Nick Schroeder

Nick Schroeder

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John Sundling's 'Ghost Fence' Conjures Portland Past and Future

The first of a series of temporary public art installations throughout the city assembled by TEMPOart Portland, Ghost Fence has by now caught your attention. It's not likely the assemblage of flagging tape, wooden poles, and plastic sheeting in the grassy knoll along Franklin Arterial would be mistaken for a civic beautification project, but it's surely prompting questions.
The work of Portland-based artist and designer John Sundling, Ghost Fence is up for the month of June, and is meant to invoke a discussion (public or private) about a series of land-use decisions made by the City of Portland in the 1960s and '70s, which Sundling asserts razed and displaced old Maine communities for the purpose of becoming more modern, functional and commercially viable.
What sort of research did you do to prepare for Ghost Fence? Why did it move you to create this work?
My earliest research was regularly walking along and across Franklin Arterial, which is a few blocks from my house, and experiencing how it is used and how it feels to inhabit the space. I have been interested in this part of the city for years, both as a psychic dividing line on the peninsula and because its history exemplifies Portland's history. Following the TEMPOart call for submissions, I focused on Lincoln Park's pre-urban renewal fence line and used historic maps and photos to plot out the boundary, with a lot of inspiration from Scott Hanson's great "History of Franklin Street" video (found on YouTube). Ghost Fence itself manifested during late night walks this winter, and seemed the most direct way to boil all the history of change and conflict down to something digestible at a public scale. 
In the TEMPOart statement, it says about the project that "(i)n the late 1960s, the City of Portland razed existing communities to create the Franklin Street Arterial and make the street more 'functional' and 'modern'" — what did you learn about the people in those communities?
What I've learned about the communities affected by urban renewal in Portland in the 1960s and '70s is that they were culturally varied and had deep historical ties to young Portland, which is rooted in the India Street neighborhood. Listening to WMPG's recent audio documentary on Franklin Street gave voices to people still alive who lived in these homes that were suddenly labeled as slums and torn down 50 years ago. The history is still alive and the emotions fresh, giving Franklin a symbolic importance beyond the infrastructural benefits. 
Given the city's sometimes tumultuous history with public art projects (like the infamous "Tracing the Fore" sculpture in Boothby Square, which was removed earlier this decade), I'm curious what sort of response you've gotten from the average Portlander about Ghost Fence
I am finding that people are curious, but that many people take a defensive position upon first inquiry. Gruff, perhaps. Upon learning that Ghost Fence is about the story of their city, and was installed with intent and local relevance, they usually soften up to it. Everyone who grew up here knows this history, and I think that helps people connect to my project. I've had a few haters, but anything put into the public is free to be criticized and I enjoy the feedback. 
Have you noticed any creative alterations or interactions to the piece since its install?  
The first night after the June 2 opening, two sections of the fence were torn apart very purposefully. I'd done outdoor material testing and I know that the wind does not do to the white plastic flagger tape what happened to that part of the fence that night. Also, one of the plastic upholstered piers has been stabbed. I keep an eye on it and replace parts as necessary. 
You also work in floristry and set design, and have taken an interest to outdoor, environmental art. Are there other places or natural settings in Portland you've taken an interest in?
I have installed work all over the peninsula for years, though this is my first officially permitted public art project. I tend to focus on quiet corners of the town, often seemingly neglected, like the snow dump in Bayside, West Commercial Street before the clear cutting, the quay along the Eastern Promenade Trail. I'm interested in bringing attention to these spots, and making personal connections with the place as a way to reflect on time and change. I would love to play with the tides in Back Cove or create something that plays with the hills in town, with a series of installations meant to be seen from a distance. 

Ghost Fence, sculptural installation by John Sundling | Through June 30 | Franklin Arterial and Congress St, Portland |

An earlier version of this story cited Scott Hanson's YouTube video as the "History of Lincoln Street." It is actually the "History of Franklin Street."

  • Published in Art

8 Days a Week: Pride Parades, Weed Eaters, and City Savers



RESPECT TO SHERYL SWOOPES | There's one thing true in this world of lies, and it's the fact that Rivalries has decent burgers. I'm not kidding here. For a sports bar with roughly eight dozen TVs, you'd think they'd be content to stay in their lane, serving up requisitely tasty yet forgettable pub food to bros whose palates have been too mossed over by foamy IPAs to care what it tastes like. But damn, it seems like they actually care about the nobility of that burger. Another thing they care about, one infers, is LGBTQ rights — another big win in our book. Tonight, as Pride nears its apex of weekend parties, join emcee Shane Diamond (who wrote an essay in last week's issue) for a one-off LGBTQ trivia night, complete with foamy prizes. Word is you should study 21st-century musicals, out athletes, and the history of Pride itself.

6-9 pm | FREE | Rivalries, 10 Cotton St., Portland |


PRAY TELL | Last week's sold out performance of The Moth Mainstage at the State Theatre tells me the city knows how to appreciate a thick, solid yarn. Born in 1997 by a dude in Georgia, that storytelling series is now the most notorious in the land. Meanwhile, collaborative efforts between the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies, The Corner in Lewiston, and Brunswick's Frontier launched a Maine-based telling series SoundBites last year (a season which included a story from this humble writer). And in the spirit of understanding that you've got to start somewhere, the place they've started from — a season of award-winning storytellers selling out the theater space at the always-excellent Frontier — is hard to beat. Join them tonight to hear seasoned stories from telling vets Sandi Marx and Dr. Phyllis Blackstone, plus Maine personalities including community organizer Joey Brunelle, journalist Marco Aviles, and South Korean-born culture-worker Tae Chong, telling stories on the theme of "New to Town."

7:30 pm | $9 | Frontier, 14 Maine St., Brunswick |


SEVERAL FRIENDLIES | Kinda been pluggin' 'em every week, but these free Thursday night shows at Geno's are really hitting the spot. Really kissing the young rock fan right in the kisser. Presented by upstart tape label Are You Kidding Me?, tonight's show merges the lives of those who like the band Giant Knife, who like the band Ossalot, and who like the band All Night — they gotta meet each other! Giant Knife is a propulsive wave of slack-catharsis; the trio Ossalot, ex of BABE and the Rattlesnakes, play quixotically beautiful minimalist post-punk indie rock; and All Night dredges up the buried organ of doom-metal. You'll remember these days somehow!

9 pm | FREE | Geno's Rock Club, 625 Congress St, Portland |


RESPECT THE FORM | Seems a show belonging to another era, but we're into it. Tonight, musician Seth Warner and his band presents the entirety of Jackson Browne's cool soft-rock album, Running On Empty, a record which rock critic Robert Christgau at the time said to have "tapped the culture's circa-1977 sense that it was running on empty, feeling like a trashed Holiday Inn room." Relatable! Seriously, though, Warner and company have shown an admirable probity learning and performing other albums of merit — Amy Winehouse's Back to Black, Neil Young's Tonight's the Night, Lyle Lovett's Pontiac — and while these selections aren't exactly obscure, they're sincere, and it's clear he's driven by other factors than music trends. In other words, there may not be another chance to go this deep into Jackson Browne. Featuring a band that includes Portland singer Susanne Gerry, this performance is one-night-only.

| $15 adv, $20 day of | 8 pm | St. Lawrence Arts Center, 76 Congress St, Portland |


ALERIC'S WORLD | Need a low-key reprieve? I don't know anyone in town who wouldn't benefit from seeing a performance from Mousa. The performance alias of Vince Nez, the multi-instrumentalist plays a set at Blue tonight at 7 pm. Dude's got a lot of good ideas about how to do music. Treat it like a restorative power hour for the soul.

7 pm | FREE | Blue, 650A Congress St, Portland |




ARM YOURSELF | There are innumerable ways to approach Pride, and today's all-day LGBTQ+ Health Conference presents a knowledge-share on the theme of trauma and resiliency. Hosted by the Health Equity Alliance and dealing with issues of primary care, transgender health, and other themes related to wellness and security, this event includes a presentation by keynote speaker Sandy James from the National Center of Transgender Equality. Tickets run $35 to $50, with continuing education credits (CME/CEU) available.

7:45 am-5 pm | $50 (scholarships available) | University of Southern Maine, 96 Falmouth St., Portland |


GOOD WERK IF U CAN GET IT | The Pride Portland folks have whipped up an exciting calendar of events, but many of the month's best parties and shows fall outside of that network. Tonight, we're blessed with a dance party and drag show starring Thorgy Thor of Rupaul's Drag Race alongside luminous Portland queens Stepmother, Cherry Lemonade, and Dirty Money Dana. It's all set to sounds from retrofuturist synth-rock group Superorder and DJ Kttnmttnz, and also boasts a return of Aquarius Funkk, the alias of former Portland resident Lilia Garcelon, who is a star. Part of a series of parties under the banner Chemtrail, for which organizers have stated to be stoked on reappropriating typically "straight bars" — a fine idea.

