Friday, April 21, 2017

In The Flesh: Let's Live A Little at Invisible Theatre is a Mouthful That Rewards, Challenges

Posted By on Fri, Apr 21, 2017 at 5:05 PM

Sam Scarborough (Jack Neubeck) tries to convince his granddaughter Lily (Lucille Petty) to stay in town and help out at his florist Shop while Lily has dreams of moving to NYC to become a writer! - TIM FULLER
  • Tim Fuller
  • Sam Scarborough (Jack Neubeck) tries to convince his granddaughter Lily (Lucille Petty) to stay in town and help out at his florist Shop while Lily has dreams of moving to NYC to become a writer!

There’s a little gem of a play now treading the boards at the Invisible Theatre. Kathleen Clark’s Let’s Live a Little is the last show of the season, and it’s a lovely way to end Invisible Theatre’s 46th year.

The show tells several stories, related in some ways, although often quite generally. Their chief connection is their location in the small town of Mine Hill, New Jersey. Their lives often intersect in a glancing way, say, like most of ours do merely because we reside in the same country, or are all members of the human race. We may share dentists or find that we were born in the same city, or that we all struggle to survive, and for us who are lucky enough not to have to worry about where our next meal is coming from, to survive with a modicum of grace.

Lily is a college-aged woman trying to figure out how to extricate herself from the small town, but not leaving her granddad, who's struggling with issues of aging, without help in his florist shop. Granddad is married to grandma, who is also on the inexorable journey to decrepitude. Their daughter (and Lily’s mom) is trying to take care of them by lining up in-home caregivers. The candidates, although related only by their candidacy, are part of other stories Clark weaves into her play. She touches on themes like how we perceive ourselves and how we can free ourselves from those perceptions to blossom (like the flowers in granddad’s shop?) in ways more to our liking; how we can dig deep to commit to the things we want to do; how less is more; how we compromise ourselves but find that we can be reawakened in surprising ways; and just another little idea: how we need, quite literally, to write our lives.

Clark’s play is a mouthful. It’s probably too much of one. Although it’s plotted well—Clark knows what she’s doing as a playwright—she gives us so much that we are overwhelmed. She offers us multiple ideas to chew on, but not much time to chew them. It’s akin to one of those hot dog eating competitions. There's a lot to absorb in only 90 minutes. Consequently, sometimes things feel contrived or overly sentimental or way too obvious as she tries to stitch everything together. The seams show.

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Trouble in Republican City Over Voucher Expansion?

Posted By on Fri, Apr 21, 2017 at 4:00 PM

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I can’t remember agreeing with Greg Miller—a Republican who runs a charter school and is ex-president of the Arizona Board of Education—before. But an op ed he wrote for the Capitol Times, GOP support of voucher expansion bill an insult to most students, is an exception to the rule. It begins,
As an advocate for education reform for the past 35 years, a co-founder of a very successful charter school, a lifelong Republican, and the most recent past president of the Arizona State Board of Education, I have never been more embarrassed, outraged, disappointed, and angry to call myself a Republican. How on earth do the Republicans in the state Legislature who voted for the Empowerment Scholarship Account (voucher) bill, or our governor, who signed it, look in the mirror and in good faith, not understand what they have just done.
Miller continues,
Public education has been the equalizer for 150 years of economic growth and assimilation of immigrants into the culture that we enjoy today. This is an insult to the hundreds of thousands of students who do not have the resources to pay the additional thousands of dollars for the tuition these private schools will be charging above the state subsidy, and without the opportunity of a quality education provided in their local schools where due process and common goals of expectation drive the continued development of economic expansion for everyone, not just a privileged few.
He ends by saying voters need to kick out the ESA expansion supporters in 2018.
All Republicans that share this view [against voucher expansion] use your vote in next summer’s Republican primary to replace anyone who supported this transfer of economic wealth from our public school system to the private schools of the wealthy.
I’ll take exception with Miller here and say we need to kick out the anti-education Republicans and replace them with some pro-education, pro-child Democrats, but hey, we can agree to disagree on that one.

