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What to do when you're waiting on Corey Feldman to call

A day in the life of mural master Michael Ayers, the most interesting person we know

The Devil Strip MAY 2015 • VOL 1 • ISSUE #6 • THEDEVILSTRIP.COM

8 Questions with Rust Belt comix creator Derf Backderf FREE

e r u t l u C & t r A , ic s u M Akron

The Art of Akron

in this issue

The Devil Strip

You can keep your touchy-feely arts by Chris Horne


Akron Music, Art & Cu


(330) 842-6606

General Info:

“ The arts are not a way to make a living. They are a very human way of making life more bearable. Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven’s sake. Sing in the shower. Dance to the radio. Tell stories. Write a poem to a friend, even a lousy poem. Do it as well as you possibly can. You will get an enormous reward. You will have created something.” – Kurt Vonnegut



ONLINE: Website:


Twitter: @akrondevilstrip


When I watch my daughter at play with crayons, pens, markers, chalk, paint, food, etc., I think of art the way Vonnegut describes it. Like it’s figuring out who and what you are, what connects you to the people around you—and then communicating what you learned. It’s a conversation in search of connection. Maddy will spend upwards of an hour rough-cutting shapes with her safety scissors, gluing them into place and coloring them before presenting it the way a cat might do a dead bird: Here! Unlike a cat, the first thing she does is explain what she did. Here we are, here are my friends, this is that monster I was telling you about and here’s a pony because ponies. Then she’s on to the next thing, which is as likely to be more art as it is a chant about how she really wants a cupcake.

@thedevilstrip _______________________________________

Publisher >> Chris Horne

Art Director >> Alesa Upholzer

Illustration and Design >> Bronlynn Thurman, Edgar Woolley

Photographers >> Svetla Morrison, Paul Hoffman, Bronlynn Thurman, Ilenia Pezzaniti and Shane Wynn

The point? Art isn’t just valuable; it’s essential. But it’s also difficult, often for the same reasons it is vital. Art calls us to observe ourselves and challenges us to change. Art shapes the story we tell ourselves about ourselves and the story we tell others about who we are. The story this next wave of Akronites is telling the world about the city— Akron is a place where you choose to live, not one you leave—immediately gripped us. Now, it’s the motor behind this magazine. The story is defiant and strong-willed and screw you if you don’t like it—and so is the resulting art. We were introduced to this culture by humanities faculty at the University of Akron. What upsets me about the rebranding effort at UA is the story it tells—the university’s polytechnic prowess is all UA has going for it—which is nothing like the story officials say they want to tell—it’s really worth flaunting. Of course, I probably wouldn’t care so

much if I weren’t married to an English professor at UA or if many of my friends and favorite people weren't faculty there. However, this proximity also affords me perspective. My wife loves her work, putting in 50 and 60 hours a week into teaching, research and advising. She is the Honors coordinator for the English Department and is on multiple committees, including one to advance online coursework. She teaches her students how to question their beliefs and them intelligently defend and communicate them. She integrates social responsibility into her classes, connecting her students to Akron's nonprofits. She's published a book and numerous articles, presented at dozens and dozens of conferences, been an NEH scholar, the recipient of research grants from UA and Columbia University, received university-wide scholarship and teaching awards (including one her first year at UA), and next summer she'll be in France as the co-organizer of an academic conference on YA Literature. Again, my wife is wayyyy smarter than I am. What I’m getting at here is that she isn’t—and her colleagues aren’t—a bunch of lazy drifters scared that change will take away their cush jobs. While it might not be factory work, they still pour

themselves into making the intellectual lives of their students better. And that work matters. They know change is gonna come. But why wouldn’t they feel threatened when the interpretation of “purest form of shared governance in academia” seems an awful lot like nodding your head and pretending to listen while moving forward with plans to put core classes on the clearance aisle and rebrand in a way that ignores the humanities? I like change, tech and business— some of my best friends are entrepreneurial, tech-oriented change agents—and I love the University of Akron. Not only has it been a jewel in the city’s crown and produced a wealth of prominent talents, but my family wouldn't even be here without UA. Almost two years in, I can’t imagine our lives elsewhere— Sheboygan or Toledo? Yikes! So my hope is that the rebranding has just been handled clumsily, that the recently announced, Knight-funded center for dance, the ongoing awesome at Myers School of Art and the very fact they made recent new hires in the English Department are indications that the administration sees great value in the creativity that the arts and humanities make possible. It’s like Albert Einstein said: “I am enough of an artist to draw freely upon my imagination. Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.”

Contributing Writers >> Holly Brown, Jenny Conn, Jessica Conti, Abby Cymerman, Katelyn Gainer, M. Sophie Hamad, Noor Hindi, Carley Hull, Jecca, Chris Kessinger, Isaac Kelley, Eric Morris, Christopher Morrison, Brittany Nader, Ilenia Pezzaniti, Sarah Stubbs, Bronlynn Thurman, Elizabeth Tyran, Katie Wheeler, Joanna Wilson _______________________________________ The Devil Strip is published bi-monthly by Random Family, LLC. Akron Distribution: The Devil Strip is available free of charge, limited to one copy per reader. Copyright: The entire contents ofThe Devil Strip are copyright 2015 by Random Family, LLC. Reproduction in whole or in part without written permission of the publisher is prohibited. Publisher does not assume any liability for unsolicited manuscripts, materials, or other content. Any submission must include a stamped, self-addressed envelope. All editorial, advertising, and business correspondence should be mailed to the address listed above.


About the Cover A metal sculptor born and raised in Akron, Megan Shane seemed like the perfect subject for the cover of our “Art of Akron” issue, especially the way photographer Svetla Morrison captured her at work. Megan likes to repurpose industrial metal materials to give them new life as objects of art, which pretty much nails that reinvention thing Akron has going for it. She’s also an Akron Art Prize winner and a co-founder of the Akron chapter of the League of Creative Interventionists who helped curate the 2015 Big Love Festival. One of her recent pieces, which she fashions in her father’s fabrication shop, is on display at the new Mustard Seed in Highland Square. << Megan with her metal tree art which hangs at the new Mustard Seed. (Photo courtesy of Svetla Morrison)

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THE Devil Strip |


Arts, Culture & Entertainment

AREA S T N E V E Ongoing

“Always … Patsy Cline” Opens May 28 at Actors’ Summit ($33) 103 S. High St., Akron A musical tribute by Ted Swindley to Patsy’s spirit and a celebration of her music. Relive the passion, drama, glamour, and songs of country music’s greatest legend. Visit for tickets. “Ex Machina” Opens May 29 at The Nightlight Cinema ($8.50) 30 N. High St., Akron A young programmer is selected to participate in a breakthrough experiment in artificial intelligence by evaluating the human qualities of a breathtaking female A.I. whose emotional intelligence proves more sophisticated –– and more deceptive –– than anyone could have imagined. Proof: Photographs from the Collection Opens May 30 at Akron Art Museum One S. High St., Akron How do photographs help to create our collective memory of people, places and events? This new exhibition explores this question while raising many others about the tenuous role of truth in photography. Proof features more than 100 photographs from more than 50 artists, ranging from the Civil War to the present. Summit Metro Parks Running Spree Starts June 1 This year, the Summit Metro Parks is an official training partner of the Akron Marathon Rubber City Race Series. Complete six of the predesignated running trails between June 1 and August 30 and receive your ribbon and medal, plus get in shape for the upcoming races. Group runs are also scheduled. Visit runningspree. for full details. Bloom! Opens June 2 at Stan Hywet Hall and Gardens 714 N. Portage Path, Akron Guests on the Estate this summer are in for a spectacular experience. Stan Hywet presents an art installation featuring 32 pieces of glass art by noted glass artist Craig Mitchell Smith. Smith’s stunning glass sculptures are created using kilnformed glass. With a background as a painter, Smith has developed many techniques that emulate brush strokes in the creation of a piece, which he describes as “painting with glass.” “Oklahoma!” Opens June 4 at Weathervane Playhouse ($26) 1301 Weathervane Lane, Akron Rodgers & Hammerstein's first collaboration remains, in many ways, their most innovative, having set the standards and established the rules


of musical theater still being followed today. Set in a Western Indian territory just after the turn of the century, the high-spirited rivalry between the local farmers and cowboys provides the colorful background against which Curly, a handsome cowboy, and Laurey, a winsome farm girl, play out their love story.

“Welcome to the Dollhouse” 11:30 p.m. at The Nightlight Cinema ($8.50) 30 N. High St., Akron Join late@nightlight for a special showing of “Welcome to the Dollhouse,” an insightful look at an unattractive 7th grader as she struggles to cope with un-attentive parents, snobbish classmates, a smart older brother, an attractive younger sister and her own insecurities. Also showing May 30 at 11:30 p.m.



Brews & BBQ 6 p.m. at Portage Lakes Brewing Company ($40) 503 Portage Lakes Drive, Akron Enjoy three delicious courses prepared by Chef Dick of Vaccaro’s Trattoria, a Great Lakes Brewing Company beer, and ice cream from Pav’s Creamery. Your ticket includes not only the meal, but also a beer and beer shakes made by Pav’s. This event is a perfect way to celebrate the summer. Akron RubberDucks vs. Erie SeaWolves Celebrity Saturday: Corey Feldman 6:35 p.m. at Canal Park ($5) 300 S. Main St., Akron Celebrate the 30th anniversary of “The Goonies” with the Akron RubberDucks! The first 1000 fans through the gates will get a Truffle Shuffle Bobblebelly, and Corey Feldman will be on hand to sign autographs.



Arty Party Akron: Benefiting CASA/GAL 6 p.m. at Akrona Galleries ($50) 1765 W. Market St., Akron Arty Party Akron is a new fundraiser benefitting CASA/GAL, which provides children in the court system with trained volunteers to advocate for the child’s best interests. This art show, juried by Don and Lisa Drumm and Mark Soppeland, features 100 pieces of work from local young artists, from preschool to college. Proceeds from the art auction will help fund CASA/GAL’s work in our community. Get your tickets at

Girls on the Run 5K Benefiting Girls on the Run of Greater Summit 9:30 a.m. at Lock 3 ($30) 200 S. Main St., Akron The Girls on the Run of Greater Summit 5K is the culmination of 10 weeks of training for more than 600 3rd through 8th grade girls and is open to the public. Their curricula empower girls with a greater sense of self-awareness, a sense of achievement and a foundation in team building, as well as a commitment to enhancing their communities, all of which help them become strong, contented and self-confident women. Register for the 5K at



Oh Snap! It’s a Photo Party 7:30 p.m. at Akron Art Museum ($7) One S. High St., Akron Picture this: rooms and rooms full of dazzling photographs in every size, shape and color. The museum celebrates the magic of the camera with two fascinating photography exhibitions that will take you back in time, to faraway lands, and everywhere in between. Proof features over 100 photographs that document the events, characters, places and beauty in the world around us, while Staged exposes the power and drama of the preplanned photo. Party the night away with snacks, drinks, music and, of course, a photo booth. Just make sure you’re camera-ready. Elevate YOGAkron 6 p.m. at Hardesty Park (FREE) 1615 W. Market St., Akron Join YOGAkron, a community of yoga lovers and teachers, for this celebration of the Soul of Akron through body, mind and breath. In addition to an all-level Vinyasa yoga class, there will be food trucks, a DJ and more fun all evening. Register at

| THE Devil Strip / MAY 2015 • VOL 1 • ISSUE #6

Icebreaker (Dance Party, Art Show, Bonfire!) 8 pm – 2 am Land of Plenty (FREE) 339 W. Market St., Akron Come hither, young and old: It is time for some stories to unfold. This exuberant bash will feature DJs spinning electronica, trip hop and more until 2 a.m., an art show featuring sculptures, a liquid light show, live painting and a bonfire. Mandala Madness 1 p.m. at Summit ArtSpace (FREE) 140 E. Market St., Akron As part of the Fresh Juried Art Exhibition, head to Summit ArtSpace for this free workshop to create your own mandala. This hands-on workshop will take an ancient art form and help you design endless possibilities for your fresh artwork. Registration is required; visit for more details. Taste of Theater: Benefiting Weathervane Playhouse 4 p.m. at Weathervane Playhouse ($35) 1301 Weathervane Lane, Akron Help ensure that the show will always go on at Weathervane with this fundraiser. Get a special behind-the-scenes tour of the theater, enjoy a picnic-style dinner catered by Acme, and see a sneak peek of the upcoming “Oklahoma!” show. Visit for details.

The Rhythm of Life: Drum Circle Workshop 6 p.m. at Lifesource Yoga ($5 suggested donation) 300 N. Cleveland-Massillon Road, Suite 2 Wandering Aesthetics is proud to announce the next The Open Door: Akron’s Performance Exchange. The fourth of these free monthly workshops will be a drum circle workshop led by Dennis Oliver. No experience necessary. Drawing from the rich artistic traditions within Akron, these workshops seek to introduce community members to diverse forms of creative expression, build community by crossing boundaries, enrich lives and open the door to the imagination.



AkRun & Crawl: Benefiting Torchbearers 5 p.m. in The Valley ($25 for 5K, $15 for pub crawl) 1735 Merriman Road, Akron Join Torchbearers for a 5K run along the Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail, and celebrate your finish in style with a pub crawl at the Valley’s nearby watering holes, starting at Johnny J’s. (And if you’re not a runner, just come for the fun part.) Register for the 5K and/or the pub crawl at Cascade the Runway 7 p.m. at Cascade Plaza (FREE) Downtown Akron Don’t miss the 7th annual Summer Fashion Show,


Arts, Culture & Entertainment presented by Downtown Akron Partnership, NOTO Boutique, Allie M. Designs, lululemon athletica and Rubber City Clothing. The show kicks off with DJ Kristi Wall and the Admirables, followed by a fashion show curated by local retailers, with hair and makeup provided by The Beauty Lounge and MC Hair. Downtown restaurants will have food available, and The Winery at Wolf Creek, Thirsty Dog and NORKA will be on hand to slake your thirst. Plein Air Painting in Peninsula June 5 to 7, Peninsula (FREE) The Peninsula Area Chamber of Commerce, in partnership with the National Park Service and the Conservancy for Cuyahoga Valley National Park, presents its 7th annual Plein Air Peninsula competition. Watch artists paint outdoors throughout the village all weekend, then catch the exhibition starting June 15 at the John S. Seiberling Gallery.


Chalk art, much of it drawn by kids, fills a blackboard-painted wall in the popup Summit Cycling shop in North Hill during Better Block. A view of the street from within the Summit Cycling popup shop during Better Block. Bee Happy Akron, a consortium of bee-lovin’ Akronites work out of a converted storage container.


