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Too much Fringe, not enough monies: 4 suggestions to Fringe on a tight budget

Too much Fringe, not enough monies: 4 suggestions to Fringe on a tight budget

by Kristoffer Tigue

The 2012 Minnesota Fringe Festival kicked off this weekend, and with 165 performances being shown in 15 separate venues, it’s impossible to catch every one. Even if you wanted to, at $12 a pop, your wallet will empty pretty quickly.

There are discounted passes offered. For instance, for $100 you can get a 10 show pass. For $50, a five show. The best deal is for students, who with student I.D. can get a five show pass for only $30. But if you’re not a student, let’s be honest, you can probably see two, three shows tops. Well, here are some suggestions for you performing arts lovers surviving on that cocktail waitress salary.

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The Ties that Bind: Deni Y. Béchard’s Cures for Hunger delivers a powerful bildungsroman about distraught lineage, rootlessness, and the invention of personal identity

5 out of 5 stars

The Ties that Bind: Deni Y. Béchard’s Cures for Hunger delivers a powerful bildungsroman about distraught lineage, rootlessness, and the invention of personal identity

by Evan Giannobile

Deni Y. Béchard’s memoir Cures for Hunger catalogs the search for identity through alienated connections to the past, plucking the resonant and often dark strings which inextricably join the lives of parents and children. Desperate to understand his own motivations and drives, Deni Béchard relies on uncovering the history and true character of his father, Andre Béchard, to help untangle his own identity in a vivid narrative of discovery, longing, and unknown family histories.

Published by the local institution Milkweed Editions, Béchard’s new memoir has been extolled by critics as a hard-earned and honest lyrical exploration into the dynamics of a dysfunctional family and the residue left behind. Having previously won the Commonwealth Prize with his first novel Vandal Love, Béchard now delves into the complicated relationship with his father: a compulsive, criminally-minded, freedom-seeking man who for Béchard had always occupied the fragile space between fear, disgust and admiration. Cures for Hunger is beautifully written and was listed on Amazon Canada as this year’s best nonfiction book, and Milkweed Editions is publishing the first American edition of Vandal Love as well as Cures for Hunger.

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Alas, Alas’ debut self-titled LP is evocative and full of imagery, worth the listen

Alas, Alas’ debut self-titled LP is evocative and full of imagery, worth the listen

[UPDATE: Live audio of Alas, Alas’ “Whiskey Town” by Jeremy Kleider]

by D. Sykes

Alas, Alas offers a kind of music now very familiar to Twin Cities audiences, a traditional Americana sound that embraces the ragged edges common to hardscrabble traveling musicians.  Like many groups you can find at quieter basement shows and stages like the Acadia, they adopt a loose, living-room jam feel, like a bunch of hipster kids who got a hold of their granddad’s fiddle collection—however, Alas, Alas set themselves apart from the vast run of these groups through sheer songwriting quality and musical talent, as evidenced on their debut self-titled LP.

Alas, Alas forego the minimalism of much anti-folk for a ramshackle, wall-of-sound approach, reminiscent of a hung-over Beirut playing in a living room somewhere in Arkansas.  At more intense tempos, as on “Whiskey Bound,” they remind one of the alt-bluegrass of Duluth’s Trampled by Turtles.  At times the similarities border on appropriation, but there’s only so many chord progressions and picking patterns in the traditional Americana idiom.

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He’s not just writing his name: Brian Hart’s light drawings are serious works of art

He’s not just writing his name: Brian Hart’s light drawings are serious works of art

by Kristoffer Tigue

Brian Hart has been drawing since he was a child. When his family took him to the public library, he’d always check out how-to-draw books. By the time he was 15, he was savoring the full works of Picasso and Gjon Mili’s extra-exposed photography. Born in St. Paul, he moved to Sioux City, Iowa with his family when he was six years old. In 2005 he decided to move back to his home state, finding residence in Minneapolis, and has showcased his incredibly textured light drawings at the Cult Status Gallery and the Future Presence Gallery.

