Nick Schroeder

Nick Schroeder

Free Speech in the Trump Era: A Means or An End?

The fiery, cacophonous clown car of a Trump presidency cleared its first-month checkpoint this week, dominating news cycles, asserting broad executive power and blanketing America’s most vulnerable people in a fog of confusion, disruption, and fear.

But listen closely and you can hear another sound, an odd yet persistent rumbling, of a bemused electorate grappling with the pulpy, fibrous concept of free speech.

I’m being glib — how do you find humor in this nightmare administration? — but the newly invigorated conversations about free speech, hate speech, and effective protest in the Trump era may be worth more than the academic cribbage match that many liberals make it out to be.

Let’s get this out of the way first. No question, free speech is worth defending. Seriously, no argument here! But as the country — and this past week, Portland — is discovering, the boundaries and definitions that frame that principle have shifted.

Stakes, right now, are high. As L.A. Kauffman, journalist and author of the new book Direct Action: Protest and the Reinvention of American Radicalism, recently put it in an interview on The Nostalgia Trap podcast, “the institutions of the democratic republic are about to be dismantled.”

It’s hard not to see where she’s coming from. The Trump administration routinely issues lies and fabrications in one breath while broadly delegitimizing the institutions of a free press in another, calling journalists “the enemy of the people” and decrying every outlet critical of him as “FAKE NEWS.” His cabinet appointments seemed designed to corrode and decay the very standards and missions of the departments they head. And literal Nazis and white nationalist thinkers like Richard Spencer and Milo Yiannopolous have been given incredible platforms to advance their ideas.

Today’s world is a great deal more complex than any definition that John Milton, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Angela Davis, Pete Seeger, Chuck D, or any other of the thinkers that have helped frame the notion of free speech explain.

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Milo Yiannopoulos, who describes himself as the "most fabulous supervillain on the Internet." Critics say he normalizes hate. 

 

WHAT IS IT?

A standard, classically liberal view is that viewpoints, concepts, and philosophies should be able to compete with one another in the “marketplace of ideas.” Indeed, that phrase first cropped up in a Supreme Court decision written by Justice William O. Douglas in 1953, which ruled that “like the publishers of newspapers, magazines, or books, this publisher bids for the minds of men in the market place of ideas.”

But after decades of neoliberalism, privatization, redlining, voter disenfranchisement, and a populist Donald Trump administration, the distinction between the ideologies of a federal government and the free market is thinner than ever. Furthermore, if your local KKK is gaining power and confidence, then there’s a chance the marketplace of ideas isn’t working.

Today, a person’s opinion about free speech is directly linked to whether they believe Trump’s rise to power is fundamentally changing the laws and institutions of the country, and whether people believe it’s possible — or even worthwhile — to stop it.

To paraphrase a professor who wishes to remain anonymous, “If you take free speech to be an end in and of itself (that is, if you are a free speech absolutist), you accept that free speech cannot change anything, which would simply render it a means. In this case, there is no good reason to defend free speech on political grounds, as it cannot be deployed toward any political end but its own affirmation.”

It’s a complex issue. And Portland recently experienced this complexity firsthand.

“LOCAL INVASION”

Last week, Portland was paid a visit by Mr. Larry Lockman.

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Larry Lockman (left) and Benjamin Bussiere (right) listen to the crowd during a heated Q and A session. Bussiere, the moderator and USM student that invited Lockman to campus, had the tendency to let supporters of Lockman speak longer at the mic than his opponents. At one point, Bussiere barked at a dissenter to sit down. 

If you hadn’t heard of this dude before last month, you might consider yourself lucky. Rep. Lawrence Lockman (R-Amherst) has been practicing his style of anti-immigrant, homophobic, anti-union, anti-worker, anti-abortion politics in Maine for a while now — since the 1980s. His most infamous quote, as director of the Pro-Life Education Association, asked: “If a woman has (the right to an abortion), why shouldn’t a man be free to use his superior strength to force himself upon a woman? At least the rapist’s pursuit of sexual freedom doesn’t (in most cases) result in anyone’s death.” That was exposed in the Bangor Daily News in 2014, after which Lockman mustered an apology. (He’s got a gaggle of reprehensible quotes — feel free to Google.)

But he hasn’t changed. On Thursday, February 16, Lockman appeared at USM to deliver a lecture he titled “Alien Invasion: Fixing the Immigration Crisis,” and to discuss his proposed anti-immigration bill, LD 366.

Lockman’s talk was produced by the USM chapter of Young Americans for Freedom, a conservative youth activism organization that was launched nationally by William F. Buckley in the 1960s. Hours before the event, USM student and YAF chair Benjamin Bussiere explained to me his rationale for bringing Lockman to campus, anchored by a belief that the university has too long been a place for “liberal indoctrination,” and that the group’s decision to book the Congressman was an attempt to even the scope of ideas on campus.

There are eight Young Americans for Freedom at USM. None of the three I spoke with — all white males — offered any direct support of Lockman’s political views, focusing instead on the defense of his right to free speech and the value of a “diversity of opinions.”

“You get into (defining) free speech and hate speech and who is the arbiter?” wondered Brian Casey, a 19-year-old USM student and YAF member from Buckfield. “Who gets to define? The government?”

DOUBLE STANDARD

Crying foul about the disproportionate “liberalism” of college campuses is, by now, standard conservative doctrine. (It’s a little like affirmative action, but for white people who already have power, privilege, and opportunity.) And in a present-day conservative climate steered by Trumpism, free speech is the horse these ideas are riding in on.

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Susan Hamilton, a former professor at USM, at the Lockman protest with a sign stating that the college "promotes white supremacy." 

If viewed through the lens of free-speech absolutism — that is, the idea that all perspectives have the same moral weight — then right-wing, white nationalist ideas like Lockman’s appear to be victimized when opponents attempt to show that they’re exclusionary, oppressive, racist, or simply welcome. A similar outcry occurred when Richard Spencer, director of the white supremacist National Policy Institute, was punched in the face by a masked protester at Trump’s inauguration.

But it ignores the fact that such political ideas are already being employed, and are presently empowered by an increasingly authoritarian presidency.  

“I know it’s fun to do the mental gymnastics of deciding whether or not Plato or Socrates … or whoever else in your Philosophy 101 text would agree with your logical conclusion that punching Nazis is bad because violence is not the answer, but no one cares!” says the political comedian Akilah Hughes in a web video. “You are under no obligation to hear a Nazi out.”

“One of the biggest problems with mainstream liberalism is its fetish for abstract principle over material reality,” writes journalist Katherine Cross in Alternet. “It is prone to forgetting that in a democracy, principles exist as a means to an end: the guarantee of maximal rights and liberties for the greatest number of people. A right is a tangible thing for the person who needs it most: a freedom from imprisonment by the state, food on the table, a roof over one’s head, a life free from deprivation.”

To argue that Lockman’s views are treated unfairly in the “marketplace” of the university presumes that upholding these abstractions is the first principle of building a just society.

Conservatives love this argument. It makes them look like victims in the court of public opinion.

Those who care about material issues would argue that those unjustly affected by Islamophobia; the mass deportation of immigrants; anti-abortion and anti-health care agendas; a market philosophy that ensures people of color don’t have access to the same resources, wealth or opportunities; or those whose civil rights are otherwise impeded. 

THE AESTHETICS OF SHIT

Given the current political climate, booking a speaker like Lockman, or Milo Yiannopoulos, is the real-life equivalent of “shitposting,” the act of making inflammatory remarks online for little reason but to see how much it will offend, or simply because you can. For a lot of people — particularly young white males on message boards like 4chan — this is the most potent definition of free speech around.

“Shitposters, who are bound by nothing, set a rhetorical trap for their enemies, who tend to be bound by having an actual point,” writes Tara Isabella Burton in a brilliant post-election essay titled “Apocalypse Whatever” for Real Life magazine. “Attempts to analyze what shitposters are doing, or what their posts really mean, does nothing to defuse them; instead it reinforces their project by amplifying their signal.”

The aesthetics of shitposting is a perfect practical example of free speech as an end, where all perspectives are thought to have the same moral value. It’s also peak-Trumpism.

And those in the Young Americans for Freedom camp would seem to agree. “Everything is free speech,” Casey continued. ”Sunlight is the best disinfectant.”

MIC CHECK

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Outside Lockman's event, at the Glickman Library, the message of the Portland Racial Justice Congress was clear. 

Eventually, Lockman spoke. He opened by quoting a white nationalist passage by noted white supremacist Pat Buchanan. He talked about his bill, LD 366, which if passed would force Maine to comply with federal immigration policy at the risk of losing funding, and, alarmingly, make it possible for citizens to sue lawmakers and refugee resettlement programs like Catholic Charities in the case of injury or harm committed by an immigrant (which, it’s not even clear here if he means exclusively physical injury, as the bill’s language could include nebulous charges like “financial injury”).

He spoke for half an hour before a crowd of around 120, maybe half of whom were supporters. Outside, a coalition or 200 or more led by the Portland Racial Justice Congress rallied in protest, convening outside the Abromson Center, in the adjacent Glickman Library, and making their presence felt in the Woodbury Campus Center. After Lockman left, roughly 150 protesters filled the Abromson lobby in galvanizing collective protest.

 

TO FIGHT OR TO IGNORE?

Central to the thorny question of how to handle someone whose opinion you disagree with is whether it’s better to ignore them in hopes they’ll go away.

Nearly everyone anticipating the Lockman event had, of course, been aware of Milo Yiannopoulos’s scheduled appearance at UC-Berkeley on February 1, which was canceled after a small faction of protesters incurred an estimated $100,000 worth of property damage.