SATURDAY, JUNE 6 Akron Civic Hackathon 8 a.m. at OSC Tech Lab (FREE) 12 E. Exchange St., Akron Akron Civic Hackathon provides a way for our civic leaders to reach out to volunteer software and hardware engineers and announce interesting challenges that have the potential to generate civic impact. Visit for projects and details. Akron Farm & Flea Market 9 a.m. outside Urban Eats (FREE) 51 E. Market St., Akron Head to Urban Eats and Musica the first Saturday of every month for shopping, eating and entertainment that is uniquely Akron. Vendors will change each month and will include rummage, vintage, arts, crafts, farm produce, food and services.

Scenes from the long-anticipated grand opening of the Mustard Seed & Café in Highland Square. (Photos: Paul Hoffman/

Downtown Akron Artwalk 5 p.m. in Downtown Akron (FREE) Experience local art, live music and fun for all ages at the award-winning Artwalk in Downtown Akron. Venues include galleries in the Northside District, North High Street, and East and West Market Street. Don’t forget to stop by Crafty Mart’s Pop-Up Shops at Summit ArtSpace.


SUNDAY, JUNE 7 Summer BBQ Benefiting One of a Kind Pets 4 p.m. at Crown Point Ecology Center ($75) 3220 Ira Road, Akron Join One of a Kind Pets for a summer country (continued on page 7)

“I took my daughter Madeline to Open Streets with me and she had a blast.” – Chris Horne

BREW AT THE ZOO is A wild time! Enjoy a taste of the wild side during these after-hours, adults-only beer tasting events that feature drinks from local breweries. Purchase the Brew Pass for access to all four events. You can quadruple the fun, while saving up to $20 with this special pass!

Brew Pass Pricing

(Access to All Four Events)

Akron Zoo Member: $88 Non-Member: $104

Brew Events: Wednesdays, 6-9 pm June 10 80’s Night July 15 Christmas in July September 9 Football Tailgate Night October 7 Oktoberfest

For individual event pricing and details, visit or call 330-375-2550.


YOU’Ve NeVeR BeeN tHiS ClOSe!

MAY 2015 • VOL 1 • ISSUE #6 /

THE Devil Strip |


Arts, Culture & Entertainment

How a young artist dreamed her way into the

Akron Art Prize by Carley Hull

The sky was still blue, and the grass was still green, but Brittani Austin knew she was in another world. She stood calm in a meadow, looking out into the woods that surrounded her. A white fence stretched beyond her vision between the trees and the clearing. Whistling escaped her throat as she let out a call for something that wasn’t real, trying to manifest it with her mind. She thought of a dragon and began calling it, not knowing its physical characteristics or what it would do. The creature arrived, scuttling over the fence to Austin through the mossy grass. It was a small dragon with blue scales the color of ocean waves and a ribbed white belly. Its muzzle was a faded burgundy with a fan of fading red around its jaw and ears, right below a set of white twisted horns. A serpent tongue flicked from its mouth as it approached.

Before the Akron Art Prize dragon, Austin constructed a mythical dragon-like creature out of papier-mâché when experimenting with sculpture. "I just started doing sculptures within the past year because I wanted to be able to, but I’m super broke so I’m trying to figure out recycled material sculptures," Austin says. She took the creature sculpture to Oddmall in 2014 wondering whether anyone would buy it. Courtney Cable, who went to pass out fliers for the 2014 Akron Art Prize, saw something special in the 3-foot-long dragon sculpture. “When I looked at it closer, I was like, ‘Oh, my gosh, these are actual little pieces of something folded and created with hands’,” Cable says.

Cable immediately asked Austin to submit her piece to the 2014 Akron Art Prize. There was no way Austin would submit the experimental Curious, she picked up the creature. She studied piece. For the next three months, Austin poured every detail, noticing a tiny set of wings on its her time into designing and crafting the dragon back, and felt overwhelmed with inspiration. She that came to her in a dream. At the time, she thought, “I have to make you.” worked at a Democratic calling center from 5 p.m. to midnight. She spent at least three hours This was the lucid dream that led Austin to make everyday building the dragon out of newspaper, the creature she dreamed, which would make wire, fabric and Durham’s Rock Hard Water her first runner-up of the 2014 Akron Art Prize. Putty. The last few weeks, as she ran out of time, Lucid dreaming now defines her purpose as an she began pouring in 10 and 12 hours a day to artist. “It’s a third of your life you are asleep, finish the job. so if you can be conscious during that, it’s like you’re not missing anything,” she says. The final product, “Serpent of the Self,” was displayed at the Zeber-Martell Gallery from Sept. At 23, the Hartville resident is lucid dreaming 6 to Oct. 4, 2014. She received positive feedback more frequently to create her art, which she from viewers and won $1,000 as first-runner up. does without a formal fine arts education. After “Just knowing that I was even capable of getting dropping out of Flagler College in St. Augustine, that far was really motivational because I had no Florida, Austin moved back to Ohio, deciding her idea what to expect,” Austin says. time would be better spent building a collection over the next four or five years. Her next step is to illustrate flying in her dreams. She is slowly working the concept out, Her bleach blond hair hanging in waves below potentially as a new submission for the next her shoulders, she now spends her days working Akron Art Prize. at a greenhouse and her free time working on her lucid dream collection and commissioned You can find more information about the 2015 pieces, which include everything from family Akron Art Prize at portraits to painted deer skulls that give her akron-art-prize some discomfort as a vegetarian.


Arts, Culture & Entertainment (continued from page 5) barbeque, featuring live music, a silent auction and a barbeque dinner (including vegetarian options). Bring your four-legged friends too! Visit for tickets.


FILM: ‘Schmo Bizness’ Sunday, June 14 at 9 pm Nightlight Cinema 30 North High St, Akron Rubber City native Michael “Zombo” Devine, of King Dapper Combo and the Surfaholics, comes home to screen his “funny documentary” about the reunion of Those Generics Comedy Team, a group who toured the country for 15 years during the “comedy boom of the 1980s.”

Glendale Ave. or S. Walnut St., Akron The official unveiling of murals produced by a 2014 Lock 3 Summer Arts Experience program through the City of Akron, which hired artists to develop art projects to be produced and displayed within downtown. It also functions as job search training for high school students, who must apply, submit porfolios and undergo interviews in order to be hired for the positions. The L3SAE has been producing public art for downtown for 13 years. Come celebrate these very talented young artists and enjoy the pleasures of Akron's little hidden gem. Doubles as the end stop for the "Akron2Akron" neighborhood tour.


6/6 – 8th Annual SFC Daniel B. Crabtree Memorial 5K — Starts at the Natatorium (2345 4th St., Cuy Falls) with proceeds benefiting “Special Operations Warriors, their families, and children in thanks of all they have given.” Contact the city of Cuyahoga Falls for information.

5/30 – AKRun and Crawl 5K — Our 5K run follows the scenic Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail through the Merriman Valley before joining your friends for a pub crawl to celebrate your finish in style. 5/31 – Girls on the Run of Greater Summit Spring 5K — The Girls on the Run of Greater Summit 5k begins on Water Street and ends in Lock 3 Park with much of the course winding through downtown Akron. This is a fun, non-timed 5k event.

Glendale Steps Murals official unveiling Saturday, June 27at 3-6 pm, Glendale Steps

6/6 – 30th Annual Kids Are #1 Run at Akron Children's Hospital — (One Perkins Sq., Akron) – Bring the entire family for a day of fun and fitness, including a 5K through historic Glendale Cemetery, a 1-mile fun run and the 1-mile Paws for a Cause Walk for dogs and their owners. Proceeds benefit the hospital's Cerebral Palsy family picnic and Social Work department. Details at

5/31 – Twinsburgh Duathlon — The Twinsburg Duathlon, held in conjunction with the Twinsburg Parks & Rec department, consists of a two mile run, followed by a 10 mile bike, and finishing with another two mile run.

Ongoing health, wellness, running and riding Akron Bicycle Club Every Thursday at 6:30pm from Deep Lock Quarry Parking Lot APEX Running Every Wednesday at 6:30 pm starting at the Urban Eats Trailhead in Akron's Downtown Historic District and continuing along the towpath in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Bike Party Akron A festive evening social ride through the City of Akron. Every 3rd Friday of the month.10-12 miles. Bring Lights, Bring Music. Ride starts @ Lock 3 @ 7pm Complimentary Community Classes at Lululemon Akron Showroom Saturday mornings at 9am Crooked River Trail Runners - Trails Every Thursday at 6:30pm at various locations in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park

6/20 – 5KRunDead Zombie Run — Heritage Farms (6050 Riverview Rd, Peninsula) Runners must endure zombie-infested 5K course, testing their speed, endurance and strength as they try to keep as many of their health flags away from the zombies as possible. Sign up as a runner or a zombie. For details, visit

Portage Lakes Running Club - Roads Every Tuesday at 6pm at various places around Akron

OUT AND ABOUT Turning the outdoor art of


into a roving party on wheels by Katie Wheeler The Akron Art Museum partnering with Akron Bike Party to bring you bike tours of their citywide Inside/Out installation. There are things that seem like they should never be combined, like forks and electrical outlets. There are also things that just make sense together, such as peanut butter and chocolate. Then, there are things that may not be such an obvious combination—like Hoppin’ Frog beer and Pav’s ice-cream—but someone was brave enough to give it a go and ended up with an awesome idea. It’s this latter kind of innovative bravery that I want to focus on this issue. The first example—the Akron Art Museum—has recently launched an initiative called Inside/Out. They have taken replicas of some of the museum’s favorite works of art and placed them all over Akron—OUTSIDE. Why is this so cool? Have you ever run the towpath and wanted to cool off while wandering through the Museum’s exhibits


afterwards, or grabbed some ice cream from Mary Coyle’s and had the urge to take your cone with you while you perused priceless works of art? With these new outdoor installations, you can do both! Heck, you can run a few miles with ice-cream in both hands, and still check out artwork if you want to. Inside/Out is strategically making it easy for the community to get interested in what the art museum offers, in hopes that Akronites will shed preconceived notions about viewing art and be more comfortable walking through their doors. The second example of combining cool things comes from Akronite, Dave Massary, who has brought a monthly party on wheels to our city’s streets. The Akron Bike Party just celebrated its one year anniversary, and is exactly what it sounds like - a party on bikes. Every third Friday at 7 P.M., a group of people who love to bike meet up at Lock3 for a themed bike ride through Akron. The route is around 10 miles and takes about an hour and a half, as the Bike Party sticks to a “no rider left

behind” policy. These events are geared towards bikers of every age and ability, and include lit up bikes and a custom music bike. Seriously, what party would be complete without lights and music? Massary usually organizes an “after party” at The Game downtown for food and drinks after the ride. As if these two things weren’t cool enough on their own, Akron Bike Party is teaming up with the Akron Art Museum and hosting bike party tours of the art displays. There will be still be music and bikes, but these routes will be centered around the Museum’s outdoor installations. The tours will be on various weekend days, and will start and finish at Blimp City in the Valley. Mastery has a 5 mile

family-friendly route planned, as well as a more ambitious 15-20 mile route for those that want to see as many works of art in one go as they can. I’m pretty sure that you're not going to be able to get your bike past the Art Museum security, no matter how fun it might seem to ride through their exhibits. Fortunately, the Bike Party art tours are giving you the next best thing. Grab your helmets Akron, it’s time for a little culture on wheels!

FOR MORE INFO: Akron Art Museum's Inside/Out: Akron Bike Party:

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THE Devil Strip |


5 questions




‘CHRISTINE AT THE CROSSROADS’ by Chris Kessinger, The Film Freak

CHRIS: Can you explain some of the developmental processes to getting this made, and where it all started? ERNIE: The movie had its beginnings at the end of our last feature film four years ago. I had an idea for a shot in mind, so we tested it (it’s the shot early on where we see “Christine” in bed staring at the camera while someone has sex with her). It was a powerful image, but we weren’t sure what the story was at that time. A few years later, during a conversation with my daughter, I asked her when she felt like she knew she was gay. Her answer, kindergarten, stunned me. Even with very liberal parents, she kept herself closeted well into her twenties, after being married and having a child. That is when Heather realized what the story was that went along with that powerful image we had. Heather began writing and as word got out locally what we were getting ready to shoot, more and more of our gay friends started relating their stories to us. It was shocking how similar they were. We incorporated many of their stories, along with my daughters into the final script. Once the script was finished and we had our cast, it took us maybe twelve days to shoot.

CHRIS: This film is playing in film festivals this year. Where else besides Akron will the film play? ERNIE: So far, we have screened in Virginia twice,

Oklahoma and California and North Carolina. In Oklahoma we won Best Romance/Drama Feature at the Bare Bones International Independent Film Festival. In the month of June, besides Akron, we will be screening at festivals in North Carolina, New York City and Springfield, Massachusetts. We are trying to line up a screening in Columbus during their Pride Festival and we have a repeat screening here in Hampton Roads.

CHRIS: You tackle a lot of negative issues that come from outsiders unfamiliar with the Gay/Lesbian lifestyle. Were your scenes based on a personal experience with a friend or family member? ERNIE: Our script was definitely based on personal experiences, besides those of our daughter. Both Heather and I have had close relationships with gay and lesbian friends and family all our lives. going through events like those in the movie. We seem to be touching people of all persuasions, which is very gratifying as a filmmaker. CHRIS: What do you expect people to gain the most from seeing your film? ERNIE: I just hope that we give people some idea of what it’s like to have to deny your true self and maybe offer hope to those that are living a lie right now. We’ve had people come up to us after screenings and thank us for telling “their story” and even one who told us that she was currently

CHRIS: What's in the future for you and S.Kelly Films? ERNIE: The future is unwritten, isn’t that what they say? We have our next project in mind, but it probably won’t get started until later this year and

once again we’ll be tackling some personal issues. I want to get “Christine…” out there to as many festivals as I can, and am really thankful to Jill for giving us this opportunity to screen it. Much thanks also goes to Gerard Dominick for introducing our team to Jill. We are a small, small fish in a very big ocean, so getting any movie we make out in front of people is a daunting task.

