here - The Devil Strip


here - The Devil Strip
Why don’t zombies eat clowns?
Altered Realm Radio knows (pg.
Rare grooves:
the hidden history of
Akron’s Soul Toronadoes (pg. 25)
How the Rock Mill will
make you glad to climb the
walls this winter (pg. 31)
The Devil Strip
Akron M
When being home for the holidays
means you work the bar (page 10)
Akronites clearly love this city but it’s anchored by
something heartbreaking and heavy, the residue
of a 30-year-old story that Akron is a place people
leave. However, that story is falling apart. Folks
are realizing Akron is more than that. The faithful,
whether they’ve been at it for two years or two
decades, aren’t just succeeding. They’re growing in
The Devil Strip
Cleveland is hanging on for the Cavs to win a title,
but Akron won the moment LeBron announced he
was coming home (though he never really left the
330). If you’re going to turn your narrative around,
it helps to have the greatest NBA player of his
generation on your side. Little things help too.
Akron Music, Art & Cu
Publisher >>
Chris “Somehow missed the
email you sent in June” Horne
Art Director >>
Alesa Upholzer, Talented and Patient
Visuals Editor >>
Svetla “The Balkan Comrade” Morrison
Copy Editor >>
Jessica “My name is not Jecca” Cherok
Sales Director >>
TJ Masterson – [email protected]
The Editorial Team >>
Arts Section Editor: Bronlynn “Space Kitty” Thurman
Assistant Arts Editors:
Megan "insides made of cheese" Combs,
recovering loser/hoser/poser
Noor Hindi, Will Get Back to Chris about That
Community & Culture Section Editors:
M. Sophie Hamad, ambitious wordsmith and mama
Katie “Miss Scarlet in the Conservatory
with a candlestick” Jackson
Assistant Culture Club Editor:
Ilenia “Our Short, Tired Garbanzo Bean Eatin',
WTF Video Girl Writer” Pezzaniti
Music & Entertainment Section Editors:
Jenny Conn, Real O.G. Storyteller
Mackenzie “Needs a whimsical middle name” Mehrl
Music Editor: Brittany “Sass Master Flash” Nader
Staff writers >>
Andrew “Has a mighty fine beard” Leask; Christopher
with K “not to be confused with Chris H” Morrison;
Roger Riddle, Wears the Purple Pants; Elizabeth
“Only in Akron” Tyran; Joanna Wilson,
Director of the Dept. of Tattoos & Morrissey
Columnists >>
Holly “The Wanderer” Brown; Dominic Caruso, Swiss
Artsy Knife; Emily “Potty Perfectionist” Dressler and
Marissa Marangoni, Bathroom Culture Enthusiast;
Chris “the Film Freak” Kessinger; Kyra “Drama Queen”
Kelley; Natalie Warren, a Life in Red Lipstick; Katie
“Um, can you repeat the question?” Wheeler
The A/V Club >>
Once upon a time, not all that long ago, my
favorite restaurant was the Marathon gas station
on MLK in downtown Macon. I’d given up on
using the kitchen in the apartment I shared with
Roger Riddle, and I was often too broke to dine
out. Except at gas stations.
On a typical visit, I’d buy two packs of cigarettes
then grab a hot dog from the roller, load it down
with free condiments, especially relish and mayo
for added heft, and chase it with Little Debbie
cakes. A bag of Tom’s salt and vinegar chips was
99 cents, and the Powerade was usually twofor-$1.50. This Marathon also served sausage and
egg biscuits, made from scratch. When I couldn’t
afford anything “fresh” from the warmer, I settled
for a Slim Jim. I may weigh more now, but I’m
healthier, which isn’t saying much.
I believe the two most important stories in the
world are the story we tell ourselves about
ourselves and the story we tell the world about
who we are. We don’t choose whether to tell these
stories but we can choose what story we tell. If
you leave it to chance, you can end up on the gas
station diet. I let my ego go unchecked because a
column I wasn’t paid to write made me popular on
one side of two blocks in our small town. Without
meaning to, I lived down to a story I told myself
about being a funny, likeable drunk who could
string together words. I was, and can still be, a
funny, likeable drunk, but I was, and am, more. I
just hadn’t realized it then.
Paul “I don’t write” Hoffman; Jacob Luther,
the Towny Townie Toonist; Bronlynn “Enemy of
Avocados, Destroyer of PEEPS” Thurman;
The Shane Wynn Supremacy
Contributors >>
Allie Angelo, Mary Menzemer, Shelby Heitzenrater, Brit
Charek, Craftiest Staff Writer/Maker of Empires; Jessica
Conti, Says She’s Not That Clever But Must Be Lying;
Heather “Doctor, Doctor” Braun; Eric Morris, Was
Abducted By Jojo Pizzaface’; Scott Piepho; Bert Stevens
Office ................................................. (330) 842-6606
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Website ..................................
Twitter .............................................. @akrondevilstrip
Instagram ............................................. @thedevilstrip
The Devil Strip is published bi-monthly by Random Family, LLC. Akron
Distribution: The Devil Strip is available free of charge, limited to
one copy per reader. Copyright: The entire contents ofThe Devil Strip
are copyright 2015 by Random Family, LLC. Reproduction in whole
or in part without written permission of the publisher is prohibited.
Publisher does not assume any liability for unsolicited manuscripts,
materials, or other content. Any submission must include a stamped,
self-addressed envelope. All editorial, advertising, and business
correspondence should be mailed to the address listed above.
Maddy and Liz
That changed after I met the smart, smokin’ hot
blonde who would later become my wife. She saw
things in me I couldn’t fathom. Whatever it was,
I began to see it too. This former two pack-a-day
smoker has run three marathons without dying
in any of them. I’m also co-creator of a darling
little girl who turns 5 shortly after this issue prints.
Sometimes, I eat vegetables.
When I changed my story, my behavior changed.
Little like TinyCircuits (page 38), which ships wee
arduinos all over the globe, creating jobs for young,
talented folks here. It’s also about people who
aren’t household names, like Robert Keith, who
came back from NYC to teach drama at Miller
South (page 14), his alma mater. It’s about small
shops, like Sweet Mary’s Bakery (page 20) which
is run by boomeranged native Mary Hospodarsky,
who became my hero when I read this: “It dawned
on me that the reason there’s nothing down here
is that people like me won’t take the initiative to
bring something down here.” After nine years of
hustle, she’s just opened a storefront downtown.
cause to remember this city is more than where the
world’s tires were born. That means we can reclaim
our cultural touchstones, from Devo and Rita Dove
to Michael “Dynamite” Dokes and Dick Goddard…
I mean Jim Jarmusch and Lux Interior to Ruby & the
Devo, Rita Dove, Chrissie Hynde, the Knights,
Ruby & the Romantics, Jim Jarmusch, Lux Interior,
Dynamite Dokes, James Ingram, Lewis Miller,
Stanley Ovshinsky, Clark Gable and Dick Goddard
(just kidding), to name only a few. As impressive as
that bunch is, bouncing back has more to do with
the small, local stories because they’re our mortar.
This is how we see ourselves at The Devil Strip,
telling stories about Akron to remind ourselves that
this place isn’t just capable of greatness but that
it’s achieving it on the regular already. Our writers,
photographers, editors, street team and sales folks
are all after the same thing: To be the mirror this
community deserves.
Thanks for giving us the opportunity. We’re excited
about the 2016 that lies ahead for us all.
Take Care, Chris
This issue is unintentionally, but also unsurprisingly,
thick with good stories coming out of the University
of Akron, ringing with this new narrative about
expats returning and transplants setting down
The Akron Poetry Prize (page 12) is run out of UA
Press by Mary Biddinger (Issue #1), who hails from
Illinois and was recently awarded a NEA grant as
a professor poet at the university. California native
Marie Bucoy-Calavan (page 7) is doing big things
for UA’s choral program.
Then there’s Liz and Nathan Yokum (page 31),
former Zips who already run one business here,
Rock Candy Holds, and are about to open up
another, Rock Mill Climbing. But don’t sleep on
current students like our own Sophie Hamad and
Noor Hindi (page 13), or Josh Gardy (page 29), who
came from Phoenix but talks passionately about
this town like a hard-core Akronite.
To think the university’s impact is only, or even
largely, relegated to the economics of our largest
employers is to sell UA and its people short. It is
bigger and more meaningful than the “run it like a
business” argument. (You can run it like a university
and still “balance your checkbook.” Businesses
are about making a profit, which shouldn’t be
UA’s goal.) There are numerous reasons here and
elsewhere to celebrate the cultural contributions to
this new Akron story by the people who make UA
“one of our most valuable and treasured assets,”
to quote my favorite Akron Beacon Journal ad.
Until recently, the city has struggled with the
same mindset, having limited its value to what
it produces and thinking mostly of that output
in economic terms. But even in the boom years,
this place was always more than just the Rubber
Capital of the World, and that is as true now as
it was when the rubber factories closed and the
population plummeted. It’s more evident these
days, perhaps. King James and the Black Keys have
carried a torch for Akron, giving us and others
About the Cover
Mario Nemr (left) and Ray Nemer (right)
are cousins and grew up in very similar
households: their parents' bars. They came
up in now iconic Akron establishments
like Thursday's Lounge, Manny's and The
Matador, so while most of us are napping off
our holiday meals, folks like them--people in
the service industry--are going to work. Since
they're the ones we turn to when we want
to blow off steam with our extra time off,
it only seemed fitting to turn our attention
to what the holidays are like for them.
Fortunately, photographer Shane Wynn was
also available to fit into Mario's and Ray's
tight schedule for a few great shots.
DECEMBER 2015 • VOL 1 • ISSUE #16 /
THE Devil Strip |
the agenda >>
19 ways to enjoy the 12 Days of Christmas
(and then some)
compiled by Danny Durst and staff
hether you celebrate Christmas or not,
you’re probably familiar with this “12
Days of Christmas,” which doesn’t even
start until Christmas Day. That’s a long ways off
still—and it runs through January 6?—so to make
sure you get your money’s worth, we’ve got a killer
list of things to do to get you in the spirit of the
season, Akron-style, so you can really enjoy yourself
when you get to those 12 special days.
Archie the Talking Snowman
Chapel Hill Mall
Ongoing during mall hours
You think this holiday tradition isn't an event worth
talking about? Joanna Wilson would probably
disagree. Make sure you have a copy of her latest
book, The Story of Archie the Talking Snowman, in
hand when you go. You never know when Joanna
might be watching...or that other guy up north.
(Story on page 15)
The Twelve Dates of Christmas
Summit Artspace
Dec. 4 - 19 with Thurs.-Sat. shows at
7:30pm and 2pm shows Sun.
Is Elizabeth Allard a modern-day superwoman of
the theater? She may only be a librarian in real
life. But come night, she will be taking the stage
in Ginna Hoben's one-woman show. This new
holiday classic comes as a gift from Rubber City
Shakespeare Company. The production is new in
their season and a step away from Shakespeare.
It’s nothing like that Scottish play, but be warned.
It might still be a good night to spring for a
3rd Annual Krampusnacht
Saturday, Dec. 5 at 6 pm
Don’t chance upsetting Krampus. Go to Annabell’s
in costume and enjoy live music with Seance,
The Hot Wings and FleischGewehR, plus a fire
performance by Lita Rabbit and the Promenade
of Krampus through Highland Square. Your
ticket includes an authentic European buffet with
bratwurst, spaetzle, sauerkraut balls, meatballs,
glühwein and more.
and professional artists. On Family Day, for the
11th year, the museum will open its doors for
free to encourage donations of new, unwrapped
toys for children in need. Hours and more info at
The Arcs
Akron Civic Theatre
Tuesday, Dec. 8
Never heard of ‘em.
Jeff ‘JCK’ Klemm
Saturday, Dec. 5
While JCK’s first solo album is set for launch Dec.
