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Wednesday, November 30, 2011


The mainstream media's interest may have waned, but the Occupy movement is not over and done. The fundamentals that brought people to the streets have not changed. It is our perception that a great cauldron of systemic frustration is still burbling and only a little bit of steam has been released.

Read here a Chomskian perspective from Naomi Wolf in the British newspaper The Guardian. In her view, there is most definitely a coordinated effort underway to supress the Occupy protests.

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Duck and Cover 11.30.11 

Our thanks to "Duck & Cover" and creator Storey Clayton.

Check out his other projects, here, at the Blue Pyramid.

All ideas and opinions are those of the cartoonist and do not necessarily reflect the view of the Clarion Content.*

*More often than not, we TOTALLY agree...

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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Duck and Cover 11.29.11 

Our thanks to "Duck & Cover" and creator Storey Clayton.

Check out his other projects, here, at the Blue Pyramid.

All ideas and opinions are those of the cartoonist and do not necessarily reflect the view of the Clarion Content.*

*More often than not, we TOTALLY agree...

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Friday, November 25, 2011

Durham Holiday Art Walk installations 

If you are like us, over here at the Clarion Content, and you just can't enough Durham, we have a few more nuggets for you. Durham's Holiday Art Walk installations were an amazing celebration of our city and public art. We were resplendent.

We would like to offer our grateful thanks to all the artists who participated, the Durham Arts Council, the Durham Storefront Project and all the local businesses and citizens who found a way to be involved.

If you just showed up and looked at the art, you count! You were a member of the audience, one of those who made clear, our city is the kind of place where we do this stuff and folks appreciate it.

Here courtesy of Scenes from my Lunch Hour are a few more shots of some of those installations.

Taken out of context, fallen from their perch, the nests represent the idea of impermanence---Cici Stevens

From Cici Stevens installation in the former Baldwin Furniture space
Photo by Scenes from my Lunch Hour

Masks have a story to tell rather than an identity to hide---Helen Seebold

From Helen Seebold installation at #108 Morris Street
Photo by Scenes from my Lunch Hour

From Helen Seebold installation at #108 Morris Street
Photo by Scenes from my Lunch Hour

Treat yourself to a celebration of families and food by Catherine Howard

From Catherine Howard installation at Scratch Bakery
Photo by Scenes from my Lunch Hour

From Catherine Howard installation at Scratch Bakery
Photo by Scenes from my Lunch Hour

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Monday, November 21, 2011

LiLa rocks the Casbah 

Local Durham favorites, LiLa and Toon rocked the Casbah Friday night. It was an all ages show, and as you can see from the picture below LiLa's fans went wild. The show featured a couple of great new songs off of their upcoming album "III," scheduled for release December 20th. They blew the doors off the room, the walls dripped with sweat. Their fans literally screamed for more when they thought it was over, and the ladies charged the stage when given permission by lead singer Eli McDuffie.

Eli in the mob
Photos courtesy of Scenes from my Lunch Hour.

And while we know a LiLa never disappoints, this was our first opportunity to see local hip-hop impresario Toon. He was terrific, filling the room with his energy. See more pictures and read more about both, as well as Beatnam, at Scenes from my Lunch Hour

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Friday, November 18, 2011

Art Walk's Storefront Installation Preview 

We've been running around town this week visiting the artists installing for the newly minted Durham Storefront Project which is running in conjunction with downtown this year's Durham Holiday Art Walk. The Durham Arts Council's Catherine Howard, coordinating the event for the DAC, hooked with up with the Durham Storefront Projects' co-organizers, Chris Chinchar and Jessica Moore. The result? More than fifteen installations in all that can be seen on the streets of downtown Durham, so be sure to look out for displays everywhere you turn as you walk between stops on the Art Walk this weekend. Thanks to all the artists and business owners for letting us get in your way for a few minutes, and for allowing a peek into your process.









photos by Cady Childs & Beth Mandel

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The Durham Art Walk 

by Rebecca Yan and Aaron Mandel, special to the Clarion Content

At the re-opening, "Durham, the operative word in this city, is: We."
Photos courtesy of Scenes from my Lunch Hour.

Durham Art Walk, the bi-annual event, described as “a kickoff event for the holidays,” by Catherine Howard takes place weekend in downtown Durham.

A group of Durham artists and Downtown Durham Inc. originally started the Durham Art Walk in 1999 as an event to promote the arts in Durham, long before our dear city became the nationally recognized social and cultural hub that it is today.

It started small and as recently as 2004 its future look shaky. But Durham has rallied around it, even in these troubled economic times. Yesterday saw the triumphant reopening of the Durham Arts Council Building and the Carolina Theater.1

Parade celebrating the re-opening.
Photos courtesy of Scenes from my Lunch Hour.

“We really tried to beef it up for this winter,” said Catherine Howard, a local artist and Durham Arts Council's coordinator for the event. This year's event is mammoth with over 200 participating artists at forty-seven sites.

“It seems a bit ambitious,” said John Wendelbo, a local sculptor and participant of the art walk. “It’s way better organized [compared to last year]. I’m already seeing the signs on the streets, stuff in the windows, artist starting to set up the shows. People are talking about it. There’s way more vibe this year.”

Wendelbo will be painting at one of the sites on #320 East Chapel Hill Street along with a visiting New York sculptor, Carlos Mare1 Rodriguez.

Along with artist of all stripes, there will be musical performances and new features such as live painting sessions at two sites. The Art Walk signs are everywhere. Stroll the Durham streets this afternoon and they are buzzing. Abandon storefronts explode with a profusion of Art.

