Monday, July 10, 2017

In the Flesh: Tiny Town Times Debut Issue Release Show at Saint Charles Tavern! With The Rifle, Good Times Great Oldies, Treasure Mammal and Host Frank Powers (99.1 FM)

Posted By on Mon, Jul 10, 2017 at 4:00 PM

The importance of a free press, now more than ever, is immeasurable. Who’ll carry the torch next?

Why, it’s ... the Tiny Town Times, a newly launched quarterly community newspaper, offering a blend of “fiction, poetry, opinion, comics, illustrations, artist features, science and nature writing”... plus a really cool piece of foldout art.

TTT publisher Jeik Ficker got into printing young; when he needed t-shirts and stickers for his band. Ficker is also the proprietor of Tanline Printing the press where TTT is made by hand.

Tiny Town Times proudly celebrated the release of their handsome debut issue with a mad bash at Saint Charles Tavern this past Saturday night. Emceed by the effervescent Frank Powers (Comics Editors at TTT and host of "After Hours" on Downtown Radio 99.1 FM), in his best made-for-radio voice with good-natured banter between bands. The shindig featured performances by The Rifle and Phoenix’s inimitable Treasure Mammal with locals Good Times Great Oldies kicking things off.

Good Times Great Oldies
Good Times Great Oldies: “The next band is going to be nothing like this ... ummm. They are really good.” - XAVIER OMAR OTERO
  • Xavier Omar Otero
  • Good Times Great Oldies: “The next band is going to be nothing like this ... ummm. They are really good.”

There were bemused expressions at set’s start.

At the foot of the stage, one musician hammered on percussion instruments, creating an exotic Middle Eastern-tinged rhythm. He was joined by a drummer and guitarist—whose low, grungy tone took things in a different direction. Settling into a rhythm-heavy experimental jam, it was at first uncertain if the fourth person who jumped on stage mid-song was part of the band or not. He began manipulating effects boxes and creating wild oscillations, and unleashed hellish noise into a mic with otherworldly vocalizations. The band didn’t succeed in imparting a sense of musical organization or that they even bothered to rehearse much. But, tossing the rulebook aside embodied the spirit of the evening; and that’s what made GTGO’s performance pretty glorious.

Before leaving the stage the guitarist quipped, “The next band is going to be nothing like this ... ummm. They are really good.”

The Rifle
The Rifle: "I think if a person is paying attention, and they care, it’s impossible not to be outraged right now.” - XAVIER OMAR OTERO
  • Xavier Omar Otero
  • The Rifle: "I think if a person is paying attention, and they care, it’s impossible not to be outraged right now.”

Performing material predominately off of their new, debut full-length album, Anabasis.  The vibe was decidedly ’70s.

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T.H.R.E.A.T. Watch: The Frog Pot Heats Up

Posted By on Mon, Jul 10, 2017 at 2:45 PM

man_erosion_title.jpg
It's been awhile since my last T.H.R.E.A.T. (Trump Human Rights Erosion And Termination) Watch post. That's because things haven't deteriorated as rapidly as I feared in the areas that worry me most: the suppression of free speech, including suppression of the press, and the targeting of minority groups and immigrants. All kinds of other things have gone to hell, but the press has risen to the challenge and spoken truth to power instead of cowering behind weak condemnations and false equivalencies, and the courts have blunted Trump's assault on immigrants. Things could be much worse.

But we have to be wary of the "frogs in a pot of water" scenario where we don't notice a gradual increase in heat until we find ourselves up to our necks in boiling water. Over the past few weeks, I've felt a gradual, worrisome temperature increase, and it's not from the Tucson heat wave.

The media has not only been standing its ground against the assaults from Trump, it's been going the extra mile, doing what the press is supposed to do. It's been a watchdog, scrutinizing the daily outrages of the Trump administration and putting extra staff on investigative duty, trying to ferret out possible/probable wrongdoings by the Trump campaign and the possible/probable coverups of the wrongdoing now that he's president. Recently, however, Trump has stepped up his attacks on the media, which worries me because I've seen how quickly members of the press can go from brave to bullied when they're hit by a flood of negative pressure. Trump reached back to the haemophobic [fear of blood] attack he used against Megyn Kelly, this time targeting Morning Joe's Mika Brzezinski with a despicable tweet. Days later Trump retweeted a video of him putting a body slam on CNN. In a July 3 tweet, he predicted that the press will praise him at some point, tellingly using the verb "forced":
At some point the Fake News will be forced to discuss our great jobs numbers, strong economy, success with ISIS, the border & so much else!
"Forced." Trump would love to have the power to force the press to bend to his will. He hasn't figured out how to do it, but he's trying harder with each passing day. Whether he thinks the walls are closing in on him with the latest revelations in the Russia probe or he's just pissed, he's growing increasingly aggressive toward the press. Members of the media are standing their ground, but that can change.