11, the Maid Myriad frontman is offering local
music lovers a chance to drink it in almost a week
early when he performs the whole album, “Burying
the Shadows,” live on stage at Musica. Sancat and
Hell & Highwater will open. Tickets are available at and the album will be available
at when it’s released. (Catch JCK on
Dec. 20 at Annabell’s for free with Ricky Miller of
Red Sun Rising, Chris Bentley of The Most Beautiful
Losers, Nick Wilkinson and more at Sad Songs
For Sad Bastard's By Sad Bastard's presents
‘Holiday Tear’)
Island of Misfit Toys Family Day
Akron Art Museum
Sunday, Dec. 6
This quirky exhibition, curated by Rob Lehr, the
gallery director for Summit Artspace, runs through
February 28, 2016 and features blank vinyl Munny
toys customized and decorated by both students
| THE Devil Strip / DECEMBER 2015 • VOL 1 • ISSUE #16
Annabell’s Lounge
Wednesday, Dec. 9 at 8pm
What would you get if you put a guitar and
some keys in front of a couple of gypsies? If you
missed the show at Annabelle's in November or
in Cleveland the night before, this is your chance
to find out. If you don’t know the music, Hoseff
has been compared to the sound of Frank Zappa
and Gorgol Bordello. Does that help? We only
hope Angie Haze will take the night away from her
Angie Haze Project to relive parts of their
last album.
Dr. Sketchy’s Outta This World Holiday
Jilly’s Music Room
Wednesday, Dec. 9 from 7:30 p to 10:30 p
Imagine yourself an alien landing on our planet
smack in the middle of the holiday season. That’s
the set-up for the next Dr. Sketchy’s when Nina
Bellina returns to embody the aforementioned
extra-terrestrial holiday guest.
Holiday Pops: Home for the Holidays
E.J. Thomas Hall
Friday, Dec. 11 at 7:30 pm; milk & cookies at
6:30 pm
Kids, grab your fancy jammies. The Akron
Symphony Orchestra will be playing holiday
favorites in the company of dancers from the
Martell School of Dance. They say they'll have
music, dancers AND a visitor from the North Pole?
We’re guessing one of them won't be a penguin.
Neil Zaza's 'One Silent Night'
Hard Rock Rocksino, Northfield Park
Saturday, Dec. 12
This guitar-slaying Akronite dropped a new album,
“Peach,” on October 1 and then went off on a
month-long tour of Asia. Now he’s back, we all
get to rock in the holidays with Neil Zaza at the
helm of his legendary “One Silent Night,” an
evening of instrumental rock takes on traditional
Christmas classics. Someone called it “Hendrix
meets Beethoven under the Christmas tree,” which
sounds like a winner to us.
Missle Toe at Akron Art Museum
Dec. 17 from 6:30-8:30pm
Is this really the world’s greatest Christmas band?
This may be one of your best opportunities to judge
for yourself. Missile Toe began celebrating the
holiday season with their Pants Optional Holiday
Tour back in October alongside most retailers.
Akron Art Museum will host the group on one of
their Free Thursdays in December. Walk through
the museum while you are there, but you should
probably wear pants.
Jon Mosey Trio
Jilly's Music Room
Thursday, Dec. 17 at 8pm
It might be hard to beat a pants optional show. But
there’s no reason you can’t see two bands in one
night! Simply put, the Jon Mosey Trio is an Akronbased, all original Blues/Rock band. According to
them, "We play the music that gets the asses a
shakin' Hell Yeah!" Any questions?
The Scintas Christmas Show
Friday, Dec. 18 - Sunday, Dec. 20
You might think you’re buying a ticket to see The
Scintas sing—and you will hear their great music
and hilarious comedy—but you’re going to see
the agenda
Dino and Jerry, Johnny Mathis, Frank Sinatra, Ray
Charles and a slew of others.
institution in our book. You should plan to
party accordingly.
Frankie Starr Band
Mustard Seed Cafe’
Saturday, Dec. 19
This Cleveland-born bluesman got started in music
at age 8, eventually playing drums in his mom’s
band. He switched to guitar and has since opened
up for BB King, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Robert Cray
and Leon Russell, among others.
Arts editor Megan Combs paints
a polka dot Bill Murray portrait
with help from smArt Studios
owner Jennifer Davis
First Night Akron
Various locations around downtown Akron
Thursday, Dec. 31
Some of our favorite live local music all on one
big night in family-friendly environs from the John
S. Knight Center, Akron Library and Akron Art
Museum to the Civic and Greystone Hall, and many
more. There’s too much to name, but you can take
in performances by Brian Lisik, Theron Brown, the
Gage Brothers, the Angie Haze Project, Copali, Kofi
Boayke, the UA Steel Drum Band and Shivering
Timbers. Plus, fun stuff like Silent Disco, lots of
kid stuff and something special with Wandering
Aesthetics. Get the details at
Get On Up
7th Annual Ryan Humbert
Thursday, Dec. 31
Holiday Extravaganza
Akron's retro 80's funk band, Get On Up, helps
Akron Civic Theatre
you ring in the New Year at Tangier with their
Sunday, Dec. 20-Monday, Dec. 21 at 7:30 pm
butt-shaking grooves while you prepare for the
It’s a country-fried Christmas at the Civic with
champagne toast and balloon drop. You get a
Hillbilly Idol and Emily Bates joining headliner Ryan
deluxe bar and appetizer buffet to boot. Call 330Humbert in a cabaret setting show to benefit Akron 376-7171 for details.
General’s Muffins for Mammograms Program. It’s
a cause close to Ryan’s heart after his mother beat
cancer. Now he wants to help other woman get
The Juke Hounds
screened early.
Jilly’s Music Room
Thursday, Dec. 31
19th annual Illstyle Rockers Christmas Jam
Rock in the new year at Jilly’s with the horn-based
Swizzle Stick Band and the bluesy boogie of the
Saturday, Dec. 26
Juke Hounds. Gobble up the goodies on the
For almost two decades, the Illstyle Rockers crew
buffet line all night then cap the countdown with
has unleashed the four elements of hip-hop in this
a champagne toast with the JMR flute you get to
annual Christmas Jam. That makes it an Akron
take home with you. Details at
United Way
of Summit County
paThWayS OUT Of pOVERTy.
Friends feast on the spread at
the Devil Strip's first annual
Family Reunion.
DJ Roger Riddle gets some
bodies moving at
The Mighty Soul Night.
Through Bridges Summit county, United Way is building
a more prosperous and sustainable community –
for all of us.
To donate or volunteer, go to UWSUMMIT.ORG
great things happen when we LIVE UNITED!
United Way of Summit County
DECEMBER 2015 • VOL 1 • ISSUE #16 /
THE Devil Strip |
Tour your
own town
A family-friendly
New Year’s Eve
celebration of
the arts in
Enjoy more than a dozen art, culture
and entertainment offerings in 2016
for just $15! With each passport
you’ll receive free admission to popular
Downtown Akron events and
destinations, including an
admission button to the 20th annual
First Night Akron ($10 value)
on New Year’s Eve.
for complete details
(Only 1,500
passports available,
so act fast.)
On Sale
December 31
6p.m. to midnight
Admission buttons
on sale NOW for only $10
at Acme Fresh Market,
FirstMerit Bank branches and
Follow us on
arts >>
Photos courtesy of Svetla Morrison
by Roger Riddle
Marie Bucoy-Calavan, the University of Akron’s choir director, is destroying stereotypes that are
normally associated with millennials, the arts, and choral music. Through passion and hard work, she is reaching into the past to grab music
from as far back as the 15th century. Even better yet, people are jumping aboard this bandwagon to go for the ride.
Growing up between Los Angeles and Orange
counties in southern California, Marie BucoyCalavan’s first musical memory was of her as a
toddler turning a chair over and using the legs as
a microphone. She says her parents still have a
picture of that moment. And though they may find
it amusing now, it was probably the first sign that
her parents would have some concern about their
daughter's future ambitions.
instructor. On top of that, she was a vocal major
but really didn't enjoy singing solo.
Her parents were both chemists. As Bucoy-Calavan
grew, she leaned more and more towards music.
Although they supported her passion, allowing
her to take flute lessons through high school and
dabble in the French horn, they dreamed of a
future for their daughter in the fields of science
and technology. So much so, that they sent her to a
technical high school.
Istad was young, talented, and brand new as
the director of choral studies at the university.
After convincing her to stay and complete her
undergraduate degree, she became his first
conducting graduate student taking on a Master’s
degree in choral conducting. Since Istad was so
new to the program, there was a sense of the
blind leading the blind, however he promised her
that she would learn a lot about how to develop a
collegiate choral program really quickly.
The memory of singing with the choir was still
strong in her mind, and when she told her
professor and mentor, Robert Istad, of her plans
to leave the program, he convinced her to stay in
school and do her thesis as conductor instead of as
a soloist.
It only intensified her pursuit of music.
You would think that someone who has become so
entrenched in classical music would have that style
as the foundation of her musical tastes, but that’s
not what she listened to growing up.
“My colleagues in my doctorate said their parents
brought them up on the Mahler symphonies and
the Beethoven symphonies, and I did not grow up
that way whatsoever,” she said. Her parents played
’60s, ’70s, and ’80s pop music, and she lists ABBA,
the Mamas and the Papas, and Michael Jackson
among her early favorites.
The transition to classical music began when
she joined the choir in high school. Because of
her interest, the choir director started giving her
conducting and music theory lessons on the side.
By the time she began college at California
State University, Fullerton, she was placed in the
graduate choir due to her ability to read music well.
“Once I sang and I felt my voice get lost in these
really mature singers' sound, I went, 'This is it, right
here',” she remembers of the moment that set her
firmly in the world of classical music.
“I think it's so cool that when you sing in a choir
and everything is so perfectly in tune and so
perfectly blended that the sound that comes out is
not just your own. You're an intricate part of this
fabric that's so much bigger than yourself, creating
a sound that only a group of people can make.”
And this was just her first day of classes as an
undergraduate freshman.
Surprisingly, she almost quit the program in her
last year of studies. She had been competing as
a ballroom dancer and received a job offer as an
Bucoy-Calavan stresses how important those days
were once she took on the position of concert
choir director at the University of Akron. Now she
has a sense of history repeating itself as she takes
on her first graduate student while she is building
the program.
When she started with the university, there were 22
members in the concert choir. It had grown to 41
members by the end of her first year. At the start of
this semester, there were 86 members.
(continued on page 10)
DECEMBER 2015 • VOL 1 • ISSUE #16 /
THE Devil Strip |
Artistic Repurpose
Summit ReWorks, local artists capitalize on Akron’s penchant for reinvention
written and photographed by Bronlynn Thurman
n creating their work, artists typically attempt
to make a statement. What better statement
could be made than that of rebirth? By taking
the trash of others, artists convey to the viewer
that everything has a second life. The evening of
November 7, several art shows in the area honed in
on this concept.
Summit ReWorks, a local nonprofit that was
developed out of Ohio’s 1988 solid waste law,
H.B. 592, created an event called “Make Art
Not Waste” where 12 artists were given the
opportunity to create pieces with used latex paint.
The company’s mission statement states that it
“provides solutions and leadership to empower our
community, institutions and businesses to develop
and utilize environmentally sound, cost-effective
and waste
Both executive
Yolanda Walker
and education/
Shelly Kadilak
say it can be
hard to discard of latex paint. It must be dried out
or mixed with absorbent materials like kitty litter.
Because many people don’t know this, places like
are left with
tons of
Over the
course of
three days,
these artists
access to
and developed stunning pieces. For every piece
that is sold, part of the proceeds go to the artists
while the other portion goes to ReWorks for its
educational programs.
Two floors up, within the Summit Artspace Box
Gallery, the “Reborn” exhibit was midway through
its show run. This exhibit features six artists who
created sculptures from recycled materials. Some of
the pieces were massive and quite impressive.
effectively drawing them out of their comfort
zone, as well as bringing this idea of functionality
and repurposing to the forefront. All of the pieces
are on sale and one in particular is a collaborative
effort with proceeds going to Project Rebuild in
Canton. It brings with it the sense of community
that seems to be ingrained in many Akronites.
Humans create a remarkable amount of waste on a
daily basis. To be able to take those bits of material
and utilize them in an unconventional manner
both keeps them out of the ever growing dump
pile, as well as remind others of the versatility of
many objects.
In Akron, we’ve recently witnessed a slow push
towards the recycling and “zero waste” lifestyle
over the last few years from events like Big Love
to these art shows. Hopefully, it’s a trend that
continues to grow for years to come.
// As an elfin wanderer, Bronlynn is compelled to share the
news of recycling, upcycling, and “zero waste” efforts. You
can find her at @_bront_ on Instagram and Twitter.
While all of this was happening in
downtown, Hazel Tree Interiors, a mile or so
up the road had its “Art Reclaims Function”
opening party that honored the late Russ
Ensign. Ensign was a Hazel Tree artist
who repurposed Akron tire company tire
patterns to create clocks, mirrors, etc.