Another new feature Ms. Howard helped bring to this year’s event is the Durham Storefront Project. Howard along with co-organizers, Chris Chinchar and Jessica Moore, they connected the Art Walk, the artists, the spaces and the suppliers. The Durham Storefront project features fourteen storefront windows that have been decorated by local artists in part using supplies donated by local businesses such as Jerry’s Artarama, the Durham Art Guild and The Scrap Exchange. There are nine more student-created windows sponsored by the Art Institute. These two collaborative, but independent, efforts are a magnificent display of public art for art and the city’s sake. (The Clarion Content’s pictures will blow you away. Check’em out here.)

“Students created installations of artworks just for the business,” Howard said. “It’s a collaboration between artists and businesses that brings some excitement to downtown because we have a lot of storefronts that doesn’t have stuff in it. Just empty spaces.”

“It’d be great if we have a Macy’s window thing, but it doesn’t fit Durham,” Howard, a former New York City resident, said. “Pop-up [art] windows are a great next step. It really fits what a lot of artists are thinking and businesses are getting involved with the art through that way.”

Luis Franco, a local visual activist, will be part of the show for the first time.

”A friend of mine participated in the show last year and gave me the info to sign up online,” Franco said. “I’ve been doing a lot of different events and have decided to get involved in the Durham Art Walk to further promote my artworks.”

Franco will be selling prints, magnets, buttons and t-shirts in the Durham Armory.

“It’s specific to Durham. They’re trying to put people in various historical buildings in Durham such as the armory and the Carolina Theater. It attracts people to check little galleries around downtown.”

There is a reason why the words “Holiday Market” are included in the name.

“It’s a way for the artists to get people early before they spend money for non-artwork things,” Howard said.

But most importantly, the event is about supporting the community.

“People come out, look at art, and have a good time,” Wendelbo said.

Durham hosts and supports all sorts of fun!
Photos courtesy of Scenes from my Lunch Hour.

1Though once again the devil is in the details of the renovation which spent $6.9 million of its $14 million city arts rehab on the Convention and Visitors Bureau.

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Duham Cultural Forum 

Your Clarion Content’s correspondent attended the Durham Cultural Advisory Board’s meeting last Monday, November 7th. This meeting, at the Nasher Museum on Duke's campus, was a fascinating coming together or perhaps collision would be more accurate, between Durham City government, the non-profit world, and the public. The Durham Cultural Advisory Board is the successor to the Durham Cultural Master Plan.

The event brought the City Council appointed chairman of the Cultural Advisory Board, along with representatives from Durham City government, most notably, Councilman Mike Woodard, and E’vonne Coleman Cook of the Durham Convention and Visitors Bureau, together with the leadership of the biggest arts non-profit in Durham, the Durham Arts Council (DAC) and its Executive Director, Sherry DeVries. The public was also invited to attend.1

Michael Schoenfeld, Vice-President for Public Affairs and Government Relations at Duke University, and the Chairman of Durham Cultural Advisory Board, was invited to speak first. In a data heavy presentation, Mr. Schoenfeld briefed those in attendance on what the Cultural Master Plan had been and what might be up next. As he rolled through slide after slide dutifully narrating his Powerpoint presentation, Mr. Schoenfeld, who noted he had only moved to the Durham area three years earlier, laid out a lot of facts and figures.

He broke down the $222k budget of the Cultural Master Plan. The two biggest numbers were $60k for "Festivals" and $43.5k for "Arts Education." And on the face of it, it is hard for Durham art supporters to begrudge either of those numbers. Of course, there are always devils in the details. How, and on what, is that money spent? Later, when we got to the public forum portion of the evening, we realized we weren’t the only ones worried about those kind of questions.

The other number that the Clarion Content found oddly noteworthy in the line item budget Mr. Schoenfeld rapidly recited was $13 grand for a Business Committee. This was more than the Durham Cultural Master plan spent for our dear city on either public art or planning for the Durham Historical Museum. Mr. Schoenfeld, who moved to Duke and the Bull City from Vanderbilt and Nashville, Tennessee, noted: we in Durham are part of the largest city in North Carolina without a dedicated historical museum.

We hope that the committee was up to some important business.

Mr. Schoenfeld didn’t say. He did say something about a sixty-three member steering committee having been assembled to form a committee that wrote the Durham Cultural Master Plan. It is a wonder under the momentum crushing weight of all of that bureaucracy that anything happened at all.

But happen it did, as Ms. Sherry DeVries, the Executive Director of the Durham Arts Council, who was up next, demonstrated. She had all the facts and figures about Durham’s renaissance at her fingertips. Despite the national trend, recession and economic stagnation, Durham saw 10% job growth in the creative industries.2 DeVries also noted Durham exceeds the national average for jobs classified as creative by 75% and the North Carolina state average by 218%, with more than 6,600 jobs classified as high creative generating an estimated economic impact of $103 million.

Taking the podium from Ms. DeVries, Ms. E’vonne Coleman Cook of the Durham Convention and Visitors Bureau, who spoke smoothly and without notes, briefed the assembly on some of the work done at www.Durhamculture.com This is a website, the Clarion Content admittedly, had not accessed previously. Now that we have, what a resource! It is worth the time and visit for the events calendar alone. Ms. Coleman Cook also told the group that it was easy to register, and then, one would be able to update the collective calendar personally. This openness is a double-edged sword because it does not lend itself to specificity. The calendar is jam-packed with information and the list format is somewhat unwieldy. But, these are petty complaints for what the site offers.

Ms. Cook disseminated her valuable information succinctly and handed off to Mark Lee, a local radio host and the emcee of the Durham Blues Festival to moderate public discussion. Mr. Lee, a man with the sweetly resonant voice of an on-air personality, spoke only briefly, the coterie who proceeded him having gone on for nearly an hour and fifteen minutes of the forum's allotted hour and thirty minutes. He spoke about his personal experiences with Durham residents who had gone on to greater artistic success. He mentioned, though didn’t elaborate on, an encounter he had with the Raging Grannies and their singing number at Occupy Durham. And then turned it over to the public for questions.