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Zona Politics Tonight: Councilman Steve Kozachik and Metro Chamber Prez Mike Varney

Posted By on Fri, Apr 21, 2017 at 3:06 PM

Councilman Steve Kozachik
  • Councilman Steve Kozachik
Tonight on the televised edition of Zona Politics with Jim Nintzel: I talk with Tucson City Councilman Steve Kozachik about Prop 101, the city's proposal to hike the sales tax by a half-cent per dollar for five years in order to  fund capital improvements for the police and fire departments and do more road repair. We also talk about the UA's controversial proposal to build a massive Honor's College campus right smack in the historic West University Neighborhood, the city's lawsuit against the state over the state's efforts to take away more than $100 million in state-shared revenues because the city destroys some guns instead of selling them at auction and some other city issues.

Then we've got an exit interview with Tucson Metro Chamber President & CEO Mike Varney, who recently announced his plans to step down after six years on the job. We discuss whether the city of Tucson and Pima County are more business-friendly than they were when he arrived, what the state should do about education funding and why the chamber is supporting Prop 101.

Tune in tonight at 6:30 p.m. on the Creative Tucson Network, Channel 20 on Cox Cable and Channel 74 on Comcast. The show repeats at 9 a.m. Sunday mornings.

On this weekend's radio edition of Zona Politics, I talk with Democrat Paul Durham, who is seeking to replace the retiring Ward 3 Councilwoman Karin Uhlich. Durham is facing fellow Democrats Tom Tronsdal and Felicia Chew in the August primary election.

The radio show airs at 5 p.m. Sundays on community radio KXCI, 91.3 FM, and at 1 p.m. Saturdays and 11 a.m. Sundays on KEVT, 1210 AM.

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Laughing Stock: Comedy for Tragedy

Posted By on Fri, Apr 21, 2017 at 10:30 AM

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“I have been involved in fighting violence and helping victims of violence since 1980 when my sister was killed in an armed robbery in Chicago,” Suzie Agrillo explains. That event also inspired the genesis of her annual Comedy for Charity variety show at the Fox Tucson Theatre.

This year’s extravaganza, “Thank You for Serving” is set for 7 p.m., Sunday, April 23. Tickets are $20 to $60, to benefit Emerge Center for Domestic Abuse and La Frontera’s “Rally Point,” which provides mental and behavioral health services for veterans, including suicide prevention and peer support. Tickets are at comedyforcharity.org and foxtucson.com

Mayor Jonathon Rothschild, recently a victim of a carjacking at gunpoint, is honorary chair of the event, and Tucson comic artist and comedian David Fitzsimmons emcees. Nationally acclaimed relationship comedian Tommy Blaze heads a comedy line-up that includes Dallas comedy club owner and Tucson favorite Butch Lord, Suzie Sexton (Agrillo’s stage name) and, from Washington D.C., USMC veteran Michael Garvey, who earned a Purple Heart in Afghanistan and performs with his service dog, Liberty.

Among the “variety” entries will be the super-tight hip hop dance team EgoKillAZ and the band Los Guapos, featuring U.S. Army Veteran Engel Indo. The Tucson group plays original music that blends Latin, surf and Spaghetti Western sounds. “Back by popular demand,” Agrillo says, is local superstar drag queen Janeé Starr, a crowd favorite at the 2014 show.

Lunch with Mayor Rothschild is a highlight of a raffle that also includes donations from Philabaum Glass, Kendra Scott jewelry and other local businesses.

Agrillo held her first Comedy for Charity show in 2011 at Laff’s Comedy Caffe. “Right when I was planning the event, the shootings at Safeway happened, and Gabrielle Giffords, Christina Taylor Green were shot and Christina died,” she says. “Maybe because of that it was sold out. All that just underscored the importance of raising awareness about violence in the community, assisting victims of violence and doing what I can to prevent violence.”

Asked how she found her own voice in comedy, Agrillo says, “Around the time of the first show, after my family reunion, I decided to do standup as a catharsis. (Tucson comedian) Nancy Stanley got me into it. Estrogen Hour (Stanley’s comedy benefit for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society) didn't exist then, but I kind of got addicted to it after that. I think having a dysfunctional family kind of disposes you to comedy.”

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Keep On Poppin' On: Pop-Up Shops Gain Popularity in Tucson as Entrepreneurs use the Concept to Reinvent Their Craft

Posted By on Fri, Apr 21, 2017 at 9:30 AM

ELENA GONZALEZ
  • Elena Gonzalez

The “pop-up” trend has gained much attention in Tucson in the last few years thanks to an up and coming chef, an innovative restaurant owner, and a couple of creative entrepreneurs. Pop-ups—temporary shops or events that typically last anywhere from a day to a few months—have been popular in big cities, but Tucson has recently become a hub for a variety of inventive pop-ups.
Traditionally, pop-ups are retail stores offering a variety of goods for a short amount of time.