This event was the last showing of his
work and several local artists were invited
to create pieces from repurposed materials
| THE Devil Strip / DECEMBER 2015 • VOL 1 • ISSUE #16
How to make a Christmas-themed
dollhouse lantern
written and photographed by Megan Combs
Comics Everlasting
Honoring the past while connecting the now
written and photographed by Bronlynn Thurman
I let my geek flag fly on Saturday, Nov. 7 at the
fourth annual Akron Comicon where approximately
5,000 cosplayers, fanatics, geeks, freaks, artists
and purists converged upon the Quaker Station
downtown to rub elbows, talk shop about
universes and enjoy themselves.
A merging of the past, present and future, Akron
Comicon focuses on newspaper comics and comic
books, bringing in a legend like Allen Bellman, who
worked for Timely Comic which became Marvel,
as well as contributors to classic works like Craig
Boldman, an illustrator for Archie Comics and The
Adventures of Superman, and Mike Zeck, who
has drawn for “The Punisher” and “Marvel Super
Heroes Secret Wars”.
Yet, they realize that times are changing. In an
age where print is fighting digital and the major
publishers are sticking to the classics, many creators
have begun to tackle new frontier. Akron Comicon
brought in independent publishers like Broken Icon
Comics and Scott Comics because self-publishing,
indie publishers and web comics have become a
major driving force in the industry.
Within the conference room, they hosted panel
discussions, a cosplay contest and comic book
workshops. I attended a portion of two of the
panels in between shaking hands with some of
the people who had a hand in making my favorite
comics growing up. “The Kirby Effect!” with Tom
Scioli was the first that I popped into and then
The 30th Anniversary of Marvel’s “Secret Wars”
discussion with John Beatty and Mike Zeck, which
celebrated its incredible history.
The main room was flooded with people. On one
end they could get their photo taken with props
at the Pop! The Comic Culture Club booth, while
on the other they could interact with some of
the bigger names. In between, they could buy art
prints, figurines, comics and more.
Holiday decorations don’t get any easier than
this (unless you don’t put any out). I’ve seen
variations of these dollhouse lanterns on Pinterest
and decided to try one for this holiday season.
Picking the pieces for the scene is the best part,
besides plugging it in and gazing at your work.
Shopping for the pieces took longer than putting
it together. I finished in about 30 minutes. The
project cost was about $70, with the lantern and
the lights being the most expensive items.
Step 2:
Remove the Christmas lights from the box.
Unbundle the adapter end of the lights and stuff
them into the top of your lantern. Keep the lights
in place by affixing a few strips of tape across the
top of your lantern. Remember to leave some
string hanging out of the top to plug in.
Step 3:
Attach the lid, making sure not to smash any
light bulbs, and plug it in! Cute!
Next year, Akron Comicon takes over the John S.
Knight Center and that is exciting.
enemy of the standard, can be found hoarding her prized
I also chose small christmas lights that I strung
around the outside top and bottom of the
lantern, similar to how a house would be
What you’ll need
(All found at Hobby Lobby):
• Lantern with a removeable top or opening
side panel
• One box of white Christmas lights
• Various pieces of dollhouse furniture
• Glue (optional)
I couldn’t leave without purchasing something to
remember my time there. I scored two really sweet
fan art prints from JM Dragnunas. One features
Adventure Time characters while the other features
familiar characters from many of Hayao Miyazaki’s
films like “Spirited Away,” “Howl’s Moving Castle”
and “Kiki’s Delivery Service.” The amount of detail
that went into each illustration leaves me in awe
and is a testament to the amount of skill gathered
in one room.
// Bronlynn, elfin comic collector, cartoonist and sworn
is optional. I chose a living room setting with
a Christmas tree, rocking chair, table, coffee,
cookies and a cat sleeping in a basket.
Step 1:
Open the lantern and arrange all your furniture
to your liking. Gluing down the pieces
// Megan is a Decorative Doris during this time of year.
comics in her treehouse. She can also occasionally be
found at @_bront_ on Instagram and Twitter.
DECEMBER 2015 • VOL 1 • ISSUE #16 /
THE Devil Strip |
(continued from page 7)
When people see those numbers, she is typically
asked, “How do you sell a choral program?” She
says you sell excellence and musical integrity. She
holds her students to a high standard and they all
jump to exceed it. She now sees students meeting
at 9 am to practice on their own, and when she
ends rehearsal, they break into groups and practice
more. Her passion is infectious.
Because of the students’ passion, they have formed
a chamber choir that has been invited to sing
with the Cleveland Orchestra during its Christmas
performance, and award-winning composer Daniel
Elder was commissioned to compose a work for
the University of Akron choir.
From left: Jason Miller, Joseph A. Michael, Brian Dunphy and Dan
Gorman, hosts of the radio show. Photo by Megan Combs.
Let’s Make Some Radio
These four Akron area geeks host
Altered Realm Radio every Saturday night
written and photographed by Megan Combs
Why don’t zombies eat clowns? They taste funny,
jokes Dan Gorman, one of the voices and founder
behind the Internet radio show Altered Realm
Radio. His fellow co-hosts chuckle and then a song
about zombies plays in the background, featuring
Gorman on the guitar.
calls Gorman’s dad. They say hello and then let
him rant for 20 minutes about anything and
everything. Then there’s Georgio Pelogrande, the
parody sports, weather and traffic reporter who is
notorious for getting all his facts wrong. The part is
played by Dunphy.
Gorman, a comic book illustrator who lives in
Cuyahoga Falls and grew up in Green, had always
been interested in hosting a radio show. The story
of how he landed one goes way back to 2006
when he and his friends Jason Miller and Joe Dutt
created a paranormal group called Team Spectre.
Together the team went on several ghost hunting
missions and were eventually asked to be on the
Travel Channel’s “Ghost Adventure” show. Season
3, if you’re wondering.
“I wrote his bit a couple times and ‘called in’ as
him, and they just loved it,” Dunphy said. “He
touts himself as a journalist, but he never gets
anything right. For example, he called in when
the Cavs lost the championship and said that they
“After we were on the show, radio host Bob Earley
asked us to come on his show to talk about it,”
Gorman smiled. “And it was just so much fun. The
callers were really into it.”
After being on Earley’s show, Gorman said he and
Miller “caught the bug.” They started connecting
with other media friends to find out how they
could get their own time slot. Eventually they
caught wind of a startup Internet radio station
opening in Kent: KRMA Radio.
In April 2015, the opportunity came. Gorman and
Miller created a format for a three-hour show that
started in the 9 p.m. to midnight slot on Saturday
nights. Their official launch was in July, and the
show was moved to the 8 p.m. to midnight time
For example, a regular feature is when the team
Members of the show include Gorman, a trained
medical and comic book illustrator; Miller, owner of
Stuff Genie Emporium in Barberton; Brian Dunphy,
a comic book illustrator in Akron; and Joseph A.
Michael, illustrator and creator behind the “Only
Human,” zombie comic book series.
Proctor, a “Zombie Hero,” (a walker) on AMC’s
“The Walking Dead.”
“There are a lot of radio shows that are geared
toward geeks, and they dabble around in a bunch
of different things,” Gorman said. “But there is
no stream that covers what we cover. We give
experienced insight into the things we know best.”
The team also recently did a rebroadcast of H.G.
Wells’ “War of the Worlds.”
“It was incredible,” Dunphy said. “We rewrote
it and lined up a mix of serious and concerned
Catch Gorman and the team every Saturday night
from 8 pm to midnight on www.KRMAradio.
com. Find recorded episodes by searching “Altered
Realm Radio” on
Gorman said the show is a creative outlet for
him, his co-hosts and their listeners.
“We get to showcase our skills and talents
that we haven’t showcased before,” Gorman
said. “I’m an illustrator, but there’s a whole
other facet to our personalities.”
| THE Devil Strip / DECEMBER 2015 • VOL 1 • ISSUE #16
“The concert choir has quadrupled in a year,” she
points out. “Not only has the choral program burst
open at University of Akron, but the students –
these millennials – are showing the community,
through the quality of their music that they're not
the stereotypical millennials.”
The Summit Choral Society asked Bucoy-Calavan
to guest conduct their spring concert last year
based on the success of the work she had been
doing at the university. She chose to perform
Haydn's “Lord Nelson Mass” and shortly thereafter,
they approached her about becoming the artistic
director of the society. The fresh ideas that she
brings to the table help produce concerts that
captivate all ages.
She has one of these fresh ideas coming in April.
A concert entitled "Dance With Me" will draw
upon her experience in conducting and her passion
for ballroom dancing. “We are engaging the
University of Akron ballroom dance team, and two
professional couples from Viva Dance in Cleveland
and we are going to do choral waltzes by Brahms.”
While the choir sings the dancers will waltz and
when the concert concludes, the director of Viva
Dance will teach a small ballroom class so that
the concert goers can immerse themselves in
the experience. It is this type of creative thinking
that the Summit Choral Society is banking will
shine a new light on a music that has come to be
perceived as stuffy and uptight.
“It's not 1860. I realize that, but the music from
1860 can absolutely still be relevant today,” BucoyCalavan said. “I think the music that was written
back then is just that good. Only good music
can be preserved that long. It's just as relevant
as Michael Jackson's “Bad.” It's still around. The
Beatles, their music is still around. 'I'm A Barbie
Girl', people know but I don't think it's going
to last.”
“We laugh for four straight hours,” Gorman
said. “We talk about video games, comic books,
movies, TV shows, all of it.”
The show is starting to gain traction, gathering
as many as 500 listeners per night, Gorman said.
An estimated more than 7,000 people have tuned
in over time. They have interviewed fellow comic
book creators, and even celebrities such as Tim
With all the bad press the university has received of
late, Bucoy-Calavan hopes Akron's arts community
will take note of the great story unfolding around
her students.
// Roger does cool things.
// Megan conducted this interview at the Akron Comicon
and was dressed as FBI Agent Dana Scully from the
“X-Files.” Above: Megan Combs interviewing radio host
Brian Dunphy at Akron’s ComicCon. Photo by
Megan Combs.
where the geeks are. Akron’s got its fair share, as
do the surrounding towns and cities.”
Calvert written well over 100 short stories
organized into anthologies and three novels. These
were all self-published by FastPencil. The stories in
each anthology have little in common with each
other except for the wild imagination it took to
produce them.
“like, what if a rabbi and demon hunt monsters
together?” Calvert says. “Or, a murder mystery
where the main suspect is innocent but his
imaginary friend isn’t?”
In his newest novel, “Murder Sauce,” and his
upcoming March 2016 novel, “Frag Code,” the
villainous protagonist Benjamin Cly is the main
character. Calvert’s version of his protagonist is
an aberration from typical heroes of stories in
the sense that Cly is actually a villain cajoled into
fighting other villains. But there’s more to that, of
In Calvert’s words, “Cly’s primary goals are to
survive, create a viable crime-fighting business, and
make a ton of money doing it. Saving the world’s
just good for business.”
There is no catharsis or redemption. If you are into
unapologetic, witty anti-heros like Sherlock Holmes
or Holden Caulfield, Benjamin Cly just may be your
next fixation.
An African-American man, Calvert says being
unusual is more important than just skin color in
establishing one’s image. “Picture this: You walk
into a room at a comic expo or something, right?
You see a black guy in his forties with cover art
for ‘Murder Sauce’ behind him. He’s
wearing what looks to be a
cowboy hat and a plaid shirt.
Wouldn’t you be a little curious?
Then this guy gives you a truly
unique pitch. You’ll remember
him, won’t you?” he says.
He gives this advice to writers:
“So, you’re a woman? Someone
of color? In a wheelchair? Walking
around with three eyes? Use your
uniqueness. Catch the public’s eye,
lure them over, and give them a
winning pitch of your books.”
Marcus Calvert
Marcus Calvert talks about Akron’s arts presence,
the importance of being unique, and
of course-monsters
by Mary Menzemer
hen I asked Marcus Calvert, Akron local and
author of science fiction, why he moved to
Akron, he responded, “Akron’s a decent place for a
writer to hang one’s hat and find himself.”
Originally from Detroit, Calvert initially settled
in Ohio while attending John Carroll University
as a political science major. After a brief stint at
Northern Illinois University, he moved back to Ohio
with the intention of living close to Cleveland.
Instead, he discovered that Akron was actually a
pretty cool place for creatives to live and work.
