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Friday, September 28, 2012

Selenotropic at the Carrack Modern Art 

"Selenotropic" is opening at the Carrack Modern Art. It is a multifaceted, layered and nuanced agglomeration of reactions to our modern world. It includes paintings, found-object sculpture, video, custom furniture and a live music performance tonight.

Photo credit BWPW photography.

The works flow together with the interconnectedness of our social cultural milleu. Boundaries between the home and the workplace, between the private and the public, between the real and the image have become increasingly permeable in the 21st century.

In "Selenotropic" objects appear to literally be straining to pull themselves off of the canvas into the room. Boundaries are violated, domains are delimited. Creators Chance Murray and Katharine Whalen came together in much the same way, the Venn Diagram of their overlapping worlds found Whalen looking at Murray's paintings in a coffee shop.

Trusting her instincts and following her urges, but not social norms, she reached out to an artist she had not worked with previously. Murray was open and interested. Synchronicity and interdependence followed. The artists discovered that they each possessed an enormous, brown, corduroy-covered dictionary printed in the early 1900’s. The collision of found objects and ephemera with art and music has been at the nexus of their interaction ever since.

The exhibit was very well received over at the new Outsiders Art Gallery Annex. Selenotropic has its opening reception and accompanying musical performance at The Carrack tonight from 6pm-9pm.

Selenotropics are night bloomers. What a great thing to go see after dark.

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Thursday, September 27, 2012

Doggie miracles 

Miracles small and large happen every day. Sometimes in the media the tendency is to focus on the negative, the sensationally bad, the awful spectacle.1 Today we bring you one from the opposite side of the proverbial ledger, a dog channeling his inner feline, finding one of his nine lives, landing on his feet.

The Burlington-Bristol Bridge

The story comes to us from Burlington, New Jersey. Brandi the beagle slipped out of her collar and away from owner on an evening walk. Missing for hours, she was spotted by surveillance cameras, all alone and ears flopping, jogging up the Jersey side of the the Burlington-Bristol Bridge about 10.15pm. Vehicles swerve to avoid her. A carload of teens stop. They to try to help the dog, to coax it to go with them. But instead, Brandi bolts and leaps off and over the side of the six story bridge.

But here's the thing, this dog is part cat or it wasn't her day, or something. Because she walked away without a scratch. You see the bridge picture up there, right? Dog went off the side of that and didn't break a bone.

WPVI News reports, "Bridge Commission Police thought Brandi was a goner. "Poor dog," said Sergeant Ray Warmkessel. "She's going to be dead. Then we went down underneath the bridge and here's the dog walking along the beach. I couldn't believe it."

Read the whole story and watch the footage here.

1The capitalist imperative plays a large role in this coverage slant, in a cycle that flows between eyeballs, ads and revenue.

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Dipika Kohli, The Elopement: A Memoir 

Meaning is not manufactured, it is experienced.

Dipika Kohli has lived these words.

She intuitively knew them when she quit her first job out of college and moved to the other side of the globe. It was not her first move across cultures during a moment of strife.1 Her parents had moved her and the family from Michigan to Goldsboro, North Carolina when she was ten years-old. It was a sudden and wrenching change for young Dipika, who just months earlier had lost her best friend to the terrorist bombing of Air India Flight 182. In a bitter irony, the bombing took place over the same Irish soil on which she found herself unexpectedly living many years later.

The Elopement is a headlong adventure, with much transit and transition. Like Ms. Kohli's life, it races from under snowy street lights and a lonely Lake Johnson, into the green Irish hills, with its lakes in the middle distance, then off to a Japanese metropolis of glass buildings and snaking corridors. It is breathless and thrilling, at times it feels as though one were reading The Bourne Identity of the Housewife.

The tale is filled with the kind of passion, intrigue and feeling that can only come from experience. Ms. Kohli takes us down a very personal path into her heart and soul. She acknowledges as much when she recounts her own struggles to feel comfortable and grounded in Japanese culture. She doesn't want be soto, which means "outside" but rather, the opposite, uchi, which literally means "inside."2

Her writing style mirrors that of her blog, Kismuth, the practical infused with the mystical, perhaps reflecting the duality of the cultures in which she was raised. In an interview with the Clarion Content, Ms. Kohli said she felt the tension and the joy of real, powerful reactions. She faced it travelling solo through India, meeting her Dad's uncles and her Mom's aunts, heretofore unknown, learning that although she grew up in a nuclear family in North Carolina, she was part of a large extended family that had by no means forgotten or abandoned her.

She faced her own reactions everywhere from a quiet, and sometimes lonely, Irish cottage to flying a kite by herself at lunchtime over Lake Crabtree, desperate to get away from a mindset that didn't suit her.

She notes that she was no finished product, instead, she says, "I liked who I was becoming." Ms. Kohli takes us through that becoming and beyond in what is the first of a four part series. A memoir that she hopes will, "give people time, space and permission to do some soul searching of their own."

The next installment, available October 15th on Amazon, is called, The Dive. For good reason, it will dig into the deeply personal topic of losing a pregnancy in a discompassionate town, in a realm of acquaintances, far from friends and loved ones. But before you get lost in total despair, as Ms. Kohli once was, remember this is ultimately a story of triumph and success, travelling through dark times and on to a place that has a happy family, with a healthy child, and a passion for the creative and the community, here, in Durham.

On her own website, Ms. Kohli quotes Joseph Campbell on a dark Hobbesian day,
"Modern romance, like Greek tragedy, celebrates the mystery of dismemberment, which is life in time. The happy ending is justly scorned as a misrepresentation; for the world, as we know it, as we have seen it, yields but one ending: death, disintegration, dismemberment, and the crucifixion of our heart with the passing of the forms that we have loved."
You can read The Elopement like that, with a samsaric sensibility, or you could let your soul run light and free, knowing the sun will come up tomorrow. Either way, or anywhere in between, there is lots of knowledge, wisdom and life story in these pages.

We are reminded of the words of the English poet Robert Herrick as we eagerly await the next volume from Ms. Kohli.

Gather ye rosebuds while ye may,
Old Time is still a-flying;
And this same flower that smiles today,
Tomorrow will be dying.

The Elopement is available for purchase here.

Ms. Dipika Kohli will be speaking at TEDx Raleigh on Oct. 13, giving a talk called "There's Not That Much Time Left."

1Technically, it wasn't her second move either, that came when she dropped out of art school after a semester to move to Japan.
2American kids might say down, she wants to be down. Cool, inside, one who gets it. Not lame, excluded, outside the joke and the meaning.

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Tweets of the week, late September 

We think of these little slices of Twitter as our... Tweets of the week.

Real quotes from real tweeters. We love to peak behind the curtain and into the lives of folks we hardly know. Some of these Tweets are PG-13 or even R. All of them keep it real. Easily offended, click here.

