Francis Flisiuk

Francis Flisiuk

Five surprising facts about video games and their impact on the real world

The perception of a gamer as a socially awkward outcast who barely experiences any light or human interaction apart from their television and their mother has long since eroded. With 2 billion gamers worldwide, and the global gaming market surging past 100 billion dollars last year, calling yourself a “gamer” in 2017 is almost like calling yourself a cell phone user. Indeed video games and their creators have long fantasized of overtaking Hollywood as the medium of the 21st century.

Because we're so used to them being a part of our lives, it's easy to dismiss the immense cultural value video games hold. Numerous studies have shown that they can provide the cognitive stimulation needed to aid in learning and memory. They can connect you with friends — a 2015 study from the Pew Research Center titled "Teens, Technology, and Friendship" found that 53% of gamers said their gaming habits formed friendships. The huge demand for blockbuster games encourages the tech industry to innovate constantly, developing exciting new gadgets with applications beyond just gaming, like virtual reality for example.

And most importantly, and perhaps most obviously, video games are just plain fun. They're a unique synthesis of multiple engaging art forms like animation, voice-acting, writing, illustration, music, storytelling, etc. These art forms combined with interactivity make video games so easy to escape into. That's why it's important to pay attention to the evolutions of video games and its industry, because like every monstrous, and highly immersive media market, they display innate yet powerful expressions of what we value as a culture.

Video games are ubiquitous to life in the digital age, but I bet there's plenty you don't know about them.For example, did you know that 1990 game Golden Axe on the SEGA was voiced entirely by prisoners on death row? There are a plethora of interesting factoids about gaming that illuminates higher truths about our consumption society. But here we present just five curious things you might not have known about video games and their impact on the real world. 

 

 

1. The most important games in the world are...

Did you know there's a World Video Game Hall of Fame? It's located at the Strong Museum of Play in Rochester N.Y., and among other things, it honors the individual games that have had the biggest impact on the industry and society.

The winners are — and they really shouldn't surprise you — Donkey Kong, Halo: Combat Evolved, Pokemon Red and Green, and Street Fighter II.

Other contenders included: Final Fantasy VII, Microsoft Windows Solitaire, Mortal Kombat, Myst, Portal, Resident Evil, Tomb Raider, and Wii Sports.

Without these games, who knows what the state of the gaming world would be like today (probably a lot duller).

 

 

2. Which video game went to space?

None other than the intergalactic strategic warfare game Starcraft. How fitting. In 1999, missions specialist Daniel T. Barry took a physical copy of the PC game Starcraft into space with him as he orbited the Earth 153 times, showing not just his love for the game, but its overall impact on our cosmic imagination.

 

 

3. Video games have profound effects on your brain

No no no, video games don't actually make you more violent. This has been debunked time and time again, most recently by a study from the Southwest University in China.

Instead, video games can actually positively impact your neurochemistry — just so long as you don't play for 100 hours straight and die from exhaustion like some overzealous gamers have. Everything in moderation folks, even good things.

Anyway, I'll link the sources to all these ridiculously wonderful claims below, but so far I've found that video games can: teach and enforce teamwork, improve your vision, enhance hand-eye coordination, teach you multitasking, chase away depression, act as a pain-reliever, and — especially with virtual reality games — can promote physical exercise.

CheckPoint is a fairly new organization that's devoted its resources to researching and understanding the link between mental health and video game habits; so far, according to their website, they've found positive relationships.

According to joint research done by the University of California and Akili Interactive Labs, games like EVO can help improve attention skills, and sensory processing, in children with ADHD.

 

 

4. The video game industry has a serious diversity problem

Like the multi-billion dollar tech industry in Silicon Valley, or the star-studded, culture defining clique of Hollywood, the video game industry is rife with discrimination and representation issues.

Despite huge AAA games coming like Watch Dogs 2, Uncharted 4, Mass Effect Andromeda, and Mirror's Edge 2 (to name a few) coming out last year with women or minorities as protagonists, representation is still a problem, both in and outside the digital world.

According to a report in the Guardian, just 14 percent of people working in the UK's gaming industry are women. For Black and Asian folks, the industry representation is just 4%.

Here in America, the stats are roughly the same; a survey from the International Game Developers Association found that from the 1,186 game developers surveyed, 75 percent were white males, and just 2 percent were made up of black and latino people. Only .3 percent of those surveyed identified as transgender.

What can be done to break up this old boys club?

The gaming and entertainment magazine Mic suggested a couple months ago that gaming companies release diversity reports on their staff, like most tech companies (Facebook, Uber, Pinterest) regularly do. These reports, Mic argues, could increase transparency and accountability, and drive the necessary change from inside to employ marginalized folks, and add nuanced and accurate depictions of minorities inside their video game universes.

 

 

5. Virtual Reality horror games might get even more terrifying

Strapping yourself into a fully immersive, 360 view insane asylum, or an eerie underwater research facility like in the first person VR game Soma, is already a pretty scary experience. But game developers at Soma are making the experience even more lifelike and terrifying by adding this innovative technical feature: eye tracking.

The grotesque creatures and strange humanoid robots in Soma will now know when you, the player, are looking at them and will attack accordingly. This game will turn your own eyesight against you, which is just freakishly cool.

 

Sources:

1. http://www.worldvideogamehalloffame.org/

2. https://twitter.com/starcraft/status/826917649967779840?lang=en 

3. https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/freedom-learn/201502/cognitive-benefits-playing-video-games 

4. http://www.newsweek.com/2016/10/21/video-games-race-black-protagonists-509328.html 

5. https://www.theverge.com/2017/5/7/15561224/soma-tobii-eye-tracking-support-hands-on 

 

 

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8 Days A Week: Secret Sites, Endorphin Rushes, and Music Legends

THURSDAY 11

 

WATER IS LIFE | We take water for granted every damn day. We go most of our day without even thinking about water, but if we were deprived of it for just eight hours, getting our lips wet would leap to top priority. Although it’s one of our most important resources, like many aspects of a privileged existence, we just expect it to be there. But, as Jessica Yu will elucidate with her compelling documentary Last Call At The Oasis, water is still a luxury in many parts of the world. Over 70 percent of Earth’s surface is covered in water, but only 2.5 percent of it is fresh, and only one percent of that isn’t frozen or buried beneath the ground. And how much of that tiny fraction is even accessible to a person stuck in cycle of poverty? Yu’s documentary explores an uncomfortably prescient, and incredibly important question: what can we do to save our freshwater supplies before global calamity ensues? Necessary viewing for everyone that benefits from H2O.

| FREE | 6 pm | University of Southern Maine, Talbot Auditorium, 96 Falmouth St., Portland | http://usm.maine.edu/

 

NOT SLOWING DOWN | If I ever get to be an old man, my only wish is to have half as much energy as 90-year-old Tony Bennett. The legendary vocalist of American pop standards and big band jazz shows has been painting, acting, writing, and letting loose those unmistakable pipes for over half a century now, and he’s still going strong! Take advantage of this iconic American singer’s rare appearance in Portland; it may be the last chance you ever get to see this integral part of music history alive and in-the-flesh.  

| $140 | 7:30 pm | Merrill Auditorium, 20 Myrtle St., Portland | https://tickets.porttix.com/

 

TAKE A CHANCE | Are you familiar with the Meat Puppets? They exhibit the telltale signs of a band that takes the art of performance very seriously. What’s in a name? For starters, experience; this trio of rockers have been writing, rehearsing, arranging, and evolving since the 80s. The brothers in this band played with Kurt Cobain on Nirvana's The Muddy Banks of the Wishkah live album. Also, Mike Watt is a straight-up legendary bassist with the band the Minutemen, who are one of the most influential bands in early 80s punk. They discard genre conventions, and like all solid acts, have an aversion to the term in general. It’s likely that Meat Puppet listeners have been on the fan train for a while, but if you’re new and curious to their blend of rock like me, you may want to swing into the station. They’re joined by Mike Watt and the Jom & Terry Show, and Grant Hart, formerly of Husker Du.

| $25 | 8 pm | Port City Music Hall, 504 Congress St., Portland | http://www.portcitymusichall.com/

 

CATHARTIC NOISE | Back from a hiatus and embracing a messy world of contradictions is Jimmy Eat World, a band set to bring sonic wisdom back from their red desert home of Arizona. After spending time reaffirming their musical mission of exploring life’s struggles in all their beautiful complexities, this seminal emo-rock is in nonstop tour mode. They’re joined by Beach Slang, a pop-punk band led by longtime scenester James Alex, that I’d describe — after listening to their latest mixtape — as fun yet serious, uplifting but moody. If you haven’t been to sparkly new club space at Aura, make this your first concert there.

| $30 | 9 pm | Aura, 121 Center St., Portland | http://auramaine.com/

 

FRIDAY 12

 

THINK DEEP | Like...what even is art anymore? I’m pretty sure I saw an old pink mattress hanging in the Portland Museum of Art, so I’m having trouble determining if there’s even a standard to the craft anymore. But who am I to begin to judge what is and isn’t art? I’m sure the young people who’ve spent a great deal of time (and money) studying and exploring the amorphous world of art at MECA can better illuminate the state of it today. Nine graduating artists’ work will be on display at the MFA Thesis Exhibition offering viewers unique approaches to the global cultural landscape, and perspectives on the ever-changing philosophy of aesthetics. The exhibition’s open now until June 9.

| FREE | 11 am to 5 pm | Maine College of Art, 522 Congress St., Portland | https://www.meca.edu/

 

8days ericbettencourt PhotoByRobbieKanner

Eric Bettencourt. Photo by Robyn Kanner

CONTROLLED INTENSITY | An oddly reliable sign that summer’s quickly approaching is when Portland native Eric Bettencourt swings back home from for a string of shows. Now based in Austin, Texas, this award-winning songwriter delivers a heartfelt performance with nothing but his 12-string guitar and his naturally raw vocal style. (Preview "Baby in the Bathtub" on YouTube for proof). Ben Balmer, an adept songwriter, and genre hopper, joins Bettencourt for this reunion night of compassionate tunes.

