Sunday, July 24, 2016

Alt-Rockers Jane's Addiction, Dinosaur Jr. and Living Colour Show They're Still Relevant

Posted By on Sun, Jul 24, 2016 at 1:36 PM

Jane's Addiction's Perry Farrell - JON LICHTENBERG
  • Jon Lichtenberg
  • Jane's Addiction's Perry Farrell
When Jane's Addiction, Dinosaur Jr. and Living Colour, all of whom shared the stage last night at Jacobs Pavilion at Nautica, formed way back in the mid-’80s, hair metal and classic rock still ruled commercial radio. Anything punk or post-punk stood little chance of finding its way onto commercial radio or into mainstream rock venues.

In their own unique ways, these three acts introduced the concept of alternative or modern rock. While each band has struggled in the wake of the success it achieved in the '80s and '90s, all three still have vital live shows, something they put on display last night before a near-capacity crowd.

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Friday, July 22, 2016

First Look: Woodstock BBQ in Lakewood

Posted By on Fri, Jul 22, 2016 at 4:53 PM

Before speaking to the media about Woodstock BBQ, owner Robert Togliatti said he wanted to have his ducks in a row. That’s probably why you haven’t read – or likely even heard – much about his new restaurant despite the fact that it will open its very conspicuous Lakewood doors in less than two weeks.

Woodstock began life as Smōk, with initial estimates targeting a late 2015 opening. But given the amount of renovations that Togliatti had planned for the former Trio’s Bar (13362 Madison Ave.), that timeline turned out to be tremendously optimistic.

“If you saw it before, this place was a real dive,” he says.

Togliatti purchased the 100-year-old building a year and a half ago and has since poured a ton of time and money into the renovation project – and it shows. The overall space is bright, open and welcoming, the exact opposite of its dive bar days. The main spaces, connected years ago by the previous tenant, flow easily from barroom to dining room. A façade of accordion-style windows opens up and folds away, uniting the sidewalk patio to the interior. The building's exterior was restored to its original brick shell and the structure’s first real kitchen was installed.

Though the owner and his crew did almost all of the work, nothing looks like it was cobbled together to save money. The walls are clad in blonde wood. The tabletops are built from pallet wood and mounted atop bases fabricated from jet-black plumbing conduit. Light fixtures, though made from electrical supplies, are hip and appropriate for the space. Items inherited with the space include a towering cigar store Indian and an old telephone booth. A circa 1900 cash register sits atop the backbar. Woodstock will seat 60 diners indoors and another 15 on the front patio.

Togliatti might be the third guy to open a barbecue joint in Cleveland this year, but he likely began working on the concept long before any of them. This is a plan years in the making, he says, one cultivated from many miles of travel.

“I’ve spent a lot of time in Memphis, a lot of time in Nashville, and a lot of time in Kansas City, and everywhere I went I sought out barbecue places,” he explains. “I didn’t choose barbecue because it’s hot, I chose it because I love it. It’s pretty simple – it’s not over-cheffed food – and that’s the fantastic thing about it.”

One thing that Togliatti says he has gleaned from his years on the road is that every barbecue restaurant has its own style – and that’s not even getting to the food. Some of the best barbecue he’s ever had was from a carry-out-only joint, while others are a bit more elaborate. His will be somewhere in the middle.

“I like the easy vibe of barbecue restaurants,” he explains. “There’s all different levels and styles of places. This is a bar with barbecue. We’re still going to keep it super-simple, but we’re also going to have a full bar, appetizers, sides and desserts.”

Pitmaster Tommy Chambers will be smoking brisket, pulled pork, turkey, rib tips and sausage year-round on a pair of Old Hickory pits in an open-air smoke shack behind the building, Lakewood’s only outdoor commercial smokers. The menu will likely rotate daily, with three meats and three sides available on any given day. Starters will include smoked chicken wings, smoked cream cheese-stuffed jalapenos, barbecue loaded nachos, and barbecue loaded french fries. Sides will include spicy slaw, broccoli salad, mac and cheese, collard greens and plenty of sweet and hot pickles. Dessert is sweet potato pie. Everything will be made onsite except for the sausages, which are coming from Fresh Butcher Deli in Broadview Heights.

