Friday, March 24, 2017

Streets of This Town: Late Night Hunger.

Posted By on Fri, Mar 24, 2017 at 7:00 PM

  • Brian Smith

"Streets of This Town" is a little daily photo series featuring random pics I take on long walks through Tucson—to sort of coincide with Tucson Salvage.

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In the Flesh: The Blind Suns, The Mission Creeps and Louise Le Hir at Sky Bar.

Posted By on Fri, Mar 24, 2017 at 5:39 PM

A sizable crowd of people, many clad in red and blue UA apparel, dominated the early evening at Sky Bar this past Thursday night. It was the NCAA Sweet 16 Tournament and the place was packed. Bands scheduled early had to wait until the game—that saw Arizona lose to Xavier—concluded or risk riot.

The crowd thinned, many left bummed, after the defeat. But for those who stayed, the night was just beginning to unveil delights.

Louise Le Hir
  • Xavier Omar Otero
  • Louise Le Hir

Local chanteuse Louise Le Hir took stage first. The natural performer sang like a siren, danced, and bounced a tambourine off her hip. Along with her ace band—Joel Crocco on guitar, bassist Gabe Hostetler and drummer Adan Martinez Kee—they offered an impassioned set of their country-tinged French dreampop.

Le Hir later updated us on what they’re up to:
“We are recording with Matt [Rendon] on an ongoing basis,” she said. “Once we get Kill Pretty out properly we'll have our third record ready.”

Is there a working title for the album and how does this new recording differ from Kill Pretty?

“No title, yet. But yeah, we are going in a different direction so far with the sound.”

See Louise Le Hir Saturday, April 8 at Owls Club, 236 S Scott Avenue with Tele Novella (from Austin, TX).

The Mission Creeps
The Mission Creeps at Sky Bar on Thursday - XAVIER OMAR OTERO
  • Xavier Omar Otero
  • The Mission Creeps at Sky Bar on Thursday

Founded in 2006—inspired by old horror flicks, Link Wray, The Dead Kennedys, and dark and otherworldly shit that may or may not have taken root during the African diaspora that brought voodoo to New Orleans … Tucson vets The Mission Creeps, in all of their pallidness, were next.
Drenched in ’verb, twang and feedback—provided by guitarist James Arr and his Gretsch Electromatic and the incessant drumming of George “Of The Jungle Beat” Palenzuela—The Mission Creeps unleashed a fury. They recently added saxophonist Adrian “The Graverobber” Daley to bolster the sound. And no one rocks harder than bassist Miss Frankie Stein, and that’s saying a lot—bending backwards and striking chiropractor-flinching poses—she pounded and rounded out the foundation that led the band to the edge of chaos.

The Mission Creeps said post-show that they’re finishing up mixing songs recorded in May at Wavelab: “We're working towards releasing an EP, on the 4th of July, called Welcome to the Murder, Stein said. “Some parts have more wiggle, some a tad more naked sophistry,” Arr added.

The Blind Suns
  • Xavier Omar Otero
  • The Blind Suns

After performing at SXSW, en route for shows in California, French band The Blind Suns made a stop in The Old Pueblo and closed the night with a white-hot post-mod set.

The Blind Suns have released three albums, the latest is 2016’s I Can Sea You. We were intrigued so the band’s singer/guitarist Dorota Kuszewska answered a couple questions:

What is that sound of yours?
“We're inspired by surf rock, oldies like Dick Dale, The Surfaris, Wanda Jackson, Johnny Kid and The Pirates (we covered "Shakin' All Over”) and some psychedelic/shoegaze stuff like The Raveonettes, Mazzy Star or The Jesus and Mary Chain. We mix sweet, pop melodies with dirty arrangements. Oh, and we love reverb!”

Where's home?
“We all live in Angers, France, situated between Paris and Brittany, two hours drive from the Atlantic Ocean. Romain Lejeune [lead guitarist/vocals] and Jérémy Mondolfo [drums/machines] are French, but I originally come from Poland and have been living in France for ten years now.”

When did you form?
“We released our first album in October 2014. The Blind Suns was basically just a studio project. We were all playing in different bands and had a couple of spare songs that we decided to release as the Baltic Waves album but didn't really expect anything of it. It's been three years now that it became our main band.”