All spelling is that of original authors.

Every dinner ends in either tears or screams. #sotiredofthis---VS

You look so much sexier if you're looking at a book or a newspaper or a magazine rather than a phone or computer screen.---BM

Clean your apartment=feel immediately 40% better about your life-WARNING: this feeling is temporary-like the state of your newly cleaned apt---EM

I swear karma is stronger in the mountains.---SP

Swag is for boys. Class is for men.---CB

Pills change a person---MB

Vaginas are the original Hot Pocket.---KO

The cats have reached a silent agreement that it's 20 degrees cooler at night, so they'll all be staying home, thank you---BF

super rich kids with nothin but loose ends, super rich kids with nothin but fake friends--RJ

High school is mosty about emotions.#JustBeingReal---CB

With the cost of college today, I just couldn't recommend film school to anyone. Use that money to bribe a studio exec instead.---JK

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What are they watching... Episode XXIX 

The Clarion Content is bringing back a column that has languished in 2012. After posting seven "What are they Watching" columns in 2011, this is only our third effort this year.

"What are they Watching" is our look at what the teens and tweens of America are watching. We peer into their world through the lens of You Tube. If you have not seem some of our earlier episodes, follow this link [and scroll down past this post].

Obviously Gagnam style, if you don't know they are watching Gangnam style, good for you. But seriously, click here1. On the other hand, this trio Swedish House Mafia, we can forgive you if you haven't heard or heard of them.

1Gangnam has 295 million hits and counting.

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Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Facebook, we told you so 

The Clarion Content has followed Facebook's contortions and claims not to violate its users privacy with bemused distaste for years. Somehow, we have cynically disbelieved their wide-eyed innocence. Perhaps, because, the evidence is so massively against them.

A reminder of what Facebook is really all about... the Benjamins

Yesterday, the Financial Times of London reported that, "Amid growing pressure for the social networking site to prove the value of its advertising, Facebook is gradually wading into new techniques for tracking..." [and mining data]. They noted that Facebook is working with a controversial data gathering company called Datalogix that connects Facebook users' links and clicks to in the store, as well as on-line purchases.

This is the more complex second-level data mining that privacy advocates have long warned about Facebook possessing. Their ability to connect tracked on-line habits with a massive database of off-line behaviors is unprecedented in the personal computing era.

Facebook's dance partner in these dastardly deeds, Datalogix, has customer shopping data from seventy million American households gathered from loyalty card programs they administer at thousands of retailers, grocery and drug stores. Datalogix matches identifying information associated with those frequent shopper cards against emails and personal information that is used to establish Facebook accounts to build its matrix of personal data about users.

Naturally, Facebook's head of Measurement and Insights, Brad Smallwood, assured the Financial Times that the emails and other identifying information of its users are made anonymous by collecting it into groups of people who saw an ad and people who did not.

Of course, why would one assume Facebook would do any less than the right thing.

In another not so shocking development, Facebook users are automatically included in the advertising data mining conducted by Datalogix. They cannot directly opt out through their Facebook account. Instead, they must go to the Datalogix website, for which Facebook has a link posted deep in its help center.

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Monday, September 24, 2012

The Makery debuts tomorrow 

A new, Durham based, business run by three sisters, The Makery, is set to debut tomorrow. The Makery is sales platform. It is an attempt to connect local shoppers with local artists and artisans.1 They want to make it even easier to buy handmade.

If the reaction to their launch party, held at Mercury Studios Friday night, is any indication, Durham is behind them. The place was packed wall to wall with supporters; artists, friends and locals, all came out on a Durham Art Walk night.

The Makery's platform provides a collective venue for artists to get their name and their work in front of the public. The Makery provides a valuable service. The idea is to take away some of the logistical difficulties and associated headaches with marketing and selling one's own work.

The Clarion Content is a proponent from a philosophical standpoint. We are always in favor of someone other than the artist being the pitch person for the artist's work. We believe that a strictly sales based focus, for the artist his or her self, slowly annihilates the work.2

The Makery exists to play that role, between the artists and the cold, cruel, capitalist world. At first, they are just inviting a select number of early adopters, connoisseur, artists, bon vivants and handmade lovers to be founding members of the community. Invitations are available here.

1Some of have classed them a local Etsy, but because they also help with marketing and consulting support, they are even more comprehensive than a massive entity like Etsy.

2See Warhol or Hirst, whom are no more artists than Ford's and General Motors' engineers or the folks writing TV ads, applying the appellation artist to such snake oil salesmen voids the word of meaning and bespeaks of the cultural morass the American Empire has become.

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Friday, September 21, 2012

Apple and the Tree 

Leigh Werrell has been hanging around her father's studio since she was a mere seedling. When we asked her in an exclusive interview last week, before her first show with her father, Tim Werrell, the artist-in-residence at renown local sculpture studio, Liberty Arts,1 whether she had ever been chided when she was little for the studio being too dangerous or unsafe for a little girl, she laughed. It was indicative.

An early picture of father and daughter, Tim and Leigh Werrell

Her father works with welding tools and metal, yet neither of her parents objected to her being in the studio regularly at an age as young as five. She loved the excitement, the loud noises. She delighted when on occasion her father would ask her where to attach some piece of metal to one of his works, even if he only sometimes took her advice.

Both Leigh and Tim said, it was assumed at a young age, Leigh was going to be artist. She was always drawing, often the family, Mom, Dad, her brother Henry, and even the family cat and dog as well. Ms. Werrell told your interviewer that the sketch books of her youth were the equivalent of journals, where, in pictures instead of words, she would record impressions, memories and observations of the world about her.

Her family heritage was steeped in the arts. Her great-grandmother, Ruth Reeves, was a well-known textile designer in the 1930's. She did the wall fabrics and the curtain at Radio City Music Hall. In addition, she compiled the first American anthology of Folk Art. Leigh's grandmother spent time as a student of Hans Hoffman, the influential German-born American abstract expressionist painter.

As it turned out, in Leigh's case, youth and genetics were good predictors. She recently completed her Master's degree at the Philadelphia Academy of Fine Arts. A graduate of Durham high schools, Leigh was featured in the Craven Allen exhibit "Homegrown and Under 35" showcasing a generation of rising, young, Durham artists.

Tim has also long known that he would be a sculptor. He attended Beloit College and apprenticed to O.V. Schaffer, his mentor, with whom he is still in contact regularly. He worked with his hands growing up, tinkering in his own shop, building bicycles and the like.

Tim also built the barn that served as the studio behind the family residence in Cincinnati, before they moved down to Durham, where his wife, Emily, had gotten a job at Duke. She started the Perkins Library Education and Outreach Department. Even she had her own artistic bent, Tim recalled that she used to sketch the clothes that she was looking for, before going out shopping to find something that matched what she saw in her mind's eye.

