Thursday, March 7, 2019

Laughing Stock: Faith and the Funny

Posted By on Thu, Mar 7, 2019 at 3:57 PM

“The Country Comic” Chonda Pierce makes lemonade at The Fox March 12 - REBECCA HUTCHISON STEPHENS
  • Rebecca Hutchison Stephens
  • “The Country Comic” Chonda Pierce makes lemonade at The Fox March 12
Modern Woman Tells All

We are trying not to refer to Carol Leifer as a Michaelangela of comedy, but there it is. She started her standup career in college in the 1970s, when that was not at all the done thing. Most recently, she’s been a writer for our favorite TV shows: Seinfeld, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Modern Family and Saturday Night Live. An actor and producer as well, she’s also written books with compelling titles: How to Succeed in Business Without Really Crying and the irresistible-as-chocolate When You Lie About Your Age, The Terrorists Win.

At 10:30 a.m., Sunday, March 10, Leifer shares stories from her incredible career as well as her thoughts on women’s issues, her Jewish roots, LGBT perspectives and her four rescue dogs at a benefit for Women’s Philanthropy of the Jewish Federation of Southern Arizona. The event is at the Westin La Paloma Hotel and reservations are $40 for those who already have donated at least $180 to the JFSA. Surely you know someone? Visit jfsa.org/connections-2019 for details.

Think Positive

Billboard Magazine has called Chonda Pierce “the country comic,” so even though Larry the Cable Guy is cancelled at Casino del Sol Saturday, the week shouldn’t be a total loss. Pierce performs at 7 p.m., Tuesday, March 12, at the Fox Tucson Theatre. Tickets are $21.20 to $52 via awakeningevents.com.

Like most of the Awakening stable, Pierce is Christian; her website has a tab for “Prayer.” It’s given her a bright outlook, though, in the way of lemons making lemonade. Her first film, Chonda Pierce: Laughing In The Dark, was based on her struggle to overcome depression. While it may not be every comedy fan’s taste, her positivity has made her the top-selling female comedian, per RIAA data.

A preacher’s daughter, Pierce got her start in show business playing the role of Minnie Pearl at Nashville’s Opryland theme park. She so loved telling jokes as Minnie Pearl she decided to make it her career. According to her website bio, “she credits her southern upbringing both for her warped sense of humor and her solid roots.”

Speaking of Women

March 28 through 30 are set for this year’s all-female, multi-genre Cactus Flower Comedy Festival. Details about selected standups, storytellers and improvisers are still being sorted, but festival hosts the Tucson Improv Movement will feature their popular female teams the Riveters, the bilingual Como Se Dice and female members of Throwdown. 

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Friday, February 22, 2019

In The Limelight | Katie Haverly Celebrates The Divine Feminine

Posted By on Fri, Feb 22, 2019 at 3:29 PM

  • Julius Schlosburg
In a collaborative project—with photographer/videographer Julius Schlosburg and writer/broadcaster Hannah Levin—singer-songwriter Katie Haverly is set to unveil her latest video to the world. Tuesday, Feb. 26 marks the release of “Titanic” a song from her fifth studio album Pluto. The video is a celebration of 38 Tucson women—the badass artists, musicians, movers and shakers that make this dusty town tick.

But, there is more to the story than that.

XOXO sat down over coffee with Haverly, Levin and Schlosburg at Casa Libre for a chat. Gird your loins.

The song “Titanic” is from your 2018 release, Pluto. How did the inspiration for the video come about?

Katie Haverly:  The day that Aretha Franklin died I had a vision of doing this video. It was inspired by a desire to highlight and have many women be seen, that maybe aren’t highlighted enough in our community, for the contributions that they make and creativity they bring to our city—and the value that they hold. I sent an email reaching out to sixty women to describe the project. Then I tried to figure out how to do it… And I talked to Julius and he said, “Yes.” Then, Hannah heard about the project and got excited. From there we started collaborating together.

From listening to the song and reading the lyrics, it strikes me as a cautionary tale. What was your intended meaning or thought when you wrote “Titanic?”

