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Strong But NOT the Same

I remember June 12, 2016 very vividly. I woke up at 6 a.m. to a text from my best friend who attends Florida State University. It said "Are you OK?" I didn't think much of it besides the fact that it was strange of her to ask me this in the wee hours of the morning. I replied with, "Yeah, why wouldn't I be?" Normally, I would've fallen right back to sleep, seeing as it was the summer and in between terms so I had nothing to do except sleep in and enjoy the 90°F Orlando weather. But I had a strange sensation in my gut.

I hopped on Facebook; the first thing I saw was that someone had shared an article with the title of something along the lines of "Orlando Nightclub Shooting." What with all of the fake news on the Internet, I instinctively thought it was spam, but I clicked on it anyway because, as a journalist student, I'm a pretty curious person. I started to read and I saw the words "Pulse nightclub" and "at least 20 confirmed dead."

My first few thoughts were that this was a joke, this couldn't have happened in my own backyard. I was sitting on my bed at the University of Central Florida, less than 20 minutes from the tragedy. Hands shaking, I checked my LGBTQ friends' Facebook walls immediately, hoping they were safe at home and holding back tears. A wave of relief washed over me when I saw that they were alive but, of course, they were in no way doing well. No one was.

I texted my roommates to tell them what had happened and assure them that our friends were OK. I didn't feel better, though. I didn't feel better because my friends had friends there and people were dead in the city I had come to know over the previous two years. I felt like puking. Of course, I couldn't go back to sleep. I spent the whole day in my room, trying to figure out why someone could do something this terrible, why someone could target innocent people because of their preferences and their lifestyles.

One month earlier, I had spent an evening in Pulse where I had …   More


Air Apparent

Artie Clifton lifts his baton up, down and side-to-side. He conducts and is the music director of the First Coast Wind Symphony, and with each stroke guides the ensemble to stay on tempo. Hailing from a small Pennsylvania town where community bands are a prideful tradition, he expected there to be a similar band in Jacksonville when he moved here in 1989. When he learned there wasn't a community band he could join, he decided to create one. He never expected it would grow to be as big as it is.

The journey began with an idea; the ensemble had its humble inception in the music room at Jacksonville University, where members were provided free rehearsal and performance space. Fast-forward 27 years, the First Coast Wind Symphony has increased its numbers, now claiming more than 50 community volunteers playing woodwind, brass and percussion instruments. Twenty-six of these members are preparing to fulfill the ensemble's collective dream: they will soon depart our shores on a pilgrimage to the birthplace of classical music, Austria.

The volunteer group includes musicians from all backgrounds and all walks of life. Members range from college students to attorneys, veterans, bankers and computer specialists. Some charter members have been in the band all 27 seasons.

The symphony actively supports music education in local schools and works with students to provide an annual Concerto Competition. In the competition, high school and college students compete for two $1,000 prizes and the opportunity to perform with the symphony. The competition is designed "to promote music education in Florida by providing talented students with an opportunity to perform a solo work with the wind symphony" the organization writes on its website.

The First Coast Wind Symphony is a member of the Association of Concert Bands, a national organization for community bands. It is also a Cultural Council of Greater Jacksonville member.

The symphony prides itself on being a cultural …   More


Grassroots, Greenways and GATORS

You may think that storytelling has become a thing of the past, but in some places, it's alive and well. It has evolved into a complex practice where stories are created and transmitted through data-capturing and a convergence of different media. This idea of modern storytelling is at the heart of the very first Palm Valley Storytelling Day this Saturday.

Palm Valley sits just south and west of Ponte Vedra and is rich in history. Plans are for the event to feature a number of storytellers well-known in the Ponte Vedra community. Storytellers will include Sid Mickler of Mickler's Landing, and Bubba Stratton, a gator hunter famed for his collection of gator heads. The stories shared will reveal how the Palm Valley area has been shaped and how it can be improved for the future. The event will include bluegrass music, barbecue and beverages served by the American Legion, as well as storyboards showcased by the Beaches History Museum. There will also be an opportunity for others to share their stories and join others recalling the history of the area.

