard art and exhibits regularly in Native-focused art shows. Kukuk’s editor sent her a collage of images from Kukuk’s own website to guide the style for her illustrations. Though Kukuk was already familiar with Mankiller, she began consuming every book she could find about

Mankiller’s life and recognizing parallels between their lives. Kukuk’s experience as chief of the Commander’s Protocol Office at Tinker Air Force Base helped her appreciate Mankiller’s deft ability to inspire and coordinate people to get large projects done. Kukuk’s extended family also gave her insight into what Mankiller’s childhood looked like. “When I went to visit my aunts and uncles in southeastern Oklahoma, they lived exactly as Wilma did,” Kukuk said. “No running water, outdoor plumbing, get your water from a spring, cook on a wood-burning stove. I thought it was fun when I was a kid, but I imagine in the wintertime, it wouldn’t be.” Kukuk made trips to Mankiller Flats to talk to the people who knew Mankiller best. “One of the things that I noticed was everyone I talked to, without fail, believed they were Wilma’s best friend,” Kukuk said. “That told me a lot about her character, how she was a very warm person and embraced everyone that she met.”

Finding connections

Mankiller’s early life is an all-too-familiar story of cultural disruption faced by many Native Americans in the 20th century. Her parents attempted to squeeze a life for their family of 11 out of the difficult farmlands of Mankiller Flats near Rocky Mountain. Struggling to keep the family fed, Mankiller’s parents volunteered to move as part of the Indian Relocation Act of 1956 that took hundreds of thousands of other Native peoples from reservations to cities, with many landing in and around San Francisco along with the Mankillers. Wilma’s Way Home documents Mankiller’s struggles that began the moment they entered the chaos of a modern American city. That sense of displacement lasted throughout her early adulthood as she strived to find ways to connect to her culture.

Wilma’s Way Home, featuring illustrations from Oklahoma City artist Linda Kukuk, was published by Disney Hyperion in February. | Image Disney Hyperion / provided

Eventually, she connected with a Native American center in the Bay Area. “The militants, the wise elders, the keepers of the medicine, the storytellers — were my best teachers,” the book quotes Mankiller about her time at the Native American center. “I felt like a newborn whose eyes have just opened to the first light.” For those curious about reading more about the long-term impacts of relocation on Native culture, Tommy Orange’s brilliant novel about Native Americans in Oakland, There There, focuses on that crisis of identity, including a glimpse into the living conditions of families that occupied Alcatraz Island. With a renewed spirit, Mankiller packed up her daughters and returned to Oklahoma, where she would begin her historic rise through the Cherokee Nation despite tremendous odds. “Her perseverance was amazing,” Kukuk said. “She had a terrible auto accident that killed one of her best friends who was in the other car. They didn’t think she would walk, but she came back from that. She had to have a kidney transplant, then another one, then she got cancer, but she just kept going and doing.” Wilma’s Way Home features some traditional Cherokee words, including gadugi (gah-DOO-gee), which is defined as “the philosophy of people helping each other,” sprinkled in with pronunciation guides. Kukuk believes this is a foundational idea Mankiller tapped into that helped transform the tribe. “Women can help turn the world right-side up,” Mankiller is quoted within the book. “We bring a more collaborative approach to government.” “She almost single-handedly got the Cherokee people to stop waiting for the government to do things for them and to do things for themselves,” Kukuk said. “She was one of those unusual and amazing people. I felt her presence helping me through this project. I never knew her but now feel like she is my best friend.” Visit books.disney.com and lindakukuk.com.

Linda Kukuk’s illustrations in Wilma’s Way Home capture Wilma Mankiller’s experiences after the Indian Relocation Act of 1956. | Image Disney Hyperion / provided


CALENDAR are events recommended by Oklahoma Gazette editorial staff members For full calendar listings, go to okgazette.com.

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 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., 405-732-0393. 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., Norman, 405307-9320, pasnorman.org. SUN

FILM It’s a Disaster (2012, USA, Todd Berger) the world appears to come to an end while four couples are having brunch in this dark comedy, May 9-12. The Banquet Cinema Pub, 800 NW Fourth St., banquetcinema.com.

THU-SUN

Mamma Mia! (2008, USA, Phyllida Lloyd) a brideto-be attempts to use her wedding as an excuse to reunite with her real father in a musical soundtracked

James Bailey: Map-ify According to his artist’s statement, Artspace artist-in-residence James Bailey’s work “examines the landscape and our relation to it via the concept of maps/mapping as both objects and as acts.” Translation: These intricate, abstract prints might resemble maps in some instances, but the only area they seem to chart is the interior of Bailey’s own mind. For everywhere else, you should probably stick to your GPS. The opening reception is 5-8 p.m. Thursday at Artspace at Untitled, 1 NE Third St. Admission is free. Call 405-815-9995 or visit 1ne3.org. THURSDAY Image provided with songs by 1970s pop group ABBA, May 9-12. The Banquet Cinema Pub, 800 NW Fourth St., banquetcinema.com. THU-SUN Movie in the Park: Christopher Robin (2018, USA, Marc Forster) grownup Christopher Robin (Ewan McGregor) reconnects with Winnie the Pooh and the other fantastical residents of the Hundred Acre Wood in this film based on A.A. Milne’s classic children’s characters, 7-10 p.m. May 10. Mitch Park, 1501 W. Covell Road, Edmond, 405-359-4630, edmondok.com/parks. FRI

Seen/Unseen: A Festival of Experimental Film view experimental films by influential and up-and-coming directors and attend discussions on the art form and its future at this inaugural festival, May 9-11. Oklahoma Contemporary Arts Center, 3000 General Pershing Blvd., 405-951-0000, oklahomacontemporary.org. THU-SAT

where all ages and skill levels are welcome, 1-4 p.m. Sundays. Moore Library, 225 S. Howard. SUN

HAPPENINGS

Pecha Kucha Night local creative artists, business leaders and politicians make short presentations on their work in Oklahoma City, 6 p.m. May 8. Plenty Mercantile, 807 N. Broadway Ave., 405-888-7470, plentymercantile.com. WED

