Contemporary Band — An Interview with Colin Newman of Wire

If you don't have a ticket to see Wire, the legendary English art-rock band formed in 1976 by Colin Newman, Graham Lewis, Bruce Gilbert, and Robert Gotobed, we don't know what to tell you. The show's been out since late spring.

Still, we jumped at the chance to discuss the band's adventurous career in a surprisingly long and thoughtful conversation with singer and guitarist Colin Newman, who spoke to the Phoenix via Skype from his home studio in London.

Hi Colin, how's your day going?

Not so bad! Tidying up the studio.

I'm not sure if you know this, but the show here is sold out. So thanks for doing this interview anyway!

Well, there's quite a few on this tour that are sold out, so I'm not at all surprised. I mean, it's not very often that we play in Portland, Maine. I don't think we ever have before. We played I think in Bangor at some point in some biker's club. It was the '80s. 

I'm curious, as a band that's been together for 40 years with a lot of the same personnel, how have you kept it interesting? Do you devise new songwriting techniques or play games with each other?

I think it's a matter of refining than changing for the sake. You don't fix it if it's not broken. Since, really, (the album) Red Barked Tree in 2011, it's been a gradual refining of the methodology of how to make a Wire record. I mean, Wire records in the '70s were done in a certain kind of way. And in the '80s there was quite a lot of experimentation about how to make Wire records because there was a lot of experimentation in general about how to make records. And I think the technology — to use a word I hate — sort of turned down around the millennium, so you could have the benefits of so-called electronic recording and old-school tape-style recording. And ultimately, the way we settled on how to make a Wire record was a synthesis of the best use of available tools and being able to actually play as a band.

Because we are a band. We can stand in a room and play. It's not a problem. But there was a period of time where we had to go to extreme lengths in order to make that happen. Now, you can get anything in time with anything else in any way, shape or form. You can throw stuff together and sort it out later. So that led me to think I needed to go back to what I used to do originally, which is write songs on acoustic guitar, bring them to the band, the band learning them, and then we make the album on that basis. In terms of my relationship to the rest of the band on that, we got to a point where basically nobody hears anything until we all meet in the studio to record it. Occasionally I may bring stuff to others in various forms, but everything comes back here (to my studio) for us to finish as a band. Basically, how do you go about the idea of making a Wire record? And how do you make it the purest expression of being a Wire record that you can get to? 

That's interesting because Wire is talked about as this influential punk band, but for so much of your career, you've operated well outside of that form.

We weren't a punk band in 1977 — what part of not being a punk band don't people understand? (laughs). I think there are two viewpoints are that. Some people, especially people our age, don't for one minute think Wire is a punk band. Even though some of Pink Flag sounds a bit like punk, it was the wrong kind of music. There were no such things as slow songs in punk. And then other people who are a bit more conceptual think Wire is the best punk band ever because we've broken every rule of punk. So, what does that mean?

One of you at some point talked about wanting to be a "contemporary band" — 

I think that's always been Wire's kind of cool identity. I mean, we were extremely aware of what was happening in music when we started. As far as we were concerned, punk was a 1976 thing, and every band, especially the local bands, who were influenced by the Sex Pistols — meaning they wanted to sound exactly like the Sex Pistols — were going to last about two minutes. It was important to be the next thing, so we considered what we were doing as the next thing. So that became a kind of way of describing what we wanted to do.

Obviously now, there's no such thing as a timeline in music. Every record that's ever been made is as new as every other record that's ever been made. It's hard to imagine when I was growing up that I would be walking down the street hearing (today) music that was fifty years old as a regular thing. And that's true in any country in the western world. So I don't have to go to special places where old people go to hear old music. Old music is a part of the culture. And in a way, that's a very weird thing. What is a contemporary band? I don't know what that means anymore. Everything and nothing is contemporary. There's new music that sounds more like old music than old music sounds. There's a (contemporary) artist called Drugdealer from Los Angeles, and that album is the most '70s-sounding album I've ever heard in my life. And I don't think anyone in the '70s sounded that much in the '70s. But in some ways, he's kind of crystallizing an aesthetic. In the end, you either like it or don't like it.

The other thing, of course, is what you say and what you do. You can have a band in their early twenties who say they don't listen to anything after 1973. Or that they only use old technology. You know, if someone in their sixties sounds like that, they just sound like an old geezer. For us, being sort of analog purists — I mean, we've made enough records in analog. We know their limitations. 


Wire + Minibeast | September 22 | Fri 8:30 pm | SPACE Gallery, 538 Congress St., Portland | SOLD OUT | www.space538.org 

Strawberry Beers Forever

In these waning days of summer, I'm tasting beers with added fruits, berries, and other unusual ingredients. Earlier, we tried three beers brewed with added strawberries. Two weeks ago, I reviewed a notice that two breweries I follow were releasing strawberry beers and I took it as a sign. Summer ain't over yet, and there's more strawberry to drink!

 

Hidden Cove Fragola

ABV: 6.0%

Format Sampled: 16 oz corked bottle

Availability: Purchased at Bow Street Beverage Public Market

Tasting Notes: Pours a luminous orange/amber with no head at all. Aroma has fresh acidity, tempered with a fruity balsamic character. The fragile aroma of fresh strawberry is evident as well. The first sip is pleasantly tart, with a refreshing sourness that is almost immediately overtaken by the pulpy favor of strawberry. The berry is so fresh, especially over the sour backdrop, that it's like a scoop of fresh sorbet on my tongue. The addition of strawberry in this beer is so natural that it makes me appreciate the flavor of strawberry in ways I haven't before, noticing it's inherent, decadent creaminess, and profound sweetness. The berry flavor continues throughout, both bold and delicate. The body is quite thin and fluid, setting up no boundaries to drinking this lovely beer quickly. The bracing acid character lends itself to an aperitif, or perhaps a pairing with a fruit dessert

 

Samuel Smith's Organic Strawberry Ale

ABV: 5.1%

Format Sampled: 12 oz capped bottle

Availability: Provided by Merchant du Vin.