Film & Feast


AT THE CROSSROADS Chris Kessinger, the Film Freak

One person's exile from the truth not only burns them from the inside, but it can do damage to those they love. This is the center of the struggle Christine faces in "Christine at the Crossroads," a short film written and directed by Ernie and


Heather Smith. In the movie, Christine (Diane Sokolowich) is a top notch businesswoman with a loving, supportive husband (Brett Moye), and a beautiful home. She has everything she ever wanted, but happiness. She is trapped inside of a

| THE Devil Strip / MAY 2015 • VOL 1 • ISSUE #6

personal prison that she has created within herself to be someone she is not. Christine has known she was a little girl that she was a lesbian, but due to an unsupportive family and fears of being different, she has ignored her real feelings all of her life. When she meets Jen, a new co-worker who ignites the passion in her hidden feelings, Christine is faced with the choice that will shake the foundation of everyone in her life. I really enjoyed the film for its bravery and social commentary to expose the treatment that many gay and lesbian people go through on a daily basis. The movie packs so much of a personal punch in such a short amount of time (54 minutes) without needing much filler in between to represent what direction our characters are heading. Much praise also goes to the wide range in performances from the actors who The Smiths have cast. Many

of the lead actors have been in the film world for fewer than five years, but their emotional depth combined with exceptional line read timing (especially Moye) is impeccable. I noticed a lot of great symbolism in the film representing Christine's emotional struggle. A reoccurring theme is Christine putting together a puzzle, and the pieces don't fit until the pieces with her own dilemma fit. It's a nice artistic touch that cost little to add to the film. "Christine at the Crossroads" is playing at:

Jilly's Music Room June 3rd 8:30 PM 111 North Main Street, Akron, Ohio, 44308 // Chris Kessinger is our resident film writer. You can find more of his reviews at


only in akron

MY ODE TO MYERS... by Elizabeth Tyran

At the risk of sounding like some sort of ad, my good fortune as a student at the University of Akron’s Myers School of Art begins and ends with an array of quality faculty members. I became an art history major after having taken an art history class as an elective. When that class ended, I remember thinking, “I want more of that.” I’ve always been drawn to the arts and getting a taste of how to really look at it and what it all meant was about as good as learning in a classroom could get for me. I was fascinated, and I was only one semester in; we hadn’t even gotten to modern art yet.

Laura Gelfand, Head of the Art History Department, and Kevin Concannon, Art History Professor.

At that time, Laura Gelfand was head of the Art History Department and Kevin Concannon was the other main art history professor. They both had doctorates and both taught art history at the same school but beyond that couldn’t have been more different. One was a man who taught Modern Art in a style that was strictly objective. The other was a woman who specialized in Renaissance and Medieval art and had no problem expressing, in addition to speaking in terms of formal analyses, that she loved something about a particular piece and that it was, in fact, beautiful to her. Students at some point or other had to choose a mentor in their program. I chose Dr. Concannon for two reasons, I’d become enamored with modern art and I liked that he left emotion out of the equation, it left the focus on how to objectively study a piece. But I also felt balanced by the classes I took with Dr. Gelfand and honestly relished classes with either. That balance, in my opinion, was invaluable. We called them Kevin and Laura, as they had permitted us to do. They were young, probably late 30’s, maybe early 40’s. They were charming, well-spoken, brilliant in their field, well-traveled, published and just happened to be extremely approachable and down-to-earth. These were my constants for four years, how lucky was I. Students could create their own shows to be held in one of two main galleries, the Emily Davis or what was simply referred to as the student gallery. The Emily Davis was maintained by my museology professor Rod Bengston. This always dressed in red and black man was yet another incredibly intelligent and extremely personable piece to the Myers puzzle, and always made us laugh to boot. His knowledge of curation and installation was a beautiful thing for both studio art students (i.e. painters and sculptors) or art history students like myself to be able to rely upon and interact with. I took two design courses and two photography courses. I remember staying in the photo lab, or dark room, all night some times which I’ve heard they are much stricter about now. One time I was


even walking out at 8am when the first class was walking in. But I seemed to get the most done being in there alone at night. In Photo II we had a really good group of students. We focused and we learned but then we’d also do things like lay on our bellies on the rolling stools in the darkroom and slide across the floor. Arnie Tunstall (who, for the record, had no knowledge of such antics) taught that class and encouraged us all to develop our own distinct styles and concepts while simultaneously guiding us through the technical aspects of developing film and prints. He taught, for instance, what a difference different types of photographic paper could make which sums up his teaching us to try new things in general, not that I didn’t already live for that or anything. I referred to him as Mr. Tunstall, Sir, in a sort of jokingly sincere tone if that makes sense.

Earl Ertman, to go to the Valley of the Kings in Luxor, Egypt and photograph an archaeological dig. I applied for and received the Daschiell Travel Grant which paid for my round-trip airfare. That trip held experiences that I could only have dreamt of including special access to tombs that were off limits to the public. That incredible month and a half of my life I owe to my time at Myers. Not one of the aforementioned faculty members remain at the University of Akron. I could not, nor would not wish to have gone there at any other time than when I did for I cannot imagine

being there without those people and what they imparted. I thank them and all my talented professors, Penny Rakoff, Claudia Berlinski, Steve Litchfield, Andrew Borowiec, Heath Patten, Jim Crowe, and my advisor Susan McKiernan for making the program what it was, and what I hope, for others, it continues to be.

Myers offered not just staff, but also students, to invite professional artists, or others who work in the world of fine art, to come to the school and share their knowledge and experience. They might have their work set up in the Emily Davis Gallery in which case a formal lecture would also take place, usually on a Wednesday night for students and the general public to attend. Students could also interact with the visitors throughout the week while classes were held. Every year the school held a ceremony to award privately funded grants for anything from art supplies to education-related travel funds. One year I was invited by my Egyptology professor, Dr.

MAY 2015 • VOL 1 • ISSUE #6 /

THE Devil Strip |


new / native

New / native Meet these Akron artists, newbie Jessica Lofthus and native Levent Isik M. Sophie Hamad & Ilenia Pezzaniti


When did you fall for Akron? My family was transferred here from Toronto, my father worked Name / Age: Levent Isik / 53 for Goodyear. I got hooked up with some people Hometown: Raised in Canada, moved who were in bands. The next thing you know, I was to Akron in 1980, moved around singing in a noisy punk band. The early 80's were for a while, but my family lives special, everything was DIY. Akron had a close knit here, so, I guess it’s Akron. underground scene that was nationally known. Neighborhood: Highland Square area in the 1980's. Looking to set up a new Where in Akron do you like to escape? I like studio around downtown area. the downtown area. The buildings, the streets. It’s Occupation: Been a full time artist since 1990 a tough-skinned city that won’t go down. It’s got rubber in its soul. Who do you wish was on more Akronites’ radar? Young entrepreneurs. We need to encourage and support new ideas. This city has endless potential. a designated district in the downtown area that caters to new venues for arts, music, food, and specialty shops.

New Name / Age: Jessica Lofthus / 40 Hometown: Native Texan Neighborhood: Highland Square Occupation: Artist known in some circles as “The Organic Martha Stewart.” Who do you wish was on more Akronites radar? Why? Honestly—the folks who are paving the way for fracking in Summit County. Fracking has become quite the issue lately and isn’t getting near enough exposure. Folks need to know that their fresh water advantage in this glacial environment is in danger. What is your favorite local cultural asset? The intermingling of urban and natural environments. The way the Summit County Metro Parks interweave with this city is so impressive. Unlike other cities where the layout is in a bowl, surrounded by nature, Akron is interwoven with it, and that’s pretty special. When did you fall for Akron? When I began to watch a fervor about reinvigorating this town’s uniqueness. Several years ago, several groups


started pushing more art, local music and farming culture in such a comprehensive way. I was blown away by the mass consciousness intention to create this renaissance. It showed me that this town had the sorta soul that could win me over.

What is your favorite local cultural asset? The music scene here has been legendary. So many important bands have started here. I also like the older independent restaurants, and dive bars.

Why should everyone try your favorite restaurant? Because it’s the best damned pizza at 2 a.m., anywhere in the world. (Luigi’s) How do you think Akron will be different in five years? I'm hoping on a thriving arts area. This town is primed. The city has to get involved and set up an arts district. Provide spaces for working artists, more galleries, restaurants, and specialty shops. If they can provide us with that then The future will be bright. There's so much potential in this town.

Where in Akron do you like to escape? In order to keep my bat cave secret, I’ll just say I very much enjoy big rocks in the middle of moving water. Sitting on still rocks while water moves around you is pretty special. Why should everyone try your local favorite restaurant? I don’t think I have a favorite, actually, but I’m about to! The Mustard Seed Market opening their new cafe two blocks from my house is about to fix that! How do you think Akron will be different in five years? It’s hard to quantify what’s possible on this cultural trajectory. The level of community building being seen here is astounding. Akron is working very hard at becoming an artfully minded masterpiece. With the unique history and the cultural drive happening, I think that five years from now it will be an art, culture and local food powerhouse.

| THE Devil Strip / MAY 2015 • VOL 1 • ISSUE #6



HOW B.LOVELY SUCCEEDED with a unique business model by Jessica Conti

Long before Lyndsey Marie came up with the idea for b.lovely, a pop-up boutique, she was mapping out business plans on graph paper. During high school, Marie developed a strong sense of personal style, and post-graduation, she started a blog titled, “A Lovely Little Blog.” The blog launched her into the digital world of sharing curated ideas, helped her find an audience for her brand and turned her into an accidental go-to guru. Marie’s strength was in helping women find the perfect outfit or gift and the confidence to pull it off. She took note of this, put her blog on the backburner and started working on the project that would eventually become b.lovely. She initially wanted b.lovely to be a mobile traveling boutique, but when that didn’t work out, Marie didn’t give up; she just shifted her business objective. Launching b.lovely online made the most sense to Marie. To appeal to her dedicated fans, she would start a fashion boutique filled with trendy seasonal pieces that were unique and affordable, and the costs for a web domain were lower than those of a brick-and-mortar storefront. It was successful, but Marie wanted to do more than sell online. She wanted to interact with her customers and bring her particular brand of loveliness to Akron’s masses so she decided to try a pop-up shop. Popular in bigger cities, pop-up shops allow retailers to take their limited-edition items to a temporary location for a few hours and sell until their items run out. Marie took this risk, and it worked out in her favor.

the pop-up shop successful is Marie’s natural gift for throwing a good party. There are treats, alcohol and the opportunity to meet like-minded people in the area. It’s a social event with beautiful clothes as a bonus. While many people prefer to shop online, there is something fantastically alluring about tangible items, and that’s what makes her boutique work, locally and nationally. Marie’s business model and products attract a wide variety of clientele, and this combination helps her business thrive. She has a keen eye for what women between the ages of 20 and 50 want to wear or receive as a gift, and her kindness and passion inspire her customers to seek style regardless of their age. This is just the beginning for Marie as she continues to grow her project into a full-time career. “The future with b.lovely is limitless,” she says. “I feel that way because I am so passionate about it, and it has been my dream for so long. In the next few years you will see the b.lovely team grow (interns and employees), a brick-and-mortar location come to fruition, an original clothing line and so much more. It's going to be an exciting ride, and I can't wait to share it with my fellow Akronites.” // Writer Jessica Conti was definitely wearing a cute dress


while writing this article.

Upcoming Pop-Up Shops Wed., June 4, 5:30 to 8:30 p.m.

“I realized that people in Akron really responded well to the pop-up idea and focused my attention to that,” she says. “With one full year under my belt, I think it's been wildly fantastic.”

Summer Solstice Festival at Sarah's Vineyard

She’s finding a crowd for b.lovely’s pop-up shops in bars, coffee shops and vineyards. What makes

For booking requests, email



"A great place downtown to grab a bite before a ballgame, or a show at the Civic. I had the BBQ chicken tacos and the wife had the fish tacos, and both were excellent. These are not your typical neighborhood Mexican food flavors, so if you are looking for cheese-smothered, soggy tortillas filled with ground meat, this is not the place for you. Everything seems fresh and prepared with care.” – Jeff W. on Facebook

Cellar 59 in Stow

Fri. through Sun., June 19-21

54 East Mill St. Akron 44308 (330) 762-8000 Hours: M-Th 11-10, F 11-11, Sat 3-11

The Wanderer

What this PlaCe neeDs is healthy fooD for eVeryone.


Mr. Zub’s and Diamond Deli by Holly Brown

Sandwiches are the universal vessel. The thing you can put anything on. The go-to item for many during the lunching hour. Today, the humble sandwich has expanded its repertoire to serve as a satisfying breakfast or dinner. Everybody knows sandwiches are good; here’s my story of two great ones. This year was my first year of graduate school and, man, does that take it out of you. Last Thursday evening was my last class of the semester, and once that business was over, I was on my way to the moon, and I was just that thrilled to be done. So what were me (and Maya) to do? Go out. And go out we did.

United Way is a champion for healthy food for all in Summit County. We believe that nutritious food should be available to everyone, regardless of income. So we partner with many nonprofit organizations to promote equal access to healthy, high-quality food.

Join us at the table. Volunteer. If you have a passion for healthy food education, access and policy, connect with the United Way Volunteer Center to find ways to get involved with amazing programs and people in your community. Whether you have just one evening to help out a community garden, want to volunteer weekly at a farmers’ market or can spend some time in an office supporting a program, you can become a part of the solution.