| $15 | 7 pm | One Longfellow Square, 181 State St., Portland | https://onelongfellowsquare.com/

 

SOCIALISTS UNITE | Local personality Harlan Baker wears many hats. He’s an activist, a teacher, and a former legislator. More recently he’s been organizing the “Say No To Racism” rallies in Monument Square during the art walk. But this week, he’s donning his actor hat for repeat of his original one-man performance he calls Jimmy Higgins: A Life in the Labor Movement. With wit and candor, he’ll explore a life in the labor movement and recall his experiences growing up during some of the most tumultuous times in American history. If you’re easily triggered by Marx references, this show isn’t for you.

| FREE | 7 pm | Urban Farm Fermentory, 200 Anderson St., Portland | https://www.fermentory.com/

 

RECREATING MAGIC | Billed as "the best Beatles Tribute band on Earth" by Rolling Stone, 1964 meticulously recreates the live magic of the Beatles right down to their instruments, suits, and boots. Embrace the wonderful dichotomy of classic people’s pop tunes performed faithfully inside Portland’s swankiest, and arguably most modern, music venue.

| $20-40 | 8 pm | Aura, 121 Center St., Portland | http://auramaine.com/

 

LAUNCH PARTY | PRIDE week is fast approaching, and it’s time for you to rise up and dance with Portland’s LGBTQ community. Despite the repeated political moves that undermine the very humanity of LGBTQ Americans, they can’t be in full-on resistance mode 100 percent of the time. Life is short! Pride Portland offers a carefree kick-off party that calls for the community to come together under the banner of unconditional love and unapologetic realness. I’m sure the perpetually bubbly Chris O’Connor can easily get you in the party mood with his down-to-earth friendliness and killer DJ skills.

| $15 | 8 pm | Port City Music Hall, 504 Congress St., Portland | http://www.portcitymusichall.com/

 

SATURDAY 13

 

FALL WITH STYLE | When was the last time you had a true adrenaline rush? No, not the fluttery feeling from something fairly common like speeding through a red light. I’m talking about the uncontrollable torrent of organic chemicals that makes your heart beat fast, and your muscles go numb from a strange coalescence of anxiety and badassery. If you’re craving that euphoric jolt to your senses, and a test of your personal boundaries, might I offer a chance to rappel down Portland’s tallest building? Rippleffect, a youth development organization, is hosting an experience called Rappel for Ripple that will see nearly 100 people rappelling down One City Center. Crazy? Maybe. Totally rad? Definitely. You may not actually get a chance to go over the edge with them, but the sight itself will be something to behold.

| TBD | 9 am to 3 pm | 1 City Ctr., Portland | https://rappelforripple.net/

 

HARD CIDER RUN | Runners of 5Ks must have “the good life” all figured out. I know this because their sneakers are always clean, and they seem to wear a perpetual grin. Hell, anyone that pays to run must be oozing in privilege. Or maybe they just get off from the endorphins released after running the 3.1 mile length of the Eastern Promenade. Maybe we can snag a piece of the good life too, and tap into this fuzzy feeling of accomplishment by joining the Hard Cider Run. There’s a cold, crisp glass of hard cider at the finish line (at Urban Farm Fermentory, producing this run). If you want in on this, you’ve got to sign up online first!

| $45 | 10 am | Urban Farm Fermentory, 200 Anderson St., Portland | https://runsignup.com/

 

SECRET TOUR | Most of us walk the streets of Portland completely oblivious to its long and storied history. Many of the historic buildings from the twentieth and nineteenth centuries hide behind their bricks fascinating tales, leaving us with only the outside architecture to appreciate. But wouldn’t it be nice to step inside like Longfellow did, or some other old timey Portlander might have? Appreciators (and might I say preservers) of Portland’s history at the Maine Historical Society have curated a "Magical History Tour," where those secret sites will be unlocked to the public for one day only.

| $35 | 10 am to 4 pm | Maine Historical Society, 485 Congress St., Portland | https://www.mainehistory.org/

 

MAY MARKET | Don’t let the farmer’s market in Deering Oaks be the only spring market you frequent this season. The Fork Food Lab offers a chance to stock up on speciality foods, and sample the latest and greatest culinary creations from their members during this special event. This place has a very Portland feel and features a really nice outdoor space for parties and barbecues. Proxemics matters, people!

| FREE | 11 am to 3 pm | Fork Food Lab, 72 Parris St., Portland | http://www.forkfoodlab.com/

 

 

SCHOOL OF ROCK | Are the high schools in the area ready to unleash the next shining rock star onto the world? Or will our state stay quiet? Judge for yourself when the finalists of the 2017 MAMM SLAM take over Empire for a night of explosive competition. Competing artists include The Asthmatic, Mikayla Gallows, The Rubber Band, Liam Swift, and Yard Sail. Who’s going to take home the $1000, and get one step closer to making their music dreams a reality? Join this Maine Academy of Modern Music tonight.

| $12 | 1 pm to 6 pm | Empire, 575 Congress St., Portland | http://portlandempire.com/

 

8days ArcIris PhotoByJoChattman

Arc Iris. Photo by Jo Chattman

PINNACLE OF POP | Fans of Joni Mitchell’s seminal album Blue won’t want to miss this creative reimagining of the work by the art-pop power trio Arc Iris. The core of each iconic song is preserved by the Rhode Island band nestled between layers of boldly innovative synths, heavy drum beats, and generous sampling.

| $12 | 7 pm | One Longfellow Square, 181 State St., Portland | https://onelongfellowsquare.com/

 

GET LIT | Some of the prices on this week’s edition of 8 Days are a little steep, eh? Well, let me remind you that dance nights at Flask are usually free. Tonight, the Party Bear Squad, Ryssa, Tmber, Be See, and Nic Optimistic are DJing and unleashing some fire similar to the fire found on their Soundcloud pages. Heavy bass, a packed dance floor, and a dazzling new light display are your party favors during this sweaty celebration of life.

| FREE | 9 pm | Flask Lounge, 117 Spring St., Portland | http://flasklounge.com/

 

SUNDAY 14

 

CHEST FEST | Etain Boutique and the community organizations Speak About It, and Portland Outright have joined forces to dedicate an evening to tales of the torso. A line-up of speakers will share stories about an important and treasured part of humanity: boobs. Could this be the strange and unexpected event you needed in your life? Don't forget to bring in any gently used bras for their collection drive!

| $5-10 | 5 pm | Etain Boutique, 646 Congress St., Portland | http://etainboutique.com/about-etain/

 

8days LupeFIasco

Lupe Fiasco.

SHOW GOES ON | Aura, Portland’s newest music club, hosts its first truly big star (sorry Dwight Yoakam, not a fan) this week, testing the waters to see how the atmosphere jives with a mega-celebrity. The Grammy winning rapper Lupe Fiasco’s in town, and will bring his interesting flow, smart rhymes, and chart-topping singles to this spacious, yet still surprisingly intimate venue. (Attendees will be able to see the rapper from all angles, some might smell him). Fiasco’s been described by listeners as a “hip hop saviour,” for his truly unique style that hits hard with deep lyrical themes that don’t rest on the typical rap crutches of vulgarity, sex, drugs, and violence.

| $50 | 8 pm | Aura, 121 Center St., Portland | http://auramaine.com/

 

EAR RETREAT | Tune out the bullshit in your life and let the Apohadian Theater’s curated lineup end your Sunday on a harmonious and folksy note. Grab a dark Oxbow beer and settle in for a easy night of winding down a river of eerie rhythms, vast soundscapes, and cool alt-country vibes thanks to the talents of Dimples (Colby Nathan), Maine songstress Caethua & the Cool Blue Shadows, and Fragile Harm (a new collaboration between Cal Clark and Brendan Evans of Video Nasties).

| $5-10 | 8 pm | Oxbow Blending and Bottling, 49 Washington Ave., Portland | http://oxbowbeer.com/

 

MONDAY 15

 

SEIZE THE MEANS | Wondering if the hard-to-define “Resistance” is running out of steam? Curious to see how Portland’s progressives are planning for the next wave of political battles? Need a mental break from capitalism? All this and more starts at the local level. Exchange ideas or simply kick back and listen during the Maine Democratic Socialists monthly meetup.  

| FREE | 7 pm | Portland City Hall, 389 Congress St., Portland | http://www.dsausa.org/

 

DOOM BANGERS | Throw yourself into a cyclone of unrelenting noise rock at Portland’s oldest pub with these three summoners of chaos and catharsis: Earthworm Von Doom, Forget the Times, and Cop Funeral. Just by their band names, you can tell these cursed rockers aren’t screwing around, and are prepared to toss out mediocrity out the the window.

| $5 | 8 pm | Mathew's Pub, 133 Free St., Portland | https://www.facebook.com/mathewspub/

 

TUESDAY 16

 

HIPSTER CHIC | Hear me out. Building your own succulent terrarium is a really interesting, fun, and unique way to express yourself. Think about it, you get to play designer with living things! They also make thoughtful gifts. The plants, stones, soil, and shells at your disposal will serve as your building blocks, and paired with a couple beers, will make you feel like the benevolent creator of mini mason jar worlds. Hosted by ArtSea Maine, an art therapy organization.

| $30 | pm | Oxbow Blending & Bottling, 49 Washington Ave., Portland | http://oxbowbeer.com/ |

 

8Days JessicaDeutschOzerebyKaitlyn Raitz

Jessica Deutsch. Photo by Kaitlyn Raitz

FIDDLE HEADS | Gracefully balancing between styles you’d hear in a stuffy ballroom to ones you’d hear in a rural dive-bar is the chamber-folk outfit Ozere, led by Jessica Deutsch, a Canadian folk starlet. Her imaginative string music paves the way for an emotionally stirring, seamless, and wholesome live experience.

| $15 | 7 pm | One Longfellow Square, 181 State St., Portland | https://onelongfellowsquare.com/

 

8days theRecordCompany

The Record Company.