Tasting Notes: Pours a hazy copper with a short-lived off-white head. Aroma is powerfully berry-like, sharp and almost buttery in its concentration. The initial flavor is sweet, filled with sugary strawberry, oozing with jammy intensity. The berry flavor is so potent, it's like eating a tablespoon of strawberry jelly directly from the jar. This is not a “berry flavored beer,” or a “beer inspired by berries,” this is the result of a mad brewer, drunk on organic intoxicants, brazenly squeezing a kilogram of strawberries directly into the bottle. This may be too sweet for some, but it would be an amazing accompaniment to vanilla ice-cream, fruit salad, or perhaps the base of an interesting beer cocktail or shandy.

 

Lindemans Strawberry Lambic

ABV: 4.1%

Format Sampled: 12 oz capped and corked bottle

Availability: Provided by Merchant du Vin.

Tasting Notes: Pours a hazy pinkish, with a short-lived head of tan foam. Aroma is filled with meaty, stewed berries and mulled wine, much less sweet than the Sam Smiths. The initial flavor melds the essence of strawberry with a pleasant hint of balancing acidity. The sweetness is on par with the actual experience of eating a fresh strawberry, rather than a jammy distillation of the fruit. There is a pleasant fruit-like sourness, melding with the sweetness, and creating some level of balance. This, too, might be too sweet for some, and could also serve as a winning accompaniment to a vanilla dessert.

 

Manhood Strikes Again — The Many Charms of Ray Harrington's 'Overwhelmed'

In 2015, Providence comic Ray Harrington turned a snapshot of his life — a thirtysomething brand-new dad who had just released his first comedy album — into a documentary film. Titled Be a Man, the stand-up artist’s movie explored the expectations of modern American masculinity as seen through the comic’s characteristically goofy, self-deprecating style. Harrington grew up in Bangor and his parents divorced when he was very young, and he was legitimately interested in cultivating techniques to be a good role model for his son.

As it turns out, this process is actually hilarious. With sincere intentions tucked away in there somewhere, Harrington turned this vulnerability into an absurdist vision quest, meeting hypermasculine figures and prototypical American role models and querying them about what it means to be a man. In a subsequent interview with Boston magazine, he said the process of making the film made him more of a feminist.

None of this is to say Harrington is a “socially conscious comic,” or anything like that (and if you’re wondering, his semi-ironic quest for manhood didn’t push the joke so far as to entertain any insipid men’s rights activist groups). He’s just a regular dude, and a smart one. And he’s brimming with ideas on Overwhelmed, his second album of stand-up, released earlier this month — about kids, about homeownership, about camping, about pets.

That’s right, Harrington deals in fairly conventional subject matter, geared, you might say, to the white thirtysomething New England male experience. As a new dad, much of this material hovers over the tribulations of parenthood, a realm where Harrington digs up an admirable amount of new insights. He derides people who use words incorrectly; he upbraids shitty parents who’ve made shitty children (“they’re real”), and he critiques domestic institutions like House Hunters while confessing to loving the show. He also gets unhinged, cusses a bunch, tells fart jokes, and tests boundaries he sees rising up among his audience, but he’s essentially a pretty good doobie. He’s likable and intelligent enough to know his blind spots, and canny enough to never come across as corny.

On Overwhelmed, the best evidence for this is Harrington’s ability to read a room. On a perhaps awkward, or awkwardly delivered, riff about the mortality rate of pet hamsters, Harrington realizes the crowd is ever so slightly slipping away from him. His timing as a joketeller is typically strong, but his timing in that particular moment — when interrupting his own story — is perfect. The second he feels the audience fade, Harrington issues a chortling, convivial laugh at himself. “I’m gonna keep going,” he tells them, mock-defiantly. “I have exhausted the goodwill of the room; that’s fine. I’m going to finish the bit.” Immediately, the audience is with him again. “It’s now just for me!” He issues a stage-y ahem and steps back into the scene, adopting an annoying-aunt-like droll. “I was the one who found the body!” he shouts, breathing new life into a joke lesser comics would have refused to acknowledge was dead.

A big dude, Harrington possesses a tool that many other comics don’t, which is the ability to deploy jokes about his own physicality. “I don’t like summer. I’m not a summer person,” he announces early on. “You ask any fat person what his favorite time of year is, you’re never gonna hear” — he puts on a strained, throaty voice — “Oh I love a good hot July!” Harrington can pull out this type of joke at his discretion throughout the act, but the gag hardly registers as a first principle of his humor. When half an hour later, as he’s setting up a story about teaching his son to swear, Harrington walks us through the domestic routine. “I was making a sandwich. At that time of the day, I needed a sandwich.” Laughter. Harrington reacts. “Not as a fat guy.” More laughter. “Not as a fat guy!” He says again, scolding us. “As a parent, I needed a sandwich. So I could eat that sandwich and for forty seconds feel like a human being. That’s all!” In this and so many other moments, it’s unclear which is more charming: Harrington’s routine as its written or the guy who occasionally shows up to interrupt his own set to talk directly to us.

Manhood is one of America’s most enduring, tragic fallacies. We should be lucky that Harrington is out here taking the piss in its name.


Ray Harrington | 'Overwhelmed' | Stand-Up Records | www.rayharringtoncomedy.com 

Too Little, Too Late — First impressions of the Roma Cafe

Nostalgia is one hell of a spicy meatball. Powerful longings for and affection toward the past have been used to boost sales of cameras, movie tickets and everything in between over the course of the last century, with food being no exception to the rule. Whether it be the first drop of Zima in nine years or a dining concept built around a bygone era, the intersection of food and nostalgia is impossible to ignore.

The Roma Cafe operates under the latter principle. First opened in 1924 by Italian immigrant Dominic Marino (who would later pass the business along to his two sons), The Roma would eventually be billed as Portland's “most romantic restaurant” before closing its doors under a second ownership in 2008. The Bramhall Pub, downstairs, suffered a similar fate until reopened in 2014 by Mike Fraser, who is also responsible for resuming dinner service at the Roma for the first time in nine years.

Classic Italian fare of strong quality is not exactly available in droves throughout southern Maine, positioning the Roma’s new incarnation for success right from day one. And the interest is there — an hour wait on a Wednesday evening for a two-top, a dining room bubbling with baby boomers eager to cut into their first bite of Veal Milanese in nearly a decade.

During a recent visit, however, execution proved to be lacking across the board.

 

marsala 

Roma Cafe's Chicken Marsala with a sauté of summer squash and side of pasta.

