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PLAYING AROUND

The nomadic 5 & Dime is pressing us out of our comfort zone again on a subject many Americans try to bury and ignore — race.

In April, Al Letson’s John Coffey Refuses to Save the World reminded us how popular stories skew our views with imaginary, magical Negroes. Now, director Rick De Spain and company unleash the Pulitzer and Tony award-winning Clybourne Park, which hits close to home on white privilege, institutional racism and the pursuit of the American Dream.

For artistry, ambition and strong acting as a group, The 5 & Dime scores again, with a creative team that must be applauded not only for their execution but also for their aspiration.

The romance of this troupe must be weighed against the hardships that come from acting without a home. All of Jacksonville’s makeshift stages come with their impediments.

In the John Coffey production at the Museum of Science & History, the short stage proved a hindrance, though the gamble to use the Planetarium’s wizardry was inspired.

At the Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens, space is less of a problem, but the gallery-turned-stage loses its charm in a matinee — as light peeks in from those celebrated gardens.

Supporting players Josh Waller, Lindsay Curry and Larry Knight hold our gaze with every second they’re on stage, helping Clybourne Park overcome the chaos inherent in its script.

Local favorite Josh Waller — sure to be in the running for Best Actor in Folio Weekly’s Best of Jax contest (end shameless plug) — plays the segregationist Karl, the entitled protector of the Clybourne property values. Somehow, he injects humor into this offensive, racist character.

Curry hits every note with spot-on comedic timing in both roles — as Karl’s deaf wife Betsy in Act I and as the apologetic “I once dated a black man” Lindsey in Act II. The expressive and charming Knight delivers his own humor …   More

ARTS

The temporal, fragile, and exacting nature of performance, but of dance specifically, extends to the viewer a kind of ascetic and athletic virtue that is removed from linear time. Or at least that is the feeling created by the recent performances of Rebecca Levy, Tiffany Fish, and Katie McCaughan's dance company, Jacksonville Dance Theatre.

Presented at the Munnerlyn Center for Worship and Fine Arts on the campus of the Episcopal School of Jacksonville on the evening of May 30, the company’s third annual concert was moving and varied. Transitioning between quiet and still works that carried an air of sanctity, to pieces like Thirst that thrummed with energy and vibrancy, the entire experience was one that reinforced the extraordinary nature of dance. It featured group works that sublimated the personal to an overarching form, and it also showed the power of one or two dancers works in unison and opposition.

Watching the duet, Finding an Opening was like bearing witness to private, sacred acts that somehow in their beauty affirm the very world itself. This work specifically, and The place of the end not imagined (which followed it), felt as if they occupy the spot in the world once held by sacred mysteries enacted with solemn ritual to ensure the continuity of the universe. As Opening began, a cloud hovered near the ceiling of the stage, and as it slowly dissipated, unwinding like a thread made of dandelion fuzz, two figures unfolded from the far (left) side of the stage. They moved through a series of motions that were at once playful and loaded, all of gravity and the essence of light. Watching it gave rise to the thought that if music is universal, and visual art and life intersect with life, then is dance not that sacred thing that can transmute into quiet or raucous spaces/stories and be made luminous flesh.

Levy, Fish, and McCaughan are all engaged in the Jacksonville dance community through teaching and choreographing, and this important …   More

SPORTSTALK: THE JAG-OFF

Another home game for the Jacksonville Jaguars, another chance for Blake Bortles to make the leap. This game was the biggest start in his young career.

Why? Because the Dolphins are arguably the Jaguars’ biggest rivals, if for no other reason than proximity. And Dolphins QB Ryan Tannehill, in many ways, is an analog for Bortles: a young, up-and-down quarterback who can run if he needs to (both were top-five QB rushers coming in). Tannehill has looked increasingly sharp this year, but the jury was out on both of them coming into Sunday’s clash.

And it still is afterward. Tannehill was yet another quarterback who floundered in the face of an initially opportunistic Jags D (just 56 yards allowed in the first half). And Bortles? A dumpster fire. Yes, he threw two long touchdown passes. Both, however, went to Dolphins defenders.

Some missed opportunities for Jags’ offense were not on Bortles, such as the bomb Allen Robinson dropped on the first drive that should have been caught. For every one of those, though, there were things like the two pick-sixes — Bortles’ 11th and 12th of the year, even though he didn’t start until Week 4 — and the fumble in the second quarter. At times, especially on third down, he looked Gabbertesque. Except Gabbert never had a running back like Denard (apologies to MJD apologists).

The Jags opened up the route tree in the third quarter, going deep, which only exposed Bortles as the Dolphins stopped respecting the run and blitzed.

As the game progressed, Gus Bradley looked less and less like an NFL coach. More Tom Arnold than Tom Landry, Gus’ team once again looked outmatched in the second half. What was a winnable game at intermission was over long before the third quarter ended. Tannehill sharpened up as the fourth quarter commenced, one-liners and fart wafts filled the press box, and a “Let’s Go Dolphins” chant pervaded the cleaner air outside it.