Current volunteer opportunities: 1. Help with planting, weeding, watering and harvesting at an urban farm or community garden 2. Lend support to a weekly farmer’s market 3. Organize a healthy food drive 4. Deliver meals to seniors in their homes 5. Mentor kids on nutrition and exercise Many more projects are available! Contact the United Way Volunteer Center at or 330.643.5512 for a complete list of opportunities or search our online volunteer project database at Click VOLUNTEER, and then click the quick link for food-related opportunities. Nonprofits – contact the Volunteer Center to add your project.

beCause Great thinGs haPPen When We liVe uniteD. United Way of Summit County uWsuMMit.orG

After a long night of festivities and celebrations and pomp and congratulations and beer, the only way to end the evening was to go to Mr. Zub’s in Highland Square. We hadn’t exactly had dinner yet, and though it was now the wee hours of the morning, the cavorting and general joyousness had really gotten our appetites going. Zub’s, as regulars call it, is open until 2:45 a.m. Monday through Saturday and until 1:45 a.m. on Sunday. (The restaurant’s motto is “Open for Lunch, Dinner, Then Breakfast.”) Once the decision was made, there were no distractions: We were going to Zub’s. Once inside, I was greeted by those egg-yolk-yellow walls and that mouthwatering fried food smell. Most nights, I spend at least 20 minutes trying to decide which sandwich to get. It’s almost impossible. I’ve tried many of the options, sometimes based on description and sometimes based on its namesake; each sandwich is named after a great movie character. One menu highlight is The Hightower from “Police Academy,” a mac-and-cheese and bacon sandwich, the ultimate “thing you can put anything on.” Tonight, I was going for my favorite: The David St. Hubbins from “This is Spinal Tap,” a sandwich with turkey, bacon, onion-and-chive cream cheese, lettuce, tomato and onion, all on an onion bagel (I like onions a whole lot). Once I got that loaded bad boy in my vice grip, I was never letting go, and I took it down. The texture alone made my mouth water: crunchy bacon, ultra-soft grilled and buttered bagel, the solidity of the turkey keeping the whole thing together, and don’t get me started on cream cheese (I could literally eat the stuff by the spoonful.) Safe to say, this sandwich made my

morning, both before and after catching some z’s. I woke up later in the morning, feeling great despite my night on the town. I went for a run, did some errands and still felt quite satisfied from my dinner (breakfast?) the night before, until noon when the lunchtime rumbles started to get to me. I picked up Maya, and we decided we still hadn't had enough of sandwiches and off to Diamond Deli we went. Diamond Deli is your classic deli, with University of Akron paraphernalia lining the walls and those goofy signs that say things like: “Unattended children will be given espresso and a puppy.” I knew what I was getting myself into here, and I was pumped about it. I don’t know what it is about Akron, but all sandwiches have great names. I was laughing out loud and pointing at all kinds of menu choices (like, Chad’s “Wait Til You Hear This Story,” Zach’s “Yeah, Right Dad” and “Here’s the Beef”), struggling to decide what to get as the line behind me grew longer and longer. Then, I saw it: The Old Bald Guy, a daily special made with turkey, bacon, sun-dried tomato pesto, smoked gouda, green apple and onion on a ciabatta. (Apparently, I have a thing for turkey and bacon.) It was another one of those rare moments when I knew exactly what I wanted, and I had to have it. The tartness of the apple in conversation with the earthiness of the rest of the sandwich was unreal, and the ciabatta, my favorite sandwich bread, was crisp and filling — the perfect fuel for a fine Friday afternoon. Whether you want your glorious sandwich funky or classic, be sure to visit Zub’s and Diamond Deli. The sandwiches from both of these Akron staples are killer and come with a pickle spear on the side.

Mr. Zub’s Deli 812 W. Market St., Akron | 330-252-0272

Diamond Deli 378 S. Main St., Akron | 330-762-5877 // Holly Brown lives in Highland Square with her senile cat, Hedwig, and is a master’s candidate in poetry at the Northeast Ohio Master of Fine Arts program.


8 questions

Questions Derf Backderf Rust Belt comix creator

by Brittany Nader

John “Derf” Backderf is a Cleveland-based comix writer and artist whose gritty scenes of life in Ohio have given him a cult-like status in the Buckeye State and well beyond.


B: You've made some transitions in your career — from comic strips for alt-weeklies to your own spin on graphic novels — and when you went to Ohio State for journalism, the goal was to be an editorial Derf has never shied away from engaging with local cartoonist. What's enabled you to keep pivoting and loyal fans at conventions, and even Facebook this way? Was it just chance, or was it intentional? — a place he’s bound to stir up a little controversy with his social and political commentary, but it’s his D: Yeah … Three career reboots, I admit that’s a alternative comics and edgy storytelling that has little unusual. I feel very lucky, since each one has attracted a dedicated following across the globe. been more successful than the previous endeavor. His tales of trash collecting in Richfield, attending I’ve always been a restless creator. That’s kept me high school alongside Jeffrey Dahmer and on the move — and able to stay in front of changes illustrating the rough-yet-revered Akron punk scene in various industries — but it does result in a pretty in the ʼ80s shed light on places and faces previously disjointed body of work. If you compare my early obscured by time and, perhaps, misconception. political cartoons, my first “City” strips and my books, it looks like three different artists made Derf earned his first income as a cartoonist selling them. There are lots of cartoonists who haven’t a nude portrait of his sixth-grade teacher to a changed a line in 40 years. If you’re one of the classmate for a meager $2. He has since moved greats, say, Matt Groening, that’s okay. If you’re a on to bigger and better things, penning awardtypical hack, then it’s sad. I can’t imagine what my winning graphic novels like “My Friend Dahmer” life would be like if I stuck with political cartoons and “Punk Rock & Trailer Parks,” and having and got a staff job with some crap-hole daily paper. his work displayed in museums and I’d be laid off and washed up now, like most of galleries worldwide. those guys. Pages from Derf’s new edition of “Trashed” will be displayed in “How to Remain Human” at the Cleveland Museum of Contemporary Art beginning June 12.

ONE Brittany: You have a lot of experience with altweeklies, working with them in the heyday of the format through corporate takeovers, which led to several going bankrupt. Why do you think they’ve, by and large, failed? It’s got be more than just the Internet’s fault, right? Derf: Hey, everything has its time. Nothing lasts forever. Alt-weeklies flourished from, roughly, 1985 to 2005 before swan-diving into the tar pit, and I was lucky enough to be a big part of their heyday. At one time, I foolishly believed they would be the saviors of newspapers. On the other hand, I also realized by 2000 or so that the jig was up and began moving to books. For a period there, alt-weeklies had the best comix in the world. Then they all inexplicably started dumping comix so they could shoehorn in a couple more phone sex ads — that’s when the readers started to bail. The two things are not unrelated, even if the geniuses who ran alt-weeklies never figured that out. I was glad to see [The Devil Strip] start up though. Good luck with it.


THREE B: Your first graphic novel/memoir, “Trashed,” seemed to be a real game changer for you. Now, you’re working on a new version of the story, this time fictional but based on real-life events. How will these stories differ from the gross and fascinating tales you’ve already shared with readers?

FOUR B: Your work has a definite edge to it and feels a little punk rock too. How much of growing up around Akron has influenced your voice as an artist? D: We’re all a product of our time and place. Hanging out at The Bank punk club was my first foray into the counterculture and, obviously, I was mesmerized. Before that, I was just another rube from Richfield. I’m definitely the Rustbelt comix creator — not that there’s a lot of competition — and all the things I’m known for — the weirdlooking people of undetermined Middle-European peasant stock, the crumbling buildings and cracked sidewalks and bombed-out industrial wasteland that all came from the Akron I grew up in.

FIVE B: In "My Friend Dahmer," you deftly balanced treating the Jeffrey Dahmer you knew as a human who had been failed by adults with condemning the murders he committed after graduation. Was that a tricky compassion you developed as you worked on the book, or was that how you saw him all along? D: That’s my memory of him. But, remember, I didn’t know Dahmer “the monster.” I only knew Dahmer the sad, damaged boy. Until he starts to kill — and his spree began a mere two weeks after we

graduated from Revere High School — I think he’s a tragic figure. “My Friend Dahmer” is, at its root, a story about failure. Everybody fails: the teachers, his parents, the adults in his life, his friends, Jeff himself, of course, and the result of that acrossthe-board failure is 17 people who were horribly murdered.

SIX B: You've toured with "My Friend Dahmer" a lot overseas. What's the reaction there? Has this opened them up to your other work, especially "Punk Rock & Trailer Parks"? D: “My Friend Dahmer” has been a bestseller in every country it’s been published — so far, France, the Netherlands, Germany, Spain and Korea — and has won some big book prizes, three to date. I’ve gotten five book tours in Europe out of it too. It’s been amazing. Europeans hold comix in much higher esteem than Americans, who still view it as junk pop culture. The French and Belgians, in particular, are rabid comix readers and have a long tradition of great comix of their own. I was a big fan of French comix when I was a teenager, and they were first translated into English in the old Heavy Metal magazine. Used to buy my copies every month at the Booklein newsstand in the Summit Mall. Never in my wildest (continued on page 29)

D: You’re leaving out a web comic, which was where I first took it from memoir to fiction. It’s like Louis CK — based on experience but otherwise all made up. I find that a really easy way to write. I did the web comic for a couple years, and that was the start of the current book. Actually, I was set to fire it up again as a web comic, which I put on hiatus when I started the “My Friend Dahmer” world tour. It was my publisher that said, ‘Whoa, let’s do this as a book instead.’ I’m attracted to these characters and this story. I like coming back to it from time to time because I feel I have more stories to tell. The first “Trashed” was only 50 pages, after all. “Trashed” is an ode to the working man, of being trapped in a dull, small town in the crappiest job imaginable, and all the auxiliary stuff that goes with that: tyrant bosses, creepy co-workers … crazy townies. I think most people can relate to that. It’s fun to write and fun to draw and, hopefully, fun to read. After “My Friend Dahmer,” I needed something fun. The new “Trashed” will be out this fall.

To follow the adventures of “The Baron of Prospect Avenue,” visit

MAY 2015 • VOL 1 • ISSUE #6 /

THE Devil Strip |


cover story



Without the arts, this magazine wouldn’t exist — both in our purpose to tell stories about the creative community and as a place where the creative community actually assembles each issue. So we felt like zooming in on the area’s art scene. For this issue, arts columnist Katelyn Gainer did five profiles on local artists working in different mediums to glean some of the lessons they’ve learned the hard way. It’s a good read regardless whether you make art or just love it.

– Chris Horne


Turn your passion into your career

the University of Montevallo prep program. Our first recital was at a giant performance hall at the University and I remember thinking that the stage made us feel like real musicians,” Reed says.

“I just felt that this was my purpose.” Kurt Reed’s first fine arts experience came early. “My twin brother and I both were given a piano at the age of 6 and spent many an afternoon begging our parents to have piano lessons. Eventually they decided we were old enough and enrolled us at


“I have since participated in hundreds of recitals and I see that same experience repeated with my students as the share the stage on their first recital. The performance side of music really is the most impactful experience for both novice and experienced musicians alike.” There was a time he when he didn’t realize his music career would involve more than performance, that one day he would teach what he had learned over the years. “Preparing for a performance teaches you so much, as does performing with a group. While I did not play sports when I was younger, I performed in many ensembles. I learned how to listen, how to work as part of a team, how to solve problems as a group and how to create something from nothing,” Reed explains. “These are all valuable

| THE Devil Strip / MAY 2015 • VOL 1 • ISSUE #6

here and there, dipping my toe in the water,” she says. Today, as the owner of Hazel Tree Interiors, she looks for ways to support other artists in the community, frequently picking “local artists to showcase their work, specifically local functional art artists, the furniture makers, the light makers, the clock makers.”


Embrace unexpected opportunities

Karen Starr Singer, performer, owner of Hazel Tree Interiors and co-author of “A Is for Akron”

“ Theater is like no other art form—so many people and so many ideas and so much labor, and material goes into one moments. It’s unlike anything else.” Growing up, Karen Starr was always singing and early on, got involved in musical theater. In school, one teacher specifically, Elender Meinecke, as an immense influence, so much that the two are friends now.

He’s come a long way since those days in the prep program at the University of Montevallo.

Kurt Reed Musician, owner of Hudson and Fairlawn Music Schools

traits that are necessary to my function not only as a teacher and musician, but as a business owner. I may not have a degree in business, but I can call upon my various experiences from music lessons, performances and years of teaching to influence my decisions as a businessman.”

“She brought so much joy and passion into musical theater and believed in her students no matter their ability, so much that she was a constant inspiration, and she made all of us want to do different things, better things,” Starr says. She took a job at the Carousel Dinner Theater after high school, starting off with a lot of behind-the-scenes work but eventually becoming the preshow hostess, where she sang songs from upcoming musicals and hosted the cabaret on Saturday nights. After a detour to Japan for a show, Starr came back and tried out a few non-arts career options, but a few years later, she was back at the Carousel as the assistant to the director. She soon got a shot at producing shows when the regular producer left. It blended her creative and business sides, but she was seeking a change. That’s when her old boss at the Carousel helped hook Starr up as a design assistant to an interior designer. “I learned all the facets of interior design working as a design assistant then a project manager. I started taking on my own clients and consultations


Make your own opportunities.

Heather and Craig Wargowsky Art educators and owners of Akronology

“We don’t want to leave Akron. We want it to be central to what we make— what’s best about it and even the things that are silly or weird about it.” Even if you’re not familiar with Akronology, you’d be a fan of its line of Akron-centric pillows, t-shirts, and greeting cards, if you’re a fan of Akron. It’s a labor of love for Heather and Craig Wargowsky, who are, by day, both art educators. These two passions feed each other but it isn’t easy. “It takes that ‘I’m going to’ (attitude). You have to set yourself goals constantly and reevaluate yourself continually and hold yourself accountable,” Heather says. The Wargowskys submit work to local art shows but in the classroom, they’re trying to instill more than just a love of art, teaching their students how to harness the entrepreneurial spirit that’s made Akronology both a creative outlet and a source of income. “I teach at a high school so I like to talk to my students about how to make money,” Craig says. “It’s difficult to be a fine artist. It’s difficult to sell one painting for $100,000 but maybe you can sell 10,000 t-shirts.” When Crafty Mart’s founders turned to Craig’s high school students for an “Akron-centric” idea about what the logo should be, he and Heather started brainstorming what could they sell at the popup market. The birth of Akronology and its Goodyear Blimp pillow wasn’t far behind. “Heather’s dad worked at Goodyear. We live on Goodyear Boulevard. We live in Goodyear Heights.


cover story My teaching partner’s husband flies the Goodyear Blimp, so we were inundated with Goodyear we can’t get away from it here,” Craig says. “We decided to make the best of it here in Goodyear Heights and in Akron. We have a love for it.” Their first stab at the craft world ended in failure, he says, because they didn’t know their niche audience. Regrouping, they leaned on their art education backgrounds to hone in one what would resonate with consumers. Clearly, the Wargowskys are doing something right. Not only are their former students following in Akronology’s footsteps, but one day they received an email from Pat Carney’s mom asking them to save a Goodyear Blimp pillow. “She said, ‘my son is in a band they are called the Black Keys.’ It made us proud. It was his Christmas gift and I thought that was cool. He was in Nashville but she wanted to send him a piece of Akron and that made us happy,” Craig says.

books and illustration, which included countless hours in grade and high school creating my own stories of some of my favorite characters.”


Though he’s behind the camera for several “workfor-hire” pieces, like the Cleveland Art Prize videos, it was the act of doing—making “Hero Tomorrow,” written by his friend Milo Miller—that taught him the most. “Having never directed anything like that before, I decided to take a full year and storyboard the entire script. It was a huge undertaking, but by the end of that year I had 1500 images,” Sikora says. “Storyboarding is really where I learned filmmaking.”






Influenced by legendary comic book creators like Stan Lee and John Romita, Sikora is also the creator, co-writer, colorist and letterer of the comic book series “Apama: The Undiscovered Animal” about Cleveland’s own superhero. “To this day I’m constantly pulling that comic book/ illustration background. Comics are far and away my favorite art form,” he says. “It’s an extremely underappreciated art.”


Absorb many influences, but take your own path.