Things started strong when a well-made, spongy focaccia showed up to the table alongside a plate of pickled vegetables, fruity olive oil and nutty Grana Padano cheese — generously on the house. Chicken liver Toscano arrived next, showcasing a mousse smooth in texture, yet unapologetically iron-forward in taste and garnished with flat-leaf parsley and rough-chopped tomatoes. Calamari Fritti — otherwise breaded and fried to perfection — was rendered difficult to eat by an egregious presence of salt.

Unfortunately, entrées of Bucatini Amatriciana and Chicken Marsala also failed to impress, the former characterized by a thin, watery sauce and saved only by the inclusion of smoky guanciale. While unoffensive enough, the Marsala — flanked by a sauté of summer squash and side of pasta that felt like afterthoughts — somehow lacked flavor despite also being seasoned with a heavy hand. Though a saving grace could be found in a side of meatballs (plump, yielding and unctuous), my dining partner and I both agreed it was too little, too late.

Fold-in exceedingly long wait times between dishes (especially for a Wednesday night), as well as a potentially gorgeous dining room tarnished by wall-to-wall fake candles, and it’s clear that the new incarnation of the Roma Cafe has some work to do. After all, nostalgia can only get you so far in a dining town with such a strong focus on execution.


The Roma | 767 Congress St., Portland | Sun-Thu 5-9:30 pm; Fri-Sat 5-10 pm | 207.761.1611

 

Retired Portland cop accused of abuse of power

 

FullSizeRender (20)Above The Law is a column featuring news and analysis on incarceration, policing, and the criminal justice system in Maine. The name evokes the extrajudicial actions and impunity of law enforcement that will be covered here, while also imploring citizens to think "above" and beyond the status quo to envision better ways of dealing with harm. Here, we will question and critique not only the conduct of law enforcement but the roles played by various institutions of justice in communities across the state and nation. Above The Law aims to elevate the perspectives, stories, and voices of impacted communities, reporting the ideas and work being done on the ground to advance new visions for justice, security, and accountability.


A retired Portland cop is facing a federal lawsuit for allegedly sending two officers to violently recoup money his daughter paid for a limousine ride to Gillette Stadium.

Two York County residents allege local police conspired with retired Portland detective Joseph Fagone to threaten, assault, and kidnap them over $850 Fagone wanted refunded for his daughter’s limousine ride.

The plaintiffs submitted a motion requesting to proceed with the lawsuit under the pseudonyms John and Jane Doe for fear of “retaliation and harassment by the police.”

The complaint, filed on August 31 with the U.S. District Court for the District of Maine, names the York County Sheriff’s Department, Sergeant Robert Hayes, Detective William Vachon, and Fagone as defendants.

The Does are married and owned a small transportation business in York County. On August 28, 2011, they received a message allegedly threatening to “bury” them if they did not refund $850 for limousine services from the day before.

Four days later, the Does answered a knock on the door at their home in Buxton. Sergeant Hayes and Detective Vachon were on their front step. The officers flashed their badges and asked to enter. The Does complied.

Once inside, the officers asked if they knew why they had come. When John Doe said he did not know, Hayes allegedly said, “You fucked with the wrong person.” One of their passengers the night before had been Fagone’s daughter, Hayes said.

John tried to call 911 at that moment but the officers threw him to the ground and handcuffed him. They took the phone and told the operator not to dispatch officers, and then falsely claimed it was illegal to call 911 in the presence of police.

John was forced into an unmarked police car and driven a short distance away, where for nearly an hour, the officers demanded he refund the money to Fagone.

Vachon allegedly said John was under arrest “for being an asshole.” When John asked to be read his rights, requested a phone call, and asked for the handcuffs to be removed, Vachon refused, saying, “You know your fucking rights.”

Hayes called Jane and asked where she was, telling her he was at the house. When she returned home, Hayes was at the door. He flashed his badge and claimed to be there “on behalf of the Massachusetts State Police.”

Hayes demanded the refund, telling Jane he “doesn’t make deals.” He falsely claimed to have video showing Jane stole money and a camera from their passengers.

By around 7:45 that night, Vachon returned to the house with John still handcuffed. The Does were instructed to “go to a parking lot outside a nearby bank” within 15 minutes to give them the money. Before leaving, they demanded the Does sign a form stating they had not used excessive force.

“Terrified, the Does complied and signed the forms,” the complaint states. But they fled to Jane’s mother’s house for the next several days instead of going to the bank.

The Does argue they tried to report the officers’ “brutal terrorism” to multiple agencies. A Major at the York County Sheriff’s Department assured them the matter would be handled internally.

However, York County “never took any appropriate corrective action and instead ratified and approved the unconstitutional conduct of Hayes and Vachon.”

One week later, the Does received another voicemail, this time from detective Fagone, who allegedly identified himself and said:

My daughter was involved in that limousine incident in Gillette Stadium. I am a detective with criminal investigations for the state of Maine. I’ve been working behind the scenes with Sergeant Hayes. My understanding is that you are playing games with [REDACTED] and you’re not willing to pay. That’s fine, but let me tell you, the agreement was that you guys were going to make this right. I am going to get a warrant for you and your husband and I guarantee you I will be out to that house. We negotiated in good faith with you. If you’re playing games, that’s what’s going to happen. I suggest you call her— [REDACTED]—and you make this right. If you choose not to do that—the agreement was you were going to pay her back—if you choose not to do that, that’s fine, but the alternative is criminal charges. And you can bet on that. If you want to play games, we will play games. Have a good night.

Those charges were never filed.

The lawsuit argues the defendants “acted with actual malice and reckless indifference” and that the incident constituted an illegal arrest because officers had no warrant or probable cause.

The Does argue the officers used excessive force and violated their right to due process by demanding payment for a “substantial and unappealable fine without giving him a chance to dispute the charge.”

The Does are asking the court to order the Sheriff’s Department to provide effective civil rights training to officers, award compensatory and punitive damages, and attorney fees and costs.


Brian Sonenstein can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Read more of his work at www.shadowproof.com.

A retired Portland cop is facing a federal lawsuit for allegedly sending two officers to violently recoup money his daughter paid for a limousine ride to Gillette Stadium.

Two York County residents allege local police conspired with retired Portland detective Joseph Fagone to threaten, assault, and kidnap them over $850 Fagone wanted refunded for his daughter’s limousine ride.