This was both the briefest and most fascinating part of the evening. There was a passionate crowd. There were questions about how to best make contact with students and young people. There were concerns raised about reaching youth who might not be able to afford transportation to and classes at the Durham Arts Council.3

What did the numbers reflect about arts spending and the arts economy in Durham beyond the building of facilities? The public wanted to know.

There were real concerns amongst the arts supporters in the audience about reaching young people effectively. One Durham teacher noted that an amazing opportunity to learn to make documentary films on the public schools-arts nickel had been taken up only by four students. Not for lack of interest, she suspected, but rather because of the struggle to communicate the opportunity available to students and their parents.

The Clarion Content, among many others in the audience, chanced to bemoan the lack of effective use of social media by many of these organizations, including, and perhaps especially, Durham Public Schools (33,000 students, an estimated 57,000 parents and 238 Twitter followers? Really??) and the Durham Arts Council too (1279 followers, two tweets since August.)

More questions were raised about how to face these and other challenges in the light of shrinking state and local school and arts budgets, especially by Ms. Coleman Cook, but by that time the Nasher security personnel were flashing the lights in the auditorium and attempting to shoo people out of the room and into the lobby for catered snacks.

The unanswered questions echoed loudly as the audience began to filter out of the room. It could not fairly have been directed at Mr. Lee, he was only charged as the moderator. Ms. Coleman Cook posed the questions. Mr. Schoenfeld moved here in just 2008. Ms. DeVries shuffled her notes. Councilman Woodward, the only councilman who had been in attendance to hear a City Council appointed board talk about spending the public's money, had already left the building.

What is to become of the arts in Durham? Obviously, authority does not have an easier answer. The reality is that it is up to each of us.

1De-emphasis of the public is deliberate in this context.

2Albeit with backward looking data from 2006-08. But there are two ways to look at that older data, because, although it mostly predates the Bush II recession, it also does not include Durham Performing Arts Center, which most certainly created jobs in Durham.

3Here an opportunity was missed to mention the amazing work being done by KidZNotes with at-risk families and their children. The Walltown Children's Theater could have also been cited as reaching out into the community answering the claim that all the arts programs are based at the center of town as the questioner, incidentally a Wake County resident, stated.

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Duck and Cover 11.18.11 

Our thanks to "Duck & Cover" and creator Storey Clayton.

Check out his other projects, here, at the Blue Pyramid.

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Thursday, November 17, 2011

LiLa plays along 

This Friday, one of Clarion Content’s favorite Durham musical acts, LiLa, will be performing at the Casbah, along with Beatnam and Toon, two other groups you’ve probably heard around town as names to be on the look out for.

The Clarion Content is particularly excited for Toon. He is a Durham School of the Arts graduate, known for his live energy and beats that stay stuck in your head for hours. The first time he crossed our radar, he rapped to the Parlour for ice cream. And they gave it to him! His blend of personal charisma, pop piano, catchy lyrics, and bass on ‘Be Famous’ shows an intuitive grasp of people, what we want to hear and how we hear it. Visit his Reverb Nation site to take a listen.

Of course, most of you, dear readers, already possess a story about a great night that starts with a LiLa show. Their concoction of well-written, quick-witted lyrics, intense musicianship, hip-hop beats and sensibilities, set in a plush musical pastiche that ranges from modern jazz, to Sublime-like riffs and back to melodic swing notes, has a way of forcing even those who hate to dance to sway their hips.

And you know what we always say around here, if you can’t keep your hips still, it is a darn good sign for the music.

LiLa is a show you simply cannot miss. Period. If not now, when? If you wait, you will only ask yourself why later.

Their newest album, ‘III’ is set to release December 23rd, but you can listen to the first single, ‘8-bit kid’ here. The Clarion Content’s sources say that they will be dropping another single today. Check here. They have also partnered with Clarion Content's electric creative team, Cady Childs and Jessi Blakely, to stage a fabulous faux press conference shot in the Cordoba Center for the Arts in conjunction with Liberty Arts Foundry and featuring Bernard's Formalwear. But you know what they say---it’s not true 'til you see it in writing. Still, a picture is worth 1,000 words…

A preview of the upcoming LiLa photoshoot...Keep an eye to the Twitter for the full set soon, music fans.

Tuxedos courtesy of Bernard's Formalwear.
Space courtesy of the Cordoba Center for the Arts and Liberty Arts Foundry.
Photo by Jessi Blakely of Tamara Lackey Photography.
Styling by Cady Childs of the Clarion Content.

LiLa is playing the Casbah tomorrow night. Don't wait, pre-sale tickets for the show are available through e-tix here. Doors open at 8pm, and the show starts at 9pm. For more information on the Casbah, visit their website here.

Article by the Clarion Content's lead columnist for Culture, the Arts and Durham, Cady Childs.

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Duck and Cover 11.17.11 

Our thanks to "Duck & Cover" and creator Storey Clayton.

Check out his other projects, here, at the Blue Pyramid.

All ideas and opinions are those of the cartoonist and do not necessarily reflect the view of the Clarion Content.*

*More often than not, we totally agree...

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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Durham Holiday Art Walk 

Matt Zigler installing in the windows of Coulter, Jewell, Thames PA, at #111 W. Main Street, Durham

Photo credit and layout by Cady Childs

Durham’s annual holiday Art Walk, sponsored by the Durham Arts Council, strikes the streets of downtown this weekend with a fresh new look.