Adult Recess play schoolyard games and enjoy food and alcohol at this fundraiser for Freedom School OKC, 5-8 p.m. May 11. The Oklahoma City Zoo, 2000 Remington Place, 405-424-3344, okczoo.com. SAT Asian Festival now in its 33rd year, this annual celebration of Asian culture features arts and crafts and the Miss Asia Oklahoma Pageant, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. May 11. Biltmore Hotel, 401 S. Meridian Ave., 405-9477681, biltmoreokc.com. SAT Bill Nye and The Planetary Society the popular science show host in conversation with Planetary Radio Live’s Mat Kaplan, 3-4:30 p.m. May 8. Science Museum Oklahoma, 2020 Remington Place, 405-602-6664, sciencemuseumok.org. WED Filmrow Trivia Night test your cinematic knowledge at this monthly competition hosted by VHS and Chill, 7 p.m. the second Tuesday of every month. The Paramount Room, 701 W. Sheridan Ave., 405-8873327, theparamountroom.com. TUE 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

The Wicker Man If all you know of The Wicker Man is that clip of Nicolas Cage screaming about bees in the 2006 remake, you’re missing out on a valuable chance to be deeply unsettled for the rest of your life. The 1973 British film starring Edward Woodward as a police sergeant in search of a missing girl in a strange Scottish island village and horror icon Christopher Lee as a sinister community leader with something to hide is as subtly unnerving as the remake is ludicrous, and even though this Oklahoma Film Society screening features the extended, final-cut edition, we’re willing to bet the original still has approximately 1,000 percent less lady-punching. Light it up 7 p.m. Tuesday at The Paramount Room, 701 W. Sheridan Ave. Admission is free. Call 405-887-3327 or visit facebook.com/theparamountroom. TUESDAY Photo provided

Game of Thrones Trivia bring a team of knowledgeable friends to show your knowledge of HBO’s popular fantasy series, 7-9 p.m. May 15. Nashbird, 1 NW Ninth St., 405-600-9718, nashbirdchicken.com. 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 Made in Oklahoma Fest sample locally made wines, beer and food truck at this festival featuring Oklahoma vendors, May 10-11, May 10-11. Reed Conference Center, Sheraton Hotel, 5750 Will Rogers road, 405-455-1800, starwoodhotels.com/sheraton. FRI-SAT Moore Chess Club play in tournaments and learn about the popular board game at this weekly event

OKC Garden Fest learn about gardening, shop for supplies and participate in family friendly activities at this festival, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. May 11. Myriad Botanical Gardens, 301 W. Reno Ave., 405-445-7080, myriadgardens.com. SAT

Storybook Ball current Miss Mississippi Aysa Branch and Oklahoma children’s author Tammi Sauer are featured guests at this dinner party and gala benefitting the children of incarcerated parents, 5:30-10 p.m. May 10. Oklahoma History Center, 800 Nazih Zuhdi Drive, 405-521-2491, okhistory.org. FRI 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

FOOD BBQ & Bourbon Brunch enjoy bottomless mimosas, bourbon cocktails, Krow’s Nest Barbecue and a live DJ at this event sponsored by OKC Black Eats, 11 a.m.-4 p.m. May 11. Saints, 1715 NW 16th St., 405-602-6308, saintspubokc.com. SAT Ostrich Egg Breakfast an all-you-can eat breakfast buffet featuring pancakes, sausage, bacon, waffles and omelets, 8-11 a.m. May 11. The Oklahoma City Zoo, 2000 Remington Place, 405-424-3344, okczoo.com. SAT Paseo Farmers Market shop for fresh food from local vendors at this weekly outdoor event, 9 a.m.noon Saturdays, through Oct. 19. SixTwelve, 612 NW 29th St., 405-208-8291, sixtwelve.org. SAT

YOUTH 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

continued on page 24

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continued from page 23 Reading Wednesdays a weekly story time with hands-on activities, goody bags and reading-themed photo ops, 9:3010:30 a.m. Wednesdays. Myriad Botanical Gardens, 301 W. Reno Ave., 405-445-7080, myriadgardens.com. WED

PERFORMING ARTS

405 Live! a local sketch comedy show for created especially for Oklahomans, 7:30 and 9:30 p.m. May 10 and 11. Actors Casting & Talent Services, 30 NE 52nd St., 405-702-0400, actorscasting.com. FRI-SAT 5 Lesbians Eating a Quiche the members of the Susan B. Anthony Society for the Sisters of Gertrude Stein respond to a breakfast-time communist threat in 1956 in this satirical play by Evan Linder and Andrew Hobgood, 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays April 5-May 11. The Boom, 2218 NW 39th St., 405601-7200, theboomokc.com. FRI-SAT Billy Wayne Davis the standup and Last Comic Standing contestant makes an Oklahoma City stop, 8 p.m. May 10. The Paramount Room, 701 W. Sheridan Ave., 405-887-3327, theparamountroom.com. FRI Darci Lynne & Friends: Fresh Out of the Box the young puppeteer and America’s Got Talent winner brings her act back to Oklahoma, 3-6 p.m. May 12. Civic Center Music Hall, 201 N. Walker Ave., 405-297-2264, okcciviccenter.com. SUN Deep German Romanticism: Liszt and Strauss pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet plays Franz Liszt’s Piano Concerto No. 2 in A major at this OKC Philharmonic concert also featuring Johann Strauss Jr.’s Kaiser-Walzer, Op. 437 and Richard Strauss’s Richard Ein Heldenleben (A Hero’s Life), Op. 40, 8 p.m. May 11. Civic Center Music Hall, 201 N. Walker Ave., 405-297-2264, okcciviccenter.com. SAT Yes! Science! a discussion of the contributions women and minorities have made to science, technology engineering and mathematics hosted by Pallas the Librarian and featuring experiments and book recommendations, 10 a.m.-12:30 p.m. May 11. Dunlap Codding, 609 W. Sheridan Ave., 405-607-8600, dunlapcodding.com. SAT

ACTIVE

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Botanical Balance an all-levels yoga class in a natural environment; bring your own mat and water, 5:45 p.m. Tuesdays and 8 a.m. Saturdays. Myriad Botanical Gardens, 301 W. Reno Ave., 405-445-7080, myriadgardens.com. SAT Stars and Stripes Spin Jam a weekly meetup for jugglers, hula hoopers and unicyclers, 6-8 p.m. Wednesdays. Stars & Stripes Park, 3701 S. Lake Hefner Drive, 405-297-2756, okc.gov/parks. WED Twisted Coyote Brew Crew a weekly 3-mile group run for all ability levels with a beer tasting to follow; bring your own safety lights, 6 p.m. Mondays. Twisted Spike Brewing Co., 1 NW 10th St., 405-301-3467, twistedspike.com. MON 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