The Ponte Vedra Greenway & Preserve Initiative is hosting the event to remind people in the community of the importance of Palm Valley, especially in preserving nature and green space. One of the founders, Deb Chapin, says of Storytelling Day, "[I] envisioned an opportunity to capture some of the history and tell a story along this path.

"[The] history of Palm Valley is a valuable compliment to Ponte Vedra."

The idea for the event came to Chapin when one of her colleagues, Donna Carrasco, told her about a seminar that she had attended during which transmitting stories through data was discussed. This struck Chapin as important in the modern age. She says, "[The] future of history is not in paperback books." Thus the Palm Valley Storytelling Day was created.

Through the event, Chapin says, "[I] hope to get people together and capture the history of Palm Valley." The event will serve as a way to …   More


Plea Agreements Announced for Hemming Park Five

This afternoon, the State Attorney's Office released a 45-page disposition memorandum announcing the outcome of the charges against the Hemming Park Five. These five were arrested for felonies following the violent clash between police and citizens protesting the Syrian bombings in Hemming Park on April 7.

Some may be pleased to learn that charges were dropped against two of the five, while the other three have pled to misdemeanors and will not serve any jail time.

As Folio Weekly has previously reported, on April 7 an officer attempted to detain Connell Crooms during an altercation between Crooms and frequent counter-protester Gary Snow. The situation quickly escalated, with Christina Kittle, William "Willie" Wilder and Thomas Beckham becoming involved in what the memorandum refers to as a melee.

Subsequently, the four, along with David Schneider who was not involved in the melee, were arrested on felony charges ranging from battery on a law enforcement officer and inciting a riot. Snow was not arrested.

Video footage showing officers from the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office punching, body slamming and restraining protesters circulated widely on social media. Crooms was hospitalized for injuries sustained at officers' hands. Outrage over the incident subsequently sparked various civic engagement, including a protest of the arrests at the Duval County Courthouse the following day.

The SAO writes that Crooms' charges were dropped in part because, due to his congenital hearing deficiency, "we cannot prove that he actually heard and understood the commands of law enforcement." The SAO also noted, "No evidence supports that Crooms did anything to incite a riot," a refrain echoed throughout the memorandum on this charge for the other four.

Citing "insufficient evidence to support his charge," the SAO writes in the memorandum that it dropped the charges of inciting a riot against Schneider and notes somewhat ominously that it "has reviewed this …   More


Daily's Place: Ready to ROCK and Roll?

Today, there were two press conferences about the opening of Daily's Place, the new venue, this weekend. The first, hosted inside City Hall at 1:30 p.m., included remarks from Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry, the city's Sports & Entertainment Officer Dave Herrell and Chad Johnson, Senior Vice President of Bold Events, the Jaguars' newest venture.

The mayor began the meeting talking about the upcoming weekend festivities. After drawing a chuckle saying that while he would attend some events, you wouldn't see him dancing, Curry said, "Daily's Place is adding another family weekend of fun and art."

The new amphitheater constructed at the south end of EverBank Field is set to have its first concert on Saturday, May 27. Daily's Place has a lot in store for 2017, including 42 concerts currently scheduled. However, there have been some questions about whether the venue will be finished in time. From outside the construction fencing this afternoon, seating appeared mostly complete; however, the stage remained unfinished.

Even though Jaguars insiders say that the construction crew is essentially working around the clock, with Saturday right around the corner, some are skeptical. Staff and local officials have no doubt it will be ready in time, however. Johnson said, "Daily's will open this Saturday. We have a great crew working the next three days to put this together. It will make Jacksonville proud with the facilities we can provide."

The 2:30 p.m. press conference, in the lavish US Upper Assure Club West of EverBank Field, included remarks from the CEO of Bold Events, Mark Lamping. The meeting consisted of a run-through on how the venue will operate, its amenities and features and some information on how ready the amphitheater is for Saturday.

