With an estimated 215,000 attendees on Saturday, the National Mall became the place for music, comedy and of course a bit of politics.
While the rally officially began at noon, with The Roots on hand to play for the ever-growing crowds, it was about an hour before either of the Comedy Central “news anchors” made an appearance onstage.
Some early-bird fans appeared irate at the wait, but we can assure you that the block-long lines outside Metro stations from Virginia to Maryland indicated that many people had to wait hours to get to the Mall, and were probably a bit late as a result.
”I’ve never seen it like that before, just wall-to-wall people everywhere,” said Virginian David Ropalski, who came from the Vienna Metro station. For a several-block radius around the Mall, hordes of fans descended, following the music and filling the open space from the stage, by 3rd Street, all the way back to the Washington Monument, past 15th Street.
Many climbed trees, stood on benches or scaled the rows of portable toilets to get a better view.
One young man even made it to the top of a stoplight pole as his neighbors cheered him on.
“You wanna know the worst thing?” he yelled from his summit. “I still can’t see anything!”
It was a common complaint — despite several JumboTrons and huge speakers, the sheer amount of people at the rally forced many to find other ways to see the performance.
One woman on the east watched it on CSPAN via her smart phone; another tuned into the performance via a pocket radio.
At 12:40, MythBusters Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman took the stage and led perhaps the largest impromptu wave in U.S. — or at least D.C. — history. Though most people couldn’t see the wave coming through the crowd, most enthusiastically pitched it when it reached them.
“That was very powerful,” said Maryanne Meier, who came with her daughter, Kayla.
By the time Jon Stewart appeared onstage around 1 p.m., the audience members were sufficiently amped up. Fashion-wise, Stephen Colbert upstaged the sedately-dressed Stewart, in a Evel Knievel-esque white jumpsuit trimmed with blue and red, complete with stars, stripes and a cape.
When Stewart brought Yusuf Islam - formerly known as Cat Stevens - onstage to perform “Peace Train,” Colbert retaliated with Ozzy Osbourne and “Crazy Train.” In an apparent compromise, the O’Jays finished that set with their classic, “Love Train.”
Other music acts included John Legend, Jeff Tweedy, Mavis Staples, Kid Rock dueting with Sheryl Crow, and Tony Bennett performing “America the Beautiful.”
Keep fear alive!
While many people attended as fans or political activists, others had different motivations. JoAnn Abbott, of Virginia, set up a small booth that read “Psychiatric Help 5¢” and “The Doctor is In,” a la Peanuts’ Lucy Van Pelt.
“Hold it in your heart. Keep fear alive!” she encouraged those who stopped to look at her extensive list of politically-themed phobias.
Favorites included epistemophobia (fear of knowledge), dikephobia (fear of justice) and politicophobia (fear or abnormal dislike of politicians).
Abbott, who holds a Bachelor’s in Psychology and plans to pursue her Master’s, confided in us, pulling a “Tea Party Leader” button from the inside of her sweater. “I’m here in disguise,” she said, then added that she helped organize the 2009 Tax Day Tea Party last April in D.C.
“Redditors” - users of aggregate site Reddit - were also out in force from as far away as Seattle, swapping personal user names and codes for points. Stephen Colbert, a known fan of the site, had asked the Reddit community to help local classrooms by donating to the website donorschoose.org, a charity organization where teachers across America appeal to the Internet community to fund classroom projects in their community.
Along with individual donors, the Reddit community was able to raise more than $500,000 for the “Restoring Truthiness” campaign, helping their local schools and getting an interview with Colbert himself through Reddit.
“I came here for Reddit before I came for Jon Stewart or Stephen Colbert,” said David Ropalski, who came with fellow Redditor and friend Calvin Hutchinson and armed with a giant sign of the traditional Reddit Alien symbol.
Getting a fellow Redditor’s user name and code could get you Karma points and a trophy for attending the event wearing clothes featuring icons from the aggregator. “Using this sign, I’ve ran into at least 100 Redditors. I think there’s got to be at least 1,000 more here,” Hutchinson said.
Hard times not end times
In the end, though, Stewart himself perhaps described the event best.