The plaintiffs submitted a motion requesting to proceed with the lawsuit under the pseudonyms John and Jane Doe for fear of “retaliation and harassment by the police.”

The complaint, filed on August 31 with the U.S. District Court for the District of Maine, names the York County Sheriff’s Department, Sergeant Robert Hayes, Detective William Vachon, and Fagone as defendants.

The Does are married and owned a small transportation business in York County. On August 28, 2011, they received a message allegedly threatening to “bury” them if they did not refund $850 for limousine services from the day before.

Four days later, the Does answered a knock on the door at their home in Buxton. Sergeant Hayes and Detective Vachon were on their front step. The officers flashed their badges and asked to enter. The Does complied.

Once inside, the officers asked if they knew why they had come. When John Doe said he did not know, Hayes allegedly said, “You fucked with the wrong person.” One of their passengers the night before had been Fagone’s daughter, Hayes said.

John tried to call 911 at that moment but the officers threw him to the ground and handcuffed him. They took the phone and told the operator not to dispatch officers, and then falsely claimed it was illegal to call 911 in the presence of police.

John was forced into an unmarked police car and driven a short distance away, where for nearly an hour, the officers demanded he refund the money to Fagone.

Vachon allegedly said John was under arrest “for being an asshole.” When John asked to be read his rights, requested a phone call, and asked for the handcuffs to be removed, Vachon refused, saying, “You know your fucking rights.”

Hayes called Jane and asked where she was, telling her he was at the house. When she returned home, Hayes was at the door. He flashed his badge and claimed to be there “on behalf of the Massachusetts State Police.”

Hayes demanded the refund, telling Jane he “doesn’t make deals.” He falsely claimed to have video showing Jane stole money and a camera from their passengers.

By around 7:45 that night, Vachon returned to the house with John still handcuffed. The Does were instructed to “go to a parking lot outside a nearby bank” within 15 minutes to give them the money. Before leaving, they demanded the Does sign a form stating they had not used excessive force.

“Terrified, the Does complied and signed the forms,” the complaint states. But they fled to Jane’s mother’s house for the next several days instead of going to the bank.

The Does argue they tried to report the officers’ “brutal terrorism” to multiple agencies. A Major at the York County Sheriff’s Department assured them the matter would be handled internally.

However, York County “never took any appropriate corrective action and instead ratified and approved the unconstitutional conduct of Hayes and Vachon.”

One week later, the Does received another voicemail, this time from detective Fagone, who allegedly identified himself and said:

My daughter was involved in that limousine incident in Gillette Stadium. I am a detective with criminal investigations for the state of Maine. I’ve been working behind the scenes with Sergeant Hayes. My understanding is that you are playing games with [REDACTED] and you’re not willing to pay. That’s fine, but let me tell you, the agreement was that you guys were going to make this right. I am going to get a warrant for you and your husband and I guarantee you I will be out to that house. We negotiated in good faith with you. If you’re playing games, that’s what’s going to happen. I suggest you call her— [REDACTED]—and you make this right. If you choose not to do that—the agreement was you were going to pay her back—if you choose not to do that, that’s fine, but the alternative is criminal charges. And you can bet on that. If you want to play games, we will play games. Have a good night.

Those charges were never filed.

The lawsuit argues the defendants “acted with actual malice and reckless indifference” and that the incident constituted an illegal arrest because officers had no warrant or probable cause.

The Does argue the officers used excessive force and violated their right to due process by demanding payment for a “substantial and unappealable fine without giving him a chance to dispute the charge.”

The Does are asking the court to order the Sheriff’s Department to provide effective civil rights training to officers, award compensatory and punitive damages, and attorney fees and costs.


Brian Sonenstein can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Read more of his work at www.shadowproof.com.

Culture of Excess: The Strangest Products On The Cannabis Market

Call me old-fashioned, but when it comes to consuming cannabis, I’m perfectly satisfied with a simple, tightly rolled joint. Clean bowls/pipes are nice too. Much of everything else — gravity bongs, CBD oil vaporizers, crazy edibles, and water-soluble THC capsules — seems a bit excessive. After all, I’m usually just trying to make a book or movie more interesting with a delicate buzz, not blast myself to the point where I’m sinking into the couch with drool hanging out my mouth.

But naturally, there are many different kinds of cannabis users. And it seems that the free market, as it typically does, has catered to just about every type of stoner out there. Many consider this a good thing, and admittedly I too am consistently amazed by the creativity of some products emerging from the cannabis market, but I often ask myself: does the world really need this? Adding to the weirdness of it all is the fact that some Americans out there are making money off of something like cannabis body butter, while 500,000 others are arrested each year for possessing essentially the same thing, but in plant form.

Despite the inequalities, and decadent nature present in some aspects of the cannabis market today, I’ve accepted the fact that it’s society’s growing hunger for products, however superfluous, that fuels this market of oddities. Yet I still wonder, which of these bemusing products I’ve featured below, tempts you to purchase? 

The Cereal Bowl Water Pipe Hybrid Nobody Asked For

columns cerealbowl

Taking the phrase “wake-n-bake” a little too seriously, one glassblower out of Washington created a bong that doubles as a cereal bowl, and sells them now at $90 each.

Admittedly, it looks functional and expertly made, but I must ask: who asked for this? Who out there has poured their cereal in the morning and lamented that they couldn’t take a hit of cannabis in between spoonfuls? Besides, at a 2 cup capacity, the creator of the cereal bong clearly underestimated the appetites of its potential buyers.

But my biggest gripe with this piece is how hard it must be to clean properly. Seriously, who’s going to want to eat their breakfast out of glassware that’s smelly and caked in dark weed resin?

The Completely Unnecessary iRollie OG2 Phone Case

columns irollie

The creator of the iRollie G2 wanted to make a discreet way to store his stash and roll joints on the go, but all he really accomplished was making his phone twice as hard to fit in his pocket. This clunky piece of cheap plastic is selling for $49 online right now.

Featuring a mini rolling tray, a smell-proof storage compartment, and a hole to funnel loose flowers into, the iRollieG2 snaps onto the back of your phone ensuring everything you need to get high is right in your pocket.

But I gotta ask, can’t it just wait until you get home?