Thursday (November 17th) a ribbon cutting ceremony at 4:30 p.m., marks the highly anticipated official re-opening of Carolina Theater and the Durham Arts Council (DAC) building after a multi-year renovation and kicks off a weekend celebrating the arts and the revitalized, vibrant downtown of Durham.

“These renovations are beneficial to the council, the theater, the city, and of course, artists, all at one time,” Margaret DeMott, an institution at the DAC, said. “It’s a great, fulfilling, collaborating process.”

New additions to this year’s Art Walk include twenty-two installations and displays in the windows of bustling downtown Durham, in business storefronts such as Scratch bakery, Coulter, Jewell, Thames PA, and Center Studio Architecture, as well as in under-utilized spaces, such as the former Bargain Furniture building. Many of the displays are built from materials provided by Durham’s Scrap Exchange and Jerry's Artarama, as a part of what is being billed as the Durham Storefront Project, an independent group of artists and art supporters organized specifically for this project.

Musical performances will be happening all day Saturday and Sunday along the Art Walk route, with performances by among many, many others, Rebecca and the Hi Tones and the Willie Painter Band.

The result, amazing free public art, shows what happens when organizations like the DAC, the Art Institute, the North Carolina Songwriter’s Co-Op, Vega metals, and more come together to put together an event of this magnitude. New venues and cool spaces abound in downtown Durham these days. The entrepreneurs that are flocking to Durham in droves love that their community puts art at their fingertips and in their footsteps. Art builds community and brings people back to the revitalized downtown loop. It is just one more example of how when Durham comes together, it is better than ever.

“We are interested in what new partnerships and components we can create,” Sherry Devries, director of the DAC, said. “There are so many entities in this town, it makes it a good time for revising and adding.”

DeVries also noted that more than 6,600 jobs in Durham are classified as highly creative and even during this time of economic stagnation and recession these jobs have increased by 10%.

With over forty-seven locations involved, 200 artists, an entire day of music, and everything else now happening in downtown, the Durham Art Walk is certainly something that you won’t want to miss. Spend a day and you will know why Durham’s reputation as national center for arts and music is being noted near and far. The event kicks off Saturday at 10 a.m. till 5 p.m., and continues Saturday from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Visit the Durham Art walk website here for a complete list of venues, entertainment, and sponsors.

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Duck and Cover 11.16.11 

Our thanks to "Duck & Cover" and creator Storey Clayton.

Check out his other projects, here, at the Blue Pyramid.

All ideas and opinions are those of the cartoonist and do not necessarily reflect the view of the Clarion Content.*

*More often than not, we totally agree...

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Things that make you go, hmmmm... 

Long time readers know, that the Clarion Content is fascinated by the blurry lines separating the realms of the real and the imaginary. This means we are fans of both science and science fiction. We are glad when the real world smacks us in the face with the old proverb, there is more to this here than meets the eye.

This side by photo, maybe not so new to you, but new to the Clarion Content's editors made us stop and go, hmmmm...

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Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Duck and Cover 11.15.11 

Our thanks to "Duck & Cover" and creator Storey Clayton.

Check out his other projects, here, at the Blue Pyramid.

All ideas and opinions are those of the cartoonist and do not necessarily reflect the view of the Clarion Content.*

*More often than not, we totally agree...

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Friday, November 11, 2011

Is there no other end game in Afghanistan? 

There is an alternate endgame in Afghanistan. Self-determination if possible, partition if necessary. The Clarion Content has long argued that the decisions made by British mapmakers of the 19th century that birthed the conceit of Afghanistan do not a nation make. They drew lines on a map, that does not make it so on the ground.

America was founded on this very principle and hewed to it until at least the Monroe Doctrine. Since then things have gotten more colonialist and complicated from the Philippines to Cuba to Nicaragua to Panama to Vietnam. But America does not have to stick it out in an internecine neo-colonialist civil war, and, arguably by providing more cash via aid, and more weaponry, we inherently exacerbate the problem rather than help provide the solution.

America's policymakers who concluded a draw in Korea was preferable to the endless drain on resources of on-going war would recommend the same in Afghanistan. It is difficult to imagine how one would partition Afghanistan. In Iraq division is easier to see, if equally problematic to implement. But allowing these countries to make their own decisions is how facilitate a different end game in Afghanistan and Iraq.

One down, one to go?

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This day... 

The Clarion Content's editorial board is darned near pacifist. But that has never stopped us, nor will it ever stop us from humbly and gratefully thanking our soldiers and all those who serve male and female. Today is a day to remember those folks; those who serve and those who have served. And those who have made the ultimate sacrifice.

Do not distance yourself from their work. They come from your state, your city, your town, down the road and up the block. They are your friends and neighbors.

And until pacifism triumphs, we are in awe of this sacrifice. We are suffused with gratitude for those who make it, and thereby enable us to live in a mostly free, constitutionally governed country.


Duck and Cover 11.11.11 

Our thanks to "Duck & Cover" and creator Storey Clayton.

Check out his other projects, here, at the Blue Pyramid.

All ideas and opinions are those of the cartoonist and do not necessarily reflect the view of the Clarion Content.*

*More often than not, we totally agree...

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Thursday, November 10, 2011

Durham Family Theater 

special to the Clarion Content from guest columnist Rebecca Yan...

“Community-rooted”, “volunteer-nourished” and “alive” are the words that Jenny Justice used to describe Durham Family Theatre in downtown Durham.

Justice co-founded the theatre in August 2010.

“In a city that is about 45 percent African-Americans, 45 percent White and 10 percent Hispanic, going forward without diversity would be to fail in our mission, and if you don't live your mission, then why do you exist?” Justice said.

The theater’s first show, “Alice! A Mad Musical Adventure,” which she co-wrote with Ryan Gunzel, included actors ranging from eight to sixty-eight years old.