“This was not a rally to ridicule people of faith or people of activism or to look down our noses at the heartland or passionate argument or to suggest that times are not difficult and that we have nothing to fear. They are and we do. But we live now in hard times, not end times. And we can have animus and not be enemies.
“If you want to know why I’m here and want I want from you, I can only assure you this: you have already given it to me. Your presence was what I wanted. Sanity will always be and has always been in the eye of the beholder. To see you here today and the kind of people that you are has restored mine.”
Stewart attributed much of modern American insanity to the 24-hour news media. As usual, he sandwiched important, reasonable points in comedy. “The press can hold its magnifying glass up to our problems bringing them into focus, illuminating issues heretofore unseen or they can use that magnifying glass to light ants on fire and then perhaps host a week of shows on the sudden, unexpected dangerous flaming ant epidemic,” he said, adding. “If we amplify everything we hear nothing.”
“Librarians are Hiding Something”
“Gay People Have Fewer Abortions”
“Muslims… and Gays… and Bears… Oh, My!”
What do we want? Sanity! When do we want it? Sometime soon!”
“Be excellent to each other”
“Stop yelling at me. That’s why I moved out of my parents’ house”
“The founding fathers fathered anchor babies”
“Retired CIA Analyst for sensible drug policy”
“Ditch Fear Choose Puppies”
“I Fought Nazis and they don’t look like Obama”
“Gay without any real agenda… Okay drinking is the only thing on my agenda”
“If your anger or your erection last more than 4 hours, seek medical attention”
“Only the jesters dare speak the truth”
“Historians Against the Misuse of History”
“Aballish the Departmint of Edukayshun”
“You either support false dichotomies or you're against us”
When I was a kid, one of my favorite Halloween costumes was dressing up like C3PO of Star Wars fame. I distinctly remember the gold mask I wore — and walking down the street behind my parents after my mother had wrapped me in foil. (Silver, I know, but it worked.) I think I left half my costume around the neighborhood; as we all know, foil isn't exactly resilient — but the evening remains a fond, albeit crinkly, memory.
Every year as I grew up, I would come up with costume ideas seemingly earlier and earlier in the year. I got inventive — I was Captain Hook in my dad's overcoat with a hanger for a hand; Frankenstein's monster with spirit-gum-adhered "bolts" on my neck; a yin/yang symbol (also known as the year I spent extra fun time cleaning black and white paint from inside my eyeglass frames); and well-known Native American, Poca-haunt-as (thank you, thank you). Sometimes I still think about costumes I can wear, but as I've gotten older, the holiday has lost some appeal for me. Granted, if it was societally acceptable for 30-somethings to go trick or treating, I'm sure I'd be slathering on makeup right now (glasses be damned!).
I may not have made it to any Halloween parties this year, but I still enjoy the enthusiasm that so many of my friends have for the day. From all manner of parties to posting costume pictures all over Facebook, it's a nice reminder that dressing up isn't reserved just for kids. (See also: The dad I saw yesterday who was wrangling tiny humans while dressed like Superman.) While I hide in my apartment tonight with the porch light off because I have no candy, I should start sketching out ideas for next year's costume. If my father saved foil as my paternal grandmother did, I might be halfway to a C3PO costume for 2011.
As if entertaining a few hundred theatergoers at the Athenaeum wasn’t enough work for Know No Stranger, two members of their troupe, Alan Goffinski and Doug Pierce, broke the Guinness Book of World Records for “longest hug.”
They started during the Friday night production of Know No Stranger’s Optical Popsicle II — precisely at 9:30. The previous record was 24 hours and 17 minutes, and Goffinski and Pierce beat that, and then some, ending their hug during the Saturday night presentation of Optical Popsicle II at 9:55 p.m.
As necessary to establish an official record with Guinness, an upstanding member of the community, preferably an editor with a local publication must witness the process, which yours truly, an enthusiast about hugging, was more than happy to do. A series of witnesses must also observe every single second of a record-breaking attempt — there were nearly a dozen who spent the day-plus with Goffinski and Pierce. Finally, a notary public — who was, like me, witnessing the beginning and the end of the hug — has to account for the witnesses’ statements, and a package has to be sent to Guinness for a final arbitration.
