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These are contentious times. 

While the deafening events of April 7 in Hemming Park are now fading into quiet meetings in lawyers’ offices, this mother is still heartsick. I saw scared kids—same age as my own—shell shocked and horrified by Officer Friendly’s alter-ego. 

The numerous videos that were posted online immediately after the anti-military-action rally weren’t fun to watch. Police officers using force—punching, pulling, tackling, and throwing down other human beings—is always a horrifying sight. 

Now that the dust has settled, we know that a progressive protester, wearing a mask, ran behind invading Trump supporter Gary Snow.  Whether the action was accidental or intentional may be a question of fact for a jury, but we know the masked man snagged the speaker cord to Snow’s bullhorn, tangling the gigantic Trump flag and angering Snow.  Then all hell broke loose.

And our young, mostly suburban, white protesters saw with their own eyes what happened when their “nation,” for a brief moment, turned into “a colony.”

Author Chris Hayes, in his new book, A Colony in a Nation, describes it this way:

“Depending on who you are, the sight of an officer can produce either a warm sense of safety and contentment or a plummeting feeling of terror.”

Our daughter felt the latter as her college town, Cleveland, prepared to welcome then-nominee Donald Trump for the 2016 Republican National Convention. Troops moved into the campus’s empty summer dorms, and the students were told to go home. Classes were suspended. 

The “big, burly men with guns” unsettled her, she said.  She told me she felt like her college campus had been transformed into an occupied military zone. I was glad she’d be coming home.

 And then I was heartsick—for her, for her brothers, and for all of our young people. Our …   More


The Things We VALUE Dearly

Malcolm Jackson’s show It Is What It Is, currently on view at Brew Five Points, is a succinct reminder of the immediacy, satisfaction and power that can be found in documentary photographs. Revealing and preserving the immediacy of Jackson’s experiences, the works recall Gordon Parks, Walker Evans and, in terms of access, Ryan McGinley.

Gordon Parks bravely used his camera as a weapon against what he hated most about the universe: “racism, intolerance and poverty.” Like Parks, Jackson uses his lens to tell the story he is most interested in; right now, that story is about spaces that might otherwise go unnoticed and unseen.

“We know more about the NYC story than our own area,” says Jackson as he reflects on the ways in which the Springfield area of Jacksonville has changed, and some of the lingering ideas that continue to shade the neighborhood. “…[Growing up in the aughts] I had Springfield and the Springfield I had was ‘you didn’t come down after dark,’ but that was just a stereotype—though there was truth there,” he says, then pauses, “I don’t get down with exploitation.” As an artist who parses his language carefully, there’s quite a bit Jackson has left unsaid in the space between an idea of truth and the idea of exploitation. In salacious assumptions of danger and vice in neighborhoods like Springfield, there is a continuation of a narrative that allows racist and classist ideas to take root and flourish … and those ideas can be transformed into images that reinforce those preexisting ideas.

Looking at Jackson’s images spanning five years, from 2012 to 2017, it is clear that he does not seek to varnish or sensationalize the truth. “I’m always trying to stay as close to anonymous as possible,” he says. Jackson shot with a Leica M6 on film, and his images, like McGinley’s, offer access to a world that’s …   More


Grab Him by the TAXES

Roughly 300 protesters gathered in downtown Jacksonville yesterday, joining thousands across the country demanding President Donald Trump release his tax returns.

Before yesterday's Trump Tax March, a diverse crowd representing a broad cross-section of ages, genders, ethnicities, religions, and sexualities assembled in Hemming Park for live music and speeches.

As the crowd marched from the park to the IRS building downtown, they chanted, “Lock him up,” and “What do we want? Trump’s taxes. When do we want it? Now. If we don’t get it, shut him down!”

John Aloszka, one of the protest organizers, said, “We really just want to make sure that we hold Donald Trump accountable and that we let him know that he might be president but we’re not letting him get off easy.”

The peaceful protest was watched by a large contingent from the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office. Protest organizers and JSO worked together prior to this event to avoid a repeat of the April 7 protest in Hemming Park that turned into a violent clash between police and protesters.