As local progressives rallied against Lockman’s appearance in the week prior, USM officials were concerned about a similar outcome. USM President Glenn Cummings told the Phoenix that he notified protesters that “they would be removed from the event by police” if they attempted to shut it down, and that “similarly, if Rep. Lockman advocated violence or harassment, (that) he would be removed and the event shut down.”

The key tactic of alternative or provocative figures is to leverage the size and platform of their “not-audience” (i.e. their haters in the mainstream) to attract attention and build an actual audience,” writes Ryan Holiday in a piece for The Observer last week.

In the mid-2000s, Holiday was the campaign manager behind Tucker Max, the men’s rights activist whose strategically controversial antifeminist messaging was designed to cause uproar as a sort of rogue marketing tool. While Holiday writes that he adamantly disagrees with Milo, he believes he is acting from the same playbook.

“Let’s say he can acquire massive amounts of negative publicity by pissing off people in the media,” continues Holiday. “Well now all of a sudden someone is absorbing the cost of this inefficient form of marketing for him.”

Holiday argues that the best tactic would be for people to ignore Milo. That by protesting him, progressives are “playing right into his hands” — a sentiment echoed by President Cummings in his statement that Lockman’s would not be canceled.

But it’s not an either/or. Protesting might very well “play into the hands” of the alt-right, or of politicians like Lockman, but ignoring them doesn’t work either — as countless examples throughout history have shown. Furthermore, “the ‘ignore it’ take is argued by people who are comfortable enough with the status quo,” tweeted Mother Jones journalist Shane Bauer tweeted about Yiannopoulos. “Lots of people don’t get to ignore it.”

Nobody is saying Lockman should be in jail, or that he should be silenced by the government. But “a right to free speech is not a right to a platform,” writes Katherine Cross. Meanwhile, the opposite is true: a government headed by Trump is actively silencing dissent.

Essentially, Lockman advances a hard right-wing vision for Maine. On a much larger scale, Yiannopoulos creates misleading and vacuously crude spectacles on television and college campuses. His baseless assertion on Real Time With Bill Maher last week that transgender people are “disproportionately involved” in sex crimes in bathrooms, left unchallenged by Maher, may seem like a controversial “opinion,” but it’s not. It’s coldly calculated ideology. (Note: Spokespeople from the ACLU, Human Rights Campaign, and Transgender Policy and Law Institute have confirmed there have been zero reported cases).

The right-wing has a new weapon, and it’s an ability to advance their agenda through a performance of reportage that has little to no bearing on the truth. That agenda — or the performance of that agenda — has gained a foothold in the marketplace of ideas. To Trump supporters, if something “feels true” — such as Somali immigrants in Lewiston taking jobs or Black Lives Matter protesters being prone to violence — then it might as well be true, and no amount of fact-checking can convince them otherwise.

Milo may seem like a self-serving, amoral performance act who’ll say anything for a paycheck. And indeed he might be exactly that. But we cannot forget that his project is very real. His boss is Steve Bannon, President Trump’s right-hand man. It was reported that Milo was going to use his February 1 appearance at Berkeley to name undocumented students, and train young conservatives to turn them into the police. He’s used platforms at other events, he’s doxxed and shamed trans students at the campuses he visits. (On Monday, a video surfaced of Milo, who is gay, appearing to defend sexual relationships between 13-year-old boys and adult men, and a backlash by conservatives has hacked at his platform.)

Another person using the same type of unfounded, unapologetically false rhetoric is Trump. There’s that Sweden nonsense. The demonstrably false reports of “unreported terrorist attacks” in the U.S. Throughout his campaign, Trump’s behavior is erratic and absurd, wheeling out punchlines and clownish, off-the-cuff quips, meanwhile refusing to accept or condemn endorsements by David Duke and the KKK. (There’s precedent for this behavior; let’s not forget that Trump’s ex-wife Ivana told Vanity Fair that Trump kept Hitler’s speeches by his bedside.)

He and his supporters can say anything they want, seemingly without accountability. And without a critical view of notion of “free speech,” the howling majority opposing him appear like they’re ganging up on him.

Meanwhile, ICE raids are real. Deportations are real. Armed border control agents are checking people’s phones and social media accounts for “un-American” sentiments. According to multiple reports, the Department of Homeland Security declared the number of immigrants arrested over the past week has risen to 680, and raids were reported in at 11 states.

This is the danger of normalization. While people debate the finer points of free speech, Trump’s policies could have devastating consequences for vulnerable people. It’s the danger of permitting people like Milo Yiannopoulos or, locally, Larry Lockman, surely emboldened by Trump’s administration and LePage’s state governance, to advance hateful rhetoric and policy on elevated platforms. Yes, Lockman has a “right” to his views. But failure to mount an organized opposition to it — a vital form of free speech — would normalize his position.

Toward the end of the Q&A portion of Lockman’s “Alien Invasion” talk, a young woman of color named Najma Abdullahi approached the microphone. She commented that in her experience it was white men, not Muslims, that were the “most dangerous demographic.”  

She asked the first of two questions — extending an invitation for Lockman to have a “dialogue with me and the people and youth in my community, which he demurred. Then this exchange happened.

“How do you deal with white fragility?” Abdullahi asked Lockman.

“What?” he replied.

“White fragility,” Abdullahi repeated, slower.

“White what?” the Representative asked again, leaning into the microphone.

“White fragility. Like, how do you deal with it?”

“Next question,” he replied. “That’s not a serious question.”

Lockman’s supporters roared. Then one of them abruptly cut her mic.

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Najma Abdullahi, a junior at Waynflete school in Portland, confronted Lockman with questions about white fragility. Her questions and offer to privately facilitate a dialogue between Lockman and her community were ignored. 

SIDEBAR

The event had originally been scheduled to take place in one of the classrooms, but due to a bigger-than-expected registration list — surely many of them coming to oppose Lockman’s appearance — it was moved to the campus’s Hannaford Hall.

Lockman’s appearance was passed by the USM Student Senate, despite many members opposing the content of his message. “It’s an ethical thing,” said Fatumi Awale, a USM student and member of the student senate who voted to permit Lockman to speak.

“On the senate, we decided that everybody has freedom of speech,” said Awale, “and that we shouldn’t refuse somebody to say what they want to say even if it’s hateful.” Wearing a hijab, she sat among the crowd of Trump supporters at Lockman’s event, waiting for the Q&A session so that she could have her say.

“I’m here to tell him the truth,” said Awale, who told me she got her work shift covered in order to be at USM that night. “Migration is not a problem in this country.”

USM planned to charge the organization a security fee to pay for police presence, both YAF chair Benjamin Bussiere and USM president Glenn Commings confirmed, but backed off when the conservative group’s national lawyer, Caleb Dalton from the Alliance Defending Freedom, came after them.

“Speech isn’t free when students have to pay hundreds of dollars because others want to protest their viewpoints,” writes Dalton in a prepared statement on the issue. “The cornerstone of higher education is the ability to participate freely in the marketplace of ideas on campus ... Policies like this give protesters the ability to veto less popular viewpoints, turning the marketplace of ideas into the intellectual vacuum of intolerance.”

Cummings confirmed that they rescinded their request for the campus group to pay the security fees, saying the school “needs to update its rules.”

  • Published in Features

10 Art and Resistance Resources Since the Election

If you think we’re writing a lot about anti-Trump resistance in these pages lately, you’re correct. That’s because anti-Trump resistance is driving the culture more than anything else right now, and political activism — the sustained, organized kind — is more deeply embedded in American daily life than any other time in generational memory.

An estimated 5.2 million people participated in Women’s Marches on January 20 last month. A recent Washington Post poll reported that one in three Democrats pledged to “become more involved in the political process” in the next year. Seattle’s longstanding alt-weekly The Stranger even recently created a special section amid their weekly arts coverage for “Resistance & Solidarity” events. That’s just how people hang out these days.

If you’re the sort of person who has wondered what people “do” after they show up to protests like the Women’s March, read on. A swell of art and action-based resistance efforts has emerged since the election, joining an already potent social justice network in southern Maine.

And because political engagement takes on many shapes and sizes, we compiled a resource guide on many of the new art and action-based resistance efforts that have cropped up post-election. We can’t say it’s fully comprehensive — that would take an entire issue — but it’s a start.

These are new, but by no means should they distract from the vital efforts of organizations like the ACLU of Maine (or the ones we highlight at the end of this list). And if you’re interested in checking in with post-election efforts at a national level, try starting with Indivisible.

PRINTERS WITHOUT MARGINS

The art collective Pickwick Independent Press launched Printers Without Margins shortly after the election as an “official social justice arm of the shop.” Over the spate of recent protests, some of Pickwick’s artists have worked diligently to make signage with clear, direct statements on them, for better visibility at protests and in press coverage.

The effort evolved naturally from the ethos of the artist network. “Walking into a room full of printers who were all in a similar place — it was powerful,” says Pickwick member and printmaker Pilar Nadal. “We gathered and talked about what we wanted to do, what we could do, and what we couldn’t do, and came up with Printers Without Margins.”

While the group is only open to Pickwick members (membership costs include a small annual fee), Nadal says the group could use donated support in the form of money, paper, ink, a Xerox machine, and volunteer grant writers.

“We’d like to match our printers with individuals or organizations who need printed materials — signs, posters, flags, bumper stickers, postcards, pamphlets, zines, you name it — with content about anti-racism, anti-sexism, pro-religious freedom, anti-homophobia, and generally how to treat each other with kindness and respect.”

