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the flog

School Board Candidate Sam Hall Suspects “Special Interests” in Civics Test Controversy

How does Duval County School Board member Scott Shine manipulate the press? Let me count the ways: He used taxpayer resources to bring legal intimidation down on a teacher; he stormed out of a school board meeting, complaining that the superintendent selection process was moving too fast; he publicly bemoaned his disappointment that his bromance with former Superintendent Dr. Nikolai Vitti had ended, while simultaneously declaring his heir apparent for the seat he’s vacating in District 2, candidate Nick Howland. These are all exciting, Shine-studded events for the young, intrepid education reporters on the daily beat. But for our more seasoned community members, including District 2 candidate Sam Hall, Shine’s most recent dissidence with the school board raises red flags, and indicates that outside political influences may be at play.

In short: Shine has aligned with a tiny, statewide coalition of school board members who are complaining that districts have found a way to help students succeed on high-stakes tests. (Yes. You read that right.) The Florida Coalition of School Board Members (FCSBM) is the “reform” crowd’s weaker alternative to the 80-year-old Florida School Boards Association (FSBA). The coalition, which promotes privatized educational organizations for students, is charging that Duval, Manatee and Polk counties “gamed the system” by changing the student pathway to the middle-school civics course and, consequently, by changing when some students take the end-of-course exam. Shine failed to tell the Florida Times-Union, however, that he voted for the progression plan that his coalition now characterizes as “gaming the system.”

“There’s a unanimous vote to approve, then there’s a change of view there. That raises a lot of questions for me,” District 2 candidate Sam Hall told Folio Weekly. He was referring to the 7-0 vote by the board to permit some middle-school …   More

the flog

Looking Again

“A-I is talking to CAY 161. That is the famous Cay from 161 Street, there at the beginning with TAKI 183 and JUNIOR, as famous in the world of wall and subway graffiti as Giotto may have been when his name first circulated through the circuits of those workshops which led from Masaccio through Piero della Francesca to Botticelli, Michelangelo, Leonardo and Raphael,” wrote Norman Mailer in 1973, of the graffiti scene in NYC that he observed and wrote about in the infamous essay (with photos by Jon Naar) "The Faith of Graffiti."

And though we are a long cry away from the tumultuous ’70s of New York (and the risk of police beatings for loosing a little paint in the air), there’s no denying the often startlingly and occasionally visceral power of large-scale outdoor murals (even for those who don’t identify as enthusiasts).

Low cost (relatively) and high impact, in this fair-to-middlin’ part of the 21st century, murals executed by specialists in the genre have become developers’ wet dreams. They say “art” but they don’t say “artists,” which is exactly how Americans like it (and fast tracks the gentrification/rent hike process). According to a 2003 statistic in the study “Investing in Creativity: A Study for the Support Structure for U.S. Artists,” 96 percent of Americans valued art in their lives, while only 27 percent valued artists.

However, no community that wants to position itself as a leader in the arts can realistically expect to do so sans artists; a painted desert is still arid, after all. So when an institution like the Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens reaches out to local artists, that’s notable. Of course, this isn’t the first time the museum has engaged with the Jax-based arts community—Lift: Contemporary Expression of the African American Experience 2017, Our Shared Past 2014, and the Folio Weekly Invitational Artist Exhibition 2012 all held a …   More

the flog

Tedeschi Trucks Band Brings Down the House


Damn, these cats can wail. Last night’s Tedeschi Trucks Band show at Daily’s Place sent waves of sound-gasms rippling through a crowd already lubed up by able openers The Marcus King Band and special guest Drive-by-Truckers, whose hour-long show was a draw for many.


The setting summer sun streaked sherbet colors across the sky when hometown band Tedeschi Trucks kicked off their Wheels of Soul tour. A ripe moon accented by wispy clouds slowly scaled the sky as the 12-piece band’s 90-minute set built to a spellbinding crescendo that, among other delights, treated us to a free-form jam that morphed into The Allman Bros. “The Whipping Post,” one of my all-time faves.