On a day …   More

THE FLOG

A mixture of local talent and world-renowned experts are scheduled to give talks at the TEDx Jacksonville Connecting Currents event, to be held Oct. 26 on WJCT's sound stage.

Participants include Barbara Colaciello, Jacksonville Beach actor, playwright and storyteller; Hank Coxe, a Jacksonville attorney; Nancy Soderberg, UNF professor and former UN ambassador and White House advisor; Bruce Ganger, executive director of Second Harvest North Florida; Ben Warner, president and CEO of Jacksonville Community Council.

Also, Matt Rutherford, the first person to complete nonstop single-handed voyages around North and South America; former U.S. Rep. Robert Inglis, with the distinction of being uninvited to the Tea Party; TEDGlobal Fellow Aman Mojadidi, an American Southerner born to Afghan parents; Chevara Orrin, a black Jewish mother, activist and survivor who will discuss simple human interaction; Lawanda Ravoira, an expert on challenges girls in the juvenile justice system face; and Patricia Siemen, a Dominican sister and attorney who will discuss the long-term ecological health of the Earth.

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THE FLOG

As a reader, you might only think about Folio Weekly’s Best of Jax twice a year: once when you vote and again when you pick up the issue or go to the website to find out who won.

But here at Folio Weekly’s international headquarters, we’ve been working on Best of Jax for months.

It begins in May when we start compiling the list of categories for the ballot and decide which ones to keep, which ones to cut and which ones to add.

In June, we brainstorm several ideas for themes. This year, our passion for “Game of Thrones” pushed us to pick royalty. At that time, we create a logo for that year’s awards.

In July, we create the online ballot and launch it by the end of the month. While all of you are busy voting in August, we’re searching for models and props to bring our theme to life.

When voting ends, we start tabulating the votes. Because the ballot is open-ended and people can type in anything they want, it takes time to comb through each answer and add it to the appropriate place. It’s a laborious but somewhat humorous task sifting through the creative spellings of Northeast Florida’s favorites. But every vote counts!

Meanwhile, we shoot photos for the cover and topic headers that run inside. We shoot everything in at least two ways so we have different poses for the two Best of Jax issues — this year on Oct. 9 and Oct. 16.

Once we have a list of winners in early September, we assign writers to research and summarize their laurels in individual blurbs. Our staff photographer shoots more than 50 winners in four counties in about three weeks’ time.

Then, we compile and edit all the text and photos into the first and second Best of Jax issues. Once those are designed, proofed and printed, we still have to upload it all online.

We also produce laminated posters and door stickers for winners to hang with pride.

It all seems worth it when we get to celebrate with the winners at the Best of Jax party.

After a few …   More

THE FLOG

Around the time that a suburb half a country away was exploding last Monday night, a Jacksonville Sheriff’s officer named J.C. Garcia tried to pull over a car driven by a man named Brian Dennison, whose 6-year-old daughter was in his car, after he cut through a parking lot trying to avoid a traffic light.

The police say that Dennison didn’t stop when Garcia pulled up behind him, and continued driving all the way to his apartment complex. According to Dennison’s family, the 31-year-old was in a rush to get home because his daughter was having an asthma attack. Dennison got out of his car; one family member told News4Jax that he stuck his hands out of the car window and said, “Don’t shoot, please don’t shoot. I got my daughter in the car.”

Garcia claimed he saw a gun. He pulled his service weapon and fired a shot. 

Dennison — who, fortunately, was not harmed — did not have a weapon. He was, however, arrested on misdemeanor charges. The family is demanding answers.

If history is any indicator, they won’t get them.

Between 1999 and 2013, Florida cops in 110 different law enforcement agencies were involved in 574 homicides that were deemed justified, according to an investigation by NBC 6 South Florida. Of those, 42 cases involved the JSO, the second-highest total of any police agency in the state, behind only the Miami-Dade Police Department. That number is spiking, too — up from just 14 incidents in ’99 to 67 in 2012 and 58 last year — along with a pronounced, concomitant spike in civilian justified homicides that began around 2006 (thank you, Stand Your Ground), even as violent crime rates here and nationwide have plummeted since 1993.

If you’ve reported on cops for any amount of time, as I have, you know how rare it is for police agencies to decide that one of their own did anything wrong, ever, no matter the evidence — like Sasquatch-spotting rare. A few …   More

THE FLOG

When Mayor Alvin Brown called me after the City Council approved the long-debated pension deal 16-3, he was in an expansive mood. And why wouldn’t he be? He’d just scored the biggest victory of his administration.

He did the requisites: He lauded his team for doing the hard work of “solving the retirement reform [problem].” He wanted to “thank City Council for all their hard work.” But at the end of the day, he took credit for getting the deal done. “My administration presented a sustainable plan,” he said. 

Though he didn’t want to talk politics on the call, that statement could be seen as a direct riposte to Lenny Curry, his deepest-pocketed opponent in the upcoming mayoral race, who has repeatedly teed off on Brown for presenting what he calls an unsustainable plan.