After the Werrell's came to Durham, Tim ended up in the old, since condemned2 Liberty Arts warehouse in the Central Park District working alongside Jimmy Alexander and Andrew Preiss. He got his studio in 2001, even before the family had settled on a house. The stories that could be told from out of that place, you will have to ask around yourself, from Walker Stone to the Claymakers to The Scrap Exchange and the "Liberty Hilton," the building had character and housed characters.

Of course, as we all know, after the roof collapse, Liberty-Arts collaborative moved to the Cordoba Center for the Arts, where they have never been stronger. Tim Werrell is part of a diverse collection of talented artists composing in a multiplicity of mediums. He recently had two of his pieces purchased by the City of Burlington for a downtown sculpture garden and has installed and been commissioned for numerous large scale public works.

The Werrells have always bounced ideas off of each other. Leigh has even drawn renderings of what Tim's sculptures would look like installed before they were. This will be the first time they have exhibited together.

The Clarion Content was lucky enough to be able to preview one of the tree themed pieces Tim is building for this show. And while Leigh isn't making any apples, she will be bringing some of her latest works down from Philadelphia. Her recent work has been exploring family and ways that we perceive family. She had been delving into how we see ourselves, and each other, in our families. How apropos.

The show opens Friday, September 21st, as part of Durham's 3rd Friday art walk, at Liberty Arts in the Cordoba Center for the Arts, #923 Franklin Street, 27701. The reception is FREE and open to the public from 6pm to 9pm. The show will be in Liberty Arts gallery.

Flyer created by the Clarion Content's multi-talented Cady Childs.

1Full disclosure, the Clarion Content does marketing and promotion for Liberty-Arts.

2That's another story for another time, but remind us one day and we will tell it.

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Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Violent Dreams, Thursday 

No dear readers, we are not wishing you violent dreams this Thursday evening, we are rather reminding you that Durham, NC, rockers, Violent Dreams, will be at The Pinhook, Thursday night at 9pm, along with the fabulous Clarion Content model, Joe Hall and his solo project Jolo.

Violent Dreams is Geoff Register and Tommy Romero
Photo credit Joshua Hoffman

At the Clarion Content we have known Violent Dreams lead man, Geoff Register, for a long time. We are not alone, Register has been part of the Durham music scene since he was a wee lad. He was in the Young People's Performing Company in the day. He was once a tween heartthrob as front man of Sedgewick's Red Nickel. He performed in the legendary Durham band, Sleepsound with Duncan Webster and Joe Hall of Hammer no More the Fingers, along with Durham's Kevin Bacon of the bands, Stephen Coffman, and then in a later configuration with Peter Kimosh of The Beast among others.

Register comes from a musical family. His parents met playing violin at Duke. He has been surrounded by and playing music his whole life. He started with the violin at three. He spent time at Hope Valley Elementary school working with Mrs. Buehler. He played the piano from age seven. He was a trombonist in the high school band and the jazz band. Clearly a man of many talents, Register describes himself as a musical perfectionist.

But then, in the next breath, he cautions your editor that he pales as perfectionist compared to his bandmate, the impeccable drummer, Tommy Romero, who ostensibly makes Geoff seem laid back, like a little kid. Romero has toured nationally opening for Disturbed and working in production collaboration with Chris Manning (Metallica, Santana, Third Eye Blind) and Johnny K (Staind, Sevendust, Disturbed, 3 Doors Down).

Their sound reflects two hardworking, perfectionists playing together. The riffs are tight. The musicianship is tip-top. Asked if they have ever sought out a bassist, Register shrugs. He says his relationship with Romero is so symbiotic and so hardcore that they struggle to find anyone else with the dedication who is on the same page musically.

Register takes voice lessons from local Durham maestra, Joan Wittman of Infuzion1. She has had him in her tutelage for almost five years, largely singing classical Italian Opera. Register says that their lessons transcend genre, his face takes on a certain glow when discussing Wittman. In an almost Aristotelian method, she asks questions and gives feedback to her pupils. She demands they love what they do, or learn from someone else. No kids are being forced to go to her lessons against their will.

Violent Dreams is steeped in technical precision. They always practice to a metronome. How many rock bands can say that? Register says his exacting musical nature came from his family, where integrity and hard work was at the core of what his parents taught him, if you are going to do something, do it well. The guys even take their physical fitness very seriously. Register, from a military background on his mother's side, is competing in the "Tough Mudder" next month in Virginia, a twelve mile, twenty-five obstacle run designed by the British SAS.

Yet Register's huge smiles and big dimples, show the easy going happy-go-lucky side of his personality, is such that, even the legendarily stoic, Foster's Market's P-Diddy gives him a high five and a broad grin during our lunch time interview.

One downside of Register and Romero's perfectionism is this only their third show in three years. This despite practicing nearly every week in underground facility in Garner. These guys don't want to show you anything but their very best. From the music, to the aesthetic, Violent Dreams is first class the whole way.

Catch them, this Thursday, September 20th at The Pinhook. $5/cover doors 9pm. Don't miss the opener, JoLo brings it.

1Interestingly Wittman also gives Joe Hall voice lessons.

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Monday, September 17, 2012

Clarion Content Centerfest Photobooth 

The Clarion Content's Centerfest photo gallery is here. Click the word "here."

Special thanks to Dolly's Vintage for providing the accouterments for folks to play with, Centerfest was a blast.

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Centerfest triumphant 

Durham's 38th annual Centerfest Arts Festival returned to the streets with a triumphant explosion of culture, art, music, and food. Saturday afternoon the streets of Durham were packed with people like your editor has, quite literally, never seen previously.

The Clarion Content's photobooth pictures will be up soon...

Special thanks to Dolly's Vintage for lending us the cool props that made it happen.

The Durham Arts Council press release reported over 24,000 folks attended the two day festival, a tremendous increase from the last few years when Centerfest had been shunted out of downtown, first to Durham's Central Park, and then relegated to the parking lot beyond the downtown YMCA.

This year the festival returned to the downtown loop. Traffic was blocked off. The streets were full. The mass of humanity on East and West Chapel Hill Streets in the middle of Saturday afternoon looked more like the Manhattan subway queue at rush hour than our Durham. The cultural renaissance is in full swing. But it beggars the question, and some of our long time Durham residents will have to help us here, when were the Durham streets last that full?

Your editor has lived in Durham a little over twelve years, and we have never seen that many people inside the downtown loop. We asked a variety of passers-by at the Clarion Content booth, but nobody had an answer. Dear readers, please do weigh-in, what event, what moment last saw downtown Durham packed with that many people? An estimated 17,000 on Saturday alone.

While you ponder that, we will try to hit some of the highlights of an amazing weekend, beyond the fabulous crowds of people, who were out reminding us how much Durham loves itself.