The onstage chemistry guitar great Derek Trucks shares with wife Susan Tedeschi, singer and guitarist, makes for an unforgettable performance. Her bluesy voice is sweet, liquid smoke; his guitar is the flame. Because of Trucks’ very visible career with The Allman Brothers Band., many focus on him, but Susan Tedeschi crushes it, y’all. She is a powerhouse singer with rich tone and incredible phrasing; it’s almost hard to believe that anyone could be born with an instrument that can create such beautiful and singularly recognizable sounds.

I’ll never forget when my sister told me about a 19-year-old guitar prodigy named Derek Trucks who had recently signed on to play with the Allmans. It was 1999 and I was 18 years old. It seemed almost unbelievable that someone who was practically my same age could have the skills and courage to perform with jam-band royalty. It’s strange and a little bit embarrassing to admit about a stranger, but I felt an odd kinship with Trucks, if for no reason other than that we are both creative and found our callings in early life. He was and is far more successful than I, but it’s a feeling that remains with me all these years since the first time I enjoyed his music, which probably …   More

Folio A&E

The Prodigal Daughter Returns

When we last wrote about pianist/singer Kelly Green in our December 20 issue, she was nearing the end of the biggest year in her short career. The Deland native moved to New York City after graduating from UNF in 2014, and has maintained an impressively frenetic performance schedule ever since, culminating with the release of her debut album, , last fall. It was resoundingly well-received across the international jazz community so, like any savvy professional, she is striking while the iron is hot.

She returns to Florida at the end of June for series of gigs around the state, punctuated by two days at the Greenhouse Productions studio in Orlando, where she and her trio-the KG3, featuring Alex Tremblay on bass and Evan Hyde on drums-will enter the studio to record her much-anticipated sophomore release. (She also has a sextet that works the New York area pretty regularly.) But there is nothing sophomoric about her chops, or the breadth and scope of her musical knowledge. Green is the type of player who would have been right at home in almost any setting there was in the history of jazz, but her wheelhouse is the classic post-war bebop that continues driving the music's commercial market to this day.

Based currently in Harlem, where she shares a brownstone with three other working jazz musicians, she is usually within walking distance (if not a short ride on the legendary "A" Train, made famous by Duke Ellington in 1941) of countless iconic sites in jazz history, many of which she now knows like the back of her hand: The Blue Note, B.B. King's, Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola at Lincoln Center, Minton's Playhouse, Mezzrow, Smalls Jazz Club, The Django NYC, Zinc Bar New York, Fat Cat, The Bitter End, Bowery Electric, Rockwood Music Hall, The Flatiron Room, Fine & Rare and even the Apollo Theater. The trio just finished a mini-tour of Colombia just a few weeks ago, but all roads lead back to Jacksonville, or so it seems sometimes.

For the leader, it marks her first …   More

Folio A&E

Big Fun

It was a good-smelling crowd.

At least that was my initial response Sunday night when my girlfriend and I sat down in our seats at the Pixies sold-out show at The Florida Theatre.

AXE body products, clean-smelling hair, Dr. Bronner, deodorants and emollients, a hint of craft beer, beard oil! ... no scent of weed or nachos ... when you're 46 and sober, more than anything else, it's about how hygienic the crowd is and how they smell, along with those same ticketholders honoring the "don't invade my space" credo and finding a clear sightline to the stage.

Sadly, at one point, my girlfriend, Erica, leaned over and informed me, "She keeps touching me!" of the good-times-partyin' gal to her left.

I'm surely a curmudgeon and a total hypocrite.

During my late-teen years in the late '80s, my friends and I would travel miles to any Jesus Lizard gig.

Over the course of the Jesus Lizard's alcoholic vortex gig, singer David Yow would routinely pull his testicles out through the zipper of his beer-and-sweat-drenched blue jeans (he called this unwarranted ball peep show "The Brain"). I nearly saw Yow's nuts as much as I gandered at my own.

So I'm hardly a hand-wringing Calvinist.

That being said, I don't want to see anything jutting out of anyone in the band. Nor do I want to see a fellow audience member's members, testicles, third nipples or any nudity.

