8 Days A Week: Drone Artists, Anti-Trump Roadshows, and Donnie Darko

THURSDAY 30

THIS CHARMING MAN | When I was an undergrad student in New York and performing stand-up comedy, I had a mediocre joke near the top of my routine about the weird names people call their grandparents. It wasn't the world's best joke, but it got the ball rolling, because for the punchline I'd bellow the words mamou and papou at the audience in various tongues, and it loosened everyone up. Now get this! While this week researching Sebastian Maniscalco, the far-more-successful-than-me Italian-American comedian playing the Merrill Auditorium tonight, I watched a clip of him performing the exact same joke. Of course, he plays the ending differently, because his rubbery, muscular body is more adept at physical comedy than the doughy, sleep-deprived 22-year-old unit I was operating at the time. But the experience was nonetheless uncanny. Of course, I never had anything funny to say about Chipotle, Prince, or foibles in American airports, and that's why it's Maniscalco playing the Merrill tonight. The dude's a pop comic who likes to play low, but he's lively and energetic, and his story (he was a former waiter at a comedy club in a hotel) is a good one. | $49.75-69.75 | 7 p.m. | Merrill Auditorium, 20 Myrtle St., Portland | http://www.porttix.com |

 

OBJECT CARE | The window of time known as spring cleaning is coming near, and that is a blessing (disguised, on occasion, as an irritation). But before you celebrate, tossing half of your possessions into the cold memorylessness of the highway, you might pop into the Resilience Hub tonight. The Bayside permaculture group hosts an experimental hangout tonight they're calling the "Spring Repair Cafe," where folks help repair their neighbors damaged goods, possibly swapping out some here and there. Along with the Maine Tool Library, the event encourages folks to bring in broken and dull tools, frayed electrical cords, hole-y sweaters, and more. | FREE | 6 p.m. | Resilience Hub, 222 Anderson St., Portland | resiliencehub.org |

 

FRIDAY 31

REMOUNT | A few months ago, the Portland pop group Leverett added an extra T at the end of their name. A minor move in the grand scheme of things (the group, led by Jesse Gertz, have been at it since their sparkling little EP, Beak, in 2013), but it seemed to indicate a grand re-opening of the band, who plan to release a new album, Wires & Tubes, later this summer. See if those songs shine for you while vibing along to gems still aglow from their first two albums, Infinity and Action at a Distance, tonight at Bayside Bowl, where they play with Million Dollar Lounge and Midwestern Medicine, the latter featuring members of Whale Oil. | FREE | 9 p.m. | Bayside Bowl, 58 Alder St., Portland | www.baysidebowl.com |

 

SATURDAY 1

BASIC DEMOCRACY | Gotta rise up for this one. At 10 am this morning, a protest converges on Portland's City Hall in opposition to Trump's selection of Neil Gorsuch. Framed as a "People's Filibuster" of a Supreme Court appointment that, if you believe in anything resembling democracy, should have been Merrick Garland's. | FREE | 10 a.m. | Portland City Hall, 389 Congress St., Portland |

 

KEEP MOVING | Since the painter, singer, and performance artist Derek Jackson founded Hi Tiger years ago, the group has functioned nimbly. Sometimes they're a street performance group, sometimes a beautiful dance-pop band. Their presence can herald a hot house party or a fiercely political display, making the energies of desire and love visible within frames that seldom permit them. Tonight, we don't know how they're going to show up, but the present iteration - with Jackson's voice and lyrics anchoring catwalk-style physicality from dancers Nicole Antonette and Amandaconda. They finish up a residency at Studio 408, which hosts improvisational dance and other kinetic arts, and should be in top form for it. With DJs Lima and Innox.| $5 | 8 p.m. | Studio 408, 408 Broadway, South Portland | www.studio408portland.com |

 

FALLING FORWARD | "Rapping is the only way out," speaks AFRiCAN DUNDADA, the Portland artist originally from South Sudan, in his new track "Hold Me Down." In his early twenties, and performing benefit concerts for the ACLU of Maine, South Sudan Care, Mayo Street Arts youth programs and Action Against Hunger, we're interested in what else he's got to say. He headlines a hip-hop show also featuring Portland artists Mr. Lumemo, Dequhn Lobutua, and the Acholi Traditional Dancers. Recommended. | $15 | 7 p.m. | Mayo Street Arts, 10 Mayo St., Portland | www.mayostreetarts.org |

 

MONDAY 3

DRONE RIGHTS | Drone artist Ben Chasny has kept his guitar project Six Organs of Admittance alive for nearly 20 years, coursing through wistful acoustic folk, disarming noise-squall, and psyched out comet trails. His new album, a comparatively gentler affair titled Burning the Threshold, expands further on the Hexadic system, Chasny's originally constructed methodology of guitar composition. He plays with the central Maine artist Asa Irons, whose woodsy folk songs have enough heft to haunt you for years. | $10-12 | 8 p.m. | SPACE Gallery, 538 Congress St., Portland | http://www.space538.org |

 

WEDNESDAY 5

 

BIG QUESTIONS | A few weeks ago, this paper featured the first in a series of dialogues about the role of police in the city. Titled "Policing, Protection, Community, and Trust in the 21st Century." At the first session, a panel tackled the question of what makes a criminal, which in this era of a widening and increasingly privatized carceral state, is a thorny question indeed. Tonight, they ask "What Makes a Police Officer?", focusing on what citizens want from their police force, and inquiring about the steps and accountability measures that secure their training. Produced by the Maine Humanities Council and facilitated by Samaa Abdurraqib from the Maine Coalition to End Domestic Violence, tonight's panel includes Sarah Walton, Executive Director of PE+ACE (Police Education & Active Civic Engagement) and Jamie Rooney, former Maine Assistant Attorney General and co-author of the Maine Law Enforcement Officer's Manual. Hopefully a member of the PPD will show up this time. | FREE | 6:30-8 p.m. | SPACE Gallery, 538 Congress St., Portland | www.space538.org |