Despite the ongoing technological
disruption in the literary business,
Calvert says there are a couple of old
fashioned paths to success that will
never change with the times.
“Readers determine your success. They’re the
lifeblood of your dreams. Treat ‘em right and keep
them entertained. Do it well enough and the
literary universe should like you just fine﹘in time.”
Check out Calvert’s website and read some sample
chapters and stories at
// Mary Menzemer once used her telekinetic powers to
move Mount Everest two and a half inches.
“Akron’s got a strong art presence,” he wrote via
email, “which makes it easier to be a writer. Even if
it didn’t, and you want to write sci-fi for a living, be
DECEMBER 2015 • VOL 1 • ISSUE #16 /
THE Devil Strip |
‘Further Problems with Pleasure’
UA Press bounces back with
Akron Poetry Prize winner Sandra Simonds
by Noor Hindi
If you’ve stayed tuned to the news, you would have
probably thought that the University of Akron Press
had taken an early grave. But despite its near-death
experience, the UA Press remains strong.
“The fact of its restoration has revitalized the press,
I think. I’m overjoyed, beaming, really, to see that
“If Coleridge, Plath, Ovid, and Celan started a love
commune where they built a manifesto Molotov
cocktail out of the pastoral, eros, blank verse,
and kitsch: it would be this book,” writes
Giménez Smith about Simonds’ work on the UA
Press website.
Biddinger, who has worked
with the press since 2008, says
she read 509 manuscripts this
summer. She chose Simonds’
work as one of the finalists of
the Akron Poetry Prize because
of the voice.
UA Press website.
“‘The Veronica Maneuver’ leaped out of the
stack of manuscripts and announced that it was
ready to be out in the world. One quality that sets
Jennifer Moore’s work apart is her use of images.
‘The Veronica Maneuver’ takes numerous layers of
disparate ideas and lets them work together in a
brilliant sort of harmony,” Biddinger says.
Moore says the title of the collection came from
reading Ernest Hemingway’s “Death in the
“The more I learned about its etymology, its
appropriation into the bullfighting arena, its
historical and religious significance, the more I
realized my aesthetic interests were bound up in
the same sorts of resonances that emerge from
the term: drawing the eye of a reader or viewer, or
bull; dazzling the audience through visual image,
spectacle or performance; considering what’s
‘true’ about a ‘true image’ (vera, ‘true’ and eikon,
‘image,’ so veronica literally means true image),”
Moore says.
Above: Jennifer Moore, author of UA Press's
most recent poetry collection "The Veronica
Maneuver." (pictured to the right)
public support for the arts can wield real power,”
says Jennifer Moore, author of UA Press’s most
recent poetry collection “The Veronica Maneuver.”
“Too often, collections of poems apologize for
their own assertions and emotions, and ‘Further
Problems with Pleasure’ is the antidote to that
problem,” Biddinger says. “From the first line of
this book I was completely captivated by the power
of the speaker’s voice. I also value the fact that it’s
an important contribution to feminist discourse.”
On September 25, the UA Press announced author
Sandra Simonds’ poetry manuscript, “Further
Problems with Pleasure” had won the Akron Poetry
Prize, which includes $1,500 and the publication of
the poet’s manuscript. This news came a few weeks To prevent competing against Simonds’ most
after the temporary layoffs of the UA Press staff
recent publication, “Steal it Back,” which has been
members Amy Freels and Carol Slatter.
available since Dec. 1 from Saturnalia Books, the
publication of “Further Problems with Pleasure”
“(Winning is) great because I get to take all my
has been delayed until early 2017.
friends out for dinner and drinks,” says Simonds.
“I think that this collection is an attempt to
2015 Akron Poetry Prize judge Carmen Giménez
understand what pleasure is and the limits of
Smith chose the manuscript from a list of 18
pleasure, or the body, as a site of liberation, of
finalists. The finalists were picked by Akron Series in freedom, especially for women who are punished
Poetry editor and UA professor Dr. Mary Biddinger. for both experiencing pleasure and seeking it out in
[Ed. note: In the interests of full disclosure, Dr.
a ‘masculine’ way,’” Simonds says
Biddinger is Noor Hindi’s poetry instructor at the
University of Akron but that played zero part in the Coinciding with the announcement of the 2015
editorial decision to run this profile of the work
Akron Poetry Prize, Moore’s “The Veronica
being done by UA Press. - Chris H.]
Maneuver” is available for purchase through the
| THE Devil Strip / DECEMBER 2015 • VOL 1 • ISSUE #16
Biddinger says there is much to celebrate about
the press. Its national recognition and eclectic
publications makes the press stand as a critical part
of our community, and among university presses in
the United States as a whole.
“What we aspire to do now, and hope to continue
to do at the UA Press, is to publish an eclectic
catalog of work that will please our current
readership while bringing new readers back to
poetry,” Biddinger says. “Whether they’re seasoned
poetry fans who are checking out every new Akron
Series in Poetry collection, or people who loved
poetry back in the day but somehow drifted away
from it, we have just the right book. [We] like to
publish collections that help readers rediscover
poetry, and in doing that we have an obligation to
represent a variety of voices. Poetry is for everyone;
it’s something to be shared.”
// Noor Hindi just really loves poetry.
Although the administration never formally closed
the press, the ultimately brief layoff of Freels and
Slatter could have lead to the eventual death of the
UA Press.
“What they clearly did not understand is that
the press would not continue without these two
employees. You could never lay off these two
people and keep the press running,” transitional
director and Associate Professor Dr. Jon Miller says.
Without Freels and Slatter, the press would have
lacked a design coordinator, as well as a print
manufacturing and digital production coordinator,
which are both critical jobs. Miller was one of the
many individuals who stood up for the press in
the summer when Scarborough was making
budget cuts.
“I emphasized its alignment with academic
programs, its potential and its use for the
students,” Miller says. “If you’re going to talk
about experiential learning, internships and careerfocused, sort of applied [learning], you would want
to keep it. It’s one thing to teach people to do
writing, and then it’s another thing to teach people
how to actually get their writing published.”
Since then, UA President Scott Scarborough has
pledged to keep the press running, as well as
maintain its full membership in the Association of
American University Presses.
If you’d like to
Celebrate Poetry
with the UA Press,
please visit
and purchase a collection for
you or a friend.
Where the
Rubber City
meets the road
An Akron adventure to Bowling Green for
Mid-American Review’s 15th Annual Winter Wheat Festival
written and photographed by M. Sophie Hamad
I am a socially awkward person. The great thing
about being at a writers’ conference is that I
am not alone in social awkwardness, but rather
I am surrounded by it. It’s nice to feel a part of
something—even if that something is awkward.
Friday morning, we had a tasty brunch at Naslada,
a Mediterranean bistro on Main Street in Bowling
Green. The Turkish coffee with Turkish delight was
good enough that I enjoyed it black. I’ve since
dropped sugar from my coffee routine.
reading. It was exhilarating and fun,
but I’m glad Noor got it on video, so I
can know what to do differently next
time: drink first, less shaking, more
The Winter Wheat Festival at Bowling Green State
University, hosted by the university’s international
literary journal the Mid-American Review (MAR),
has been bringing writers together—awkward or
not—for 15 years. Every November, writers flock
to BGSU to connect with other literary enthusiasts
for a weekend. Writers attend up to six of the 48
craft workshops (eight options for each of the
six sessions), in addition to four scheduled book
readings and signings, and a book fair on Saturday.
This year also offered two open mic readings
at downtown Bowling Green pubs, as well as a
round-table discussion with the editors of MAR to
kick off the Friday afternoon workshops.
We then proceeded to get half-lost for the rest of
our trip. We turned around more times than I can
count. I repeatedly lost and found my hat.
Friday’s round table discussion was informative
but kind of boring. The editors of MAR answered
questions about how they do what they do and
what they are looking for in regards to submissions
and contributors. MAR had a check-in table set
up with dozens of books for sale. Tweetstalk
McWheatley (the new MAR mascot, introduced
this year) was present to greet guests (quietly—he
is a plush animal, after all).
Saturday was the main event. Most
people travelling from Akron only
attended Friday’s open mic and
Saturday’s BGSU festivities. The
book fair was epic—or at least
it was epic for me and Noor.
I’m sure the book fair at the
AWP Conference is a million
times more wallet-breaking, but this was a good
introduction for us. I filled a free tote bag, courtesy
of Lit Youngstown, with 25 books. I could have
picked 50, but my bank account yelled at me for
considering it.
There were two conference sessions on Friday.
Noor and I chose one about writing memoir
through meditation, which ended up being my
second favorite workshop, and one about Nonce
poetry, which was kind of weird and not as exciting
as I’d hoped.
There were four workshop sessions on Saturday.
Noor and I enjoyed writing exquisite corpse
surrealist poetry and performing a Dada poetry
piece with the rest of the attendees at the “Text/
Sound/Text/Music” workshop. Noor got a lot out of
that workshop—it was her favorite.
I went with fellow Akronite and Devil Strip
associate arts editor Noor Hindi. This was our first
writers’ conference. She drove her badass sports
car, but didn’t push the “sport” button on the
turnpike. Thank you, Noor. We got into Bowling
Green late in the evening, had a quick dinner and
missed the first two readings because we were just
too tired.
After dinner, Michael Czyzniejewski
read from his book of short stories,
“I Will Love You for the Rest of
My Life: Breakup Stories.” It was
hilarious. His story about dingdongs made me cry-laugh.
We ended the night at Grumpy
Dave’s Pub with the open
mic hosted by Akron’s own
“Rubbertop Review” in
collaboration with “Slippery
Elm.” I did my first open mic
Winter Wheat Book Fair. Photo courtesy of
M. Sophie Hamad/The Devil Strip
The most inspirational workshop for me, though,
was taught by Jennifer Moore, whose book “The
Veronica Maneuver” was just published by UA
Press for the Akron Poetry Series. (see Noor’s
write-up on page 13). Her workshop was called
“Recycling Language: Techniques for Creating
Innovative Poems from Existing Texts,” and she
taught us how to make poems using erasure and
Cento forms. I wrote a fun poem using erasure,
but most importantly I walked away with a head
full of ideas for future poems. Erasure might be my
new best poetry friend for a while. (Pictured above: M. Sophie Hamad’s erasure poem created in
Jennifer Moore’s workshop. Photo courtesy of M.
Sophie Hamad/The Devil Strip)
Tarfia Faizullah reading at BGSU.
Photo courtesy of
M. Sophie Hamad/The Devil Strip
After the workshops, I got to fangirl hard. Tarfia
Faizullah, author of “Seam,” a moving collection
of documentary poetics about Bangladeshi women
who were raped by Pakistani soldiers during the
1971 Liberation War, read some poems and signed
books. We were wearing the exact same cardigan.
I pointed that out to her after gushing about how
much I love her work, how much she has inspired
me and how I wrote an essay on one of her poems
for American Women Poets class last year. I don’t
even think that she was weirded out by any of it,
which made me love her even more.
We then attempted to attend Friday night’s after
party and poetry reading at Two Foxes Gastropub.
We stayed for the food but left at the beginning of
open mic because the feedback noise coming from
the portable amp was awful. We were exhausted
and missing Akron anyway.
I’ll definitely return to Bowling Green, but probably
not until next year’s Winter Wheat.
// M. Sophie Hamad writes poetry and is grateful to be
doing so in Akron, versus Bowling Green. NEO, represent!
DECEMBER 2015 • VOL 1 • ISSUE #16 /
THE Devil Strip |
How this unique curriculum, diverse student body and
focus on student interests make Miller South one-of-a-kind
by Mary Menzemer
The Miller South School for the Visual and
Performing Arts is a unique community where
the school colors are black and hot pink. Few, if
any, people are afraid to be themselves. In school
assistant Sharon Conner’s words, “We expect
students to be singing in the elevators and dancing
in the hallways.”
Conner gave me a tour during the school’s open
house on Nov. 5. Upon walking in the door to the
school, I was immediately greeted by a girl wearing
a huge smile and a black choker necklace who
handed me a welcome packet and was nothing
short of ecstatic at pointing me in the direction of
the main office. Her voice was clear and confident,
which impressed me.
Miller South was founded in 1993 as an arts
magnet school. When the school’s funding was in
danger because its allotted amount of time was
ending, the community rallied to continue support
for the education Miller South offers. In turn, the
visual arts, piano, drama, voice and music programs
continue to thrive, creating a bridge for students to
get involved in the Akron arts community.