At Saturday's march, many also advocated for dropping the charges against the Hemming Park Five, the five protesters who were arrested on April 7, 

Reports circulated that another protester from that incident, who had a warrant for his arrest based on his actions on April 7, was taken into custody by JSO at the Trump Tax March; via Facebook messenger this morning Aloszka confirmed that an arrest was made and said it was the man wearing a mask whom videos show taking Gary Snow’s megaphone. JSO did not immediately respond to Folio Weekly’s request for confirmation.

(Snow is the counter-protester whom many blame for instigating the events that led to the violence in Hemming Park on April 7. Snow denies that he is at fault.)

When asked about counter-protesters at the tax march, Aloszka said, “I think expressing your opinions …   More


5 Reasons for the Drought and the WILDFIRES

Today Gov. Rick Scott, he who bears an uncanny resemblance to a hairless cat, officially declared a state of emergency based on the increase of wildfires around Florida. As of April 4, 42 percent of the state was in a drought, according to The Weather Channel, which also reports that 68,000 acres have burnt since February and that there are currently more than 100 active wildfires across the state.

Y’all may recall a few local scorchers, including a pernicious blaze spanning nearly 700 acres in Bryceville last month that started when some throwback to the McCarthy Era (not really) was burning books in his yard (yes, really).

Since the 1970s, the Environmental Protection Agency reports that the length and intensity of droughts has increased worldwide, particularly in the tropics and subtropics. (Seems the Trump Administration hasn’t dumpstered all their work yet. We were surprised too.)

Life moves pretty fast these days, but your friend Folio Weekly remembers way back in 2015 when Gov. Scott decreed that no employee of his shall evah dare utter, write, type, think, whisper or dream these vile terms: global warming and climate change. (Y’know, sometimes it’s like he wants us to mock him.)

Today’s news presents an interesting pickle for ol’ Voldemort: How to acknowledge the drought without blaming um, er, the weather? Well, we’re here for you, Mr. Governor Man.

5 Reasons for the Drought and Wildfires that are 100 percent, absolutely, definitely not climate change or global warming

Kenny Loggins is coming to Florida. Not ‘til October, and just for one show, but the crooner who brought us the theme song for one of Scott’s fave movies, Top Gun, is sure to heat things up on the assisted living circuit!

DJ Govvy Gov is opening up for the Bob Roberts Society Band. In 2011, our peeps at the Miami New Times unearthed classic footage of Scott as his alter ego, DJ Govvy Gov, perfectly executing an …   More


Activists Demand JSO Drop Charges Against Protesters

Last night, what was intended to be a non-violent protest against the bombings on Syria the U.S. carried out the previous night became a violent skirmish involving officers with the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office and several protesters, one of whom was treated at a local hospital for his injuries.

Video footage showing officers punching, restraining and arresting protesters last night was widely circulated on social media, including by Folio Weekly, which shared footage of the incident captured by a local activist on Facebook and Twitter.

Today's protest, "Free the Hemming Park Five," saw a group of approximately 50 gather at the Duval County Courthouse to call upon police to drop all charges against the six people arrested last night. (Initial reports were of five arrests; it was later learned that six were arrested, though activists later said that one arrestee was unaffiliated with the protest.) Several observers indicated that a handful of counterprotesters were among the crowd today, but those believed to be counterprotesters remained mostly silent, taking pictures and video.

Speakers at the event organized by the Jacksonville Progressive Coalition resoundingly criticized JSO's handling of the incident. (The coalition and Jacksonville Against the War on Syria-JAWS co-organized last night's protest, "No War with Syria.") Many questioned why the counterprotester who they believe responsible for causing last night's protest to turn violent was himself not charged by police. Videos of the incident show that man, a counterprotester who goes by the name Gary Snow and is a familiar face at local protests, pushing 27-year-old deaf African American man, Connell Crooms, immediately before officers intervene. Crooms is subsequently pinned to the ground by officers, one of whom punches him several times in the ribs while he is restrained. Crooms was transported to UF Health Jacksonville for treatment for his injuries before being charged and booked.