Website: pickwickindependentpress.com

GET READY WEEKLY

Another example of art weaponized for political means, GET READY WEEKLY is a vessel for “visual resistance.” That may sound complicated, but these are essentially chill, playful and inclusive hangouts for banner-making, letter-writing, and ribbon-making for upcoming protests, marches, and rallies.

Launched by artist Erin Johnson and now steered by Johnson and artist Marieke van der Steenhoven, GET READY WEEKLY has prioritized accessibility and building community. And because how-tos on writing your reps to protest the Dakota Access pipeline, the repeal of the ACA, and Trump's cabinet picks might be a little heavy, their get-togethers are essentially good times, partnering with breweries like Oxbow and galleries like Able Baker Contemporary.

Additionally, they’ve paired with local art magazine The Chart to plan “resistance readings” of short political and social justice texts tackled over dinner at restaurants operated by immigrants and people of color. The first is scheduled for March 7 at Babylon Restaurant, where the group will read an essay by the Detroit-based critic and arts writer Taylor Renee Aldridge titled “Transplant Exploits: Detroit’s Savior Complex.” Pointed, thoughtful, and conducted face-to-face, we hope this reading series takes off.

Online, GET READY WEEKLY maintains a useful info hub, this week publishing “The Official Anti-Milo (Digital) Toolkit,” a snazzy and super-informative handbook about how to confront “alt-right” troll Milo Yiannopoulos and other far-right agents when they attempt to use the Trojan horse of “free speech” to spread violent agenda at college speaking events. To wit: “Countering Milo and the alt-right requires an ability to critically assess the ways in which the vocabulary of liberal-academic discourse is currently being co-opted by extreme right-wing groups in order to legitimate and further a platform of genocide and terror against historically marginalized groups.” Just in time for Maine Rep. Larry Lockman’s contentious appearance at the University of Southern Maine on February 16.

Website: facebook.com/getreadyweekly

           

A SEAT AT THE TABLE

A Seat at the Table is a monthly facilitated dinner model designed to bring together people with different backgrounds and experiences for hard discussions, where they tackle topics like race and privilege, sex and gender identity, and climate change.

Launched in January by Chanel Lewis and Adam Burk, A Seat at the Table evolved from a group called Represent: Networking for Professionals of Color, an open attendance session that met at coffee shops, bars and tasting rooms in Portland. In A Seat’s three-month pilot program, Lewis and Burk host discussions one Thursday a week, from 5:30 to 6:30p.m. One of those meetings resulting in a free dinner on the last Thursday of the month, consisting of a group hand-picked from applicants, and where the traditionally “underrepresented are overrepresented.”

“The long-term goal,” writes Lewis in an email to The Phoenix, “is to use our facilitated dinner model as a professional development opportunity to challenge business, community, and political leaders to make systemic changes regarding equity and justice.”

“A Seat at the Table dinners are brave spaces,” says their website. “They are meant to be challenging, and this might mean owning up to a hard truth or speaking your truth when it’s scary.

Lewis says that the inaugural dinner has reached capacity for this month, but the group is taking requests for participation at the March dinner now.

Website: thetreehouseinstitute.org

SAFER SPACE PORTLAND COMMITTEE

Echoing movements in other major cities across the country, a group of local business owners, workers, designers, and activists have spearheaded an effort to create “safer space” signage for commercial spaces in the city, signaling values and expectations to customers and citizens and designating zones of zero tolerance for harassment and abuse.

“The goal is to make our businesses safer spaces for marginalized people here in Portland,” writes Laura Ker, proprietor of Find clothing store in Portland and co-founder of the committee (along with artist Sally Struever and Dave Aceto).

“Immigrants, Muslims, LGBTQ folks, black folks, and others are hearing from Washington ‘you’re not welcome.’ We are here to say ‘you are welcome here’ and not have it be an empty promise.’"

The group has met periodically since November and has been consulting with organizer Marena Blanchard of the ACLU of Maine. They also seek to provide training for area workers to defuse and de-escalate situations. They’re still hammering out specific language, but hope to have signage available soon.

STEAL THIS PRINT

A free online database of original anti-Trump art available to download, Steal This Print has international appeal despite its relatively humble local origins as an idea hatched by two entrenched Maine artists, printmaker David Wolfe and painter Charlie Hewitt.

With more than 40 high-resolution images available for free on the site, Steal This Print aims to be a valuable resource for those looking for originality and humor in their Trump-bashing.

Website: stealthisprint.com

PORTLAND STREET CHOIR

Protest songs can have awkward cadences, odd rhymes, and tired or vague messaging. But If you’ve spent any time at them, you’ve witnessed the capacity of music at keeping large swaths of protestors active and engaged.

Enter the Portland Street Choir. Forming in December, the Portland Street Choir leads music and song at protests, demonstrations, and marches around the state. And they’ve been busy! The Street Choir meets for rehearsals once a month, and has added color and song to last week’s Rally to Support Planned Parenthood, the Rally Against the Muslim Ban earlier this month, and, of course, the Women’s March.

Website: facebook.com/portlandstreetchoir

MAINERS FOR ACCOUNTABLE LEADERSHIP

Emerging days after the election, Mainers for Accountable Leadership acts as an organizational liaison between on-the-ground activists and elected officials. With representatives’ voicemails routinely full during the confirmation hearings of Trump’s cabinet picks, the need for this sort of work would seem particularly important.

“Our rallies are First Amendment events,” writes co-founder Mary Follayttar Smith in an email to The Phoenix. “Mainers are rising up and calling on [Sen. Susan] Collins to come home to a town hall [meeting], asking her to listen to the Mainers she is out of touch with and to answer her phone.”

The group set simple, commonsense goals reducing the barriers of civic engagement and amplifying its signals.

“We expect them to increase the capacity of their voicemails so the over one million Mainers of voting age can participate. To publish who they meet with — what lobby, what group of constituents. To publish their Town Hall and public meeting schedules, and to make public their statements on critical votes, outlining the rationale, criteria, and filters and [explain] how the vote is a vote for Maine.”

Launched by Smith and co-founders April Humphrey and Dini Merz, the group is a young, volunteer-run PAC with no communications director or fundraiser. Smith says they could use all hands on deck for their efforts.

MFAL is hosting three open-air town halls on February 22 at 12:30 p.m., outside MPBN locations in Portland, Lewiston, and Bangor. Smith says they’ve raised $3000, which they intend to use on infrastructure, website construction, contact management and advertising.

Website: https://www.facebook.com/mainersforaccountableleadership/

 

DENA’S DAILY ACTION


Want your political engagement a little simpler? Something that doesn’t make your Google calendar look like a de Kooning painting? Try something like this daily activism reminder run by a millennial-aged Portland mom.

“Dena’s Daily Action” is a simple, original piece of content sent as a text message to your phone, with short, sweet, and specific instructions on a piece of progressive action you could perform that day. They’re not exactly memes, but they’re not far off, and there’s a lovely juxtaposition between the seriousness of the action and the image itself. On Valentine’s Day, a piece titled “We Love Ethics” included a script for how to call your rep about the Presidential Tax Transparency bill and Trump’s conflicts of interest arrives mounted over a photo of one of Dena's kids being playful and adorable.

As of right now, Dena’s restricting her service to friends and acquaintances. But it’s a model you could easily start on your own. 

SUIT UP MAINE ACTION NETWORK

A fairly massive left-liberal affinity feed on Facebook, this closed private group publicizes events across the spectrum of Maine-based resistance — super valuable for those outside of Portland — and spans overtly political functions like meetings by the Socialist Party of Eastern Maine to cultural events like an International Women’s Day Fashion Show.

UNIFIED L/A

Those north of Portland may have to look a little harder for resistance efforts, but this Lewiston-based progressive committee takes the shape of a town hall-style meeting. They’ve been giving action trainings to locals about how to call representatives, organize effectively, learn about Trump’s immigration and travel bans, and share resources, including crucial information for Lewiston’s sizable immigrant population.

Unified L/A is most active as an in-person meet-up group, but maintain a private group page on Facebook for keeping up with events and minutes.

MAINE RESISTS (BONUS!)

Less a singular organization than a catch-all events calendar for progressive events, this volunteer-run, easy-access look-ahead has progressive events posted through April, spanning areas from Bangor to Boston.

Website: maineresists.org

SIDEBAR

One of the hazards of political moments like these is forgetting about the work people have been doing since long before Trump won the election.

Maine Women’s Lobby

With a Trump administration more hostile to women’s civil and reproductive rights than any time since WWII, the work of the Maine Women’s Lobby may be more vital than anytime since its inception in 1978. Website: mainewomen.org

Showing Up For Racial Justice (SURJ)

A national anti-racist education and training group for white people to “do their homework,” focusing on issues of justice, equity, and accountability through an intersectional lens that includes struggles for indigenous rights, LGBTQ folks, and disabled people, the Greater Portland chapter of SURJ hosts meetings every other Wednesday. Though people of color are most certainly welcome, the organizers make efforts to ensure “there is no obligation to engage in the emotional labor of educating white folks unless you would like to.” Website: facebook.com/greaterportlandSURJ

Sock Monkey-Making Workshop

Political work comes in all shapes and sizes, and our inclusion of Maggie Muth’s sock monkey-making workshop, which she started back in the Bush era, serves as a reminder that allowing for creativity and silly, simple play can often serve as the stepping stone and social fabric that leads to more avowedly political work. Website: mayostreetarts.org

  • Published in Features

Collins Keeps Moderate Image as Billionaire DeVos Appointed to Secretary of Education

Collins Keeps Moderate Image as Billionaire DeVos Appointed to Secretary of Education

On Tuesday, the U.S. Senate confirmed billionaire Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education. The private- and charter-school advocate snuck in with a 50-50 vote after two GOP Senators —Collins and Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski — voted not to confirm. A tie-breaking vote went to Vice President Mike Pence.