“Everything we’ve done has affirmed our mission,” Justice said of the first play. “It was exactly as we had envisioned.”

The theater is performing, “As You Like It”, a play with a 50 percent African-American cast, but it did not start out that way.

The audition for the play consisted only of Caucasians.

“People think it’s a white people’s play,” said Justice, “but I wanted to broaden the possibilities and cross boundaries.”

Justice found her lead actors after attending a theater class at North Carolina Central University (NCCU).

“I think if you want people to be involved, you have to reach out to them,” Justice said. “So we made a policy that if our show doesn’t have diversity, we don’t go forward with it.”

The cast now includes not only students from NCCU, but also a teacher and high school students from Durham School of the Arts who are working as apprentices to Justice.

“Half of the cast is African-Americans and most of the cast hadn’t even read Shakespeare,” said Justice. “They downloaded films and scripts to their iPhones and worked every minute for two months.”

Sherena Siler, a senior theater and psychology major at NCCU, plays Celia, the emotional daughter of Duke Frederick and Rosalind’s dearest friend.

“I have done one Shakespeare before, Romeo and Juliet, in high school,” Siler said. “Being an aspiring actress, Shakespeare is something that you have to do once. It’s one-of-a-kind.”

“We’ve been working since the end of August, four nights a week with pretty intense rehearsals,” Siler said. “The vocabulary and dialogue is really not in this period and before you can act, you have to interpret first and it brings a level of difficulty, but Ms. Jenny really helped a lot with the dialogue. She’s a Shakespeare guru.”

All the hard work paid off during their opening night last Friday.

“It was really successful from the audience’s perspective,” Siler said. “They were able to understand and were laughing, which tells us that the dialogue was interpreted well.”

Tehila Rosenblatt-Farrell, fourteen, started taking acting lessons with Justice after seeing the theater’s first play, “Alice”, and performed in a major role in a play put on by the theater this summer.

“Jenny really cares about the students and takes time to figure out what they need to work on, “said Rosenblatt-Farrell.

Rosenblatt-Farrell learned more than acting skills from the classes.

“She became more confident,” said Tehila’s mother, Coco Rosenblatt-Farrell. “It wasn’t just intellectual learning. She got it in her bones, in her daily life, in her school life.”

Coco Rosenblatt-Farrell said that her daughter’s acting skills actually helped her once when she was preparing for a performance at friend’s house.

“I take singing lessons and I was going to be doing a performance at a friend’s home,” said Rosenblatt-Farrell. “Tehila came in and sat down and coached me to being on stage, the body language and postures to use, and she credited it all to the Durham Family Theatre.”

Justice said that the theater could not have started without the help of the community.

“We wouldn’t exists without them,” Justice said. “I didn’t start the space at all. This theater was started completely on community volunteers.”

The Hayti Heritage Center provided the stage for the current play while Trinity Presbyterian Church provided space for the theater’s summer camps.

“We’ve really been blessed,” Justice said. “It’s taken a lot of pavement pounding.”

“I’m a big believer in building community through volunteer efforts,” said Justice, “and I want this to be a place where families can create together.”

Durham Family Theatre has performances of the current show, “As You Like It” this Friday and Saturday at 8:00 p.m. in St. Joseph’s Performance Hall at the Hayti Heritage Center.

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Duck and Cover 11.10.11 

Our thanks to "Duck & Cover" and creator Storey Clayton.

Check out his other projects, here, at the Blue Pyramid.

All ideas and opinions are those of the cartoonist and do not necessarily reflect the view of the Clarion Content.*

*More often than not, we totally agree...

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Durham passes Transportation sales tax 

The way the train used to roll into Durham...
Photo courtesy of Old West Durham Neighborhood Association

Durham passed a half of a cent sales tax increase yesterday designed to augment mass transportation in the area. The program includes improvements to Durham's bus system beginning in 2012, including more buses on high rider-use routes, expanded regional bus service and expanded bus service to RDU Airport. Of course, the plan's authors sold it the public as a light rail program, knowing that despite its practicality and relatively low cost, nobody loves the bus.

The trains are in the plan, too. It calls for thirty-seven miles of commuter rail between Durham, RTP and Raleigh. This portion includes the construction of four new commuter rail stations in Durham, beginning as early as 2018. It also includes the much publicized seventeen miles of light rail between Durham and Chapel Hill, with as many as twelve stations scheduled to begin construction as early as 2025.

Long time readers know, that like many, the Clarion Content has a hard time advocating in favor of more taxes and increased government spending. But even in our limited government preferring hearts, we can see where a common good like mass transportation infrastructure is the kind of thing that the classic social contract calls for government to do. Build infrastructure so our individualistic, car-loving neighbors don't so clog the roads, and thereby pollute the air, that our little neck of the woods becomes the next sprawled out Atlanta or Los Angeles.

The Clarion Content gets especially edgy when the plan's advocates will not entirely disavow the use of eminent domain to construct the mass transit system they envision. We recall the very first time we heard about light rail in the Triangle, it was more than a decade ago, and it was because the word on the street was that they were going to close Sam's Blue Light.

We were opposed then and we are still concerned now and not just about our beer supply.1 Eminent domain has a history of being used diabolically to help the strong take advantage of the weak. We believe in the good intentions of the authors of the Durham Bus & Rail improvement plan. We think they genuinely want to help the community. And our area needs the help, some projections show regional population is set to increase by nearly one million more people in the next twenty years. If folks continued to use their cars at the same rate that we do now, the Durham/Raleigh/Chapel Hill area would be among the nation's most congested.