Principal Dawn Wilson explained how
the school partners with Weathervane
Playhouse and the Akron Symphony
to have students perform opening
acts. Their artwork hangs in the
mayor’s office as well as at Akron
Children’s Hospital. They compete in scholastic
arts competitions at the state level, participate in
the Honor’s Band and win Thespian Awards for
Firestone Theatre.
“Our partnerships help create and synthesize
information,” Wilson says. “If [a student] is
interested in the arts, there isn’t a better place to
be,” Conner says.
At the open house, the students gave periodic
performances to show prospective kids
and their parents just what they can do.
I witnessed a jazz band performance
during which the teacher played the
saxophone along with the students.
I also witnessed a performance
given by the show choir who wore glittery outfits.
The boys and girls sang a rendition of “Ain’t No
Mountain High Enough” and danced.
As I wandered through the school, Conner
introduced me to the teachers who make it
possible for the school to function in accordance
with its high standards. Many of the teachers were
alumni themselves or even have children who are
enrolled in the school.
Technical drama teacher Robert Keith is a recent
college graduate who attended the school in 2004.
He matriculated in New York City where he was
involved with the Wall Street Theatre. He’s excited
about what he and the other teachers are able to
do at Miller South.
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“We are experiencing an entirely new generation
of art students and I wanted to be an integral part
of that change and help the students feel the same
spirit I felt here,” he says.
Physical education teacher Mark Pantea has taught
at the school for 17 years and has a daughter in
sixth grade at Miller South. He brings a vivacious
sense of humor to his classes and goes above
and beyond to ensure his students are enjoying
themselves while being active and creative.
incorporate all of their interest areas. I had them
create logos once, and I have the eighth graders
choreograph their own dance for their
final project.”
What does a typical day at Miller South look like?
The morning begins with a daily congregation,
and a few times per week there is a student
performance. This could be anything from a
student reciting a poem or something larger, such
as a mini steel drum concert.
The students have one class per day in their interest
area, or the major art concentration they choose
when auditioning for admittance to the school. This
will last for 40 minutes, and they will take the class
all year. The rest of the day is spent in academic
classrooms, but this does not mean that their arts
exposure goes away. All the teachers incorporate
the arts in some way. They are also required to
take 12 weeks of a second interest area in their
second year. Over the five years the students are at
the school, they are exposed to all interest areas in
order to cultivate a better understanding of all
art forms.
Sharon says, “There are little discipline problems
here because the students want to be here. Our
attendance rate is at 97 percent.”
After graduating Miller South, the majority
of students attend Firestone High School’s
International Baccalaureate program. The school
holds an annual fair for eighth graders so they can
see for themselves what options they have and
make informed decisions.
Miller South breaks many conventions of standard
public schools, helping students develop to their
artistic and academic potential. It’s no wonder so
many past students come back to be part of the
school’s future.
// Mary Menzemer loves so much when sriracha covers her
pizza that she gets on stage and sings about it.
“I try and play music that the students enjoy
when they’re running at the beginning of class,”
Pantea said. “I also design projects where they can
Presented by PNC Bank. For details go to
Vintage O’Neil’s Window Displays • Magical Train
Santa’s Workshop • Crafty Mart Presents Cottage Mart • Breakfast with Santa
Akron2Akron Holiday Walk • Jingle Bell Bash • Thirsty Dog Days • First Night Akron
Lock 3 also offers: • BIRTHDAY PARTY Packages • Private Rentals • Group Sales • Fundraising
Check out our website for updated events
and information or call us at 330-375-2877.
| THE Devil Strip / DECEMBER 2015 • VOL 1 • ISSUE #16
Talking horses,
enormous dolls,
friendly giants and
that special
red-eyed 20-foot snowman
‘The Story of Archie the Snowman’ explores Akron’s borderline creepy holiday attractions
by Noor Hindi • Photo courtesy of Joanna Wilson and
Whether we’re gazing at a 20-foot talking
snowman or having a conversation with a giant
Christmas tree, the holidays in Akron will never
stop being weird. But we’re not complaining.
Actually, thankfully Akron Empire co-founder
and occasional TDS contributor Joanna Wilson
has documented all of our borderline creepy
decorations in her book “The Story of Archie
the Snowman & Akron’s History of Christmas
Not only does Wilson cover the birth of Archie,
but we also learn about other strange, life-size
attractions that amazed and terrified children for
years. For example, there was Tom the Talking
Horse, a nine-foot Raggedy Ann Doll and Ray, the
Friendly Rolling Acres Giant.
Wilson writes, “Archie the Snowman may have
frightened his share of Akron’s youngsters, but
O’Neil’s Raggedy Ann traumatized quite a
few herself.”
What follows is a photo of the nine foot Raggedy
Ann, which is sure to make you laugh. Throughout
the book, Wilson talks extensively about the
competition between O’Neil’s and Polsky’s, as
well as Rolling Acres Mall, Chapel Hill Mall, and
Summit Mall, which inspired these outlandish
Christmas decorations and window displays
for years.
Wilson’s sharp and oftentimes humorous
account of Archie in the beginning of the
book is sure to get you into the holiday
spirit. It would also make a great gift
for anyone who adored the character
growing up, as well as anyone who was
(understandably) terrified of him. Wilson
herself admits to being hesitant of Archie
as a child.
Through interviews and public records, Wilson
crafts a holiday story that is unique to Akron. Many
of the people interviewed and included in the
book were individuals who dedicated hundreds of
hours to building and renovating Archie. Such a
person was Raul Umana, who insisted on changing
Archie’s eyes to blue to make him less frightening,
but Chapel Hill mall owner Richard Buchholzer
wasn’t convinced.
In the book, Umana comically states, “It’s not my
fault. I wanted blue eyes! I swear to god, I wanted
blue eyes! I even went to the point of taking a
chance on losing my job over it.”
Check out
for event information and
to purchase the book.
Conversations such as these, as well as funny
stories about the people who gave Archie his voice
will make you nostalgic as it recount Akron’s rich
holiday history.
Music Festival
Archie will be camped out at Chapel Hill Mall to
entertain shoppers this holiday season. Wilson
will also be showcasing her book throughout the
season at many locations.
üBring Guitar
üPack Camper Van
üBring AAA Card
// Noor was once terrified of Archie as a child. But since his
return to Chapel Hill Mall, she and Archie have resolved
their differences.
Hit the Road
& Rock on
“The mysterious voice from nowhere and
the flashing red eyes scared me. I never
did step up to the platform to speak with
Archie, but I never forgot him either,”
Wilson writes.
DECEMBER 2015 • VOL 1 • ISSUE #16 /
THE Devil Strip |
Thursday, January 28 • 6:30 pm • FREE
Join NEO Geo artist Kristina Paabus as she leads a tour of the museum’s collection, highlighting works that speak to her own
artistic sensibility.
Clockwise from top left: Gianna Commito, Court (detail), 2014; Erik Neff, Shoreline (detail), 2015; Natalie Lanese, Camofleur (detail), 2014; Paul O’Keeffe,
a distant silence IV (detail), 2013; Amy Sinbondit, Section Break (detail), 2011; Kristina Paabus, 3h (detail), 2012; Janice Lessman-Moss, #446 (detail), 2015;
Michelle Marie Murphy, Eyeshadow: Going Out ‘n Back Again (detail), 2012.
NEO Geo is organized by the Akron Art Museum and generously supported by Myrna Berzon, Dianne and Herbert Newman,
the Kenneth L. Calhoun Charitable Trust and Harris Stanton Gallery. Media sponsorship is provided by WKSU 89.7 and Western Reserve PBS.
One South High | Akron, OH 44308 | 330.376.9185 |
cover story >>
When being home for the holidays means working the bar
The Ballad of Ray & Mario
by Chris Horne
t’s Christmas. You’re still a kid. This is supposed to
be your day. Maybe you got some new clothes,
some new toys. You want to play. Enjoy yourself.
Hang out with some friends, snack on candy canes
or grab seconds from the family dinner. But if you
were born into the bar business like these cousins,
Ray Nemer and Mario Nemr, then Christmas is
pretty much like every other day. You work.
“When I was 14, that was my first night at the
bar—Christmas night. It was the first time I went
actually at night,” Mario says. “I was there for an
hour and within that hour, I got into the biggest
fight I've ever been in in my life. It wasn't like a
school fight where the principal is there to break
it up. My dad was trying to kick somebody out for
breaking something. Guy wouldn't leave. Typical
story. Guy wouldn't leave, comes back, brings his
friends. You've got this brawl. I got hired the next
day and I was expected to be there every weekend
night for the rest of my high school life.”
That was an extension of the kind of childhood he
and Ray had shadowing their fathers and mothers,
who ran bars in Akron, Barberton and Ellet back
when the rubber factories were still humming
along well enough to keep dives open in the
morning and stocked with drinkers coming in off
DECEMBER 2015 • VOL 1 • ISSUE #16 /
THE Devil Strip |
cover story
the third shift. They’d ride around running errands
with their dads, making deals and dealing with
“We didn't get to go anywhere,” Mario says. “If
we went to an Indians game, a painter drove us.
The janitor took us. Wasn't like we were part of
some summer camp, Boy Scouts and shit like that.”
Ray adds, “Our summer vacations were going to
the bar.”
Both sets of their parents—for Ray, Manny and
Collette, and for Mario, Fred and Barb—came to
Akron from Lebanon, which is bordered by Israel
and Syria. So the work ethic they picked up was
in reality a survival tactic for their first-generation
immigrant families.
Ray says, “It was about not letting someone else
get one up on you. You've got to outwork the
person next to you. That's how we were brought
up. That's how our parents did it. They out-hustled
and out-worked the next bar owner, or the owner
of whatever business, because that's how they
were going to make it.” He points behind the bar
and says, “To this day, if I'm back there, or my
dad's back there, you're trying to out-hustle the
22-year-old kid. My dad is 65 years old. My mom—
she's outworking a kid half her age. That's just
their mentality.”
That hustle meant being willing to do what others
wouldn’t, to go where they wouldn’t. If that means
going to the “dingiest places” in Northeast Ohio
for a deal, that’s what you do. If it means telling
the Hell’s Angels to kick rocks, you do it. Just to
get by.
“They're survivors of a different time and place
and generation. Ray and I were raised as if we
were surviving something even though we were
just regular kids. We didn't have to go that route,
but I don't think our parents knew any other way
to make sure we didn't turn out the wrong way.”
Mario says, “What's probably not normal for most
people is like perfectly normal in our family.”
He remembers going with his dad and Manny
to the kinds of places few Akronites even
knew existed.
“We'd go to these dingy-ass places and I’d be like,
‘What the hell are we doing here?’ and (find out)
we're going there just to buy straws or napkins or
something. You'd ask and they'd say, ‘It's ten bucks
cheaper.’ You learn the hustle from the time you're
a kid.”
He may have been 14—only or already, depending
on your perspective—when he started working
nights at Thursday’s, but Mario and Ray both
were in the hard-knock school of the hustle earlier
than that. No teacher, no books. Just figure it the
fuck out.
“Everything you did, you just learned on the
fly. You know, they'd throw you in the fire and
boom, go to work,” Ray says. “As a kid, without
even knowing you learned it, you learned it. As a
10-year-old, you’re watching people make drinks,
but all of a sudden when you got thrown into it,
you're like, ‘Oh, I've seen this before.’”
And they taught each other. Mario had watched
his sister DJ for Thursday’s several times, picking up
what he needed to do, which eventually came in
handy after their regular Saturday guy quit on
a whim.
“I had a Chuck Taylor box of some CDs and some
records, and that was it—you're hired.”
That’s a tough way to grow up, and their parents
were tough bosses to boot. So of course, they’d
split that scene as soon as the opportunity arose,
right? In their own ways, each tried. Mario went
into sales. Ray worked in a bank. They both spent
their days in an office. It wasn’t because they
needed the money either.
“Even when we had jobs, whatever time you're
not at your job or at school, you're expected to be
at the business, helping—and you're never doing
anything right. It's not like our parents trusted us.
We just got yelled at the whole time,” Mario says.
Ray says, “I worked for a Fortune 500 company, in
a bank, and it's the same for Mario—you worked in
an office—one thing that made us what we are too
is we had like three different schools of thought.
You had what you learned in college, what you
learned in the hustle school and what you learned
in corporate America.”
Fred got sick in 2000 and needed Barb to take care
of him, so Mario picked up every shift he could
until his dad passed away in 2004.