An almost serendipitous discovery, Brian started playing around with his phone screen while exposing it to his Digital SLR, when he realized he could do much more with ultra-exposed photography—physically manipulating small LED lights to draw on his camera in the same way that photographers have been taking those cityscape photos with the blurred car lights on the highway. It started with writing his name but has moved onto some pretty incredible pictures. I met Brian at the Star Bucks inside the downtown Minneapolis Target shopping center because we both love corporations. It was like hosting an interview inside some sort of corporate turducken. Good coffee, too.

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Band on Band Action: Matt Homan of The Japhies talks about the genuine rock n’ roll of RapeDoor and The Goondas, the nihilistic ways of Brain Tumors, and his fatalistic visions of the Indie scene

In Minneapolis, music is an obsession. Yes, everyone is a music lover, it shouldn’t matter where you’re from, but Minneapolis is different. In short, we’re snobs about it. But it’s much more than that. Our city-life thrives on our music, embracing and nurturing it the way L.A. nurtures film, or the way Miami nurtures tourism, or the way Arizona nurtures intolerance.

It’s more than something that simply exists here, it’s a hub of creativity, a womb of support and love—it’s an integral part of our identity. Our city is rich with art, and we’re proud of it, however, if you’ve lived in Minneapolis, if you consider yourself a Minneapolitan, you know Music forever remains King.

In these series we interview different local bands and have them talk about the music scene that supports them. Specifically, we talk to them about other local bands for, hopefully, some wet, wild, steamy-hot Band on Band Action.

Episode #2: Matt Homan of The Japhies

by D. Sykes

With a rousing live show and a shiny new LP on the way, The Japhies have become a highly respected outlet for the pure rock and roll that many in the Twin Cities have abandoned.  A band with much more depth than the average cock-rock outfit, they pursue their music with dedication, without taking themselves too seriously or falling into the quagmire of irony and pretentiousness so common in these trying times.

I met up with their bassist, Matt Homan, to go turn in a jar of change for rent money and play Vice City.  We laughed, we cried, we discussed the resurrection of the local rock scene and talked shit about people from Arizona.

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Wet Hot Minneapolis Summer

Wet Hot Minneapolis Summer

by D. Sykes

Minnesotans appreciate the summer more than most people on the planet.  Each year we suffer through seven to nine months of horrid desolation, snow emergencies, and sliding on ice all the way to the liquor store every night.  When the warm months finally roll around, we feel a primal and powerful urge to have as much fun as humanly possible.  However, since we’re so adept at complaining, we’re pretty bad at actually enjoying ourselves.

So here’s a quick guide to making the most of your passive-aggressive Twin Cities’ summer, the way we know best: riddled with underlying and often hypocritical criticism.

5.) Build a bike, ride it everywhere, become a superhero and save the world

Scientific studies show that if only 3.3 million people were to completely forego the use of automobiles and ride bikes instead, unicorns would fly out of Mount Vesuvius and fart out ozone-layer-repairing nanobots so fast you won’t even be able to listen to an early Crass EP before trees start growing up through the abandoned streets.

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Minneapolis all-star band, Lovely Dark, offers a promising and enjoyable, if slightly flawed, debut

Minneapolis all-star band, Lovely Dark, offers a promising and enjoyable, if slightly flawed, debut

by D. Sykes

As a long-time fan of Buffalo Buffalo Buffalo, Travis and Sonia Even’s primary project, I’m compelled to compare them to side-project Lovely Dark–an instinct exacerbated by the new band’s similar thematic obsession with divinity and naturalism.  While similar at their core, Lovely Dark is a thoroughly unique sonic experience. Both lyrically and musically, these songs rely on minimalism and graceful delivery to make their impact.