Any SXSW highlights?
“Definitely Hotel Vegas where we played our official showcase. We played on the Volstead stage [classic vintage cocktail lounge] and had some amazing liquid light show projected on us. We also played at Electric Church, Kitty Cohen's for the French Pool Party, Butterfly Bar and at Cheers' Rooftop for [a daily online viral music show] Balcony TV.”

What’s next?
“We're working on our second album. We've also created a label/booking agency—Wild Valley that we're trying to develop in France and abroad. We'd like to focus on promoting our music by touring around the world. And come back to the USA for a bigger tour again, hopefully next year.”

The naysayers proclaiming that rock ’n’ roll is dead can sod off. It was alive and kickin’ on a chill spring night at Sky Bar.

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No Healthcare Vote Today After All

Posted By on Fri, Mar 24, 2017 at 1:02 PM

Looks like the votes just weren't there. News is breaking that President Donald Trump has asked House Speaker Paul Ryan to give up on a vote on the American Health Care Act.

While it's a gigantic embarrassment that shows the limits of Trump's bullying powers over GOP lawmakers, it's probably less embarrassing than losing the vote altogether.

And it's not like the legislation would have passed the Senate anyhow.

Where this fustercluck goes from here is anyone's guess.

ETA: Both Trump and Ryan have said efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act are on hold, with Ryan telling reporters: “We’re going to be living with Obamacare for the foreseeable future.”

Trump, meanwhile, has blamed Democrats for failing to get behind the plan to repeal Barack Obama's signature bill. He said today that he'd move on to other parts of his agenda.

U.S. Rep. Tom O'Halleran (D-AZ01) celebrated the collapse of the repeal effort:

The American people made their voices heard and helped defeat the AHCA. This health care bill would have devastated our rural and tribal communities, harmed seniors, and eliminated tax credits for veterans eligible for government health care. Now we must get serious about crafting a bipartisan bill that improves our health care system and brings down the costs of health care and insurance premiums.

We need an open, transparent process that includes input from industry leaders and experts. No legislation should be drafted in closed-door meetings, hidden from the public. Neither party has all the solutions to our greatest challenges, and partisan gridlock is only setting us back. I continue to urge my colleagues to stop playing political games with the health and wellbeing of the American people and work together.

Congressman Raul Grijalva trolled Trump in his statement:

Continue reading »

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"Martha McSally Is Not Answering"

Posted By on Fri, Mar 24, 2017 at 11:34 AM

  • Courtesy of Martha McSally's Office
As the Bullshitter-in-Chief pushes the House of Representatives to take a vote on the disastrous healthcare legislation GOP lawmakers have assembled, U.S. Rep. Martha McSally (R-AZ02)—who came out in support of the legislation earlier this week—appears to be done taking phone calls from constituents. Calling McSally's D.C.'s office yields the following message: "Martha McSally is not answering. This mailbox is full and cannot accept new messages."

McSally announced last night that she had pushed for an additional $15 billion to send to states to cover mental health and maternity care—which sounds great, except that, in an effort to bring the conservative Freedom Caucus on board, the latest amendments to the bill eliminate the 10 Essential Health Benefits of the Affordable Care Act. That means insurance companies will be able to offer skimpy (but cheap!) insurance plans that don't cover vital healthcare services.

An article in Vox explains the problem with eliminating Essential Health Benefits:

There’s just one small problem: The individual insurance marketplace could unravel without them.

Remember how the EHBs made the marketplace viable, because they helped pool risk among the whole of the population, requiring everybody to pay a little for basic health care even if they aren’t going to use it, instead of just attracting sick people who may need those services?

“Without these requirements, you are looking at an individual market where the only policies available are extremely skimpy or expensive,” said Matthew Fiedler, a fellow at Brookings who served as chief economist of the Council of Economic Advisers, where he oversaw work on the Affordable Care Act. In the past, insurers had strong incentives to design plans in ways that were unattractive to people with predictable health needs or sick people. And getting rid of the essential health benefits, Fiedler said, “would give them a powerful tool to avoid people that expect to need care.”