Or at the very least, if you truly need to spark up at a moment’s notice, pack a dugout like the rest of us.

Marijuana Scented Candles Are Silly, Right? 

columns candles

Perhaps I’m just humorless and marijuana-scented candles would actually make a great gag gift, but I don’t see the appeal.

These ones from Celebrescents are going for $15 each on Amazon and promise to fill the room with the skunky aroma of freshly ground herbs. If you’re the type of person that would buy this, I doubt your house is void of that particular smell anyway.

Strange But Probably Awesome: Cannabis Sex Oil

columns foria

As a male who can’t experience the potent sensation of what’s called the “weed butter vagina experience,” I’m not about to shame it for existing. After all, when applied topically to sensitive areas, cannabis oil can double as a medicine, dulling pain and relaxing muscles. But a highly raved about cannabis sex oil by Foria makes it on this list anyway for being downright unusual.

Marketed as a natural lubricant and aphrodisiac, this oil allegedly heightens arousal and leaves one with a body high before and after orgasm, because apparently sex without cannabinoids is a bit subpar.

For Saltier Munchies: Marijuana Beef Jerky

columns reefjerky

It’s been common knowledge for decades that you can make a marijuana derivative of anything that requires butter/fat/oil in the cooking process. But seriously, just because you can make something, doesn’t mean you should.

Nevertheless, the Badfish Company’s marijuana-infused beef jerky, aptly called “Reef Jerky,” has been a popular item since it launched in 2014.


 Francis Flisiuk can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Time to Get Moving

An object at rest will tend to remain at rest, and an object in motion will tend to remain in motion. The law of inertia. It’s physics, but also an apt metaphor for physical fitness. As in, “Hey, we’ve been talking about getting exercise. Wanna go for a walk?” “Nah. Too much inertia.” And it’s easy to tell ourselves that acknowledging our lack of motivation absolves us of the obligation we feel to get out there. But something nags at us. It’s our bodies, saying, “Please, please!” And so, to be sure we don’t attempt something like Tuff Mudder our first time out, that means it’s time for some low-impact athletics.

 

Freeport Trails not only has that, but also offers incentives to get you and your family doing that little bit of hiking, with the Freeport Trail Challenge. This program is ongoing through the end of October. Here’s the idea: Get a ‘passport’ at either the Freeport Town Hall (30 Main St) or the Community Center (53 Depot St). Then, and this is where the overcoming your inertia comes in, get walking on four trails in Freeport (Field Estuary, Leon Gorman Park, Stonewood Trail to Sayles Woods, and Tidebrook). Record your hikes in your passport or on Facebook or Instragram, and once you’ve done all four trails, kids get a prize and adults are entered in a drawing for more substantial prizes. Sort of like saying to yourself, “Okay, if I jog a mile, I can pick up some Chunky Monkey on the way back.” But you’ll also be part of the community effort.

 

We’re not saying that anyone will necessarily be clambering over twenty-foot walls by this time next year. But that nagging “I should move my body” feeling (and bless readers to whom that's a distant memory) might be replaced for a while by a few endorphins.

 

Early season leaf-peeping on foot, anyone?

 

http://freeportconservationtrust.org/new-and-noteworthy/2017-freeport-trail-challenge-get-outside-with-friends-and-family/

 

Five of the Eyes drop sprawling first album 'The Venus Transit'

If I had a criticism prepared for The Venus Transit, the first full-length by Five of the Eyes, it would have been that the band registered too studiously as disciples of The Mars Volta, that cultish, amazing, inscrutable El Paso band. Based on a couple years-old live shows and scattered tracks online, I expected a total sonic fealty to the aughties post-punk prog group, maybe with a little At the Drive-In sprinkled in.

But that wouldn’t be fair, because the debut album by the Portland-based quintet covers a hell of a lot more ground. These nine songs have a lineage, both personally and musico-historically, and on Venus, expertly recorded by Jonathan Wyman at The Halo in Portland, the band play as if they’re rewriting the form.

The wriggling bassline of “Atmosphere” at track one will spark the hearts of elder prog wizards still crazy for early Yes. The modern and carefully calibrated “Wasteland” sounds like a thornier versions of A Perfect Circle (or maybe reconstructed late-era Incubus) before toppling into a stabby, arrhythmic post-hardcore outro like something out of a late, great Botch track. Little fronts as punkish here, but echoes of numerous groups who’ve made the transition from roots in both punk and metal — Boston’s Cave In comes to mind — float to the surface. In other words, Dream Theater this is not.

Depending on your preference, it could be a service that none ofThe Venus Transit’s tracks follow the prog party line to lengths approaching 10 minutes and beyond. Instead, all of them slot between four and five and a half. It’d be splitting hairs to argue that prog records don’t often function so conventionally; this could also be a sign of the group’s strength. Somehow, through the pristine recording and the whatness of the band itself, Five of the Eyes transcend the veiled cloak of the genre and somehow manage to sound like a pop band.

And none of this would be possible without frontman Darrell Foster’s bold, brazen, beautiful vocals. In press releases, the group willingly asserts similarities to Jeff Buckley, and while Five of the Eyes’ songwriting doesn’t allow for as much emotional range as Buckley’s did, Foster’s instrumental depth can certainly pull it off. The stunning half-ballad “Passenger” comes closest, the band swaying in a pressurized slow rhythm while Foster issues overtures — convincingly — like a half-ruined R&B singer. In “Mirrors,” Foster’s dynamic falsetto set alight by Tim Meehan and Ned Rich’s twining medieval-folk guitar lines. It’s enough to suggest that Five of the Eyes could be any band they wanna be.

To the best of my memory, Portland hasn’t sported a band like this. Groups have hovered around the post-metal, prog-rock fringes — the terrific Sunrunner comes to mind, as well as the ecstatic black-metal/folk group Falls of Raurus — but those projects are much different, and none have married music this complex with mainstream accessibility. If there’s a next step, Five of the Eyes appear ready to take it.

Let me level with you. This is a genre too often weighed down by indulgent, overwrought bands playing unnecessarily complicated music meant to make its players look intelligent and virtuosic while masking an intrinsic lack of inspiration or depth, generally topped off with wincingly bad lyrics. Five of the Eyes commit none of these crimes. These songs are carefully crafted and smartly arranged, and while some parts are indeed jawdroppingly virtuosic, the real feat is their ability to weave it all together as seamlessly and intentionally as they have here. There’s room for growth, sure, but I wouldn’t be surprised if people came to swear by this record. It may be a masterpiece.