Mario’s wife, Tiffany, who is sort of the “mini-HR/
fill-in-for-the-kitchen/make deliveries” for the
business, says, “These guys would work at the
bar—both of them—and we'd pass each other
driving home and then they'd both wake up at 7
o' clock in the morning and go to work until 5 pm
at their office jobs. Sometimes during lunch breaks
he'd go set-up for bands and then go back to work
and then come back at 6 pm to run the band.”
He and Tiffany have two young kids, and so there’s
another generation coming up in what has become
the family business. They follow their folks around,
running errands and working with customers.
“My son knows how to run the register,” Tiffany
says. She adds that they spend a lot of time with
Ray a couple doors up the block, too.
“They want to play the bowling game,” he laughs.
Then the other day, Ray witnessed a familiar sight.
The kids were helping Mario and Tiffany set up for
a band coming in later that night.
“It was the cutest thing you'd ever see.”
So did Mario’s parents and Ray’s parents want them
go into the bar business?
“No, they didn't want us to do this,” Mario says.
“I think Manny still thinks Ray is going to be
a lawyer.”
Laughing, Ray admits, “He still wants me to go to
law school.”
Eventually, they both gave in to what seems to
be in their blood. Mario bought Matinee in 2006
and Ray bought the former Bucket Shop in 2007,
turning it into Ray’s Pub. Even considering how
much they knew about the business, the significant
leg up they had going in, it was tough work. Not
just because of the regular demands you might
expect but also because… well, they had to hide
their successes.
“Basically had to give up the other life at the bank
and concentrate on this. But you're still doing a
juggling act because you're between here and your
parents' place so you're trying to appease both
Why did the
cross the road?
Ray and Mario are on schedule to move their
Highland Square businesses into new digs
next Spring, relocating Capri, Matinee,
Mr. Zub’s and Ray’s Place to the complex
they’ve been building for the last couple of
years. They have some big plans for each,
but we’ll save that update for an issue when
we get closer to the move. For now, they say
they’re excited about the upgrade and think
their customers will be too.
Mario says, “You don't want to tell your parents
that you were busy the night before because they'll
think we're actually competing with them. It's like
in 'Goodfellas' when Ray Liotta is selling crack on
the side and not cutting in the mob.”
| THE Devil Strip / DECEMBER 2015 • VOL 1 • ISSUE #16
Photos courtes
y of West Point
“ doesn’t just involve us, it involves employees, customers and vendors, especially for
a company that’s been in business 80 years. We realized we needed to change and it
was a good time to segue into a new West Point, for us to look at it differently. Instead
of just one location, build another location in Akron and outside of the city. This gives a
great opportunity to do that. And we were also worried about the employees and their
needs. We’ve cooperated with Mustard Seed Market and Acme for career paths in those two
stores into making proposals with our employees. Goodwill Industries has helped with résumé
building. We also gave our employees incentives to stay until December. We can’t do it without
them, meaning 'you helped to make us, so please stay with us.' So I believe they’re comfortable
with that now and the customers are too.” — Rick Vernon, CEO of West Point Market
With the Fairlawn flagship location set to close, making way for a Whole Foods, CEO Rick
Vernon reflected on West Point's 80-year history in an extensive interview with writer Christopher
Morrison, which you can find online at with several photos from the store's
storied evolution.
Elegantly Casual
Dining featuring
Modern Twists on
Your Favorite
Comfort Foods and
Classic Cocktails
1682 W. Market St
at Westgate Plaza
in Akron
Open 7 days a week
An Akron eatery nine years in the making opens downtown
by Andrew Leask
When Mary Hospodarsky graduated from high
school in 2001, she, like many of her classmates,
wanted nothing more than to get out of Akron.
“There wasn’t much going on downtown,” she
recalls. “And everyone said, ‘We need to get out of
here. There’s nothing to do.’”
That year, Hospodarsky left town to attend college.
But when she returned to Akron two years later,
she came to a realization. “It dawned on me
that the reason there’s nothing down here is that
people like me won’t take the initiative to bring
something down here.”
On December 1, Hospodarsky’s company, Sweet
Mary’s Bakery, opened its first retail location at 76
East Mill Street in Greystone Hall across from the
John S. Knight Center.
Her business, like her food, was made from
scratch. Though she has always loved to cook,
Hospodarsky has no formal training as a baker.
“Google and YouTube were my culinary school,”
she says. “And my mom.”
Indeed, she traces her passion for baking to her
childhood. “We didn’t have a lot of money
(continued on page 22)
Photos courtesy of Svetla Morrison
Akron’s Home
of the All Day
featuring a
Bloody Mary
Menu, Mimosas
and much more...
1688 W. Market St
at Westgate Plaza
in Akron
Open 7 days a week
The Lady
withthe Cupcakes
and the Mixer that Changed her Life
by Shelby Heitzenrater
After baking thousands of cupcakes Lori
Campbell knows a thing or two about
making the perfect batch, including
what not to do.
“Don’t ever put candy corn on
buttercream,” she jokes. Why?
Overnight they will melt, and by
morning your well-crafted frosting
will be a glop of festive mess.
If you frequent Angel Falls in
Highland Square, you know Lori’s
delicious cupcakes. She’s been
baking them for the small-town coffee shop
for the past seven years.
It all started when she made batches of 300 for
charity bake sales at the nearby Walgreen’s. Lori
had received a new mixer and was eager to break
it in.
“I realized I can make anything I want. It’s cool
when you have a nice mixer. It changed my life.”
Glad I finally made it!
(October 12, 2015 - OpenTable)
"I had been hearing great things about Nuevo around town... ...The expansive menus offered
something for everyone and what we received did not disappoint! We tried a 'middle-ofthe-road' tequila flight which was a great way to try several new flavors and then we each
settled in to a drink that was more familiar but not what exists everywhere else. I would say
that the food options were named traditionally, but allowed us to sample flavors not only
from Mexico, but Spain, Central American, and South American countries as well. This place
definitely added a flare to the typical 'Mexican' experience, and I will be sure to return!"
54 East Mill St. Akron 44308
(330) 762-8000
Hours: M-Th 11-10, F 11-11, Sat 3-11
The word of Lori’s delicious creations quickly made
its way down the street to owner of Angel Falls.
During one of her daily stops for coffee, Lori was
asked, “Do you make cupcakes? Do you want to
make them for me?” She said yes, and the rest is
sweet, sweet history.
Lori finds baking to be relaxing and likes that she
can use it as a creative outlet. Her recipes
are a contemplation of ideas. Sometimes she
just experiments; other times she uses her huge
collection of cookbooks, tweaking recipes to her
liking, trying to make cupcakes out of desserts that
have never seen the cupcake form.
Her most popular cupcakes are chocolate
cheesecake and the different variations of coffee
cake. Her personal favorite? Key lime pie-flavored
cupcake, with a twist. The traditional summer treat
fares better in cooler temperatures, so she made it
a winter staple — but with a summer theme.
“I use cream cheese frosting and a graham cracker
crust, and I put a little umbrella on it and — it
looks like the beach.”
She’s not usually into the flair — but, as most
Ohioans know, a reminder of summer in the
cold winter months is more than welcome.
Lori isn’t surprised that desserts are a staple in
the relaxing, sought-out vibe of a coffee shop.
They remind people of home and childhood.
“People think, ‘My grandma made that.’
When I make those pumpkin ones people
say, ‘It’s like thanksgiving!’”
“Hmmm,” she ponders, “I might make
those tonight.”
The Wanderer
Nepali Kitchen
words and pictures by Holly Brown
Every so often I get an exclusive tip-off, a secret
whispered hint from some blessed soul, from
someone who knows not only of my love of fine
foods, but also (perhaps more so) that I am, in fact,
the Wanderer of this very column. These tidbits
point me in new, uncertain directions, giving me an
exclusive look at the deliciously rich underbelly that
is the Akron culinary culture.
Nepali Kitchen was something I heard about in
passing conversation for months. Every couple of
weeks or so, someone would ask me about Nepali
Kitchen. Soon enough, I was lusting after this
restaurant and the soon-to-be-had meal there. I
named dropped the place in everyday conversation
if only to feel closer to actually having gone. At
the beginning of a particularly gloomy week in
November at the onset of daylight savings time, I
put my foot down. Nepali Kitchen had to happen
and it had to happen now.
I rallied my faithful troop—Ryan, my boyfriend/
roommate/fellow food adventurer and Maya, my
friend/work-wife/guide to all things Akron—who
were often in my company when asked about
said restaurant. This dining experience felt like
a mission, a call-to-arms, or forks as it were.
I was fidgety on the drive over and couldn’t
stop bouncing in my seat. The excitement was
We were immediately greeted by the smell of
rich spices. On a flatscreen at the back of the
restaurant, a series of Nepalese music videos
played. Perhaps it was the spices, or the fact that
each and every Nepalese song bounced with
happiness, or perhaps it was the anticipation, but I
was giddy the minute I sat down at Nepali Kitchen.
But I could not, for the life of me, decide on
anything. I clung to one remembered bit of advice
to fish me from that ocean of uncertainty: get the
mixed platter appetizer. We also ordered three
lassis (two mango-, one strawberry-flavored drinks),
which arrived in bright yellow-orange and pink,
tasting like a yogurt-y smoothie—not too thick, not
too rich and the perfect palate cleanser for what
we were about to launch into.
As if by magic, a basket of flaky, fried goodness
appeared—and then disappeared almost as fast.
We split everything three ways, not quite certain
what anything was and not wanting anyone to
miss out on something spectacular. There were four
kinds of pakora, which are like fritters of various
sizes: vegetable, onion, chicken and paneer, which
is a kind of homemade cheese. The sampler also
came with one vegetable samosa, a pastry stuffed
with peas and potatoes.
Though fried, each is light and crispy, instead of
leaving you with that lead-in-the-stomach feeling
common to other fried foods I love. Each filling had
such a distinctly different texture and assortment
of spices working within it that each fritter tasted
immensely different from the ones before. There
was no sogging-of-grease or masking-with-batter
taste. Rather, the fried crust seemed to heighten
what was contained within. While dividing samples
(continued on page 22)
(continued from page 19)
growing up. So for Christmas, a lot of extended
family—aunts and uncles—they would get
Christmas cookies.”
Hospodarsky estimates that she, together with her
mother and two sisters, would bake more than a
thousand frosted sugar cookies every Christmas.
Hospodarsky developed a keen business sense at a
young age. By the time she was 10, she was selling
homemade cookies from a stand in front of her
house. “I figured out around that age, too, that if I
used coupons, I could buy popsicles and ice cream
sandwiches at Marc’s, and then I could sell them
for twice what I paid for them and they would still
be less than what the popsicle man was selling
them for,” she says.
That enterprising spirit, combined with her talent in
the kitchen, has served Hospodarsky well. In 2006,
she started Sweet Mary’s Bakery, Ltd. For the past
nine years, she has diligently built her business,
selling freshly made baked goods to appreciative
Akronites. This year, Sweet Mary’s Bakery was
voted into the top five on the Akron-Canton Hotlist
for best wedding cakes.
baked goods.
Most importantly, Hospodarsky is devoted to
ensuring the quality of the food she makes. “I
want there to be that hands-on experience,” she
says, “because that’s where I feel the quality comes
from: the attention to detail and the personal
She, along with a small staff that includes her
mother, works in the bakery every day. “When
people get things here, they’ll know that we’ve
made it. We started with flour and sugar and
butter, and we made it into that. Fresh. ...My
religion is baking from scratch, and there’s a purity
to it that’s really refreshing and satisfying.”
// Andrew Leask, a recent newcomer to Akron, grew
778 North Main Street
Akron, Ohio 44310
Also visit us at The Office Bistro & Bar - 1846 Front St. Cuyahoga Falls, OH
This month, after a couple false starts, Sweet
Mary’s finally has a retail storefront. Open from
7 am to 2 pm on most days, the bakery serves
cookies, cakes, pies and other baked goods,
including “sammiches,” portable meals made by
baking sandwich fillings inside Sweet Mary’s dinner
roll dough.
As a native Akron business owner, Hospodarsky is
committed to supporting other local businesses.
Sweet Mary’s Bakery sells Akron Honey, coffee from
Bent Tree Coffee Roasters, drinks from NORKA and
focuses on using locally-sourced ingredients in its
(continued from page 21)
and passing them across plates, we lost track of
which pastry was filled with what. I was unable
to predict what was to come and had to rely on
my senses of taste and smell to teach me what lay
inside, which was a great experience.