8 pm | $20-25 | Portland House of Music, 25 Temple St., Portland |


ORIGINATOR | A day before the broader Pride parade, ride with the Portland Dyke March in their 12th annual event leading the charge. Later, it's a gloriously broad evening of themes and flavors, so tonight's Portland Queer Showcase, on the earlier side of things, can get you started right. Put on by the Portland Maine Dyke March Collective, this gathering at MECA shows poetry, dance, and song from songwriter Monique Bidwell, dance performer Aquarius Funkk, dance troupe Vivid Motion, budding young artist Sam Barwell, Nikolaas Mirage, and more.

5:30 pm | FREE | Monument Sq, Portland | $3-5 donation | 7:30 pm | Maine College of Art, 522 Congress St., Portland |


PROCEED NAZARETH | The stoner-sludge band Weedeater swings through town tonight. The 20-odd-year project of former Buzzov*en frontman Dixie Collins, Weedeater's dropped five albums of bluesy, stripped-down post-metal, kind of Sabbath meets Eyehategod. They're up with Maine metal dogs Sylvia, Seattle's Serial Hawk, and Canadian quartet Black Wizard. The aural equivalent of dipping your hand in motor oil and holding it thumbs down until it dries. | 8:30 pm | $15 adv, $18 day of | SPACE Gallery, 538 Congress St., Portland |


ENPURPLE YOUR LIFE | As you age, it becomes imperative to learn new things to do with your hands. Learn the basics of traditional Japanese resist dyeing with a workshop presented by the Bayside fiber arts outfit PortFiber, whose artist emissary Amelia Poole guides students through binding, stitching, and pole-wrapping techniques for cotton and silk. They're working specifically with indigo hues today — which, like, no complaints there; indigo is lovely. This is a day-long class — and perhaps steep at $120 — but it's a skill your hands won't forget.

10 am-4 pm | $120 | PortFiber, 50 Cove St., Portland |


ANXIETY OF INFLUENCE | I can never forget the moment in that film Garden State — which I was coerced into watching in college by a pretty, wealthy girl from L.A. — when bratty, beautiful Natalie Portman shakes off her headphones in a hospital waiting room and informs a yearning Zach Braff that she's listening to ... the Shins. My memory is imperfect here, but it seemed a moment designed to illustrate some mysterious and chronically misunderstood trait about Portman's character, or that she herself felt chronically misunderstood, which would of course yoke us along with Braff's mounting interest in her. But then, she was listening to the Shins, a band no one in America has ever had problems understanding or sharing with broader society. The viewer, at that moment, can also hear the Shins performing some song I can't be bothered to look up (but it was definitely on that era-defining soundtrack), and the whole scene seemed to flow like an ad for some product I stridently did not want to buy, a/k/a my own generation. Needless to say, the Shins have enjoyed many years of success since — and I'm no longer in touch with that girl from college. Now less of a band than a summer-y songwriting project by 47-year-old frontman James Mercer, the Shins sound admittedly more adventurous and less precious these days. And though my personal opinions are shared here merely for color, you'll be among friends helping them celebrate their lovely-enough fifth album and first in five years, titled Heartworms, at a spirited set at Thompson's Point tonight. | 5:30-8 pm | $42-47 | Thompson's Point, 4 Thompson's Point, Portland |





COMIC LOVE | With over 100 artists, designers, and writers, the Maine Comic Arts Festival convenes in the great halls of the Portland Public Library today, showing a dizzying number of artists from Maine and beyond exhibiting books in the library's Lewis Gallery, Atrium, and elsewhere. Admission is free; check Casablanca Comics for a nifty guide to the whole thing.

10 am-5 pm | FREE | Portland Public Library, 5 Monument Way, Portland |


BE U | Today, of course, is Pride proper, which typically means you can witness the most joyful public moment in Portland city life alongside half the city. Coursing a path from Monument Square to Deering Oaks Park, the Pride Parade starts at 10:30 am. I'm tempted to include a political statement about the times, but you already get it.

10:30 am | FREE | Monument Square, Portland |


ROOF DUDES | At the newly revamped and palatially big Bayside Bowl, join the Portland Bach Festival for "Bachtails," a pop-up show of string performances scattered throughout the lanes. Not sure if it's a Brooklyn-inspired paradise or some quasi-Victorian fever dream brought to life — a night of mini-classical concerts, bowling, and rooftop cocktails — but we're sure it'll find a foothold in your weird set of interests nonetheless. If you're someone who bowls better to the Goldberg Variations than you do Lady Gaga, this is your night. Kicks off a nine-day Portland Bach Festival, a Portland original.

5:30-8 pm | FREE | Bayside Bowl, 58 Alder St., Portland |


SPIRITED CONVEYANCE | Look to our feature section for the breakdown on PortFringe, the homegrown festival of dramatic and experimental performances from near and far surging through Portland's arts district now through June 24. | variable pricing |




8days magicmenlive

Experience the surreal housewife fantasy that is Magic Men Live this week at the Merrill Auditorium. 

HARDBODY JONES | Billed as a ladies night for the ages, tonight's Magic Men appearance of cut, muscular dancing dudes banks on a similar mainstream housewife fantasy to 50 Shades of Grey. Which, no shame there. For a ticket price of $41-81, see these remarkably ripped male bodies in various American archetypes — the Country Boy, the Latin Lover, The Rook, The Bad Boy, the Chocolate Boy Wonder, as they call them, and more — acting and dancing out various PG-13-level fantasy scenarios, surreally on the Merrill Auditorium stage. | 8 pm | $41-81 | Merrill Auditorium, 20 Myrtle St., Portland |



VIEWS | Decompress that monster weekend with a thought-provoking and vital lecture tonight, as Portland Director of Advocacy Julie Larry and artist John Sundling (of the installation Ghost Fence on Franklin Arterial — see page 20 for more) speaking about "The Impact of Portland's Urban Renewal" on the city's immigrant communities of the 20th century. Put on by Greater Portland Landmarks and TEMPOart, an organization prompting temporary public art installations throughout the city.

6 pm | $20 | Franklin Arterial & Congress St., Portland |




The Jeremiahs 1188

FULL PARTY | The legendary Michael Franti (of Spearhead and Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy) having already sold out Thompson's Point tonight, we'd have to point you to One Longfellow Square instead, where noteworthy band The Jeremiahs, a four-piece traditional folk project that's risen to the head of the Irish folk class, play a set of traditionals and originals.

7 pm | $15 adv, $20 day of | One Longfellow Square, 181 State St., Portland |


MAKE PLANS | Jane Jacobs's 1961 book The Death and Life of Great American Cities is still required reading for anyone who thinks seriously about city planning and how to live in a society. Scratch that, anyone who spends any time outside, ever. Tonight, the documentary Citizen Jane: Battle for the City, a film about the work of the late Manhattan-based activist and writer, screens at SPACE Gallery, where Portlanders can learn lessons and best practices about how to fight for the soul of their own city.

7 pm | $8 | SPACE Gallery, 538 Congress St, Portland |



PIZZA PARTY | These warm summer evenings we've been enjoying call for cold beers and patio hangs. Outdoor seating has been available at Slab, and this night offers a chance to combine those seasonal pleasures with their pillowy Sicilian pies, and the sweet organ sounds of the Micromasse trio. Organist Peter Dugas, guitarist Max Cantlin, and drummer Chris Sweet will kick off Slab's Summer Music Series with their reliably delightful instrumental jazz performance. 

6 pm | FREE | Slab, 25 Preble St., Portland |




LOOKING AHEAD | Next week brings us what we deserve, a Portland Food Festival, meant to highlight the growing number of food entrepreneurs working in and outside the traditional restaurant industry.

8 Days A Week: Raise the Flag, Rally for Life, Dance Forever



DESIRE TRAP | In the film world, it's considered a treat to live in a city that'll screen Stalker, the newly-restored HD release of Andrei Tarkovsky's mindbending 1979 sci-fi film. That Portland is among those cities is a delight. In the film, a mysterious interloper known only as "The Stalker" guides two yearning souls—a depressive writer and a professor looking for scientific discovery—to a place called "The Zone," where the rules of reality are suspended and lies a room said to enable their innermost desires. What happens next belongs to a language better served by a different tongue. One of the most highly regarded films of the last half-century, this souped-up version is a ride worth taking. Screening tonight as well as Saturday and Sunday.

| $8 | 5:30 pm | Portland Museum of Art, 7 Congress Sq., Portland |


BREAKING THE CODE | This month, Portland's Lisa Bunker, whom some may know as the former director of WMPG (as well as a past contributor to this and other in-town publications), celebrates the release of her young adult sci-fi novel, Felix Yz. First published by Bunker as a work of interactive fiction (via her blog), Felix Yz tells of an otherwise typical eighth-grade boy who's been living his life attached to some strange alien presence for 10 years, which has made things far more difficult. Nevertheless, Felix keeps plugging away through life growing up in Maine, enjoying chess and webcomics, enduring strange crushes and fighting off bullies, and along the way learns powerful lessons about transcending the standards and norms of his upbringing. Hear Bunker read from her smart and original novel tonight at Longfellow Books.