VINTAGE ROCK | The Los Angeles based trio The Record Company are set to transform Portland's Port City Music Hall into a smoky, backwoods Mississippi jukebox joint with their time-tested take on classic rock-n-roll. They’ll be singing the blues and stomping around alongside Smooth Hound Smith, a duo well versed in the same hazy, memorable, yet admittedly cliche American sounds.

| $20 | 8 pm | Port City Music Hall, 504 Congress St., Portland | http://www.portcitymusichall.com/

 

WEDNESDAY 17

 

SONGWRITING LEGEND | This week, Portland’s graced with the presence of yet another old but highly treasured folk-rocker: Gordon Lightfoot. Yes of course this Canadian hall of famer is still around — you didn’t fall for his death hoax back in the early days of Twitter, did you? He’s going to be doing what most of the still-touring greats from the '60s and '70s do today: attempt to conjure the energy, enthusiasm, and artistic spark of concerts lost to time. Reviewers of his live show swear that this 78-year-old star’s still got it.

| $100 | 8:00 pm | Merrill Auditorium, 20 Myrtle St., Portland | www.porttix.com

 

THURSDAY 18

 

PUCKER UP | The warm air brings with it an onslaught of spring concerts that I’m excited to string words together and tell you about. From the London Souls tearing up the stage at P.H.O.M.E. and Todd Rundgren lighting up Aura, to the xx playing Thompson’s Point and the return of the All Roads Music Festival up in Brunswick, there are a lot of acts to highlight. However, you’ll have to pick up next week’s issue to get the full lowdown on these events, and more. I doubt Phoenix readers have the brain space is in this information-soaked world of ours to remember each show a full 8 Days in advance, so flip through these pages next week. But in the meantime, put down your phone, and go experience something.

What Makes a Sanctuary City?

In Trump’s first 100 days in office, we’ve witnessed ICE agents ramping up immigration enforcement by arresting at least 675 illegal immigrants across the country. Here in Maine, a new bill (LD 366) was introduced that would essentially empower local law enforcement to act as immigration officials. These aggressive policies bring with them a perception of animosity toward foreign-born Americans. Because of this, we thought it would be important to go over a concept rife with misconceptions: sanctuary cities.

 

How do sanctuary cities work? Are they the hotbeds of lawlessness that conservatives like our governor warn against, or do they encourage economic growth and promote safety for a community's most marginalized populations like most liberals believe? And should the cities in Maine that see the biggest influx in immigrants and asylum seekers — primarily Lewiston, Portland, and South Portland — consider adopting sanctuary status?

 

The debate is contentious, so let’s go over the basics.

 

Sanctuary cities are cities (and counties) that limit their cooperation with federal immigration enforcers. According to the Center for Immigration Studies, there are over 300 sanctuary cities and counties across the country, and most have different definitions of how exactly they provide “sanctuary.” But most of the policies typically try to work around the same question: how should local law enforcement respond after learning that a person they arrested for a crime is undocumented?

 

news tji mapofsanctuarycities fromCIS A map of cities and counties in the U.S. that are designated as "sanctuary cities." From Bryan Griffith and Jessica Vaughn at the Center for Immigration Studies.

Consider this scenario: a Portland police officer arrests a male born from a Muslim-majority country for an OUI and books him for a night in the Cumberland County Jail. During the booking process, the suspect’s fingerprints are taken and sent to the FBI and the Immigration and Customs Enforcement; according to the FBI's website, this is mandatory for every person arrested for a serious charge, whether or not they're convicted. If after the fingerprints are cross-referenced in the ICE database and they come up as belonging to an undocumented immigrant, ICE agents issue a “detainer request,” which asks the local law enforcement to hold him in jail for another 48 hours, giving time for ICE agents to arrive and start the deportation process. But it’s just that, a request. A local police officer can honor the request and essentially act as a deportation agent, or they can undermine federal authority and let the person go after processing.

 

According to multiple courts, it’s unconstitutional for police to extend a person’s detainment past the point where they should be released. Critics of this practice like Oamshri Amarasingham, the advocacy director of the ACLU of Maine say the decision can be a lose-lose situation for local law enforcement because it usually comes down to a choice between receiving federal and state funding or degrading public safety. Amarasingham said that forcing local law enforcement to support Trump's "deportation army" will likely result in lawsuits filed both from municipalities, and local law enforcement who will inevitably have to racially profile to adhere to federal immigration orders.

 

"That is not what state and local governments are supposed to do, they need to prioritize the needs of their communities," said Amarasingham. "How is local law enforcement going to decide who to ask for their immigration status? I don’t imagine they're going to ask every person they pull over on the highway speeding for their immigration status. They’re going to ask people who look like or sound like they might not be here legally."

According to Amarasingham, local police departments honoring ICE requests creates a heightened sense of mistrust and fear of law enforcement from the immigrant community who need to depend on them for security just like any other community member, while ignoring the ICE request threatens the financial security of the department by angering politicians in power who view undocumented citizens as defacto criminals who should be deported.

 

Although Portlanders like to think of Maine as a welcoming to refugees and immigrants, there aren’t any official sanctuary cities here. In fact, progressives in Portland and South Portland have tried to distance themselves from the politically charged term, fearing a POTUS and a Governor who would love to pull funding from cities that aren’t following aggressive federal immigration enforcement. Currently, according to a report from NBC, Seattle Washington, and Chelsea and Lawrence in Washington face dramatic cuts in Department of Justice Funding because of their sanctuary status. This threat comes by way of Attorney General Jeff Sessions who warned last month of a crackdown on sanctuary jurisdictions that would potentially see $4.1 billion cut from future federal grants.

The City Council of South Portland, where 7 percent of the population is foreign-born, recently considered becoming a sanctuary city, but switched to a separate protective policy that avoids sanctuary city designation, but calls for non-biased policing and support for the Muslim population.

 

Councilors Maxine Beecher and Linda Cohen were opposed to making South Portland a sanctuary city because they didn't want to interfere with federal laws.

 

“I oppose sanctuary city status for several reasons,” said Cohen. “I believe it violates the oath we take as councilors, and I do not want to tie our police department's hands when it comes to bringing down those who commit illegal activities such as human trafficking or fake marriages, to mention a couple.”

 

Councilor Eben Rose dropped the original bid.

 

 

Regardless of whether they officially claim the designation of “sanctuary cities,” Portland and South Portland are already considered so in LePage’s mind because of policies in the books from 2003 prohibts police officers and municipal employees from asking about a suspect’s immigration status unless required to by law. The city ordinance is called "Prohibition on Immigration Status Checks," and says that "unless otherwise required by law or by court order, no city police officer or employee shall inquire into the immigration status of any person, or engage in activities for the purpose of ascertaining the immigration status of any person.”

 

The truth is, there isn’t a legal definition for a sanctuary city, and although the 2003 ordinance grants some protections for locals who might fear deportation, in general, Portland’s law enforcement does cooperate with federal immigration officials. Last year, the Cumberland County Jail held 40 inmates for federal immigration officials. And last month, two crackdowns by ICE agents happened in Maine (one inside a Portland courthouse) with two undocumented immigrants now potentially facing deportation.

 

According to Patricia Washburn, a former Democratic City Committee member, and spokesperson for the local activist group Progressive Portland, immigrants in Maine and across the country could be scared to interact with local police officers, seek justice, or report crimes because police departments are financially incentivized to cooperate with President Trump’s deportation plans.

 

“And that weakens the justice system for all of us,” said Washburn.

 

Washburn views immigrants both documented and undocumented as important parts of the economic and social fabric of a state that’s demographically very old and white.

 

“We need new blood,” said Washburn. “It’s unconstitutional for local police officers to aid with federal immigration. They have enough to do without having to become agents of the federal government.”

 

Along with other members of Progressive Portland, Washburn’s been petitioning against what they perceive as a big problem: state governments that step in and cut funding streams to local jurisdictions that defy federal immigration laws. This happened earlier this year when the Governor of Texas Greg Abbott called sanctuary cities “dangerous” and signed a law prohibiting them from receiving state funds.

 

It’s happening here too. Larry Lockman (R-Amherst) has introduced a bill, LD 366, which calls for the exact same thing. In an interview with the Phoenix, Lockman said that he’s baffled why this legislation is even controversial and said that he’s not anti-immigrant, he just thinks that the undocumented ones should be deported. Because of this hardline stance on immigration, he doesn’t like the term sanctuary cities because of its positive connotation.

 

“The term is actually pretty slippery,” said Lockman. “I prefer the term 'harboring havens for illegal immigrants'.”

 

Lockman's viewpoint falls in line with conservatives that see undocumented immigrants as either criminals because of their immigration status, or criminals in the making because of their unwillingness to integrate into Western culture.

 

“My bill has nothing to do with legal immigrants,” said Lockman, citing that America has one of the most generous immigration policies in the world. “The criticism around it is just a false flag to label it as anti-immigrant, which is ridiculous.”

 

Lockman often uses the deaths of Freddy Akoa and Treyjon Arsenault (two Mainers who were murdered two years ago by undocumented immigrants) as an emotionally charged political scare tactic that, in his mind, justifies his anti-immigration bill, and the admonishment of Portland’s 2003 ordinance barring cops from asking about someone’s immigration status.

 

“In both cases, the murderers had lengthy criminal records," said Lockman. "If the Portland Police had not been handcuffed by the politicians in Portland, they would have been able to give ICE a heads up and picked them up. Those two guys would have been alive today if it wasn’t for that ordinance.”

 

Although these individual cases of violence are true, Lockman’s wrong in his generalizations of the undocumented immigrant community. For starters, according to the Pew Research Center, Maine has one of the lowest populations of unauthorized immigrants in the country, with estimates lower than 5,000. Secondly, not being able to provide the appropriate papers is not a crime, it’s a civil violation.

And lastly, according to research of FBI crime data at the University of California, sanctuary cities actually experience less crime (and stronger economies) than their counterparts, with 35.5 fewer crimes per 10,000 people. According to ICE data, from the 645 undocumented immigrants that were arrested by immigration authorities this year, over half either had no criminal record or minor traffic violations.