The time had finally come for a decision. Though I
am always allowed and encouraged to share food
with my cohorts, I place a lot of pressure on my
own meal choice, and this was perhaps the most
pressure I had felt in a while to choose carefully. I
finally settled on lamb curry while also getting an
order of Bhatura (crispy layered fried bread) for the
table. Spoiler alert: I could have eaten that whole
basket by myself.
up in tropical Bayamón, Puerto Rico. He awaits his first
Northeast Ohio winter with growing unease.
76 E. Mill Street, Akron
Open: M-F 7 am to 2 pm; SAT 10 am to 3 pm
My curry arrived alongside mutton chow mien
(noodles, veggies, spices, and savory sauce) and
chicken matar (curry with peas). My nose tingled
when I inhaled. I could feel the layering of spices,
the spiciness of the food. When I took that first
bite, I was flooded with such earthy flavor. The
curry was spicy but grounded, the temperature
served to make the flavor more intense rather than
mask it. It tasted real, like it was carefully crafted
with consideration on every ingredient. The rice
was thinner, more al-dente than the sticky rices of
my past, and balanced the thick sauce and the rich
lamb perfectly.
When my fullness forced me to bring home
leftovers, they were so good I ate them cold, right
out of the styrofoam carton, because I literally
couldn’t wait to head them up. I think it’s safe to
say Misson: Nepali Kitchen was a rousing success.
Nepali Kitchen
399 Cuyahoga Falls Ave
Akron, Ohio
Monday - Closed
Sun/Tues-Thurs: 11am-9pm
Fri-Sat: 11am-9:30pm
Previous page: mixed platter flanked by lassis;
pictured left curry two ways and chow mien
// Holly Brown loves writing, mostly poems and about
food. Maybe she should write more poems about food.
community and culture
A Holiday Heist of Feast and Film
Kevin Spacey and Denis Leary in an unusual Christmas movie
by Chris Kessinger, The Film Freak (
“The Ref” (1994)
Everyone has their own choices that they watch
every holiday season. For me, the one that always
puts me in a joyous mood is the one that exploits
the real negatives of Christmas, "The Ref."
Directed by Ted Demme (“That Thing You Do”),
“The Ref” is a dark comedy starring Denis Leary
as cat burglar Gus. On the heels of an already
bad break-in on Christmas Eve, Gus finds himself
caught in the middle of bickering by married
couple Caroline and Lloyd (Judy Davis and Kevin
Spacey), who are on the brink of divorce.
What follows is a cynical, yet viciously funny
anti-holiday film that will offer a reflection on
tired traditional families.
There is so much to be commended about
Demme's portrait of an American family. Everything
feels authentically rich and original in tone for
the genre decades before films like these were
released annually. Despite a hardened criminal in
Gus, Leary’s brilliant comedic timing and quickwitted dialogue makes him the unexpected main
protagonist in this slapstick film. (Think if "Home
Alone" grew up to be a home invasion/kidnapping
story, but still held on to it's childish tone.)
It might be tough for many people to classify
this as a Christmas film, but the homages to the
holiday film pantheon is certainly there, most
notably as "It's A Wonderful Life" shows on the TV
throughout the film, giving it a kind of soft-hearted
domesticity underneath its superficially shallow
The stellar work of the ensemble cast of Hollywood
veterans will leave you gut-busting with laughter
in your seat. A young Spacey commands attention
with his soft-to-loud anger growing louder and
louder with each scene. The chemistry between
he and Davis makes the audience root for their
reconciliation despite how tired we grow of their
bickering. The awkward laughs get raised a notch
when 71-year-old Glynis Johns joins the fun as
Spacey's rudely overbearing mother. There's a real
rivalry between her and Davis, and it supplies a lot
of the honest tension of family gatherings with
one-up responses that will put your jaw on the
Shogun Japanese Steakhouse
Need a cure from the harsh and unforgiving
winter weather of Akron? (Albeit less harsh and
unforgiving than most winters thus far.) Warm up
by the fire as you enjoy the Asian cuisine at Shogun
Steakhouse in the ever-developing area of South
Akron. This one-of-a-kind dining experience will
tingle your taste buds with delight while offering
a cooking presentation unmatched by most. The
restaurant offers everything from filet mignon
steaks to chicken and shrimp combos to a wide
variety of house sushis that will have you planning
future trips to taste the many fresh flavors.
Shogun’s well-stocked bar houses some of
the best in domestic and imported tastes.
Shogun is open for lunch or dinner, but the hours
are different for each day. Be sure to plan ahead.
Shogun Japanese Steakhouse
2863 South Arlington Road
Akron, Ohio, 44312
You can find more of
The Film Freak's reviews at
Film Freak recommends:
I can safely say all of my readers must try
the Steak and Shrimp Combo. It's the
perfect combination of surf and turf,
made even more irresistible by the hearty
portions. I was also treated to a side
helping of scallops, in which my butter
drizzled down the sensuous texture of
some of the best shellfish I've ever tried.
Shot in Canada, critically acclaimed film subtly set in Akron
What makes this movie worth seeing isn’t the
location. In fact, Akron has been unusually cast
It’s a little weird ‘Room’ hasn’t played in Akron
as the setting. It’s unusual because the book,
yet. After all, it was set here.
whose author Emma Donoghue also penned
the screenplay, doesn’t name a location and the
The movie, adapted from an acclaimed novel of
way it plays out, there’s no real reason to name it
the same name, won the audience award at the
Akron in the film either. And yet, the filmmakers
Toronto Film Festival, not far from where it was
seemingly went out of their way to do so, even if
shot, and is already playing in Cleveland but won’t only subtly. There’s no explanation for why Akron,
screen in Akron until it opens December 11 at
inside or outside of the movie.
The Nightlight.
Though the police cars don’t resemble our own,
Like the novel, the movie tells the story through
each has “Akron Metro Police” on the sides.
the perspective of Jack (Jacob Tremblay), who is
Other cars carry Ohio tags, and it’s gray enough to
just turning five, having never left the inside of
feel like NEO, even without identifiable markers.
a small shed where his mother, Ma (Brie Larson),
But then there are the beams coming through the
has been held captive for seven years. He doesn’t skylight in the titular room. Set designers told the
realize he’s been held captive, nor that there’s
New York Times they used computer modeling to
a world outside those walls. Still, he becomes
get the right direction of the light for a northresponsible for securing their freedom in a
facing building in Akron at certain points in
harrowing escape sequence.
the day.
All that work and it might as well have been
Acorn, Ohio, which isn’t a problem if you
like good films. The location is no more than
a curiosity for those who recognize what it’s
supposed to be.
Here’s what our resident movie critic, Chris
Kessinger, wrote about “Room,” which he gave
a 10 (out of a possible 10). His full review can be
read at
about for the first time. It makes for some of
the very best moments of a two-hour thoughtprovoker. ...One thing that greatly pleased me
was how this film didn’t fall into the clutches of
a made for Lifetime Television movie. Ma finds
out quickly that even though the two have left
the room physically, they may never leave the
room psychologically.”
“Larson gives the performance of her young
career, and this movie showed a side dramatically
of her that I’ve never seen before. The relationship
between Larson and Tremblay feels natural in
its simplicity, but made complex in in the many
layers of a story peeled back slowly one layer at
a time. ...While this isn’t Tremblay’s first feature
film, this is quite the coming out party for the
boy wonder... It’s quite spellbinding to see [Jack]
discover things that he hasn’t even dreamed
DECEMBER 2015 • VOL 1 • ISSUE #16 /
THE Devil Strip |
Music and entertainment >>
Photos courtesy of Paul Hoffman
915 Home Ave., Akron • 330-633-7223
Open: Monday- Friday 10 am - 7 pm; Saturday 10 am - 5 pm
Singing for
the cruelest teacher
How a brutal, traumatic stretch in his life
led Michael Black to the stage
by Brittany Nader
Two days after Christmas in 2013, Michael Black
was in tears on a hospital bed at Akron General,
where he also worked. His head had been cut open
to surgically remove a tumor the size of a ping
pong ball from his right temporal lobe.
Things in his life actually got worse after that.
Voted #1 Best Irish Pub
Thursday, Dec. 31 • Celtic New Years Eve
with Akron Ceili Band (9 pm)
Scottish Airing at midnight, Pork & Sauerkraut Dinner at midnight
Visit for more December events
Live music. Great martinis. Private parties.
1503 Kenmore Blvd., Akron, Ohio • 330-745-5493
| THE Devil Strip / DECEMBER 2015 • VOL 1 • ISSUE #16
One month after Black successfully underwent
surgery, his best friend died from a heroin
overdose. Around that time, after being together
for eight years, he and his daughter’s mother
parted ways.
Black still bears the scars of his experiences – one
running vividly alongside his head as a result of
his brain surgery – but he’s inspired by them, not
defeated. A spirited and intuitive individual, he
used this dark chapter in his life as inspiration
for creating something new. After moving out of
the home he and his partner shared, he began
channeling these moments in his life –
his hurt, his strength and resilience – into music.
“I never learned to play instruments or really
read music, but I sang in chamber choirs,”
Black says. “I knew I had the vocal talent, but I
was still learning.”
By some twist of fate, Black ran into a producer
during his shift at Akron General when the beatmaker heard him belting out tunes throughout
the hospital. The two got in touch and soon were
building a catalog of songs inspired equally by
Black’s heartache and his fortitude.
Thinking about overarching concepts that had
defined a significant part of his life – pain, agony,
trust, desire, fantasy, fighting, connection – he put
pen to paper, crafting a five-song EP titled “The
Succession.” It takes the listener on a journey
through a connection between two individuals,
echoing the stages of Black’s former relationship.
There are songs about lust and seduction, followed
by more serious tunes that embody the feelings
of settling down and planning a future. Then,
heartbreaking tracks that capture the moments
when it all falls apart.
“’Shame On You’ is about coming back from the
dead, still being hurt by it, still having that
(continued on page 27)
community and culture
Heavy Instruments and Rare Grooves
The hidden history of Akron’s Soul Toronadoes
by DJ El-Prezidente, as told to Roger Riddle
the band's name with no compensation to
him or his fellow band members. When I
finally got Heller on the phone, the story of
these unsung Akron musical heroes began to
unfold. Then one day I found myself sitting
with three of the members of the band and
listening to their story first hand.
If you do a Google search for “Hammond B-3
funk,” nestled among the names of the great
jazz artists and groups known for playing
the heavy instruments — in both weight and
sound — you will find mentions of Akron's
Soul Toronadoes. The band released a string
of 7-inch singles during the ‘70s that went
overlooked at the time by record buyers but
have since captured the attention of today's
rare groove collectors.
I am one of those collectors. Always on the
hunt for something out of the ordinary to
play when I DJ, I happened upon one of
those singles. Scanning the label, I noticed
the address listed for the record company was
nearby in Ohio. Then I began searching for a
contact to see if there were any other records
they may have had. That search led me right
Wine Bar - in homage to this little known
back to Akron.
funk outfit. Then one day, I caught up with
the band thanks to YouTube.
When I realized the band I had run across
was based out of Akron, I originally named
my funk and soul DJ night, “the Mighty Soul The band’s leader, Bobby Heller, was posting
videos and commenting on posts that
Toronadoes Night” - now called the Mighty
Soul Night, a monthly event held at Uncorked featured the band’s songs. Because my night
Photo courtesy of Paul Hoffman
was called the Mighty Soul Toronadoes
Night, Heller thought I was in a band that
was illegally using their name and playing
their music. When I explained that I was just
DJing and playing their records, Heller noted
that recently people had begun to sample
their work, cover their songs and even use
“And that changed me forever because his
band was off the hook,” Bobby says.
(continued on page 28)
Akron's Hottest Showplace! Concert Series
DECEMBER 18 - 20
During the ‘70s, the band was comprised of
Bobby Heller on organ, his brother Charles
Heller on drums, Bruce Martin on bass and
James “Boots” Smith on guitar. However,
their introduction to the music business
came during the early ‘60s when the Heller
brothers took the stage at Akron's night clubs
as a dance duo while still in their pre-teens.
Booked as the “Twisting Twins” — even
though the brothers were not actually twins
— Charles Heller became known for a dance
style that rivaled the moves of his idol James
Brown. In 1962, the brothers got a chance to
see Brown live.