Of course, the visual artists were tremendous, 130 of them from across the state and around the country set up shop. Jean Yao, a basketweaver from Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, was selected by the Merit Award Judges as the Best in Show winner this year and presented with a $1,000 check. Melissa Lowery, a jeweler from Zebulon, NC, won the people's choice award.

The newly fashioned Creative Community expo was outstanding. It is one thing to hear that Durham is among America's best cities for start-ups and has one of its strongest creative communities, it is another to see it demonstrated en masse.

The Durham Arts Council deserves a lot of credit including this important element of our town's cultural depth. We met Plastibot, a company run by Luis Freeman, which has developed an amazing three-dimensional printing technique using extruded plastics. They were making, right on the street, everything from bracelets to miniature statues from a printer. It was developed as an open source project, and Freeman told us the practical and scientific applications are nearly endless, including doing things like printing 3-D models of human organs from MRIs and other scans so that doctors can simulate surgery before they even begin to cut someone open.

We also re-met the folks from Organic Transit, who were rolling around in there wildly efficient vehicles. These Organic Transit Vehicles, or OTVs, are a new class of velomobile fusing solar power with elements from bicycle and car design. The Clarion Content will have full article coming soon from Ned Phillips. We heard that thirty new vehicles will be on the production line as of October.

We also got to talk to the people from Wanderful, who have in partnership with our friends over at Open Durham, created an app for exploring our downtown. As regular readers know, Open Durham is an amazing repository of Durham photos and Durham history. We were glad to see the word about this terrific website and founder, Gary Kueber, being spread further.

The music was also outstanding. Our booth was set-up just across from the main stage in Major the Bull's plaza so we got to groove all weekend. In the middle of Saturday afternoon, with a wall to wall audience, Peter Lamb & the Wolves had us all swaying to their funky tunes. They are veteran Durham musicians, led by front man Stephen Coffman, with other names you know from Durham's The Beast, and the sweet, dulcet tones of The Art of Cool's Al Strong.

Saturday evening was capped by local Durham sensations, LiLa, who had crowds of young and old dancing to their Durham themed hip-hop~ska fusion. Folks were, as is the norm at LiLa's shows, quite literally jumping up and down as they belted out a chorus of, "Hip-hip, hooray!" Were we celebrating the band? The festival? Durham? It didn't matter, joyful delirium reigned.

Also noticeably well-received by the crowds was a Saturday morning performance by The Durham Jazz Orchestra and a Sunday morning jaunt from the Freylach Time Klezmer Band, who began wishing the crowd a joyful, La Shana Tova and ended with ecstatic dancing in the plaza.

Of course, the Young People's Performing Company was a hit. Though years and years of Centerfest, the YPPC has been a constant and an incubator of talent. Many of the twenty and thirty-somethings at the forefront of this Durham cultural renaissance did time in the YPPC in their formative years. The enthusiasm for their performances remains as high as ever.

And the Bouncing Bulldogs1, blew people away as the crowd surrounding them in Major the Bull's plaza got deeper and deeper. It is no coincidence that the sign reads, "World Champions" on the side of their gym. Watch for five minutes and you knew you were in the presence of world-class talent. These jump ropers hopped, leaped, back-flipped, break-danced, did combos with two, three, four, even six people simultaneously. Cirque du Soleil has nothing on these kids.

Keep in mind as this litany goes on and on, all of this was available for a $5 donation!!!

If there was any criticism the Clarion Content could offer of this fantastic event, it would be that coordination with local merchants, especially the restaurants could have been a little better. More than once, we were asked by out-towners, or maybe folks who live out in the burbclaves around Southpoint, where to eat. This was while we were surrounded by the Durham restaurant scene that is being written up everywhere from the New York Post to the Boston Globe.

Perhaps instead of trying to sell local businesses on sponsorship, next year the Durham Arts Council can sell the restaurants on a being in separate map page of the Centerfest festival's guide. Said guide, while a great way to find the visual artists and figure out the band's schedules, hardly mentioned the restaurants, who could have been featured and maybe even sold ads. The restaurateurs we spoke with still enjoyed bang-up sales weekends. The beer garden at the festival was a HUGE hit with attendees.

Ultimately, this coordination stuff was small potatoes for a Centerfest weekend that was amazingly triumphant.

A grateful thank you to all of the Centerfest VOLUNTEERS!!!

Remember the Durham Arts Council runs this thing with a full-time staff of less than ten.2

The crowds in the streets were delighted. The festival was a hit. Without exception, everyone we asked felt a tremendous surge of Durham pride. There is a reason why, nationwide, they are mentioning our culture, our arts, our music, our innovators in the same sentence with the cities that led the 90's, Seattle, and the 00's, Austin.

In a demonstration of just how deep our culture runs, while thousands were jamming the streets3 to enjoy the 38th annual Centerfest, we heard rave reviews and tales of a packed house, at the simultaneously scheduled opening of The Cookery's Front Room.

1Our apologies for continually mistweeting your name.

2The Clarion Content says hip-hip hooray for and to Sherry DeVries, Margaret DeMott and Lindsay Gordon at the Durham Arts Council. Kudos to you ALL. It was fantastic.

3It should be duly noted, in large part due to rainy weather, Sunday's second day crowds were only about a third of the booming attendance on Saturday.

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Thursday, September 13, 2012

The Escapist Expo: Durham’s Geek Cred on Display 

The Escapist Expo: Durham’s Geek Cred on Display

People often talk about Durham becoming the next Austin, Brooklyn, Seattle or Portland.  When doing so, they point to the fact that you can get coffee delivered to you by bike, that we have a thriving local food scene, and that we have three of our own breweries.  They talk about our up and coming fashion scene, our amazing hip-hop artists and sculpture artists, our zero commission gallery, and our abundance of hipster bars.  All of these elements are indubitably required, part of the irreducible cultural stew that constitutes a “hip city.” In Durham, we pride ourselves on this mix: a little pinch of this, a little dash of that, some basics, some stock, a few surprises and voila, delicious outcomes.  

Despite all this Durham pride, one ingredient that rarely manages to make the limelight is our thriving gaming culture.  As geek becomes more the norm than the outlier for youth, the cities where the next generation chooses to settle and build their lives (and the resultant economies) will definitely need things like game development and computing jobs, geek culture, and access to games (both to purchase and play with others).  And Durham is growing gaming culture in spades.

If you’re looking for proof, just check out this weekend’s upcoming Escapist Expo – the first gaming convention of its kind to make Durham home, hosted by TheEscapist.com.  