The entire event was streamed live on KNS’s web site: www.knownostranger.com.
While another record might have tackled by the KNS stranger team, it would be hard to find a more appropriate one for a theater troupe geared toward sweet entertainment, friendship and inclusion philosophy; ergo their name, as every one is a potential friend.
Speaking of, Goffinski and Pierce have been good friends for about a decade and both agreed after the 24 hour, 25 minute hug that they would remain so.
Know No Stranger; Athenaeum. Somebody — probably the arts editor of this magazine — needs to assign someone else to review Know No Stranger, because this reviewer can’t aspire to objectivity. Sure, it’s a rag tag, low budget approach to theater; absolutely it’s raw and unrehearsed, and I can’t say every piece was high quality.
But Know No Stranger captures the primordial impulse to create and share and thus connect with humans with everything they do, from announcing audience members as they enter the Athenaeum auditorium to making everything out of cardboard, duct-tape, overhead projectors and a can-do spirit that’s endearing, infectious and hilarious.
The opening sequence features crappily-made cardboard podiums, a live birth and an appearance by a jib-jab-like Oprah Winfrey, and it’s all fun and games after. Highlights include a popsicle eating contest between audience members, a puppet show involving a monstrous toddler, live music by The Accordions, and a performance art piece by Brandon Schaaf called “Bohemian Rhapsigndy,” featuring an amalgam of air guitar, air piano, American Sign Language, and just plain physical emoting — it’s an unforgettable gem.
But the night was not just frivolity as two members of KNS, Alan and Doug, are attempting to break the world record for the longest hug. The record is just over 24 hours, and if that sounds doable, just grab a friend and try hugging for, oh, say, 20 minutes and then extrapolate out to 24 yours.
You can watch them hug at: www.knownostranger.com.
If successful, Alan and Doug will break the record tomorrow night, Saturday, during the KNS evening performance. Show starts at 8:30 p.m. Come in costume, of course, and explore the KNS web site for clues on how to discounts off the $10 ticket price. Note that there’s a 3:30 matinee at the Athenaeum that features a selection of KNS’s greatest hits.
Optical Popsicle II marks KNS’s first year on the scene, and let’s hope this merry band of pranksters have only begun a long reign of goofiness and love.
— Jim Poyser, Arts Editor
What would you drive 13 hours to do? Attend a (very) good friend's wedding? A godchild's christening? Go streaking during a Minnesota winter? For my boyfriend and me, the once-in-a-lifetime chance to see Jon Stewart's Rally to Restore Sanity and Stephen Colbert's March to Keep Fear Alive (now known collectively as the "Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear") is enough to get us in the car this weekend. We'll be talking to other attendees, documenting the hilarity and generally having fun. If you can't make it out to D.C., be sure to check out our coverage, exclusive to NUVO.net, next week - the full vicarious experience, without a 26-hour round trip with your significant other.
I have a theory that most bad movies can be made at least bearable if you're watching with the right people. Whether experiencing old Mystery Science Theater 3000 episodes or their newer stuff on Rifftrax, funnymen Kevin Murphy, Bill Corbett and Mike Nelson are three of those people for me. Because of them, I've been able to watch Transformers 2 without goring my eyes out (sadly, I still died a little inside).
The Rifftrax Gang celebrated Halloween tonight by doing a live riff of one of the funniest "scary" movies ever: 1939's House on Haunted Hill, starring Vincent Price and a cheap skeleton.
I chose not to watch the film before going to the event (which was shot in Nashville, TN and broadcast live to theaters all over the country), and I think the unexpected silly moments embedded into the movie just added to my enjoyment of the riff. Price's performance is not terrible, but the plot is just terrible. The twist and the twist on the twist at the end made the movie a convoluted mess... which is a good thing when you have three master funnymen taking you on a comedy journey.
Before the main event, there were two educational and unintentionally creepy shorts. One has a billowy witch teaching grocery store patrons the importance of buying smart (we all know the brides of Satan are devoted to saving mortals money). The second was about a possessed paper bag who steals children away in the night to teach them about the paper making process. The shorts were actually far scarier than the movie itself.