"The problem with Lockman's bill is that it assumes that undocumented immigrants are generally responsible for criminal problems in this country," said Amarasingham. "Data and studies show that non-citizens including undocumented people commit crimes at much lower rates than citizens, but are disproportionately targeted by laws like this."

Lockman mentioned that the FBI has active ISIS investigation in all 50 states and that terrorism and public safety are the main concerns he’s addressing with his new bill. But according to the research done around sanctuary cities and the fact that Maine has a consistently low average of violent crimes (about 1 case per 1,000 people, mostly involving white people in domestic situations), Lockman’s paranoia is unfounded.

 

Progressive Portland thinks he’s more than paranoid, they think he’s downright racist and xenophobic.

 

Washburn said that Lockman’s use of the murders of Akoa and Arsenault as a politically charged point is irresponsible.

 

“If murder is the standard that we evaluate whether or not a group of people should stay in this state, then we should deport all the white men,” said Washburn.

 

Amarasingham called the bill "shortsighted and useless."  


"This proposal is based in fear and hatred, and the will to demonize non-citizens," said Amarasingham. "It sends a strong message that non-citizens are not welcome here in Maine."

Make America Smart Again: How Science Literate Are You?

 

“Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored.” - Aldous Huxley

 

Humanity today faces several ethical dilemmas that require, at the very least, a rudimentary reverence and understanding of science. Questions like when does a cluster of cells become a person, or how can we make cities more resilient to rising sea levels can only be tackled by someone who believes that early abortion isn’t murder and climate change is real and serious.  

 

One day, future generations may have to answer even more anxiety-inducing questions like: Should artificial intelligence be granted rights? Is it morally right to genetically modify our offspring?

 

But it’s hard for a community to confront big questions like these when some of its members still believe that fluoride is poisoning our tap water, planes leave chem-trails, and that the Devil scattered dinosaur bones everywhere to confuse people. It’s no surprise then that a 2015 study by the Pew Research Center found that there are widening gaps between what scientists report as fact and what the general public believes to be true.

 

If scientific literacy is the ability to draw from existing knowledge to solve problems rationally instead of just the raw memorization of facts, then it’s at an all-time low here in America.

 

For example, Dave Champlain told me that he frequently encounters people who don’t believe that we share a common ancestor with apes.

 

As a biology professor at the University of Southern Maine, who often reads surveys about modern Americans' growing skepticism about established science, Champlain is frustrated by those who disregard evolution. To him, being skeptical about science is an oxymoron.

 

“Skepticism on evolution is the ultimate source of this attitude that science is optional,” said Champlain. “It’s the starting point of widespread science denial.”

 news sciencemarch dave

According to Champlain, if a student of his shows skepticism towards evolution, they’re more apt to deny other objective realities like the importance of vaccinations, the seriousness of climate change, or the dangers of antibiotic resistance.

 

“With freedom of speech comes this enthusiastic attitude that we can agree to differ, but there are some facts that we simply can’t disagree on,” said Champlain. “When someone is pro-science, they’re not making a political statement.”

 

I spoke with Champlain on Saturday, April 22, during Portland’s March for Science, which two of his former students helped organize. Over a thousand scientists, educators, and enthusiasts marched down Congress Street, many with humorous signs, professing the importance of science in everyday life.

 

“We’re all benefiting from science,” said Champlain. “None of us would be alive without it.”

 

“It is because of scientific exploration that we have been able to eradicate Polio, land rovers on Mars, and create life-saving and life-enhancing devices like artificial hearts and mechanical limbs,” said UMaine graduate student Amber Hathaway. “Science has brought us computers, smartphones, and so many other devices that would have seemed inconceivable even 50 years ago. Imagine where we could be 10, 20, or 100 from now if we continue to invest in scientific research and support scientists.”

 

Last week’s march ran in solidarity with over 600 other events around the world, which aimed to be the first step in a movement to “defend the vital role science plays in our health, safety, economies, and governments,” according to the movement’s official website.

 

Despite Champlain and many other marchers' statements that science isn’t a partisan issue, the march stood firmly against President Trump and his administration, which has called for cuts to vital research organizations like the National Institutes for Health, the Environmental Protection Agency, and NASA. During the march, giant paper mache puppets of Trump, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Secretary of Education Betsy Devos, and White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon reimagined as grotesque swamp creatures wound down Congress Street amidst signs like “no alternative facts,” “Science Trumps Propaganda,” and “fund the EPA, not the wall.”

 

Many marchers I spoke to said that it’s ridiculous that science — which is fact and data driven — has become so politicized and dismissed as a “liberal conspiracy.” But they reconciled this inconvenience with the fact that Trump’s administration may be the most “anti-science” administration this country has ever seen.

 

“I’m marching today because it’s reprehensible how U.S. policy has downplayed the role that science should play in shaping our thought,” said Ben Rosenbloom, a Portland-based high-school physical science teacher. “Progress towards climate change has stalled because we still have to waste time debating with others that it’s happening.”

 

Rosenbloom recognized that science should inform policy and does have a bit of a political agenda, but that the agenda is foundational to American politics and values. For example, Obama’s Clean Power Plan may have reeked of leftist ideals that call for more governmental regulations, but its intended goal, clean air, is something that every American should get behind.

 news sciencemarch ben

The problem, however, according to Rosenbloom, is that we live in a country where it’s common to distrust our scientific experts who make claims that run contrary to our political or religious beliefs. This sense of skepticism in America, fueled not by facts but emotions and ideology, was one of the main reasons Rosenbloom decided to become an educator.

 

“The degree that Americans trust or don’t trust science often doesn’t come from a place of true science literacy,” said Rosenbloom. “It’s okay for people to blindly trust the experts, but I wish people could interpret data themselves. If everyone here was able to do that, then we’d be able to push policies informed by science. Data combined with values.”

 

My short conversation with Rosenbloom, who was dressed in a white lab coat while he marched down Congress Street, got me thinking about the overall state of science literacy in America. It’s one thing when fossil fuel lobbyists and politicians deny the science behind climate change to protect their financial interests, but what about the average citizen? What leads people, like some of Champlain’s students, to dismiss evolution, antibiotic resistance, and climate change? How do they perceive science as a discipline?

 news sciencemarch

“In our society, we think of scientists as inhumane, but they’re just a bunch of people,” said Champlain.

 

Others at the march agreed and said science and its educators come with some negative stigmas attached.

 

“People fear scientists, but their work is so universal,” said Nathan Katsiaficas, a Portland-based geologist. “Science literacy is at an all-time low.”

 

James Cormier, a science buff, and astrophotographer who grew up after the space age of the '60s experienced a time when people cared deeply about science and understood how it benefited humanity. Back then, he says, kids were fascinated by it.

 

“But now, science has taken a backseat,” said Cormier, who also attended last week's Science March. “It’s a cultural problem. The youth need to catch on about the benefits of the scientific method and how we’ve come to understand reality.”

 

Cormier pointed to science celebrities like Bill Nye and the astrophysicist Neil DeGrasse Tyson (both with fantastic shows on Netflix) as examples of great science communicators — people who don’t just understand science but are able to convey it in an engaging way to the broader public. According to Cormier, we need more people like them to promote a more comprehensive (and entertaining) culture of science literacy.

"Everyone should just take science more seriously," he said.

 

 

  • Published in News

The Cannabis Generation: Pot and Pan Kitchen offers an array of medicinal sweet treats

For over a year now the folks over at Pot and Pan Kitchen have been quietly putting their botany knowledge and cooking skills to good use by offering up an entire menu of marijuana-infused sweet treats.

One of the owners of Pot and Pan Kitchen, Andrew Doolittle, told me that the company began with Doolittle making hard candies out of his own kitchen. He would melt down Jolly Ranchers, boil them with a little water, and add his cannabis extract. They came out outrageously strong but didn’t taste very good.

“I thought they kind of sucked and people were getting way too fucked up on them,” recalled Doolittle.  

Since then, Doolittle and his team dialed in the recipe for their own hard candies, did some math, bought new molds, and have perfected their own version of cannabis hard candy called medicubez.

SourMedicubezgummies

Sour medicubez gummies. 

Doolittle’s been a caregiver for over 7 years and saw the demand for edibles within his patient base. So he changed and expanded his business model to allow for caregivers to use his company as a processing center. Now Pot and Pan Kitchen is able to potentially serve every patient and caregiver in the state!

“Once we started doing that, that’s when we really took off as a company,” said Doolittle. “It was huge for us.”

Now Doolittle’s team works out of a commercially licensed kitchen and makes a whole assortment of treats from hamburger whoopie pies, caramel bonbons, cinnamon sugar cupcakes, cookies and cream brioche donuts, cake pops, raspberry cheesecakes, peanut butter cookies, gummies, salves, and s'mores.

“You name it,” said Doolittle. “And we can infuse it with cannabis and bake it.”

I interviewed Doolittle last week, and we chatted about what first time users should know before consuming edibles. Read up, because Doolittle is gearing up to apply for a commercial sale license next year, meaning that his delicious cannabis concoctions could be legally and readily available to everybody through a Portland storefront. A Portland marijuana bakery? This could be huge.

 

MoxieLollipops

Moxie lollipops.  

First up, what’s the process for making edibles?

Cannabis butter is the traditional way to make edibles, always. You take the marijuana and saute it, and then you add butter. That’s like the old school way.

How many times have you had a pot brownies and it either didn’t really do anything for you, or it got you way too fucked up? I know 100 stories like that.

It’s really hard to use butter without getting it tested for an accurate dose. That’s one thing that we pride ourselves on at Pot and Pan Kitchen is accurate dosing. You always know what you’re getting when you’re eating an edible.

The easiest way to do that, instead of using plant material (flower or trim), is by using a concentrate or extract. An oil of some kind. That allows you to accurately dose your product. You don’t have to use weed butter. You just add activated cannabis oil to your product and as long as it’s mixed properly you get an even distribution.

 Hamburgwhoopie

Hamburger whoopie pies.

Breakdown the doses for me, because I would be the one to eat too many treats because I didn’t feel the effects right away.