In addition to panels featuring some of our amazing local game development talent like InsomniacGames, Dice Hate Me, and Epic Games, as well as local geek culture connoisseurs like Wired Magazine’s “Geek Dad” writer Michael Harrison, Escapist Expo is also importing some of the best participants from the broader US and overseas.  WotC D&D creative manager James Wyatt will be among the speakers, as will our favorite fellows from north of the border Graham and Paul, and Escapist fan favorite limey Yahtzee Croshaw. We even hear tell that one of the creators of Boardgamegeek.com will be attending.

In this humble writer’s opinion, some don’t miss panels include Friday’s “Building Worlds in RPGs,” “Everything You Wanted to Know About D&D Next,” and the sure to be entertaining “Return of the Sequel 2.”  

On Saturday, there are several great panels lined up that cater to specific audiences, such as “How to Run a Small Gaming Business” and “Crowdfunding Revolution” as well as “Raising Geek Kids.”  

And lest you think there are no panels for mere geeks and not gamers, think about checking out “Publishing Science Fiction and the Internet” or “Cosplay Tips”, the latter of which is sure to have some of the best dressed attendees showing off their creations.

Beyond panels, activities on offer include an outdoor laser tag arena, the famed American Classic Arcade Museum from Laconia, NH, a cosplay contest, console tournaments, and tons of freeplay areas for all manner of tabletop games, be they RPGs, boards, or cards. 

There’s something for everyone, so Durhamanians (and all North Carolinians) are highly encouraged to attend! Help the geek and gamer culture of our area keep growing!

See more at their official website Escapist Expo.

And stay tuned, we’ll be back on Sunday, in these pages with full coverage and tons of pics, so cosplayers in particular keep an eye out for us all weekend!

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Centerfest is on...Saturday and Sunday 

North Carolina's largest art festival, Centerfest, takes it back to the streets of Durham, this Saturday and Sunday. After years of exile to parking lots and satellite locations, the 38th annual Centerfest returns to the downtown Durham loop. Traffic will be blocked off along Main Street, West Chapel Hill Street, Morris Street and Corcoran Street from Saturday morning through Sunday evening. This map gives you some idea.

See a close-up here.

It is a take back the streets weekend for Durham's citizenry. Ride the bus, bike, walk; the streets will be given over to art, music and children.

There will be 130 renown artists, including eighteen from Durham, showcasing their wares. There will be sixty-three different live performing acts. There will be more than forty Durham area non-profit, government and civic organizations, along with a Creative Community Expo...including the Clarion Content.

We are partnering with local fave, Dolly's Vintage, to sponsor a Durham photobooth. Get your picture taken under the Clarion Content banner wearing a wig, or perhaps a fake moustache and some goofy glasses, or maybe a stole, or a boa, all from Dolly' Vintage on Main Street.

Many other local retailers and restaurants along the streets will be participating in their own way. What an opportunity to do the Durham Tapas crawl, everyone has been suggesting... or to pop in and grab a snack at Toast... or to try the new Cupcake Bar, just open in Five Points...stop by The Carrack Modern Art...slip into Loaf or sidle into Scratch...investigate if Alley 26 is open and more and more.

Our photobooth will be right here, by the main stage, in Major the Bull's Plaza.

This is it Durham, the epicenter of our cultural renaissance. On foot!

There will also be two "Creative Kids Zones" providing scads of hands-on arts activities and entertainment for the young people. There will be a bike valet, a beer garden, and Bull City Connector service directly to the festival.

These are your streets. Live it up this weekend Durham!

And while you are at it, don't miss The Cookery's Front Room opening Saturday from 12pm to 3pm, a hop, skip and a jump away down West Chapel Hill Street, a great event for a good cause.

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What you need to know about the new iPhone 5! 

Special to the Clarion Content from guest columnist, Neil Berman, Helper-in-Chief at TheONbutton Computer and Technology Services.

The new iPhone 5 will be available for pre-order on September 14. Here's what you need to know about Apple's latest iPhone:

Weight loss challenge

The iPhone 5 is lighter than the 4S while offering more battery life. Expect the iPhone 5 to look shinier than the 4S due to the new manufacturing techniques used in its glass and metal construction.

I can see clearly now

The screen on the iPhone 5 has grown to 4 inches compared to 3.5 inches on the 4S. It's still a retina screen, which means unmatched text and image precision.


The main brain of the iPhone 5 is twice as fast as that of the 4S, so it should react faster to your finger presses.

Speaking of snapping...

The rear camera has been improved and the front facing camera now offers HD video capture for more detailed FaceTime calls.

Dock connector

As expected, the iPhone 5 has a new dock connector. It can be conneted to older 30 pin iPhone and iPad accessories using an adapter. Dedicated iPhone 5 accessories, like speaker docks, are likely to hit the shelves in time for the Holiday Season.

Listen up!

Earbud are out, earpods are in. Apple has redesigned its famous white headphones to make them more comfortable.

Cell networks

Verizon, AT&T and Sprint will all get the iPhone 5, and it will now offer 4G LTE data speeds where available.

I'm reaching for my wallet...what's the damage?

The iPhone 5 ranges from $199 to $399 depending on storage capacity. The 4S will drop to $99 and the 4 will be free. The 3GS is history. All prices are based on a new two-year contract.

How do I get one?

Pre-orders in the US for the iPhone 5 start on Friday September 14 and the first batch should be delivered on September 21, which is when the iPhone 5 will be available in stores.
Click here to read the original article at TheONbutton.
Neil Berman, Helper-in-Chief, TheONbutton


Durham ABC Follow-up 

The Clarion Content broke the story eight short days ago. It has gone viral now.

Yesterday the Triangle Business Journal reported yesterday that the State Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission has called for an investigation into the Durham County ABC Board.

Today, it is the front page of the Durham Herald-Sun.
"State officials have launched an investigation into the Durham County ABC Board, looking, among other things, at whether its still-new general manager has been steering contracts to friends of board members."

The way we attempted to bring you the story line to begin with was, where there is smoke, it seems unlikely there isn't fire too. We had sources that were bellowing and belching smoky details. Now to read the allegations in the Triangle Business Journal or the Durham Herald-Sun, the dealings are sordid. The allegations as originally reported by the Clarion Content last Wednesday, minutes of meetings altered, meetings conducted without traditional recording, violations of policy and state law.

And if you read the comment section on our original post, albeit some of the comments are anonymous, there are further allegations of missing minutes, of altered minutes in different font types and formats. There is a report that there is no job application in General Manager Emily Page's personnel file.

The Herald-Sun notes that Page, who was Board Chairwoman when she accepted the $100,000/yr. General Manager position, does not list any retail management experience on her Linked-in page. This, for a position that has her running eight busy retail liquor stores, the fishiness factor is self-evident. Down right sloppy.

In that vein, a final detail that caught our eye in the Triangle Business Journal's article, the Durham ABC Board, like all ABC Boards is supposed to distribute a proportion of its profits to city and local governments. The Durham ABC Board turned over $909,000 to the county and $101,000 to the city.