 

THE RIGHT THINGS | Some mornings this past winter, it's been difficult not to stay under the covers submerged in dread, slapping that snoozer five or six times and browsing Facebook/Insties on the phone until the eyes feel like quahogs. It's unavoidable! But perhaps today's the day to commit to that morning walk instead. Then at night, you'll be psychically prepared to attend the #Earth2Trump Roadshow of Resistance at the State Theatre. Because frankly, there's no better place to be. A roster of electrifying performances and speakers headline this roving protest, including Lakota elder Cheryl Angel, hip-hop artist Lyla June, and more. No matter what color your activism's been glowing lately, there'll be plenty of opportunities to shine it here, where there'll be letter-writing stations, buying prints supporting the Lakota Peoples Law Act, listening to activists strategize the #NODAPL fight, or, you know, just showing up where you can and leaving the social media war alone. | FREE | 7-9:30 p.m. | State Theatre, 609 Congress St., Portland | www.statetheatreportland.com |

 

THURSDAY 6

CULT FILMS | Next week, a screening of the cult film Donnie Darko marks the re-opening of SPACE Gallery, which has gone dark for spring cleaning the last few weeks. The debut film by then-26-year-old Richard Kelly, Donnie Darko's weird sci-fi vibe and light nostalgic sorcery struck deep chords with disaffected young viewers in the early Bush era, introducing the citizens of the world to Jake and Maggie Gyllenhaal, reminding them of the brilliance of Drew Barrymore, and stretching their appreciation for Patrick Swayze. If you missed it in the theaters when it first came out, during the weeks after 9/11, you can make up for that here.  | 7:30 p.m. | Nickelodeon Cinemas, 1 Temple St., Portland | patriotcinemas.com |

High & Inside: An Improbable Baseball Chat — Opening Day Edition

With major league baseball's opening day approaching this weekend and the Red Sox appearing once again like the team to beat (which surely they will be), we talked with Portland baseball guru and rogue hurler Brendan Evans about Sox nostalgia and the club's true chances.

Nick Schroeder: So, Brendan, who are the first three Sox to get cut/flub out of their jobs?

Brendan Evans: Carlos Quentin, Blake Swihart, David Price.

Seems hard to believe a team wouldn't give up a #4 starter for a steamy package of a frankensteined Quentin and worst-contract-of-all-time Rusney Castillo.

How much of Rusney's contract would the Sox have to eat though?

For Rusney alone, the Sox would have to take on at least $45m of dead Roc Nation assets. Or John Henry himself would have to make beats for three Jay-Z tracks and a Fat Joe single. I'd say the Sox are in a good position this year. But the reality is that May 1 will arrive and Joe Kelly will be the closer, Kyle Kendrick is the #4 starter, and a man named Steve Selsky will be playing third base.

I did draft Selsky in a fantasy league. Just in case they need Brock Holt at first because of Hanley's "shoulder issue." Maybe the second round was a bit high, but Selsky can rake. Man, Kyle Kendrick ... you think a Kendrick/Buchholz trade is out of the question? Has that ship sailed?

I take comfort that we won the prospect wars against the Yankees and Phil Hughes, I don't think anyone will miss Buchholz, no.

On the plus side, your 2017 AL MVP Sandy León had two home runs in one inning today. I think that's sustainable. What would León's BABIP need to be at the All-Star break before you see a teenager walking around the Maine Mall in a León jersey? .600?

There's a non-zero chance Sandy León is a missing Molina brother. But even Jose Molina and his .233 career batting average learned to lay off that low and inside curve.

Yeah, once the league realizes León can't hit a curveball the Sox are screwed. Maybe we should keep that out of the paper.

If Swihart had the yips this spring, and Kimbrel and his 6+ walks-per-nine will officially be diagnosed with the yips by June, who's next?

Hmm. Can a DH get the yips?

What's the everyman version of the yips?

I always get toothpaste on the top of the faucet. 37 years of irregularly brushing my teeth and I should be able to spit straight by now. But really, if you have the yips and no one notices, is it really the yips?

The important question is who's going to win the coveted Mayor's Cup, the trophy awarded to the winningest team in that greatest rivalry in sports — Red Sox/Twins spring training matchups. As of this moment, the Sox are 3-2 against the Twins and 1-0 against team USA, who obviously suck.

Yes, of course. Honoring the long history of MLB "mayors," defined as men who played for both the Boston and Minnesota. Viola's Cup; Mientkiewicz's Cup; Pat Mahomes's Cup...

Yeah! Jeff Reardon's Cup! His is a tragic tale, he was fought robbing a bank because the teller recognized him. Moral of the story: don't rob banks if you're the most famous person in town. Tom Brunansky, too, was a bicoastal star.

Didn't Gaetti sign a minor league contract with the Sox in the '90s before realizing he was no Tim Naehring and retiring?

Why can't we just turn back the clock to those halcyon days of early ’90s baseball, when I had the back of every player's Upper Deck card memorized. Earlier today, while looking at the rankings of the 1,357 players who could make a MLB roster, only got as far as number 32 before I'd never heard of a guy: Seung Hwan Oh, relief pitcher for the Cardinals. It's kind of like the first time I didn't recognize the star and the musical guest on SNL (probably 2006 or so...) Out of touch.