Togliatti says that he scrapped the original name for a couple of reasons.

“I was originally going to call it Smōk, but it was hard for me to even type and it was hard for people to say,” he quips. “People were pronouncing it like ‘smock.’ Plus, there are a lot of other barbecue places called Smoke. We’ve got all this wood, so Woodstock just worked.”

Togliatti might be new to the restaurant business, but he isn’t new to Lakewood. In fact, he has lived and worked within four blocks of the restaurant for nearly two decades, he says.

“Everybody in the neighborhood is excited. It’s obviously taken a lot of money and it’s taken a lot of time, I just hope we’ll be busy. As long as the food and service is good, we should be fine. The key is to keep the menu very simple and execute very well. The food has to match all the work I’ve done on the building.”

Look for Woodstock to open in early August.

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Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie Can't Live Up to Title

Posted By on Fri, Jul 22, 2016 at 3:39 PM

Opening at the Cedar Lee Friday, Absolutely Fabulous: the Movie stars Jennifer Saunders and Joanna Lumley as characters they originated in their hit BBC tv series back in the 90s, a British sitcom with enough cultural cache that it was abbreviated, by fans, as Abfab. 

Now the ladies are back in action. PR agent Edina "Eddie" Monsoon and her best pal, fashion magazine editor Patsy Malone, have both have eclipsed 60. They resist the passage of time and the dwindling of their respective careers by hob-knobbing with models and industry luminaries, and consuming vast quantities of drugs and alcohol while they're at it. The recurring joke is that no one much likes Eddie — even low-level celebs high-tail it in the opposite direction when she approaches — and her attempts to stay cool and relevant hinge on the supposition that she ever was (on which supposition I'm not equipped to comment.) But she's hard up for cash, and she sees a golden opportunity for money and fame when global fashion icon Kate Moss abandons her publicist. 

But Moss falls from the balcony of a fashion soiree and Eddie is blamed. Fearing prosecution, Eddie and Patsy flee to the French Riviera, aided by Eddie's hip granddaughter Lola (Indeyarna Donaldson-Holness), and intend to find an old flame to marry, steal his fortune and begin their lives anew. Eddie's daughter Saffron (Julia Sawalha) and parodically dumb and fashion-very-far-forward personal assistant Bubbles (Jane Horrocks) reprise their roles from the series as well.

Presumably, this will be regarded as a must-see for fans of the BBC series, and one can see how the lead characters would have thrived in a short-form sitcom setting. The film, however, is an odd beast. The humor often relies on physical gags and preposterous turns of events, sort of in the unsteady comedic vein of film adaptations of SNL skits. Though Saunders and Lumley continue to draw laughs in individual scenes, this attempt to extend and grow a beloved brand might not do either.
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Local Director Nick Cavalier Releases New Documentary About Gotta Groove Records

Posted By on Fri, Jul 22, 2016 at 2:10 PM

Forced Perspective, director Nick Cavalier’s documentary about local graphic artist Derek Hess, showed at various film festivals and won a number of awards.

Now, Cavalier has turned his attention to Gotta Groove Records, the local vinyl pressing plant.

“It's a hybrid procedural documentary on how vinyl records are made and the underdog story of [Gotta Groove’s] Vince [Slusarz] and Matt [Earley] and all that they have built on a house of wax in a rustbelt city constructed with grit through their passion for music and manufacturing,” says Cavalier in a press release about the movie.

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Ramon Rivas Reps Cleveland on @midnight

Posted By on Fri, Jul 22, 2016 at 1:22 PM

Among local press freaks, the Ramon Rivas beat is quickly becoming the most dynamic game in town. As we recover from a brutal RNC hangover, we're happy to slip you some more news from the Rivas front: his appearance on @midnight last night.