May 29 - June 11

Let your talent be your strength and use your passion for change.

Preceded by the new Don Hertzfeldt short “World of Tomorrow”


Ted Sikora Director of indie flick “Hero Tomorrow” Alanna Romansky and Sean Derry Founders of None Too Fragile Theater

“…one can get to a point where they 'live' the arts. “We want to produce It’s in the fiber of nearly them in an area such everything you do.” as Akron where there is a vast amount of talent and a hunger for, dare I say, a renaissance?” You don’t produce over 50 profile documentaries for the Cleveland Arts Prize and walk away without some new understanding or perspective. For filmmaker Ted Sikora, it was realizing the arts can be as much who you are as what you do. “There was a quote up in my high school art class at Holy Name in Parma: ‘Science is the means by which we survive, arts are what make survival worthwhile.’,” he recalls.

For Alanna Romansky and Sean Derry, starting None Too Fragile Theater just made sense. “We want to produce shows that we feel are socially relevant, thought-provoking, and engaging,” Romansky says.

The “story-obsessed filmmaker” who directed “Hero Tomorrow,” an indie flick one reviewer called “among the cream of the crop” at Comic Con She comes by her creativity honestly. Her mother when it debuted, Sikora found his own way as a was an interior designer with a love of “all things storyteller. artistic” who involved her kids in “any and every class we could take from a young age to see “I didn’t go to film school or obtain any formal art what peaked our interests.” That included choir, school training,” he says. “I think my foundation piano, violin, dance, art and modeling, but theater as a storyteller comes from a rabid love of comic “floated to the top” for Romansky.

June 5-18

WHEN MARNIE WAS THERE A withdrawn teen befriends a mysterious girl in the latest from Studio Ghibli


most interesting person


the Most Interesting Person We Know written by Elizabeth Tyran and photography by Shane Wynn


Michael Ayers


“I’m a muralist heavily influenced by graphic design and typography.”




“Not picky. I’ll eat anything.”


“My collection of sports memorabilia and a resin and marble cast relief of Mary’s face from Michelangelo’s ‘Pieta.’"


t’s almost 7 a.m. and there are eggs and toast for breakfast before it’s time to leave for work at Akron’s minor league baseball stadium, Canal Park. But he’s not a player, and he’s not part of the park’s administration or crew. Michael Ayers is an Akron born and raised graphic designer turned muralist. Ayers graduated from Kent State University having majored in graphic design and minored in typography. After doing graphic design work for the Akron Beacon Journal for 27 years, the company was forced to eliminate his whole marketing department. He enjoyed working for the Beacon but says he was still too young when he left to spend his days fishing, so he resorted to plan B: he became a freelance muralist. He tells me that when he started he didn’t know what he was doing because he’d “never worked that big before,” referring to the scale of his new art form. Since that initial transition, Rubber Ducks owner Ken Babby has hired Ayers to do several interior murals at Canal Park starting in 2012 when he bought the team. Another mural Ayers is known for is of jazz artists on an outside wall of the Civic Theater at Lock 4, the site of Akron’s summertime Lockbottom Blues and Jazz concert series.

His work area is quite a different story from his paint smudged t-shirt and he acknowledges that when it comes to his space, he’s a very neat painter. However, when it comes to himself, “I get it all over me.” There is a 4’ x 12” clear plastic sheet on the floor along the wall as a precaution, but I could hardly find a drop. He washes his brushes in a restroom sink in the Press Box area of the stadium. It’s a far cry from the Quaker Steak and Lube in North Canton where he did his first mural while the restaurant was being constructed. There he had to rinse his brushes in the only available source of running water which was outside, and it was winter, in Ohio. “But”, he says “those are the kinds of challenges that you just rise to and that become part of the story.” Today I’m watching him in action, quietly and methodically, he shades the ripples of a baseball player’s uniform in Prismacolor pencil. His overall process includes painting the shapes of the figures with white flat interior wall paint over the existing satin-finish paint so that his acrylics will have a better surface texture to set on. He refers to his style as “semi-photo realistic”.

especially if it’s a good day.” By a good day he means when the work is coming together. “There are days,” he adds, “when it just won’t.” There was one Diet Pepsi can on his 4-step ladder and another on his cart of supplies a few feet away. I think tomorrow I’ll bring him a sandwich, even if it is a good day. He stayed at the park until just 4:30 on this particular day because a University of Akron vs Kent State baseball game would be starting soon. When he got home, he played with his one year old grandson, Christian, until it was time for dinner. They were having Christian’s favorite: mashed potatoes. After dinner, Michael watched the Cavs game and before bed he searched one of his favorite websites, 1001 Fonts, for the perfect lettering to incorporate into his current mural. So much thought, so much detail and tremendous talent—it’s no wonder so many rely on Akron’s master of murals, Michael Ayers.

Even with the amount of detail and thought that goes into each design, the 20-30 foot murals like the one he is painting now will only take him in the ballpark of three weeks from start to finish. He stresses that, “The design is key.” He attributes his history as a graphic designer to his ability to balance color and form. “He says you might be able to draw and execute well, but a bad design can ruin everything.” I asked him if he takes a lunch break, he said “No, not usually. I don’t like to stop once I’m going,

He stands 6’1”. He’s wearing a pale blue t-shirt that is just starting to fray a little around the collar and little smudges of paint can be found scattered about the front like what you’d see on a painter’s palette. “I can look at the different colors of paint on my shirt and be reminded of the different murals I’ve worked on,” he tells me.

"Design is key." Muralist, Michael Ayers,


| THE Devil Strip / MAY 2015 • VOL 1 • ISSUE #6


a day in the life


Name: Dane Leasure Gig: Founder, Rubber City Shakespeare In 10 years, Akron will be… "The next Arts Hub. We'll be cooler than Pittsburgh, but still have a small town feel." The best place to go after an opening show… "Definitely Lockview for some grilled cheese and goldfish!" Your pets are… two black labs First time you picked up a Shakespeare Play was in… "Fifth Grade. I probably had no idea what I was reading."

Remnants of Crafty Mart are being put away as I walk into Summit ArtSpace, the quasi-arts incubator where Rubber City Shakespeare makes its home. This is where founder Dane Leasure greets me, his goofy smile welcoming me to the second floor. Managing director Chris Simmons is laying on the floor when we step inside. Noticing my snicker, Leasure comically addresses the scene. “So… we just finished a meeting.” It’s no surprise that founding a performance art company would make life hectic, but Leasure’s chill personality betrays his 12- to 14-hour work days, like this is the new normal. “At the end of the day, it’s about doing the shows and making connections with the audience,” says Leasure. And for him, it’s all about the audience. Known for their eccentric and unconventional twists on many Shakespearean plays, “Rubber City Shakes” makes everything your ninth grade English teacher taught you seem like a ploy as you watch the actors jump from chairs and crawl underneath your feet during shows.


“You know, when Hamlet turns to you and says, ‘To be or not to be? That is the question,’ then you feel like, ‘Oh, my God, I’m right here friend, what do you need?’ So every time I start a show I always tell the actors, ‘If we have 12 actors, we actually have 13—the 12 of you and the audience’,” says Leasure. His newest idea centers on Akron and threatens to change the way we look at “Macbeth” forever. In their upcoming production, Duncan will be a foreman in a rubber factory. The play, through the characters of Macbeth and Duncan, will highlight the social dichotomy that spawned the rubber strikes. Cool, right?

ArtSpace, where he spends the rest of the night with actors and actresses. “[I’m] surrounded by visual artists and people who are just so passionate about nonprofit and passionate about the work that they do and [I’m] just like ‘Yes! These are my people!’” He started down this path in sixth grade when he starred as “bad news” Balthasar in “Romeo and Juliet.” He laughs loudly as he explains the penciled-in mustache he wore as he approached Romeo to tell him Juliet is dead.

“We are Rubber City Shakespeare, so we need to do things more Akron-centric,” says Leasure. “Like, let’s make this Akron!”

He says he has wanted to create a classically-based theater company since his undergraduate days at the University of Akron. The decision to start Rubber City Shakespeare while he pursued, fulltime, his graduate degree at Mary Baldwin College in Virginia, was bold.

Leasure stays inspired by surrounding himself with people who are fundamentally creative. He starts his days by working at the Akron Art Museum, and then takes a short walk after work to Summit

“I always remember as an undergrad telling my friends what I wanted to do and they’d look at me and say, ‘You’re crazy,’ and then I came back and said, ‘We’re going to do it,’ and they were like,

‘What? Really?’” Some even questioned his decision to form a company in Akron, but for Leasure, it was the perfect place to be. “I wouldn’t have come back to Akron if I didn’t love it, and one of the things I’ve always wanted to do as part of this is create this theater that people could come to from all over and show people that Akron has some cool stuff to offer,” says Leasure. Leasure led me to the room where many of Rubber City Shakespeare’s productions are performed. Just to the right of the room, giant windows overlook downtown. His hands relaxed inside of his pockets, Leasure sighed. “Yup. This is Akron.” Connect with Rubber City Shakespeare online at or at rubbercityshakes // Noor Hindi is a student at UA who works for the AkronSummit County Public Library and writes for The Devil Strip. She likes reading and all things tea.

MAY 2015 • VOL 1 • ISSUE #6 /

THE Devil Strip |


Music, Bars & Nightlife Title


11After celebrate 10 years

as wild women rockers by Brittany Nader

When Akron’s own “Bad Girls of Rock ‘n’ Roll” play out, blocks of the city become neo-Sunset Strips, bringing to mind leather-clad angels and glitter-soaked devils with big hair, bad attitudes and a lust for loud, fast, gritty music pulsing through the venue. 11After may, collectively, have 50 years of musical experience under their studded belts, but these five women play like young rebels with a surprisingly sweet melodic inclination. Deanna “D” Cruise leads the all-female group, an enigmatic vocalist who could give Joan Jett a run for her money. With swagger and kohl-lined eyes, Cruise bewitches those she encounters, not only with her raspy punk rock yowls and on-stage energy, but also with her dry wit and conversational depth. How does she feel about being named one of Akron’s bad girls? “Well, that nickname came from a concert we played in Lima,” she says. “Maybe we should really be called the ‘elderly girls of rock ‘n’ roll.’’ “D is definitely a bad girl,” guitarist Leah Davis says. “I am a rebel,” Cruise says. “I just don’t get caught. Back then I didn’t care … but now it’s more about the audience and the music.


Closing the door on the past and opening new doors for maturity.” 11After has shared the stage with a number of party-centric musicians, including Skid Row and Lita Ford. Cruise and Davis, along with guitarist Christina “CC” Crago and drummer Kat Grimm, toured the country with various musical projects before joining forces in Akron. Each brings a diverse range of influences to the table, from Patsy Cline to Neil Diamond, Yes to The Alan Parsons Project, and even The Buggles. The resulting sound is eclectic, sometimes poppy, and other times raw, in-yourface power and rage. After two albums and a decade of debauchery, the group is striking a balance between the rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle and matters close to the heart. Davis, who joined the band just last year, mixes her life on the road with her full-time role with the American Friends Service Committee, a Quaker organization fighting economic and political injustice. Through the organization, Davis plays an integral role in rallying the local community around peaceful protests and military antirecruitment for young people who may be faced with little to no alternatives.

“I think being a musician and being an activist go hand in hand,” Davis says. “It puts us in a pretty cool position to do a benefit for somebody and have our voice heard in a way that not everybody can.” The rockers take great pride in using their instruments as tools for change and also have played in support of fellow musicians, such as the late Dimebag Darrell from Pantera, as well as the LGBT community during the 2014 Gay Games. Chrissie Hynde even took notice, they’re told, when 11After performed a benefit show at her now-closed restaurant VegiTerranean. Two of 11After’s songs, “Blood Drawn Oceans” and “Government Conspiracies,” illustrate the band’s commitment to issues both social and political as they begin a new chapter in their musical careers. Cruise says they’ve learned a lot, not only from fans and new listeners, but also from other musicians who may not have taken advantage of their platform for inspiring others to take positive action. Cruise worked with Jani Lane, the late Warrant front man and hard-living Akronite, who produced her previous band’s first album.

Music & COncerts | THE Devil Strip / MAY 2015 • VOL 1 • ISSUE #6

Although the project provided a tremendous opportunity, she says Lane was at the tail end of his substance abuse during the recording sessions, and he taught her many lessons about what not to do as a front person. 11After is working on a new release featuring classic-style, Muddy Waters-inspired blues, and impromptu songs written in-between shows and sets. The group kicks off its new performance schedule on May 30 at the Dunes Resort Michigan “Summer Women’s Weekend.” // Writer Brittany Nader is a digital marketer who can often be found petting cats or eating pizza.

Pick up 11After’s albums, “Because I Said So” and “Too Old N Ugly,” on iTunes, or check out the group’s powerful pop rock anthems online at the following places:


Akron Summer Concert Series 7 p.m. (FREE) Head to your local parks every week for the City of Akron’s summer concert series. Bring a chair, have a picnic dinner, and catch up with your neighbors. This summer’s series will run on Mondays at Hardesty Park, Tuesdays at Firestone Park, Wednesdays at Shadyside Park, and Fridays at Goodyear Heights Metro Park. WONE’s Rock The Lock Fridays at 7 p.m. at Lock 3 (FREE) 200 S. Main St., Akron Every Friday in the summer, hit Lock 3 for a great classic rock tribute band. Don’t miss Full Moon Fever, a tribute to Tom Petty, on May 29 and Big Eyed Phish, a Dave Matthews tribute, on June 5.



TK.4.865x6.5 Ad.indd 1 • • • • • • • •

Music, Bars & Nightlife Title

5/21/15 5:32 PM

For the last seven years, Annabell’s and Old School Sinema have teamed up for this unique, all ages way to raise money and collect food for those in need. Would-be zombies started shuffling into the Highland Square bar around 2 pm for makeup and by 5 pm, they were taking over the streets, celebrating into the evening with bands, food, games, giveaways and brew. These images say more than our words can so enjoy these shots, provided courtesy of Paul Hoffman Photography, who you can find at or at

THURSDAY, MAY 28 Glenn Zaleski Trio 8 p.m. at BLU Jazz+ ($12) 47 E. Market St., Akron Originally from Boylston, Mass., Glenn Zaleski is a jazz pianist/composer currently living in Brooklyn. In 2011, Zaleski was a semi-finalist in the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Piano Competition, as well as a finalist for the 2011 APA Cole Porter Fellowship in Jazz. Join us as we welcome the Glenn Zaleski Trio to the Rubber City for a very special evening of high-caliber, swingin’ jazz.