And all those cars would continue to gobble up open space, encouraging development to spread further out. Conversely trains drive development to city and population centers, preserving outlying and rural areas by default. The Clarion Content is not totally sold on this rationale. This is especially because we have heard that existing plans call for the construction of a rail station in the heavily wooded area on Farrington Road between NC 54 and US 40. We can, again, see the good intentions and the utilitarian logic of building a station in this location. We cannot ignore geography or demography.2

The kicker, the tiebreaker as it were, is the economy. In good times, there might be better rationale to debate against this kind of government investment, but in these times of stagnation and persistently high unemployment, infrastructure spending that yields jobs is welcome. Initial estimates by the plans authors project both a significant number of new jobs related to years of construction, and permanent professional service jobs, perhaps as many as 6,400 new positions in total. These jobs would be huge boon to the community.

Furthermore, there is some smart planning that is part of what has us convinced of the good intentions and aims of the authors of the proposal. The buses are an important piece to the Clarion Content. Buses are disproportionately used by the neediest members of society. Additionally, in an effort to minimize the regressivity of the new sales tax, it exempts gas, food, housing, utilities and medical bills. This we approve of, and, it gives us a good opinion of those moving the plan forward.

The jobs and the economic impact combined with heading-off potentially gruesome sprawl and congestion are enough to tip the Clarion Content's scales in favor of this proposition. We will be watching and covering its implementation closely.

We would note that it is our contention that far too many Americas take lightly what we have, and we don't just mean the loot/material things that we call our "stuff." We mean the very houses that we live in and streets that we walk. America has a massive amount of infrastructure and development. Somebody3 built every bit of it: roads, bridges, sewer systems, the electrical grid, etc. Although he has been blithely ignored by Congress, we did agree with the gist of the argument that President Obama made in his now nearly forgotten jobs address.4

Our grateful thanks to Bo Glenn without whom this piece would not have been possible.

1This plan, under the auspices of the Triangle Transit Authority, failed for lack of local government investment.

2This area has already seen a tranche of new homes built. And there will be far more downtown stations and downtown construction than there will be in rural and outlying areas.


4Three years too late, but right idea, finally.

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Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Duck and Cover 11.09.11 

Our thanks to "Duck & Cover" and creator Storey Clayton.

Check out his other projects, here, at the Blue Pyramid.

All ideas and opinions are those of the cartoonist and do not necessarily reflect the view of the Clarion Content.*

*More often than not, we totally agree...

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Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Watts-Hillandale Art Walk 

Although we did not make it to the Watts-Hillandale neighborhood Art Walk this weekend, our sources once again reported good things about this delightful Durham nook. The Clarion Content has sent correspondents along on the Watts-Hillandale house tour previously. This photo is from one of those house tours.

Check out more photos here. Scroll down. It is a neighborhood of wonderful old houses.

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Duck and Cover 11.08.11 

Our thanks to "Duck & Cover" and creator Storey Clayton.

Check out his other projects, here, at the Blue Pyramid.

All ideas and opinions are those of the cartoonist and do not necessarily reflect the view of the Clarion Content.*

*More often than not, we totally agree...

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Monday, November 07, 2011

Watts-Hillandale: Fashion Drive-by preview 

The Clarion Content's second Fashion Drive-by is coming soon. This time we partnered with a 9th Street institution, Vaguely Reminiscent, as well as, the up-and-coming clothing line, Runaway Clothes. Like the our first amazing shoot, which you can check out here, we could not have done it without our partners and collaborators.

Also like our first shoot, all styling was done by our phenomenal fashion and culture guru, Cady Childs. All photos were shot by Jessi Blakely of Tamara Lackey Photography.

So here is a little teaser of Fashion Drive-by #2, shot in historic Watts-Hillandale, just before Halloween...


Check out our full Fashion Drive-by shoot #2, appearing here, in these pages, the week before Thanksgiving.

Keep an eye out shortly thereafter for our Faux Presser photoshoot with local Durham music sensations---LiLa.

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Duck and Cover 11.07.11 

Our thanks to "Duck & Cover" and creator Storey Clayton.

Check out his other projects, here, at the Blue Pyramid.

All ideas and opinions are those of the cartoonist and do not necessarily reflect the view of the Clarion Content.*

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Friday, November 04, 2011

Duck and Cover 11.04.11 

Our thanks to "Duck & Cover" and creator Storey Clayton.

Check out his other projects, here, at the Blue Pyramid.

All ideas and opinions are those of the cartoonist and do not necessarily reflect the view of the Clarion Content.*

*More often than not, we totally agree...

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Thursday, November 03, 2011

Barricades Battle 

What does "to the barricades" really mean?

The Clarion Content has largely been a support of the Occupy movement, we feel a certain solidarity with their grievances. It is inarguable that the rich-poor gap in America is growing, that the ultra-rich are advancing faster than anyone else in our society, that the globalized movement of capital has once again tilted the balance radically in favor of investors. (Labor can not move freely in the same way.)

The nature of protest is always complicated, frequently during times of wrenching change things get worse before they get better. Is there the stomach for such change? Our New Jersey based political commentator, Storey Clayton, noted that increasing unemployment and underemployment has given folks more time and energy to examine the fine print of the social contract as it is now playing out. No surprise, people don't like the way the man is putting the screws to them. The question is: Can protest achieve change?

We read a sad story of a battle playing out at the barricades in Lower Manhattan. This battle, unlike Occupy's successful forays in Oakland, is amongst the 99%, rather than worker versus investor.

New York based DNA Info reports that Marc Epstein, the owner of the Milk Street Cafe, at #40 Wall Street, laid of twenty-one employees last week. He says he supports the protesters right to assemble and air their grievances, but feels his employees are collateral damage.1

The Milk Street Cafe says the biggest problem is that police barricades have lined Wall Street since September 17th. This makes it difficult for people to see the restaurant and cross the street to get to it. Local subway entrances are also closed and numerous police checkpoints dot the area.2

Not surprisingly the cops and the administration blame the protesters. Mayor Bloomberg, auditioning his head for a nifty place on stake said, "Protesters are trying to destroy jobs."