It’s totally a person to person thing. It’s tricky with edibles. They can hit you anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours. They can last anywhere from 4 hours to 10 hours. It’s common that you hear that people get way too high over edibles. They probably ate a dose that was way too high for them, or they didn’t wait long enough before eating more.

And that’s hard to do because our edibles are delicious.

 

DarkChocolateSeaSaltBonbons Dark chocolate sea salt bonbons.

So what’s the best advice for first-time eaters?

For someone who doesn’t smoke much I would say start with 5mg. If the person’s a little bigger, their body chemistry is different, their metabolisms different, 10 or 20 mg might be a better amount.

Always start small. Because you always can eat more.

It’s always healthier to eat marijuana instead of smoking it. It lasts longer. You get more out of the medicine.

 

Is there a taste difference between foods made with cannabis butter versus extract?

Most people don’t like that subtle weedy taste. There’s nothing worse than a gross tasting weed edible. You get that from using cannabis butter.

Cannabis butter imparts a strong taste because of the chlorophyll,the plant material, and the terpenes, which are the flavor molecules. They will add that gross taste that you experience in cannabis butter; it’s basically burnt chlorophyll.

If you use a cannabis oil extract with terpenes in it, you’ll still get some weed flavor but it’s not that burnt flavor.

There’s a refined version of cannabis oil that’s called distillate. It’s made through alcohol extraction, that strips the oils of all terpenes. It literally has no flavor. That will make an edible with absolutely no taste, and we work with that product often.

 

How do you feel about cannabis culture in general nowadays?

Marijuana isn’t demonized at all anymore. Millennials love it. We are going to be the cannabis generation. It’s well recognized for its medical benefits. Maybe some of the old-timers don’t like. But I would say that anybody under 30 in Maine is pro-cannabis.

Climate skeptics demand safe space for their unscientific beliefs

 

For decades, the overwhelming consensus from scientists and their peer-reviewed studies is that climate change is both accelerated by human activity and a serious threat.

 

But despite this, it would seem that contrarian voices are getting louder in the Trump era — at least a third of the seats in Congress are held by climate change skeptics. Here in Maine, a bill is being introduced that would "protect" those who don’t believe that climate change is an urgent, human-caused issue, despite 70 percent of Mainers believing the opposite.

 

State representative Larry Lockman (R-Amherst) has introduced LD 771, An Act To Protect Political Speech and Prevent Climate Change Policy Profiling.

 news climate larrylockman

Larry Lockman, pictured here on the left, is no stranger to controversy and outlandish statements.

The bill comes in response to attorney general Janet Mills, who joined law enforcers across the country to file a lawsuit against oil conglomerate ExxonMobil last year for potentially misleading the public by downplaying the dangers of climate change. According to Lockman, the bill would prohibit the state’s attorney general from prosecuting someone based on their climate change beliefs.

 

In other words, this bill would protect those who wish to advocate that climate change isn’t happening, or at the very least isn’t exacerbated by human activity and carbon emissions, from prosecution. It's an indirect response to the Citizen's United case — proponents of the bill say that political speech is the most protected form of free speech.

 

According to a press release, Mills responded to the bill by writing that she is, “committed to using the authority of my office to address (global climate change) in a meaningful way by defending important Environmental Protection Agency regulations against attacks led by the coal industry and exploring litigation options that will hold the worst polluters accountable for their actions.”

 

This bill to "protect the free speech" of climate change skeptics comes at the behest of Jonathan Reisman, one of the most prominent ones in Maine. Reisman is an associate professor of economics and public policy at the University of Maine at Machias, and is a leading conservative voice on environmental policy in the state. He said this bill is a direct response to the partisan investigation of Exxon and that he doesn’t want to live in a state where the attorney general doubles as the “environmental thought police.”

 

“I was quite concerned that the attorney general's office was once again suppressing political speech they disagreed with,” said Reisman in an interview with the Phoenix. “I’m offended by the Leonardo DiCaprio rule, if you don’t believe or accept the alarmist view on climate change, you’re not allowed to have public office.”

 

Reisman was referring to National Geographic's highly lauded documentary "Before the Flood," which had Leonardo DiCaprio traveling the world and asking world leaders how their nations will cope with climate change challenges.

 

While Reisman does believe that the climate change is indeed happening and that “human activity is part of it,” he’s not convinced that it will lead to any apocalyptic scenarios as “climate change alarmists would have you believe.” He says people like Senator Angus King like to play the “apocalypse card” because it gives them the moral authority to steer environmental policy.

 

“The models that we are using don’t have a strong record of predictive validity,” said Reisman. “We’ve seen efforts to massage the data that don’t inspire a lot of confidence.”

 

According to Reisman, when he examined the models from the 1997 Kyoto Protocol (the international agreement to curb greenhouse gas emissions), the suggested reduction of emissions didn’t even have a tangible effect on reversing climate change.

 

“But they don’t want to talk about that,” said Reisman. “There’s political opportunism in it. But correlation doesn’t equal causation, King’s not telling the whole truth. He’s pushing more government to solve a problem, but what’s being proposed isn’t even going to solve this allegedly apocalyptic problem.”

 

20 years later, many environmental scientists and policy experts have said that by and large, the Kyoto Protocol was a failure. Although several countries did meet their emission standards, including the U.S. (which failed to ratify), two of the world’s biggest polluters, India and China, never signed the deal.

 

However, the Kyoto Protocol did operate under the assumption that climate change exists and is caused by human activity. It paved the way for last year's Paris Climate Agreement, signed by President Obama, which promised the world that the U.S. would reduce its emissions by 26 to 28 percent below its 2005 levels by the year 2025.

 

But now that sustainability standard is at risk, partly due to denial that climate change is a pressing issue. Is it just cognitive dissonance? One study from Swedish psychologist Kirsti Jylhä last year found that most people who accept hierarchical power structures and conservative values tend to deny climate change more often. Another study, from 2011 in Global Environmental Change, asserted that climate change denial was much more popular among conservative white men, presumably because they've benefited the most from the industrial capitalist system and stand to lose money if their businesses take sustainability seriously.

 

I observed this "white male effect" with a couple of Trump supporters I spoke to last week, who asked to remain anonymous, and said that they’ve always been skeptical of the science behind climate change, and dismissed it as just another part of the “liberal agenda.”

 

“Unfortunately, science has become a partisan issue,” said one Trump supporter from Gorham. “It’s just an unnecessary way to increase government regulations over businesses.”

 

According to Dylan Voorhees, the Climate and Clean Energy director at the non-partisan organization the Natural Resources Council of Maine, Lockman's climate denial bill is "ridiculous." He dismissed climate change denial as purley a political phenomenom, interest politics on a grand scale where "doubt is the product." 

"It is beyond question that, at the national level, this climate change denial propaganda and dark money campaign has become overwhelmingly affiliated with the Republican party and various conservative causes," said Voorhees. "Psychology plays a role in all kinds of public opinion, including on science and policy. But it would not play a role in public debate if it wasn’t for hundreds of millions spent trying to manipulate our beliefs."

 

Are we in a new chapter where it's cool to disregard facts and science? Probably not. But people like Lockman must feel emboldened by President Trump and his administration dismissing climate change as a “faith-based ideology.” We’ve got Rex Tillerson, the former CEO of Exxon Mobil as Secretary of the State, telling the Atlantic that he doesn’t think climate change is caused by human activity. Last month we read news that Trump signed an executive order to dismantle the Clean Power Plan, which curbed carbon pollution and toxic pollutants from power plants.

 

And just last week, Scott Pruitt, the newly appointed head of the Environmental Protection Agency, who also doesn’t trust the science behind climate change, told Fox News that he’d like the U.S. to exit out of the Paris Agreement, calling it a “bad deal.” He falsely asserted that China and India have no obligations to curb their emissions until 2030, despite the fact that they’ve already begun work on renewable energy.

 

It’s no wonder that Glen Brand from the Maine Sierra Club (and many others) have dubbed Trump’s administration as the “most anti-environmental administration this country has ever seen.”

 

Mainers gather with thousands to resist science denial

 news climatemarchNYC

The historic "People's Climate March" drew thousands to NYC in 2014.

Trump, his administration, and his fellow climate change deniers holding state offices around the country are poised to influence environmental policy for years to come. According to Brand, the timing couldn’t be worse.

 

“The timing is particularly tragic, because it’s at this time that we have to ramp up and make progress towards 100 percent clean energy,” said Brand. “And now we’re going to be delayed by fossil fuel lobbyists. He’s offering a really dark vision of the world where scientific fact is ignored.”

 news climatemarch2

People have been rallying for environmental sustainability for decades, but the issues surronding climate change are more pressing than ever before. Photo courtesy of the "People's Climate March." 

Brand is doing what he can to fight back against the anti-environmental agenda. With the Sierra Club of Maine, he’s charted six buses to take Mainers to the People’s Climate March in Washington D.C. on April 29. According to Brand, although America “will survive Trump,” it’s important to resist and send a strong message that the people will continue to fight for justice, equality, and a safe and healthy natural environment.

 

“I’m hopeful that events like this will have long-term reverberations,” said Brand. “Of course, a march doesn’t reduce carbon emissions. But it galvanizes people. We will pump up people's energy to do the resistance work that’s necessary right now.”

 

A couple satellite marches are happening locally (in both Augusta and Portland), organized by the Natural Resources Council of Maine, 350 Midcoast Maine, the Maine Conservation Alliance, and the Maine People’s Alliance.

 

“Climate-change from carbon pollution threatens our natural resource based economy, damages coastal towns with rising sea levels and extreme storms, and makes people sick, increasing Maine’s already high rate of asthma and tick-borne diseases,” said Judy Berk from the NRCM. “President Trump is not going to protect people and our environment from the threats of climate change, despite the fact that most Americans believe climate change is happening and we need to act now.”

 

Lockman's bill was sent to the judiciary committee last month and will soon go before the full Legislature. 