Oh, you don't know Oh?

No! If it happens in Saint Louis I do my best to ignore it completely. 

Did you ever read Faithful by Stephen King? I believe he refers to Albert Pujols as a "mysterious bat-wielding wizard who's rumored to play baseball in Missouri."

Yeah, that's off-base.

The WBC was something, huh? How is it that team Netherlands could put together an infield with Andrelton Simmons, Jonathan Schoop, Jurickson Profar, Didi Gregorius and Xander Bogaerts all jockeying for shortstop, but the best outfielder they could dredge up was Kalian Sams, 30-year-old journeyman from the Quebec Capitales of the Can-Am league? What's up with the Dutch?

That's an unexplored question! Is Andruw Jones a Hall of Famer in your book?

If I liked the Braves more he would be. He was basically Ken Griffey Jr. but twice as good and one one-millionth as famous. Plus I'm pretty sure he also had back-to-back jacks with his dad, Chipper Jones, but no one talks about that.

If Black Flag were a baseball team, who are you pitching on opening day? You're giving the ball to Dez, right? I know you are!

Kira's the nimble catcher. Chuck Dukowski is basically Knoblauch. Keith Morris is the free-swinging center fielder. Chuck Biscuits is a #2 lefty, a Bruce Hurst type. Bill Stevenson is a switch-hitting high OBP third baseman. Henry is obviously Canseco. And yeah, Dez is the ace of the worst team in the league. The Wily Peralta.

Better to reign in hell than serve in heaven, at least that's what my horoscope said. 


You're right, no one up here remembers those amazing Braves teams. And I thought it was regional, except Andruw played out his career as a bit player on the yanks like a poor man's Ruben Sierra. Except whoops, the dude was Trout-level good for five years.

You mean the glove-of-Jim-Edmonds-and-the-bat-of-Jose-Canseco-level good.
Trout level good can't really be applied to anyone at this point.

Okay, let's wrap this. Who's your 2017 Sox MVP, and what date's the last meaningful game?

Well, 'Mr. East-Coast Trout' Mookie Betts is my Sox MVP and baseball's #1 two-sport star. And the Orioles superstar Robert Andino once again sinks the Sox with a walk off single against newly re-acquired Jonathan Papelbon in the ninth inning of game 162, as those who forget history are condemned to always order the wrong thing at Pom's instead of just sticking to the drunken noodles. If that doesn't happen, Sox in six.

Brendan Evans is the owner of Strange Maine.

Devers and the Dogs – Portland Sea Dogs season opener April 6

If you’re a Portland Sea Dogs season ticket holder, or you’ve just been longing to hear the crack of the bat as it heralds in the real beginning of spring, have no fear: next Thursday, April 6, the ‘Dogs play their season opener against the Reading, Pennsylvania Fightin’ Phils at Hadlock Field (271 Park Ave), despite the recent late-season snow here. There was some question as to whether a postponement would be necessary. Heavy snow-removal equipment would have gouged up the field, and melting was all that could be hoped for. Enter Massachusetts company Sports Turf Specialties. As they have done at Fenway many times, they applied a layer of sand treated with dark dye to the remaining snow at Hadlock. The simple mechanism is that the black sand absorbs sunlight, increasing snow-melting heat by a significant factor and revealing a bare, if squishy, baseball diamond.

As to what’s going to be happening on that field, the 2017 season promises to be an exciting and productive one for the Sea Dogs. The favorite Red Sox prospect to watch is Dominican Rafael Devers, a third baseman who batted .326 during the second half of last season, with a .906 OPS (on-base plus slugging) percentage. He's made strides defensively too. Coaches have noted how well he turns a slump around through hard work and receptiveness to their guidance, and they have high hopes for him to be called up. That day will be determined in part by how successfully current Red Sox third baseman Pablo Sandoval can return to form in the third year of his five-year, $95 m contract.

Other names to watch are shortstop Tzu-Wei Lin, a workhorse with top-notch glove skills; first baseman Nick Longhi, a 21-year old with a .282 lifetime batting average (and .744 OPS); and fellow Floridian, outfielder Danny Mars. Chances are good that one or more of these men will sooner or later get their paychecks from the MLB. In any case, their combined talent, along with the abilities of the rest of the Sea Dogs, should get fans excited to see the opening game.

And what about the opposing team? Well, we don’t know how hard they’ve been training, but they have been busy redesigning their batting practice hats to feature their mascot, the Crazy Hot Dog Vendor. Will that be enough to defeat Devers and the ‘Dogs? Go find out.

Tickets: http://www.milb.com/tickets/tickets.jsp?sid=t546

Stay on the Offensive

A week after the Women’s March on Washington, I self-published a piece that was largely critical of the event.

I’d attended with reservations, noting at its inception that the March was leaving women of color out of the narrative as well as the organizing hierarchy. That changed as the event grew and Tamika Mallory, Carmen Perez, and Linda Sarsour assumed leadership roles on the March’s national committee, but I retained a healthy dose of skepticism. Unfortunately, my own experience at the March met my low expectations.

Admittedly, it was a staggering thing to witness the sheer mass of humanity roiling over the National Mall. There were certainly moments I felt buoyed by the anonymous camaraderie of the women surrounding me. But under the joy and the anger that brought half a million women to Trump’s new doorstep, there were problems.