And I don't want to smell you any more than I want to see you nude.

So aroma is key.

Up in the balcony of The Florida Theatre, it might've smelled like GG Allin's litter box.

But as we had, inexplicably, scored really good seats, we lived it up in the fresh-aired VIP "Nostrilarrarium" of the 10th row of SEC200.

Friends had assured us that the opening act, The Wombats, were great but, quite frankly, the trio came across like the Jonas Brothers with pricey Orange tube amps.

Their songs were quick little poppy-punk nuggets.

They sang some song about Dee Dee Ramone or Johnny Thunders; …   More

Folio A&E

Soaring Space Inspired Soaring Sounds

Folio Weekly: The St. Augustine Music Festival is staged in the St. Augustine Cathedral Basilica. How does that unique venue intersect with festival goals?

SAMF: The festival was actually inspired by the Cathedral space. The founders, Jorge Peña (viola) and Jin Kim-Peña (cello), had played a gig there in 2007 and were blown away by its wonderful acoustics, beautiful architecture and historic significance. Their impression: "This place cries out for classical music performances," just as you see in the historic churches throughout  Europe.

The festival is classical-music focused. How are the pieces selected and arranged for performance over the six days of concerts?

Jorge Peña, founder and artistic director, spends months weighing music choices, and considers many factors. He aims to make each of the six concerts unique, with its own personality. So one concert may feature orchestral music that spotlights a virtuoso guest soloist, another may present intimate chamber ensembles, followed by a concert of lush suites for string orchestra.  He also has to consider SAMF's resources, and which players will be available during the festival. We don't have the budget to do full orchestral concerts every night, and many of Jacksonville's fine musicians are juggling multiple gigs during the summer. He also sets the order of pieces with the dramatic arc of a concert in mind: How do we engage the audience's attention and keep it? Which pieces will make the most of the musical resources, expose the audience to something new,  delight them with something familiar, make a great finale, encourage applause and encores and send the audience home high on music? He filters all of this, and more, and puts together truly remarkable programs of free concerts.

How has the festival evolved since its start?

The festival started with no money, no board of directors, and very few financial supporters. The Peñas gathered their musician …   More

the flog

Conservationists Score Major Win

Environmentalists around the state cheered today when Florida Circuit Judge Charles Dodson ruled in favor of organizations that had sued to require the state to use funds earmarked for land acquisition, restoration and management of those lands under the terms of the Water and Land Conservation Amendment.

In 2015, nonprofit environmental law organization Earthjustice wrote, "The Water and Land Conservation Amendment requires that, for the next 20 years, 33 percent of the proceeds from real estate documentary-stamp taxes go for land acquisition. For the upcoming year, the share of the real-estate tax is projected to bring in more than $740 million."

In the unsurprising, if disheartening, tradition of Floridian lawmakers (medical marijuana, anyone?), since the amendment passed overwhelmingly with 75 percent of the vote in 2014, the legislature has continued dipping into the money pot for other uses, such as staffing and overhead costs, which many viewed as contrary to the intent of voters.

Consequently, Earthjustice filed suit on behalf of environmental organizations—including the St. Johns Riverkeeper, the Sierra Club, the Florida Wildlife Federation, Florida Defenders of the Environment, and the Environmental Confederation of Southwest Florida—to force the state to comply with their view of the terms of the amendment.

Today, they have a win.

"Protection of Florida's lands is critical to protecting Florida's waters," said St. Johns Riverkeeper Lisa Rinaman in a release. "Today's ruling is a stunning victory for our state's wild places, rivers, springs, residents and future generations."

It is likely the matter is headed to the appellate court. Calling the verdict "a clear abuse of judicial authority," Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran (R-Pasco County) told the Orlando Sentinel that they "are confident it will be overturned on appeal."

Nevertheless, plaintiffs and other environmentalists are celebratory today. In a separate …   More

the flog

Tony Allegretti, Executive Director of the Cultural Council of Greater Jacksonville Resigns Unexpectedly

In a surprise move reported by WJCT, Tony Allegretti, the executive director of the Cultural Council of Greater Jacksonville decided to step down today. In his resignation letter, Allegretti wrote that he plans to focus on a "significant opportunity" and his family's "entrepreneurial ventures."