| FREE | 7 pm | Longfellow Books, 1 Monument Way, Portland |


SEE THROUGH THIS | Three years ago, a group of bold, brazen, sex-positive folks formed the group Maine Educationalists for Sexual Harmony, a/k/a M.E.S.H. They took it as their mission to do the work of making publicly-accessible, consent-based sex education while producing events and shows that were undeniably fun, inclusive, and hot. With a lot of core members moved on to other cities, the present state of M.E.S.H. may be more porous than ever, but their spirit is enough intact to produce a vintage-level program tonight. At Urban Farm Fermentory, a fashion show tonight, titled "Babes, Hunx, and Hairy Punx: An In-Body Catwalk Experience," sells the vulnerable, spiritual act of being near-nude in front of friends, allies, and strangers as much as it sells any actual underwear product (which I believe will also be available). Followed by a "body-reframing workshop" hosted by the Educationalists themselves.

| $5-20 donation | 8 pm | Urban Farm Fermentory, 200 Anderson St, Portland |




SHOW UP | On Inauguration Day, the Trump administration erased all references to LGBTQ people and people living with HIV on the White House website. Trump's appointments—from Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Health and Human Services Director Tom Price, and Supreme Court judge Neil Gorsuch—each have a history of supporting virulently anti-LGBTQ policies and platforms. The act of resisting this, whether over the last six months, the 48 years since the Stonewall Riots, or long before, has been the slow, necessary, imperative work of those who struggle for human freedom regardless of how they identify. Talking about exhaustion and shared responsibility, a queer Latinx friend of mine posted on social media recently this question: "Whose health is in jeopardy when you never take your turn putting your body and mind on the line? Who carries an overwhelming burden because you choose not to, and someone's got to do it?" Today's Pride Flag-Raising Ceremony is a celebration, not a protest. But for the cisgender hetero white male writing this, it's one humble reminder of the unbelievable, thoroughly exhausting work of fighting for justice and human rights in the capitalist, patriarchal society we live in, and the indefatigable efforts of so many who are in the thick of it.

| FREE | 5:30 pm | Equality Community Center, 511 Anderson St., Portland |


ORIGINATOR | Originating over ten plays, operas, and adaptations for the stage, the Portland theater artist Bess Welden has been a dynamic, intelligent force in Maine performance and education since moving to Maine the early 2000s. Her original play Big Mouth, Thunder Thighs was a memoir and solo vaudeville show about a woman's evolving relationship to her body; Passion of the Hausfrau, an adaptation of Portland writer Nicole Chaison's comic series by the same name, was an effort to sublimated the simple pleasures and pains of child-rearing into a glorious fulfillment of the spirit. This week, she opens Legbala is a River, an original multi-disciplinary show about a white woman who transforms during the absence of her doctor-husband while he's away treating Ebola patients in Liberia. Exploring the folds between motherhood, public service, and individual sacrifice, Welden's knack for discovery and transformation is well-defined, and is worth a witness. Running through June 17, Legbala Is A River opens this weekend Thursday through Saturday evenings and Sunday at 2 pm.

| $16 | 7:30 pm | Mayo Street Arts, 10 Mayo St., Portland |


LOCAL SIMS | As public discourse between NIMBYs and YIMBYs regarding housing and development in Maine has become as fractured and toxic as political speech, the group Build Maine attempts to broaden the coalition of stakeholders in urban growth decisions. Over a day-long conference in Lewiston, titled Build Maine 2017, the group hopes to synthesize the voices and wishes of "all people involved in the work of building Maine — the builders, funders, elected officials, engineers, lawyers, planners, finance institutions, architects, and rule-makers." Critics of recent developmental efforts might suggest there are some demographics missing from that cohort, (maybe some redundancies too), but this is where we're at. Don your finest reformist cap and sign up for Build Maine 2017.

| $50 to $75 | 8 am - 4:30 pm | 31 Chestnut St., Lewiston |


HANDLE THE TRUTH | This weekend marks the convergence of several festivals in town. Pride, of course, converges with the all-encompassing annual Old Port Festival on Saturday, but also the impending PortFringe, which, though technically beginning June 17, kicks off with an evening of dramatized performances of signature movie monologues tonight in Longfellow Square. Hang in the epicenter of some of Portland's finest bars and restaurants this early evening listening to area actors bellow the words of actors from the silver screen.

| FREE | 6 pm | Longfellow Square, Portland |


SWEATIN' 2 YR ONLIES | Two major and serious dance parties to contend with tonight. The first is the annual "Pride Kick-off Party" at Grace, which glitzes and glams up under the classic, ripe-for-debauch theme of Angels and Demons (inquire within). The second is over at Oxbow, where a party called "Somewhere Under the Rainbow" returns DJs Don Damiani and Teal Child spinning '90s dance hits and is arguably geared toward a more youthful, next-gen crowd of woke-ass youth. Both are fundraisers—the first supporting the volunteer-run Pride Portland organization (and fiscal sponsor EqualityMaine) and the second turning out for Planned Parenthood, the consent-based sex education org Speak About It, and Maine Boys to Men.

| "Pride Kickoff Party," with DJ Leslie | $10-15 | 8 pm | Grace, 15 Chestnut St, Portland | | "Somewhere Under the Rainbow," dance party with DJs Don Damiani and Teal Child | 8 pm | Oxbow Blending and Bottling, 49 Washington Ave., Portland |


Diane Cluck 2. photo by Scott Yates

Diane Cluck (Photo by Scott Yates)

EASY TO BE AROUND | Somewhat buried in the fanfare is an appearance by the songwriter Diane Cluck, a Virginia-based songwriter whose self-styled "intuitive folk" songs are enigmatic as they are guileless. She's a wonder, and her increasingly frequent shows here are a good omen. Cluck plays with the slow-folk duo Snaex and Plains, whom we haven't heard from in awhile.

| $10 | 8:30 pm | SPACE Gallery, 538 Congress St., Portland |




GET FREER | This afternoon in Brunswick you'll find an inspired observance of Juneteenth, a celebration of African-American culture linked to the emancipation of slaves in the Confederate South in June of 1865. At St. Paul's Episcopal Church, join a festival with music from blues-folk songwriter Samuel James, multi-instrumentalist Rodney Mashia, and rapper ILLijah, along with storytelling, poetry from Linda Ashe-Ford and others, a gospel performance.

| FREE | noon-3 pm | St. Paul's Episcopal Church, 27 Pleasant St., Brunswick |


SUIT UP | Beyond a litany of Pride Portland events (check that calendar), tonight's the night of the Outright Prom, a soiree produced by the organization Portland Outright, who do vital work providing leadership and intersectional justice-based programming for LGBTQ+ young people. Tonight, they throw a substance-free, astrology-themed dance party, for youth ages 14-22.

| $0-15 donation | 7-10 pm | SPACE Gallery, 538 Congress St., Portland |  


TIME TO THRASH | Hard to believe it was six years ago someone had the genius idea to troll the Old Port Festival with an endless two-day set of the gnarliest, loudest bands in town, but we are grateful. The Sixth Annual Mathew's Rooftop Festival show has sets from Lyokha, Bright Boy, The Worst, Giant Knife, mosart212, and several dozen more over Saturday and Sunday. Admission is a pittance at $3, and the bar's spacious enough to accommodate tons of folks who need refuge from the Old Port Festival, or the outside world in general. Just don't stand under the leaky ceiling. | $3 | 10 am-10 pm | Mathew's, 133 Free St, Portland

WATER RIGHTS | Another battle activists are fighting in Maine is protection of the state's water reserves, specifically from corporate giant Nestle, who have proposed a groundwater mining project — the Juniper Ridge Landfill Expansion — on the banks of the Penobscot River. Sponsored by a flood of organizations including Community Water Justice and 350 Maine, who join indigenous people of the Penobscot nation, environmental activists, and respective allies to plan a River Rally on a flotilla, with speakers attesting to the importance of water sovereignty. The family-friendly "Water is Life River Rally" begins at noon. | FREE | Noon | Bangor Waterfront Park, Bangor |



FRYIN' MY DOUGH | Listen, it's the Old Port Fest. All day. Which means you gotta do what you gotta do in order to stay alive. If that means diving headfirst into the fray, you have our salute. If it means getting out of town, you could attend a demonstration by butcher Logan Higger, who shows folks how to cure and make charcuterie in a program called MaineFare at a Freeport farm this afternoon. Courtesy of Maine Farmland Trust, tickets are a bit steep at $85, but word is you'll take home lots of pork. | $85 | noon | Winter Hill Farm, 35 Hill Farm Rd., Freeport | 



VIEWS | Not all Pride parties are ragers. Tonight, Maine TransNet hosts a picnic at North Street's Fort Sumner Park, a/k/a "The End of the World," where views of Portland are still largely unobstructed by condos. An organization founded in 2005, MaineTransNet provides support and resources for the transgender community. Join them as they carve out a fine patch of grass on a lovely Monday.

| Free | 6 pm | Fort Sumner Park, North St., Portland |



HOW TO USE A WRENCH | Slightly off-radar but promising considerable emotional impact is a show tonight at Zero Station, where the poised and plaintive songwriter Lisa/Liza plays a set with the Boston farm-punk band Squirrel Flower, and the Maine-born Lina Tullgren, whose dream-folk songs are atmospheric, wistful, and often completely emotionally eviscerating. If you're in need of some post-weekend contemplative space, hit this.