FRIDAY, MAY 29 Bobby Selvaggio’s Transcendental Orchestra 8 p.m. at BLU Jazz+ ($12) 47 E. Market St., Akron The Transcendental Orchestra is Bobby Selvaggio’s newest project: a hybrid ensemble that combines a jazz quartet and a string quintet. Featuring Akron


favorite Theron Brown, catch this new group as they make their BLU debut in what is sure to be an exciting night of live music. Get On Up 9 p.m. at Jilly’s Music Room (FREE) 111 N. Main St., Akron Get On Up is Northeast Ohio's new funk authority, throwing a big party each and every time they play. Leave that 9 to 5 up on the shelf, and come enjoy yourself. Sean Kelley & The Ohio Jukes 9 p.m. at Musica ($10) 51 E. Market St., Akron Sean Kelley & The Ohio Jukes are a band fully committed to the heart and soul of their audience. Influenced by rock, funk, soul, folk and jazz, they have a unique sound you won’t want to miss. (continued on page 22)

MAY 2015 • VOL 1 • ISSUE #6 /

THE Devil Strip |


Music, Bars & Nightlife Title (continued from page 21)



Rock It Off Benefit to Stop the Violence in Support of the Battered Women’s Shelter 7:30 p.m. at Musica ($10) 51 E. Market St., Akron Help raise money to furnish rooms in the newlyrenovated Battered Women’s Shelter. Featuring performances by Alexis Antes, Collideascope, Melissa McCollister and Olivia Leib. Doo Wop Legends in Concert 7 p.m. at Akron Civic Theatre ($25 and up) 182 S. Main St., Akron This all-star lineup of Doo Wop Legends includes Gene Chandler, who still performs with his cape and top hat, The Charlie Thomas Drifters, Jay Siegel’s Tokens, and Tommy Mara “The Pavarotti of Doo Wop” and The Crests. Stroll down memory lane with these gold record artists. Mo’ Mojo 8 p.m. at Jilly’s Music Room (FREE) 111 N. Main St., Akron Mo’ Mojo is a hard-driving, high-energy, “PardiGras” band. The female-fronted group features three-part harmonies, accordion, fiddle, guitar, rubboard, sax, trumpet, harp, bass, percussion and drums. Songs are sung in English and French.

SUNDAY, MAY 31 Elephant Revival 7:30 p.m. at GAR Hall ($27) | 1785 W. Streetsboro Road, Peninsula Elephant Revival weaves a musical tapestry from its members’ disparate influences. They believe that even when we don't understand one another's languages, we can be moved by a rhythm, soothed by a song. They’re joined on stage by Akron/Kent-based Americana outfit The Speedbumps, who recently released a new album, “Soil to the Seed,” which was funded on Kickstarter.

Mo' Mojo takes Zydeco music and infuses it with Americana, Cajun, reggae, rock & roll, funk, R&B and African and Latin rhythms.

known for their complex, guitar-driven progressive compositions, as well as Faith Mountain and Pleasure Leftists.



Haunted Summer w/Relaxer, Faith Mountain, and Pleasure Leftists 8 p.m. at Musica ($10) 51 E. Market St., Akron Haunted Summer crafts languid dream pop music that feels both timeless and nostalgic. They’ll be playing with Akron favorites Relaxer,

Old Man Luedecke 7:30 p.m. at GAR Hall ($7) 1785 W. Streetsboro Road, Peninsula Driving a Nashville band from beginning to end with his recognizable voice, Old Man Luedecke is an artist honing his cunning lyrical flair – tenderly pushing the boundaries of his

storytelling with his unique mix of folk, bluegrass and pop hooks. Jam Session with Theron Brown 8 p.m. at BLU Jazz+ ($8) 47 E. Market St., Akron Don’t miss the once-monthly BLU Jazz Jam Session, featuring some of the finest musicians on the local jazz scene. Come hang, have a drink and experience this exciting forum for musical expression. (continued on page 24)


ADAM PAYNE @ Square Bar by Sarah Stubbs

Name: Hometown: Lives in: Works at:

Adam Payne Born in Texas, raised in NEO: Portage Lakes, Manchester area West Akron, right around the corner from Highland Square Bartender at Square Bar – also is a studio artist on the side

What was your first night like? I worked at Swenson’s for three years before I came to bartending and when I started at Square it was actually Mardi Gras so I was sort of thrown to the wolves on my first day but I somehow survived. It was crazy, though. The regulars are characters. I had some beads thrown at me and I was trying to concentrate on how to make a screwdriver and I’ve got people saying do this, do that – you can fill in the blanks there. Name one thing, good or bad, that you wouldn’t know if you weren’t a bartender I wouldn’t have a fraction of the connections that I do now if I hadn’t started bartending. Everybody knows the bartender and the bartender knows everybody. I know politicians and judges and lawyers and just people from all facets of life from all over the city. Best tip you’ve ever gotten? I got a 100 percent tip on an $85 tab and just recently. He was a very good customer. I kind of


helped him out. He wanted to buy a round of shots for a bunch of people and it was on a crowded night – I offered to grab a tray and come out from behind the bar and help him disperse them. So I think he appreciated that little bit of cocktail waitress service. Where do you go when you’re not at work? As far as where I go to have fun, I go to my bar. It’s within a safe distance from my house, I get half off my drinks, and all my friends are there. I don’t have any reason to go anywhere else. How do you know it’s going to be a good night? Happy hour kind of indicates what kind of night it’s going to be. Weather obviously is a factor, too. But one thing I did learn while I’ve been bartending is that the full moon affect is a real thing. When it’s a full moon, you know it’s going to be a crazy night. I would say anyone in the service industry, medical field, works with children will tell you that it’s gonna get crazy if it’s a full moon.

| THE Devil Strip / MAY 2015 • VOL 1 • ISSUE #6

What’s your favorite thing about Square? My job seldom feels like work because I’m basically throwing a party for my friends every day. People kind of understand that it’s a gay bar but what it really is, is an everybody bar. I like to call it an everybody bar. We get people from the LGBT community but it’s not limited to that at all. The community part of that is key. I think our bar is the safest place for questioning people to go in the city because it’s friendly – we’ve got people young and old from all different backgrounds getting together and having fun. It’s fun. It’s safe. It’s clean. That’s what draws me there on my days off after working there seven years. Has bartending at Square influenced/affected your art at all? I get to bounce a lot of my ideas off of my patrons. Especially the happy hour people – our regulars –

they have become really good friends of mine. They’ve got my back. Whenever I do shift from bartending to a more professional life with my art, I know that they’re going to help me and push me in the right direction. They’re going to give me connections. Absolutely my bar has influenced my art. I hear you’re known for your passion fruit long island, any other staples? I make a pretty mean margarita. We are known for our martinis big time at Square, though. One of my favorites is the pistachio ice cream martini.


Music, Bars & Nightlife Title (continued from page 22)

FRIDAY, JUNE 5 Tom Tallitsch Trio 8 p.m. at BLU Jazz+ ($12), 47 E. Market St., Akron Tom Tallitsch is a saxophonist, composer, Posi-Tone recording artist, music educator and host of “The Modern Jazz Radio Show” from New York City. Tallitsch brings along his all-star band, featuring Grammy-nominated and Hammond-endorsed organist Brian Charette and drummer sensation Jordan Young.


instrumentation and authentic heartfelt lyrics. Celebrate the release of the group’s first EP with this show and pick it up for half price. Also featuring Across the Viaduct, Entendre, Starlight Secret and The Hundred Hand Band. Dierks Bentley, Kip Moore, Maddie & Tae and Canaan Smith 7 p.m. at Blossom Music Center ($46) 1145 W. Steels Corners Road, Cuyahoga Falls Capitol Nashville superstar Dierks Bentley takes to the stage for the Sounds of Summer Tour, bringing with him a winning lineup that mixes elements of modern country, classic country, bluegrass and rock. Roger Hoover & The Hurt 8 p.m. at GAR Hall ($7) 1785 W. Streetsboro Road, Peninsula Folk singer and guitarist Roger Hoover's plaintive, original brand of arcane folk and blues seem to come from some unknown time and place. These are timeless laments and rambles of a guitarist and banjo player who grew up on a canal in a small, post-industrial Rust Belt town.


Extra Spooky 8 p.m. at Jilly’s Music Room (FREE) 111 N. Main St., Akron Four sultry gents from Akron showcase an eclectic musical style partnered with a high-energy live performance. Blu Monsoon Nuevo 54 E Mill St, Akron This jazz, blues and funk band hails from Cleveland and is made up of a handful of the most talented and experienced college musicians in the area.


Umojah Nation Nuevo 54 E Mill St, Akron This “eight-piece cast of expert musicians and a heaven-sent chorus of back-up singers” plays a varied stockpile of popular cover songs from the likes of Bob Marley and Freddie McGregor to Tanya Stephens and Buju Banton. Umojah Nation prides itself on vibrant live performances that entertain a diverse crowd of any age or demographic. Heart 7:30 p.m. at Hard Rock Live ($55) 10777 Northfield Road, Northfield Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductees Ann and Nancy Wilson first showed the world that women can rock when their band, Heart, stormed the charts in the 1970s with hits like “Crazy on You,” “Magic Man,” “Barracuda,” “Straight On” and so many more. Don’t miss your chance to see them in Northeast Ohio.


on the record

Reviewing Johnny G’s ‘Road Worn Man’ by Brittany Nader John “Johnny G” Gouskos has been playing music for 53 years and hadn’t stepped foot in a recording studio until this past February. His debut album, “Road Worn Man,” contains 14 tracks that tell the story of a weathered troubadour inspired by a hardened life and the breadth of everyday heroes and local musicians he has encountered along the way. The album is, at its heart, a collection of stories. Gouskos blends folk traditions with jazz arrangements, resulting in a sonic mosaic pieced together by a slew of collaborators bringing his musical vision to life. Some of these featured players are friends eager to contribute to the release, while others are admired peers helping out a man who has been crafting tunes since the age of 13. The opening track, “Almost Gone,” feels a bit like a sketch, with Gouskos’ smooth vocals the key element carrying the somewhat sparse composition. Jack Kidney’s flittering sax dances around the lyrical story like smoke licking the air. Gouskos’ rhythmic wordplay and references to drunken sailors, autumn moons and raging bulls bring to mind early Tom Waits or Hemingway prose, their visuals equally intoxicating and effervescent. The song glides nicely into “Calamity,” a woeful ballad featuring unexpected scatting, jazzy piano and honey-rich bass. Gouskos mentions in the album’s liner notes that the each track comes from a dusty box of songs he has carried around with him, summarizing the pages of his checkered life. This tune is a prime example, as he sings its storied blues so solemnly. It is evident that, as a songwriter, he prefers to keep his work open and ready for fill-in musicians to add their own style and flavor wherever they see fit within the arrangement. This album is truly an ode not only to the past, but also to a future filled with new faces and talent that are so abundant in our little Midwestern corner of the world.

Keys & Corridors EP Release Show 6 p.m. at Musica ($10) 51 E. Market St., Akron Keys & Corridors is an alternative rock band from Akron with soaring melodies, guitar-driven


| THE Devil Strip / MAY 2015 • VOL 1 • ISSUE #6

A standout on the album is “I Could,” a song written, interestingly, by Gouskos’ pal Chuck Auerbach in 2009. The lyrics fell into his hands at an open mic night, with Auerbach insisting Johnny G take a chance and compose an arrangement to play on the spot. It’s likely the

song has evolved from this encounter several years ago, and it is a prime showcase of Gouskos’ jazz vocal stylings and influences. Each song gets stronger as the album spins on, with players like Jared Lees on bass and drummer Nick Kopko having moments to shine and adding a lushness to tracks like “Out’a This Town” and “Time With Jimmy.” Gouskos laid a solid framework for this production, allowing his contributors to bulk up the foundation with their own individual backgrounds and points of view. After so many decades playing music around town at events like Square Fest and Porch Rokr, Gouskos may still be finding his own voice. Though he freely admits his guitarplaying could use a bit of polish and shine, his strength is clearly in his songwriting, with vivid, true-life stories illustrating his time in the Navy, stumbling in and out of bars and searching for something, anything, as so many of us do. For a debut release with such a collection of featured musicians and influences present, “Road Worn Man” is a cohesive assortment of tracks joined together by Gouskos’ consistent vocal range and strong lyrical content. “Rock Me Baby” is a notable tune that captures the essence of his delightful rambling and the strength of the stories on the release. Whether Gouskos chooses to take future recordings in a resonant, more alternativefolk direction, or keep it stripped down to the essentials, it’s clear he isn’t done sharing the tales of a hardworking mason, loyal friend and road-worn man roaming the streets of Akron collecting inspiration along the way. // Writer Brittany Nader is a digital marketer who can often be found petting cats or eating pizza.


The Pizza & Jojos Beat


Gino's Pizza

What to try in some of the

Akron area’s most

aesthetically appealing


Have a cup of Stray Dog coffee with your breakfast, brunch or sandwich next to the downtown library, surrounded by local artwork in the COFFEE POT CAFÉ (60 S High St, Akron)

the unassuming pizza shop

At DBA, you can easily forget you’re in Akron for an evening, mistaking it for Manhattan as you dine on their Coriander Rubbed Duck Breast with pickled papaya, peanut basmati rice and shiitake puree. (21 Furnace St, Akron) Take in the exclusive jazz photo archive at BLU JAZZ+ while you enjoy some music and their Seared Grouper with cilantro, lime and rice. (47 E Market St, Akron)

by Jojo Pizzaface’ Braised Brisket, brined and rubbed then slow-roasted for 12 hours and served with buttermilk mashers in the art-covered walls of the Chowder House (2028 Chestnut Blvd., Cuy Falls)

I drive through this one neighborhood on my morning commute—to nowhere and back to nowhere. It’s what’s in the middle, along Copley Road, that brings me here, to this page and to this particular place. In the squinty eyes of dawn when people are just waking up—people like you and me, Akronites working the long hours, pounding the pavement and greasing the skids—nothing stands-out, but at that time of day, nothing really blends in either. This early, the pizza place I always pass is, of course, closed because the only pizza people eat in the morning is the pizza they bought the night before. But this little shop, Gino’s Pizza, catches my eye as people wait for the bus or to merge on to I-77. The nine-to-fives, the forty-hours-a-week, the promise of overtime, the prayer of the weekend. The building’s red brick contrasts with the other storefronts, all along a certain sort of street. A street like Copley Road is waiting to rise from the ashes, but it’s not completely burned down either. As a passerby, I get the sense that there’s some revival brewing not too far in the future, but I also get the sense that the traumas of the past aren’t too distant in the rearview mirror. I’m not gonna lie to you. The main drag has a busted-up lip. There were good times somewhere in the past and there are good times in the future, but the dust hasn’t settled yet, the place hasn’t quite got its bearing back, it’s still a little worn for the wear. But haven’t we all been? You know, worn down a little?