Women of color reported micro-aggressions aplenty. Native women spoke of how fellow march attendees snapped photos of their ceremonial garb while refusing to take pamphlets about indigenous rights. Trans women found themselves in a sea of pink hats equating genitalia with womanhood. Intersectional feminism found itself floundering under the weight of 500,000 women’s differences. And I received hate mail for pointing it out. It’s not the first time an anonymous commenter has tried to put me in my place, and it certainly won’t be the last.

While working for a previous employer, I hosted an event that required security because someone threatened to kill me. And while death threats aren’t the norm for most writers, you’d be hard-pressed to find one who hasn’t experienced some form of harassment from readers. What surprised me, however, was not that I received hate mail, but rather who sent it. Self-identified liberals were absolutely furious with me. One reader implied that by criticizing the March, I’d aligned myself with Trump’s agenda.

Another told me there was a “special place in feminist hell” for me after undermining such an important event. Others called me names I simply can’t print here. Last week, following the death blow dealt to the American Health Care Act, I posted an offhand status about how the obsessive gloating being done by Democratic leaders conveniently ignored the fact that we’re in this mess to begin with because they failed to do their job. It felt horrifyingly detached for elected officials to be mocking Paul Ryan on Twitter while some schools are seeing meteoric rises in truancy because immigrant children are afraid they’ll be deported. The criticism poured in.

People messaged me privately to lambast me for raining on the Affordable Care Act’s victory parade. A casual acquaintance went so far as to tell me she was tired of reading my gloom-and-doom take on the politics and then blocked my account. (I’d like to point out I also posted a photo of my dog in honor of National Puppy Day, so I resent the implication that I’m doing nothing more than making snarky commentary about the current political climate. I make time for baby animals, too.)

It’s these moments that give me pause. Not because I’m offended by the criticism, but because they remind me that change does not come easily or with kind words. My solidarity cannot be assumed, it must be earned.

Over the course of the next few years, liberal communities will find plenty to disagree about —debate is healthy.

But if you find yourself being scolded for your tone, or for voicing an unpopular opinion, remind yourself that personal criticisms may mean you’re doing the work many others don’t have the heart to do. I wish you the best of luck in offending your compatriots.

Planned Parenthood says the fight is far from over

A victory was won last week when the GOP pulled their flawed health care reform bill from the House floor after acknowledging they wouldn’t be able to drum up enough votes.


It was a victory particularly for women, who hours before the bill died, saw a room full of men (in that tone-deaf Freedom Caucus photo Mike Pence tweeted out) make decisions on cutting maternity care, hospitalization, and other essential health services.

news freedomcaucusbill

Notice anything strange about this photo of a conversation that could have impacted the health care rights of millions of women?


“Friday was good day,” said Amy Cookson, the communications manager at Planned Parenthood Maine. “24 million people are keeping their healthcare coverage and 2.5 million patients still have access to Planned Parenthood.”
According to Cookson, if it wasn’t for the incredible grassroots organizing and activism of Planned Parenthood supporters, “the worst bill for women’s health” might have passed the House.


Volunteers met with Senators Angus King and Susan Collins and Congresswoman Chellie Pingree, and delivered more than 1,200 letters to Congressman Bruce Poliquin’s office. This level of civic engagement was echoed across the country.
But that moment of light in a dark battle for women’s right to accessible health care was only temporary.


Last Monday President Trump’s press secretary Sean Spicer told reporters that they’ll be looking for “other opportunities” to defund Planned Parenthood, the organization that so many depend on for low-cost reproductive and sexual health services.
Staff at the Portland branch of Planned Parenthood are poised to keep their growing supporter base politically activated, as they anticipate more threats to their member's funding in the future.


“We know politicians will try again,” said Cookson.


Staff are worried that Congress might try to block Medicaid patients from accessing their services, which range from a multitude of sexual and reproductive health needs that every woman will need at some point in their lifetime. (They do far more than just abortions, which amounts to just three percent of the total services they offer and can’t be federally funded anyway because of the Hyde Agreement.)


And if Trump’s White House does succeed in blocking Medicaid patients from using Planned Parenthood’s services (like STD/STI screenings, contraception, pap smears, etc.), it’s not clear they’ll find care anywhere else because Republicans haven’t proposed a plan that guarantees that the surrounding facilities could absorb the demand for those services. Often times a Planned Parenthood clinic is the only one of its kind in a community for miles.


“There has already been a bill introduced to restrict family planning funding,” said Cookson. “Judge Gorsuch has an extremely troubling record on women’s rights and reproductive rights, and there are bad bills to fight right here in Maine, too.”


Although Democrats would unite against it, there’s an upcoming spending bill that could include a defunding provision.
Despite the moral outrage over the fact that Planned Parenthood offers abortions, not many people are actually putting stock into that argument. A recent poll found that 80 percent of Americans actually support government funding of Planned Parenthood, including 50 percent of Trump voters.


“It’s interesting when voters are informed about what we do and the care that we provide,” said Nicole Clegg, the Vice President of Public Policy at Planned Parenthood.


For Clegg, that Freedom Caucus photo that went viral symbolizes everything you need to know about the Republican’s disregard for the needs of women.


“I will say that 99 percent of women will use birth control at some point in their lifetime, so this is basic health care for women,” said Clegg. “To try and carve out the argument that somehow this is special or unique, speaks to how deeply disconnected these politicians are from the reality of women’s lives. They’re out of touch.”


“We feel like we’re pawns in a political game right now, and women are the ones that are going to pay the price,” said Jessica Dolce, a resident of North Yarmouth and volunteer at Planned Parenthood.