Trump's ban on people traveling to the U.S. from six predominantly Muslim countries has finally begun, though in a limited form. The courts have said he can only keep people out who don't have a "bona fide relationship" with someone in the U.S., so his administration is using the most restrictive and punitive definition of "bona fide relationship" it can, excluding, among others, grandparents, aunts and uncles. People from the six banned countries tend to have strong extended family ties which go well beyond the nuclear family. The Trump administration's limits on what is considered a bona fide relationship are culturally insensitive and insulting, which, I imagine, is the point. And a future Supreme Court ruling favorable to a complete travel ban for those six countries is always a possibility, given the conservative makeup of the court.

Meanwhile, undocumented immigrants in this country are feeling an escalation of the pressure being put on them and their families. Detentions, arrests and deportations are becoming increasingly frequent and arbitrary, even for people who have been here for years and haven't done anything to make them likely targets for deportation. Picking your child up from school, driving in a car and going to the courthouse all put undocumented people at increasing risk. Even picking up a child from a detention center can lead to arrest. And at any time, a knock on the door can be the signal that a family member will be taken into custody, tearing a family apart. It's not simply the number of people being picked up. It's the randomness of the events. One purpose of terrorism is to make people feel unsafe. "At any moment, without warning, I could be next." Random roundups of undocumented immigrants, and stopping of people who look to the immigration police like they could "illegals," are designed to strike terror in the hearts of communities where undocumented immigrants live.

Things could be worse, but things definitely aren't good. The damage Trump has wrought on the nation has been slowed by the courts, the media and his low approval ratings. But no question, it's getting hotter out here.

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In The Flesh: Coffee Jitters at A Cartel Open Mic

Posted By on Mon, Jul 10, 2017 at 1:54 PM

Angie Barkley performs  at Cartel Open Mic on  Wednesday, June 28. - BRIEANA SEALY
  • Brieana Sealy
  • Angie Barkley performs at Cartel Open Mic on Wednesday, June 28.

Silence filled the room as Angie Barkley sung and played her ukulele. Nina Mary performed three original poems—And Mary is a regular so the crowd was respectful and quieted down to listen to her newest pieces. A band performed three light-hearted love songs followed by poetry from Kiana Hamilton. And each had a generous eight minutes to show their skills. If the artist went over time there was no cutting them off, they finished their performance. More, this coffee house was packed full of poets and musicians.

This was the scene at the last Cartel Coffee Lab open mic, which they host on the last Wednesday of each month. It's one of those events that doubles as a social, so only the showstoppers could silence the room. Think of it as an open mic for performers who are to crowds and can handle performing a busy room. The Cartel invited all ages and all types of acts including comedy, music, and poetry.

Performers and artists knew each other from attending these open-mic shows regularly. It was all friendly and talkative. And though the crowd was rowdy at times, they gave each act a healthy round of applause. It can be intimidating to perform at an open mic—there's little to hide behind, sometimes not even experience. Bring a pal perhaps, a way to blend into the subtle madness of an open mic.


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Cinema Clips: Okja

Posted By on Mon, Jul 10, 2017 at 10:43 AM


Director Joon-ho Bong, purveyor of spectacularly wacky cinematic things (The Host, Snowpiercer) delivers, perhaps, his wackiest yet with this tale about a future world where meat is scarce so huge pigs are biogenetically engineered for slaughter.

The title character is a prized, giant animal raised in the mountains by Mija (Seo Hyun), a young girl who thinks Okja is her pet. She’s oblivious to the fact that Okja’s days are numbered, so when an envoy for a large corporation (Jake Gyllenhaal going nuts) shows up and takes Okja away, Mija flies into action and the bizarre adventure begins.

Paul Dano, one of the kings of movie weirdness, chips in as the leader of an animal rescue corps that includes Steven Yeun (The Walking Dead) and Lily Collins. Following up her collaboration with Bong on Snowpiercer is Tilda Swinton, once again playing twins (as she did in Hail, Caesar!), two evil sisters running the corporation that produced Okja.

The movie mixes absurd laughs with mayhem, and the cast is universally great. Like films such as The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Babe before it, this movie looks to shine a light on the cruel treatment of animals and perhaps get you to pass on the bacon the next time you are at Denny’s (Streaming on Netflix).

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