Donald Trump’s nomination of DeVos received unprecedented opposition from U.S. constituents.

While some in Maine applauded Collins for her vote not to confirm the Texas-based businesswoman, many denounced the defection as a bit of political theater, alleging that the Senator would only vote not to confirm once she knew DeVos had requisite support for confirmation from the rest of the Senate.

“She has the votes and will be confirmed,” said an unnamed senior GOP aide in a report by Politico, a week before the vote.

While voting not to confirm DeVos in the full Senate February 7, Collins supported DeVos as part of the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, which decided 12-11 in favor of DeVos on January 31.

In their support in the committee, Collins and Murkowski both cited an intention not to obstruct the full Senate from expressing its opinion. Said Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), Collins was “being consistent” in upholding the power of the Senate to enact its vote despite personally opposing DeVos’s nomination.

In a story published by the Portland Press Herald last weekend, journalist (and former Phoenician) Colin Woodard reported that Collins is one of the country’s most popular senators, despite a reputation for her quizzical, almost contradictory voting record.

As reported by the Press Herald: “Senator Collins will at times vote to proceed to legislation that she may oppose because she believes that it should be the pending business of the Senate,” says her spokeswoman, Annie Clark. “Sometimes she is supporting alternative legislation, and proceeding … is the best way to get an alternative amendment considered.”

Collins’s vote against DeVos gives the impression of moderation that props up support in her constituency, but many constituents aren’t buying it. As Woodard reported, a vote tracker set up by the data journalism site FiveThirtyEight marks that Collins has voted with party lines 9 of 11 times, making her one of the most willing to break with her party. But many say her dissenting votes are strategic, and could be political gamesmanship helping her support in a predominately liberal state.

Additionally, Collins is not without a history of obstructionism when it fits party lines. In 2011, Collins filibustered with GOP Senators in an effort to block President Obama’s nominations of Caitlin Halligan to the U.S. Court of Appeals. Also in 2011, Collins sided with filibustering GOP Senators blocking the appointment of Goodwin Liu to a federal appeal court.

And she also has a history of voting against her party when the vote doesn’t matter. In 2011, the Senate voted against climate change regulations that would limit carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants, but the resolution was defeated 52-46. Collins was among few GOP senators to vote in favor of regulations.

Despite her confirmation Tuesday, DeVos has arguably been the most contested cabinet appointment in history. In a report Tuesday by the website Mother Jones, Heidi Hess, a campaign worker for the mobile political platform CREDO, told NPR this week that DeVos triggered 1.5 million petition signees in opposition, and at least 30,000 phone calls. Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) tweeted last week that the days leading up to her confirmation were “the busiest in Capitol switchboard history” by “almost double.”

South Portland Passes Anti-Hate Speech Resolution

In a city hall meeting Tuesday night, the South Portland City Council passed a resolution “condemning violence and hate speech and expressing solidarity with Muslims and all those targeted for their ethnicity, race or religion.”

The resolution 1) Condemns all hateful speech and violent action directed at Muslims, those perceived to be Muslims, asylum seekers, and immigrants; 2) Categorically rejects political tactics that use fear to manipulate voters or to gain power and influence; 3) Reaffirms the value of a pluralistic society, the beauty of an American culture influenced by multiple cultures, and the inalienable right of every person to live and practice their faith without fear, and; 4) Commits to upholding a policy that affirms civil and human rights, and ensures that those targeted on the basis of race, religion, or immigration status can turn the government without fear of recrimination.

While the resolution serves as a statement of solidarity, it effects no substantive policy change in the city’s bylaws. Some, however, believe it could serve as a foundation for South Portland’s eventual designation as a sanctuary city. An estimated 7 percent of South Portland residents were born outside the U.S.

Portland City Councilor Pious Ali told The Phoenix that the Portland City Council is looking at talking about a similar resolution at an executive session “soon.”

Fort Sumner Park to Stay Beautiful?

It’s not official yet, but efforts to prevent views from Munjoy Hill’s Fort Sumner Park from being obstructed seem to be rewarded soon.

Working with a group calling themselves Friends of Fort Sumner Park, which formed last summer to prevent development from building at heights that would obstruct views from the park on North Street, the Portland planning board voted unanimously last month to recommend establishing an absolute height limit (160.27 feet above sea level) for new developments.

A future vote is slated for February 22.

Post-Victory, Pats Stars Refuse Visit With Trump

After Sunday’s dramatic come-from-behind victory over the Atlanta Falcons, two New England Patriots players have told the press that they intend to skip the traditional post-victory visit to the White House.

Patriots tight end Martellus Bennett and safety Devin McCourty, both of whom are black, each intend to skip the ceremonial visit with the president, reported Mic.com’s Zak Cheney-Rice this week.

“I’m not going to the White House,” McCourty told Time in a text message this week. “Basic reason for me is I don’t feel accepted in the White House. With the president having so many strong opinions and prejudices I believe certain people might feel accepted there while others won’t.”

Bennett and McCourty’s statement adds contrast to the team’s high-profile supporters of President Trump. Owner Robert Kraft, Head Coach Bill Belichick, and MVP quarterback Tom Brady have each expressed support for Trump in the past year.

8 Days a Week: LSD Lessons, Ladies' Health Rallies, and Letter-Writing Parties

THURSDAY 9

MADCAP THEATER | The actor and writer Brent Askari has spent the last several years carving out a status as one of the best character actors in Portland — truly, if only there were awards for such a thing. One wonders, however, that the distinction might overshadow his considerable talents as a playwright. His original comedy Digby’s Home drew strong praise in its production last year, and his award-winning madcap play Cocktails and Travails is featured this weekend at the Theatre Project in Brunswick. Thursday at 7:30 pm; Friday and Saturday at 8 pm; and Sunday at 2. | $20 (or pay-what-you-want)| Theatre Project, 14 School St., Brunswick | theatreproject.com

 

DRUG TEST | In modern American societies, stress and pain are consistently taboo subjects. Everyone surely has a complex personal experience of them, yet discussions are hard to embark upon. Maybe this is how you should approach this evening’s talk by Ayelet Waldman, the Israeli-American author whose books take unique, accessible approaches to the subjects of mood disorder, harm reduction, and alternative therapy. Her new one, titled A Really Good Day: How Microdosing Made a Mega Difference in My Mood, My Marriage, and My Life, describes her experiences using microdoses of LSD to combat psychic pain, drawing upon literary and cultural histories of the drug from Lewis Carroll to the utopian 60s. Wild fact: Waldman is married to the novelist Michael Chabon. Don’t expect a dry science lecture. 7 pm | Print: A Bookstore, 273 Congress St., Portland | printbookstore.com

 

FAKE YOUR OWN NEWS | According to a New York Times story published last weekend, President Trump spends most of his time sitting around in a bathrobe watching cable news reports about the ineptitudes of his administration, cloistered and muttering. Don’t be that guy! Protests against the regime are sustained and social phenomenon, in Portland and everywhere. Tonight, the University of Southern Maine’s Women and Gender Studies offer a follow-up for those who attended the Women’s March. Titled “We Won’t Go Back,” it collects reports from that day among other protests since Inauguration Day. 7 pm | University of Southern Maine, Wishcamper Center Room 102, Bedford St., Portland

 

FRIDAY 10

DANCE CLOSE | It’s occasionally worth not forgetting that beneath the contortions and disfigurations of Valentine’s Day in late capitalism, there’s an underlying idea worth affirming. Winter’s harsh glare can turn even the supplest love to bone, and mid-February’s a fine checkpoint for couples to melt it down again. Do whatever Tuesday you want; but for our money, tonight’s show by El Malo in the dark and stormy jazz club Blue gets at the intimacy of physicality and play more than a nifty New American dinner. 10 p.m. | one-drink-minimum | Blue, 650A Congress St., Portland | portcityblue.com

 

SHORT BURSTS | The New England winters are often best used to catch up on the cultural events and phenomena from the past year that we might have missed. Though we’re certain you’ve not fully digested the Top 50 album lists from Tiny Mix Tapes and Stereogum or whatever you’re into, we imagine you’ve fooled around with the feature-length Oscar-noms by now. Moonlight, La La Land, etc. Well, here are the shorts, a tidy assembly of both live-action and animated films from around the country. Both Oscar-Nominated Live Action and Animated Shorts are collected as separate, full-length visual stews. Plan, and you’ll have plenty of chances to see both, as they screen at Portland’s SPACE Gallery and Brunswick’s Frontier all week. 8 p.m. | $8 | SPACE Gallery, 538 Congress St., Portland | space538.org | Frontier Café, 14 Maine St., Portland | explorefrontier.com

 

DOWNWARD GROG | We’ve heard tales of yoga sessions in expansive warehouse breweries, but not yet so in restaurant tasting rooms. Until now. The still-new Foulmouthed Brewery in South Portland is a straight-up rad spot, with chill vibes, solid design, and interesting lighting. They offer their spot for a yoga session tonight and every Friday, where afterward you can mingle and drink beer along with your electrolytes. 5:30 p.m. | $15 | Foulmouthed Brewery, 15 Ocean Street, South Portland | foulmouthedbrewing.com

 