And we all need that little kick, too. A wake-me-up. And maybe that can come from an understated pizza shop or the smell of smoked meat (there’s an actual smoker in the parking lot, belonging to Pammie’s next door) or the little chicken wing shop, Wing’s 18, with its signature Akron sauce.

Nuevo’s Vieiras, pan-seared scallops, may be the best thing you’ve ever eaten—served with a cilantro potato puree and rainbow chard—but the hip, modern take on Mexican culture makes the experience even better. (54 E Mill St, Akron)

Gino’s though, by no means, is new. It’s been around—a lodestone of sorts, a place the area can grow from. The little strip it’s nestled in—strip after strip, actually—has the makings of a microscopic renaissance: it has the food, which means people care; it has the proximity (if you build it, they will come); and it has Akron, which is going through a renaissance of its own. Look, I’m the sort of guy who enjoys a good pizza and tells his friends about it. The sort of guy, just like you, who drives the same way to work, at the same hours, past the same pizza shop. The kind of fella who puts his pants on one leg at a time and stops by that little pizza shop on a whim. But I’m also the sort of guy who can recognize when something good is brewing. And it may not look especially glamorous, not at first anyway. And maybe I’m nuts. And maybe it hasn’t been noticed for a reason. However, this unassuming pizza shop, in a worn down strip mall, in the bad-mouthed part of town could be an omen of better things to come? A rebirth of a neighborhood? Or maybe it’s just a pizza shop. And that’s okay too.

GINO’S PIZZA 1374 Copley Rd Akron, OH 44320

MAY 2015 • VOL 1 • ISSUE #6 /

THE Devil Strip |


Reading comics in public



by Isaac Kelley

I was ten when I heard that Superman was going to die. It was 1992 and I had read the news in the Akron Beacon Journal. Superman was going to die. It seemed like nonsense. Superman was defined by his superness. The notion that he could actually be killed off didn't make any sense. And yet, there it was in black and white: The people at DC Comics were going to kill Superman!

More significantly, beyond the characters I knew from the screen, it turned out there were tons of other co-stars: police officers, mad scientists, barflies, orphans and superheroes. There was a hobo village under Metropolis half-populated by sympathetic monsters. There was a secret government cloning facility hidden under a nearby mountain. Oh, and the editor of a major news magazine was apparently Satan. It seemed like the entire city of Metropolis starred in this book, and Metropolis was a wild, exiting locale.

To me, reading about Superman's impending doom in the paper felt like my first time witnessing a major historical event. I was a kid and somehow losing Superman seemed like the equivalent of the JFK assassination or the sinking of the Lusitania. And yet, no one I talked to seemed to care much. Everyone had heard the news, but it didn't seem to be a big deal to anyone. My mom tried to explain it was just a publicity stunt. I seemed to be the only person who felt this was important. It was historic. What did it mean if Superman could be killed? In 1992, I was not a comic book reader. I had inherited some small number of mediocre secondhand comics, “Richie Rich” and “Baby Huey,” and my mom had bought me an “Archie” digest once. I had never really seen the appeal of comic books. I liked superheroes but I had learned about them through TV, movies and cultural osmosis Everything changed for me when I started reading Superman comics. After I had read the story in the paper, I found the start of “Doomsday,” the storyline that was to culminate in this historic death. These issues were exceedingly boring, little more than a protracted fight that held little suspense, with the outcome being no surprise at all. It is a testament to how invested in this storyline I had become, because I stuck it out for six weeks until the climax wherein Superman died saving the people of Metropolis, cradled in Lois Lane's arms.


I had stumbled upon a complex fictional world full of interesting characters with hundreds of issues of backstory. When Superman, the hero of what was supposed to be his story had died, his loved ones grieved, but their lives continued on. The comics continued without him. It wasn't a subtle or nuanced meditation on death, but to my ten-year-old self, this forced me to think about mortality in a way I never had before.

After Superman died, the comic books bearing his name kept being published and I kept reading. These stories became much more interesting. Superman was dead and yet his books endured. Without Superman, the narrative followed the goings on of his supporting cast, which was much larger and weirder than I had expected. Some of the characters I was already familiar with: Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen and Perry White I knew from every depiction of Superman ever. Other characters I thought I knew, but in the comics, they were nothing like what I expected. Lex Luthor was a giant hairy Australian. Supergirl was a shapeshifter. The two of them were lovers. It was weird.

| THE Devil Strip / MAY 2015 • VOL 1 • ISSUE #6

Of course, Superman eventually came back from the dead but for dozens of issues, I was following the adventures of Lois Lane and Supergirl and the Major Crimes Unit and Lex Luthor and a bunch of new fake Superman characters. When Superman finally reappeared, sporting his new 90's supermullet, it was cool but he was just one more character in added to the mix of a story already in progress. I wasn't reading for the hero, I was reading for the crazy complicated world he had lived in and died in and now lived in once more. I was hooked and that didn't change when Superman came back. It was the beginning of a weekly comic book habit that has lasted for over 20 years to this day.

Della Rucker

what’s the BIG IDEA with this Akron essay collection?

NAME / AGE: Della Rucker / 46 JOB: Writer, speaker, adviser for people who want to make their cities better HOMETOWN/HOME NOW: I live in Cincinnati. I'm from Bedford. I like Akron. A lot. CONTACT: @dellarucker on Twitter or What’s your BIG IDEA? Working with a group of Akronites to create “a collection of written reflections from people all across the community (who you might not have heard from before) and it will spread from there to newspapers, websites, maybe podcasts and in-person events. We're looking for people who want to be part of this—no writing experience required.” How do you hope this makes Akron a little better? “Akron and other cities like it need new ideas, new voices, new people who come from more, different perspectives than we've usually included in figuring out the future of a community. I see this as pioneering a new way to empower residents to be heard, to make a real impact on how their city grows and changes in the future.”

“Part of the reason why I love this idea is because we need to find new ways to hear other people's voices- their experiences with our city, their assessment of the challenges, and how they think we can address them. Our old ideas aren't working very well, and we need all the new ideas we can get—especially from people who aren't the usual political insiders.”




I don't know how the Akron RubberDucks scheduled Corey Feldman’s May 30 appearance, which highlights the team’s observance of the 30th anniversary of "The Goonies," but I was ready to ride those coattails. A month before, I put in the interview request and the RubberDucks said it was a go, but when it came down to actually setting a day and time, we got no further word from Feldman's people. I had given up hope, having hearing nothing, when all of a sudden—as my deadline approached for this issue—Adam from the RubberDucks gave me the news in an email: "Ariel, it looks like Corey will do a phone interview. When is best for you?" It was probably lucky for me I didn't know sooner I'd get to talk to Feldman. Before I'd even thought up any questions for him, I was all sweaty palms, shaky and I couldn't be entirely sure I wouldn't cry while on the phone with him. I mean, we're talking

History Lesson Why are Akronites so loyal to a chip dip they can only get at Circle K? by Joanna Wilson

On the other hand, I’m an unwavering fan, and I’d also done my research. While Googling him in my few odd free hours as mom of a 2-year-old, I came across a blog post by novelist Randy L. Shaffer detailing a 2010 visit Feldman made to Akron on tour with his psychedelic rock band Truth Movement, which stopped at Annabell's. During the show, a drunk guy repeatedly yelled, "Do Mouth from 'Goonies'!" Shaffer argues Feldman deserves more respect. He's preaching to the choir. Just imagining the scene at Annabell’s that night makes me want to punch the heckler. If Corey had called, I would have asked him about his impression of Akron and its people. And if he (continued on page 31)

I hosted a party a few weeks back and made sure to include a tub of Lawson’s chip dip on the snack table. What Akron party is complete without Lawson’s chip dip, right? But why did I need to go to Circle K to buy another convenience store’s product? This is the question that lead me to seek out a logical answer. While I’m old enough to remember Lawson’s convenience stores on what seemed like every corner in the greater Akron area, what I didn’t know was that Lawson’s began right here. During the Depression, dairy businessman James “J.J.” Lawson was looking for a way to cut costs, making the bold decision to eliminate milkman delivery service and the necessary bill collection it came with in order to pass on the savings on to his customers. Starting in 1939, customers could visit The Lawson Milk Company store at the corner of the dairy plant in Cuyahoga Falls and fill a gallon jug of milk, saving themselves 16 cents. Lawson’s business plan was a success and he could barely keep up with the demand. Soon branch stores were opened. The industry took notice when milk was cheaper in Akron than any other major market throughout the country. In 1958, after 20 years, Lawson sold his company which included almost 200 stores to a national firm, Consolidated Foods. Consolidated Foods expanded the Lawson’s stores to more than 700 and eventually sold them in the


Corey. Feldman. And who am I–small town reporter in mom jeans–that Corey Feldman would take time out of his busy, fancy life to talk with me?

mid-80s, at which point they became Dairy Marts. The convenience stores were sold again in 2002 and became Circle K stores. Despite the change in company ownership, there continues to be a huge demand for Lawson’s chip dip. Dairymens Dairy in Cleveland now makes it and it continues to be carried in local Circle K stores. And, that ladies and gentlemen, is why every Akron party needs Lawson’s chip dip.

Many former Lawson's/Dairy Marts in the area can still be identified by their distinctive decorative storefronts. This building has since been adapted into an auto repair/ sales company near the corner of Oakwood Drive and Graham Road in Cuyahoga Falls.

This is where the history of Lawson’s gets weird. In the mid-1970s, Consolidated Foods signed a deal with a Japanese company to expand the Lawson’s convenience stores overseas. That is why you can visit Japan, Thailand, Indonesia and China

today and shop at what they call Lawson (and Lawson Station) in more than 12,000 locations. More recently, they have expanded into Hawaii. If you’re wondering if you can buy Lawson’s chip dip in Japan, the answer is ‘no.’ Only Circle K carries it.

MAY 2015 • VOL 1 • ISSUE #6 /

THE Devil Strip |


inner artist

Eat, drink and set your inner artist free at

DR. SKETCHY’S anti-art school ………………… by Jenny Conn

Photos courtesy of Shane Wynn

Whether you’re darn near as talented as Rembrandt or a master of the stick figure, an evening at Dr. Sketchy’s Anti-Art School can set your inner artist free.

figures. The models aren’t nude, but Jilly’s staffers often draw the blinds as the evening goes on. Conceived in 2005 by art-school dropout Molly Crabapple in a dive bar in Brooklyn, New York, Dr. Sketchy's Anti-Art School has branches all over the world.

Art students bring their own supplies and for a $10 fee are immersed in a life drawing experience like no other: they eat and drink while drawing lavishly costumed models on a festooned stage with mood music lacing the air.

As a former Dr. Sketchy Anti-Art School student, Dr. Bill enjoyed the experience so much he took over Akron’s branch about five years ago. “I won two out of three of the contests held,” he says. “My ego and love for drinking and drawing consumed me, and drove me to take over the branch for my own.”

Burlesque performers, fire breathers, ballet dancers, roller derby girls or pole performers, each model brings the flavor of her craft to the Dr. Sketchy stage and ultimately the artist’s eye. The sequined, fish-netted and boa-clad models assume poses conveying each event’s theme. Past themes have included the 1958 film “Attack of the 50-foot Woman” and “Grimm’s Fairy Tales.” May’s theme, “A Show Girl’s Day Off,” featured model Dahlia D’Luxe in frilly (and tiny) bottoms topped with a spangled brassiere, later replaced with sequined pasties. The stage’s backdrop shimmered with gold fringe while furniture was draped in satiny jewel-tone fabrics. Opening the class, Dr. Bill Sketchy (Akron artist Bill Lynn) encouraged the artists to interact. At first the model holds a pose for a short while, he explains, but as the night goes she is open to suggestions. “When our model is inspiring us we celebrate by making a lot of noise and by that we mean catcalls and hollering,” Dr. Bill says. “At Sketchy’s if you just stare at her like you’re staring at me right now she thinks she’s doing something wrong , so you’ve got to let her know you love her.”


Artists in attendance represent myriad skill levels. Dr. Sketchy enthusiast Chuck Ayers, best known as illustrator of the comic strip “Crankshaft,” appreciates the sense of freedom the Anti-Art School affords him. “Ninety-nine point nine percent of what I do for a living is projects where there are deadlines and other people to be satisfied,” Ayers says. “Here people are yelling and saying fun things and it’s relaxed; more like going to a party.” Fervently sketching across the room is Scott Moynihan, another Anti-Art School regular. An overnight maintenance crew supervisor, Moynihan has donated some of his Sketchy art to the Coffee Pot Café at the Akron-Summit County Public

| THE Devil Strip / MAY 2015 • VOL 1 • ISSUE #6

Since then, Dr. Sketchy's has held public and private events all over the Akron area. Ayers compares Dr. Sketchy’s with the life drawing classes he once took at The University of Akron. “I fell in love with the act of drawing at that time and Library. His favorite themes have been Dr. Sketchy’s I think in some ways it influenced a lot of other Aztec night and Little Red Riding Hood. “I got things I’ve been doing,” he says. some really good stuff out of Red Riding Hood,” he says. “It just depends on the model.” But there was a down side. “They would lock up the doors and post somebody to keep everybody So how hard is it to draw sparkly things? “That’s out,” he recalls. “Here, you don’t have to lock the fun part,” Ayers says. “If I were doing this for anybody out. When I first came here everything just a job that would be the challenge. Here if I don’t started flowing again. It was fun and I was listening want to draw them I’m not going to draw them. I to music, I had a beer and I had some food. We just do what interests me.” didn’t do that in life drawing class.” Drawing sparkles isn’t daunting for Moynihan either. “I have a problem with the boas,” Moynihan says. “They hide everything. I don’t want to draw feathers; I want to draw the figure.”

Dr. Sketchy’s happens the second Tuesday of each month from 7:30 p.m. to 10:30 Jilly's Music Room. Check out Dr. Sketchy’s Anti-Art School at and on

Dr. Sketchy’s offers plenty of opportunity to draw


misc. (continued from page 13) dreams did I imagine my own comix being such a hit over there.