 

The March for Science | April 22nd, 10 am-1 pm | City Hall, Portland | http://maineresists.org/

 

Maine People’s Climate March | April 29th, 10 am-1 pm | 111 Sewall St., Augusta | https://actionnetwork.org/events/peoples-climate-mobilization-in-maine

 

  • Published in News

Teach your children well

My folks are the best. I was extremely lucky to have the greatest parents growing up. They treated me so well, always looked out for me, taught me the right lessons and I think instilled a great perspective on how to go about life. I owe everything to my mother and father and I love them with all of my heart and soul.

That being said, I’m still pretty pissed off they never put a guitar in my hands when I was a kid!

Here I am listening to so much music as a young person. By the time I was seven or eight I was into jazz, big band, classic singers, doo-wop, oldies, Motown, soul, disco, classic rock, pop rock, new wave and power pop to name a few. I listened, collected and talked about music like it was my job before I even hit double digits. How do you not get that kid to play an instrument! Anything! 

They didn’t even go the cautious route by sticking me in a school band. Hand me a trumpet or send me down the street to Mrs. Whoever’s house to pick up piano lessons! Something!? Nothing.

So, what was their hang up? To this day, I still don’t know. I mean, I haven’t really had it out with them about it, yet, but they loved music. It was always around. They liked that I liked music. They loved to dance and sing along. My dad played amazing finger drums on the couch, steering wheel and dinner table. They played music everywhere we were and they always let me buy records and tapes with my allowance money. I had stacks of tapes, records and 45’s. Enough music in my bedroom that you’d think the average parent would say to the other parent, “honey, we should probably start to get him some lessons”. 

Did they think I was going to be an eight year old rebel renegade musician who would mess up the works in town and have the locals shaking a fist at me as I drove by in a black Mustang blasting my music smoking two cigarettes at once? I think they knew me better than that.

Did they hope I’d become a doctor, lawyer, mayor or simple law bidding citizen that wasn’t going to shake up things with that rock n’ roll music? No. I think they knew me better than that.

My folks weren’t pushy or suffocating. They let me do my thing, which at a young age was collecting and loving music and hanging out with friends playing hoops. I hung up Van Halen posters in my room, wore Beastie Boys t-shirts and tried to grow my hair out a little bit. The signs were all there that this was perhaps my calling. I should be playing something.

Which instrument though? I didn’t know. I liked so much different music. So, I can’t expect they would have known either. Come to think of it, I don’t think I ever even asked them to buy me a guitar or if I could buy my own guitar. Years and years AND YEARS of following Eddie Van Halen; how did I not beg them for a red Kramer (guitar) with white and black scattered stripes?! Maybe this was all on me.

It’s funny, I didn’t even really know any kids I could have jammed with then. I knew kids in sports and acting, but not many musicians. Later on in high school, sure I knew one or two guys. Even then, it was the same guys everyone in school knew. These guys were like mystical legends. Who were these aliens?! There was always that guy from school band who played traditional sax. The best he could do though to impress anyone outside of class was playing “Urgent” by Foreigner or “Bitch” by the Stones. Doesn’t sound like much but it was partially impressive. 

I remember one friend’s reputation starting to grow. “Dude, Roger plays guitar. He’s got an amp and his folks let him play in their basement”, a close friend said to me. Whoa! Roger came off like a rock star to all of us. I let him borrow one of my Ozzy tapes long ago so he must have some skills.

I remember going to his house once to see him play. The journey was long. Friggin’ guy lived over a half hour away! Still we trudged on to see Roger and his guitar. I remember he kinda stunk. He knew, “Hey Joe” by Hendrix which was no fun. He didn’t really play anything by Van Halen except, “You Really Got Me”, which wasn’t even a Van Halen song, but he played it and it was impressive enough to all of us. All we knew is it got him girls and that’s when you know it’s working folks!   

So why didn’t the inspiration of Roger fire me up to go to my folks to say, “Hey, I wanna rock! Let’s handle this accordingly”.

I’ll be honest in my life, variety has been the musician dream killer. I’ve been into so much different music, I wouldn’t know what instrument to have played or what type of music to write.  Even as I got older I still don’t think I could have settled down to a single sound or instrument. I have a musical multiple personality condition. One minute Al Green, later on Iron Maiden, then Peter Tosh followed by Roy Orbison and then XTC.

My dad and his brother were into drums as kids. They both played a little bit. So I had the drums in me bigtime, but it never developed. I just didn’t know what instrument to pick… so I pursued none.

It took me a while to realize it was best for me to be into everything, not one thing. It allowed me to work with all kinds of music and deal with all types of artists because I honestly could speak their native tongue when it came to what music they made. Rock, rap, metal, acoustic, punk, r&b; I was able to work with and respond to it all working in music for the past 28 years.

Today, we’re in a dangerous time for kids learning how to play instruments. Music in schools, music programs, public broadcasting and the arts are losing too much its support. That’s unacceptable. If this curve unfortunately continues to head in that direction, it is up to parents to bring their kids to Mrs. Whoever’s house for lessons or to see the Jack White poster on their kid’s bedroom wall and realize they’re the only ones who need to put a guitar in that child’s hands or a piano in front of them. We need to handle this crisis and support it as a community. In a city like Portland, drenched in spectacular art, music and culture; it’s up to us to preserve its future. Now, more than ever.

Music will never go away, if WE keep it alive.

News Briefs

Thousands show support in the wake of meteorologist's suicide

Last week, the local television station WCSH-6 released a touching video tribute to meteorologist Tom Johnston, after authorities found his body and revealed that he committed suicide.

The video, now viewed over 20,000 times, featured snippets of Johnston’s colorful personality through clips of weather reports and on-air banter with his colleagues.

“He was a meteorologist that felt more like a friend,” said reporter and co-worker Amanda Hill in the video. “Tom, as we know, had a huge smile and an equally large heart.”  

Johnston, known by his nickname “TJ Thunder” moved to Maine from Florida three years ago and quickly developed a following as the upbeat, wise-cracking weatherman from Channel 6. Colleagues said that he loved the weather, and, like many Mainers, held a strange obsession with snow.

Police found Johnston’s body in a wooded area outside Auburn after he was reported missing days after he was emceeing at a ski event in Newry. As we remember Johnston’s life and positive energy, his demise serves as a cautionary tale; that no matter how happy someone appears to be, the anxieties they face inside are often times only knowable to them. Locals who knew Tom or watched him on TV alluded to this notion as they expressed their shock and grief.

“We watched Tom every night,” wrote PJ Wilson from Harpswell in response to the tribute video. “Tom was awesome. To his family, and his WCSH6 family, do not be too hard on yourself about not seeing signs. I lived with a ‘joker, smiler, giver’ that suffered depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts and never saw through the smiles into the pain. Thank God my family member confided in someone. I too was blind. Fortunately for me I have the chance to keep my eyes and ears open.  I know that you are sad and want to blame yourselves.  Be kind to yourself, sometimes signs are not there.”

 

LePage renews efforts to slash candy and soda from EBT benefits

Maine has about 180,000 food stamp recipients and if Gov. Paul LePage gets his way, they won’t be able to buy candy or soda with their card.

Feeling that Trump and his administration will be more amenable to their cause, LePage and other state Republicans are renewing their efforts to ban these sugary foods from food stamp eligibility. LePage cites rising cases of obesity and diabetes as the motivation behind this ban.

According to the Portland Press Herald, LePage’s efforts have inspired legislators in Tennessee and Arkansas to pursue similar restrictions.

“We don’t allow people to buy alcohol and cigarettes with welfare dollars, why should we allow people to buy junk food that leads to just as many health problems?” Tennessee Rep. Sheila Butt told the Press Herald.

 

Immigration agents arrest Somali man inside Portland courthouse

 news aliabdi

Abdi Ali. Courtesy of the Cumberland County Jail.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents arrested a Somali asylum seeker named Abdi Ali at the Portland courthouse last week, according to his lawyer Tina Nadeau.

Ali was there for a meeting with his attorney about a previous drunk driving charge when ICE agents reportedly surprised him, pushed him against the wall, and detained him, according to Nadeau.

“It is very disturbing that someone coming to the courthouse for his scheduled court date and to get legal counsel is being dragged out in handcuffs,” said Nadeau to the Bangor Daily News.

According to ICE spokesman Shawn Neudauer, Ali has a criminal history that includes resisting arrest, various misdemeanors, and two counts of assault.

Many progressive locals and groups like Portland City Councilor Pious Ali, Progressive Portland, and the Maine ACLU have condemned the arrest. They don’t think it’s right for immigration officials to ambush asylum seekers when they show up to their scheduled court date.

“Lurking at courthouses to arrest immigrants, is shortsighted and not the best way to implement immigration laws,” wrote City Councilor Pious Ali, an immigrant from Ghana, on Facebook. “Acts like this will negatively affect the relationship between local law enforcement and the immigrant community and are not in the best interest of our community and city.”

The Maine ACLU released a letter last week signed by 179 Maine attorneys noting that the practice "impedes access to justice and makes Mainers less safe." The letter is on its way to U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, urging them to stop the practice of ICE agents arresting people inside courthouses. 

According to a press release from Police Chief Michael Sauschuck, the Portland PD was unaware of the situation.

“The Portland Police Department was unaware federal officials were investigating or had plans to arrest Mr. Ali,” wrote Sauschuk in a press release. “We work very hard to build trust between the Police Department and all immigrant communities,” the chief said. “It is imperative that all the residents of our city are able to seek assistance from the police, and also provide us with the help we need to solve crimes and continue to make Portland a safe city. We know that cannot truly happen if they are in fear of the police.”

This comment arrives with some added weight behind it; the Portland Police Department has been repeatedly criticized by the Portland Racial Justice Congress (a group of racial equality activists) and others for their use of lethal force against an armed man named Chance David Baker two months ago, and the arrests of 15 Black Lives Matter protesters last July.

 

 

Islamophobic graffiti outrages students a second time

 

For the second time in six months, an anti-Muslim graffiti was found on USM’s Portland campus, provoking intense anger amongst students both on and offline.  