EVERYTHING IS POLITICAL, BRO | After four students of color were the victims of a hate crime in Portland two weeks ago, threatened on the side of the road by a man using racial slurs and brandishing a screwdriver, Casco Bay High School Superintendent Xavier Botana wrote a powerful open letter in their defense. He’s now being attacked by the Maine Republican Party, whose head, Jason Savage, claims Botana has “politicized” the event on the taxpayer’s dime. Tonight at City Hall, a group “Stands in Solidarity with Our Superintendent” — if nothing else, it’s a lesson on the shifting definitions of “political” and “free speech.” 4:30 pm | City Hall, 389 Congress St., Portland

 

SING OUT | “Are you opera curious?” ask a group of Portlanders who newly stumbled upon the lovely idea of pairing beer with opera singing. The baritone Robert Mellon performs a series of arias at the Bissell Brothers tasting room. Free; donations support PORTopera. 5:30 pm | Bissell Brothers, 4 Thompson’s Point, Portland | bissellbrothers.com

 

SATURDAY 11

 

MAKE YOURSELF LAUGH | A modern, lightly political comedy, Molly Smith Metzler’s play The May Queen follows a high school darling through her mysterious and adventurous adulthood, fending off questions and concerns from authoritative figures — often male — throughout. Directed by Brian Allen and starring Rob Cameron, Thomas Campbell, Laura Houck, Abbie Killeen, and Hannah Elizabeth Perry. A Maine premiere running through February 26, see it today at 3 or 7:30 pm | $22-30 | St. Lawrence Arts Center, 76 Congress St., Portland | goodtheater.com

 

INVITE YOURSELF | Once considered pure novelty, the Portland dance troupe Vivid Motion have hung around long enough to achieve institutional status. If you’re among the many who have seen their Nutcracker Burlesque and thought, damn, that looks fun, spend some hours this morning wrestling with the possibility of auditioning for their next production, The Hunchback of Notre Dame. They’re body-positive, so don’t try to pull any weird self-flagellation excuses. 10 a.m. | Dana Warp Mill, 90 Bridge St., Westbrook | vividmotion.org

 

LAWS OF THE BODY | How do you feel about a world where rallies and protests make up a sizable chunk of the city’s social events? Because that’s the one we’re in. A massive rally in support of Planned Parenthood, whose fight is about to get quite real, goes down today at noon. Organizers for this have taken steps to present this as an intersectional feminist event, with positions of solidarity for those fighting for racial and LGBTQ civil rights along with women’s reproductive rights. Noon | City Hall, 389 Congress St., Portland

 

Painting group

KEEP UP WITH ART | Portland is running out of its outskirts galleries, the ones that show great contemporary art on the peripheries of the city, and of the fashion. The political reasons for that we won’t go into, but it’s more vital than ever that contemporary artists get support. If the last month has been too much a mess of distractions for you to check in, make an effort tonight to observe the “7 Maine Abstract Painters,” a collection of artists curated by the MECA professor and fantastic painter Michel Droge through the art school’s continuing studies program. With works by Emily Blaschke, Jenny Campbell, Alicia Ines Etheridge, Celeste June Henriquez, Doreen Nardone, Brenda Overstrom, and Donald M. Peterson, it closes tonight with a reception and discussion with the artists. 5-8 pm | Zero Station, 222 Anderson St., Portland   

 

DANCE YR VALUES | Speak About It, a vital organization teaching consent, health, and inclusive sex-education for young people, help cut the tensions of the week with a massive ’90s dance party at Oxbow tonight, with proceeds directly supporting Planned Parenthood. 8 pm | Oxbow Blending and Bottling, 49 Washington Ave., Portland | speakaboutitonline.com

 

SUNDAY 12

 Brand New Testament2

GOD IS AN IDIOT | Movie day, my dudes. Portland Museum of Art’s fine film series screens The Brand New Testament, a tongue-in-cheek feminist comedy that takes as its premise the existence of God: a scruffy white guy who lives in a high-rise apartment in Brussels, never taking off his pajamas. Fed up with the torment of living with his bored and insipid cruelty, his daughter Ea hacks onto his computer and releases sensitive information to his vast and unsuspecting subjects. Screening Friday at 2 and 6:30 pm; and Saturday and Sunday at 2 pm. | $8 | Portland Museum of Art, 7 Congress Sq., Portland | portlandmuseum.org

 

LOVE IS COMPLICATED | You know what? A spirited production of Romeo and Juliet is fitting for the season, and might just be the thing to stuff your heart with love. Obvious reasons! This one’s got the work of solid theater people all over it, including the smart directorial eye of Stacey Koloski. The quintessential impossible love story is in its final weekend at the proscenium stage of Portland Players in South Portland. Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m.; Sunday at 2. | $20 | Portland Players, 420 Cottage Rd., South Portland | portlandplayers.org

 

MONDAY 13

POP LIFE | The dance-pop band Strfkr — say it with me now — play Port City Music Hall tonight, on tour from Portland, Oregon on the strength of their new album, Being No One, Going Nowhere, released last fall on Polyvinyl Records, which once brought the groups American Football and Braid into your life. Be apprised that bandleader Joshua Hodges, back in 2007, named his project what he did as a joke, and it stuck. Perhaps the whole world is a joke that stuck. They play at 9 p.m. | $17 | Port City Music Hall, 504 Congress St., Portland | portcitymusichall.com

 

TUESDAY 14

GET EPISTOLARY | The nascent group Get Ready Weekly hosts a Valentine’s Day letter-writing party, that also doubles as a write-your-Senator party, at Oxbow (49 Washington Ave.) tonight. Meanwhile, the local content production firm Knack Factory stands up for the ACLU, hosting a “Libations for Liberty” cocktail party and donating its proceeds to the vital civic institution. 7-10 pm | 24 Free St., Portland | knackfactory.com

 

WEDNESDAY 15

YOUR WORLD | If you keep up with modern music, you may already be familiar with the degree to which the London artist Sinkane, the performing alias of Ahmed Gallab, has owned Portland crowds before. With his band’s infectious blend of jazz, afro-pop, krautrock, funk, and Sudanese pop, Sinkane is on tour in support of the new album Life & Livin’ It — inspired, he says, by Funkadelic’s America Eats Its Young. All in all, it’s a pretty surefire bet for a transcendent show — particularly when paired with the captivating Providence-based songwriter Mal Devisa and local DJ Mosart212. Go. | $12 adv, $15 day of | SPACE Gallery, 538 Congress St. | space538.org

 

THURSDAY 16

FOCUS | Next week’s highlights include an inclusive variety show at SPACE Gallery, the Boston-based songwriter Will Dailey at the Music Hall in Portsmouth, and the funk group Shut Down Brown return to Portland to play P.H.O.M.E. Stay healthy.

Portland Food Council Celebrates Launch, Offers Plan for Sustainable Food Systems

The Portland Food Council celebrated its official launch this week, giving a presentation which included a blueprint for a dynamic local food system that involves urban agriculture and sustainability practices.

The reception marked an evolution of the Council since its original inception in 2012 as the Mayor's Initiative for a Healthy and Sustainable Food System, which launched by then-Mayor Michael Brennan out of ideas from a community food forum, which included Jonah Fertig of MOFGA, Tim Fuller of the city's Healthy Portland program, Lisa Fernandes of Bayside permaculture organization the Resilience Hub, and Jeremy Bloom, who runs the website Internet Farmer.

The present-day Food Council will endeavor to clear access for the sourcing of "healthy, local, and sustainably produced foods by Portland institutions and public schools."

“The Council will bring together community members, food producers and businesses, and city government to create values-based food policies,” said Meghan Quinn, Board Chair of the Food Council.

The Portland Food Council will be informed by numerous models around the country, writes Quinn in an email to the Phoenix; in particular, the Urban Agriculture and Food Policy Plan in Las Cruces, New Mexico. Some of the methods there include shared-use kitchens and urban farm incubators. In recent years, some of the ideas of the Portland Food Council have included "goat mowing" initiatives, community gardens, and public orchards. 

The Food Council has a 15-member Board, including representatives from Maine Farmland Trust, Maine Food Strategy, Maine Farm and Sea Cooperative, Maine Coast Fishermen's Association, Cumberland County Food Security Council, Fork Food Lab, Forager App, Cultivating Community, UMaine Cooperative Extension, Sodexo, Rosemont Market, Portland Food Co-Op, and the Wayside Food Program. 

"The Portland Food Council is the community's voice and connection to the city," writes Quinn. "It will bring together the community; city government; and the private sector to create values-based policy to foster a healthy, sustainable, and resilient food system for Portland." 

“It’s vital for organizations like this to help government move forward with policy in our community,” said Portland Mayor Ethan Strimling. “By bringing together diverse stakeholders, the Portland Food Council will have a unique ability to develop recommendations for the city.”

With its board in place, the Food Council is essentially a container for a community volunteer effort. The group encourages those interested in volunteering to join the next Council meeting, and help craft and implement its design, on March 15 from 4–5:30 at City Hall in Portland. 

8 Days a Week: Playing Rough, Standing Up, and Fighting the Fight

THURSDAY 2

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

 

FRIDAY 3

 

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

 

SATURDAY 4

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

 Aziz side head Yuval Photo By KansasStateUniversity

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

 

SUNDAY 5

Arsenic and Old Lace PSC FPM7262 

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

 

MONDAY 6

 

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 

 

TUESDAY 7

 

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

 

WEDNESDAY 8

 

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 

 

THURSDAY 9

 

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

"Move That Way!" Mainers Share Lessons from the Women's March

Last weekend, the collective strength of the Women’s March resulted in the largest mass protest in U.S. history. While the movement’s massive scale was inspiring — an estimated 5 million people worldwide, and 500,000 in the nation’s capital — it offered important lessons in intersectionality and inclusion of political resistance going forward.