What I like most about the live events is that it's the only time we get to see their faces as they make jokes; it's fun to watch them stifle laughs themselves. To add to the fun, the guys brought in the hilarious Paul F. Tompkins to help them with the second short. It was impressive how effortless he was with the other three that have been working together for a good decade and a half.
Unlike previous RifftraxLive events, House on Haunted Hill will not have a taped encore in theaters. However, sources tell me the DVD will be available through www.rifftrax.com soon.
See part one of this entry here.
After calming down about briefly getting to talk to poet Eugene Gloria, I shared a pasta lunch and conversation with a fellow writer named Michael. I attended three sessions I had picked out that morning: "(How) Can I Say This: Approaching Creative Nonfiction with Craft and Courage" (led by Ball State’s Jill Christman), "Poetry and the Sense of Sound" (with Marian’s Chris Forhan), and "Life at First Bite: Starting Your Food Memoir" (with IUPUI’s Terry Kirts). I found something valuable in all the sessions I attended, so I’m hesitant to pick a favorite. (Okay, it was Shumate’s.) Really, though, I got something out of every session, including an extensive list of food memoirs recommended by Kirts, a word list to use in a future poem from Forhan, and Christman's directions to consider when writing creative nonfiction.
Few things are more satisfying than knowing you’re sitting in a room full of people who share a common interest, no matter what that activity might be. Knowing that each session leader didn’t have to work around anyone’s disinterest in writing before suggesting an exercise was especially nice for me. I counted around 60 writers in attendance; it was a good size for the conference, allowing for full classrooms but not overcrowding.
As with any conference, I wish I could’ve made it to some of the other workshops, like Skip Berry’s “Writing for the Screen” or Alessandra Lynch’s “Shards and Raptures: Compression and Expansion in Poetry,” but there’s always next year’s sessions. I ended up skipping the final presentation, a panel discussion about publishing with Elizabeth Stuckey-French, Victoria Barrett, and Barb Shoup, because it had been a long day back in the classroom. I was stoked to attend the rest of the sessions, however, and I'm already looking forward to next year's gathering.
For information about upcoming Writers’ Center of Indiana events, visit www.indianawriters.org.
I have officially attended a conference on writing. I can’t believe it took this long — I am aglow with creative possibility, inspiration, and encouragement. Thanks to the annual Gathering of Writers, sponsored by the Writers’ Center of Indiana and held at Marian University (3200 Cold Spring Road) last Saturday, I now have pages of notes about directions my writing can take, especially poetry.
Things kicked off just after 10:00 a.m. in the Ruth Lilly Student Center with a keynote speech by fiction writer Elizabeth Stuckey-French. She read her speech to the crowd, which wasn’t the approach I was expecting. Though I didn’t want my senses mauled by some over-caffeinated motivational speaker, I wanted a bit more before leading into a day of workshops.
The speech ended up being a minor point. My first workshop, The Prose Poem: Dreaming Inside the Box, led by David Shumate, left me with lots of ideas. I wrote down a collection of everything, from Shumate’s slight surprise that we were all “taking [the writing exercises] much more seriously than [he] would’ve imagined” to his reminder that we not “over-edit [the poem] as the dream is beginning to establish itself.” The group created a few poems by contributing lines we thought of on scraps of paper that went into a hat. I found myself scribbling down lots of ideas that occurred to me while I should’ve been listening, but creativity isn’t always patient.
Read part two of this entry on Thursday.
In anticipation of El Dia de los Muertos — or Day of the Dead — I hung out at Bookmamas (9 Johnson Avenue) last Thursday evening and painted a skull mask alongside a few other people. We had quite the choice of materials, including stickers, feathers, and paint. It was a nice, meditative sort of activity that lulled me into relaxation… until I realized I was holding the skull by poking my fingers through its eye sockets. In any case, I had a painted mask done in about an hour and spent some extra time painting the names of people who have passed on, people who have meant a great deal to me, inside the skull. For the first time in my life, I’m considering basing an altar around the mask and actually celebrating the day. It would be nice to step towards a different culture, especially for a major holiday.