Five of the Eyes | The Venus Transit album release | with KGFREEZE + Mirth + In the Presence of Wolves | Sep 30 Sat 9 pm | Portland House of Music and Events, 25 Temple St, Portland | $10-12 | www.portlandhouseofmusic.com 

8 Days a Week: Dark Crystals, Half Moons, All Black Everything

THURSDAY 21

FOISTED EAST | One of the summer's successful music series, Are You Kidding Me? Tapes' Thursday night showcases of weird, experimental, and next-wave rock, has moved from Geno's Rock Club to Bayside's Urban Farm Fermentory. Besides bands of unpredictable and high-personality musicians, the prime virtue of this series, the project of a DIY tape label project by musician Chris Gervais and Jason Engler, is its ubiquity. A cheap weekly showcase of local rock stuff is pretty necessary to keep a scene alive. Tonight's affair, by slow-build alt-country act Tall Horse; the gorgeously soaring sounds of Bangor's five-piece indie unit Wait; and Portland's emotionally soaked Cape Cannons, fronted by Dustin Saucier; should be a solid hang.

| 8 pm | Urban Farm Fermentory, 200 Anderson St., Portland | $3 | www.fermentory.com

 

SKEKSI YOUTH | The late revolutionary puppeteer Jim Henson's 1983 film masterpiece The Dark Crystal sees a late-night screening at Nickelodeon tonight, part of their laudable late-night series every Thursday. The struggle between the Skeksis and Mystics turned out quite a bit darker in execution than Henson imagined — it is, ostensibly, a kids' film, but it somehow cut a lot deeper than the youth standard. Like a lot of Henson's work, the film's capacity awakened an appreciation of the power of puppeteering among new audiences and practitioners. | 7:30 pm | Nickelodeon Cinemas, 1 Temple St.., Portland | www.patriotcinemas.com

 

INTERTEXT | A true highlight of last year's film festival circuit, the documentary Cameraperson compiles numerous scenes and outtakes from decades of cinematographer Kirsten Johnson's career in documentary film — all for films she didn't direct. What appears like an abstract formless collage of seemingly unrelated footage takes on incredible and resonant shape, as Johnson somehow massages the footage to tell stories not only of her ethics behind the camera, but tales much closer to home. A recommended public screening, and free. | 6:30 pm | Portland Public Library, 5 Monument Sq., Portland | www.portlandlibrary.com

 

FRIDAY 22

 

FROM WITHIN | As uprisings swell once again in St. Louis after last week's acquittal of white Officer Jason Stockley, who was let go after being charged with the murder of black driver Anthony Lamar Smith in December 2011, you should make sure to see Sabaah Folayan's Whose Streets?, the searing on-the-ground documentary of the protests and actions in and surrounding Ferguson after the murder of Michael Brown in 2014. Folayan's film screened twice at SPACE Gallery last week, but receives a full run at Brunswick's Frontier, opening tonight. With reports that St. Louis cops in riot gear have begun to co-opt the chant, you owe it to yourself and others to know its history. | 3 & 7 pm (two screenings) | Frontier, 14 Maine St., Brunswick | $6-8 | www.explorefrontier.com

 

HEY! | Hear the sound of contemporary America as Americana/country/pop group The Head and the Heart swoops through town this evening, playing on the season's last good and sprawlable lawns. The Seattle quintet are still riding high from the release of their 2016 album Signs of Light, and are major users of the so-called "Millennial Whoop," the ubiquitous whoah-ah sound jumping between the third and fifth notes of a key that musicologists and irritated bloggers have tracked down to a name, pattern, and science (which are, hopefully, the first steps toward its obsolescence). | 7:30 pm | Thompson's Point, Portland | www.statetheatreportland.com

 

SATURDAY 23

 

BACTERIALITY | Today's Beer Meets Wood Festival, put on by the definitive Beer Advocate, gathers the finest examples of breweries adopting the trend of aging beer in wood. Today's tastings should feature beers aged in bourbon-soaked barrels, fresh oak, weird bacteria, and all other varieties, collecting over 200 beers from 20 states across the U.S. (and Belgium, of course, known for its funk in this department). Wood-aging has a long history, and these folks know it. | 6 pm | Portland Company Complex, 58 Fore St. Portland | $55 | www.beeradvocate.com  

 

BOOTSTOMP | Off the path in Casco, Maine's Half Moon Jug Band of throwback players whoops it up for awhile at the Carousel Horse Farm, where a barbecue and kids' pony and wagon rides round out a heartwarming benefit for the nonprofit Jackman Preschool, in nearby Jackman, Maine. The whole shindig starts at 2, but the corn hole tournament at 3 is when things really get going. | 2-7 pm | Carousel Horse Farm, 69 Leach Hill Rd. Casco | $30, $10-15 youth | https://chfmaine.com/ 

 

 

POST-PARALYSIS | Now nine months into a Trump administration, the threats to democracy, working and marginalized people, and other civic institutions have moved from nebulous and abstract to a lot more defined. The GOP has launched yet another attempt to repeal the ACA, trying to strongarm the Graham-Cassidy Bill through Congress, and ICE raids are continuing to threaten vulnerable immigrant people throughout the country. Whatever your participation level is in anti-oppression politics, you might find it useful to have today's "Active Bystander Training" under your belt. A workshop hosted by Portland organization Prevention.Action.Change, this training at the outer Forest Planned Parenthood will help you know specifically what to do when witnessing hate speech and violence enacted on another person in your presence. | 4-6:30 pm | Planned Parenthood, 970 Forest Ave., Portland | $10 sugg. donation | https://pacmaine.com/

 

MAKE YOUR NIGHT | There's an inspired kind of variety show down at Zero Station tonight called "All Black Everything," combining comedy (James Swaka), poetry (Nyanen Deng), dance (the art-pop dance hybrid group Hi Tiger), hip hop (DJ/producer 32french and rapper AFRiCAN DUNDADA), and paintings by celebrated artist Daniel Minter. Produced by Derek Jackson (a contributor to this newspaper), who has a knack for assembling exciting contemporary shows of artists in disparate mediums, genres, and forms. | 8 pm | Zero Station, 222 Anderson St. Portland | by donation 

