BITTER SILVER | There's a silver lining to this moment in history, albeit thin, and it's this. If you're a person who's feeling stressed, unsafe, or in despair, conditions are actually better than ever that you could talk to someone about it. A friend, acquaintance, bartender, stranger — whoever — they're probably feeling similarly. (I wouldn't bother the bartender too much if they're working. On the other hand, what is work, really?) Not all people find comfort commiserating this way, but many do. It reminds me, in a distant and emotionally neutral way, of the summer of 2009, when Maine received record-setting rain through June and July. Life was miserable! And for me, the only thing that made it better was the feeling among Mainers, the majority of whom are ideologically geared to appreciate the summer months, of being able to tap into a shared acknowledgement of near-universal commiseration. People were pissed! And they were pissed together. And that was kind of nice. After weeks of gray, damp weather, it no longer felt appropriate think of glumness or frustration as some personal failing, or internalized injunction to work harder. That feeling wasn't yours! It was all of ours. Even the most despairing among us realized this, and paradoxically, that revelation was joyful. The misery belonged to us all! Sharing it was the only thing that made us feel better, and through those shared expressions — eye-rolls at the coffee counter, naked declarations of f-this-s on the street — we eventually came up with new ways to support each other. I suppose if you were someone who liked the rain, it was different. That was your prerogative. But past a certain point, being a person who enjoyed the rain must have collided uncomfortably with the feeling of enjoyment of, or even complicity in, the misery of the majority of people who, quite reasonably, felt oppressed by incessantly grey, soggy weather. Some people are just like that! Nothing to be done there. But the rest of us, the majority, can and should take solace in the fact that we don't like feeling oppressed, or seeing our neighbors oppressed. And we should talk about it. Because if the clouds won't clear, we'll have to figure out a way out ourselves.
DON'T FORGET YR ART | One last political point: engaging in the arts is a vital part of keeping yourself healthy. Do it without reservation. Tonight, you can exercise that by reveling in the incredible artistic capacities of Clint Fulkerson, the Portland mixed media artist whose "Fluid Geometry" exhibition — a mural and 15 paintings — opens within the Area Gallery at USM. If you haven't realized it, Fulkerson is incredible! Likely you've sold him coffee or passed him on the street countless times — he looks just like any other dude. But his intricate, some-might-say obsessive designs recall both Renaissance perspective drawings and computer-generated imagery. I didn't make that up! It's a comment provided by Mark Wethli, Midcoast painter and art professor at Bowdoin College. Even if you're someone who doesn't "understand" or have time for art, surely you can relate to the meditative practices and careful, generative expression. Yours can be whatever. Fulkerson has mastered his! And he lives among us. Fulkerson delivers an artist talk at a reception from 5–7 pm, and his exhibit is up through March 31. | Free | University of Southern Maine, AREA Gallery, Bedford St., Portland | usm.maine.edu
STAY ALIVE | Yes! There are a ton of protests right now, on top of all of the other very real things you have to do in your life — from earning an income, exercising, feeding your kids, having sex, buying groceries, phoning old college friends, playing cribbage, all of that. It's hard! We know, and we believe in you. After work today, consider the "Say No To Racism" rally in Monument Square. You don't even have to stand with them; just consider them. And recall that one of the tactics of fascist regimes is to steer the public toward protest exhaustion. 5:30 pm | Free | Monument Square, Portland
DRINK THE WINE | It's First Friday! A time to observe the Portland art world in its breadth and depth. Start that search at the Portland Museum of Art, when they unveil their "Lights Across Congress" exhibit, a 130-foot cinematic projection of their façade, in concordance with their grand re-opening. A big deal art event! | Free | 7 Congress Sq., Portland | portlandmuseum.org
BEYOND PRETTY | Or, head to the ICA at MECA for the "Collective Actions II" exhibition, a union of three printed matter shows modeling the social fabric and community engagement forms that bind us. The first, "The Unity of Opposites," is a visual play on the game of telephone (from Portland's Peregrine Press and Zea Mays Printmaking). The second, "Print Lab," connects collaborators Colleen Kinsella and Elizabeth Jabar with student artists from MECA's zine club. And the third, "Mobile Print Power," is a public printmaking and design showcase from artists out of Queens, New York. Memorable, even useful stuff. | Free | 522 Congress St., Portland | meca.edu
VISIONING WORK | Are you a therapist, medical worker, bodyworker, or other service professional in consistent interaction with the public, and also are interested in supporting a Trump resistance? Poke into a workshop tonight titled "Creating Safer Spaces — A Workshop for Helping Professionals," hosted by veteran social workers Sage Hayes and Lisa Newell. It's a little pricier than events we typically list in this space — $80 to $170 sliding scale — but worth it to those asking questions about how to leverage privilege. The workshop is spread over two sessions — Friday from 6-8:30 p.m., and Saturday from 9 to 5. | $80-170 | One Tree Center, 72E MacArthur Circle, South Portland | http://embodiedliberation.com/creatingsaferspaces/