Dolce said that she’s relied on Planned Parenthood for over 25 years as a safety net service for when she didn’t have health insurance. As a teenager in the ’90s growing up in New Jersey, Dolce relied on the local Planned Parenthood for STD testings and learning about contraception. Later she would depend on them for annual check-ups and cancer screenings.


“I was given accurate information that kept me healthy,” said Dolce. “People don’t understand that birth control pills are medication. It’s a medication that’s prescribed to me for really debilitating menstrual cramps. The men in that room don’t understand why people use these medications.”


“It’s a tremendous relief to know that you’ll always have that care,” said Dolce. “You can’t put a price on it.”


Stories like Dolce’s can be found thousands of times over across the country, and are the reasons why there’s such a push to support Planned Parenthood.

A future progressive city leader? Joey Brunelle lays out his vision for Portland's future

Getting people to understand the importance of local government starts by convincing them it isn’t boring or intimidating.

 

That’s what the local digital communications specialist Joey Brunelle wants to do. Besides designing print ads and podcasting, Brunelle has been engaged in a lot of civic-related activities, and he hopes you will too.

 

Last year, he was part of the movement to help save the India Street Health Clinic. He was also the Secretary of Portland Democrats. More recently, he’s been live-streaming from inside Portland’s City Council meetings and blogging bite-sized bits of related info from them later. He’s active on social media, attempting to drum up early support ahead of his run for the at-large city councilor seat in November. His mission lately has been to get people more involved and educated on local civics in general, but also prime them for what he hopes to be future progressive reform, and direct action on several key issues in Portland.

 

Earlier this week Brunelle spoke to The Phoenix about a range of big issues as he laid out his vision for Portland’s future.

 

First things first, where are you at on the political spectrum?

 

I’m definitely on the left. I’ve been using the word progressive on my branding but I'm not entirely sure if I align with the term; we’re at a strange point in history right now where we’re not really sure what it means anymore.

 

I’ve considered using the term Democratic Socialist instead. I believe strongly that we shouldn’t leave anybody behind and that we all need to collaborate to do that.

 

What do you consider the strengths and weaknesses of the Portland City Council right now?

 

It’s really amazing how diverse the council is. There’s an incredible array of people and backgrounds there this year. I think they all do a pretty good job of bringing their own experiences to the table.

 

As far as weaknesses, there’s the elephant in the room: whatever disagreement is going on between Mayor Ethan Strimling and City Manager Jon Jennings. Without assigning blame to either one of them, it’s made the whole environment difficult to work in.

 

The councilors also don’t do a good enough of job of looking to see what other cities are doing in terms of policy. Whether it’s housing, the environment, or civic participation. They have this mentality of ‘Oh, this is the way we’ve always done things.’

 

Why did you decide to run for city council?

 

To be honest, Bernie Sanders was a big part of it. When he said that he can’t change anything because the movement starts with the people. It was a kick in the pants to do it myself. I always had ideas on how city government should work.

 

But also the India Street situation played a role.

 

As a gay man, the discussion around that clinic was infuriating to me. Councilors and city staff obviously didn't understand the importance of that clinic to Portland’s gay community, because they’re not gay.

 

I thought to myself that if there were a gay person up there we wouldn’t be having this discussion. So I said, ‘Hey, I’ll be that person.’

 

What are your thoughts on the outcome of the India Street health services situation?

 

The city has done a less than stellar job of communicating what the current state of it is.

 

The 230 patients that were part of the program that got shut down found care elsewhere. They went to various places. The remaining three parts of India street are still there, but staff has been reduced to about four or five people, so they’re kind of running with a skeleton crew.

 

A substance abuse treatment clinic now shares a place with the India street clinic as well. It’s good in the sense that they do great work, there will opportunities for the services to integrate and overlap, but in the other sense this place that was part of the LGBTQ community is now been refocused towards something else, like the opioid problem — which is worthwhile, but it’s still a loss of the LGBTQ community.

 

Do you go to each city council meeting?

 

I do try to go to all the meetings. I believe very strongly that the city needs to do a better job of communicating to citizens what the hell it’s doing. They should have an agenda that’s more understandable.

 

Can you talk about why you’ve been trying to increase transparency through your blog and podcast?

 

People are interested in what’s going on in city government but they're having a hard time interfacing with it, and the city’s not making it easier.

 

The school board does a better job of explaining what it’s doing in a way that people can understand.

 

OK, so on your website you write about a bold, innovative progressive vision for the city of Portland. What is it?

 

Providing more affordable housing. I lived in San Francisco for five or six years, at the height of the housing crisis. I saw first hand how destructive it can be. It got to the point where teachers couldn’t live in the city. It’s still going through a teacher’s shortage. Restaurants couldn’t find people to work in them. It offed its cultural economy. The artists and musicians left.

 

I see the affordable housing issue as the most pressing one. I see us on the same path. I see glimmerings of the same phenomenon happening here.

 

We need to look at what other cities are trying to combat this problem and experiment and apply those strategies here. Not enough was done last year on housing, not enough is done this year. I have friends everyday that say I can’t live in Portland because the rents are too high. That’s a big loss.

 

What else do you see as pressing issues in Portland?

 

Property taxes are a big issue. Where rent prices are an issue for musicians and families and working class people, property tax is an issue for elderly and retired people. We need to address their needs as well.

 

Portland has an opportunity as the largest and most liberal city in the state to lead on a bunch of issues. We should be leading on climate change. We’ve just been sitting on our hands for the last couple of years.