Katie Haverly:  I read Russell Brand’s book Revolution (Random House). He uses this metaphor, over and over again, in the book. Which is, this school bus is filled with forty people that control 98 percent of the world’s resources and wealth. And these forty people have this enormous political power to impact policies and change big things, like our environment. This song is really about our environment. And the ways in which we are not waking up to the call to arms that we should be tasked with to stop these insane massive changes. So these forty people on the bus, are there on the top deck of the Titanic. They are lounging on fancy linen sheets under diamond chandeliers. And all the decks below are the people who are influenced by their decisions. [The forty] hold the steering wheel to this vessel—one that we are all on together—that is about to hit a fucking iceberg.

The undercurrent to the song is how The Divine Feminine energy needs to come up and out to correct this masculine energy that has created this shift in the vessel. It is definitely a cautionary tale.
When you reached out through your email what was the message that you were conveying?

Katie Haverly:  Hannah, I would be curious what you felt the message was when you received the email?

Hannah Levin:  The message was clear, that you wanted to pull more women into the spotlight that weren’t necessarily in the spotlight. Aside from the feminist and necessary implications of the work. I was impressed. She articulated a very lucid vision. She wanted to create a space where each woman would be represented in her own way; Each woman’s power, strength and creativity was going to be illuminated.

How does Julius factor into all this?

Julius Schlosburg:  Katie and I were in a band, Copper & Congress, for years. We became close friends. We’ve made music videos before. We respect each other's work. It’s really joyous to work with Katie.

Where was the video shot?

Katie Haverly:  At my house.

And, what was the vibe like having all these dynamic women in one room?

Katie Haverly:  I think it was like the best day of my life. It was so beautiful and full of love and support. There was such a sense of community during a time when we all felt so violated, not seen or heard. It was a healing experience. Very inspiring and nourishing.

What message would you like someone watching this video to get?

Katie Haverly:  The first thing, is to spark curiosity as to who these women are. I want people to get a sense as to how powerful these women are and how underrepresented they have been in our community. And to create a space for these women to be seen.
  • Julius Schlosburg
You’ve been cultivating your career in Tucson for several years now. Do you feel that you have experienced discrimination as a female artist in having access and doors open for your performances?

Katie Haverly:  That’s a very complex question…

It is.

Katie Haverly:  Because there are lots of different levels to those experiences. I’ve had to learn how to assert myself in a certain way, to not be treated that way. I’ve spent my whole life feeling like I’ve been treated differently by men in the music industry.

You have?

Katie Haverly:  Oh absolutely. Especially booking shows.

Julius Schlosburg:  Even when we would play shows… It’s like Katie Haverly and The Aviary. But, the sound person would come up to one of the guys in the band, “Hey, what do you need?”

Hannah Levin:  I’ve been sitting with her after a show and some guy in the audience would come up and start giving her feedback about how she could do a better job.

Katie Haverly:  That started when I was fifteen. And it was always white guys in their fifties and sixties. I fucking swear to god.

I suspected there was some sexism involved in the process. I am sorry to hear that…

Katie Haverly:  My strategy to overcome that is to be insanely professional and really good at what I do. So people can’t ignore me. I feel that I have to do this better to be considered for the same thing.

Ultimately, and maybe that will be our saving grace as a society, is that talent always rises above. And, I think you have risen based on your abilities as opposed to anything else. Your persistence has paid off.

Katie Haverly:  Thanks.

Your work touches on social and environmental issues. Is “Titanic” a political statement?

Katie Haverly:  Absolutely. Withdrawing from the Paris Agreement is horrendous. I don’t know where to start…

Please, I think you should start.

Katie Haverly:  I don’t understand how the idea of climate science is not being recognized by our political leaders. It’s like a nightmare. I don’t know how… All of the tragedies that we are dealing with right now are human generated. And, I am a culprit. We all are living in this luxury that affords us this experience right now. But, we are really not prepared to have a safe and healthy place for future generations to live.