Allegretti has been a long-time proponent of Downtown Jacksonville and the Urban Core. He was the Market Manager of the Riverside Arts Market and one of the founders of Art Walk. He has served in the CCGJ executive position since 2014 and says that he plans to stick around to help with the search and settling-in of the new director. He also has previously publicly stated (as WJCT reported) that he never saw this position as lasting longer than 5 years (many, many folks to answer to), and that he is very proud of all he has been able to accomplish during his stint at the helm.

"I'll cherish my time leading the Cultural Council and I'll remain a resource and strong advocate for the organization and the entire massive, beautiful arts and cultural community," is the sentiment upon which he ended his letter.


the flog

Riverkeeper Announces Town Hall Series about Flooding, Rising Waters

The St. Johns River offered a swirling backdrop to a press conference at Friendship Fountain today as the St. Johns Riverkeeper announced a series of town hall meetings about flooding and rising waters.

Riverkeeper Lisa Rinaman said that the goal of the meetings, which kick off later this month, is to "bring the community together ... so we could talk about long-term strategies to make ourselves more resilient as a city and as communities."

Attendees will be afforded the opportunity to hear from scientists and other experts, including people who have studied the issue from a historic perspective, and share their thoughts, concerns and ideas.

"We want to make sure they have an opportunity to be heard," Rinaman said.

As this is the first day of hurricane season, many around the nation, and perhaps especially in Northeast Florida, which has been impacted by hurricanes in both previous years, may have storms and floods on the brain. Last year, Hurricane Irma brought unprecedented flooding to parts of Jacksonville, some of which are still not fully recovered. In fact, a man from Ken Knight Drive, a community particularly damaged by the storm, who was scheduled to speak at today's event, cancelled to help a neighbor fix a roof that has had tarps on it since the storm last September.

The Riverkeeper is embroiled in a lawsuit trying to stop JaxPort's dredging project currently underway in the St. Johns River, to deepen the shipping channel from 40 to 47 feet; the dredging will likely increase storm surge and flooding. In a release, The Riverkeeper noted that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers reports that "even smaller, 'high frequency' storms could increase storm surge and the maximum water levels in the St. Johns River by an additional 12 percent due to the current dredging project." That could be the difference between soaking the yard and flooding the home in a low-lying riverfront community like Jacksonville, and its outlying and oceanfront …   More

the flog

Recycle Fishing Line at These St. Johns County Locations

It may not seem like much, but fishing line can be a deadly form of litter. Birds and other marine life often don't see the thin, clear strands, and can become entangled or accidentally eat it, often resulting in serious injury or death.

Also known as 'ghost gear,' discarded fishing line and tackle contributes to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of birds, turtles, fish and other marine life—with larger gear such as nets trapping creatures as large as whales—resulting in slow, agonizing demises, according to World Animal Protection. ABC reported last year that the organization estimates that as much as 640,000 tonnes of such gear is left in the oceans each year, and can remain there for up to 600 years.

That's why St. Johns County Parks and Recreation and Florida Fish and Wildlife have joined forces to participate in the Monofilament Recovery and Recycling Program (MRRP). According to a release, monofilament recycling stations can now be found at these locations in St. Johns County: 

·        Boating Club Road Boat Ramp: 615 Boating Club Rd., St. Augustine

·        Doug Crane Boat Ramp: 1039 Shore Dr., St. Augustine

·        Exxon Beach Access: 2700 S. Ponte Vedra Blvd., Ponte Vedra Beach

·        Moultrie Creek Boat Ramp: 4805 Shore Dr., St. Augustine

·        Palmo Road Boat Ramp: 8600 Palmo Fish Camp Rd., St. Augustine

·        Palm Valley Boat Ramp: 383 S. Roscoe Blvd., St. Augustine

·        Porpoise Point Beach Access: Porpoise Point Dr., St. Augustine

·        Riverdale Park Boat Ramp: 981 CR 13, Fruit …   More