 

South Portland is way ahead of us on pesticides, tenants rights, composting, and that shouldn’t be.

 

I would want to see us grow into our role and have a city government that reflects the values and desires of the people in the city. The people are hungry for it.

 

How do outside interests relate to the housing crisis?

 

We’re in a bit of building boom right now, which is great, but it creates interesting situations. There are decisions that come before the city council almost every week where some real estate developers profits are put on the line.

 

For example, there’s a meeting later on this week on the economic development committee for parcels of land that the developer wants for something that they're going to build, and the city is either selling it to them or swapping land with them. I don’t want the temptation to be influenced by the real estate developers. I’m glad they’re building housing, I just wish they were building affordable housing.

 

How do you feel about the trend towards privatization, like in the case of waste services?

 

I don’t think it’s always true that the private sector can do a better job. San Francisco runs a world class, city-run public health system, that provides way more services and is a huge asset to their community. There are plenty of cities that have public waste departments that do great work.

 

Privatizing them would trade away non-unionized jobs. Private companies will tell us what we want to hear in the proposal stage, and then 5-10 years down the line the costs will go up by surprise. Once we sold all the garbage trucks, and the private companies hold all the negotiating cards, they’ll start putting the screws to us financially.

 

I’m worried that privatization would lower the quality of these services because the management won’t be local anymore. One of the companies they’re looking at for garbage collection is based in Massachusetts.

 

Where do you stand on the school bond debate?

 

I’m definitely in favor for the school bond because we’ve been having this discussion for 20 years since I was in high school. There are other schools that are going to need fixes as well. If we’re going to look for state funding, we’re also going to need them for high schools, and we’re going to have to be thinking about that very soon.

 

Nobody can guarantee that the school board will find funding. We could wait and see, but we wouldn’t know until 2019, and then the councilors will say ‘Oh, we need another ad hoc committee, another study, another set of 10 votes on this,’ and we’re right back to where we’re at now. It’s disingenuous; nobody can say what future city councilors will do.

 

 

What are the biggest challenges ahead?

 

We need to do a better job of making collaborative decisions. There’s a real sense that City Hall doesn’t really give a damn what people think and it’s going to do what it wants to do, and you can speak all you want to public comment, but they’ve already decided what their decision is.

 

I want to change that mentality. I’m seeking people to help me develop a platform on these issues. I want to give people a voice on a local scale.

 

Bernie was right, we need to start locally. For too long we have felt that local politics was too boring, and we’ve avoided it to our detriment. If you look at a lot of the Republicans who are controlling our national government, a lot of them started in city government. The Democrats don’t have that kind of pipeline.

 

If I can help people see how campaigns work and how city government works, and bring them into the process that’s not intimidating or boring, I will have considered this a success.

 

If you want to learn more about Joey Brunelle and where he stands on other key issues, go to: http://brunelleforportland.org/

Legal Cannabis Raises Unavoidable Questions for Maine’s Medical Use of Marijuana Program

It’s early days for legal adult use of cannabis in Maine, but already it’s clear that the program will differ from the Maine Medical Use of Marijuana Program (MMUMP) in significant ways.  

 

Those differences will also call into question whether the MMUMP should continue to exist as a separate program, or whether it should be “harmonized” with adult use.

 

No Vertical Integration

 

The MMUMP is almost 100 percent vertically integrated, meaning that a caregiver or dispensary is responsible for producing every form of cannabis they offer. They must grow the plant, process it into edibles or other forms, package these forms and dispense them.

 

By contrast, the legal program will be a distributed model, which offers benefits to both producers and consumers.

 

For producers, a distributed model encourages specialization, and lowers capital entry requirements for small businesspersons. Why should a boutique infused chocolatier also pay to fit out a premium cultivation space when they can obtain quality raw cannabis material from a cultivation specialist at wholesale prices?

 

For consumers, a distributed program offers more product diversity with specialized-producer quality. Which brings us to...

 

Lab Testing

 

On the MMUMP side, although a 2016 bill requires lab testing before any medical cannabis product can be labeled with cannabinoid or contaminant results, implementation has stalled. In Maine today, there is no effective way to ensure that standard testing requirements have been applied to all medical cannabis products.

 

Under the adult use program, testing labs will be an integral part of the production chain. The result will be an adult use program with a vigorous lab testing component where consumers will be certain of the cleanliness and cannabinoid profile of their products, side by side a medical program with no effective lab testing protocol.

 

Regulatory Oversight

 

(Warning: Alphabet soup ahead.)

 

The MMUMP is managed by the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), newly under the oversight of Maine Center for Disease Control (CDC).

 

However, DHHS does not want oversight of the MMUMP. This was made abundantly clear in the legalization Committee hearing on March 21, when DHHS' Chief Medical Officer said within the first two minutes of his testimony, “We don’t consider it (the MMUMP) a ‘medical’ program.”

 

The CMO went on to outline the challenges faced by a State agency charged with protecting public health, while simultaneously managing a program providing access to a plant which DHHS clearly considers dangerous to public health.

 

The legislative Committee on Marijuana Legalization Implementation is considering a dual regulatory system for the adult use program. As envisioned by the Committee, all cultivation, lab testing, manufacturing and packaging processes would be overseen by the Bureau of Agriculture, Food & Rural Resources, (“Ag,” a division of the Department of Agriculture, Conservation & Forestry, or DACF).

 

When product is finished and ready for retail sale, oversight will shift to the Bureau of Alcoholic Beverages & Lottery Operations (BABLO, a bureau of the Department of Administrative & Financial Services, or DAFS). BABLO would have regulatory oversight of retail stores and social use clubs.