 

The phrase “Kill the muslin,” was scribbled on a USM poster depicting what to do during an active shooter scenario. Could the perpetrator just have been expressing his disgust with light-weight cotton cloth? Many don’t think so, including USM President Glenn Cummings, who has condemned the act as a hate crime.

 

“I am personally sickened by this and apologize to our many Muslim students whose presence on our campus and contributions to our university I could not value more,” wrote Cummings in an email to the entire USM community. “While we can not control the behavior of every single person who finds their way onto our campus, I can assure you our approach is that even one incident is too many and will not be tolerated.”

 

8 Days: The Return of Rustic, Freaky Beat Shows, and One Very Famous Rapper

THURSDAY 13

 

POP UP SQUATS | If you want a booty looking like it walked off a Tyga music video, you’ve got to put in the time...and the squats. The social athletes at Booty Bomb are turning the Stroudwater Distillery into a boot camp, so if you want to shape your rump, or just shake off the seasonal lethargy, I suggest you enlist. And if it’s been awhile since you’ve broken a sweat, don’t worry, the instructors here will work at your pace. The best part? A full-service bar and the Mami Food Truck will be on hand to serve you after the workout, but you’ve got to earn it first.

| $30 | 6 pm to 8 pm | Stroudwater Distillery, 4 Thompson’s Pt., Portland | http://www.stroudwaterdistillery.com/

 

PSYCHEDELIC SAUCE | A rare fungal ear infection known as “psytrance” originated in 1996 by way of two sonic innovators that call themselves the Infected Mushroom, and it's set to re-infect hundreds this month. This Israeli electronic music duo is known for putting on a pretty trippy show: aggressive beats, layers of dreamlike instrumentation, strange samples, and an amorphous structure. Catch this bizarre bug when Infected Mushroom debuts the unrestrained experience of their newest album Return to the Sauce, on a Portland crowd that might not even be ready for it. Prepare your eardrums (and maybe your pineal gland too). International trance star Randy Seidman opens.

| $25 | 8 pm | Port City Music Hall, 504 Congress St., Portland | http://www.portcitymusichall.com/

 

KICK OFF SHOW | Maine’s own Fall of Rauros have new folk-laden black metal nightmares to share with their new work Vigilance Perennial (check out Nick Schroeder’s take on the album on page TK). They’ll be joined by Obsidian Tongue, purveyors of an organic, apocalyptic, and truly fucked up style of black metal. Also on the bill are the doom-tinged folk collective Ada, and the chamber ensemble Forêt Endormie.

| $10 | 8 pm | SPACE Gallery, 538 Congress St., Portland | http://www.space538.org/

 

STRIPPED DOWN SHOW | If you’ve finally untwisted your knickers over that one-asshole-bouncer-in-Empire drama, then head over there for a wholesome night of original music. Alternative folk artist Dan Tedesco will guide the room through a journey about his music addiction — which has led to the mastery of at least five instruments. Like most great musicians, he too is a misfit, a social outcast. He’s joined by Calen Perkins and Portland’s own Pretty Sad.

| $8 | 9 pm | Empire, 575 Congress St., Portland | http://www.portlandempire.com/

 

FRIDAY 14

 

VIBRANT SAFE SPACE | The SPACE Gallery is screening an ode to gay New York with Kiki, a film about the beauty and struggle of LGBTQ youth of color in an underground ballroom scene. It’s an honest, if somber, take on the gay house scene. Recommended.

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

 

8Days SofiaTalvik PhotobyTiffanyThoelke

The visually and audibly arresting Sofia Talvik. Photo by Tiffany Thoelke.

SHIVERS FROM SCANDINAVIA | Enter Sofia Talvik, a Swedish singer/musician described as “a North Sea siren blending sparkle and melancholy with a twang of Americana.” She’ll be performing her special niche of folk music to a small crowd at Blue, and soothing all their souls in the meantime. When you hear the Siren’s song, you can’t help but dive into her cold and mysterious waters. Talvik’s music is bright, passionate, thought-provoking, and sorely missing from your sonic diet.

| one-drink-minimum | 8 pm | Blue, 650 Congress St., Portland | http://portcityblue.com/

 

8days WakaFlockaFlame

Waka Flocka's newest music video, "Workin", is intense AF. 

NO HANDS | Hot 104.7 Maine has resurrected a rapper whose time in the international spotlight was about five years ago with the release of singles No Hands, and Hard In The Paint. Yes, I’m talking about Waka Flocka Flame, the dude whose barks and beats you’ve probably slammed down many a shot to. He’s back in the mainstream discourse on the heels of a new album called Flockaveli 2 (and an intense beef with Gucci Mane). Prepare for a decisively rowdy experience.

| $30 | 8 pm | State Theatre, 609 Congress St., Portland | http://www.statetheatreportland.com/

 

8days RusticOvertones

Dave Gutter of Rustive Overtones unleashing that signature voice. 

OUR TREASURE | Perhaps Maine’s most worthwhile export to the rock and soul scene, the Rustic Overtones, are swinging back through home country for a show. Let sounds of Dave Gutter's smooth but gravely voice and his ass-kickin backup brass follow you all the way home. They’ll be performing their 2012 album Let’s Start A Cult from start to finish. They’ll be joined by the circus punk powerhouse of Bella’s Bartok, a genuine conspiracy to get shy people everywhere dancing.

| $20 | 9 pm | Portland House of Music and Events, 25 Temple St., Portland | http://www.portlandhouseofmusic.com/

 

SATURDAY 15

 

GRAB A PEPSI | It’s time for another protest. With our daily news cycle inundated with fresh scandals and controversies, it’s easy to forget the old unresolved ones. Like President Trump’s tax returns -- what up with them? Why haven’t they been released? How long is this IRS audit going to take, and why isn’t the public told anything at all about the investigation? The people want answers, and they’re planning on demanding them at another protest that starts at City Hall. It’s time to put a stamp on this conspiracy of Russian business ties as either fact or fiction, once and for all. Show up.

| FREE | noon to 1:30 pm | Portland City Hall, 389 Congress St., Portland

 

A SERIOUS ACT | Emanuel Ax, described as a master of the concert stage, and universally respected piano player is scheduled to make a triumphant return to Portland today. He’s bringing with him masterful live renditions of solo works by Franz Schubert, Samuel Adams, and Frédéric Chopin. Students get in for $15. That’s a sweet deal for this classical culture bomb.

| $50 | 3 pm | Merrill Auditorium, 20 Myrtle St., Portland | http://portlandovations.org/

 

8Days tenstrongsandagoatskin

Ten Strings and a Goat Skin play tradional music for modern audiences. 

NEW SCHOOL | They’re youthful, energetic, and know how to squeeze the life out of a fiddle, a guitar, and a hand drum. They’re Ten Strings and a Goat Skin, a trio from Canada’s Prince Edward Island who aims to give traditional music that modern edge it needs to stay relevant in 2017. “We’re less anchored in traditional structures, the way many players assemble dance sets,” said Rowen Gallant, one of the trio’s string players. “We’ve left them by the wayside. We retain the melodic elements, but we’re not opposed to messing with things.” Sometimes moody, sometimes raucous and prone to some serious stomping; Ten Strings and a Goat Skin will make you feel all the feels.

| $18 | 8 pm | One Longfellow Square, 181 State St., Portland | https://onelongfellowsquare.com/

 

HAPPINESS NOW | Swing by Geno’s for release show of Wedding Camps’ new EP, Clear Fizzy Things. Female fronted, soaked in lo-fi sounds and a soft punk attitude, Wedding Camp unpretentiously oozes with coolness. They’re joined by Portland friends Cadaverette, Ossalot, and Notches. Grab a beer and open up to some local tunes will ya?

| $5 | 9 pm | Geno’s Rock Club, 625 Congress St., Portland

 

YOU GOT A PROBLEM | Xander Nelson’s punchy melodic rock band is also throwing an album release concert, just down the street from Geno’s at Empire. These dudes are going to rock out by debuting A Dull Roar, and they're going to look dapper as hell doing it. Also on the bill is the Johnny Cash-inspired Americana band Love to Burn, and local death punks Covered In Bees.

| $7 | 10 pm | Empire, 575 Congress St., Portland | http://www.portlandempire.com/

 

SUNDAY 16

 

LAUGHTER PLEASE | When comedians like Louis CK and Dave Chappelle — whom liberals usually love — get dragged on social media for jokes that go too far, you might ask yourself: where do we draw the line? In this time of hyper-political correctness, how are our local comedians faring? How do the navigate the balance between what’s funny and what’s too offensive? By sticking to weed jokes? Portland’s own Ian Stuart (who’s picked up some impressive national cred over the years) will host a comedy night with a rotating cast of funny men and women. Let’s see what they’re made of.

| $4 | 7:30 pm | Empire, 575 Congress St., Portland | http://www.portlandempire.com/

 

JUST RELAX | George Winston plays the piano three ways — melodic rural folk style, stride style inspired by Teddy Wilson, and New Orleans R&B style — and does it all with the excellence that only comes from decades of practice. His mastery of the keys can provide the background for a nice, chill night. No drama. Just a cocktail and the soft drip like melodies of a great pianist. Do you deserve it?

| $35 | 7:30 pm | One Longfellow Square, 181 State St., Portland | https://onelongfellowsquare.com/

 

8days theMinimalists PhotoByAdamDressler

Joshua and Ryan, the Minimalists, say that their movement is about "the thing that gets us past the things so we can make room for life’s important things—which actually aren’t things at all."

LESS IS NOW | Having just spent an entire day last week donating nearly half of my possessions (including furniture, books, media, and clothes) I can sense there’s something to the whole “minimalist movement.” It’s liberating in a way, to know that all my belongings can fit into 2-3 bags and I can take off and live anywhere at a moment's notice. I have no mortgage, or car payments tying me down either. In 2017, too much of our wealth, identity, and physical space is tied to material objects. Joshua and Ryan, filmmakers and speakers of the “Minimalist Movement” are touring through Portland to share their wisdom on an intimidating, but ultimately rewarding alternative to the American dream.

| $27 | 8 pm | Port City Music Hall, 504 Congress St., Portland | http://www.portcitymusichall.com/

 

MONDAY 17

 8Days theeaglehuntress

Face it, this 13-year old Kazakh girl is probably more badass than you'll ever be. Screenshot from "The Eagle Huntress" - Sony Pictures. 