ACTORS ARE BOLD-ASS HUMANS | In the return of Naked Shakespeare, an ensemble of actors explore the often tenuous relationships between fathers and daughters in the Bard's texts. Directed by the esteemed Carmen-maria Mandley, the production's cast of local performers includes Megan Tripaldi, Ella Mock, Khalil LeSaldo, Noah Bragg, Bob Petee, Christopher Hoffman, Sarah Barlow, David Handwerker, Rocco Tripaldi, Julianne Shea, and Beth Somerville. Watch them work through these themes tonight in the first of two performances at the Mechanics Hall, tonight and Saturday at 7 pm. | By donation Friday; $10 Saturday | Mechanics Hall, 519 Congress St., Portland | acornproductions.com
SWEAT SAVES | You need to dance it out, my fine dudes. Agree or no, two hot options exist tonight for just that — one is Oxbow's weird and kinda ironic dance party, hosted by DJs Hi-Duke and Fava Le Chic spinning ’80s dance-jams, boogie shakedowns, and funk blasts. It's called "On the One," and it's at 9 until the end of time. | Free | Oxbow Blending and Bottling, 49 Washington Ave., Portland | oxbowbeer.com
BODIES ARE MAGIC | ...meanwhile, the other is across town at Flask Lounge, where DJ Jamie O'Sullivan hosts his very respected "LOVE" night of house and techno. With DJ Nocturnal, and out-of-towners Mike Huge and Dan Desumthin. | Free | Flask Lounge, 117 Spring St., Portland | flasklounge.com
BACK TO PASTURE | One of Maine's finest exports is Aly Spaltro, the singer-songwriter who goes by Lady Lamb. Raised in Brunswick, she famously wrote the songs from her first album in the basement of the video rental store she worked at. Now, she's an indie-rock darling living in New York City. That happens sometimes! She's touring in support of her new seven-song EP, Tender Warriors Club, an experiment in radical vulnerability which some fans might find a maturation. | $15-18 | SPACE Gallery, 538 Congress St., Portland | space538.org
KEEP ROUGH | But if you're in the mood for something heavier and more propulsive, join the large Maine following celebrating the return of Rough Francis, the Vermont-based punk rock group undeniable energy. With local louds Covered in Bees, a storied death-punk group with some incredible wit, and the stripped-down melodic trash-punk group The Worst. 9 pm | $7-10 | Empire, 575 Congress St., Portland | portlandempire.com
FUZZY HUMOR | The Kittery-raised comedian Juston McKinney returns to Maine to hit the City Theater in Biddeford tonight. Besides that rogue 'o' in his name, McKinney's likely best known for being an ex-cop! What a hoot! 8 p.m. | $20 | City Theater, 205 Main St., Biddeford | citytheater.com
WARLOCKS AMONG US | Does anybody remember laughter? (Or does anybody remember who I'm quoting there?) Anyway, the question stands. The answer, still, is stuff like what you'll find at "SpinS: A Contemporary Circus Show," which collects jugglers, comedians, puppetry masters, unicyclists, wizards and witches, and so on. Might be the antidote to whatever you've got going on. 7 pm | $12-18 | Mayo Street Arts, 10 Mayo St., Portland | mayostreetarts.org
GET OUT OF YR WORLD | The Israeli composer and oud player Yuval Ron brings his eclectic and musically adventurous ensemble to Portland tonight, performing at USM's Hannaford Hall with Dervish Aziz, the dance artist. The production draws from numerous Middle Eastern traditions, and should offer a sensorial delight for those weary of the cold season. 8 pm | $42-45 | 8 pm | $42-45 | USM’s Hannaford Hall
THEATER IS THE LIFE OF YOU | Check in with Portland Stage's production of the classic play Arsenic and Old Lace, a dark, farcical comedy by Joseph Kesselring written in 1939. The original Broadway production starred Boris Karloff; this one's got fantastic local actors Maureen Butler, Will Rhys, and James Patefield, among many others. A serious romp, guided by the trusty directorial hand of Paul Mullins. Through February 19; see it today at 2 p.m. | $38-43 | Portland Stage, 25A Forest Ave., Portland | portlandstage.org
FILM BREAK | Park Chan-wook's crime drama The Handmaiden explores the political and social dynamics between a landed Japanese woman on her secluded estate, and her Korean woman servant, who plots to con her out of an inheritance. Visually stunning, the film has received high praise for its atypical love story and cinematic beauty. 7:30 pm | $8 | SPACE Gallery, 538 Congress St., Portland | space538.org
SPIRITUALS | Nova Scotians Scott MacMillan and Colin Grant, a fiddler and guitarist, play their improvisationally enlivened folk songs in the Celtic tradition, tonight at One Longfellow Square. Lively, well-studied, and playful. 7 pm | $15 | One Longfellow Square, 181 State St., Portland | onelongfellowsquare.com
VOTE LOVE | Frontier in Brunswick packs a fine doubleheader of entertainment today, from a 2 p.m. screening of The Loving Story, a drama inspired by a couple — Mildred and Richard Loving — who were persecuted for violating anti-miscegenation laws in 1950s Virginia. And at 7:30 pm, hang in their lounge with the string group Los Galactacos. | $8 film; free music| Frontier, 522 Maine St., Brunswick | explorefrontier.com
DRUGS ARE COZY? | Among the highlights of next week, join writer Ayelet Waldman talk about microdosing, how her decision to take small amounts of LSD per day helped treat her mood disorder. She discusses the issue — maybe it's controversial? — at the new and excellent bookstore PRINT at the foot of Munjoy Hill as she discusses her book, A Really Good Day: How Microdosing Made a Mega Difference in My Mood, My Marriage, and My Life. 7 pm | Print, 273 Congress St., Portland | printbookstore.com
Latest from Nick Schroeder
- A Man and His Logo â€” Spose drops fifth album 'Good Luck With Your Life'
- 8 Days A Week: Decolonization Lessons, Coal Studies, and Girl Talk
- Burn This Album â€” KGFREEZE's Scorching 'Scapegoat'
- John Sundling's 'Ghost Fence' Conjures Portland Past and Future
- How Fake Is This? â€” Three Theories on Holly Seeliger's 'Zoon Politikon'