 

It remains to be seen whether Ag and BABLO will have more appetite for the regulatory tasks assigned to them by voters and legislators than DHHS has displayed for managing the MMUMP.

 

Number of Retail Outlets

 

The MMUMP licensed eight medical dispensaries in 2010, and that number has not increased in the last seven years.

 

The adult use statute provides no set number of adult use retail shops or social use clubs, leaving it to individual municipalities to control what types of cannabusinesses, if any, they wish to allow. Assuming that the Committee on Marijuana Legalization Implementation does not repeat the MMUMP mistake of needlessly restricting retail facilities, adult use cannabis retail outlets will be more widely available than medical cannabis dispensaries are at present.

 

Further, adult use stores will not require the additional step of obtaining a medical cannabis certification — any valid ID proving that the consumer is age 21 or up will suffice.

 

What’s Next?

 

Those who wish to protect what'll surely be a smaller medical cannabis market, separate from the adult use program, must be pragmatic. The MMUMP is about a year away from having to compete against an objectively more flexible, better regulated, and more product-diverse adult use market.

 

The eight existing medical dispensaries are well positioned to be early entrants into that market, as are some caregivers. Ironically, the best-positioned caregivers are those who have used the lack of MMUMP oversight to play a little wide at the edges, such as by “churning” patients to serve more than the supposed five per caregiver. By responding to market demand, they have built internal systems that mirror the dispensaries’. But only a few have a tax and compliance trail to deploy as assets in their applications for adult-use licenses.

 

At this point, Maine’s medical cannabis advocates need to ask themselves some tough questions:

 

How can we clearly articulate the benefits of a medical cannabis program in the face of a larger and better-regulated adult use market? Why is there still no mandatory lab testing for contaminants and cannabinoid profile within the MMUMP inspection standards are appropriate to a cottage industry which also claims to provide “medical”-grade cannabis products? How can we best advocate for patients when our oversight agency does not see our work as part of their mandate?

  • It may turn out that the best way to protect and improve the MMUMP will require aligning it in some important ways with the coming adult use program.

 

Becky DeKeuster is CEO of Calyx Concepts, an agency which provides consulting services to medical and adult use cannabusinesses. She is a former Director of Berkeley Patients Group and co-founder of Wellness Connection of Maine.

A quick Q and A with Zoo Cain

The prolific artist and longtime Portland resident Zoo Cain shared some wisdom with the Phoenix ahead of the local premiere of "Peace, Love, and Zoo," an award-winning film by Reginald Groff that chronicles his road to recovery and shows that when you give to the universe, sometimes it gives back. 

 

What have you been up to lately? Where is your energy focused?

 

Walking the wilds of Cape Cod with my wife Cindy.  Staying close with my art, visual art, while doing some cool reading and writing.  Spending a lot of time with my three new friends, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Kokopelli and Shirley Jackson.

 

How do you feel about the reaction to the film Peace Love and Zoo so far?

 

Well for a person more drawn to flying under the radar the film is somewhat daunting and exciting at the same time.  I am grateful for people's great vibes towards me.     

 

What has been the most reoccurring piece of advice you've offered people struggling with addiction, or any type of ailment or anxiety for that matter?

 

Never give up. Folks that are suicidal simply have run out of hope. One of the few survivors of jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge said that all his insurmountable problems actually had solutions other than the fact he just took that fateful leap. Like almost everyone that has survived an attempt to die, they are so happy to have another chance.  Life is precious.  Transform and be at rest inside yourself.        



How does art factor into that?

 

Art enables you to think with the whole brain. You can at once be on and in tune while creating. Also it's real fun. Going to plays, movies, reading, and listening is grand.

 

Art can definitely help a person paint their way out of a very dark place. Making things, poetry, songs, drawings, vessels, other than all this constant destruction active using involves, is very good for the soul and psyche. It can actually change patterns in the body, imprinting positivity rather than the negative. Enrich your insides and the outsides will look after themselves.        

 

What advice would you impart on any struggling artists out there? 

It surely is not easy being an artist wanting to get by in a place that is being bought up and sold for many tens of thousands. What happened to our beloved Munjoy Hill for instance? New fire department interest in places that house the artist, since a very tragic fire, also adds strain to the less than rich and middle class. One has to really want to create to make art.  Its never been an easy road, especially if selling out is not a personal option.

 

How do you feel about Portland's art scene currently?

 

Portland is a wonderful place to live and work.  It will only get better.  A rock and roll band will sooner than later put Portland center stage.  People should be ready for that big sure change.            

Joe Royland: Death of a Music Salesman

Earlier this week, Transworld (the music and DVD retail company that owned Tape World, Record Town, Coconuts and Strawberries) closed its FYE location in the Maine Mall after 34 years of business. The big “SALE” signs, the pop culture toys and the “Ask Me About Pre-Ordering The Fast and the Furious 27 dvd” name tag buttons are all packed up for good.

The only thing that remains is the ghostly cries of a former customer, “Eighteen dollars for the new Metallica CD? What?!”


That FYE (For Your Entertainment) location in the Maine Mall was originally a Record Town upon its opening in 1983. Then it expanded to Record Town/Saturday Matinee from 1993-2007, which would give way to FYE until it’s close just hours ago.
Years ago, before Bull Moose covered so much ground, there were some individual mom and pop shops and the big chain stores. You went to the mom and pop shop for The Undertones, Venom and John Zorn records and when you wanted the new Madonna record or cassingle, you went to the mall stores.