Occupy spokespeople noted, "The NYPD makes the decisions on the part of police barricades."

The owner of the cafe said no one from City Hall will return his calls about removing or reducing the barricades. In the most uniquely American twist to it all, he has asked his landlord to intercede with the city on his behalf.

And who might that be? Why, it's Donald Trump.

And the beat goes on.

1Better to be collateral damage on Wall Street than in Iraq or Afghanistan where the phrase is usually code for "Sorry about how that missile killed your family."

2Remember how the Palestinians are always saying that scads of checkpoints choke off their economy's ability to function normally? Well apparently when it happens on Wall Street, it's for real.

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Duck and Cover 11.03.11 

Our thanks to "Duck & Cover" and creator Storey Clayton.

Check out his other projects, here, at the Blue Pyramid.

All ideas and opinions are those of the cartoonist and do not necessarily reflect the view of the Clarion Content.*

*More often than not, we totally agree...

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Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Outsiders Art and Collectibles 

Special to the Clarion Content by featured guest columnist: Rebecca Yan

Photo credit also to Rebecca Yan.

Despite the economic downturn, Pamela Gutlon of Outsiders Art and Collectibles strives to make community her priority.

Located on Iredell Street in the nook between the vibrant by-ways of 9th Street and Broad Street, hers is a gallery that features traditional Southern outsider art, that is, art work made by untrained artists.

Gutlon founded the gallery in November 2009 due to her longing to be part of the city’s emerging art community, and because of her desire to share with Durham, artists who are sometimes “outside” the mainstream art community.

“It probably wasn’t the smartest thing to do in the middle of a recession, but I feel so much better now that I’m part of the community,” Gutlon said.

The gallery's location between the busy thoroughfares has its downsides, such as the trickling flow of visitors on most weekdays. Gutlon says that there are days when she may get only one or two visitors.

Gutlon tries to boost her exposure by hosting numerous community events throughout the year, such as this week's two-year anniversary party. She coordinates these events with the local food trucks like the Pie Pushers and Only Burger. Outsider Arts and Collectibles events often feature live music as well.

Gutlon uses her art network to help outsider art get on the walls at local landmark restaurants like Fullsteam Brewery, Parker and Otis, Rue Cler and Guglhupf.

Jennings Brody, the bon vivant and owner of Parker and Otis, said she chose to display outsider art because she “wants to support a local business and... [said that Gutlon] shares the same commitment to help local businesses.”

The benefit is mutual.

“If a restaurant wants art and they can’t afford it, I’m happy to give them art,” said Gutlon.

The partnership between the two has been established for a year and a half, and it has benefited both.

“She’s really good about partnering with me…bringing the art that I like,” Jennings said. “Her gallery is something off the beaten path, and if we can garner her more exposure, we’d be glad to do it.”

Gutlon said that she has had many people call her to purchase the art work that they have seen at the restaurants.

“Durham is one of those communities where if you build it, they will come,” Gutlon said.

It is also with the goal of helping outsider artists garner more exposure that Gutlon opened the gallery.

Outsider art has traditionally meant artworks created by backwoods, uneducated, African-American artists. The term has now evolved into the artwork of untrained, emerging artists from diverse sociological and economic backgrounds.

Kathryn DeMarco, a local artist, who received her Bachelors of Fine Art (BFA) in painting from Boston University, identified outsider artists as “somebody who hasn’t had a formal education in art and uses found objects.”

“They really have a great sense of aesthetics…but no BFA,” DeMarco said. “Like a collage…it’s technically different, but not much different.”

One of the main aesthetics that drives the form, DeMarco said, is that, “[outside art is] kind of whimsical and innovative. There’s work, [such as that of] The Masking Tape guy, that’s kind of funky.

Kathryn, we could not have said it better based on our experiences at Outsiders Art and Collectibles. Kind of funky.

Photo credit Rebecca Yan.

This week, Wednesday night, November 2nd, Bart Schultz aka The Masking Tape guy will be featured along with Chris Milk Hulburt at the Outsiders Art and Collectibles Two-year Anniversary Party, #718 Iredell Street. (They share the building with the Happymess Art Studio.) Food trucks expected include Only Burger, Ko Kyu and The Parlour. Live music will provided by Down River and the Bulltown Strutters.

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Duck and Cover 11.02.11 

Our thanks to "Duck & Cover" and creator Storey Clayton.

Check out his other projects, here, at the Blue Pyramid. All ideas and opinions are those of the cartoonist and do not necessarily reflect the view of the Clarion Content.*

*More often than not, we totally agree...

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Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Fashion Drive-by: Lakewood 

The Clarion Content has been trumpeting this idea about town for many weeks now. Perhaps then, dear readers, you have already heard about our Fashion Drive-by's? If not, here is the lowdown. The Clarion Content is partnering with local businesses, clothiers, boutiques, salons and others to help share their wares and tell their stories. We supply the models, the staging and coordination, as well as the fabulous photographer. Durham provides the setting.

Our first Fashion Drive-by takes place in Durham's Lakewood neighborhood. A historic, still under-appreciated, rising star in our local firmament, Lakewood is home to a thriving microcosm of our Durham community.

It is bustling with local businesses, it is multi-ethnic, it is built in and dwelling amongst the old, it has a fascinating story. (Throughout these pieces we are grateful to the resource that is Endangered Durham for providing a treasure trove of old photos and Durham history. Click through at each location for additional back story.)