| $5-10 donation | 7:30 pm | Zero Station, 222 Anderson St., Portland




YOUNG AND WISE | Though it's completely mobbed during the Old Port Fest, tonight's a more manageable time to hit Bull Feeney's in the Old Port, where the longstanding Port Veritas open mic and poetry slam throws down. An institution nearly 10 years strong, there's little to prevent you from feeling flickers of inspiration here. If it sparks a full-scale reassessment of your life and its energies, all the better.

| $3 | 7 pm | Bull Feeney's, 375 Fore St., Portland |


WHO U DATING? | Another way to get out of town comes to us via Frontier, which has long been the getaway destination for stir-crazy Portlanders. Tonight they screen the film Colossal, a strange and funny monster movie starring Jason Sudeikis and Anne Hathaway, about an unemployed party girl who discovers her everyday actions are being mirrored writ large by a mysterious creature devastating Seoul, South Korea. Wild times! Cocktail here and consider pairing with dinner at El Camino for the full Brunswick experience.

| $8 | noon, 3, and 7 pm | Frontier, 14 Maine St, Brunswick |



PRAISE | Two crucial films to consider tonight, and the way it works out you can see 'em both. At 5:30, Pride Portland screens the documentary Pay It No Mind: The Life and Times of Marsha P. Johnson, a film about the trans woman of color, gay liberation activist, and patron of the Greenwich Village bar where the Stonewall Riots took place. The film tracks Marsha's buoyant and kaleidoscopic personality, from her activism with the Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries (STAR) and the Gay Liberation Front (GLF) to her her other identity, the reportedly less at-ease Malcolm, a persona which served as a more able conduit for anger). The film is followed by a discussion with members of Pride Portland.

| FREE | 5:30 pm | Portland Public Library, 5 Monument Sq. Portland |



CAUTIONARY TALE | The second film only fronts as less political. Besides being a straight-up thrilling action film consisting of about 85 percent car-chase, the 2015 film Mad Max: Fury Road could be seen as crude and dramatic foreshadowing for a possible future. Nonetheless, it's a good time at the newly revamped Bayside Bowl, as part of the Rooftop Film Series on their incredible new solar-powered patio. Weather-dependent, but right now my WU app's got us down for sunny and mid-70s.

| FREE | 8 pm | Bayside Bowl, 58 Alder St., Portland |


QUIET SPACE | Quietly, consistently rolling out a series of fine shows is Greg Jamie, the musician, former Oak and the Ax proprietor and present Apohadion Presents producer responsible for tonight's Tashi Dorji appearance at Oxbow Blending and Bottling. Dorji, the Bhutan-born guitarist living in Asheville, North Carolina, brings his hybrid of blues, classical, improvisational and acoustic folk tracks to the dark and cavernous space of Oxbow, where he plays with arresting folk duo Snaex (Chriss Sutherland and Christopher Teret) and Plains, a slow-core supergroup.

| $5-10 | 8 pm | Oxbow Blending and Bottling, 49 Washington Ave., Portland |



LOOKING AHEAD | Next week: summer! But, like, for real, tho.

Preserving Queer Space — An Interview with Wendy Chapkis about the LGBTQ Oral History Project

While strides have been made for rights and visibility of LGBTQ+ people in American life overall, they’ve accompanied an unfortunate decline in bars and other designated queer spaces, which have been vital in fostering culture and community for generations. Portland witnessed this first hand last winter, when longtime Old Port dance club Styxx closed.

One person hoping to raise awareness to this alarming trend is Wendy Chapkis, USM Professor of Sociology and Women and Gender Studies. With filmmaker Betsy Carson, Chapkis is heading an LGBTQ Oral History Project, where individuals can share “stories about queer bar culture in Southern Maine in an effort to preserve our disappearing history.”

How long have you been planning the Oral History Project? Can you talk about what set the idea in motion?

About a year ago, I was named the Faculty Scholar for USM’s LGBTQ Collection at the Jean Byers Sampson Center for Diversity in Maine. My project over three years is to create an oral history component to the collection. Last fall, I started by identifying some key members of the local community with important stories to tell; I then matched those individuals with USM student researchers who I trained in how to conduct life history interviews. Those interviews will soon be available on the Sampson Center website for use by researchers and the public. We’ll be doing the same next fall and again in 2018-19.

But, in addition to those detailed comprehensive life history interviews, I also wanted to gather shorter accounts by a broader range of community members. So, this month (on June 4 and June 20 from 5 to 6:30 p.m., at Flask Lounge at 117 Spring St.) we’re filming short “bar stories” (5 minutes or less) by anyone from the queer community with a memory to share. We are looking for accounts of memorable incidents at a single bar on a single night or more expansive reflections on the existence and disappearance of gay bars. We welcome stories about pleasure, risk, sobriety, sex, heartbreak, love, and activism. The stories are being filmed by local filmmaker Betsy Carson (Gitgo Productions and the Blue Stockings Film Festival) and will become part of the permanent Sampson Center LGBTQ Collection and made available to the public.

As I see it, the mainstream narrative is that as LGBTQ+ culture has become more visible, it has become integrated and accepted in societies and at the legislative level. Therefore, cities and towns no longer "need" designated LGBTQ+ bars. Surely there's some good in this, but are there problems or dangers with this narrative? And does the thinking behind it change in a Trump administration?

During the first filming of bar stories on June 4, many of the accounts focused on the important role bars have played in our experiences of queer community and culture. A lot of people noted, for example, that walking into a gay bar was the first time they had ever been in a room filled with “people like them.” That is no small thing for a member of any minority community, and it’s something straight white folks probably can’t quite imagine. I don’t think that need disappears just because of greater “tolerance” of queer people by the heterosexual majority. Tolerance doesn’t build community; tolerance doesn’t provide a mirror in which you can see yourself as fierce and fabulous. Queer space does that — and we’re losing those spaces.  

Because bars are privately owned businesses, they have to turn a profit. And the way bars do that, of course, is by selling alcohol. Some members of the community talked about the role of moderation or sobriety in changing their relationship to bar culture; Not all of them have left the bar scene but they are now ordering non-alcoholic beverages or fewer drinks. This is a good thing on an individual level, of course, but it can be hard on the bottom line for bar owners. In addition, there’s been a shift, among gay men in particular, in cruising for sex from the bar scene to online apps. This too poses a challenge for bar owners and has contributed to the decline in the number of queer bars.

One response has been efforts to create queer community spaces that can operate outside of the pressure of turning a profit. Southern Maine has a growing number of options in that regard, including things like the Maine Gay Men's Chorus, MaineTransNet, Portland Outright (for LGBTQ youth), and SAGE Maine (services and advocacy for GLBT elders). In Portland, we finally have a kind of community center where these groups can meet sponsored by EqualityMaine (511 Congress St.). But I think joining a group may be a bigger step for many people than just being able to walk into a bar.

We absolutely still need queer space. Gay-bashing and anti-trans violence is a very real threat in the streets. Our bars and other community spaces can provide places for resistance as well as renewal in the face of homo- and transphobic rhetoric and policies embraced by the President, the Republican-controlled Congress, and a number of state governments.

Can you share a story in which your life was affected by having an accessible queer-friendly bar where you lived?

When I was 20, I was living in Amsterdam with my Dutch boyfriend. It was 1975, which was the UN International Year of Women and the height of the Second Wave of the Women’s Movement. I was fascinated by the fearless dykes I was encountering at international conferences and hoped I might be able to count myself among them. I somehow discovered a lesbian bar in the city and found the courage to ring their buzzer. A peep hole slid open and then, after I apparently passed the visual test, the door opened and I stepped into a world I was both thrilled and terrified by. “Tabu” was an old time butch-femme bar with red fringed lamps on the tables casting very dim light. I made my way into a booth, pulled out a book, and pretended to read in the low light while looking surreptitiously around myself at the women populating the bar. I never spoke with anyone during the half hour or so that I stayed, but I was fascinated by what I saw. It fed my fantasy life for months until I finally found my way into the queer community.

Two decades later, when I was interviewing for the faculty position at USM, I asked a waitress if there were any gay bars in town. She grabbed a piece of paper and wrote down the addresses of Blackstones, the Underground, and Sisters. The fact that there were multiple options, and that a heterosexual waitress knew about them, made me feel as if I could make a life for myself in this small coastal city. And I have.

Join the next edition of the Oral History Project at Flask Lounge, 117 Spring Street in Portland, on June 20, 5-6:30 p.m.

The Long Journey of Dan Stuart — Paisley Underground frontman comes to Portland

On the advent of Prism Analog's new live series, recording artists' live sets straight to tape, the Phoenix talked with Dan Stuart, the former frontman of legendary cult post-punk band Green On Red, who comes to Portland from Mexico this Friday, June 2. Stuart's new album, Marlowe's Revenge, is backed by the Mexican rock band Twin Tones, and serves as an excellent document of a long and storied life of reinvention and using rock music as a vessel for discovery.

Do you live in Oaxaca? What do you get up to down there?

I live in Mexico City now after four years in Oaxaca. I moved after making a record with Twin Tones and being drawn into DF's music and art's scene. Really DF (the Mexico City neighborhood Distrito Federal, or Federal District) is having its moment, like Berlin in the '90s I guess. Everyone wants to be there.