Poetry and Chill Open Mic Offering poets, musicians, standup comics and other performance artists a welcoming stage, OKC’s Poetry and Chill Open Mic is back, promoting peace, love and unity in a new location. A 21-and-up biweekly (as in every other week) event, the mic also features music by a live band, a booked featured performer and a full menu of food and drink options. Share your talent, or just go to listen. People definitely don’t do that enough anymore. The mic is open 8-11 p.m. May 17 at Glass Lounge 5929 N. May Ave. Admission is free. Visit poetryandchillokc.com. MAY 17 Photo provided

learn about printmaking at this hands-on workshop taught by Virginia Sitzes, 1-4 p.m. May 11. Artspace at Untitled, 1 NE Third St., 405-815-9995, 1ne3.org. SAT She Persisted an exhibition of works by six female artists presented by Red Earth Art Center, through May 28. Science Museum Oklahoma, 2020 Remington Place, 405-602-6664, sciencemuseumok.org. WED-TUE Silk Sensations of Color an exhibition of handpainted silk art presented by the Silk Painters Guild of Oklahoma, through May 24. Paseo Art Space, 3022 Paseo St., 405-525-2688, thepaseo.com. FRI Tatyana Fazlalizadeh: Oklahoma Is Black an exhibition highlighting black history in Oklahoma City, through May 19. Oklahoma Contemporary Arts Center, 3000 General Pershing Blvd., 405-9510000, oklahomacontemporary.org. FRI-SUN Visceral Tendencies an exhibition of works by artist-in-residence Morgan Robinson, through May 8. Oklahoma City University School of Visual Arts, 1601 NW 26th St., 405-208-5226, okcu.edu/artsci/departments/visualart. WED

VISUAL ARTS Ancient. Massive. Wild – The Bison Exhibit view paintings, photographs, and sculptures celebrating the bison’s importance in the history of the American West, Through May 12. National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum, 1700 NE 63rd St., 405478-2250, nationalcowboymuseum.org. SAT-SUN Back Roads and Dirt Roads an exhibition of Linda Guenther’s photographs of rural landscapes, Through June 2. Contemporary Art Gallery, 2928 Paseo St., 405-601-7474, contemporaryartgalleryokc.com. FRI-SUN Beach Scapes an exhibition of photographer Simon Hurst’s photos taken along the beaches of the Florida panhandle, through May 16. American Choral Directors Association, 545 Couch Drive, 405232-8161, acda.org. THU Cowboys in Khaki: Westerners in the Great War learn about the ways Westerners contributed to the US effort in World War I at this exhibit featuring military, rodeo and other historical memorabilia from the time period, through May 12. National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum, 1700 NE 63rd St., 405478-2250, nationalcowboymuseum.org. SAT-SUN Kathy J. Martin and Pat Gurley an exhibition of porcelain art including Martin’s series Women Who Survive, through May 31. Porcelain Art Museum, 2700 N. Portland Ave., 405-521-1234, wocp.org. SAT-FRI Lauren Midgley an exhibition of the conceptual fine art photographer’s surrealist-influenced digital work, through May 19. Stash, 412 E. Main St., Norman, 405-701-1016, stashok.com. THU-SUN

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 listings@okgazette.com. Sorry, but phone submissions cannot be accepted.

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MUSIC

Emotional spelunking

Cavern Company gets serious on its new EP, So This Is Happiness. By Jeremy Martin

Post-Tension, OKC indie rock conglomerate Cavern Company is learning to ease up and dig in. “Sonically, this EP is one step closer to where we really want to be as a band,” said frontman Zach Shomaker, describing Cavern Company’s second EP, So This Is Happiness. “Tension was our first effort. I think sonically in that you’re going to hear a lot more of a rock element and probably what we would all consider maybe a little bit of overplaying. We really came to the table and tried, I think a lot of times, to throw a lot in and to kind of white-knuckle the sound. And so with this EP, the sounds you’re going to hear, I think we’re all a little bit more comfortable with just laying back and serving the music.” Cavern Company celebrates the release of So This Is Happiness Saturday at 51st Street Speakeasy, 1114 NW 51st St. The band’s second EP includes previously released singles “Falling,” “Body Language” and “Enough?” (recently nominated for Best Indie/Alternative Single by Independent Music Awards). Shomaker said the contrast between the songs gives the EP thematic complexity. “[‘Falling’] is a straight-up love song, and it’s a poppy, fun love song,” Shomaker said. “And then [‘Body Language’ is] about addiction and alcoholism and walking through that with one of our friends. Even with just those two songs, you see the tension there. [‘Falling’] automatically feels happy … and ‘Body Language’ was a very heavy song lyrically and just what it meant, but even within that, there is opportunity to find happiness based on your perspective.” Drummer Joshua Warren said the album marks an evolution in the band’s approach to making music. “I think, in part, this is kind of Cavern

So This Is Happiness includes singles “Falling,” “Enough?” and “Body Language.” | Image provided

Company’s response to and challenge for a lot of what we’re hearing the music industry right now, specifically pop music,” Warren said. “A lot of what we’re hearing … seems to be really centered around sexual relationships, and it’s party music and these things. … There’s a time and place for that. We love to do that, and we have plenty of songs like that. We wanted to have a more robust conversation from Cavern Company’s end. What does it look like to have happiness in familial relationships, in our friendships alongside our romantic relationships? Because we’re all married at this point, and there’s still some of that lovey-doveyness there, we might say, but there’s also some hard conversations about, ‘What does it mean to really stick it out with someone and having that lead to longterm happiness as well?’”