Asked whether the venue is safe to hold a concert and if all permits had been obtained, Lamping said, "This is very typical in a project this large. All building systems have been signed off." He followed up, …   More


The Place to BE(ACH)

Every May brings salty air, sunshine and booze. Most important, though, May 20 brings us Dancin' in the Street. For those who don't know, Dancin' in the Street (DITS) is a local street fair that's quite familiar to the inhabitants of the Jacksonville beaches. This daylong event, stretching from 11 a.m.-9 p.m., takes place smack-dab in the middle of official event sponsor Beaches Town Center, with an epicenter at the ocean end of Atlantic Boulevard. Funds raised at DITS help beautify Beaches Town Center and the event itself promotes local shops and businesses while creating a fun environment for residents to kick back and enjoy a Saturday.

Included in the fray are a multitude of local bands, tasty grub, alcoholic beverages and opportunities to purchase jewelry and artwork. Musical acts to perform include Bay Street, Briteside, Five O'Clock Shadow, Party Cartel and others. A detailed schedule and information on various stations for services and purchases can be found on the Beaches Town Center website.

This year ushers in new additions such as updated fencing, tighter security and a bigger and more interactive Kids Zone. The Kids Zone has now been moved to the parking lot between Hawker's Asian Street Fare and Mezza, allowing a wider space and more opportunities for fun. Another new feature is the nonprofit area. As explained by Patsy Bishop, one of the event's founders, there will be "about 10 nonprofits that are from the beaches that are going to be talking to people about what they do." Attendees who are 21 and older should take note that this year, beer stands have been relocated from Atlantic Boulevard to Ocean Boulevard.

A number of committees led by individuals throughout the community put much effort into putting on this event. Bishop believes that the committee leaders "play a key role" in contributing to the occasion. She also explains that the planning begins in January and doesn't end until the event itself has concluded.

After telling me …   More


'Meat and GREET'

Adam Putnam's large blue and red tour bus pulled into the Angie's Subs parking lot in Jacksonville Beach at 6 p.m. on May 17. Currently Florida's Commissioner of Agriculture, Putnam announced that he was running for governor from the steps of the Polk County Courthouse earlier this month. The first high-profile Republican to declare his candidacy for the 2018 governor's race is in the midst of a 10-day, 22-stop bus tour of the state to introduce himself as a candidate. This meet and greet, or "meat and greet," hosted by the owner of Angie's Subs, Ed Malin, was the second stop Putnam made that day, the first being his hometown of Bartow.

A jam-packed restaurant greeted Putnam in Jax Beach. Attendees included local politicians, such as Vice Mayor Scott Wiley of Neptune Beach, former Congressman Ander Crenshaw, state Rep. Cord Byrd and Atlantic Beach Mayor Mitch Reeves. As he made his way around the room, he shook some hands and exchanged a few words with potential constituents. Crenshaw introduced Putnam as he made his way to the small stage, which could or could not be evidence of the grassroots nature of his campaign.

Putnam, a fifth generation Floridian and father of four, began his political career in the state House of Representatives at the young age of 22, later going on to the U.S. Congress before being appointed the Commissioner of Agriculture.

Putnam spoke to the gathering at Angie's Subs about the platform of his campaign featuring the state of Florida as a springboard for the "American dream." He also talked about what he saw as worthy causes and how he, as the "next governor of Florida," plans to prioritize what matters to him and what he believes should matter to the people of the Sunshine State. He promised to invest in education and said that he intends to "put students first and empower parents to make the decision on where to put their kids in school." He spoke openly about the school system and used a personal example about his own …   More



The arts are fascinating and compelling in part because the membrane separating art from the “rest of life” is so permeable. In Jacksonville, a city that struggles to maintain private galleries and art spaces, that permeability is especially important because it makes room for independent spaces like Space 42, a recently cleaned up warehouse in Riverside, to open its doors. The space and the idea behind it—arts incubator—have much promise.

It is a hopeful beacon.

On April 28, Space 42 inaugurated the space with the work of Michael Alan. Alan, an NYC-based artist stages live drawing events. For this April night, it was hosted in conjunction with a show of Alan’s small works.