As the activist and scholar Keeanga Yamahtta-Taylor wrote in In These Times this week:

“The United States has just experienced a corporate hijacking. If Donald Trump’s inaugural speech did not alert you to the fact that they intend to come after all of us, then you are not paying attention.

The scale of the attack is as deep as it is wide, and this means that we will need a mass movement to confront it. To organize such a movement necessarily means that it will involve the previously uninitiated — those who are new to activism and organizing. We have to welcome those people and stop the arrogant and moralistic chastising of anyone who is not ‘woke.’”

Among the many narratives emerging after the march — and the Trump administration’s fascist-leaning first days in office — two seemingly contrary ones stand out. Today’s resistance movement will need to make space and practice compassion for people with middle-of-the-road politics and privileged identities. And those middle-of-the-road types need to cede the floor and the design to marginalized people and those on the left.

Recognizing these complexities, we asked Mainers who participated in the protest, in Washington D.C. and Augusta, to share their stories and sentiments. (Note: Their inclusion here should not be read as commentary on their degree of wokeness.)

To start, we’re publishing a response from Sherri Mitchell, a civil rights lawyer and Penobscot leader who attended the march in Augusta, at length.

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Saturday was a very important day for many reasons.

It demonstrated the power of the people, which is the heart of true democracy. It also demonstrated the strong commitment that the people of this country have to social justice. Last weekend’s marches were about promoting unity, acceptance, justice, progress, and love. I am incredibly inspired by the marches that erupted here, and across the planet today. They sent a strong message — love and unity can change the world. I hope that this is only the first step in a broad-scale movement that will bring us all closer to the world that we most want to inhabit.

Here in Maine, there were marches across the state. I chose to participate in the march that took place in the state’s capital, with 10,000 other beautiful and caring souls. My day began with about 100 of those people, on the side of the road, in prayer. Then, we marched together to join the larger group.

I had serious concerns about attending, due to questions that I had around the organizing of the event. Though I am very glad that I went, my concerns were not allayed by my attendance. In fact, they were affirmed. We have a lot of hard work to do.

Each one of the speakers was articulate and powerful, and I honor their presence, the stories that they each carried, and the words that they shared.

However, I was also struck by the fact that on a panel of eight women, there were six white women, one black woman, who spoke eloquently about immigrant issues, and one native woman, who spoke beautifully on behalf of the water and the need to protect Mother Earth. When the organizers were approached to add another Native woman, to speak about social justice and the need for unifying our movements, they said “but, we already have a native speaker,” as though having two would be redundant — if you hear from one native you’ve heard from them all, right? The suggestion of one of the organizers when faced with the dilemma of adding another native speaker was to either replace the current native speaker or split her time, which I found to be incredibly insulting and a diminishment of the voice of the woman already scheduled. I don’t know what the conversation sounded like regarding the one black woman on the panel, but I do know that I felt the glaring absence of the voice of other black women who have been immersed in their own struggles on the streets of this country for generations. Which begs the question, do black lives matter here in Maine?

My perception, which may be clouded by my own life experience, is that the six white women were allowed to give voice to a broad spectrum of issues, while the women of color were reduced to singular representation of their group — this is tokenism.

There are women of color that represent every one of the issues presented today. Women that have been deeply engaged in the ongoing struggles being faced here for generations. These women have varied areas of expertise and life experiences, differing ideologies and world views. They have opinions on reproductive health, social justice, women’s rights, the environment, and LGBTQ issues. And, they're not hard to find.

If we fail to recognize that these women are living examples of intersectionality, then we will never be able to address the complexities of intersectionality within our movements. We must be able to look at each other more deeply, and challenge ourselves to see beyond the blind spots in our own vision. We cannot allow the images from this movement to be replicas of the status quo. If we truly want to create a movement that represents us all then the public representations of our movement must be reflective of that intent. There is no reason that this panel of eight could not have been comprised of two white women, two black women, two native women, and two immigrant women. Surely, there are sufficient representatives among those populations to elegantly give voice to all the issues covered, while also providing the movement with a more inclusive face.

If we truly want to create change, we are going to have to get really honest with ourselves about the ways we are preventing that change from happening. And we are going to have to have the courage to face those issues and get to work addressing them.

It’s something to think about as we move forward.

Sherri Mitchell, TK

____

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From Washington, D.C.

One of the most powerful moments of the weekend occurred late Saturday night, after the Women’s March. My sister-in-law and I stopped at a bodega/diner to purchase water and use the restroom. On my way to the restroom, I encountered three women eating dinner together. They stopped me, thanked me for protesting, and asked me to take a photograph with them. One woman made a joke that one of the other women couldn’t be in the photo. I asked why. They replied that she was a Trump supporter and had voted for him. I invited her to join the picture, which she did. I then sat down with them briefly and tried to speak with her respectfully and calmly, asking her for her perspective and focusing on responding to her statements with more questions rather than with my own opinions. For a few brief moments, we had a real conversation. And though there were definitely some pitfalls, and I wish it had lasted longer, I left convinced more than ever that individual human interaction and open dialogue are the only real way through this national divide. I was encouraged that these three women were still friends eating dinner together in a diner despite their differences. I left determined to have more such conversations when I returned home to the 2nd District of Maine, where I have friends who have many different viewpoints. And I strongly encourage my fellow Mainers to welcome any opportunities they may have to come together despite opposing beliefs and to try to really listen to one another.

_ Julie Bouwsma, poet/editor, New Portland

An hour and a half it was set to start, it seemed clear the crowd was too big to actually march. I’m not going to lie — it was scary to think we were stuck in the middle of half million people with no way out. We weren’t given updates we could hear and no one knew what we were supposed to do. But then, the most amazing thing happened that really was a testament to what we were all there for — to help each other move forward in situations that are scary. There were crowds of people standing on top of port-a-potties who could see how far back the crowd on each avenue went, and saw the best option for how we could all get out. They let us know, and in unison we all started chanting “Move that way! Move that way!” pointing in the direction we needed the crowd to move. Within five minutes, the crowd started to move. And then we marched, not toward a single meeting point, but toward where we all needed to go to move forward. That was a pretty incredible moment.

_ Kate MacPherson, Yarmouth

The auditory quality of the mass of people was the first thing to strike me. Even during relative quiet, there was a dense murmur that felt like wearing headphones playing crowd noise, interrupted by waves of cheers originating hundreds of yards away. What left the deepest impression on me, though, was those marching despite probable physical discomfort; elderly folks, people using canes or walkers, who were likely on their feet for hours. I’m sure there were many marching despite emotional discomfort too, due to the intensity of the crowd, or for POC, the inevitable racial ignorance within a population that seemed only slightly less white than Portland. 

_Eric Spalding

I got there at 5:30 am Saturday and the subway was already full. Next stop was the Hirshhorn Museum to meet hundreds of Mainers gathering for the rally. Our unifying chants of “Dirigo” were met with puzzled looks. Our group ended up on a side street, unable to hear or see much of the speeches or music, but somehow that didn’t matter. We stood together for five hours, chanting and, when cell service was available, listening huddled over phones broadcasting the event via C-Span radio. No matter how uncomfortable people were, or how jostled, they were cheerful and polite, calm and smiling. Rumors started circulating about the march being cancelled, and it was impossible to confirm one way or the other because of poor cell service and our inability to hear whatever they might be telling people from the stage. People began to make their way to the National Mall, where it became clear that there was going to be a march no matter what. This was ultimately my favorite part of the day — watching the rivers of people stream by with signs, flags and costumes. Dance parties sprung up. 30-foot inflatable globes marched by. Brass bands played. I led chants and talked with people from all over the country, admiring the beauty and force of the crowd. Just as we started to head back to the Metro, another spectacle headed our way down Madison. Women on stilts and large puppets, followed by more large puppets and signs. It was the famous Bread and Puppet from Vermont. At every turn, we were greeted by people and positive energy and powerful messages of resistance. I am so grateful to have been a part of this beautiful, imperfect, awe-inspiring, exhausting day.

_ Sally Streuver, artist/organizer, Portland

It’s hard to put into words the transformative experience this weekend was. I have found myself speechless, moved, and teary-eyed more than once. After returning from the march, I had the courage to share parts of myself and my past with the people closest to me. I shared with them this weekend what I am moved to share on this platform now: I am a survivor of sexual assault. Organizing for this march as a member of the International Socialist Organization has given me the confidence to own this aspect of my identity, and match tragedy with solidarity and oppression with resistance.

I was the lead organizer for our Maine contingent. Once arrived, we were met by comrades far and wide who embraced us in tears, in chants of solidarity, in love, and marched with us against our oppressors. For me, this was my march of resistance against my attackers. To make that march with nearly five million people worldwide alongside me in that fight, pledged to fight back against sexual violence, forever changed the way I see myself and the world around me. I can now say with confidence that I am here, I am not going anywhere, and I believe that we will win.

_ Caitrin Smith, organizer, International Socialist Organization, Portland

Women's March Solidarity Ripples Through Maine

What began as a singular protest and coalesced into a massive movement nationally, internationally, and statewide, the Women's March on Washington will mark the first day of Donald Trump's presidency.

At 10 a.m. Saturday, January 21, ralliers will begin to collect in D.C., in solidarity with a national citizens' movement for human rights. And as of Tuesday afternoon, 616 sister marches have been registered worldwide, occurring in all 50 states and 61 countries (a spokesperson from Women's March Global told us there were 44 countries involved, though 61 are listed on the organization's website). 