As someone who's done this many times before, what are you looking for when you're touring these days? What type of connections? 

I enjoy it more now, I have nothing to prove and appreciate the little things that happen when traveling: an unexpected conversation with a stranger or a vista never seen before, for example. I just got back from Europe and was in Prague for the first time, so there's still a delight in discovering a new place.

When you started playing the style of music back in the late '70s, did you have an idea which way the genre would evolve? Bands like Wilco and other "alt-country" and psychedelic rock sounds so contemporary now, but early Green on Red stuff must have confused some people.

Well we started as a punk band in Tucson called The Serfers and opened for everybody from X to Fear. By the time we got to LA in 1980, things were changing and they called us post-punk, then neo-pychedelic and/or Paisely Underground, which turned into alt-country whatever. I never really paid attention. Green on Red evolved naturally as we embraced blues, country, folk etc. and gave ourselves permission to contribute to the canon. It's just notes and shit...

Music scenes and styles used to be so regionally specific, with independent labels representing sounds from certain cities. Now that music travels digitally, you don't see that anymore. What was it like making music in Tucson back then vs. writing songs now?

Tucson was like many other cities at the time, perhaps a hundred people who dug punk with half of them in bands. People forget that there was probably only a 100 places to play in the entire country, everyone knew everyone else and it was mostly sweet and innocent. The nastiness came later with major labels wanting in and bands in competition with one another. Bit for awhile it was beautiful. Now there is no music business per se anymore, so some of that feeling is coming back with the kids who can do what they want with no rules as how to operate since no one buys music anymore.

I haven't read your "false memoir" from 2012, but can you tell me a little bit about the difference between how Marlowe Billings and Dan Stuart write songs?

It's just a nom de guerre ... a way of hiding in plain sight. The character itself goes way back, back to Gravity Talks in 1982 which was released by Slash Records in L.A., who were always meddling and didn't allow us to call the record what we wanted. I just started recording the last of the Marlowe trilogy and am nearly done with the second Marlowe book. Then I'll probably bury him in Oaxaca somwhere.

What did you learn as a songwriter, or a person, from living outside of the U.S. in the places you've lived?

I've been an expat off and on all my life in different countries and am the child of an immigrant as well. I've never bought into the whole American Exceptionalism myth, although there are elements of truth to it. In Mexico I am a different person. I listen more than I talk, quite aware of being the "other." One acquires a degree of humility that is perhaps impossible back "home."

In 1995, you left music for about 15 years. What made you want to spend your time doing this again?

Well, my brain broke in 2010 and I really only knew how to make a record in a situation like that, so that's what I did. I left the business because I had made too many records and had nothing left to say. Probably after I finish the next one I will leave again. I'm quite proud of only having three solo records over 20 years—way too much dreck out there regardless of the stature of the artist.

Can you tell me the process by which you founded Twin Tones? How'd you meet those fellows?

Oh, they formed themselves several years ago and had recorded several albums as well as a record with Danny Amis from Los Straitjackets. Oddly, they formed Sonido Gallo Negro as an offshoot to play pyschedelic cumbia and that band is really taking off on the festival circuit in Europe and Latin America. Frankenstein's monster, as it were ... I'm very proud of them, all very talented.

What's the connection you have with Prism Analog? How'd you become the first of their live recording series?

Well, this cat Michael Whittaker who (lives in Portland and) goes back to the L.A. scene got in touch and pitched the idea, and myself and Tom Heyman were intrigued. We're happy to be the guinea pigs, studios have suffered along with everyone else in this tough new enviroment.

Dan Stuart and Tom Heyman + Erik Neilson | live recording session + concert | Friday, June 2 | Prism Analog, 222 Anderson St. | 

Believing in Spencer Albee — The Portland Pop Devotee's 'Relentlessly Yours'

"How many times do I have to tear my innards out?” Spencer Albee asks in “Ten to One,” the final song of his new album, Relentlessly Yours. On the twentieth record of the Portland pop artist's career, it’s not always clear who is asking him to do this.

The majority of songs on Relentlessly Yours, Spencer’s largely self-produced new album, are written in direct address to a beloved other—the “you” in oh, how I loved you. Each of them seems to find Spencer wrestling with, eulogizing, or explaining away an absent love. He doesn't try on characters or throw his voice. He rarely waxes poetic. It’s always, resolutely, his own experience he sings from. We don’t see it another way.

Which is why it’s odd that I don’t always believe him.

Of course, Spencer means what he sings. He certainly feels it, there’s no point considering otherwise. But I don’t believe that what he’s singing about is as simple as this, and I don’t believe Spencer believes it is, either. It’s as if in his tireless pursuit to make his music clear and accessible to anyone who might hear it, he eclipses again and again the complexities of the very real situations he’s describing. At times, it can feel like reading Dostoevsky transcribed by Dr. Seuss.

In opener “Just Like Clockwork,” we get two lines’ worth—about 11 seconds—of a nice melodious verse before getting battered by a syrupy pre-chorus (“He is such an anxious mister / He was close but then he missed her / She is such a fickle sister / He still wishes he could kiss her”). Cleverly, Albee keeps the song's motif by singing each syllable in quarter notes, as if simulating the rhythm of a pendulum on a cuckoo clock. And I have to say it works — the song is certainly hypnotic. It's hard to get out of your head.

Much of the album’s emotional tension is packed into neat little couplets just like these. In “Feeling Lucky,” he sings, “Because you stopped me ‘fore I went too far / ‘cause I admire you for who you are / because you told me it’ll be ok / How did we get here anyway?” A recent online review of Relentlessly Yours—indeed quite a positive one—opted to describe the album’s 11 songs using nothing but Twin Peaks gifs. This comparison is lazy, but I think also wrong. The beauty of Twin Peaks is that our experience of the show far exceeds our capacity to fully understand it. This is not true of Spencer’s music, which he takes great pains to ensure.

This may sound like I’m making a trivial, possibly nitpicky point—and maybe I am. Arguments can be made for simplicity, and certainly songwriters needn’t write from any perspective than their own. Additionally, Albee has written hundreds of songs; I’ve written perhaps four, and most were in a different century. This is a study he has devoted his life to. He’s not only infinitely better at it than me, but virtually every other person reading this review.

Furthermore, this is a style choice, not a shortcoming. And it’s a style that Spencer has adhered to—as much as this casual listener can attest—since his early days in Rustic, Popsicko, As Fast As, and his early solo records. He’s a pop musician first and foremost, to the point where mentioning in a review his acknowledged Paul McCartney influence has been done so many times that those words are permanently linked on Google searches.

Also, Relentlessly Yours contains some straight-up beautiful moments. Tracks nine (“Too Much”) and ten (“Open Heart”), not typically the stretch of an album you’d expect to find highlights, are surprisingly tender and vulnerable. “Too Much” benefits from some lovely guest vocals from Sara Hallie Richardson, and “Open Heart” balances a chirpy melody against a melancholic synth drone. In this track (for this reviewer the album’s best), Spencer stops trying to get us to sing along to him capitulating, clarifying, confessing, and defending himself. “I keep staring at these photographs tucked on my shelf / I can’t open up my heart to anyone else,” he sings, and I believe him there. Furthermore, that’s a hard fucking thing to sing out loud before thousands of people, as he very well may do at the release party for this album later this week, and that shit impresses me mightily. I’m even into it as the dude scats his way through a vacantly cheery vocal melody through the outro.

And all the other stuff Spencer sings about here? I mean, sure, I believe it too. I know the guy, I like the guy, and I don’t think he’s being false. Listening to this record, I’m perfectly willing to accept that I’m the one with the problem, but I can’t pretend it isn’t there. Spencer is accomplished as hell, dedicated as shit, and has entertained tens of thousands of people in this state alone. He has also never quit, even as the entire music industry and social infrastructure have crumbled around him. If there’s anything I’m accusing him of, it’s in keeping this dogged determination to play exclusively within an aesthetic—faintly nostalgic pop music—that better serves the management of icons than it is about conveying the complexity of human experience. McCartney did this too, and that’s why I’ve never liked McCartney. At least until he actively started trolling people with shit like “Simply Having A Wonderful Christmastime.”

But one artist who didn’t do it was Harry Nilsson, a songwriter I know (from sharing this city with him) that Spencer and I both adore. Nilsson wrote beautiful pop songs that were both sickly sweet and achingly depressing. He lusted for success, yes, but he truly did not give a fuck what people thought of him. On the other hand, he lived hard, burned out quick, didn’t treat people super well, and died young and depressed.

By contrast, Spencer just celebrated a marriage, quite publicly on the steps of City Hall, last fall. That Relentlessly Yours is a heart-on-your-sleeve break-up record is obvious, and he seems genuinely thrilled to be on the other side of it, performing its content with a new and accomplished band. People tell their stories however they choose to, governed by factors that those who hear them can never fully understand. That much I believe. I can tell you which of the two songwriters' music makes me feel more alive, but it’s not necessarily who I’d rather live like.