 

SUNDAY 24

INDIVISIBLE | If you've exhausted Black Mirror and Westworld and are thirsty for some more quixotic, dystopian techno-futurist fiction, hop on over to today's screening of Marjorie Prime, a film adapted from the stage by Michael Almereyda (Experimenter, Hamlet (2000), Nadja) about a service that provides holographic representations of deceased loved ones. | Fri 2 & 6:30pm; Sat-Sun 2pm | Portland Museum of Art, 7 Congress Square, Portland | $8 | www.portlandmuseum.org

 

MONDAY 25

 

PLAY GAMES, HEAL KIDS | Channel your irrational love for meaningless competition into something good today! Register a team of four and bowl for the highest score at this Bayside Bowl fundraiser for the Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital. Team fees — which are $20 each — and 2% of food and drink sales will go to support the vital work that folks do there which ranges from specialized surgical treatment, to checkups, to treating complex maladies and injuries. Help some of Maine’s sick kids out and have fun in the meantime.

| $20 | 4:00 pm to 11:00 pm | Bayside Bowl, 58 Alder St., Portland | https://www.baysidebowl.com/ |

 

ADULT STORY TIME | For it to resonate, creative (song) writing is usually a deeply personal affair. Ideas once hidden in the deepest recesses of the brain are suddenly yanked, molded into words, and served still raw for public consumption— the writing process can be pretty nerve-wracking. But that anxiety is precisely what makes listening to writers read their own work so enthralling; it’s like a little preview of the gears inside their brain. Sometimes the gears are greased and spin flawlessly, while other times they are clunky and broken. Whatever the outcome, writers make themselves extremely vulnerable all for the sake of provoking thought; and that’s laudable. Three local wordsmiths —Ekhlas Ismail Ahmed, Roy Davis, and Jim Thatcher — will do just that during musician Chris Robley’s Verses vs. Verses storytelling event. This edition of the monthly series is built around the theme of “growing up,” something that unfortunately none of us are spared from.  

| DONATION BASED | 5:30 pm | Blue, 650 Congress St., Portland | http://portcityblue.com/ |

 

DON’T FEAR PEOPLE | Equally as nerve-wracking as sharing your words with others is the act of simply addressing a crowd of strangers on a stage. Trust us, there’s a reason many artists are introverts. If you’re a creative type bursting with good ideas, but haven’t quite overcome stage fright, Empire’s Great Open Mic Challenge could be the place to earn your wings. Organizers there are calling for comedians, storytellers, songwriters, and poets from all skill levels to conquer the stage and compete for the title of “Best in Show.” Will the acts exude confidence and charisma or crumple under the pressure of entertaining a — likely boozed up — Portland crowd? How they will be judged is surely all part of the fun. Hosted by Kari Hodgens and Luna Colt, this event kicks off every Monday.

| $2 | 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm | Empire, 575 Congress St., Portland | http://www.portlandempire.com/ |

 

WINNING COMBO | In a delightful merger of two great things — legendary rock-n-roll and eccentric cinema — Seu Jorge tours through town with his internationally raved about show The Life Aquatic, A Tribute To David Bowie. Set in front of a backdrop of screens playing scenes from the colorful and quirky Wes Anderson film, this Brazilian rocker will likely impress die-hard fans of the late, great Star Child with his solid covers and playful remixes. We’re glad this innovative show’s booked for Portland’s biggest stage; it certainly calls for it.

| $40 | 8:00 pm | State Theatre, 609 Congress St., Portland | http://www.statetheatreportland.com/ |

 

TUESDAY 26

 

PAGE TO STAGE | What does it take to perform a captivating (and fairly authentic) retelling of the life of Billie Holiday on the theatre stage? It turns out, a lot of work beyond just laudable acting, and stage blocking. The cast and crew of the recent Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill show will recount how they recreated the story of one of the greatest jazz singers of all time during this revealing discussion on the creative process.

| FREE | 12:00 pm | Portland Public Library, 5 Monument Sq., Portland | https://www.portlandlibrary.com/ |

 

CHILLY NIGHTS | I’m guessing with the departure of summer, there aren’t that many viable weeks left for hanging out comfortably on the rooftop of Bayside Bowl. So take advantage of the few remaining nights above 50 degrees and head on up for the free concert planned there featuring Sea Level, aka electronica artist Dan Capaldi. He deploys a unique blend of shoegaze, chillstep, and trip-hop sounds to induce a colorful journey inside one’s own head. Hang out and let him play with your thoughts.

| FREE | 6:00 pm | Bayside Bowl, 58 Alder St., Portland | https://www.baysidebowl.com/ |

 

EXPERIMENTAL FICTION | KL Pereira, an author from Boston, visits Portland today with her new book A Dream Between Two Rivers: Stories of Liminality, a hypnotic, dark, and spiritually intense collection of stories that will deftly cross an intersection of experiences between females, children, and immigrants. She’ll be at Print Bookstore for an hour or two talking to Portlanders about the craft of writing and creating characters that seem equal parts fantastic and viscerally real.

| FREE | 7:00 pm | Print Bookstore, 273 Congress St., Portland | http://www.printbookstore.com/ |

 

MORE THAN BIRDS | A mesmerizing film screens tonight at the SPACE Gallery. Titled the Ornithologist, the film follows a handsome man named Fernando as he searches for endangered black storks on a river in Portugal. But after being swept away by the rapids, rescued by two Chinese pilgrims, and exposed to a myriad of strange obstacles that we won’t spoil, his journey changes from a scientific one, to an erotic one. Dubbed a “transfixing spiritual and sexual odyssey” by the LA Times, this film, as is often the case with avant-garde foreign art films, will either serve as the philosophical jolt your bored mind craves, or simply two-hour pleasure reel of natural landscapes and beautiful, interesting people.

| $8 | 7:00 pm | SPACE Gallery, 538 Congress St., Portland | http://www.space538.org/ |

 

WEDNESDAY 27

 