Lyrical depth

The band’s move to incorporate headier subjects into its bright pop sound has changed the vibe at its shows, Shomaker said. “Some people are going to go to live music maybe just to have a good time and have a couple of drinks and just have an experience where they’re just letting go of the work week and just having fun, and we love that,” Shomaker said. “We want to create space for that in our music sonically and lyrically and in the live show that we have, but we also kind of want what I would say Death Cab for Cutie does for us.” Death Cab’s willingness to explore difficult subjects and emotions in its songs gives its music special significance to listeners dealing with similar situations, Shomaker said, a catharsis Cavern Company wants to offer as well. “When I was struggling with my wife and my marriage when we first got married, there was a song called ‘Tiny Vessels’ by Death Cab for Cutie that really helped me just work through my own emotions and get to a point where I was healthy to deal with that aspect of our relationship,” Shomaker said. “And to see them live and sing that song with them and share that with them and to kind of just experience that relationship, we wanted to carve out space for that as well. So when we play these songs live, especially during ‘Body Language,’ we have people really singing and really engaging because for them, it hits home. They’ve got relationships as well, both friendships and family relationships, where people are struggling with alco-

holism and they’ve chosen to stick it out, and this is a time where they get to lean into that and feel OK and feel encouraged by it.” The EP also includes “God Willing,” a song Warren described as Cavern Company’s “weightiest, heaviest track.” “It was a story that I needed to tell about when I was younger and in college and I fell in love,” Warren said. “It was very real. We both knew it, but it was the wrong time, and we both had to let go of it and move on. That song, for me, took a long time, not only to be able to write but to process through emotionally. So I’m really hoping with this song that people connect not only with me and with us as a band as far as the hurt and the emotion that we had to process in that time, but also it allows them to maybe to see themselves in the song and to be able to — if they’re going through the same thing, if they’re struggling with the love that they knew was real, the love that they needed but lost all the same. It gives them a little bit of closure because that’s what the song is for me personally.” The album’s cover art, featuring a paper boat, is meant to evoke the image of releasing paper boats into the water at a funeral, a concept Warren said ties together the seemingly disparate songs. “We all agreed that it was this sense of letting go, of holding whatever you might have lightly in your hands and knowing that you’re going to love it and cherish it while you’ve got it, but at any moment, it might be taken from you,” Warren said. “We talked about how

OKC’s Cavern Company celebrates the release of its second EP, So This Is Happiness, Saturday at 51st Street Speakeasy. | Photo Ryan Magnani / provided

sometimes love feels like trying to hold water; you kind of just have to hold it open in your hand to keep it, but then you try to squeeze it and it flies everywhere. … The picture that for us made the most sense was this idea of setting sail this paper boat, letting go of it and sending it off with your best wishes.” Even when exploring deeper subjects, Shomaker said Cavern Company still wants to have a good time. “We definitely love to have fun,” Shomaker said. “We love interacting with our fans at our shows in a way that’s fun. Although we have very serious conversations and we’re very close in our interpersonal relationships in the band, we don’t take ourselves too seriously at all.” Twiggs and Roots of Thought are scheduled to share the bill. Admission is $3, and nautical-themed attire inspired by Wes Anderson’s 2004 film The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou is encouraged. Visit 51stspeakeasy.com.

Cavern Company 8:30 p.m. Saturday 51st Street Speakeasy 1114 NW 51st St. 51stspeakeasy.com | 405-463-0470 $3

O KG A Z E T T E . C O M | M AY 8 , 2 0 1 9

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MUSIC Desolate Tomb is Chickasha-based Dakota Whiteside’s one-man “blackened deathcore” band. | Photo provided

“In my way of thinking, if I am writing any music that glorifies God in any way, it is praise and worship,” Whiteside said, “but I wouldn’t consider it praise and worship at the same time because it’s just more or less a story. I guess the intention isn’t meant to be praise and worship, although there are some lyrics that kind of purvey that message.” The album’s second single, “With Blackest Insurrection,” a monologue in which Satan promises to “destroy the throne of God” and “paint black the hearts of man,” covers subject matter that would not sound out of place in songs by decidedly un-Christian bands Deicide or Morbid Angel, but many lyrics throughout the album reveal that Whiteside’s intent is closer to Milton’s own reverence for his source material.

I wanted to start doing my own thing because — I’m not trying to sound conceited, but I could do it on my own.

F E AT U R E

Dakota Whiteside

Metallic Milton

Desolate Tomb turned to Paradise Lost to inspire its Christian-themed debut, Cast From God’s Sight. By Jeremy Martin

Extreme metal fans will not be shocked to hear the voice of Satan screaming for vengeance on Cast From God’s Sight, the full-length debut from Chickashabased musician Dakota Whiteside’s “blackened deathcore” project Desolate Tomb, but they might be surprised to learn that Whiteside thinks of it as a Christian album. “It talks about biblical things and talks about God, obviously, and talks about his creation of man, so I consider it a Christian album,” Whiteside said, “though with Desolate Tomb as a whole, while I myself am a Christian, I don’t really consider it a Christian project because that comes with some constraints for what I can write about, and sometimes I like to be really creative with my lyrics. Writing stories, sometimes I don’t always write strictly Christian lyrics and stuff. It just happens that with this album I did do that.” The music combines elements of death metal, black metal and hardcore, but Whiteside said he based the lyrics for the album on John Milton’s 17thcentury epic poem Paradise Lost after his wife, who remembered reading it in college, suggested it as a potential source of inspiration. 26

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“She told me about how the story takes the first few chapters of Genesis and then expands it into this huge, detailed story,” Whiteside said. “I read through that poem and really liked it. For every book of it, I tried to do one song. … I think there’s some in there that I may have missed or something like that. I’m not sure, but I tried to kind of follow it.” The album’s titular opening track, first released as a single in August, begins with a “back-and-forth between God and Satan,” but listeners could be forgiven for not being able to distinguish the two because Whiteside voices each with equal savagery. “Oh, Son of Dawn,” God snarls at Satan, “Thou hast been cast to the ground, into the pit of bottomless despair. Your pride has betrayed you. You’ve fallen to your grave. Hell awaits its king.” As in Paradise Lost, God has thrown Satan into hell for being too prideful, but the fallen angel refuses to stay down. “I will ascend far beyond the heavens,” Satan vows. “I will exceed the power of God.” While the album explores Christian themes, Whiteside said he is unsure about whether it qualifies as worship music.