Those who are interested in seeing altars and shrines built in honor of El Dia de los Muertos — a chance for families to attract their deceased loved ones back for the day — should check out the celebration at the Indianapolis Art Center (820 E. 67th Street) on October 30 from 3:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. The wide range of activities taking place during the day — including demonstrations by artists with studio space at the center and the chance to decorate various crafts, like sugar skulls — have me very interested in attending. There will also be music and dance performances — it’ll be quite the celebration. Visit www.DayoftheDeadIndy.org for more information. The event is free, but donations are appreciated.
Wine and Canvas is one of the more fun events I've been to this year. Take a glass of wine — or, in my case, a Long Island Iced Tea on special — and plop down in front of a 16" x 20" canvas with several paintbrushes and blobs of paint on a paper plate. Led by a professional artist, such as JanettMarie, spend three hours painting a picture. A little buzz and hands smeared with acrylic paint? Heaven.
The event I attended met at Sahm's Tavern & Cafe (433 N. Capitol Avenue), which boasts a darned tasty bacon cheeseburger and great service. Wine and Canvas got its start in April and has hosted events all over Indy. Upcoming events are scheduled for Don Pablo's (3824 East 82nd Street), Chateau Thomas Winery (ooo, fitting) (8235 East 116th Street), and Muldoon's (111 West Main Street, Carmel). The group is opening their own studio next month near Keystone at the Crossing (86th and Keystone).
I'll admit that I was a little nervous when JanettMarie told us we'd be painting pears — I'd never painted any kind of fruit — but she walked the 10 or so participants through so smoothly that we all left with some pretty nice paintings, if I do say so myself. We marked off points on the canvas to make room for the three pears and saw our pieces of fruit develop from circles wearing little triangles as hats. I was skeptical but found that things worked out well. We all got lots of positive feedback, one-on-one attention, and suggestions for improvement... like when SOMEONE covered sections of her canvas in yellow instead of darker, shadow-producing colors and fell behind the rest of the group. I don't know who that was though. Ahem.
I'll definitely go to another Wine and Canvas event. The hosts were professional, friendly, accommodating, and encouraging. Interested persons can pick an event to attend based on pictures on the Wine and Canvas website calendar. The rest of the month will have folks painting florals and Halloween-themed pieces. Check www.wineandcanvas.com for more information; the schedule of events for November will be posted soon. Each event costs $35/person, which is a pretty great deal for three hours of attentive instruction by a professional artist, not to mention the inclusion of the art supplies and very necessary apron. Bring a few bucks for a drink (if you don't drink, it'll just be Canvas, but that's okay too) and have fun painting. Maybe I'll see you there.
It’s happened sooner than we expected. After expressing the hope (in a recent ISO review), but not the expectation, that the ISO would pick a new music director before the 2010-11 season ended, I now learn that it is a fait accompli. The Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra announced today (Tuesday, Oct. 19 at 1 p.m., in a ceremony outside the Hilbert Circle Theatre) that conductor Krzysztof Urbanski will become its next music director, effective Sept. 1, 2011. His initial contract is four years, and he immediately becomes the Music Director Designate. Urbanski is the seventh music director in the ISO’s 80-year history and, at age 28, the youngest among major orchestras in the United States. He made his U.S. debut in a classical-concert pair last April with our orchestra — whereas a number of other potential music-director candidates have appeared two or more times each in the classical series.
Born in Poland, Urbanski has successfully toured with orchestras throughout Europe and in Japan during the last few years. He was named chief conductor of Norway’s Trondheim Symphony Orchestra after only one appearance with that orchestra in Sept., 2009. After making a most positive impression on the ISO players, he did return here to lead the orchestra at the opening of its Symphony on the Prairie series last summer. So that from two appearances here the conductor search committee (listed below) made their choice. ISO director of communications Jessica di Santo said: “The search committee unanimously voted to appoint Mr. Urbanski to the post, and the ISO musicians overwhelmingly supported the recommendation.”