Check out a few segments below.

The Accidental Comedy Fest is Aug. 26-28. Don't sleep on it!

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"The Daily Show" Co-Creator Lizz Winstead and NARAL Pro-Choice America Provided Running Commentary on Trump's Speech Last Night

Posted By on Fri, Jul 22, 2016 at 12:41 PM

  • They're down there somewhere, we promise
During the grand finale of the Republican National Convention last night, instead of cowering, terrified and alone in their living rooms, The Daily Show co-creator, Lizz Winstead and NARAL Pro-Choice America brought Cleveland abortion activists together in an attempt to "have a laugh and hold onto their sanity" during Donald Trump's official acceptance speech Thursday night. 

The panel, consisting of Winstead, Alonzo Boden, Frank Conniff, and a member of the comedy team Lady Parts Justice, Sharron Paul, provided satirical commentary overtop a broadcast of both Ivanka and her dad's speeches.

"This is the 5th time I've done an event at the RNC, there are a lot of people in town who are bummed out that they're here. It's a really fun way to gather a bunch of like-minded people to sit in a room and laugh with some of the funniest comics out there," said Winstead. 

"You can look around and remind yourself that you're a part of a community that can make change. The gathering aspect is just as important as being really funny with the comedy show."

The event, complete with gold uterus tattoos, purple uterus cowboy hats, and even a Trump piñata, used the hashtag #RNCircus on Twitter during the "night of commiserating catharsis and a much needed safe haven from Slurricane Trump."

Lady Parts Justice is a team that uses comedy, culture, and digital media to call attention to the destruction of reproductive access. To organize this event, they worked in collaboration with NARAL Pro-Choice America, a group centered around protecting and expanding reproductive freedom and supporting the right to choose.

Earlier in the week, Winstead and Lady Parts Justice visited an anti-abortion luncheon held by Ohio Right to Life. They stood outside and did what protestors do outside of abortion clinics, "We asked them to read our pamphlets, asked them not to go inside, told them we were praying for them. We said, 'you just don't know what's going to happen in those places,'" said Winstead, echoing back to attendees what they do to women who utilize clinics.

"The greatest part about that was some dude came up to us and said, 'You know, you aren't changing anyone's mind with all this yelling,'" recalled Winstead. "Exactly, sir. We are here to show you that when you stand on the sidewalk outside of an abortion clinic, it doesn't change anyone's mind."

Thursday night's pro-choice crowd poked fun at the convention and the largely pro-life Republican party during the entirety of Trump's speech.

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Mayor Frank Jackson Signs Transgender Bathroom Bill

Posted By on Fri, Jul 22, 2016 at 12:37 PM

Update: Just a short while ago, Mayor Frank Jackson signed the bill into law. Details on the bill and its origins in the original story below.


(Original story 7/13/16): Cleveland City Council will pass legislation at its meeting Monday night that will permit transgender people to use bathrooms that correspond with their gender identity. 

The bill, which was first introduced back in 2013, aimed to add gender identity / expression to the city's anti-discrimination laws. But it's assumed the status of another "bathroom bill," one that's part and parcel of the the national conversation on transgender rights. The ordinance was tabled after heated council committee meetings back in 2014.

Council President Kevin Kelley said back in June that council had been working hard to craft a piece of legislation that "everyone [was] happy with."  

City Council's committee of the whole passed the legislation Monday morning, so it'll be put to a vote tonight. 

Leila Attassi, reporting for says that the new version of the bill has slightly different penalty structure for offenses. 

"The latest, amended version calls for complaints to be filed with the city's fair housing court, which could issue a civil penalty," Atassi reports. "Ignoring that would trigger a first-degree misdemeanor charge. But penalties would be left to the discretion of a municipal judge."
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