Those look like some awfully round numbers for a place that does as many transactions as your friendly, neighborhood, eight Durham ABC stores. Their revenue last year was nearly $25 million dollars.

As shady as some of their other dealings appear to be, let's hope the state is going over Durham ABC's books with a fine tooth comb.

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Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Tweets of the week, early September 

Little slices of Twitter... Our Tweets of the week.

Real quotes from real tweeters. We love to peak behind the curtain and into the lives of folks we hardly know. Some of these Tweets are PG-13 or even R. All of them keep it real. Easily offended, click here.

All spelling is that of original authors.

People suck. Why can't everyone just be dogs---S

Bros over hoes. Not bros over your girlfriend.---JM

Wish I had long skinny legs instead of muscular---MS

If only my dad was proud---DC

I'm a girl... don't touch my hair, face, phone, or boyfriend.---BD

I freaking hate depending on my mom for a ride #noplans---JS

The problem is I care way too much about people who don't give a shit about me---KB

"Applying Vodka to your face tightens pores and reduces risk of acne breakouts" no dad I swear the smirnoff is my facewash---NA

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What we have heard, August 2012 

We heard...

that The Refectory, famous on Duke's campus for incredibly delicious, locally sourced, healthy eats is opening a new location on the 15-501 business extension, just down the block from Foster's Market...

We heard...

that Alivia's might be moving out of its signature location on the corner of Main Street and Gregson Street...

We heard...

that the NC Cow Parade and Round up will hit Durham with 100 plus life sized cows on August 18th at Goldenbelt and the Cordoba Center for the Arts...

We heard...

that in Durham today each space in a covered parking garage of three stories or more costs $10,000 in construction costs...

We heard...

that Raleigh's famous BBQ joint, The Pit is opening in a new location across from MotorCo and in the same building as Fullsteam Brewery...

We heard...

that there is Durham musician's beefcake calendar in the works, featuring some Durham's hottest (pun intended) local acts...

We heard...

that a new farmer's market has opened in South Durham... in the Greenwood Commons Shopping Center, #5410 NC55, Durham, Saturdays year-round from 8AM---12PM

We heard...

that in classic Durham style, "Give a hand up to neighbor, rather than the bird to your competitor," when the bathrooms malfunctioned at Mateo Tapas's soft opening in the old Book Exchange location, the owners of Toast, a couple doors down opened up their space and their bathroom to help avert a crisis...love Durham!

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Monday, September 10, 2012

On message 

We have seen and heard a couple of good messages that have fired our creative engines recently. One is the Lil Wayne's speech in the embedded video below, the other is behind this link. (R-rated, although safe for work.)

Lil Wayne's soliloquy is in a commercial. The other meme is most definitely amateur. Is there an irony implicit in that? How much space is there between them? Is the medium the message? And if so, has advertising devoured our culture?

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Birth of a Harpsichord 

When we tell you there is so much amazing stuff happening in Durham that is hard to keep up with, we are not fronting. It is for real. Did you know that the foremost harpsichordist in America, perhaps in the world, lives in Durham??

Yeah, neither did we, until we heard about her through one of the fascinating photographers we work with, Caperton Morton Andersson, gave us the down low. Elaine Funaro is bringing back the harpsichord, a classical Baroque era instrument, that had nearly fallen completely off of the map. She has performed the harpsichord at music festivals from Amsterdam to Bloomington.

In classic Durham-style, she has found a way to take her own amazing artistic oeuvre and collaborate. This is what and how we do. Watch this amazing video on the construction and custom hand-painting of a new instrument that was all the rage in the 17th century. Funaro and instrument craftsmen Richard Kingston worked with renown Durham painter, Lisa Creed, to make a musical instrument that is a functional work of art.

Oh and mad props to the creative animation of Andrea Georgia bringing this story to life.

Durham, for real, what more can we say?

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Sunday, September 09, 2012

Smart Couponed 

Your editor is a devout Ben & Jerry's consumer. It is Chocolate Fudge Brownie every single time without fail when the old ice cream bug strikes, which is mas o menos weekly.

Tonight for the first time in eons, they were out. Careful searching was performed, there were indeed multiple rows of Peanut Butter Cup, it was not that somebody had moved a container over and blocked the Chocolate Fudge Brownie row. Nor was it hidden behind the nearly frost covered Boston Cream Pie in the nether reaches of the top shelf.

Thus well and truly denied, your editor moved on to the rarely used, in fact not pulled out of the bag in as many as three years, back-up plan. (Note: Ben & Jerry's stocker inventory person must be pretty good, though one might safely wager Chocolate Fudge Brownie1 is one of the topselling flavors.)

The back-up plan is Haagen-Dazs plain chocolate, a rich and creamy concoction in its own right.

Off to the self-check to ring out. Where, lo and behold, no sooner than the ice cream had been scanned and the VIC card had been run, a Haagen-Dazs $1.00 off coupon printed out. How very quick of those data storing, data mining, monkeys monitoring our purchases. After 120 consecutive pints of Ben & Jerry's, our fair customer tries Haagen-Dazs. Let us make sure we reward him and encourage him to come back with a $1.00 coupon good all the way though November. Smart. Shady, but smart.

1Let the record show although this keeps coming up every time we google one of these Ben & Jerry's flavors, we really had no idea it was going down like that, no pun intended.

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Friday, September 07, 2012

Richie romps through Durham 

Durham, have you heard about the latest from the Little Green Pig Theater Company? It is a rollicking adaption of Shakespeare's Richard the II. And when we say rollicking and that it romps through Durham, we are being far more literal than you might imagine because this theatrical presentation actually takes place on the go. We followed the final dress rehearsal last night.

Some of the cast outside the Surf Club

The play began outside of Fullsteam Brewery. It quickly moved to the MotorCo parking lot, then inside the garage at MotorCo. Before we could quaff a beer, the actors, with audience in tow, were heading up the street to the Surf Club.

It all felt so very Durham, theater staged outside and on the move. The fourth wall remained in place, actors didn't break character to speak with audience, but we were physically engaged in the process because we had to follow Richie and her audience around the Foster Street corridor.

The story as adapted goes something like this: Richie is a wild hard charging party girl. She is ostensibly wreaking havoc at the Cannes Film Festival. She is rolling deep with an entourage of lovely ladies when her spurned cousin Haley comes gunning for her throne.

If you will allow us an aside here, the costumes as styled by Durham bon vivant, and friend of the Clarion Content, Kala Wolfe, were magnificent. Of course, in typical Durham fashion, the fly costumes were a collaborative effort.1 It was totally believably that these gals were throwing down for party people supremacy.

Although much of the dense Shakespearean language was retained, the story is easy to follow. With perhaps a few nods to reality television muses, like the Real Housewives and Basketball Wives, the cat fighting was timeless. It could be Cannes, New York or high school.