Spencer Albee + Starcrossed Losers + DJ mosart212 | Relentlessly Yours album release party | Friday, June 2 | 8 pm | Port City Music Hall, 504 Congress St., Portland | $12-15 |

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

8 Days A Week: Ghost Fences, Hamilton Sing-Alongs, and Emotional Value Auctions



SPIFFED | The 2016 documentary Suited tells of the rise of Brooklyn-based suitmaking company Bindle & Keep, whose specialty over the last five years has been making custom-designed suits for trans-identifying folks and others outside the gender binary. Directed by Jason Benjamin and produced by Lena Dunham, Suited frames the tailoring company through their purposeful, one-on-one work with a handful of clients, whose sartorial needs are as diverse as their personal experiences. Screening one night only at the Portland Museum of Art.

| Free; tickets required | 6:30 pm | Portland Museum of Art, 7 Congress Sq., Portland |



ENDURE MYTHS | A psychopomp is a mythological creature said to squire a recently deceased soul to the afterlife. Thus, it is one of the last organically good band names left. A bunch of them, nationally, have glommed on to the idea, but the band playing tonight in Bayside is a grandiose quartet of musicians who fuse 1970s-style MGM music, flamenco, punk, and classical into a steamy froth. Join Psychopomp for this bizarre, circus-y night at Mayo Street Arts.

| $12-18 | 8 pm | Mayo Street Arts, 10 Mayo St., Portland |




THREAD COUNT | A project of Laura Ker of the second-hand clothing store Find, the altered-vintage line Takeko offers a sample sale of its unique and summery outfits for all genders at a discounted rate tonight. Hit the Takeko Sample Sale before venturing into the First Friday forum.

| FREE | 5 pm | Find, 16 Free, Portland |


PORTLAND GHOSTED | One of the most invigorating Portland artists to follow over the last little stretch of existence has been John Sundling. Working in set design, floristry, sculpture, and custom fabrication, Sundling was the architect behind the set build for SPACE Gallery's recent theatrical flourish Constellations, designing the ambitious, hive-like structure the actors played in. He has also been one of the principals behind the always-evolving Institute for American Art, which has offered a framework for some of the better and more interdisciplinary art initiatives in Portland the last few years. Today, through the organization TEMPOart Portland, Sundling appears again, opening "Ghost Fence," an art installation inside Lincoln Park at the intersection of Portland's Congress Street and Franklin Arterial. "Ghost Fence" re-imagines the public space at the city intersection uninterrupted by its effort by the city in the 1960s to make the space more "modern" and "functional," which had the effect of redistricting communities within Portland for years to come.

| FREE | 5 pm | Lincoln Park, Congress St., Portland |


CITY SQUARED | Tons of different ideas out there for how to do "the work." One is embedded in Portland Cultural Exchange, a new initiative aiming to "bridge the social gap between 'Mainer' and 'New Mainer,' which we think is a mission eloquently put. This evening, join them as they host (alongside Mark Otim, aka the Portland-via-South Sudan rapper AFRiCAN DUNDADA) a showcase of song, dance, storytelling, and other performance in Monument Square. Performers at this "PCE Summer Street Jam" include Tutuma Louis, Ness Smith-Savedoff, Jawad al-Fatlawi, and more.

| FREE | 6 pm | Monument Square, Portland |


ROLL TAPE | Still new analog recording studio Prism Analog opens a new recording series this week. Modeled after NPR's Tiny Desk concerts, Prism records a performance of former Green on Red songwriter Dan Stuart straight-to-tape tonight. A collaborator with Chuck Prophet and Steve Wynn, Stuart is widely recognized for helping launch the "paisley underground" movement as well as alt-country scenes that paved the way for bands like Wilco to emerge into American consciousness. Today, he lives in Oaxaca, where as a fiftysomething, he fronts the mysterious but still effing rad rock group Twin Tones, writing raw garage-rock songs about love and loss through the lens of a nom de plume Marlowe Billings. Stuart plays with Thomas Heyman and local Erik Neilson from the haunted Americana group Ghosts of Johnson City.

| $5 | 8 pm | Prism Analog, Zero Station, 222 Anderson St., Portland |


PENCE PARK | Last year over 400 people reportedly joined in Congress Square Park to sing the songs of Hamilton, the Broadway musical smash of Lin-Manuel Miranda's. We'd expect that figure's hard to top, especially given the election-fatigue that became tangled up in the play over the winter. Despite the inclusive politics of its plot, Hamilton became a bellwether of so-called "elite" liberal identification during the Hillary campaign. By the time Trump called the play's actors out for "mistreating" Vice President-elect Mike Pence when he attended in November—allegedly a distraction from the Trump University fraud case—it was clear that the play represented prime territory for political trolls. Produced here by the hardworking and sincere Cast Aside Productions, we imagine this Hamilton Sing-Along will be cathartic.

| FREE | 6 pm | Congress Square Park, Portland |


RELENT IS DUE | Earlier this month, Portland songwriter Spencer Albee celebrated the release of his new album, Relentlessly Yours, with a "world tour," using a Maine Brew Bus to take him and his band to the town lines of 10 Maine locations named after foreign countries (you can name them), shooting short vids of them playing songs from the new album at each town sign. Like many of those anchored by endurance and absurdity, the idea was charming and inspired (though its performance somewhat drabbed by the rainy season). If nothing else, it shows Albee pumped about playing with these folks — McCrae Hathaway, Blythe Armitage, Scott Mohler, Renee Coolbrith, and Andrew Hodgkins—and it's true that their presence helps Albee shine in yet another of his musical rebirths. He plays a more plugged-in and souped-up set tonight at Port City Music Hall, with the alt-rock gypsy blues band Starcrossed Losers and DJ mosart212.

| $12-15 | 8 pm | Port City Music Hall, 504 Congress St., Portland |





HEARTWORK | Some of us are unable to conceive of value without the compass of supply and demand, and their lives are admirably uncluttered. For the rest of us, decisions are governed by all measure of valences and associations, the emotional thrust of which we often never make public. For the supply and demand sort of person, we recommend that weird stock market bar in the Old Port. For the others, try today's "emotional value auction" at the Yarmouth Historical Society. Hosted by Adriane Herman, MECA professor and artist-in-residence at the community-based KISMET Foundation, this "alternative to handing things down through family structures" is one of the smarter fundraising ideas we've seen.

| FREE | 10 am-2 pm | Yarmouth Historical Society, 118 E Elm St., Yarmouth |


RE-MODEL | Showcasing local artists making work from recycled materials, this joint-effort block party between art studio collective Running With Scissors and Bayside's Urban Farm Fermentory will offer tons of thoughtful, unconventional items you didn't even realize could work in your home. With works by Jon Strom, Allison McKeen, Howard Soloman, and more, there'll be plenty to pore through, plus cider, beer, and kombucha to sip at the "Seconds and Supplies" show.

| FREE | 4 pm | Urban Farm Fermentory, 200 Anderson St., Portland | 


CRAFTWORK | Back in the halcyon days of the mid-2000s, Sierra Nevada was one of the stranger "craft beers" in the beer market. That's a quaint notion today, as the Bay Area brewery (the seventh largest in the country) looks positively mainstream next to the countless upstart breweries to have emerged since. But they've stayed true to their mission, winning sustainability awards and maintaining production of a fine tasting beverage. Sierra Nevada host a touring national "Sierra Nevada Beer Camp," where every craft brew in the nation is invited to a sudsy, edenic garden. | $55-75 ($40 designated driver) | 6 pm | Thompson Point, 4 Thompson's Point Rd, Portland |

WAYS TO MOVE | Portland's Bright Star World Dance has facilitated some of the deepest and broadest studies of international dance forms in the state. Tonight, they celebrate their 10th annual "Springtime Spectacular," which collects dancers, performers, and players representing many touchstones of international sound and movement. Hosted by Bright Star proprietor Rosa Noreen, see belly dancer Shahrzad of Cairo, blues musician Samuel James, Nadira Jamal of Boston's Vintage Belly Dance, singer-songwriter Hannah Daman, and many more. | $20-25 | 8 pm | Portland Ballet Theater, 517 Forest Ave, Portland |



GOSPEL IS CAST | Took a bit for the rest of the country to catch up with singer Francine Reed. After playing shows in Phoenix with the likes of Miles Davis, Smokey Robinson, and Etta James in the '80s, her career took off when she started touring with Lyle Lovett in his band through the late '80s. Today, she's one of the most esteemed living blues, jazz, and gospel singers, and her set at the always-intimate One Longfellow Square is a powerful way to wind down the weekend.

| $15-20 | 7 pm | One Longfellow Square, 181 State St., Portland | 

LISTENING TIME | In 2014, journalist Laura Poitras released the Academy Award-winning documentary Citizenfour about NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. So it's impressive that her new film, titled Risk, deals with arguably even more complexity. Released last month, Risk is the culmination of a six-year investigation of Julian Assange, principal of the anti-secrecy organization WikiLeaks. Over six years, Poitras tracks the Australian bad boy Assange, once a hero of the anti-state left, from his two-year house arrest beginning in late 2010 through last year, where he was complicit in the release of numerous private documents from the Hillary Clinton campaign, which changed the tenor (some would say outcome) of the presidential election. The trailer for Risk begins with Poitras stating that this is not the film she thought she'd be making, so expect a few curveballs along the way of this important, complicated documentary about one of the world's most polarizing and important figures. Screening Friday through today, Sunday, when it happens at 2 pm.