GET TO WORK | You might not be really human if you’ve never muttered to yourself, at least once, “my job sucks, what am I doing with me life.” Perhaps that’s even how you’re feeling right now. That’s okay, because jobs that pay the bills and happen to be enjoyable and fulfilling are hard to come by. But that’s why it’s important to stay vigilant, and open to change whenever the opportunity comes your way. One such opportunity presents itself this week in the form of the Portland Press Herald’s annual job fair at USM. Representatives from dozens of businesses and organizations with job openings will be there, and they want to meet you! So take a shower, print a resume, and shoot for a fresh start.

| FREE | 12:00 pm to 6:00 pm | Abromson Center, USM, Portland | http://usm.maine.edu/ |

 

STAR-LORD ARRIVES | In a world obsessed with social media, political dramas, and debates over meaningless nonsense, healthy mental exercises involve remembering that we’re all just talking animals on a floating rock spinning somewhere within an incomprehensibly huge pool of blackness. Viewing life through this slightly depressing, but scientific lens, tends to dissolve any socially constructed anxieties people get outraged over on a daily basis; you see, the enormity of the universe can liberate one from the stresses of the daily grind. The renowned astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson is a perfect example of a man confident enough to move through life aware of just how small, and inconsequential humans are in the grand narrative of the universe. Tyson — of Cosmos and StarTalk Radio fame — has inspired at least two generations of people to look up at the stars in wondrous reverence, and consider their place in it all. You’ve seen Tyson drop many knowledge bombs about quantum physics, the fabric of spacetime, and astronomy on the Internet dozens of times, but this week marks the extremely rare chance to hear his cosmic revelations in person, RIGHT HERE IN PORTLAND. The tickets are steep, but we’d say Tyson and his invaluable wisdom, are well worth the price of admission.

| $60 | 7:30 pm | Merrill Auditorium, 20 Myrtle St., Portland | https://www.porttix.com/ |

 

THURSDAY 28

 

IT’S GOING DOWN | Next week brings another slate of culturally relevant, emotionally stimulating, and just plain entertaining events to consider attending. Though modest in size, Portland seldom fails to offer up some new and interesting way for the hard-workers to spend their rare block of free time on. If you disagree, you either aren’t a fan of these pages or are seriously deprived of fun (or both)! Our next edition of 8 Days will surely bring you, the reader seeking a reason to stay downtown longer, with details on such happenings like: the rescheduled Tony Bennett concert, an intimate photo exhibit of maternity wards abroad at the Portland Public Library, an extremely funky (and affordable) concert at Empire, a public dance performance that defies gravity and takes place on the side of a building, an eye-opening university discussion on gender and religion, and two jam-packed nights featuring the beguiling talents of songstress Kat Wright. It’s getting colder, but that’s no excuse to stay at home!

Modeling a Crisis: Hal Cohen's 'Intervention' Cuts Deep

We encounter the statistics almost daily now: opioid addiction is killing far too many of us. But statistics, as I once heard someone say, never made anyone change their understanding or their life. Stories do that, and in the face of the crisis, we’ve been hearing more of them, both true and invented. Local playwright and physician, Hal J. Cohen, consulted with present and former addicts, and those close to them, for his fictional “dark comedy” Intervention, which he also directs and produces (with On A Dare Productions). The show, billed as a “dark comedy,” is onstage at the Portland Ballet Studio Theater. 

Our story begins as two quirky young people, Sam (Aileen Andrews) and Dennis (Tom Campbell), meet cute in Golden Gate Park – she in a Batman t-shirt, him in Superman. Sam is smart, sarcastic, and coy, and Andrews gives her both a spunky edge and a sympathetic vulnerability and openness. Dennis is a charismatic but idiosyncratic young guy whose conversation jitters and veers, and he is noticeablycagey about the bag from which he pulls some Oreos to share and bicker adorably about with Sam. By the time he jokes warily, “I’m not that clean, but I sure am…squeaky,” we suspect it is Dennis who has the problem with the needle.Portraying him, Campbell makes marvelous work of his careening patter, creating beats of nuance and humor ineach infinitesimal pause or pursing oflips. These moments help us connect to a comedic but erratic character whose tics, arrogance, and Wikipedia-derived knowledge base keeps us somewhat at a distance, even as Sam falls for him immediately.

Meanwhile, we learn about the fraught sisterhood of Sam, the youngest; Mel (Sarah Barlow), the unyielding eldest; and sweet, vivacious Terry (Anna Gravél). As the sisters gather for their mother’s funeral and, later, visit Mel and Dennis, they battle over family history, old gripes, and, eventually, Dennis. Andrews, Barlow, and Gravél conjure a very true and recognizable teeter between sisters’ tetchiness, resentment, and intimacy, and we can also sense the tremor of something yet unsaid between them. Cohen gives them many sisterly antics to perform; much of itis funny, dynamic, and true to any sisters’ inevitable regressions, though we hear perhaps more and longer of their banter than exposition and characterization demand.

The same could be said of the script as a whole; relative to the powerful central story of addiction and its effects, there may be more time than necessary spent on the otherwise admirably specific and tangible means of character establishment – how people eat Oreos or fold clothes. And between the lovers’ meet-cute and the initial background on the sisters’ family, it takes some time to get to the actual meat of the conflict of addiction.

Heroin itself is first visible onstage (along with Dennis’s shockingly unapologetic attitude toward using it) closer to the end of the play than the beginning, and we might be drawn even more into the horrorof Dennis’s crisis if we were to spend more time with the problem as Sam herself is drawn into his world. Deep in the clutches of the drug, Campbell does compelling work conveyingthe nature of withdrawal – slouching in nausea, crawling inside his own shirt and hiding his head. He peppers humor deftly into Dennis’s fatal arrogance about his agency in the face of the drug, even as he also makes physical and visceral the young man’s tragedy.

Finally, the intervention of the title, enacted by a burly character named Will (a mesmerizing, gruffly rhapsodic Steve Leighton),takes an unexpected form – a third act of interestingly, even jarringly different style, tone, and perspective.Though the power of Intervention might be intensified by further narrative honing and focus, Cohen’s fictional story of addiction leaves no doubt about the stakes in the real world.   


Intervention | Written and directed by Hal J. Cohen; Produced by On A Dare Productions and Hal J. Cohen | Through Sep 24 | Portland Ballet Studio Theater, 517 Forest Ave., Portland | Thu-Sat 7:30 pm; Sun 2 pm | $18 | https://on-a-dare-productions.ticketleap.com

Subscribe to this RSS feed