At least six of those occur in Maine — in Portland, Augusta, Brunswick, Sanford, Kennebunk, Surry, and Fort Kent (with rumors of other gatherings in Brunswick and Eastport). Organizers at the state level say that 50 women at the state level have been organizing, acting as bus captains, captaining, and stewards for getting folks down to the capitol, but those staying local have plenty ways to express their solidarity with the movement.

Earlier this week, the Women's March on Washington released a mission statement attesting to a worldwide vision of women's rights values. The core principles are reprinted here:

  • Health — Health care is the foundation of women’s well-being and economic stability. Women’s March Global advocates for access to affordable and inclusive women’s health care regardless of nationality, age, race or ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation or disability.
  • Economic Security — Women are powerful drivers of economic growth, and their economic empowerment benefits all nations. Women’s March Global supports the dismantling of economic barriers that obstruct women’s full and equal access to local, national, and global economic systems.
  • Representation — Women are under-represented globally, adversely affecting our collective health, safety, and economic security. Women’s March Global seeks fair and just representation of women locally, nationally, and internationally.
  • Safety — Every woman has the need and right to feel physically secure, and security for women should be assured through sound legal practices. Women’s March Global stands behind the principle that women are not to be held accountable for actions that are outside their control — particularly regarding all forms of assault — and that fair legal action must be applied to prevent these crimes.

Genevieve Morgan has been acting as the Maine state administrator of the national Women's March organization, and is serving as the official liaison between the national effort and its Maine arm. 

"As a massive and diverse group," Morgan says, "The WMW statement is a beautiful document that encompasses the desire for a truly enlightened society for all people, regardless of race, religion, gender, sexual status or identity, immigrant status, or physical ability."

In Portland, a local effort begins with a 1.5-mile walk beginning on Congress Street and the Eastern Promenade on Munjoy Hill. 
"We are in complete solidarity with marches in Washington and Augusta," says local organizer Kathryn Yates, who, like Morgan, counts her activist status as a direct product of the election. 
"For me, there are three components. There's the organization of the physical event. The philosophical piece — showing up for what you believe. That's very personal. And the third piece is the most important," she says. "And that's: What are you gonna do on the 22nd?"
As Trump's administration has promised an "active" first few weeks, activists and supporters of the movement echo that energy from Saturday's rally will result in sustained efforts as well.
"On both a state and national level," says Morgan. "We hope to continue to encourage the outflow of positive and enthusiastic energy from the folks who are participating in the marches.
Managing 11 regional hubs in the state, Morgan says she has been working tirelessly to help get marchers down to D.C. An artist and writer, she says she has never organized on such a massive scale before the election — a status she recognizes in many of the movement's participants.
"Our grass-roots network will continue to serve as a database and hub for people who want to stay engaged (or get engaged) with local campaigns and politics," she says. "We hope to support our people who choose to run for office, and to back up those already in office who understand our message and work to represent us. Most of all, we will serve as a massive cohort that will be vigilant when rights are trampled and backdoor deals are made that undermine the health and safety and welfare of we, the people. We will lean on each other when we get tired, and we will lift each other up when we fall, but we will not be silent, and we will not go away. I am personally dedicated to changing things up on the state level in 2018."
"One of my favorite things about the Women's Walk [in Portland] is the positivity," says Lauren C. Anderson, a consultant and organizer with Empower the Immigrant Woman who has worked alongside Yates to assist the Portland. "A lot of components of the media talking about it as an anti-Trump event. It's not, really. It's a pro- event," she says, pointing to the movement's direct, positivist principles and demands.
"That's even true of the national march. We encourage people to be positive."
As the Women's March has grown in support, one of its chief concerns has been the attempts to define its inclusivity and intersectionality. (Organizers do, of course, welcome and encourage participation from men.) While the mission language speaks in broad strokes, its efforts have grown from advocating for health-care coverage and reproductive rights, and the continued funding of Planned Parenthood, to more expansive aims, like stricter gun laws.
On the other side, some have criticized it as a movement of privilege. "I didn’t want to be part of the march if it was going to be a white-woman kumbaya march,” said Jo Ann Hardesty, president of the NAACP chapter of Portland, Oregon, which pulled out of its support of the city's march earlier this month.
Activists for the Portland group say they have addressed this concern. "We've done a lot of intentional outreach. People have said back to me that there's a perception in the new Mainer community that it's a white woman's thing," Anderson says, something organizers have attempted to address at the city level.
 
"We are talking about things that impact all of us," says Anderson, adding that Saturday's walk in Portland will include an address by Ridelphine Katabesha, a human rights lawyer from DR Congo.
MAINE SISTER MARCHES:
Portland | 10:30 a.m. | Eastern Promenade
Augusta | 10 a.m. | 111 Sewell St., Augusta
Fort Kent | 9 a.m. | Century Theater, 13 Hall St., Fort Kent
Surry | 10:30 a.m. | 1208 Surry Rd, Surry
Kennebunk | 10:30 a.m. | Main St. (near Town Hall), Kennebunk
Sanford | 10 a.m. | Main St., Sanford

8 Days a Week: Anti-Inaugurations, Counter-Inaugurations, and Other-Inaugurations

THURSDAY 19

SEE OR DON'T SEE | Set to tour her debut album — aptly titled Have you SEEN This Woman? — the jazz-cabaret singer VIVA plays a sayonara set at Sonny's tonight. A beam of light on the Portland music scene the last few years, her energy and performance depth are not to be missed, and it's about time she gets captured on record. 6 pm | $15 adv, $20 door | Portland House of Music, 25 Temple St., Portland | portlandhouseofmusic.com

CUT UP YOUR MAGAZINES | I probably write about him too much, but there's a strong chance Portland's id m theft able is the city's "best" artist — if that were anywhere near a conceivable category. Normally an experimental, Fluxus-influenced "musician" of sound collage and noise events, the dude's visual work has thusly gone underrated. A smattering of his collages have been tacked up on the walls of Mayo Street Arts, and I could think of a thousand worse things you could look at tonight. The show stays up through March 10, but it opens with a reception from 6-8 tonight. | Free | Mayo Street Arts, 10 Mayo St., Portland | mayostreetarts.org

 

FRIDAY 20

MORNING BELL | If this morning you wake an hour earlier in the dead, cold night, forgive yourself. Should you spend twice as long plunged in dread and idly scrolling through your social feeds before stepping out of bed, you're not alone. We're trying not to be hyperbolic here, but screw it: Today is the first day of what will almost assuredly be the most seismic political shift in your lives. Join a throng of people in the resistance movement in a symbolic-yet-powerful reading of the Constitution (is that an instrument of the left again?) at the Maine State House. 11 am | Free | Maine State House, 210 State St., Augusta

 

FLESHED OUT | It was likely coincidental that tonight's edition of Naked People Reading, a positivist, community-building event if there ever was one, occurs on the same day as the day a misogynist sex offender is sworn into office. But the synchronicity reminds us that protest isn't the only way forward — we all need radical models of a good society, too. A collection of Portland artists host a public, safe-space literary event where people read assorted radical texts in various states of undress. Obviously, no photos or video allowed. Proof that simple, fun, bare-bones ideas can be part of the resistance. 7:30 p.m. | $5 | SPACE Gallery, 538 Congress St., Portland | space538.org

 

SATURDAY 21

 

RISK SOMETHING | Officials from the Trump administration have said they expect the first week in office will be active. They mean, of course, taking steps to defund Planned Parenthood and repeal the Affordable Care Act, which will leave millions without insurance and literally kill people. But regardless of the efficacy of those actions, their actual first order of business will be colored by the tens of millions of folks attending the Women's March on Washingon (and its satellite marches, occurring in 53 countries and all 50 states, with at least six official ones here in Maine). If you're in Portland, the "Women's Walk" begins at the top of Congress Street on Munjoy Hill at 10:30 am. Expect attendance in the hundreds. Eastern Promenade Obelisk, 11 Congress St., Portland | https://www.facebook.com/events/1778266389086894/

 

SOUND BATH | Sooner or later, you'll need to get out of the political mindset and bathe in an art form that restores you. Is that rock music? Hard tellin'. It is 2017, after all — not the finest era for the form. But take it from us, that's not the fault of Portland's rock scene! Hell no it ain't, m'dudes! Exhibit that realness tonight, as four of them clamber onto the Empire stage to uncork some scorchers. The group Forget, Forget have been around about a half-decade now, and I personally have come around to their synth-infused chamber-rock sound. Tall Horse have received high marks for their drowsy, melodic indie-country, which envelops listeners with their own frayed nostalgia. Cape Cannons, the new group by local staple Dustin Saucier, is characteristically fleshed out and rich emotional rock music. And The Empty, another new outfit, is riotgirl dance-pop. All ages and free at Bayside Bowl. 8 p.m. | Free | Bayside Bowl, 58 Alder St., Portland | baysidebowl.com

 

FIND YOUR PEEPS | If you can't get the political world out of your mind, you're set too. "The Other Inaugural Ball" is the sort of spirited counter-protest you'll feel right at home in, where performances by the venerable Theater Ensemble of Color (fresh off their fantastic debut performance of THE OTHERS last weekend) perform, along with the invigorating electronic-pop group Hi Tiger and the phenomenal Portland dance troupe Sudo Girls, comprised of young women dancers originally from Sudan. With an address by featured speaker Fatuma Hussein (of United Somali Women of Maine), while DJ 32french keeps everyone in a dancing mood. Proceeds for this POC-led event go toward the Immigrant Legal Advocacy Project (ILAP). Recommended. 7 pm | $10 | Mechanics Hall, 519 Congress St., Portland | https://www.artful.ly/store/events/10850