| $8 | 2 pm | Portland Museum of Art, 7 Congress Sq., Portland |




YOUNG AND WISE | If the weather is right (always questionable this time of year), join the Portland Gear Hub for their weekly "Huphie Hauler Happy Hour Bike Ride," an every-Monday-evening ride between friends and soon-to-be friends throughout Portland. If you're unfamiliar with the Gear Hub, check out their empowering pro-bicycle programming on Washington Avenue.

| FREE | 5:30-8:30 pm | Portland Gear Hub, 155 Washington Ave., Portland |


YOUNG AND WISE | It's incredible the mileage jam band Rusted Root got out of "Send Me On My Way," fun and admittedly weirdly uplifting yet still fairly forgettable single the Pittsburgh world-fusion band unleashed on the world 23 years ago. Kudos to their staying power, though — while they haven't released a proper album since 2012, they're touring through tonight, playing a set at Port City Music Hall.

| $18-20 | 8 pm | Port City Music Hall, 504 Congress St., Portland |




YOUNG AND WISE | Empire's Tuesday night music series — "Three for $3" — has brought a ton of good local acts to their fine stage on the cheap. And thankfully, they haven't pulled any punches with booking out-there artists (we can handle it). Tonight, Burr guitarist Tom Hamill joins Genevieve Beaudoin and Brooklyn's experimental pop act Ackerman. A low-risk, high-reward option for an otherwise slow night.

| $3 | 9 pm | Empire, 575 Congress St., Portland |




LET’S REVISIT | The last of the Maine Humanities Council's Think & Drink series at SPACE Gallery, which has examined the role of police in American life, explores the question of whether communities face sustained harm from the enactment of police work. Do citizens suffer from fear of being policed? Are officers themselves at risk of long-term damage of some sort? Join them for a program titled "What's the Harm?" alongside a panel that includes Kate Braestrup, a chaplain and member of the Maine Warden Service; Jerome Bennett of The Opportunity Alliance; and Bruce King, a criminal justice reform worker (and former incarcerated person).

| FREE | 6:30 pm | SPACE Gallery, 538 Congress St., Portland |


LET’S REVISIT | Down south a bit, the fine brew-dogs at Banded Horn return their comedy special one last time for a season finale. They bring Portland funnylady Micaela Tepler (who you might have seen at Lincolns), Susanna Rajala, and Colby Bradshaw for a set of jokes. Hosted by Aharon Willows and Portland's Best Comedian Connor McGrath, this comes recommended if you're in the mood for Biddeford.

| FREE | 8 pm | Banded Horn Brewing Company, 32 Main St., Biddeford |



LOOKING AHEAD | Among the things to look forward to, Urban Farm Fermentory hosts a body-positive fashion show called "Babes, Hunx, and Hairy Punx: An In-Body Catwalk Experience" (put on by members of the sex-positive activist group M.E.S.H.), while the inspiring theater artist Bess Welden opens her original show Legbala Is A River, an exploration of "marriage, motherhood, and the tension between public service and private sacrifice" at Mayo Street Arts for a two-week run. Also, you should have jumped in the water by now.

Amid Referendum Push, Fair Rent Portland Explains the Difference Between 'Rent Control' and 'Rent Stabilization'

Over the last five years, Portland rents have increased by 40 percent. Meanwhile, income has barely moved.

The Portland Press Herald reported on Fair Rent Portland earlier this week ["Portland citizens group seeks referendum on rent control, other tenant protections," by Randy Billings], blurring the distinction between the "rent control" and "rent stabilization." Fair Rent Portland says the latter more aptly describes their mission, which distinguishes it from failed measures (in New York City and elsewhere) to protect working class citizens that were abused by wealthy long-term tenants.

Among other meaningful distinctions, the group says their proposed referendum would not freeze rents, would not apply to owneroccupied duplexes and triplexes (like many on Munjoy Hill), and not prevent landlords from making a profit.

For some, the difference may be subtle. But it's hard to argue against some type of action. According to a statement from Fair Rent Portland, “(r)ent stabilization will allow renters to feel secure in their homes, begin to build up financial reserves, and make long-term economic plans. It will ensure that the children of renters can remain in a single district, that vulnerable citizens with mental or physical health conditions can heal without having to face eviction, and that local businesses will have the workforce that they need to grow.”

According to the group, "units covered by the rent stabilization part of the ordinance (only non-resident landlords of large properties), the rent will increase at the rate of inflation as set by the Consumer Price Index (CPI). For the past 5 years, the CPI has been between 0.5 percent and 2.5 percent. For a rent of $1000, that means that the landlord can increase the rent $5 to $25." Some progressive cities around the country— like Oakland, CA—have adopted a similar plan, fixing the amount landlords can raise rent to the CPI (except in cases of certain justifications). Fair Rent Portland says they searched the country for cities comparable to Portland with model rent stabilization ordinances, and have settled on West Hollywood, CA.

Why West Hollywood? Why, when there are condo units and other additional housing being built throughout the city, is there a movement toward an ordinance of rent stabilization?

The Phoenix interviewed Jack O'Brien, Portland resident and member of Fair Rent Portland, about the group's plans. Currently a volunteer group with a nine-member steering committee, Fair Rent Portland is interested in all levels of support from community members, "whether you have only one hour a year or one hour a week."

For more information on the group, including how to assist in getting the referendum on the ballot, Fair Rent Portland hosts a "launch party" for its proposed ordinance on Sunday, May 28, at Local Sprouts Cooperative, from 5-7 pm.

Phoenix: Can you explain the appeal of the West Hollywood rent stabilization ordinance over others you found?

Jack O'Brien: There are two main reasons the example of West Hollywood and the solutions it put in place resonate for Portland: First, it's a small city (about 35,000) with a high proportion of renters (about 70 percent) and so comparable to Portland in terms of what tools it can bring to bear in dealing with housing.

Second, it's run this program very successfully for 32 years, and been able to leverage the success in stabilizing its housing into other domains, like public health and eldercare, which seems very relevant to Portland.

Right now, Portland is experiencing rapid gentrification. While we tend to think of the gentrification part as being the component that changes the city most substantially, it's the rapidity that does a lot of the damage in terms of displacing residents from the city. Folks who might be able to afford a $100-per-month rent increase if staggered three years (by finding a little additional work or adding a new roommate, perhaps) are forced to move if it happens over a single year. The key goal of the West Hollywood model is to slowing the rate at which gentrification can occur, precisely to allow regular folks and the city government to adapt rather than just react. West Hollywood's experience suggests that in the long run, this leads to a more vital and diverse community and a more resilient economy than would result otherwise.

The West Hollywood model takes a nuanced approach to slowing gentrification: rather than directly intervening in the market and fixing prices, it instead operates by putting into place a number of different planks that have the effect of slowing the rate of rental increases and improving the bargaining power of tenants. This balances the market dynamics with the long-term needs of the city and its residents. While landlords might not have been enthusiastic about it at the start, there certainly was no collapse in the housing market, much less any of the other, more extreme projections put forth by some property managers and developers. In fact, since the community has retained so much vitality, it's seen as a particularly attractive market to work in.

We're hoping that by taking a similar approach—slowing gentrification, increasing renters' security, promoting development, particularly of affordable housing—will yield the same sort of benefits.

Is there a particular sticking point that you have found this to be a sticking point in getting policy enacted in Portland?

Author Peter Moskovitz (How to Kill a City) writes: "There's a parable told by famous urbanist Jane Jacobs that I believe could easily be applied to Portland: a family loves to picnic on a hillside—it has great views, it's quiet, it's filled with rustic charm. They love it so much they decide one day to build a house on top of it, only to realize once they live in the house that they can no longer see the hill, and that it's rustic charm is gone, thanks to their house." Which is exactly the situation Portland faces, except that we've seen many other hills despoiled before ours and so have the possibility to avoid that result.

A couple of years ago, the City Council, in response to the gentrification of the city, the upward movement on rents, and the increase of eviction of tenants at will across the city, established a Housing Committee to investigate possible solutions. Despite a lot of input from city residents—rent stabilization was a consistent and extremely popular recommendation made by regular folks—the committee appeared to listen largely to suggestions from large property developers and property managment firms. Even the fairly mild rental protections proposed by Mayor Strimling were dismissed more or less out of hand. Some councilors would regularly question if there even was a housing crisis. Needless to say, solutions that were going to make any substantial dent in the problem were not discussed.

Housing committee work aside, as gentrification has occurred, developers and property managements firms—those directly profiting from the process—have appeared to have increasing amounts of influence over both the city council and the planning board. Which is exactly the opposite how this is supposed to work: the council and the board should be operating on behalf of residents, not developers. This is not unexpected: a very small number of people are making a lot of money off everyone else's housing. As long as the boom goes on, they have the money and the time to make sure their perspective predominates (this is what has also happened in a lot of other gentrifying cities: those profiting reinvest that capital to ensure the boom goes on as long as it can, indifferent to the fact that at the end the city won't really be a city anymore.) This means that we've reached a point where the only effective check on rapid gentrification is a popular groundswell, which is why we're pushing a referendum.