The bitter truth.

In an encore performance, Katie Haverly and The Aviary debut the video for “Titanic” on Saturday, Feb. 23 at Exo Roast Co. With Jillian Bessett.
  • Julius Schlosburg

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Friday, January 18, 2019

Community Members Release Statement In Opposition of Tucson Women's March

Posted By on Fri, Jan 18, 2019 at 1:30 PM

2017 Women's March in Tucson - TIRION MORRIS
  • Tirion Morris
  • 2017 Women's March in Tucson

Yesterday Tucson Weekly published an article about the upcoming Tucson Women’s March on Jan. 20. The story did not include information about the communities that have felt mistreated during the creation of this event.

Summer Aguilera, a member of the Chukson Tucson Water Protectors, went to the first public organizers meeting for the Tucson Women’s March almost a year ago. From the beginning, she began to notice problematic behaviors from within the organization’s leadership.

She said the leaders, many of whom are white, gave titles but no real decision-making power to some of the groups they claim to represent. They wouldn’t allow Spanish-speaking women to give speeches at the march, claiming their accents were too thick. She said they tokenized women of color and LGBTQ+ groups by believing they had done their part just by scheduling people of those identities to speak at the event.

In response to these actions, a community statement was released in opposition of the march. The community members who drafted the statement made it clear they are not speaking for everyone, since there are women of color and LGBTQ+ folks who will participate in the event and have had different experiences with the leadership.

In December, Aguilera brought her concerns to the leaders of the Tucson Women’s March, but was told she was being “uncivil.” She was accompanied by white allies who repeated her exact concerns, to which the leaders welcomingly acknowledged. Aguilera said she and organizers like her were told they are the cause of the divide in the women’s march, and that they were creating the problem.

The national women’s march movement has struggled with inclusivity since the beginning. The public fallout of the Women’s March, Inc. organization over accusations of keeping organizers of color powerless and anti-Semitism beliefs echo similar rifts happening in women’s march organizations across the country. In some of the most liberal cities, women of color and LGBTQ+ folks have experienced pushback from the very organizations that claim to champion their daily struggles.

Here in Tucson, Aguilera believes the women’s march is not really for marginalized people, it’s for those with privilege to feel good about themselves. She said organizing an event makes them feel like they’re being allies, but by maintaining control of it they are only taking resources away from those who actually need it. She said they don’t talk about their own complicity and actions that perpetuate oppression or attend community events organized by the marginalized groups themselves, they only focus on putting together this symbolic march.

Local groups in support of this position include Black Lives Matter Tucson, Coalición de Derechos Humanos, Chukson Water Protectors, Border Patrol Victims Network, Sustainable Nations, TYLO (Tierra Y Libertad Organization), Free the Children Coalition, Flowers and Bullets, Sex Workers Outreach Project, Bruv Luv, Pan Left, Split Seeds Production, O’odham Anti Border Collective, Alliance for Global Justice, Take Back the Night, Borderlinks, Tucson Lobaz, GLOO Factory, Green Party of Pima County Chair Sara Mae Williams (Tohono O’odham) and Tucson Brown Berets - Citlamina Xochitlquetzalli along with numerous local activists. Aguilera said the list has grown longer since they released it.

Cynthia Bistrain, the chair of the Tucson Women’s March, said she was very saddened to see their statement. She said this is a difficult space to be in and everyone is plagued by making their own assumptions, but she and the other leaders, many of whom are older women, are still willing to have those difficult conversations.

Marla Pacheco, a representative of the Coalición de Derechos Humanos, said they have received support from across the country since they released the statement. Groups in other cities have had the same problems with women’s marches in their cities that claim inclusivity but don’t support it.

Their opposition to the women’s march has actually united communities that have equally been sidelined from the mainstream liberal movement, according to Aguilera.

She and others are planning their own demonstration for International Women’s Day in early March. She said they will give a genuine platform for marginalized groups to speak and will be a safe space for all. More details will be available in the near future.