Our fashion partner for these photos, to whom we are very grateful, and we literally could not have done the shoot without, was Dolly's Vintage. They are located at #213 West Main Street, just down the block from Clarion Content fave, Toast. All ensembles are composed of borrowed pieces from this amazing store, where the best vintage finds are already all laid out for ones perusal, mixed amidst gifts and other magical tsotchkes.

Cady Childs, the Clarion Content's Pop Culture columnist, functioned as a dual stylist and model for us, and will continue to do style work for our future Fashion Drive-bys. (Watts-Hillandale, you're up next!) Jessi Blakely of Tamara Lackey Photography took all of the amazing photos. Cady Childs and Jessi Blakely collaborated on layout and design of this piece with the Clarion Content staff. Special thanks to our outstanding, hard-working models, Cady Childs, Amy Blakely and Kelly Clark. And our thanks and gratitude to all of the local business owners and Lakewood residents who patiently let us photograph in and around their spaces and shops and many cases let us photograph themselves. Thank you to one and all who contributed.


Location #1: Renn-Vickers House
#1812 Chapel Hill Road

We started at the Renn-Vickers house at #1812 Chapel Hill Road. This house was built in the 1890's by railway conductor Captain Joseph Renn. It is a beautiful old Queen Anne. Today it is home to Capital Analytics. Click on the photos to see even more Fashion Drive-by shots from this location.


Clothes from Dolly's Vintage, styling by Cady Childs, photos by Jessi Blakely of Tamara Lackey Photography, models Amy Blakely and Cady Childs.

Location #2: old Duke Surplus
(former Center Theater)
Lakewood Shopping Center

Did you know that there was once a rollercoaster where the Lakewood Shopping plaza is? Maybe you knew that there was a Woolworth's at one point, but a rollercoaster? It was the home of the Lakewood Amusement Park, opened in 1902. You could hop a street car from Five Points and roll over to Lakewood. Ahhh, Durham, you surprise us daily.

These photos were taken at the far end of the Lakewood Shopping plaza in a building that one generation might remember as the Center Theater and another might remember as the Duke Surplus Store. Click on the photos to see even more Fashion Drive-by shots from this location.



Clothes from Dolly's Vintage, styling by Cady Childs, photos by Jessi Blakely of Tamara Lackey Photography, models Kelly Clark and Cady Childs.

Location #3: Former Roll's Florist

2001 Chapel Hill Road

Roll's Florist was established by Fred Roll in 1937 on the corner of Lakewood Avenue and Chapel Hill Road after he served as the resident florist at the home of Brodie Duke. The greenhouse flourished for many years closing in the 1970's. The property is still in the family and the former retail store, right on the corner, #2001, is a highly recognizable neighborhood landmark, though no longer a functioning shop. Once again click through to Endangered Durham to see some amazing pictures and read even more about the history of the site.

The far right shot in this series of photos is the mural painted on the side of the Institute for Southern Studies. Click on the photos to see even more Fashion Drive-by shots from this location.


Clothes from Dolly's Vintage, styling by Cady Childs, photos by Jessi Blakely of Tamara Lackey Photography, models Amy Blakely and Cady Childs.

Location #4: Azteca Grill
1929 Chapel Hill Road

The Azteca Grill, on the corner opposite Roll's Florist, is a family business that was established by Magaly Arguelles-Espriella and her husband, Ruben Godinez. They chose the name Azteca because they wanted to signal to Durham's burgeoning Mexican community, and us gringos, that unlike many of our terrific, local Mexican establishments, they do not specialize in the cuisine of one particular region of Mexico. They started their business out of a food truck back in 2002, before Durham's food trucks were so eponymous and hip. The restaurant was a long-time family dream.

They know this Durham community and our health-conscious ways, everything is made in-house and fresh, no artificial preservatives are used. The Azteca is famous for its super tender Carne Deshebrada, a special family recipe for slow-cooked, highly seasoned, shredded beef. Azteca Grill also has free wifi. Click on the photos to see even more Fashion Drive-by shots from this location.


Clothes from Dolly's Vintage, styling by Cady Childs, photos by Jessi Blakely of Tamara Lackey Photography, models Amy Blakely and Cady Childs.

Location #5: La Favorita de Oaxaca (former Davis Bakery)
2022 Chapel Hill Road

La Favorita de Oaxaca is a panadería (bakery) in the highly recognizable former Davis Bakery building. Endangered Durham has some amazing shots of the building back in the day. They include one of the mural that is still faintly visible on the north side. The original bakery facility dates back to the 1920's. Some of the ovens that were in use during World War II are still inside the shop (and functioning).

Unlike Azteca, La Favorita is a Mexican panderia that does indeed specialize in a regional type of baked goods, Oaxacan. Owners Estella and Erasto Bernabe bought the shop six years ago after visiting her mother in Durham from California. Erasto and his family had been bakers in Oaxaca for many generations. Estella is El Salvadorean. Their store reflects their wider interests, selling a variety of goods, from bottled water to pinatas, candy to votive candles and everything in between.

The baked goods alone are worth the trip. Not only are they delicious, but for those used to paying the rate in some of Durham's tonier establishments, the prices will knock your socks off, they, too, appear to be from the World War II era. You will quite literally not believe how far $3.00 will go.




Clothes from Dolly's Vintage, styling by Cady Childs, photos by Jessi Blakely of Tamara Lackey Photography, models Amy Blakely and Cady Childs.

Click here for a gallery for Lakewood Proprietors and residents from the Clarion Content's Flicker.

Thanks again to all our team; unbelievable work by Cady Childs, Jessi Blakely, Kelly Clark, Amy Blakely, and thanks again to all of our partners; Dolly's Vintage, Azteca Grill, La Favorita de Oaxaca, the Ensminger family, and Capital Analytics.

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