Cultivate Tucson co-owners, Claire Seizovic and Kristin Tovar, saw Tucson as the perfect location for pop-up shops and decided to start their own shop brand in 2015.

“Tucson is definitely going through a creative renaissance right now,” Seizovic said in regards to why it is the right time for these unique markets in Tucson. Cultivate Tucson’s shops feature local artists and designers and are hosted in under-utilized spaces. Seizovic said the benefits of having a pop-up shop in comparison to a regular brick-and-mortar retail store include cost, momentum, and marketing. She said since the markets are a once a-year, one-day event the need for constant marketing isn’t there and the temporariness adds a hype aspect that encourages people to attend. “If you know its always available, it becomes less exciting,” Seizovic said.

Though Seizovic and Tovar weren’t the ones to create the pop-up concept, they’ve come up with ways to innovate the idea. An important part of Cultivates mission is donating to local non-profits.

By participating in the pop-up, all vendors agree to donate 20 percent of their sales to either a non-profit Cultivate highlights at the event or a non-profit of their choosing. Seizovic said that incorporating non-profits into the pop-up was “there from the very beginning.” At their December 2016 market, they were able to donate $10,000 to non-profits. Cultivate also stands out by the spaces they use. Their pop-ups are hosted in unused spaces that were not originally meant for retail stores. They used an old tire shop south of downtown for their last pop-up. By utilizing these unused, perhaps forgotten spaces, Seizovic said it is “a way to highlight a space for someone else to permanently buy.”

Cultivate Tucson recently announced their first spring pop-up shop. “The Flash” pop-up shop will be on Saturday, May 20 from 9am to 4pm. The shop will take place at an old appliance store, Flash TV and Appliance.

Chef Riley Chandler has also used location as a way to reinvent the concept of pop-ups. Chandler created his business, Pop-up Tucson, to bring pop-up dinners to Tucson. He first got the idea from Scottsdale chef, T.J. Culp. Culp had been successfully hosting pop-up dinners throughout the Scottsdale area and Chandler thought Tucson would be a good place for the concept. Since his first pop-up in May of 2016, he has hosted a total of 5 pop-ups in Tucson and 5 in different U.S. cities. Chandler has had success in bringing pop-up dinners to Tucson and said it is largely because people are attracted to the uniqueness of the event. “You’re not confined to four walls inside a restaurant, you’re literally outside the box,” Chandler said.

Besides the inventive location, Chandler uses other unique elements like collaborations with chefs and entertainment for guests. Collaborating with other chefs is one of Chandler’s favorite aspects of the pop-ups because it not only benefits him but the guests as well. He said it brings in other influences and allows him to learn from other culinary minds. “It elevates my style.”

He often brings in chefs from Phoenix, which allows the guests to taste their food without having to go to Phoenix. As for the entertainment aspect, Chandler always incorporates the arts into the dining experience. He says though it is not a necessary element, it is something important to him. “It ties the knot around the whole vibe,” he said. Past pop-up dinners have featured a jazz trio and a live painter.
Restaurant owner, Scott Stiteler, revamped the pop-up trend to fit his passion for history and restaurants. Stiteler opened up his pop-up bar, Martin Drug Co., in February as a way to utilize an old building while he creates his long-term plan for the space. Stiteler hopes that by first using the space as a pop-bar while he plans the restaurant, he can reintroduce the space to the public and bring it back into people’s lives. The pop-up bar is only utilizing about 1,000 square feet of the space. The inspiration for the pop-up bar came from an old drugstore that used to reside in the building in the late 1880’s to mid-1960s. When Stiteler discovered this he knew it made sense to respect that history while also adding, “a dose of fun.”

The space gives ode to its history through black and white images of the Martin family and their drug store that hang on the walls of the pop-up. The traditional black and white pictures are met with funky and modern décor, giving the space the perfect blend of old and new. Stiteler said that since the bar is temporary, there was a lot more latitude when it came to interior design. Unlike most pop-ups, Martin Drug Co. will remain open for a generous 6 months. It will then be reinvented again into a more family-friendly, traditional eatery Stiteler said.