“The Void Given Form” praises God as “the voice that speaks life to existence,” but Whiteside’s own distorted vocals and down-tuned guitar suggest the suffering this act will ultimately cause. “His Only Begotten” finds Jesus offering to sacrifice himself to redeem mankind after God threatens to “destroy the earth and all of creation, erase the filth that has plagued this world” but Whiteside’s guttural roar sounds anything but meek and mild. If the contrast between Whiteside’s faith and the darkly aggressive music he uses to express it seems confusing, that is a refrain he has heard for years as a Christian metal head. “I grew up in a pretty Pentecostal church, and they definitely did not understand the music when I got into it,” Whiteside said. “They did not see how I could use this in any kind of Christian way … but I had a couple of friends who were already into the heavier styles of music, so they completely understood, and they said, ‘This is awesome that you’re doing this.’ It was just the majority that didn’t understand it, but I’ve had quite a few people from my earlier days, and especially some of the ones were more turned off by it, have kind of seen that I am using it in a ministry kind of way. They have come around to understand, and they say, ‘It’s not for me, but I see what you’re doing and I respect that.’” Though Christian death metal has been an accepted sub-genre since at least 1992 when Australian band Mortification released its influential and brutal sophomore album Scrolls of the Megilloth, Whiteside said many of his favorite bands

have opposing viewpoints to his own. “I know there’s a whole thing of like, ‘Music can influence how you act and think and stuff like that,’” Whiteside said, “but with me, I’ve come to a point where I know what I believe. A big band that I listen to heavily to gain inspiration for the music is Behemoth, and anybody who knows Behemoth knows that they’re very, very blatantly nonChristian and not religious in general. … I’ve always looked up to those bands like that for inspiration because, in my opinion, I haven’t been too impressed with Christian music in general. I always found it to be kind of lacking in comparison to the secular counterparts, so I’ve always kind of been more drawn to that secular side of things, ever since I picked up a guitar.” “A Vow to a Scornful God” features guest vocalists Payson Myher and Jaden Pruitt from Tulsa metal bands Fester and Skysia, respectively, and “The Breath of Life” features Detroit-based Robert Wilson from Christian metal band Cardiac Rupture, but the closest the album comes to traditional or “clean” singing are the brief chorale interludes Whiteside programmed, like the album’s drum tracks, with music software. Other than the brief appearances from the guest growlers, Cast From God’s Sight is a Whiteside solo project. “I wanted to start doing my own thing because — I’m not trying to sound conceited, but I could do it on my own,” Whiteside said. “I knew how to compose from taking band in school and stuff like that, and I wasn’t really in a place where I wanted to get another full band going, so I thought I’d give it a shot just doing my own thing. … Even though I like having the free rein of writing the music, there were some times where there were challenges. … With a full band, if there’s a guitarist, usually you have two and you’re able to just bounce ideas off each other. Doing it by yourself, you’re just kind of going off your own mind, your own knowledge of the music.” Cast From God’s Sight was released online in April. Whiteside said he currently has no idea how he would play any of it live. Visit desolatetomb.bandcamp.com.

Desolate Tomb’s full-length debut Cast From God’s Sight was released in April. | Image provided


O KG A Z E T T E . C O M | M AY 8 , 2 0 1 9

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LIVE MUSIC These are events recommended by Oklahoma Gazette editorial staff members. For full calendar listings, go to okgazette.com.

SATURDAY, MAY. 11 Adam Ledbetter Ensemble/Chanda Graham, Artspace at Untitled. JAZZ The Big News/Be Like Max, Blue Note Lounge. PUNK

WEDNESDAY, MAY. 8 Gunna/Shy Glizzy/Lil Keed, Bricktown Events Center. HIP-HOP The Psychedelic Furs, Tower Theatre. ROCK Sawyer Fredericks, Opolis. FOLK Scarlett O’Hara/Letters to a Friend, Your Mom’s Place. METAL/HARDCORE Whitechapel/Dying Fetus, Diamond Ballroom. METAL

MGMT/Warpaint, The Criterion. ROCK

Buddy South, Bedlam Bar-B-Q. COUNTRY/ROCK The Damn Quails, The Blue Door. COUNTRY Gemi X/Apollo/Mike Cloud, 89th Street-OKC. HIP-HOP

Kevin Fowler, Riverwind Casino. COUNTRY Schat & The Skeleton Trees/Wicked Shimmies/ Stone Tide, Bison Witches Bar & Deli. ROCK

SUNDAY, MAY. 12 Jim James/Amo Amo, Tower Theatre. ROCK

Chisholm Creek Rooftop Hop Local music scene amplifier OkSessions is about to make Tuesdays a lot cooler by hosting weekly happy hour concerts across rooftops and patios in the Chisholm Creek mixed-use development. For the kickoff event, see Tony Foster Jr. (pictured) and Jacobi Ryan on the Top Golf rooftop, Noah Engh on the Sidecar Barley & Wine Bar rooftop, Kenrik McKinney Jazz Combo on the Chalk rooftop and Oklahoma Gazette feature subjects Cavern Company on the Birra Birra Craft Pizzeria lawn. Getting high at a concert is rarely so literal. The roof is (figuratively) on fire 6-9 p.m. Tuesday at Chisholm Creek, 13230 Pawnee Drive. Admission is free. Visit oksessions.com/rooftophop. TUESDAY Photo Steve Ihekona / provided

THURSDAY, MAY. 9

MONDAY, MAY. 13

Girlpool/Hatchie/Pigments, 89th Street-OKC.

Blessthefall/Palisades/Slaves, 89th Street-OKC.

Hot House Band, Othello’s Italian Restaurant. JAZZ

Jason Hunt, Sean Cumming’s Irish Restaurant. FOLK

KALO/Beth Lee/Chris Duarte, VZD’s Restaurant & Bar. BLUES/ROCK

TUESDAY, MAY. 14

Missio, Tower Theatre. ELECTRONIC

Alicia Witt, The Blue Door. SINGER/SONGWRITER

Old 97s/Bob Schneider/The Bottle Rockets, The Jones Assembly. COUNTRY/ROCK

Country Clique, Friends Restaurant & Club.

Shelby Phelps/Dylan Nagode, Jazmo’z Bourbon St. Café. ACOUSTIC

Death Angel/Arkhon/Malicyde, 89th Street-OKC.

ROCK

FRIDAY, MAY. 10

MEATL/HARDCORE

COUNTRY METAL

Kyle Reid, Scratch Kitchen & Cocktails. SINGER/

SONGWRITER

Blanke, OKC Farmers Market. ELECTRONIC Bonnie Bishop, The Blue Door. SINGER/SONG-

WRITER

Elizabeth Wise, Main Street Event Center. BLUES KOA/Via The Verge/Perseus, 89th Street-OKC. ROCK

Levi Parham/Kinsey Charles/Jason Scott, 51st Street Speakeasy. SINGER/SONGWRITER Shooter Jennings, Tower Theatre. SINGER/ SONGWRITER

Splatter/Death Squad/Amenaza, Blue Note Lounge. HARDCORE

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M AY 8 , 2 0 1 9 | O KG A Z E T T E . C O M

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 listings@okgazette.com. Sorry, but phone submissions cannot be accepted.

GO TO OKGAZETTE.COM FOR FULL LISTINGS!