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Thursday, January 10, 2019

Laughing Stock: Fringe Freedom Finds the Funny

Posted By on Thu, Jan 10, 2019 at 12:56 PM

Bill Santiago presents his comedy set, The Immaculate Big Bang, as part of the Tucson Fringe Fest 2019, Jan. 10 through 13. - MORGAN SHORTELL, KMESTUDIO12.COM
  • Morgan Shortell, KMEstudio12.com
  • Bill Santiago presents his comedy set, The Immaculate Big Bang, as part of the Tucson Fringe Fest 2019, Jan. 10 through 13.

The first time actor, director and Rincon High School drama teacher Maryann Green staged a play she’d written herself, she sold out the house. Twice. Those two shows were part of the 2013 Fringe Festival that hooked her on fringe for life.

Now she heads up a volunteer crew of 15 to produce the Tucson Fringe Festival 2019, from Thursday, Jan. 10, through Sunday, Jan. 13. The fest includes 50 performances in 12 local venues. Admission to each show is $10, but a range of multi-show options are available, from a $15, two-admission pass to a $95 all-access pass.

A growing phenomenon around the globe, fringe theater is unique in its artistic freedom. Fringe productions often radically disregard conventions of structure, space, physical language and audience engagement. Acts self-identify as Fringe, pay an artist’s fee and get their names drawn from a hat, or not, as luck will have it.

Green says, “The first week of September, we hold a party where guests take turns pulling shows out of the hat until we have a full line up.”

Tucson Fringe sometimes pays a price for that artistic freedom. “Comedy shows tend to do better, ticket-sales wise,” Green says. “But some of my favorite past shows have been thought-provoking, heavier pieces.

“I was also really happy to be able to offer The Esperanza Dance project a last-minute spot in the festival,” she adds. “They help victims of childhood sexual violence heal through dance and multi-media performance.”

For comedy, we especially look forward to the first entries we’ve seen whose subject matter is entirely about work life: Name Tag Blues, Shane “Scurvy” Spears’ send up of the ignominies along the path to a window office; and Moira Keefe’s, Life as An Associate ...AKA F**ing Cashier, about a retiree’s return to the workforce.

We also like the funny, full-frontal feminism of Mo Urban and Steena Salido’s C*nts vs C*nts Talking About C*nts variety show and Elaine Orion’s Delightfully Rude, winner of the “Best Comedic Performance” award at the 2018 Boulder Fringe Festival.

And we’re looking forward to the Tucson fest’s first straight-up stand up performance, Bill Santiago’s The Immaculate Big Bang, a parody of every deeply believed origin story of everything.
Complete descriptions and tickets for all performances are at squareup.com/store/tucsonfringe.

From 3 to 4 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 13, the Comedy Alliance of Tucson and the Tucson Fringe Festival co-host “What Are You Laughing At,” a free, audience-participation panel discussion about the comedy scene in Tucson. Details are at catcomedy520.org. 

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Thursday, November 8, 2018

Sluts of Tucson Walk the Walk, Talk the Talk

Posted By on Thu, Nov 8, 2018 at 5:01 PM

The SlutWalk is a worldwide protest march that is all about reclaiming the word slut, combating rape culture and taking solidarity with survivors of sexual assault. Tucson's 2018 chapter of the walk hit the sidewalks of Downtown Tucson on the evening Nov. 5th.

According to The Guardian, The movement started in 2011 in Toronto, in response to a cop, Michael Sanguinetti, said: "I've been told I'm not supposed to say this – however, women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimized."

This year's walk was organized by the UA's Women & Gender Resource Center (WGRC) and Feminists Organized to Resist, Create and Empower (FORCE). The march began from UA's Old Main and ended with a closing ceremony at the Rialto.

"We thought it was especially important this year with the #Metoo movement. Throughout every single march we have been tried to create a safe place and a place to speak out," said Lilly Cain, who helped organize the march. "We want it to be seen and known that we should be able to be safe in these streets, no matter how we dress. It shouldn't matter what time of day or night it is. We should not have to be surrounded by a crowd to feel safe in our own space, in our own bodies."