Along …   More


The Twelfth MAN

Less than a month after the Jaguars acquired offensive left tackle Branden Albert, he’s already started making headlines, though not on the field. On March 30, Albert donated $7,500 to a couple accused of leaving their three children unattended in a mall while they went to work. The 8, 6, and 1-month-old were found in an employee access hallway at Eastview Mall in Rochester, New York on March 25. The parents, Jean Seide, 39, and Bilaine Seint-Just, 36, were subsequently arrested and charged with three counts of child endangerment.

After making the donation, Albert told Rochester television station WHAM, "I’ve been through this. I've seen this story by my family, friends, and people I've grown up with. It's a rough world.”

The 32-year-old NFL player hails from Rochester.

“At least they were out doing something in trying to provide for the family. Was it the best thing to do? No. People are looking for hope and if I can provide hope the best way I can, I don't have any hesitation in helping people out,” WHAM also quoted Albert as saying.

Many have blamed the parents for being irresponsible and negligent. However, according to the New York State Department of Labor, there is no law requiring employers in that state to pay employees for sick days. 

Under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act, employees may request up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave to care for a newborn child. There is no federal law that mandates paid maternity leave, and few states have laws on the books requiring employers to provide it. (Florida does not require paid maternity leave.)

Maternity leave is intended to allow the mother to fully recover from birth and to allow sufficient time for mother-child bonding. In recent years, activists around the country have spoken out about the absence of paid maternity leave, saying that it makes families choose between what’s best for the health of mother and baby and their financial well-being. For …   More


Puttin' on the RITZ

Jim Brickman is full of surprises. This past Friday, March 31 the popular adult contemporary artist played to captivated crowd at The Ritz Theatre in LaVilla. In the lobby before the performance, those attending Brickman’s show were all smiles, sipping beers and cocktails. One couple acknowledged that they came from Atlanta to see Brickman perform and others admitted that they too came to Jacksonville solely for this concert. But while the crowd seemed excited about a night of Brickman’s music, they were also in store for some humorous revelations from the man.

When Brickman took the stage it was only he and a baby grand piano; no multimedia screens or light shows and‑that’s why the fans were there. The first song was perhaps the one that Brickman is most known for: “Rocket to the Moon.” It seemed as if the award-winning composer/pianist and vocalist wanted to get his “hit” out of the way so he could dig deeper into his catalog of tunes.

Yet between his compositions, which Brickman also revealed himself to be quite the raconteur. Years into his career, Brickman explained, he’d decided to song on some of his then-newer songs. “I received several angry letters from massage therapists,” said a deadpan Brickman, alluding to the fact that in the wellness spa his voice was distracting from receiving any soothing bodywork.

He went on to tell the story of how, at the age of five, he begged his parents fro a piano. Instead, they gave the young Brickman a large piece of felt featuring a giant printed keyboard. “I have to say; I got pretty good on that felt,” said Brickman with a grin.

But the biggest surprise, especially as Brickman is known as an adult contemporary, New Age maestro was the stories of his earliest concerts. He explaining that at one point, his mom became the concert reviewer for a local paper in Indiana. She decided to take Brickman to as many shows as possible. …   More



When Jim Brickman steps on stage at The Ritz Theatre tomorrow night, he brings with him more than 20 years of being a well-established adult contemporary music star. The pianist, vocalist and composer is routinely filed under New Age, but he distances himself from that label, as his work runs the gamut of contemplative instrumentals to well-honed, vocally driven songwriting. The tour Pure Piano: The Greatest Hits promises to feature now-classic Brickman songs sure to satisfy longtime fans and perhaps even convert the uninitiated.

Born on Nov. 23, 1961 in Shaker Heights, Ohio, Brickman began playing piano at age five. After studying music composition and performance at Cleveland Institute of Music, Brickman began writing commercial jingles for notable clients including Pontiac, Isuzu and McDonald’s.