O KG A Z E T T E . C O M | M AY 8 , 2 0 1 9

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CANNABIS

THE HIGH CULTURE

Flavorful flower

Former professional football player Bryce Davis launched Kola Organics and hopes to bring patients the best-tasting flower. By Matt Dinger

Former NFL player and Duncan native Bryce Davis has returned to his home state to bring Oklahoma medical cannabis patients the tastiest medicine he can. Kola Organics, located in southwest Oklahoma City near the Oklahoma River, debuts its flower later this month in pre-rolls to select dispensaries. By the end of September, Davis expects his new 65,000 square-foot facility to be fully completed. “Kola is kind of a grower term,” he said. “When you walk into a room filled with cannabis that’s flowering out, the nug that’s the biggest, tallest, fattest nug, that’s your kola. And typically, growers will keep their kolas for their personal smoke and then the rest of the harvest will be distributed.” Davis said that while they are shooting for strains that yield flower in the 20 percent THC range, their priority is bringing consumers the best flavor possible. There are 42 strains currently in vegetative state, with 22 of those flowering and another 20 soon to be tested. Davis has been hunting genetics since August. “They’re all very unique in bud structures, smell, finishing times. In this room, of the 22, we like about seven,” Davis said. “Flowering time is really what I was looking for. And flavor … we already have strains that taste like a cherry, taste like a lime, taste like a blueberry. Our strains are very flavorful already, so we’re really happy with what we got. And we’ll just keep branching Of 42 strains, 22 of Kola Organics’ products are currently flowering. | Photo Alexa Ace

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THC

M AY 8 , 2 0 1 9 | O KG A Z E T T E . C O M

off of that and making more. … When a patient opens up a jar or a bag, they shouldn’t even have to see the weed. It should just smack them in the face with aroma and they can tell, ‘I like that because that’s a cheese’ or ‘I like that because it’s lime-y or fruity.’ “Just cycling through all these genetics has been nuts. Yesterday, I took inventory of all of our 1-gallon plants over there on just those three rows, and it took me over three hours just to organize based by strain. We will create our own seed and just forever be hunting genetics down. It’s just like humans; the genetics, they vary so much. They all have different rooting ratios. They have different harvest times. They have different terpene profiles, cannabinoid profiles, flavonoids, but we’re looking for genetics that will harvest in 60 days or under, and they have a great terpene profile because we’re really big on the smell. ... Cannabis is very unique, and if it’s grown from seed like these are, then I’m the only one in the world that’s got these. People don’t understand that a lot of times when it comes to cannabis. They all think every Blue Dream is the same or every Kush is the same. People have got to re-educate themselves and realize it’s not the strain you’re hunting, necessarily. It’s your grower. You want to know your grower, and then you want to know the strain.”

Living soil

Kola is using only organic soil that will need to be watered by hand. “It’s an organic living soil that I make

from scratch,” Davis said. “Altogether, it’s about 16 different amendments. It’s really what separates us from the rest of the competition is our living soil. The living soil, it really stinks, and that transitions through the roots up the plant into the nugs. So our nugs are really potent in smell where, typically, people are a hydroponic grow. They grow with a liquid fertilizer from a bottle that they’ll put into a media like cocoa. Just like my soil. My soil has cocoa as well, but that’s all they’ll have is a cocoa perlite and then feed it with fertilizers. That doesn’t stink. The buds don’t stink. It all smells the same. Every one in here got the exact same treatment. It’s my soil; we really want to see how I want to react to it.” Davis makes the soil on-site, and after the cannabis is harvested, more amendments will be added and the living soil will be reused. Once the facil-

Kola Organics mixes its own soil from scratch, which Bryce Davis said translates into better-tasting flower. | Photo Alexa Ace

ity is firing on all cylinders, Kola expects to turn rooms twice a month. “We’re a two-week production,” he said. “We like to harvest every two weeks. So we’ve got to keep that 60-day mark to keep the rotation going.” Davis played tight end and long snapper at University of Central Oklahoma before playing two seasons with Cincinnati Bengals and another season with Pittsburgh Steelers. He then moved to Oregon in 2014 and began growing, processing and selling cannabis. “Originally, I was in the NFL, and I told myself, I gave myself three years in the league and if I hadn’t stuck with a team in that amount of time, I just needed to decide something else to do in life. And I had hunted a bunch of different jobs, and nothing really seemed like something I’d want to do forever, so I just researched some more, found cannabis was healing people all over the world, really,” he said. “And Colorado passed, and at that time, I was like, ‘I gotta get in,’ just because I could just tell it’s the future of medicine.” He moved back to Oklahoma to be closer to family. “I wanted to be home the whole time,” Davis said. “The only reason I left was because it was illegal here, and as soon as I realized they were starting to get the bill passed, I came home.” While the operation is starting small, it intends to get the harvesting window down to once a week and eventually move into processing and running its own dispensary. “We don’t have a retail front right now,” Davis said. “We’re focused on the manufacturing side. Yeah. Eventually, we would like to get into that. But this is our focus for now.” Visit kolaorganics.com.


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Lower highs

After a lofty start, cannabis prices in Oklahoma are coming down to earth. By Matt Dinger

Six months after dispensaries were legally allowed to sell products containing THC to patients, the prices of grams of cannabis flower are steadily dropping. When some businesses opened their doors Oct. 26, prices per gram reached up to $35 at some locations. They quickly dropped, settling around $20 a gram for flower through the end of 2018. In the first months of 2019, those prices slowly scaled down, with fewer stores charging $20 a gram or more by the beginning of May. The average price for a gram in Oklahoma City is now between $10 and $15. With some dispensaries including all taxes while others do not or roll a portion of those taxes into the price, there is still some uncertainty for patients what they will pay at the door. At the same time, a number of dispensaries — both those who have been in business for months and those just opening their doors — are offering cannabis flower below $10 per gram. APCO Med, 313 NW 23rd St., celebrated the grand opening of its dispensary on May 1. In the first week of business, it offered three tiers of flower from the same grower at $15, $12 and $8 per gram. President and CEO Ford Austin said APCO will not consider purchasing flower that has not been lab-tested and for which a complete terpene profile is not available. “If you’re just testing for potency at this point, even though you don’t have