Within two or three years, Blumberg expects more comprehensive coverage plans to dry up. Since insurers can’t deny coverage outright, and many will be tempted to go down to more limited polices that attract healthy people, insurers offering comprehensive policies would likely attract more sick expensive patients, which would create a selection problem and make the plans unsustainable.

Getting rid of EHBs would also make the promise of covering people with preexisting conditions meaningless. If a cancer patient or person with diabetes can get coverage but the cost of their chemotherapy or insulin isn’t covered, that coverage isn’t meaningful anymore, Blumberg said.
McSally says the bill is getting better and better, thanks to her hard work:

Continue reading »

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Laughing Stock: Tickling the Surly Wench

Posted By on Fri, Mar 24, 2017 at 9:00 AM

“First off, I love comedy,” says Surly Wench Pub founder and owner Stephanie Johnston. “I host a lot of burlesque shows, and making people laugh their asses off is the best feeling.”

So when Roxy Merrari, long-time good Wench customer, and her pal Mo Urban approached Johnston about hosting Tucson’s only female-run open mic, she jumped right on board. “They’ve since broadened it to two nights,” Johnston says, “because it went over so well. Everyone seems to have a great time, and the staff likes it, too!”

A regular on Tucson’s stand-up comedy scene, Merrari wanted to be able to do her favorite thing at her favorite club. The idea got legs over a friendly breakfast with fellow comic Urban. “We were talking about how all of our guy friends (in stand-up) were doing comedy around town, but we noticed there just weren't many women,” Merrari says. “We said, ‘We need some more women! We can't wait around for other people to invite us to their shows. Let's just start one!’”

Urban says, “Initially in 2012 (when she started doing stand-up) I had a bad experience. I didn't feel comfortable just because I didn't have a lot of women to connect with. I didn’t feel safe having a voice, and I didn't come back for a few years.”

Now, she says, “I've seen a huge shift. I think it's a very supportive scene, but I also recognize that I can have a voice now, and I feel safe having a voice, whereas I did not before.” Urban points to the recent Tucson Women’s Comedy Festival, hosted by Tucson Improv Movement, as an example of Tucson’s growing appreciation of women’s comedy.

“Once we got the idea to do the show,” Merrari says, “Every time a woman came to Laff's (Comedy Caffe) open mic we pounced on them!” Urban says, “We started asking ourselves, ‘Are we just coming off weird?’" But the encouragement is working, and several new female comics are now learning the ropes at local open mics.

Comedy at the Wench is a show-up-to-go-up open mic at 8:30 p.m., the second Tuesday of every month, and a hosted mic for invited comedians on the fourth Tuesday. Donations are $5, but no one is turned away.

March 28 guests are Dana Whissen of the Torch Theatre Company in Phoenix; the masked comedian Dick Strangler; Southern California comedy scene transplant Marilyn Lopez, aka M Lo; Lilliya Souslova whose riffs often recall her Russian homeland and Arizona’s Funniest Comedian finalist, Conor Dorney.

The Surly Wench is at 424 N. 4th Avenue. “Like” Comedy at the Wench on Facebook to receive reminders and information about upcoming shows.

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Thursday, March 23, 2017

Two New(ish) Businesses to Visit During the Street Fair

Posted By on Thu, Mar 23, 2017 at 7:30 PM

The 47th Annual Street Fair is expected to attract more than 300,000 visitors this weekend. - HAILEY FREEMAN
  • Hailey Freeman
  • The 47th Annual Street Fair is expected to attract more than 300,000 visitors this weekend.

Isabella's Ice Cream (210 N. Fourth Ave.)

UA alumni Dominic and Kristel Johnson created Isabella’s in 2010, and opened their location on Fourth Avenue this past November.

“I love how many people walk in and discover it,” Kristel says of Isabella’s. “We’ve been here a few months so everyone is starting to figure out where the shop is now.”

Kristel has nothing but rave reviews for the area. It was her idea, after all, to move Isabella’s manufacturing to Fourth. 

“It’s been wonderful,” Kristel says of the neighborhood. “We love the location and the people are super friendly.”

Kristel prepares the treats in the back of the shop and tries to locally source all of her ingredients. Isabella’s uses cream and milk only from Arizona.

“Everything is fresh, natural, and pure,” Kristel says.