Statewide Voucher Initiatives Has Been Voted Down Everywhere, Every Time

Posted By on Fri, Apr 21, 2017 at 8:30 AM

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There's no way Republicans can take away the initiative process using the initiative process. Voters won't go for that. And they can't push through school vouchers that way either; people always vote against vouchers. So this year, Republicans have used their legislative majority to thumb their noses at voters, taking away something they like and pushing through more of something they don't.

We've been there before. In 2013 Republicans tried to make it more difficult for voter-proposed initiatives to make it on the ballot. But after passing an anti-initiative law, they repealed it a year later because a move was afoot to let the people decide if they liked what the legislators had done. Republicans hurried to get rid of the law to save themselves from an embarrassing defeat, and to let them reenact anti-initiative legislation later piece by piece, which is what they've done this year.

Private school vouchers have never been on the ballot in Arizona. The Republican-controlled legislature voted in School Tuition Organizations in 1997. In 2011 it did the same for Empowerment Scholarship Accounts. Then year by year it passed new bills to expand the two voucher systems.

Why didn't Republicans let voters have their say on STOs or ESAs? Because they know, voucher ballot measures have never passed anywhere—at least not for the past 30 years, which is as far back as I can find information.

Here's a list of statewide votes on vouchers, courtesy of Ballotpedia.
1990: Oregon Tuition Tax Credits. Defeated 68%-32%.
1993: California School Vouchers. Defeated 70%-30%.
1996: Washington State School Vouchers. Defeated 64%-36%.
1998: Colorado Tuition Tax Credits. Defeated 60%-40%.
2000: California School Vouchers. Defeated 71%-29%.
2007: Utah School Vouchers. Defeated 63%-38%.

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Thursday, April 20, 2017

It's Best of Tucson® Time

Posted By on Thu, Apr 20, 2017 at 11:30 AM

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It's spring in the desert and we all know what that means: It's Best of Tucson® time.

I think the timing is a little poetic. Just as the temperature outside starts to make some of us desert rats think, "Maybe I'm done with living through the unique hell of monsoon season with a swamp cooler. Maybe I could brave a little snow in the winter months," or even, "Maybe I'm destined to be a snow bird," Best of Tucson is back to remind you with a (possibly too extensive?) survey forcing you to think about your local favorites.

Go fill out your ballot—you've got until the end of May. Here's a rundown of the rules, in case you're new:

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Cinema Clips: Sandy Wexler

Posted By on Thu, Apr 20, 2017 at 10:30 AM


Adam Sandler’s third movie with Netflix is the very definition of over indulgence.

There’s a decent movie in here from director Steven Brill, who worked with Sandler previously on Little Nicky, Mr. Deeds and The Do-Over.

Sandler stars as the title character, a talent manager trying to find new clients in the ‘90’s. After working with low level comedians and daredevils, Sandy finds Courtney Clarke (Jennifer Hudson), an amusement park performer with a stunning voice. Sandy takes charge of her career, and sends her on a superstar trajectory. Sandler creates one of his weirdo characterizations, with a goofy voice and strange mannerisms. While some of the ‘90s jokes involving Fruitopia, Arsenio Hall and the Atkins Diet are pretty funny, Sandler and Brill take the movie off into a strange, unlikely romance realm that destroys all of the fun.

The movie is supremely overstuffed at 130 minutes, with one subplot too many involving Terry Crews as a flamboyant wrestler. His entire story arc could’ve been left on the cutting room floor. Kevin James has a fairly funny supporting role as a ventriloquist who carries on regular conversations through his dummies, and Nick Swardson scores some laughs as a daredevil reminiscent of Super Dave Osborne and Evil Knievel. Hudson is good in her role, even when the character inexplicably falls for Sandy.

At 90 minutes and without the love story, this one might’ve been okay. As it stands, it’s another miss for Sandler (Streaming exclusively on Netflix).


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Frida: Portraits by Nickolas Muray

Tucson Botanical Gardens and Etherton Gallery are collaborating to bring the photography show Frida: Portraits by Nickolas… More

@ Tucson Botanical Gardens Oct. 10-May 31, 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. 2150 N. Alvernon Way.

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  1. Keep On Poppin' On: Pop-Up Shops Gain Popularity in Tucson as Entrepreneurs use the Concept to Reinvent Their Craft (The Range: The Tucson Weekly's Daily Dispatch)
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  3. Cinema Clips: Sandy Wexler (The Range: The Tucson Weekly's Daily Dispatch)
  4. Trouble in Republican City Over Voucher Expansion? (The Range: The Tucson Weekly's Daily Dispatch)
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