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Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Women Account for 39 Percent of Arizona Ballot, Among Highest in Nation

Posted By and on Tue, Nov 6, 2018 at 12:57 PM

A record 39 percent of the candidates on Arizona’s ballot Tuesday are women, mirroring a national surge in female candidates that many believe started with the Women’s March the day after President Donald Trump’s inauguration in January 2017. - (PHOTO BY ALEXIS EGELAND/CRONKITE NEWS)
  • (Photo by Alexis Egeland/Cronkite News)
  • A record 39 percent of the candidates on Arizona’s ballot Tuesday are women, mirroring a national surge in female candidates that many believe started with the Women’s March the day after President Donald Trump’s inauguration in January 2017.

Anita Malik had never run for political office before, but the aftershock of the 2016 election – including the #MeToo movement and the Brett Kavanaugh hearings – pushed her to get her name on the ballot.

“Everything that was going on just made me want to step in and take that on,” said Malik, a Democrat, of her decision to challenge four-term Rep. David Schweikert, R-Fountain Hills, in a district where registered Republicans outnumber Democrats by almost 70,000.

Malik is one of 90 women on the ballot for state or federal office in Arizona this year, accounting for a record-setting 39 percent of the candidates in the state.

That mirrored a national trend in what many national organizations have said would be the Year of the Woman in elections. Cronkite News was able to review ballots in 44 states and found that the number of women running for office ranged from 20 percent in West Virginia to 42 percent in Hawaii.

Most were above 30 percent and Arizona trailed only Hawaii, Oregon, Nevada and Rhode Island for the prevalence of women on the ballot.

In Arizona, the numbers have been steadily rising from 1974, when women made up just 14 percent of the candidates on the ballot. The change is most easily seen in the race to replace Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Arizona, where Democrat Kyrsten Sinema and Republican Martha McSally are vying to become the state’s first female U.S. senator.

Arizona political analyst Jason Rose said more women taking a seat at the political table is “a great thing for American history and American democracy.”

“For too long, the American government has largely been ruled by old white men,” Rose said. “And old white men can tend to take a country club approach, a business as usual approach, and not appreciate or address issues of import to more than half the public.”

Rose said the influx of women would bring more moderate policies and a shift in priorities that could potentially bridge the gap between some more divisive political groups.

League of Women Voters CEO Virginia Kase said that the number of women on the ballot this year shows a clear trend of women “starting to realize that they can have it all.”

“They can be a mom, they can be a wife, they can be all of those things that they want to be, and be a great political candidate,” Kase said. “I think that that’s something that we’re starting to see more than ever before.”

But for Meghan Kelly, a Democrat running her first race against a Republican incumbent in the Delaware House of Representatives, the inspiration to run came when a male colleague tried to make a pass at her at work. She said she asked for professional help and he tried to initiate an intimate relationship with her.

“This is not a man’s world,” she said. “It’s our world to share, and men need to learn to respect and honor women too.”

Malik, likewise, said she ran to stand up for women’s rights.

“Really, women have almost become ‘the other’ again for this administration,” she said. “The idea of attacking women’s rights all across the board and just attacking women as a different class is unacceptable, and it put women in a place of, you know, ‘This is not OK.'”

Kase said the increased number of women on the ballot is likely to lead to more female office holders after Election Day. She sees that as a step in the right direction for the women’s movement as a whole, and the beginning of an exciting trend.

“There are always these little anthills … but sometimes those anthills feel like mountains for women,” Kase said. “But what we’re realizing is that we can overcome any obstacle that gets in our way, and we can move those mountains aside.”

Malik said that whether she wins or loses Tuesday, she does not think this will be “just a blip” in her life. She plans to stay involved in politics, whether that means running for office again or just getting more involved politically, and she expects the same in the rest of the country.

“I think 2016 really woke women up and fuelled that flame of, ‘You know what, if you’re not going to represent me, then I’m going to go ahead and do it,'” Malik said. “So this was the starting point, but it’s definitely not the ending point.”