In 1994, Brickman caught the ear of music fans. That year, the acclaimed New Age record label Windham Hill released Brickman’s debut album, No Words. The first single, “Rocket to the Moon” immediately soared onto the Billboard charts. More than 20 years after its release, “Rocket to the Moon” gives a concise glimpse into both Brickman’s writing and performing style, with a rolling melody and chordal passages that touch on the sentimental and even somber.

In the years since, Brickman has released more than 35 albums, featuring original music, seasonal favorites, a tribute to The Carpenters and even a collection of Christian music. The Grammy Award-nominated Brickman is considered to be among the best-selling contemporary pianists. A global audience has put his album sales at more than seven million copies sold; four have earned gold record status.

Yet Brickman’s career enjoys a wider trajectory than that of simply being an instrumentalist. Collaborations with artists like Lady Antebellum and Martina McBride have broadened his appeal to audiences worldwide.

“People have more of an expectation of the style …   More


Bush WHACKED on Education

The deceptively named “Fewer, Better Tests” bill, backed by Jeb Bush’s Foundation for Florida’s future, was delayed by the state Senate Education Committee March 27 amidst accusations that last-minute amendments had been “stolen” from a more popular bill. South Florida Republican Sen. Anitere Flores sponsored the Bush-backed bill, SB 926, which was filed in response to Sen. Montford’s efforts to dial back high-stakes testing in his competing bill, SB 964. Montford, a Democrat, is the former Superintendent of Schools for Leon County.

Veteran Republican and former Senate President Tom Lee blasted his colleagues for displacing Montford’s bill for partisan reasons, and scolded them for raiding aspects of Montford’s bill that had already gained bipartisan support, presenting them as last-minute amendments to Flores’s bill.  Lee characterized the underhanded actions of his republican cohorts as an “abomination” of the legislative process. 

Public school advocates say that despite its name, Flores’s bill, SB 926, does not reduce the number of tests, and it would ratchet up Florida’s already high-stakes testing scheme. The Bush-backed bill would tie grade-level proficiency in the Florida State Assessment (FSA) to data from another test, the National Assessment for Education Progress (NAEP).

Florida Department of Education Secretary Pam Stewart rejected the NAEP-tie-in last year. Advocates from the public education advocacy organization, Common Ground, say linking the two tests could dramatically lower passing rates, which they contend would lead to worse school grades and “plummeting property values.” 

In a press release, Common Ground argues that true testing relief is to be found in former Leon County Schools Superintendent Bill Montford’s bill:

SB 964 eliminates the 9th grade FSA and all but two of the current state End of Course exams, …   More


Lateral DRIFT

In the American Southwest, there are hiking trails so remote that only the most experienced backpackers can reach them. And in a few of these remote locations, on forgotten and largely unseen ledges or deep in a narrow cannon sit the perfectly preserved baskets of the Anasazi culture. Thousands of years old, and unimaginably fragile, these object are the kinds of artifacts from which information can be gleaned…in addition to their inherent beauty. They exist both as objects and as the memory of that object.

These rarities that exist most at the moment of being seen (after arduous treks through the back country) offer an ideological parallel when considering the Jacksonville Dance Theatre’s upcoming performance IN HERE: Artifact. Slated for the evening of March 25, the two-part event is an evening of solo performances—each one an original composition by the soloist—that takes the idea of “artifact” as the point of departure/meditation/instruction. The idea is one that Artistic Director Rebecca Levy began toying with at Art Basel Miami Beach 2016. She described being surrounded by hundreds-of-thousands-of-dollars-worth of art, and as others around her were engaging in conversations about market valuation, productivity versus accessibility and other highly monetized phenomena, she was just “laterally drifting.”

“I was thinking about how we [dancers] experience the human condition in real time…how we create art that will literally never exist again," says Levy. "[Because] its power lies in its moment of disappearance, its moment on the stage."

This idea, of art that is made--to paraphrase choreographer/dancer Crystal Pite--“of blood and muscle and bone,” is to be almost unable to leave an artifact behind. “Visual artists think about art as a commodity," says Levy. "What if we could make something that lingered—where does the “making” [in a work of art] occur and …   More