Unfortunately, physically following the play around was a bit more difficult. Durham has not modified its open container laws or closed off Foster Street, so viewers had to choose between abandoning their drinks as the play changed location or dashing off into the street beverage in hand. This caused a considerable amount of consternation among the bar owners and bartenders we talked to. Apparently, with school just back in session, ALE has been out in force and they were concerned about possible violations and liability, not to mention minors in the audience traipsing in and out of their establishments.

So if you head out to see Richie, which we highly recommend, be careful. It might feel so very Durham to watch an all female cast reinterpret Shakespeare in the parking lot, but the Man is probably not going to accept that as a legitimate excuse for having a drink in hand while you do so.

Tickets available here. Runs Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays through September 21st.

Richie and Haley go head to head, toe to toe, in the MotorCo parking lot

Audience and cast members observe the battle

1The costumes feature original looks from a plethora of Durham fashion designers including First Edition from the Clarion Content's style maven Cady Childs, along with our friends Gypsy Witch, Belindabilly, and Katharine Whalen.

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Thursday, September 06, 2012

Sometimes Fly Music comes our way 

Sometimes music just burbles right out of the ether. We had never heard of Macklemore until tonight.

He is tight. Real tight.

Be warned the lyrics are explicit.

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Class of 2013: NBA Free Agents 

Basketball junkies, we know you are jonesing, our friends from the Eastside Perspective give you a head start on the class of 2013: NBA Free Agents...

by: Alex Young

If you followed the NBA at all last summer, you learned that Dwight Howard did not want to play in Orlando. This was hard for new Magic general manager Rob Hennigan as Dwight was the centerpiece of the team. However, Howard is not the first time a superstar has held a team in suspense with his impending free agency. In past years, we saw players like LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, and Deron Williams torment their respective teams’ fan bases by refusing to sign extensions.

So what should a GM do? Should he let the season play out and hope that the player re-signs with them? Should he trade the player and get as much as he can before he ends up with nothing? Should he trade for more talent in order to appease the player? The answer varies with each case, and will be on the minds of fans and management this season.

Here is a list of top players that are on the verge of going into free agency and what would be in the best interest of their current team:

Chris Paul
: Many Clippers fans were alarmed at the news that Chris Paul turned down a three-year/$60 million dollar contract extension during the summer. While this may signify that Paul wants to leave, Paul stands to make a five-year/$105 million maximum contract should he let his current deal expire. Clearly, it is in Chris Paul’s best interests to at least test the waters of free agency. Chris Paul also has brought the drama before, having pushed his way out of New Orleans before last season. The Clippers are wondering if the rejected extension is merely a business maneuver or a sign of things to come.

What the Clippers should do: The Clippers have to have a big season in order to keep their star point guard interested. That may be difficult considering that Blake Griffin just had knee surgery. The team might have to make a trade for some more talent to show that they are more committed to having Chris Paul than their competition - suitors such as the Knicks and the Hawks.


James Harden: Oklahoma City may have too much talent. While many would consider this a first-world problem, it becomes an issue when you have to pay all of that talent. Between Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Serge Ibaka, and Harden, they have four players who are worthy of huge contracts in the NBA. The Thunder have already locked up Durant and Westbrook for the long term and just signed Serge Ibaka to a four-year/$48 million extension. James Harden may have to be left out if the Thunder wish to keep at or below the $58 million salary cap. Also, Harden has a chance to be a star on another team instead of taking his bench role on OKC.

What the Thunder should do: GM Sam Presti needs to convince Harden to give up money for winning. Presti could try to trade Harden for draft picks and players, yet that would disrupt the chemistry of a team that is already on the brink of winning a title. The Thunder are no longer playing to win in the future, they are playing to win now. For that reason, it may be worth it to keep Harden for the year, even if the Thunder fear that he may leave.


Andrew Bynum:
The second prize of the Dwight Howard sweepstakes came in Andrew Bynum going to the 76ers. Like Paul, Bynum can make more money over a longer period of time should he choose to become a free agent. When he was introduced by the 76ers, Bynum seemed pleased by the fans cheering his name and stated that he might sign long-term with the team. Bynum also has the chance to be a franchise player instead of being overshadowed by Kobe in L.A.

So why would the 76ers be nervous? First, Andrew Bynum has always been somewhat hard to deal with, read: he has issues. He has checked out of games with the Lakers and it is hard to tell what Bynum’s intentions really are. Second, fans in Philadelphia are merciless. They have done everything from throwing batteries at games to booing Santa Claus. If Bynum is not giving full effort, the fans will certainly let him know. If Andrew Bynum does not want to take criticism, he has the option of leaving.

What the Sixers should do: There is more evidence that points to Andrew Bynum staying than leaving in Philadelphia. If the Sixers are willing to deal with him, then they can probably re-sign Bynum without too much drama.


While you may not get to witness a soap opera like the Dwight Howard saga any time soon, the 2013 class of free agents will bring its fair share of tension to their fans’ lives.

Will these teams be able to keep their stars? Only time will tell...

Read more great sports and music articles from the Eastside Perspective here.

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Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Durham ABC Smoking 

You know how they say where there is smoke there is fire? Well... the Durham County ABC is smoking.

The last time the Clarion Content broke a story with this much heat, D.R. Horton was fixing to drill under Durham County homeowner's houses who had (allegedly) unwittingly signed off on deeds giving the company and its energy partners fracking rights.

The Clarion Content has reports from multiple sources within Durham ABC that the state is investigating The Durham County ABC. The Clarion Content's sources say the state's concerns range from improper use of Frontier-Visa gift cards as employee incentives, to irregularities in the selection process of current General Manager, Emily Page. Ms. Page served as the Chairwoman of the Durham County ABC Board before becoming Durham ABC's General Manager, a position that carries with it a salary in excess of $95,000 and a company car.

Employees within the Durham ABC report that minutes of board meetings have been substantially altered after the fact and original tape recordings of meetings have been destroyed. In concert with local Durham attorney, Carey Ewing, the Clarion Content inquiry has turned up strange inconsistencies. Minutes that were months old and supposed to be available to the public were not on the Durham County ABC Board's website, nor in the Clerk of the County Commissioner's office. Suddenly after questions about availability by Attorney Ewing, they were back on the website, and available to the public, if a written request was filed and a photocopying fee paid.

The Clarion Content has also heard from Durham County ABC store managers that employees have been allowed to work and sell alcohol without completing the mandatory Responsible Alcohol Selling Program part of their training, this despite the protests of Chief of ABC Law Enforcement, Derrick McMillan.

Employees also report that numerous "unofficial" directives in contradiction of Durham ABC policies have come from the General Manager's office; including new restrictions on leave and employee vacation, directives about the hiring of certain specific contractors, changes in the conduct of criminal background checks for new hires, and how ABC Board foundation money is allocated.