For more stories from Cronkite News, visit cronkitenews.azpbs.org.

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Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Equality Tour Aims to Include Arizona in Historic Change

Posted By on Wed, Oct 31, 2018 at 2:11 PM

  • Equal Means Equal

The Equality Tour is coming to Tucson. The event is organized by Equal Means Equal, a charitable organization of the Heroica Foundation. The Equality Tour will feature speakers and comedic and musical performances all in support of passing the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA).

The Equal Rights Amendment is a proposed amendment to the U.S Constitution that would guarantee equal rights to both men and women, which would work to eliminate gender pay gaps.

So far, 37 of the 38 states needed to amend the U.S Constitution to include women have voted to ratify, with Nevada and Illinois voting yes in just the past year and a half. Arizona has the potential to be a history-making state because the amendment will only be passed if one more state ratifies. 

Speakers at the event will include Kamala Lopez, the executive director of Equal Means Equal, Pamela Powers, Arizona State Representative of District 9, Victoria Steele, candidate for Arizona State Representative District 9, Athena Salman, Arizona State Senator of District 26 and Natalie White, Co-Director of Equal Means Equal and Feminist Artist.

The musical performance is Voices for Change (VFC), a community organization that brings awareness to important social and political issues through music. Soloists will include Ali Handal, Jason Chu and Anthony Fedorov.

Also at the event will be Nobody's Funny, a team of stand-up comics. Performing comics include Samantha Baxley, Buffy Metler, Eugenia Kuzmin, Joel Marshall, Or Mash and Jessica Winther.

The free event will be on Thursday, Nov. 1 at 6:30 p.m. and will be located at the MSA Annex Festival Grounds near the Mercado at 267 S. Avenida Del Convento.

To purchase free tickets for admission or for more information about Equal Means Equal, visit: http://equalmeansequal.org/

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Tuesday, October 9, 2018

YWCA's 30th Annual Women's Leadership Conference: Speaker Preview

Posted By on Tue, Oct 9, 2018 at 4:12 PM

  • YWCA Southern Arizona

The 30th Annual Women’s Leadership Conference will take place on Oct. 19 from 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. at JW Marriott star Pass Resort. The conference will feature keynote speakers Alejandra Y. Castillo, Jes Baker and Kelly Fryer. This event is hosted by YWCA Southern Arizona.

  • YWCA Southern Arizona
Alejandra Y. Castillo: CEO of YWCA USA, Castillo leads a network of 210 associations serving 2.2 million women and girls in 46 states around the country and the District of Columbia. In 2014, she was appointed to serve as the national director of Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) by the Obama Administration. She became the first Hispanic-American woman to lead the agency.

Jes Baker: An American writer, photographer and activist who is part of the body positive movement. She blogs about self-image at The Militant Baker. She founded the Body Love Conference and has authored two books: Things No One Will Tell Fat Girls: A Handbook for Unapologetic Living and Landwhale: On Turning Insults Into Nicknames, Why Body Image Is Hard, and How Diets Can Kiss My Ass.

  • YWCA Southern Arizona
Kelly Fryer: CEO of YWCA Southern Arizona. She was a founding board member and is a teacher in the Eller Social Innovation program at the University of Arizona. She previously served as Associate Professor of Leadership at Luther Seminary in St. Paul, MN. She offered leadership training where she helped hundreds of organizations and thousands of leaders across the U.S. and Canada learn "to do what matters." She also served as Executive Director of Arizona List in 2012 where she helped 39 women get elected to state and local office. She also just completed her 6-month sabbatical to run as candidate for Governor of Arizona.
  • YWCA Southern Arizona

At the festival, along with the three keynote speakers, there will be two empowering workshop tracks, 14 workshops, live screen-printing by Cream Design & Print, LinkedIn headshots and interactive group activities and networking with 400 leaders. Find more information here and register for tickets here.

Tucson Local Media is a sponsor of this event.

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Meditation and Buddhist study

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