A SOARING TALE | Ready to be floored by an exhilarating and visually epic documentary about a young eagle huntress from Kazakh? The PMA is screening The Eagle Huntress, which Vice Magazine has lauded as a “breathtaking documentary that shows when we encourage our daughters, amazing things happen." This cultural treat is screening all week.

| $8 | 11:30 am | The Portland Museum of Art, 7 Congress Sq., Portland | http://www.portlandmuseum.org/

 

ART FOR EARTH | Do you ever go outside? Do you like it out there? It’s pretty depressing (and infuriating) that we still have to rally to convince others that climate change is indeed a thing that’s happening. But we do. Radical action is needed to support the EPA and other climate change initiatives that Trump has either gutted or undermined. Join the Artist’s Rapid Response Team and make signs, puppets, and other visual aids for the People’s Climate March in Augusta and Washington D.C. And because protestors are typically fueled by pizza, Flatbread has donated some slices of their sweet, thin and delicious pies. Yum. Part of the GET READY WEEKLY art residency at SPACE throughout this month (read Nick Schroeder's interview with GRW principals Erin Colleen Johnson and Marieke Van Der Steenhoven on page TK.)

| FREE | 5:30 pm | SPACE Gallery, 538 Congress St., Portland | www.space538.org/

 

BRILLIANT BEATS | Because it was so popular last year, local DJs Dirty Keys, Zimbra and DoomsdayJ will spin some post punk and synth pop hits for their 2nd Annual Talking Heads night. They’re hard to categorize but easy to dance to. Props to Flask for not only hosting consistent and free dance nights but also for keeping that new wave spirit alive-n-kickin.

| FREE | 8 pm | Flask Lounge, 117 Spring St., Portland | http://flasklounge.com/

 

8Days stayonmars photobyJackieSpencer

Zachary Mullin (AKA Stay On Mars) is more than just a Portland rapper; he's a community organizer, activist, and youth educator. Photo by: Jackie Spencer.

INTROSPECTIVE CYPHERS | Monday of the Minds, Portland premiere hip hop night delivers in both style and substance. They’re moving the show to Empire for one week to accommodate Cryptic Wisdom, a deep-thinking kind of rapper touring from Tuscon Arizona. Other acts include James Grant, Ill Murray, and Portland’s faithful trap-hop artist, cultural critic and founder of Monday of the Minds, Stay on Mars. Get your brain fed behind a sick beat.

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

 

TUESDAY 18

 

WAR SUCKS |  Did you know that today is the International Day Against Military Spending & National Peace Action's Move the Money Campaign Day? Me neither. Maine Resists will be tabling all day with the hopes of inspiring others to join the anti-war effort. To some degree, we’re disconnected from reality in peaceful ol’ Maine, but it’s important to be reminded that our tax dollars often end up funding death and despair around the world.

| FREE | noon | Monument Square, Portland | http://www.maineresists.org/

 

8Days Danceclass

Rene Johnson can teach even those with two left feet how to dance with grace and confidence. 

CONFIDENCE BOOST | Chances are you either know how to dance or you don’t; there’s really no in-between. Furthermore, if you can’t dance you’ve probably made peace with it and reconciled with the fact that dancefloors will forever be foreign territory for you. But it doesn’t have to be this way. The talented and exuberant local artist Rene Johnson, artistic director of the Theater Ensemble of Color, is hosting a class called “Dancing For Non-Dancers.” Don’t be shy; all you need are two working legs.

| $35 | 6:30 to 9:30 pm | Acorn Productions, 519 Congress St., Portland | https://acornproductionsportland.wordpress.com/

 

COME ON DOWN | If you’re a '90s kid, you’ve likely fantasized about winning money on the "Big Wheel" from The Price is Right. I certainly did. With a bizarre mix of optimism and bewilderment, I learned this week that The Price is Right tours with an interactive stage show, and it’s coming to Maine! Portlanders will get a chance to play all those wacky stage games, and actually win money, appliances, cars, and vacations. Are you feeling lucky?

| $39 | 7:30 pm | Merrill Auditorium, 20 Myrtle St., Portland | https://tickets.porttix.com/

 

WEDNESDAY 19

 

CREATURE COMFORTS | If you don’t think that the Kora Shrine Circus is in the business of animal abuse and exploitation, then you can head over to their last couple of performances in blissful ignorance. This day marks the last of their Portland visits this year.

| $12 | 2 pm and 7 pm | Cross Insurance Arena, 1 Civic Center Sq., Portland | http://korashriners.org/circus/

 

CULTURAL CONFECTION | Talented musicians take you places inside your head. Great ones accomplish even more. The Argentinian folk artist Richard Shindell writes songs that “paint pictures, tell stories, juxtapose ideas and images, inhabit characters, vividly evoking entire worlds along the way and expanding our sense of just what it is a song may be.” You’re in for a treat with this one, trust me.  

| $30 | 8 pm | One Longfellow Square, 181 State St., Portland | https://onelongfellowsquare.com/

 

8Days KishiBashi

Kishi Bashi is touring with his new album Sonderlust "a rapturous mix of '70s soft rock, disco and synth pop."

HEARTBROKEN HUMANS | The indie strangeling and multi-instrumentalist Kishi Bashi has crafted an album from globs of his heart and shreds of his soul. It’s called Sonderlust, and it’s staggeringly creative and quite adventurous for clear-cut pop-rock. The violin gymnastics and deeply emotive storytelling present on the album might have something to do with its mysterious quality. Tall Tall Trees are set to open.

| $17 | 8 pm | Port City Music Hall, 504 Congress St., Portland |  http://www.portcitymusichall.com/

 

THURSDAY 20

 

LOOKING AHEAD | There are many hip happenings coming down the arts/entertainment/nightlife pipeline, but you’re going to have to wait until next week for details. Here’s a preview of some Portland events that have caught my eye: one of the greatest forces of Irish music hits the State Theatre; Ian Stuart is releasing his 4/20 themed comedy album; the real life Catch Me If You Can con-man Frank Abagnale Jr. is going to give a talk on security at USM; Mighty Mystic is set to perform and host a big reggae party at Port City; and noise act Wolf Eyes is set to chill spines at SPACE Gallery.

Letters to the Editors

Dear People:

For many years I have complained about my government’s lack of concern for the present and future of struggling people and the planet. I have withheld one hundred dollars from my properly-calculated tax payment as a protest, and sent that money to an organization that distributed collected funds to organizations helping people in need and causes worth supporting. Every year there has been good reason to do it, and every year I have felt good about doing it. My only hesitation has been at withholding only $100, but I do believe in taxation, I do support much of what my government does.

The election of Donald Trump makes my concern about my government more troubling than ever. Never before in my sixty years has my government been so callous about the “tired, your poor, the hungry, the huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” Trump has only been in office less than three months and already the misery is spreading like a cancer, and it shows no sign of abating.

I can not do less than I have before, I must do more. As in the past I have prepared my tax return as carefully as I can. This year I am withholding two hundred dollars of my calculated payment. I am not keeping this money, I am sending it to Haymarket People’s Fund in Boston to do what the government should be doing - supporting society.

Ironically, a president who believes so strongly in privatization should thank me for such forward thinking on my part. I am not asking government to fund programs, I am supporting private efforts, and I am supporting reduction of taxation. If all people did as I am doing the government could do less, as it wants, and private agencies could do more, as government wants. This is not what I want, mind you, I want government to do its job, and am in fact willing to pay a fair share for the work and investments. But I thought it worth mentioning that what I am doing is in fact consistent with Trump’s expressed policies. 

Sincerely,

Seth Berner

 

To the Editors:
Re: Sultana Khan article March 30
Sultana, Keep up the good work. Your insightful and observant reporting is refreshing to see in this ultra-left house "organ". Mush-minded liberals and right wing wackos are blinded by doctrine. Observed reality is enlightening.
Regards,
SC Taylor

 

To the Editors:

Many of the same proposed Sunday hunting bills come up every year with only a change in the LD (legislative document) number and a slight change in the title.  The basic concept of the bill remains the same with the usual focus of allowing Sunday hunting of wildlife as evidenced by the following bills:

LD61: An Act to Allow Bird Hunting on Sundays by Licensed Hunters Using a Shotgun; LD 189: An Act to Allow Bird Hunting on Sunday in Aroostook County and Unorganized Townships in Western Maine; and LD109: An Act to Allow Sunday Hunting by Landowners and Those with Landowners’ Permission. These are just a few of the Sunday Hunting bills currently being considered by the 128th Session of the Maine Legislature. Described by some as getting a foot in the door, these Sunday hunting bills are scheduled for a public hearing this Thursday, April 6, at the Cross State Office Building, Rm. 206 at the State House in Augusta, ME.   Opponents of these Sunday hunting bills point out that while some states allow hunting on Sunday, not all states allow silencers on guns for hunters.

Last year, in the 127th Session of the Legislature, LD942: An Act To Permit the Use of Firearm Noise Suppression Devices in Hunting and To Provide for a Chief Law Enforcement Officer’s Certification for Certain Firearms, sponsored by Sen. Garrett Mason (R-Androscoggin), was approved by the legislature.  Included in the bill is a provision that “until August 1, 2018, this bill allows a person to use a noise suppression device while hunting, as long as the person has lawful possession of the device and has not had a hunting license revoked as a result of a serious hunting violation.”  

At the time, the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife was opposed to the bill and expressed concern about the potential for increased difficulty in apprehending poachers with silencers.  We need to address this issue of whether or not we are going to continue to allow silencers on guns because Sunday is the one day of the week during hunting season when a citizen can go hiking in the woods with a dog and members of the family without having to worry that someone may be hunting within a short distance with no warning because of shots not being clearly heard.  Lastly, let’s give the animals and the game wardens in this state one day a week to rest.  

Val Philbrick

Scarborough, ME.

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