D: I can tell you what happened to him right after the events of “Punk Rock & Trailer Parks,” because that’s my new web comic, “The Baron of Prospect Avenue.” Otto was planning to set off on And, yeah, “Punk Rock & Trailer Parks,” which adventure, but he stopped in downtown Cleveland was published in French last year, also became a on his way out of Ohio to stock up on books at the bestseller and also won a book prize. It’s the coolest legendary Kay’s Books on funky Prospect Avenue, thing that’s happened to me, since I’m very proud and his car was stolen while he was of that book, and it only sold modestly in the U.S. That’s the benefit of following a big bestseller — browsing in the sci-fi section. So, he was stranded. instead of preceding it, as “Punk Rock & Trailer Mrs. Kay hired him to run the basement stockroom, Parks” did here. It cracks me up that the French and Otto found lodging in an abandoned dentist have embraced this goofy tale of Akron. In fact, office on the top floor of the Old Arcade, where he they’re fascinated about our apocalyptic Rustbelt. also serves as night watchman. ‘How could a thing such as Akron be allowed to happen?’ they frequently ask me. I have no answer So, the story will go from there, involving the usual to that. bizarre adventures and colorful characters. There’ll be punk rock stars — and even a serial killer. I used to make pilgrimages when I was a bored teenager to Kay’s, which had over a million books, and B: When you visit, do you get nostalgic for the dirty, the record stores on Prospect, which could have grimy downtown Akron you depict in the book? doubled for a Blaxploitation film set. I’m having fun with it, and Otto is such a great character to write. D: Yeah, there’s a lot I miss. Not the dirt and grime, but the places and people I knew. Most of both are long gone. There are four generations of die-hard Akronites preceding me, all of whom were born, lived and died in the Rubber City and would never have lived anywhere else. My mom is still there. Me, I couldn’t get out of Richfield and Akron fast enough, to be honest. I left for college right after high school graduation. I was so amped to leave. I’ve lived in big cities ever since and eventually wound up here in Cleveland, much to my surprise. That wasn’t the plan, but it’s been good for me.


EIGHT B: If your character Otto were roaming the streets of Northeast Ohio right now, what do you think he’d be up to?

// Writer Brittany Nader is a digital marketer who can often be found petting cats or eating pizza.

Crossword Puzzle ACROSS


3 What nationality are artists Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera?

1 What painting by Edward Hopper portrays people eating at a diner late at night?

4 What country is DaVinci and all the other TMNT's namesake painters from? 5 Who painted 'American Gothic?' 7 Where was painter Edgar Degas born?

2 Goya worked for the king of what country? 6 In what period did DaVinci and all the other TMNT's namesakes paint?

8 In what period did Velazquez paint 'Las Meninas?' 9 What painter cut off his own ear and sent it to his girlfriend? 10 'Water Lilies' is actually 250 paintings by Monet. What type of paintings did Monet paint? 12 What type of painting as are Diego Rivera best know? Hint: they are on walls. 11 This painter's statue of David is nude and was created around 1500. 18 'The Kiss' by Klimt is a painting, but 'The Kiss' by Rodin is a_________. 13 In the painting, 'American Gothic' by Wood, what is the man in the painting holding? 19 Finish this title of a painting by Van Gogh, The Potato.............. 14 In the painting, 'The Birth of Venus' by Botticelli, the goddess is standing in an.... 20 What do over half of Degas' paintings depict? 15 Who painted Whistler's Mother? 16 Who painted the 'Blue Boy?' 17 'The Thinker' is this painter's most famous piece.


MAY 2015 • VOL 1 • ISSUE #6 /

THE Devil Strip |


your turn


The University of Akron REBRANDING STRATEGY by Noor Hindi

I didn’t mean to attend the University of Akron. But standing in the middle of Buchtel Common had me feeling sentimental, so naturally, I started counting the number of family members before me that had attended and graduated from UA. Eight. Eight family members had once stood in the exact same place I was standing that day, so what the hell, I might as well, right? UA felt like home to me and it was a proud moment. The Hindi legacy was to live on at UA, and I was never to regret this decision, at least not until this last semester with the announcement of their rebranding strategy. But see, for me, it’s not even about the rebranding itself. The additional “Ohio’s Polytechnic University” to be located at the end of “The University of Akron” isn’t truly what angers me – it only acted as a catalyst for the other problems I am having with UA. So allow me, for just a second, to speak about the other issues we have at UA and

why this move is unproductive to the future success of our university. In my two years at UA, I’ve seen students panic as they watch their programs cut. I’ve seen underpaid professors quit from years of frustration as they watched their class sizes grow and voices heard less and less. I’ve seen the arts marginalized, and I’ve seen us become rich in everything but academic quality. We offer our students flashy marketing techniques and state of the art athletic facilities, yet they are being held back because their advisors are doing the job of five people. There is a tension between students and faculty that are striving for a high quality education versus an administration that looks at us like walking dollar signs. My problem with UA centers on money and faulty decision-making when it comes to where our money goes: academics versus marketing intended to attract more students because UA can’t keep enough due, I think, to the many internal problems we have.

About a month ago, UA introduced the new GenEd Core, which will allow students to take general education classes at $50 per credit hour. Although reducing costs for students seems like a grand idea, the administration failed to address that critical classes, such as English Composition 1 and 2, cannot be taught online and offered at such a cheap rate without sacrificing academic quality, and that the professors who will be nailed with the consequences of this decision were the last to hear about it. And now this: “The University of Akron | Ohio’s Polytechnic University.” President Scott Scarborough has argued that the name polytechnic represents all fields studied at UA, but a quick Merriam-Webster search says the opposite: “Related to or devoted to instruction in many technical arts or applied sciences.” What upsets students like me—those of us who study in fields that aren’t in the technical arts—is that we feel like we are being further marginalized and undervalued. This strategy, officially announced

at Scarborough’s May 15 City Club Speech in Cleveland, has also drawn criticism from those who argue that spending millions on rebranding doesn’t help remedy many other issues at UA. Through this rebranding strategy, I fear UA is moving in a direction that undercuts the ultimate vision and responsibility the University of Akron has to the broader community and to its students, faculty and alumni. This is a responsibility that involves providing an educational experience that is both of quality and excellence. As one Facebook commenter stated, “Please, Dr. Scarborough, change the product, not the can.” // Noor Hindi is a student at UA who works for the Akron-Summit County Public Library and writes for The Devil Strip. She likes reading and all things tea.

The John Puglia New York City Travel Fund for Art Students by Chris Horne

The poet Ezra Pound is frequently quoted as saying, “All great art is born of the metropolis.” And that seems like a nice way to start a piece about the memorial scholarships that bear artist John M. Puglia’s name. It is, after all, an endowed fund intended to send University of Akron art students to this country’s great metropolis, New York City, for the sake of being inspired to do more and better art. But Puglia’s work kept coming back home to Akron, which was evident late last June when the Myers School of Art hosted “Never Not Working,” a retrospective that spanned his career, collecting in one space his work as a student at UA, copies of his indie art magazine M-80 and art revolving around his interest in the city’s factory culture and in Akron’s heavyweight champion boxer Michael Dokes. The exhibit was meant for more than paying tribute to Puglia, who at 48 died in 2013 from


Now consider the Ezra Pound quote in its context: “Galdos, Flaubert, Tourgenev, see them all in a death struggle with provincial stupidity (or Jammes in ‘La Triomphe de la Vie.’) All countries are equally damned, and all great art is born of the metropolis (or in the metropolis). The metropolis is that which accepts all gifts and all heights of excellence, usually the excellence that is tabu in its own village.” cancer. Accompanied by an auction that also included work by other noted artists, his friends and colleagues were able to raise money the money needed to fund this scholarship, which extends his influence outside of his work as an artist. As a student, Puglia took a trip to New York City that, in the words of photographer Andrew Borowiec, a UA Distinguished Professor Emeritus, had “a profound and lasting influence on his life and art.” Starting this year, the scholarships

| THE Devil Strip / MAY 2015 • VOL 1 • ISSUE #6

will help make the same opportunity possible for young artists. While Puglia worked for Roadway Express and later WhiteSpace Creative, he seemed drawn to the fringe, starting Millworks Galleries in 1990, just two years after graduating college, in the once-abandoned BFGoodrich factory downtown. Even in his corporate work, he was on the leading edge. His Roadway website is in the permanent collection of the Smithsonian, an example of one of the first corporate sites made.

John Puglia found something in New York City that stayed with him throughout his life as an artist but he brought it back to his village, establishing in his work some sense of that accepting metropolis. For more information regarding the John M. Puglia scholarships, contact the University of Akron’s Financial Aid Office at 330-972-7032 or by email at // Photos and images from



Akron Abroad:

Lisa Howard makes it look easy on Broadway by Christopher Morrison Ron, a colleague at work, leaves me his Sunday New York Times on top of a filing cabinet each Monday morning. I try to rifle through sections of it because my wicker newspaper bin at home is overflowing. Two months ago, while looking at the theater section, I came across a striking photo of a woman in red with a brilliant smiling face — an actress named Lisa Howard, originally from Akron. Howard, 40, is a graduate of the University of Cincinnati’s College of Conservatory Music. After receiving her bachelor’s degree in theater, she performed in many well-known productions across the country and on Broadway, including “Priscilla Queen of the Desert” and “9 to 5.” She also had a role in the film, “Twilight: Breaking Dawn, Part II.” She has most recently found success in the role of Jenny Steinberg

in “It Shoulda Been You,” a show that opened last month at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre in New York City. Playbill has chosen Howard’s role as a breakout performance for the 2014-2015 season, and she has also been nominated for the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Actress. Three days after “It Shoulda Been You” opened on Broadway, I spoke with her about her starring role, auditions and Akron. Christopher Morrison: When you were growing up in Akron, what inspired you to act and sing? Lisa Howard: I liked to listen to musicals, like “Grease” and others. I performed in musicals, but first there was King Elementary School, not far from Portage Path. I went to Firestone High School, and then there was the ETC All-American Youth Show Choir. That’s where I really caught the ‘bug.’ CM: Did family and friends encourage you? Did they understand when you told them you wanted to perform? LH: Yes, my family has always been very supportive. If you have a passion that you're good at, and if you can be successful in a business, like show business, then great. Follow that job, or go back to school, whatever you choose. So far it’s been working out.

(continued from page 27) didn't seem totally put off by his previous visit, I might have even suggested that this might just be the right kind of family-friendly town to raise his son, 10-year-old Zen, out of the public eye. That might resonate with Feldman, who has been vocal about his own difficult upbringing and I suspect, has every intention of shielding Zen from the ugliness that went with growing up in Hollywood. His 2013 memoir, "Coreyography," doesn't sidestep any of what he went through; in fact, he tells all about the ultra-dysfunctional parenting that led to his emancipation at 15, and he doesn’t shy away from writing about the pedophiles in the business who preyed on him and his friend, Corey Haim. He writes about his own drug abuse, arrests and awkward climb to sobriety. And he writes about the terrible downfall of Corey Haim and his 2010 death. Yet it's not a self-pitying book. Still, I'd like to ask him where he's gotten the courage to keep reinventing himself after all he's been through, how he has managed to refuse to believe his best years are behind him.

fragile I didn't share them with anyone except for my husband until after they were totally shot. Then when I do confess to my little sister, who wasn't born until the '80s, that I am disappointed he hasn’t called, her response leaves me a bit baffled and largely unsatisfied. "Corey Feldman?" she asks me quizzically. "Is he from Akron?"

CM: Akron isn't NYC. Where did you hang out for fun? LH: In the seventh grade, out in Copley, there was this dance every other Friday at the Copley Community Center. In the eighth grade, there was Photon Laser, a laser tag place that had a dance night. In my sophomore year of high school, everybody wanted to drive, so we used to hang out at the McDonald’s parking lot in Wallhaven, then maybe Bob’s Big Boy on West Market Street. Of course, there was Rolling Acres Mall; inside was a place called Showbiz on Friday night, plus all the conveniences of Christmas shopping there, and getting your hair done at Hair Care Harmony. CM: When you were growing up, did a lot of your friends want to leave Akron? LH: Funny you say that. Akron’s not that small of a town. I mean, I never got that impression … A lot of people who I grew up with stayed (in Akron) because there’s culture, and it’s a good area to live. CM: You’ve done both Broadway shows and film. When it comes to performing, does it feel the same for you? LH: Both theater and film use the same skills, but at the same time, a show runs from beginning to end; it’s a journey that stays pleasant for a period of time. Film time is disjointed, a slower process;

then you get to a moment when you have to do it over, and then it’s done — locked and loaded. CM: You’ve been doing this for quite a while. How do you get ready for opening night? LH: It’s one of those things …You rehearse the songs, and you have months to prepare, time to develop your character, just doing what you do. …We'll rehearse, and sometimes you think, ‘Oh my gosh, I’ve never done it this way before, and you start being really comfortable with the role.’ CM: What’s next for you and your career? LH: This is a career-changing event, and it’s a step up in my career. (My plan) is for this show to run, hopefully, for a year. I have a contract for a year, but of course I’m always looking for new work. Just because I’m on Broadway doesn’t mean I just sit back and not look. I’m in the press a lot, promoting the musical and interviewing, and that’s work too. You can follow Lisa at

There are just enough years between us—six—that she is truly unaware. She hasn't even seen "The Goonies," nor "Stand by Me," those pre-teen adventure movies that rank as classics for me. My untouchable loyalty to Feldman relies squarely on those two films. I didn't remember, until reading his book, he was first in "Gremlins." To be completely honest, I've never seen "Dream a Little Dream," and it wasn't until recently that I watched "The Lost Boys," which turned out to be not really my type of

thing. Feldman's more recent works are completely lost on me. I totally missed his major television forays, “The Surreal Life” and “The Two Coreys.” And I'm also entirely perplexed by his “Corey’s Angels” project, which appears on the surface to be a way for him to surround himself with pretty ladies in lingerie, though in his book he refers to it as a “business venture” and says it’s “an exclusive social club and management company.” What I believe is his official Twitter account is smattered with pics of him with his "angels," and one recent tweet was: "CALLIN ALL HOT MODELS & ANGELS: WE R THROWING A SMALL @CoreysAngels EVENT 4 A PRIME TIME MAINSTREAM NETWORK SHOW! IF YOU R HOT N WANT 2 B SEEN," and continues with another tweet explaining how to get in touch with him. Yikes! So, I may not be his most consistent or well-versed fan, but even so, if you see me pressed up against the gates before they open at Canal Park May 30 hoping to catch a glimpse and ready to fight anybody who even so much as mutters a negative word against him, don't be surprised.

My hopes for a phone call from Feldman were so


MAY 2015 • VOL 1 • ISSUE #6 /

THE Devil Strip |


Issue 6: The Art of Akron  
Issue 6: The Art of Akron  

Our resident arts columnist, Katelyn Gainer, gets life lessons from seven noted local artists; Brittany Nader asks 8 Questions of comix crea...