Lovely Dark is what music journalists once referred to as a “supergroup,” back before everyone and their mom was in three different bands. They’re a bunch of musicians from wildly different backgrounds, all in a grip of different groups, some of which have received positive media attention.  While Territories has its flaws, the record is an example of talented musicians crafting a coherent and original sound together.

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PRIDE 2012 photos

PRIDE 2012 photos

by Kristoffer Tigue

Photos by Kristoffer Tigue

If you missed today’s annual Gay Pride Parade, we’ve got you covered (kind of). The streets were blocked off from the public, limiting the shots.

With President Obama backing same-sex marriage last month and our state’s own Marriage Amendment, banning same-sex marriage coming to vote in November, this year’s Pride Parade was a particularly charged one.

Opponents to the amendment swarmed downtown Hennepin Avenue, gathering signatures, asking for pledges and even financial donations to fight the upcoming bill. Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak and MN Governor Mark Dayton both made personal appearances at the parade, receiving huge cheers from the crowd (unfortunately I wasn’t able to get any usable photos of them).

But there were plenty of other highlights in the parade, including drag queens, foam machines and as always, lots and lots of skin. Enjoy the photos and don’t forget to vote NO on the Marriage Amendment in November.

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5 local sites you should be visiting

5 local sites you should be visiting

by Kristoffer Tigue

Data, data, data. The internet is ubiquitous and overbearing. Everyone and their aunt has a blog and praise Jebus, you simply don’t have the time to check out every friend’s personal feelings and creative expressions. However there is light in the haze. There are some proverbial needles in that stack that are worth the search, and luckily for you, we did the heavy lifting. Here are 5 recommended local websites you probably don’t know about that are worth the trouble of perusing.

1. Hazel & Wren

Paper Darts set the standard for local literary magazines, both in print and online since they popped out of inexistence back in 2009, but that didn’t stop local sisters Amanda and Melissa Wray from jumping into the mix. Adequately armed with their pen-names, Hazel & Wren, and a pinch of wit and a critical eye, they launched their online literary magazine in early 2011.

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Armchair Essays: A decade later, Zadie Smith’s The Autograph Man is still an easy recommendation

3.5 out of 5 stars

A decade later, Zadie Smith’s The Autograph Man is still an easy recommendation

by Evan Giannobile

Zadie Smith’s latest novel The Autograph Man will be familiar territory for the cultural studies major. Characterized by the strange place occupied by popular culture in the intellectual realm, Smith delves into a world where fiction has eclipsed real life.  Published in 2002, the novel chronicles the stunted growth and uncanny obsessions of Alex Li-Tandem, a half-Chinese, half-Jewish 27 year old who has turned his childhood hobby, collecting autographs, into a rather unrewarding job and unhealthy obsession. He doesn’t deal directly in the realm of the famous but in their scribbles, their sanctified chicken-scratch meant to be collected, bought, and sold. Through this medium the novel offers a thoughtful critique on the dark and lonely realm of cultural obsession.

As her second novel, there were high expectations following the commercial and critical success of her first novel, White Teeth, which beautifully explores the conflict between the preservation of cultural identity and the pressures of assimilation experienced by immigrants of various ethnic backgrounds.

While the novel didn’t quite win over critics and the public as did her first novel, The Autograph Man still speaks to Smith’s literary prowess. Her writing style is strong and well-developed, making the book more of a quick read and less reminiscent of a competition to see who can write the longest grammatically correct sentence (13,955 words, ugh).  Smart and savvy, Smith’s attention towards the natures of representation, desire, and transcendent religions paired with a literary playfulness makes for a novel dense with ideas sans the abject seriousness and melodrama.

The life of Alex Li-Tandem revolves around the procurement of an autograph by the Golden-Age cinema star Kitty Alexander, and since turning all of his attention to this incredibly sad goal, all other aspects of his life have wilted considerably. The reader finds Alex awaking from an acid trip—his car totaled, his girlfriend injured and incensed, his friends legitimately concerned over his mental health, and it’s the 15th anniversary of his father’s death, which he is still grieving.

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