Say what you will today, but mall locations back then were crucial. A happening place for younger folks. Yes, believe it or not, kiddos, back in the day the mall was... well, like Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s is to you today. Social city. But with better parking spaces! As a kid, you’d walk through the mall and maybe grab some cookies at Mrs. Fields, laugh at the T-shirts with boobs on them at Spencer's gifts and pop into Record Town for the new Motley Crue tape. Malls gathered us. It was safe turf, a playground for teens.  


Today, life is so different. Yet through phases, cultures, sounds, influences; Record Town/FYE somehow stood its ground. Amazingly really. The rent to set up shop in the mall? Yikes! No wonder they had to charge an arm and a leg for that stuff. Yet through so much change, Transworld’s Maine stores have weathered the storm. Until now.


With the loss of FYE, comes the loss of one of the greatest locals ever in music retail. Joe Royland started working for Transworld in the mall in 1985 via Tape World. A couple years later, they sent him across the hall to Record Town. Just this week Royland gave up his locker after 32 years of commitment to the mall music customer. He was hope that those stores could still sell decent music and turn younger folks onto quality artists they’d listen to forever. Joe is a fan, in and out of his store. Matter of fact, I see Joe more at Bull Moose and record conventions than anywhere. FYE was lucky to have him. Professional defined. A high-quality human on either side of the counter.


On the eve of his final price scan, I caught up with Joe to hear about what that store meant to him. In doing so, possibly making mall store haters step back a bit and realize we can’t be picky about music stores anymore while they’re washing away quickly with the times.


Do you remember when you started working for Transworld?


October of 1985 I started out part time. I was friendly with the manager the time, Rick Vaznis, from shopping in the store a lot. One day I saw someone new working there and I said "Why didn't you tell me you were hiring?" He said, "You want to work here?" Funny thing, his son has been working for us a couple of years now. Great kid.


What could Transworld have done in your opinion to better business?


I think we did a lot of things right, but one easy answer could be pricing. Being in a mall, your pricing is offset by very high rent. Our online presence dragged a bit. The renaming of the brand could have maybe been handled better. For Your Entertainment was always shown and spoken of with the acronym FYE. The problem with that is that a lot of people have no idea what kind of a place a store named FYE is!


What kept the fire burning for you to work there all these years?


Mainly, my undying passion for music. It's something that's been a part of me all my life. I love being connected to music on as many levels as possible. In the pre-internet days, having the inside scoop on what was coming out was a big plus. I also like being around like-minded people who shared my passion. My direct boss and I have worked together for so long that we truly have become more like family.


Were they open to your input?


Very much so. I was very much responsible for a lot of the product we carried in not just our store, but for others in our region as well.


What are your greatest memories from your years at the store?


We get a lot of famous folks who have done in-store appearances or shopped there over the years. Alice Cooper always stops by to shop when he's in town. We even had Robert Plant in the store just a few or so years back.


Are you done with music/entertainment retail now?


I think so, or at least I hope so. If the right situation came along, I might think differently. For now, though, I truly think it's time for something else. Plus, I have a new baby at home that I'd like to be able to spend more quality time with than retail often allows. I'm looking forward to not necessarily having to work every weekend, holiday and things like Black Friday and Christmas.


As we approach Record Store Day and your store closing its doors; what's your take on the future of physical music?


I think that places that understand not only their business and customer base, but their reasons for being in that business to begin with will continue to thrive. Media will always be changing, but our desire to consume and collect it, I don't think that's ever going to go away. Record Store Day as a good thing. Anything that helps get people into music stores, and gets them to reconnect with that music community experience is great. I hope that the "Record/Music Store" as I've come to know and enjoy it in my lifetime is still going to be there in the future for my son to enjoy the experience of as much as I have.  


Follow Joe on Facebook at “Sit and Spin with Joe” for his music reviews and videos. 

Talking Through the Unthinkable: Author Maria Padian's Wrecked

Don’t read this one with the kids unless they are educated about, and fortified against, the unthinkable.

 

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. It has happened to some of us. A relationship of trust and confidence turns out to be nothing but the worst betrayal other than outright murder. Some bear their scars well, and others allow themselves to be more like their attackers than they would like, if they thought about at all.

 

New Yorker Maria Padian has written a young-adult novel called Wrecked, in which a sexual assault takes place on a college campus. Or was it an assault? Everybody on campus has an opinion. The two BFFs of the young man and woman, respectively, are thrown apart by the sides they’ve taken, and thrown together by something larger than either of them.

 

In conjunction with the Young Adult Abuse Prevention Program (YAAPP, an organization that “delivers education, services, and advocacy that enable youth to make choices within their dating relationships that are safe, healthy, and informed”), the Portland Public Library is hosting a month-long book discussion group about Wrecked for teens, on Saturdays in April at their main branch (5 Monument Way). The meeting this Saturday, April 1, starts at 2:30 p.m.

 

If your teen wants to commit to all five meetings, they can get a free copy of the book by making contact via http://www.yaapp.org or calling 207.767.4952. Those who want to come to meetings sporadically are also welcome. The first meeting, on Saturday, April 1, is for introductions only; there is no reading assignment. And guess what? Maria Padian herself will be present to participate in the discussion at the final meeting on April 29.

 

It’s a gentle, educational, sociable way to talk about a subject that is none of the above. We leave you with a phrase about Wrecked from Booklist (and trust in the fact that they don’t shower words like these on every book they come across): “Particularly relevant for high school seniors and college freshmen.”

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