As with all previous music directors, Urbanski will be responsible for leading the artistic vision of the ISO and presiding over auditions for vacancies within the orchestra. He has also committed himself to strengthening the organization’s profile locally, nationally and internationally, as well as providing insight and service to the organization’s educational and community initiatives. Urbanski will return for concerts on May 20 and 21, 2011, replacing Pietari Inkinen, originally scheduled for that weekend. In the 2011-2012 season, Urbanski will conduct six weekends of the classical series, including the ISO’s Opening Night Gala in September. In subsequent seasons, he will conduct a minimum of 10 programs.
Following his U.S. debut with the ISO, Urbanski made a celebrated debut with Chicago’s Grant Park Orchestra and the Houston Symphony Orchestra. He continues an extensive schedule of guest conducting engagements this season with orchestras throughout Europe and in Japan. As a graduate of the Chopin Music Academy in Warsaw in 2007, Urbanski has made such a rapid rise in symphonic-world prominence as to be described as no less than startling.
The search for a new music director began in September 2009 following Mario Venzago’s dismissal from a seven-year tenure after having many temperament/communication difficulties with ISO management. Chief among these was Venzago’s failure to immerse himself into community activities — to be the most visible spokesperson for the orchestra locally, and thus to attract more individual and corporate donations to support the ISO’s $26 million annual budget, especially in this recession period. He and his family continued to live in Heidelberg, Germany, where his wife is principal violist in their local symphony.
What compounded the issue was Venzago’s personal magnetism, his uniquely interpretive conducting style and his close attachments to many symphony insiders — some of whom have remained upset over his forced departure. Which in turn was compounded by the visible circumstances of his dismissal on July 30, 2009, just before last season began. Has the orchestra learned from what happened last year, such that this kind of imbroglio will not occur again? I’ve mentioned that Urbanski plans to be a part of this community, something I’m sure was part of the terms of his employment here. In addition, di Santo said, “Our new maestro and his wife Joanna plan to make a home here.”
That seems to me an excellent start.
Music Director Search Committee
Simon Crookall, President and CEO
Zach De Pue, Concertmaster
Rick Graef, Assistant Principal Horn
Bob Kaspar, Immediate Past Board Chairman
Ju-Fang Liu, Principal Contrabass
Martin Sher, Vice President of Artistic Planning
John Thornburgh, Board Chairman
Marianne Williams Tobias, board member
If you're interested in hearing a little spoken word tonight, you've got a couple options:
The first is a poetry reading by editor and Beech Grove resident JL Kato, who just won first place in the Masterpiece in a Day contest. You can read his winning poem here. The event meets at the Irvington Library (5625 East Washington Street); is part of the Irvington Poetry Series, which concludes for the year after Kato's reading; and starts at 7:00 p.m. He'll be reading from his new book, Shadows Set in Concrete, and I won't even lie — I've been looking forward to this reading for months. Kato is quiet but lets you know just how powerful he is when he gets to the mic. I've heard him a few times recently at open mics; I'm looking forward to his turn as featured performer.
Fairly close by will be The Encyclopedia Show at IndyFringe (719 E. St. Clair Street). The evening will be a variety show whose theme revolves around bears. Yep... bears. Kato was invited to write something that spoke to the theme; he shared his work about Teddy (get it?) Roosevelt during the open mic after last week's performance by Ben Rose. I've never been to an encyclopedia show, but they're apparently increasing in popularity. The theme, which is taken from an encyclopedia, is then shared among a range of performers, including poets, performance artists, and musicians. I've heard some of the performers who are slated to appear, including Saint Peace, Adam “Henzbo” Henze, Neena Ta'Ree, and Tony Brewer (one-fourth of the spoken word troupe Reservoir Dogwoods). Given the talent of those four people alone, I feel secure in saying that attendees are in for a treat. The event is hosted by spoken word artist Erin Livingston, who co-hosts the Indianapolis Poetry Slam with Henze. For more information, visit www.encyclopediashow.com. Admission is $10 for general admission and $7 for students and seniors. The show starts at 7:30 p.m.
[A+E] Theater + Dance
[A+E] Theater + Dance, Jazz + Blues + R&B
[A+E] Theater + Dance
[A+E] Visual Arts + Museums
[A+E] Visual Arts + Museums