A variety of factors affect the price point of a gram of medical cannabis. | Photo Alexa Ace

to test for anything more legally until August 28, you’re not doing it right,” said manager Jason Driver. “You should be testing for potency, you should be testing for the microbiologicals, you should be testing for heavy metals. And you should be testing for the terpene profile because those are the things that customers want to see. And those are the things that patients need to know. “We’re able to work together to make it to where I can give the prices that the patients can afford because having a $20 top-shelf gram is not affordable. The cost breakdown basically is determined by three major factors. One of those factors on the low end is THC content. That determines a little bit of the price. But that’s not everything. It’s how it’s grown, the conditions in which it’s grown in: hydroponic, soil or even aquaponic. That determines pricing because each of those tiers is more expensive. And the third one is what I’m able to buy it at. If I have a vendor come in here and say, ‘Hey, I have really good flower. Here it is.’ And I’m like, ‘Yeah, you have really good flower,’ and he says it’s $3,000 a pound, that’s not conducive for me to be able to give it to patients at a reasonable price. The growers have to realize continued on page 36

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at some point — which the market will dictate — that their prices have to come down. There are so many factors that determine price of flower, but what it really comes down to: Is that grower good enough and organized enough and good enough at business to grow that great strain and be able to charge $1,800 pound for it?” “How are we able to do $8 grams? Well, the simple thing comes down to greed,” Austin said. “It’s just greed. And other companies have decided to charge what they feel they can get in a burgeoning startup enterprise in a new state. And you know, they’re not going to be able to do that for very long. It’s just like you have to figure out how to follow the trends of every other state, where they’ve gone, and stay ahead of it. So if you’re going to charge $8 a gram and the guy next to you is going to charge $12 a gram, well, he’s not going to be able to sell that for very long because people are going to come over, especially if it’s good quality. And just trying to figure out how to get the good quality is really all that matters. “We feel like the patients deserve $8 grams. The market is going to dictate where people are going to spend; the market’s going to dictate what we’re able to sell. So as long as you’ve got people who are honest for the patients and they want to keep going down the path without trying to get that million-dollar payday right away, it’s going to go and it’s going to be great.” Gaia’s Favor opened its doors last year and have been selling cannabis flower since the late fall. It grows its own flower and coordinates with one other grower. In doing so, it was able in March to start offering three strains at $7.65 per gram, which works out to $8.85 after taxes.

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“It’s not much of a profit by the time you add in the cost of the flower, the labor and everything. We just about break even on it. You’re adding in the cost of the bottle and everything. We’re not losing money on it, but we’re not making anything,” co-owner Chris Carson said. “You build that loyalty with your customer base and they know they can get good stuff at a reasonable price and they like to come in, they like to look at it, we let them weigh it out themselves and they take ownership of that flower they picked out. ... It makes the whole process much more enjoyable.”

We feel like the patients deserve $8 grams. Ford Austin The strains it chooses to offer for $7.65 are not based on quality or quantity but are selected on a revolving basis. “Some flower is higher than others when we buy it, but we rotate it all in and out,” Carson said. “It gives everybody an opportunity to sample what they like and if they like it, when it goes off sale, they’ll pay the price for it. The amount of people coming through the doors, it’s increasing. It’s probably from what we’re doing in here, and some of it’s more and more people getting a license every day. It’s a combination of both, and word of mouth. People really appreciate the customer service that we give them — not just the prices, but the fact that everyone that walks through that door, we treat them like family.”

As more and more cannabis crops are harvested, the price per gram in the Oklahoma market is falling. | Photo bigstock.com


THC

GREEN GLOSSARY

ASSASSIN OF YOUTH Like similarly themed Reefer Madness, 1937’s Assassin of Youth ascribed all manner of tragedies and antisocial behavior to the smoking of cannabis and took its name from a speech by Harry Anslinger, the first commissioner of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics.

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PUZZLES NEW YORK TIMES MAGAZINE CROSSWORD PUZZLE WORDS OF INTRODUCTION | 0512 By Brendan Emmett Quigley Puzzles edited by Will Shortz ACROSS

1 Thieves often go by them 8 Do well 14 Rhyme scheme of “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” 18 A little 19 Didn’t strictly follow one’s diet, say 20 The Princess of Power, in cartoons 21 KIND words? 23 Steadfast 24 Pulitzer-winning playwright Zoë 25 Ranking 50th among all states, say 26 Simon & Garfunkel song about emotional detachment 28 Home to the Triple-A Aces 29 Sports org. based in Indianapolis 30 Porridge ingredients 33 Wife of Jared Kushner 34 Craft measured in cubits 35 HAS words? 38 Retreat 39 Need for a restricted area 40 Needs for some touring bands 41 Data for auto aficionados 43 Tributary of the Missouri 45 Title in the House of Saud 47 Stand in a boardroom 49 English counties 50 Modern-day flood 52 Along with 55 Path finder 56 Leaves ’em rolling in the aisles 57 Read between the lines 58 Sábado or domingo 59 Goose Island products 60 BIG words? 62 Of no relevance 63 Wartime stat 64 Bring up to date, say 65 Sign up for 66 Watt-second 67 The nouveau riche 69 Stink 70 “I ____” (what the Latin “veto” means) 71 Energy 72 Latin word on a dollar bill 73 Ways of looking at things 74 Spanish meat 76 Teacups at an amusement park, e.g. 78 Ones who can’t change large bills? 81 ____ Zion Church 82 ROOT words? 84 A brace 87 Ink 90 Render null and void 91 Some early January curbside pickups 92 ____ Nebula, part of the constellation Taurus 93 Port on many laptops 95 Doesn’t really know 97 Noted Scottish exports 98 Moses’ father-in-law 99 SAFE words? 103 Ticklish area 104 Just imagine 105 Military excursions

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nominee who has won only once 74 Target, as a specific audience 75 Mickey Mouse 77 Not yet born 79 Ruffle feathers, say 80 Having a function 82 Florida governor DeSantis 83 Sticky sweet 84 It circles the Earth 85 Card carrier? 86 Fixate 88 Overflows (with) 89 Airport whose name is also a big brand of nail polish 92 Dumas’s Le ____ de Monte- Cristo 94 Basic cable channel owned by Disney 96 Strauss’s “____ Alpensinfonie” 97 Record defect 100 Attractive person, informally 101 Explosives org. 102 Tic-tac-toe loser

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FREE WILL ASTROLOGY Homework: Nietzsche said, “One must have chaos within oneself if one is to be a dancing star.” Are you a dancing star? Comment at FreeWillAstrology.com. ARIES (March 21-April 19)

Time to shake things up! In the next three weeks, I invite you to try at least three of the following experiments. 1. See unusual sights in familiar situations. 2. Seek out new music that both calms you and excites you. 3. Get an inspiring statue or image of a favorite deity or hero. 4. Ask for a message from the person you will be three years from now. 5. Use your hands and tongue in ways you don’t usually use them. 6. Go in quest of a cathartic release that purges frustration and rouses holy passion. 7. Locate the sweet spot where deep feeling and deep thinking overlap.