 

SUNDAY 22

 

ENORMOUS SPIRIT | The classically trained violinist and songwriter Gaelynn Lea is a dynamo. You may remember her as the winner of NPR's Tiny Desk Concert Series last year, beating out 6,100 entries with her set of fiddle music steeped in Irish melodies. Equally meditative and ebullient, Lea's live performance belies her distinctive method — reliant on loops and effects and self-taught as a condition of a congenital disability called Osteogenesis Imperfecta. For the past ten years, Lea has been collaborating with Alan Sparhawk of the indie-rock band Low (to give you an idea of where we are genre-wise), and plays here tonight with Jerusha Robinson of the slow-core group South China. The concert will be followed by a Q&A session moderated by Disability Rights Maine director Kim Moody. Recommended. | $10 adv, $12 day of | SPACE Gallery, 538 Congress St., Portland | space538.org

 

BARBED TONGUES | Join local comedians as they do their part to mock and ridicule the new leader of the country (though we hear straight-up contempt is effective too). A local effort of the national WHAT A JOKE Comedy Festival takes place in over 30 cities across the country, all proceeds benefiting the vital American Civil Liberties Union. This one takes place at the new Bunker Brewing facility, and features local comedians Connor McGrath, Jordan Handren-Seavey (formerly of Portland, now of Boston), Aharon Willows-Hebert, and more. 6:30 pm | $10 suggested donation | Bunker Brewing Co., 17 Westfield St., Portland | bunkerbrewingco.com

 

WOKE UP LIKE DIS | When was the last time you publicly celebrated your hair? Or others' hair? Thought so! Tonight at One Longfellow Square, the unique hair-themed event "Beauty in Colors" is a showcase of the works of stylist Dathan Hunter, and sheds some light on the many unique cuts and colors adorning this city's heads. With a performance by the Pihcintu Multicultural Chorus, DJ'd by Bubba's party selector DJ Jon, and hosted by the inimitable Nicole Antonette — who by our calculations, appears or performs in at least three events on this weekend calendar alone. 6 pm | $10 adv, $12 day of | One Longfellow Square, 181 State St., Portland | onelongfellowsquare.com

MONDAY 23

SELF-CARE IS IMPORTANT | We suggest taking this evening to read a book.

TUESDAY 24

 

DOWNLOAD SIGNAL | Have these times prompted you to re-evaluate your relationship to art? How about to your fellow citizens, any movement there? What about to social media ... any hot takes you got brewin' about that topic? (Social media is trending, we hear.) 'Cuz if so, maybe that coaxed an insight or two into the practice of physical exercise, spontaneous movement, that sort of thing. No? 'Cuz the two sure seem correlated. You can't consume, gripe about, or contribute to fake news, for example, while you're playing theater games in a space with other actors. And isn't that interesting? For the last several months, an inventive and big-hearted group of Portland theater artists have hosted "The Playground," a drop-in situation room of physical activity and theater sports. We don't know what they'll be up to tonight, but showing up is another way to exercise your resolutions, be they of the New Year's or anti-Trump variety. 7 pm | by donation | Mayo Street Arts, 10 Mayo St., Portland | mayostreetarts.org

 

SHE MADE HIM HAPPY | They say the way the Maryland-raised folk artist Maggie Rogers broke through was by cracking Pharrell Williams's chill facade as he was filmed listening to her song "Alaska" at a masterclass at NYU. "I've never heard anything that sounds like that," he said. "That's a drug for me." Crazy! With three albums under her belt (the last in 2014), she's coasting on the unique and rollicking folk-pop forms of her new tracks "Alaska" and "Dog Years." A new album is likely around the corner; in the meantime, see if you feel what Pharrell feels tonight at the Port City Music Hall, when Ms. Rogers rolls through. 8 pm | $10 adv, $12 day of | Port City Music Hall, 504 Congress St., Portland | portcitymusichall.com

 

WEDNESDAY 25

 

PICK YR BATTLES | Previously known mostly to Portland street artists and prolific morning walkers, the city-sanctioned graffiti wall near the East End Wastewater Treatment Plant became a thing of larger civic notoriety when a mural appeared depicting Governor Paul LePage in a KKK robe last summer. Citing that political speech (which, sure, is bold — but then again, so is cutting off refugees' General Assistance), some vocal civilians allege these artists have gone too far, and have put the continued use of the municipal wall up before City Council. (Our take on the issue? It's clearly a promo spot by Banksy.) A public hearing on the issue goes down tonight in the Portland Water District building. Seriously, though, now's not the time to be cracking down on free speech. 7 p.m. | Free | Portland Water District, Nixon Room, 225 Douglass St., Portland 

 

THURSDAY 26

 

LONG ROAD AHEAD | Next week's highlights include a "heroes and villains" masquerade at P.H.O.M.E. A night of resilience storytelling the USM Glickman Library (brought by the terrific Women and Gender Studies program), and The Love Witch, Anna Biller's modern-day gothic fantasy, at SPACE Gallery. 

High and Inside: An Improbable Red Sox Baseball Chat

With less than a month before pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training, Phoenix culture editor Nick Schroeder discussed Red Sox baseball past and present with Brendan Evans, proprietor of Strange Maine.

Nick Schroeder: Let's start by checking some credentials. I understand you're a serious baseball fan. Is this true? How many 6-4-3 double plays did you watch Sea Dog Kevin Millar hit into in your youth?

Brendan Evans: Three or four. I went to a lot of Dogs games back in the mid-nineties. But I wasn't a youth, I was a 15-year-old in a black trenchcoat trying desperately to resist the temptation to beg Charles Johnson for an autograph.

NS: Questionable move! Charles Johnson is one of the five best baseball players to ever set foot in this city. His autograph is worth at least a happy hour taco deal at Tomaso's.

BE: CJ was certainly the biggest fish on that block since Uriah Heep played the Expo in '81. Hey, have you ever been able to find proof that Snoop Dogg wore a Sea Dogs jersey or hat? I'd swear I remember hearing that on the news back in 1994. 

NS: Never did, no. It's January now, are you prepared for six months of the Red Sox being World Series shoe-ins?

BE: That's not an easy subject. I always come down on the wrong side of history. Joe Kelly was basically the only guy in that playoff series against the Cleveland Slurs who looked like he thought they could win a game. Not a good sign. I'm predicting 95 regular season wins, two Panda/Sale altercations, and a first-round playoff elimination.

NS: Joe Kelly looks like that one goofball jock kid in high school who didn't threaten to put his thumb in your eye socket. But I like him. If it's one thing the sabremetrics movement got wrong, it's misreading the value of good clubhouse guys.

BE: What's it really like in the clubhouse, do you think? Supposedly they play baseball video games, which seem really hard and couldn't possibly help your actual game. What if the X-Box Clayton Kershaw has some tell when he's going to throw a slurve that the real Kershaw doesn't have? I mean, imagine playing an accurate simulation of your job! It could only confuse you.

NS: Are you a Panda believer?

BE: Yes, I watched him hit three home runs in a World Series game. That's why I should never work in an MLB front office. "Did you see that?!!? Give him a blank cheque!"

NS: If there is one player you could trade for from the last 25 years that could hurdle the space-time continuum and bring this Red Sox team over the top, who would it be?

BE: Bill Lee. 

NS: Good thinking. They need another lefty starter.

BE: Though they did have a deal in the works to bring Kirby Puckett to Fenway back in '91. That's the deal I would've really enjoyed as a 12-year-old. Okay, I'm ready to give you my hot take on the '17 Sox. I think they'll win the East. Price will be their best starter. Sale will be adequate. Porcello will regress to the mean. Steven Wright will lose his job. E-Rod will look great until he has season-ending surgery in July. Kimbrel will be a Cy Young contender. Unfortunately, the offense won't be able to carry the team due to sub-2016 level performances from Hanley, JBJ, and Xander. The bright spot will be Sandy Leon, who will continue to bat at a .450 clip due to a disturbance in the force which results in his BABIP being roughly twice what Ted Williams' was in 1941. You can't shift against something mathematics can't explain.

NS: Watching Sandy Leon watch pitchers strike him out with the low-inside curveball was like watching an 8-year-old watch a Gaspar Noé film. Just gruesome. I have him losing his job by April 20

 

BE: There is a "luckiest hitter of all time," and there's potential for one who's twice as lucky. I'd say smart money is on Leon growing luckier with each passing day.

 

NS: Do you think Dombrowski will give us another lesson on how to destroy the value of a trade chip? Maybe this time he should convert Blake Swihart from Top Catching Prospect to Top Rosin Bag Fluffing Prospect [60-day DL].

 

BE: Swihart has a slightly brighter future than Rusney Castillo. I just can't let that guy fade from my memory. He still could be the next big thing!

 

NS: There's a universe out there where half the population wears Google Glass, people actually listen to that new My Bloody Valentine album, and still drink beverages like Orbitz. Rusney is a perennial 40/40 man there, and our moms watch him on enormous flat screens they bought when they cashed in their Beanie Babies.

 

BE: I'd say that the thing I'm most looking forward to about the 2017 season is Mookie Betts bowling bobblehead giveaway at Hadlock Field.


NS: Mookie Betts is the best thing to happen to Red Sox baseball since Ellis Burks. He's like Jacoby Ellsbury but with genuine baseball skills.

BE: Ortiz was a special player, special personality. A cartoon god. Mookie is the people's champ. Jacoby won tacos for everyone, but every Goodwill has at least ten Ellsbury jersey shirts that'll never sell. No one misses him.

  

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