The three nays — Republicans Robin Lumb and Kim Daniels, and Democrat/Force of Nature Denise Lee — opposed the agreement because they didn’t trust the financing. In the mayor’s eyes, their qualms were misguided.

“Matt Carlucci, former City Council president, and [business executive and former JEA board member] Charlie Appleby presented the plan to JEA,” Brown told me — referring to the complex funding proposal the duo proffered last month that called for the city and JEA to jointly borrow $240 million in the short term to help the city pay down its $1.7 pension liability — and “the board unanimously approved the working framework,” which he sees as a testament to the partnership between the utility and the city that the mayor’s office has been touting to the local media for a while now, a meme that heretofore has not gotten much traction.

Another notable partnership that facilitated the 16-3 mandate might be with the Jax Chamber, which opposed previous pension plan iterations. Brown framed the Chamber’s support in the language of consensus, saying it …   More

The deputy director of the Port of Miami is the unanimous choice by the Jacksonville Port Authority’s board to become the next CEO of JaxPort.

At a meeting April 22, the board approved starting negotiations with Juan Kuryla to replace Paul Anderson, who left at the end of the year to take the position as the director of Tampa Port Authority, said Nancy Rubin, the port’s spokesperson.

The board conducted much of its search behind closed doors with one-on-one interviews with the eight candidates. It cut down the number of finalists to three before selecting Kuryla. Interim JaxPort CEO Roy Schleicher and Michael E. Moore, the former CEO of Global Container Terminals were the other finalists.

When he left the post he had held for only 23 months, Anderson complained about the instability at JaxPort, where competing appointments by the governor and mayor kept changing the port’s leadership.

Anderson was the state’s highest paid port executive in Jacksonville with an annual salary of $320,0000. He is paid $350,000 in Tampa.

The board will have to negotiate a salary and benefits with Kuryla.   More

WE'RE HERE, WE'RE QUEER, GET USED TO IT

They wore denim and white. Emblazoned proudly on their lapels, the word “Bride” sparkled in the morning sun, glittering rhinestones for all to see. Onlookers gathered behind them, bearing witness to a historic moment for Jacksonville, and a momentous occasion 13 years in the making for this happy couple.

This was the scene outside the Duval County Courthouse this morning, where life partners and now wives Vicki Karst and Susan Smith proclaimed their love in the first legally binding same-sex marriage to take place in Duval County.

The crowd cheered as attorney Belkis Plata spoke the words heard thousands of times every day at courthouses and in churches all over the country, declaring that by the power vested in her by the state of Florida, Karst and Smith were united in matrimony. On this bright, sunny morning in Downtown Jacksonville, those words held particular significance for those who have fought so long and so hard for marriage equality.

Today they have it.

It was with an excited air of disbelief mixed with a sense of finally, finally, finally that Karst took her bride in her arms. After the nuptials, she told Folio Weekly, “I really didn’t know it would happen in this amount of time. I really thought it would be our children, not us, that would see this kind of thing happen in Florida.”

There was just one thing left to do.

At 10:14 a.m., Karst and Smith’s marriage was legally recorded by the clerk of court at Window 4. Theirs was the first same-sex marriage recorded on this day, which will certainly see many more, as will the days and weeks to come. Three clerks hovered against the wall behind the clerk who was entering their completed marriage license, snickering and gossiping. No one paid them much mind.

“You’re stuck with me now,” Smith joked.

Strangers stopped to congratulate them on their way out of the courthouse. Outside one well-wisher said, “If it’s your cup …   More

THE FLOG

Hans Tanzler served as mayor of Jacksonville for 12 years and is known for his efforts to clean up the St. Johns River, revitalize downtown and complete major skyscrapers. Tanzler is also known for his government consolidation efforts.

Tanzler died July 25 after suffering a heart attack at his family farm near Gainesville.

Former mayors and other political leaders remembered the 86-year-old Tanzler as the champion of consolidating the City of Jacksonville and Duval County governments in 1967. He served as mayor from 1967 to Jan 2, 1979, when he resigned to run for governor, which he lost to Bob Graham in a seven-man Democratic primary.

As news of his death spread, city leaders shared some recollections about Tanzler and most of them mentioned consolidation:

“Mayor Tanzler led a life dedicated to public service and his legacy will be forever remembered by our citizens and all who had the opportunity to know him. He guided our city through consolidation, paving the way for much of the success we enjoy today,” said Mayor Alvin Brown.

Former Mayor John Delaney agreed, saying,] “It would be hard for any Mayor to have a greater legacy.”

Former Mayor Tommy Hazouri said Tanzler set the standard for the mayors who followed him.

“I am honored to have known him, and grateful for his leadership and friendship,” Hazouri said.

Former Mayor John Peyton also cited the consolidation issue.

“He was the right man at the right time. He was critical to our consolidation in the 1960s.”

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