Can you explain the material difference between rent control and rent stabilization?

This distinction is a pretty clear one: rent control fixes rents; rent stabilization slows the rate of rental increases.

Though it varies a bit in usage around the country, rent control usually refers to controls on the rent implemented to prevent price gouging. The standard example is in New York after World War I: the city directly intervenes in the markets and says 'this is the rental price for this unit.' Economists have long known that this causes all sorts of market asymmetries, which sometimes can be worse than the problem they were attempting to solve. Because of this few cities since have used strict rent control, preferring rent stabilization as achieving the same ends without many of the downsides.

Rent stabilization refers to programs where rental increases are controlled, usually indexed to inflation or capped at particular percentage per year, not the rent itself. Our version of rent stabilization—where landlords can set the rent as they'd like once a unit is vacated but have managed increases once a tenant is resident—allows for the most market flexibility while providing renters a great deal of additional protection. The experience in West Hollywood has been that, while a small number of units are occupied long-term, most turn over in about five years. This means rents can rise according to the market, just much more slowly than they would if renters had no protections.

As housing becomes a crisis situation across the country, rent stabilization is having quite a moment: it was passed last year in three cities in California: Richmond, Mountain View, and Santa Rosa.

"Fair Rent Portland Referendum Launch Party" | May 28, 5-7 pm | Local Sprouts Cooperative, 653 Congress St., Portland |

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

[Ed: An earlier version of this report misstated the population of West Hollywood. It is 35,000, not 45,000.


Quite Psyched: SeepeopleS Drop the 'Hate'

In another world not far off from our own, teenagers in Nebraska are skipping school to make out to SeepeopleS songs behind the faculty parking lots. In this one, the 20-year-running pop-confection project of Will Bradford and Brooke Binion has released another meticulous, painstakingly crafted release of psychedelic pop songs, while the Flaming Lips sell hundreds of records a day by name recognition alone.

The last we heard from the Portland quartet was their massive double-album Dead Souls Sessions in 2015, a release as impressive in its execution as it was undigestible by its size. SeepeopleS tracks aren't necessary difficult, but they're often complex. On Dead Souls they could be both, but listeners will find that Hate, an EP with a compact five-song helping (and the first in a three-EP set), is an excellent avenue into the band's weird, cerebral art-pop.

Not halfway into opener "Burning Bridge" and Bradford has already pulled the lines of two equally infectious arrangements against each other, deftly spinning the song's verse and refrain as ambient eletronic hums, boops, and whirs float in the background. The sugary beach-pop throwback "Just Like the Animals" packs tension and unease into its content ("40 minutes in the parking lot, just waiting for a pill to drop / Somebody's looking out for cops, sometimes it seems so impossible."), juxtaposing oneiric, psych-mess verses with a driving power-pop chorus.

While surely cathartic to play, the decision to re-work "New American Dream" from the band's back catalogue and its cynical fantasies about "being the president" and "killing everyone" seems a questionable one. A straightforward pop-punk blazer, it's the least enjoyable of the bunch and far more on-the-nose than their newer work, but it's timely, and paired with an impressive and overtly political new video (designed by animator Pete List of Celebrity Death Match/MTV), it's an understandable outreach decision. Nonetheless, the band's new material shines. The lilting, lovely ballad "Scapegoat" echoes the versatility of iconic bands like Shudder to Think, Beauty Pill, and Blonde Redhead. And the instrumentation, in that and wistful closer "Maybe It's Your Fault," is some of the most nuanced and balanced of any Portland album I've heard in recent memory. 

SeepeopleS' story is long and their back catalogue, much of it nearing 20 years old, is barely relevant to the band's sound today. Whether Bradford's in the discussion for one of the best songwriters in Maine rock music is a matter of personal taste, but he's certainly among those taking the form most seriously, and willing to grow with it as far as it'll take him.

Will Bradford of SeepeopleS, "Hate" EP release party | With Vapors of Morphine and Pretty Sad | Empire, 575 Congress St., Portland | 

MFA Thesis Exhibition Shines a Light in Dark, Dumb Times

If we can’t count on art students to liberate us from mass political confusion, then we’re in trouble.

Luckily, the Maine College of Art’s annual MFA Thesis Exhibition—first of the Trump era—finds the state's most supple art minds up to the task. With video, installation, performance and multimedia work, these nine MFA students not only confront the stultifying, oppressive, and boring-ass norms of American cultural life, they also embrace the avenues by which identity and physicality is developing political bite.

Queerer and more boldly physical than years past, the collection shows that for all the stupidity and nonsense in American political life, artists are making personal and discoveries from the repression and the haze, recognizing that body and identity can be powerful tools for political agency.

Exhibit A of this is Shelby Wynne Richardson’s Will You Pet My Pussy?, a handmade mixed-media artist book which fuses the visual vocabulary of illustrated pop-up stories with a queer feminist ethos and the language of consent-based sex education. Drawing, as she states, from the “Instagram-famous, those who wear their ‘plastic-ness’ on their sleeves,” each spread displays a hand-rendered vagina rendered in materially discrete forms. Some are kitschy, some cute; many are indeed fun to pet (which Richardson invites). Alongside each is a dictum of pussyplay the artist spells out in blocky nursery-rhyme verse (“First tickle on my inner thights / With foreplay please be slow not shy”). During my visit, a mid-fifties male security guard approached Will You Pet My Pussy? with what looked to be curiosity and bemusement, wearing a uniform and the thin armor of a smirk. It reminded me of the Instagram phenomenon of viewing a familiar feed (yours or another’s) imagined through the eyes of an interesting friend. What did that person think of that image?

It was Foucault who believed that society was a grid of ideological planes stacked incongruously atop one another, never fitting properly, and artist Dayna Riemlind makes no less vivid a statement. She stitches patterns and embroidered design onto dye-sublimated prints of photographs of distinct places, drawing out historical and personal meaning by contrasting spheres of time, geography, and memory. Her Watcher (2017, hand embroidery on cotton, 34” x 40”), arguably the show’s most vivid image, conjoins two hands in embroidered red fabric pocked with teary blue eyes, a sign that the artistic terrain Riemlind works in expands beyond the physical world and into dream.

A loud piece by Jose Rodriguez, Jr. builds on queer theorist Lee Edelman’s principle insight from the landmark 2004 book No Future: Queer Theory and the Death Drive. Edelman’s theory of “reproductive futurism” identifies that the common American political platform of being “pro-children” and “pro-future,” which both party’s figures adopt as unassailable rhetoric during political campaigns, is intrinsically and problematically heteronormative and assumes the supremacy of procreative families above other citizens. (In the book, Edelman cites a GOP operative complaining in the New York Times about a 1997 Bill Clinton photo-op beside wife and daughter: “This is the father picture,” says the Republican media consultant. “This is the daddy bear, this is the head of the political household. Nothing helps him more.”)

Rodriguez wants to fuck with this. With campy humor and nods to Edelman, This Land Is My Land erects a mock political rally—complete with original political branding, a lot of bear imagery and cosplay, and one hypnotically repetitious speech, all of it a satire on the politics of family values and its latent homophobia. As the show’s only piece wiith sound, Rodriguez’s looping audio track (and its recurring fugue of “This Is Our Time”) can dominate the atmosphere. But in a world where prominent right-wing figures formed Gays For Trump coalitions and recast the real estate mogul as “Daddy,” there’s much to explore here beyond Edelman.

I can’t remember a gallery experience as visceral as I had viewing the work of Sarah Emch, an artist whose three video pieces attempt to reconcile past experiences of self-multilation and the methods of confronting personal trauma. In one, a five-minute video titled Recollection, we see the artist’s bared upper chest repeatedly sliced with a small blade (presumably by her own hand). Though the blade cuts at bare surface level, her skin’s response—the slowly forming scars and dotting pockets of blood—effectively conveys a rhythm of pain far deeper than skin. In the disquieting Involuntary, we witness the artist seeming to attempt (and fail) to condition herself to the reflexive physical response to a red-colored fluid periodically dripping onto her forehead. Viewed as she lays supine with eyes closed, it is an agonizing and intimate 17-minute ritual. As challenging as they are to watch, Emch’s artful, vulnerable explorations of the body’s relationship to trauma and abuse are tremendously affecting.

Other standouts include Seed, a stratified woman, in which Louise Coupar-Stamat evokes themes of birth and emergence through the material history of clay, a substance she entombs and cakes around several women over video. Three large material sculptures by Benjamin Spalding, collected here as Bacaloo, fuse discrete, transregional cultural signifiers (like Santeria altars, hockey gloves, and New England flannel) into ecstatic figural representations of the amalgamate identities of the artist’s cultural heritage. They’re kind of glorious. I missed the live performance by Crystal Gale Phelps, said to summon political agency through contemporary dance and circus arts (though viewers can catch her again on June 9 from 1 to 4 pm).

There may never have been a stupider, more cynical time to be alive. But look at these folks. They’ve found a few ideas worth holding on to.

MECA MFA Thesis Exhibition | Through June 9 | ICA at MECA, 522 Congress St., Portland |

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


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