Shortly after Ms. Page took over as General Manager, she removed the ABC's recording secretary from General Manager's meetings and discontinued the process of taking minutes of those meetings.

Employees also allege Ms. Page has made use of office resources for her personal coaching and consulting business, and claimed to be working from home on days where she has been spotted biking the Tobacco Trail.

There have also been questions raised about Durham County ABC Board member Erroll Reese's use of County resources for personal causes.

We have spoken to as many as six Durham County ABC employees and Attorney Ewing has spoken to a handful more. All are concerned. All feel the new leadership has created a hostile, uncomfortable work environment. Some fear whistleblower retaliation for having hired a lawyer or spoken to the press, but they uniformly state that did not know what else they could do.

Just before publishing this article the Clarion Content was able to speak with Ms. Kimberly Shaw, Durham County ABC Board Chairwoman. While Ms. Shaw did not have direct knowledge and could not comment on all the allegations herein, she did clarify a few points. Ms. Shaw said that the gift cards in question were not received nor treated as gifts by Durham County ABC. Rather they were considered discount cards which are acceptable under state guidelines. Ms. Shaw had not heard about any irregularities concerning board meeting minutes.

She also noted concerning scheduling and leave policy that the General Manager, Ms. Page, has a certain amount of leeway. She said that the goal is maximum "operational efficiency" and that it was Shaw's understanding that the changes would save the ABC from having to hire additional employees at a greater fiscal cost. She noted, it is always the Board's goal to try to save funds where possible, so that as much money as can be is directed back to the City and County of Durham.

Ms. Shaw also mentioned that sometimes fresh eyes and new policies from leadership are met with disdain and gripes by employees, but are ultimately for the greater good of the organization.

Regarding the use of Durham ABC resources for Ms. Page's personal coaching and consulting business, Ms. Shaw said that the Board takes those kind of allegations very seriously, this was the first she had heard of it and they would look into it. The same goes for violation of the Board policies regarding the Responsible Alcohol Selling Program, this was the first she had heard of it, they take these issues very seriously and she would investigate.

Bottom line, Durham, stay tuned.

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The Art of Cool Project 

Heard about The Art of Cool Project? Are you wondering what they are up to? Heard about the beautiful jazz music they are making and supporting? Trying to decide if you are going to be able to get to their next performance of the After Hours Concert series?

Here is some visual documentation of how it goes down. Filmed at The Cotton Room at Goldenbelt, by friend of the Clarion Content, Seth Felder.

Next up for the Art of Cool, Grammy-nominee Carolyn Malachi, with fly, local opener DJ Apple Juice Kid. September 21st at The Cotton Room. Show at 9:30pm. Tickets start at $18.

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Tuesday, September 04, 2012

One more for the ladies 

Since we put it out there pretty hardcore this morning for women, we thought we would come back at you this evening with a bit more of a humorous take. From the delightful Tina Fey.

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Election 2012 

Sometimes the old saws are true. A picture says 1,000 words.

Ladies, young and old, know what this election is about; here is the story, in pictures.

For real.

Simple, eloquent, obvious.

Speaking truth to power.

Our libertarian, small "c" conservative hearts are right with you. The government in a free society should have no legislative control over our bodies.

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Monday, September 03, 2012

Interesting Links 

It is the return of an old school Clarion Content feature, Interesting Links and Links of Interest. You know, just in case you had not found enough ways to waste time on the inter-webs yourself. We have a few more places to kick it, read something you did not know, see something you had not seen, maybe get a laugh.

To see old Interesting Links posts click here and scroll down past this one.

Our first two links are about transit. We were going to go with a good news/bad news dichotomy. So what do you want first? The good news or the bad news?

Presuming in favor of your innate optimism, we are going to go with the good news first. India’s Tata Motors is working on a revolutionary new car, the Airpod. It runs on air. No kidding. It is part of Tata's line of super cheap nano cars that they hope to market and sell all over the less developed parts of the globe. They are built with pneumatic motors that use pressurized air to drive pistons. In May, the motor giant announced that it had completed the “first phase” of the Airpod cars, successfully testing out the engines in two vehicles. Its tank can hold 175 liters of air. Filling it up will cost about a dollar and get you 125 miles. Awesome!

Read the whole story here. Special thanks to a young reader from Pennsylvania for sending this our way.

The next transportation story is not such a happy one. But, it is important, especially if you are wondering why America doesn't have diddly for high speed rail, while all kinds of other countries do.1

It is the same corruption, bureaucratic raj and systemic morass that is dragging down the rest of our economy. Stephen Smith offers up a fabulous expose in Bloomberg News. Here are a few of the nuggets. If the first segment of Manhattan’s Second Avenue subway opens on the current schedule in 2016, it will have only taken seventy-five years to get'er done. (Not a typo.) Smith says on average American mass transit projects cost as much as five times as much as similar work in Europe and Asia.2
The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey is spending $3.8 billion on a single subway station at the World Trade Center designed by Santiago Calatrava, a Spanish architect known for his costly projects. If New York could build subways at the prices that Paris and Tokyo pay, $3.8 billion would be enough to build the entire Second Avenue subway, from Harlem to the Financial District.---Bloomberg

Our next link falls more into the "What's grosser than gross category?"

Answer? Winning one of those storage wars, bidding on abandoned, rent unpaid storage units, and finding a stash of crudely preserved human organs inside, including hearts, brains and lungs, as a guy did in Pensacola, Florida last week. Most of the body parts found were not labeled, including a heart found in 32oz convenience store cup filled with formaldehyde. The AP reports the previous owner of the storage unit was Dr. Michael Berkland who worked for the state of Florida as a medical examiner. Find the rest of the story here. (Icky.)

The next one is actually an NPR story featuring a regular Clarion Content contributor, Storey Clayton, author and illustrator of Duck and Cover, director of the website The Blue Pyramid and in his day job, the Rutgers University debate coach.

In this article, he and Cornell University director of forensics, Sam Nelson break down the five most common argumentative fallacies likely to be seen this campaign season: Argumentum ad verecundiam, the appeal to authority, post hoc ergo propter hoc, meaning "After this, therefore because of this..." the familiar, argumentum ad hominem, "name-calling," and the rest of the lot.

In each case, they include explanations of what they mean, why they often work and an example from both presidential candidates. It is funny and an eye-opener. Read the whole story here.

One final one to blow you away. In case the military-industrial complex had drifted out of your subconscious; this will snap you back. Check out this article about the newest nano-drones from Lockheed Martin.

1No, you can't simply keep blaming President Obama. It is more nuanced than that.

2The French rail operator SNCF told the California High-Speed Rail Authority that it could cut $30 billion off the project’s $68 billion estimated price tag!!! Repeat, the French.

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