Upon entering the building (after paying a $20.00 entry fee), the first thing to notice was the scent of spray paint hanging in the air—that delightful chemical promise of a migraine. Visitors milled around as paint and detritus covered models moved slowly on a de facto stage area; one playing a makeshift didjeridu in front of a wall that seemed as if it had been spray-painted to ape the organic nature of years of graffiti. Turgid music sounded in the space and the overall effect was one of the “art scene” in a movie that perhaps took cues from “Wolf of Wall Street.” It felt contrived with overtones of cupidity.

The idea, as clues suggest, was that this was to be a drawing marathon, and in fact some people did bring their drawing materials with them. But the real take away is (one guesses) that Alan stages these events, which through obfuscating the models’ figures (male and female), he is able to then further mediate these forms in his own works. Observing the drawings he had on display including Darth Vader in Me, it seems that he prints out still images from these events, and then in a style that recalls early, early Basquiat (when Basquiat was actively riffing on Peter Max) noodles, doodles, and collages on and …   More


Emotional Gooeyness and A Little SNARK

When I opened my email this morning I got notification that the current show, Mommy, featuring the works of Polina Barskaya, Larissa Bates, Louis Fratino, Sarah Alice Moran, Louise Sheldon, Cynthia Talmadge, and Caleb Yono; at Monya Rowe Gallery in St. Augustine is only up for one more week.


This show is, simply put, very compelling. Like the best poetry or story-telling, the various iterations that stem from the springboard word “Mommy,” range from the deeply personal (with a little snark), to caustically nightmarish and outsized. Of the seven artists in the show, there are two whose works exist in a kind of emotional high relief: Caleb Yono and Cynthia Talmadge.

Caleb Yono’s photograph Untitled Illusion (2017) is like a dark-mirror snap of a barely remembered Joan Crawford portrait. In its unsettling “head-shot” style presentation, Yono’s face has been painted a yellow-tinted white, eyes outlined in yellow-haloed murple, with outsized lips painted a glossy black. It reads as Fauve, but also as ’90s-era Limelight club-kid where gendered presentation is fluid and therefor capable of destabilizing an overarching heteronormative societal narrative.

In many ways, if Yono’s work is the promise of club kids realized—brilliance and fearlessness and wit—as filtered through a sophisticated engagement with ancient myth and fashion tropes, it is too a way of being in the world that champions the power (creative and destructive) of WASP-y ideas of beauty. This is especially present in an installation of his drawings. These 22 small images project the dreaminess of Chagall, the fashionable emotional gooeyness of Elizabeth Peyton married to Schiele drawings, all bound to horror/delight at the act of transformation.

Cynthia Talmadge has two pieces in Mommy, a painting and a small installation. The painting, Mild Nausea (2015) rendered in a pointillist style and depicting decorative sections of …   More



Ten-foot high windows afford expansive views of downtown Jacksonville in the tenth-floor federal courtroom where the former congresswoman will learn her fate. From this vantage none would call the cityscape majestic; the hulking JEA building figures prominently in the frame, a great rectangular thing of institutional brick flanked by shorter structures, some regal, most as ugly and utilitarian as the power company headquarters.

But Corrine Brown and her court are not permitted even the small pleasure of this unimpressive view; grey shades block out all but glimpses of the downtown skyline between the slats.

For days, the audience of media, a smattering of courthouse staffers and Brown’s supporters—mostly female, all black—have endured government pews, artificially chilled, dry air, and lights flicked on and off, as the feds make their case. Witness after witness, exhibit after exhibit, details read into the record from emails, checks and recollections. Save for the odd amusing or surprising factoid—a drink called the Queen Corrine served at a soirée (strawberry Bellini with a sugar rim, no word whether it was made with bourbon or brandy), an eyepatch on a prominent, well-coiffed citizen called to the stand—the chum has been bland, dry, pedestrian. “Do you have exhibit 35F, ma’am?” “No objections.” “The United States calls—“ “Nothing further, your honor.” “All rise for the jury.” Click. Submit. Excuse. Click. Testify. Excuse.

In the background, fingers on keyboards eagerly record word after word, hoping the next is better than the last, that the following phrase will burn brighter on the screen than all those before it, a palpable collective ache for something spicy and salacious for the evening broadcast or tomorrow’s copy. No luck yet. Witness after witness, detail after detail, all add up to the same: money solicited, communications …   More