In addition to their ice creams and vegan sorbets, Isabella’s offers ice cream tacos, milkshakes, sundaes, popsicles and Belgian chocolate bonbons. If you’re the indecisive or overindulgent type, it is highly recommended that you try one of each. This selection will be available in-store the entire weekend.

And another menu item that’s sure to be a hit among Street Fairgoers? The ever-so-scrumptious fro-nut. Since its recent introduction, this doughnut ice cream sandwich has become a customer favorite. The Johnsons will be serving fro-nuts and cookie ice cream sandwiches from their vintage ice cream truck this weekend.

Mabel’s on 4th (419 N. Fourth Ave.)

After you’ve gotten your ice cream fix, come visit Mabel’s on 4th. This kitchen boutique opened in November 2016 and sells decor, gadgets and textiles to “make your kitchen smile.”

“We don’t have any serious kitchen stuff like pots and pans and cutlery,” owner Nicole Carrillo says. “We only carry fun stuff.”

The pair relocated from Savannah, Georgia where Nicole’s husband, Johnny, served in the Marine Corps. Nicole believes Tucson, specifically the Fourth Avenue area, is a “perfect fit” for Mabel’s and appreciates the friendliness of her customers.

“Everybody is so welcoming and kind,” Nicole says. “We decided the day we visited that we were going to move here.”

Johnny designs all of the LOL tea towels, including textiles supporting each branch of the military. Mabel’s will be offering 20 new towel patterns at Mabel’s booth this weekend only.

“Our booth will be nothing but all these fun tea towels,” Nicole says. “You’re sure to find something for everyone.”

Nicole says Mabel’s products appeal to all kinds of people, from grandparents to drinking friends.

A great gift for the latter group? A beer bottle or wine glass-shaped cookie cutter. Other quirky cookie cutter options include a bikini top, baseball glove and hippo.

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We Look Smaller in Boston

Posted By on Thu, Mar 23, 2017 at 7:00 PM

  • Courtesy of
Students attending a Boston public school have another world map, the Peters projection map, next to the one most of us are used to looking at.
Boston’s public schools began phasing in the lesser-known Peters projection, which cuts the US, Britain and the rest of Europe down to size. Teachers put contrasting maps of the world side by side and let the students study them.
If you haven't seen it before, take a look at the Peters projection map at the top of the post. The U.S. and Europe are pretty much the same size as they are on the Mercator map we're used to seeing, but some of the other land masses get a whole lot bigger. South America is now twice as large as Europe instead of the same size, and Africa is far larger as well. The map has a more accurate north-south arrangement, with the U.S. and Europe farther to the north instead of occupying the middle area. (Fun fact: in the standard Mercator map, Germany is pretty much dead center, except in the maps where the U.S. is moved to the central spot.)

History is written by the winners, and they get to draw the maps as well, putting themselves in the center of the world and shrinking everyone else down to size. The Peters projection map is a more proportional, less Eurocentric approximation of what the spherical world should look like when it's flattened out on piece of paper. Boston public schools are doing a little something to put the world back into its proper balance.
In an age of “fake news” and “alternative facts”, city authorities are confident their new map offers something closer to the geographical truth than that of traditional school maps, and hope it can serve an example to schools across the nation and even the world.
A map with the Mercator proportions and orientation, the one we're used to, is below.

Continue reading »

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Streets of This Town: Faces of Tucson

Posted By on Thu, Mar 23, 2017 at 6:25 PM

Himmel Park exasperation. - BRIAN SMTIH
  • Brian Smtih
  • Himmel Park exasperation.

"Streets of This Town" is a little daily photo series featuring random pics I take on long walks through Tucson—to sort of coincide with Tucson Salvage.

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Staff Pick

Artifact Dance Project: Surrounding Dillinger

Hardened by a decade-long prison sentence for a minor offense, a newly-released John Dillinger assembles a likable… More

@ UA Stevie Eller Dance Theatre Thu., March 23, 7:30-10 p.m., Fri., March 24, 7:30-10 p.m., Sat., March 25, 7:30-10 p.m. and Sun., March 26, 2-4:30 p.m. 1737 E. University Blvd.

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  2. Streets of This Town: Late Night Hunger. (The Range: The Tucson Weekly's Daily Dispatch)
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