TAURUS (April 20-May 20)

According to science writer Sarah Zielinski in Smithsonian magazine, fireflies produce the most efficient light on planet Earth. Nearly 100 percent of the energy produced by the chemical reaction inside the insect’s body is emitted as a brilliant glow. With that in mind, I propose that you regard the firefly as your spirit creature in the coming weeks. According to my reading of the astrological omens, you, too, will be a dynamic and proficient generator of luminosity. For best results, don’t tone down your brilliance, even if it illuminates shadows people are trying to hide.

GEMINI (May 21-June 20)

Here’s a message from author Susan J. Elliott: “This is not your week to run the Universe. Next week is not looking so good either.” Now here’s a message from me: Elliott’s revelation is very good news! Since you won’t have to worry about trying to manage and fine-tune the Universe, you can focus all your efforts on your own self-care. And the coming weeks will be a favorable time to do just that. You’re due to dramatically upgrade your understanding of what you need to feel healthy and happy, and then take the appropriate measures to put your new insights into action.

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CANCER (June 21-July 22) The next three weeks will be an excellent time to serve as your own visionary prophet and dynamic fortuneteller. The predictions and conjectures you make about your future destiny will have an 85-percent likelihood of being accurate. They will also be relatively free of fear and worries. So I urge you to give your imagination permission to engage in fun fantasies about what’s ahead for you. Be daringly optimistic and exuberantly hopeful and brazenly self-celebratory.

LEO (July 23-Aug. 22)

Leo poet Stanley Kunitz told his students, “You must be very careful not to deprive the poem of its wild origin.” That’s useful advice for anyone who spawns anything, not just poets. There’s something unruly and unpredictable about every creative idea or fresh perspective that rises up in us. Do you remember when you first felt the urge to look for a new job or move to a new city or search for a new kind of relationship? Wildness was there at the inception. And you needed to stay in touch with the wildness so as to follow through with practical action. That’s what I encourage you to do now. Reconnect with the wild origins of the important changes you’re nurturing.

VIRGO (Aug. 23-Sept. 22)

I have no complaints about the measures you’ve taken recently to push past unnecessary limits and to break outworn taboos. In fact, I celebrate them. Keep going! You’ll be better off without those decaying constraints. Soon you’ll begin using all the energy you have liberated and the spaciousness you have made available. But I do have one concern: I wonder if part of you is worried that you have been too bold and have gone too far. To that part of you I say: No! You haven’t been too bold. You haven’t gone too far.

LIBRA (Sept. 23-Oct. 22)

“Dreamt of a past that frees its prisoners.” So wrote Meena Alexander in her poem “Question Time.” I’d love for you to have that experience in the coming weeks. I’d love for you be released from the karma of your history so that you no longer have to repeat old patterns or feel

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weighed down by what happened to you once upon a time. I’d love for you to no longer have to answer to decayed traditions and outmoded commitments and lost causes. I’d love for you to escape the pull of memories that tend to drag you back toward things that can’t be changed and don’t matter any more.

SCORPIO (Oct. 23-Nov. 21)

“Desire is a profoundly upsetting force,” writes author Elspeth Probyn. “It may totally rearrange what we think we want. Desire skews plans and sets forth unthoughtof possibilities.” In my opinion, Probyn’s statements are half-true. The other half of the truth is that desire can also be a profoundly healing and rejuvenating force, and for the same reasons: it rearranges what we think we want, alters plans, and unleashes unthought-of possibilities. How does all this relate to you? From what I can tell, you are now on the cusp of desire’s two overlapping powers. What happens next could be upsetting or healing, disorienting or rejuvenating. If you’d like to emphasize the healing and rejuvenating, I suggest you treat desire as a sacred gift and a blessing.

SAGITTARIUS (Nov. 22-Dec. 21)

“So much of what we learn about love is taught by people who never really loved us.” My Sagittarian friend Ellen made that sad observation. Is it true for you? Ellen added the following thoughts: so much of what we learn about love is taught by people who were too narcissistic or wounded to be able to love very well; and by people who didn’t have many listening skills and therefore didn’t know enough about us to love us for who we really are; and by people who love themselves poorly and so of course find it hard to love anyone else. Is any of this applicable to what you have experienced, Sagittarius? If so, here’s an antidote that I think you’ll find effective during the next seven weeks: identify the people who have loved you well and the people who might love you well in the future—and then vow to learn all you can from them.

CAPRICORN (Dec. 22-Jan. 19)

Capricorn fantasy novelist Laini Taylor creates imaginary worlds where heroines use magic and wiles

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to follow their bliss while wrangling with gods and rascals. In describing her writing process, she says, “Like a magpie, I am a scavenger of shiny things: fairy tales, dead languages, weird folk beliefs, and fascinating religions.” She adds, “I have plundered tidbits of history and lore to build something new, using only the parts that light my mind on fire.” I encourage you to adopt her strategies for your own use in the coming weeks. Be alert for gleaming goodies and tricky delicacies and alluring treats. Use them to create new experiences that thrill your imagination. I believe the coming weeks will be an excellent time to use your magic and wiles to follow your bliss while wrangling with gods and rascals.

AQUARIUS (Jan. 20-Feb. 18)

“I was always asking for the specific thing that wasn’t mine,” wrote poet Joanne Kyger. “I wanted a haven that wasn’t my own.” If there is any part of you that resonates with that defeatist perspective, Aquarius, now is an excellent time to begin outgrowing or transforming it. I guarantee you that you’ll have the potency you need to retrain yourself: so that you will more and more ask for specific things that can potentially be yours; so that you will more and more want a haven that can be your own.

PISCES (Feb. 19-March 20)

I’m not a fan of nagging. I don’t like to be nagged and I scrupulously avoid nagging others. And yet now I will break my own rules so as to provide you with your most accurate and helpful horoscope. According to my analysis of the astrological omens, you aren’t likely to get what you truly need and deserve in the coming days unless you engage in some polite, diplomatic nagging. So see what you can do to employ nagging as a graceful, even charming art. For best results, infuse it with humor and playfulness.

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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