Peter Noone's "An Olde
English Christmas"
Herman's Hermits
New Year's Eve Dance Party
with Akron's retro 80's funk band, "Get On Up"
Deluxe Bar from 8pm to midnight
Appetizer buffet from 8pm to 10pm
Music from 9pm to 1am
With a champagne toast, balloon drop, hats,
noisemakers and much more
Call 330-376-7171 for Details
Smooth jazz artist,
Maysa and her Jazz
Funk Orchestra
Jazz saxophonist
Gerald Albright, a romantic
Valentine's weekend treat.
Call to find out about the
Sweetheart Special
532 W. Market Street • Akron, Ohio • (330) 376-7171 •
DECEMBER 2015 • VOL 1 • ISSUE #16 /
THE Devil Strip |
music and entertainment
Saturday, 12/5 • 9pm – Midnight
AKJ Jazz Trio – Jazz
Sunday, 12/6 • 12-4pm
DJ Ben Fulkman –
Funky, Soulful Beats
Friday, 12/11 • 9pm – Midnight
The Night Travelers –
Virtuoso Banjo & Stand up Bass
Saturday, 12/12 • 9pm – Midnight
Sausalito –
Jazz/ R&B Band with Vocals
Friday, 12/18 • 9pm – Midnight
DJ Naeno –
Electronic Dance Party!
Saturday, 12/19 • 9pm – Midnight
The Frankie Starr Band – Blues
Sunday, 12/20 • 12 – 4pm
DJ Ben Fulkman –
Funky, Soulful Beats
Saturday, 12/26 • 8:30 – 11:30pm
Jazz Shepherds –
Christmas Jazz Music
Sunday, 12/27 • 1 – 4pm
Boy=Girl – Americana
Sunday, 12/13 • 12 – 3pm
Wood Choppers Ball musicians –
World-Class Guitar!
*All conc EE!
867 West Market Street Akron, Ohio 44303 • 330-434-7333
Blazing trails with John Dante and The Inferno
by Brittany Nader
Stepping into one of John
Dante’s rock shows is like
walking into a psychedelic
inferno where the band’s
frontman could shape
shift at any moment.
One may expect to see a
cosmonaut descending
from a faraway galaxy,
and instead be greeted
with a Funky Frankenstein
character, or a kinky
ape, or perhaps Beat
Farm Bob, the operator
of a deep space farm,
mining “backing music
for the boring and
oppressive Electronic
Music Federation.” As a
self-proclaimed inter-dimensional traveler, many
personalities live in Dante’s head, liberating human
consciousness with otherworldly grooves.
Dante has taken his bandmates on adventures
spanning through time and space, his companions
evolving over the years since the musical group’s
inception around the year 2008. What began as a
blues-based jam band has grown into a multiheaded beast, something indefinable but always
of the utmost intrigue. Dante’s musical upbringing
could be considered fairly normal, the lifelong
guitarist picking up saxophone and piano early
on, while engaging in extracurricular activities,
like choir, in middle school. Deciding guitar was
a “cooler” hobby to get into by his late teens,
he plucked around on the axe with his father,
following along to his melodies and leads.
Years passed and brought the sonic traveler
around Akron where he could showcase his skills
and formal training on stages like the infamous
Vortex. It was here that Dante waxes poetic about
drunken nights spent amidst the outdated décor
of the venue, tucked in between porno shops and
strip clubs where a myriad of characters was sure
to stumble through and, perhaps, inspire some of
the inventive and eccentric personalities he adopts
on stage.
The seasons they are a'changin'
so come to the pub to
watch the Cavs and
enjoy one of our ice cold beers.
Musically, Dante’s sound is influenced by
the heavy, progressive sounds he’s loved
for years, with sprinklings of horror and
sci-fi movies, deep fantasy worlds, and
even love, woven in. Anything that
is engrossing and beautiful, he says,
can have a hand in the type of art he
creates. Pushing the limits of the viewer
and listener has always intrigued him,
encouraging him to think beyond the
boundaries of what is possible. His
music, he says, is like a rollercoaster,
the excitement building with each
slow uphill click, then taking the
audience completely of the rails once
they’ve reached the
top. The listener feels as
though they have been
shot into outer space
before descending back
into an uncertain safety.
“Then it drops you
back off where you
started, and you are
left back on earth,
like, wondering how
you got there,” Dante
says. “The live show
is very intense, and at
any moment it can get
really heavy or really
Photo courtesy of Shane Wynn
Multiple lineups have made up the force that is
John Dante and The Inferno, and the front man
says he’s always searching for likeminded musicians
who share the same goals and can push the project
into new directions. He hopes to expand the scifi-meets-horror concept and craft additional tunes
that incorporate these genres, as well as introduce
film to the project that will help The Inferno tell the
story visually as well. Dante and his companions
recorded a self-titled album this year and are in the
stages of finalizing several big shows in the Akron
area. The year 2016 will bring new adventures in
our own backyard and through many metaphorical
galaxies and alternate planes depending on where
the music takes us. Dante stresses that, while
conceptual in some ways, he and his band dedicate
their energy to delivering an honest, original and
raw performance every night they hit the stage.
“I think rock ‘n’ roll should be a little dangerous
and make your palms sweat and your hair stand
on end,” he says. “We are really injecting some of
that fun, exciting energy back into the scene, and
people really dig it.
John Dante and The Inferno “keeps the mothership
active” at and
JohnDanteAndTheInferno. The group’s spooky,
spacey tunes can also be heard at Soundcloud.
Friday, 12/4 • 9 – Midnight
Local Music – TBA!
y of Brittany Na
Live Music Schedule
Photo courtes
music and entertainment
(continued from page 24)
coffee, looking to make the kind of music that can
make me cry.”
self-destructive behavior,” Black says. “But you’re
moving on and you’re out doing things. You’re not
sobbing on the ground. You’re moving on.”
Being in the studio and putting these words and
melodies to a beat was a very different experience
from singing songs at work
It’s been two years since
or late nights at home.
Black’s brain surgery, the
Progressing from a live
loss of his relationship and
performer into a studio
the passing of his friend.
setting was frustrating,
He says those experiences
he says, but an incredible
were a huge turning point,
learning experience. He
and his new collection of
used Soundcloud to record
songs will show his growth
and track his growth as
not only as an artist, but as
a studio singer, evolving
a human being. On Dec.
to make his voice and
27, the anniversary of his
words more about feeling
surgery, Black will release
than forcing a barrage of
“The Succession” for free.
notes into the listener’s
The recording, he says,
ear. The EP will feature
shows how his songwriting
a more diverse range of
has changed over the
instrumentation, and each
- Unknown
last year or so, as he has
song evokes a different
become more attuned to
tone or idea than the
listening to the melodic intricacies of artists like The others. Yet, they are connected by the connective
Weeknd, Miguel and doo-wop greats.
themes that defined those intense four months of
Black’s life and where he is today.
“I’m exploring new ways to use the lyrics I’ve
written,” he says. “I’ll change words that don’t
“Dec. 27 is like my birthday,” Black says. “Life is
stab you hard enough in the heart. I’d catch myself like... my life before and after the surgery. That
writing from 9 pm to 6 am with a cup of
was a huge turning point. What I’m
experiencing now is a whirlwind, a new
way of life, writing and being a father.”
“Experience is the
cruelest teacher.
It gives the test,
and then it gives
the lesson.”
After the release of “The Succession,”
Black says he plans to drop a mixtape
and full-length album next year
featuring collaborations with several
local rappers. Until then, the EP is like
an aural diary drawing listeners into the
darkest, most intimate and infinitely
triumphant moments in this musician’s
life. A sneak peek of Black’s new
music can be heard on his Instagram
page, @mblack330, and both
physical and digital copies of the EP
will be available to listeners on that
pivotal day, Dec. 27.
In the Crowd
Getting to know Scottish singer-songwriter
Natalie Clark, who recently performed
at Akron Civic Theatre
by MacKenzie Mehrl
Natalie Clark, a Scottish singer-songwriter full of
laughter and light, recently moved to the U.S.
to pursue her new career as an artist. During
the first few months of following her dream in
London, she was running low on money and
worse, on determination. That’s when she found
herself back in Glasgow at an industry session
with Virgin Records founder Richard Branson
and BBC/Radio 1 show host Nick Grimshaw
where she had an encounter that would change
her career. During the Q&A, Clark was chosen to
ask Branson a question.
She wanted to know if he ever felt fear when
beginning a new project. If a man like Branson
felt fear, she reasoned, Clark could feel more
at ease about her own worries. He turned the
question around on her and invited her up on
stage, which led to an impromptu performance
of her song “Weakness.”
That experience gave Clark a sense of newfound
confidence, which helped her make the leap and
move to Los Angeles. Since then, she has toured
the U.S. for the past year and released an EP,
“Eagles,” available now to the public. Currently,
she’s opening for Indigo Girls on their current
tour. When the band played at the Akron Civic
Theatre, Clark even came out and joined Indigo
Girls during their performance that evening and
sang her song “Weakness.”
The ambiance of the room was warm and
comforting, like sitting around a campfire at
a lodge party with your closest friends. With
a soulful voice and strong vibrato, Clark’s
unique sound makes you stop in your tracks.
Her self-written songs are full of uplifting and
positive themes, which instantly connect with
the listener. Accordingly, he crowd’s reaction to
Clark was incredible to witness.
Natalie Clark’s music is available on iTunes or
through her website
DECEMBER 2015 • VOL 1 • ISSUE #16 /
THE Devil Strip |
music & entertainment
(continued from page 25)
The brothers became serious about playing
music as opposed to just dancing to it. They
wanted to form a band, and they wanted to
own everything they saw on stage. Charles
had his eye on the Ludwig drum set played
by Brown's drummer. Bobby wanted the B-3
Hammond organ.
On the
Johnny and The Apple
Stompers Debut New EP,
‘Far From The Tree’
By Brittany Nader
Over the past five years, Johnny and the Apple
Stompers have established themselves as local
favorites, marrying honkytonk, country and
bluegrass with old-time blues and jazz, the
result of which sends listeners back in time
while reflecting enduring themes of heartache,
loneliness, drunkenness and rambling through
the countryside.
Back with their first recording since 2013’s
“Prison Bound,” local musicians present their
unique style of hillbilly music from the heartland
to the Northeast Ohio community. The band
will debut its latest EP, “Far From The Tree,”
Nov. 27 at a special event taking place at Stone
Tavern in Kent. The free Black Friday celebration
will include live performances from Shady Daze
and Ohio Joe and the Continental Drifters, in
addition to a screening of the film “Happy Hour
Holocaust.” Copies of the EP will be available
for purchase at the event, beginning at 9 p.m.
Formed in 2010 as a skiffle band playing on
the streets in Akron, Kent and Cuyahoga Falls,
the Apple Stompers have evolved their sound
though years of playing at bars, weddings,
festivals, retirement homes and flea markets.
This past year, the musicians have shared the
stage at Akron hotspots like Annabell’s and
Musica with celebrated acts like Wayne “The
Train” Hancock, Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn
Band and The Legendary Shack Shakers.
Led by Northeast Ohio locals Johnny Miller and
Cory Grinder, the band is a tribute to classic
country influences like Hank Williams, Roger
Miller and Willie Nelson. Miller’s inspired and
original songwriting, bright acoustic picking
and lonesome voice are paired with Grinder’s
high harmonies and skilled fiddle playing. With
the addition of members from brother bands
Rodney and the Regulars (Rodney Dewalt,
Stephen Karney and Richard DeWalt) and Fast
Molasses (Jason Willis, Shawn Wee and Steve
Gill), pedal steel, upright bass, banjos and more
flesh out the sound, resulting in a versatile,
multifaceted live experience.
“I already had an organ, a Thomas organ,”
Bobby remembers. “When I went down
there and saw James Brown, he had a B3
Hammond. I went home talking about that. 'I
want me a B3!'”
The hunt for the Hammond organ led them
to Reynolds’ Music Shop in Akron. Bobby's
mom, Lulune Heller, who played an intricate
part in the development of the band by
taking on the role of manager, spoke with
owner Frankie Reynolds about acquiring a B3
for her son. When he remarked that he had
just the organ for them, Lulune flatly stated
that she didn't want a new organ. She was
in the market for a used one. Reynolds led
them to a back room and showed them an
organ previously owned by jazz great Jimmy
McGriff dropped off his organ for an
overhaul and decided to buy a new model
while it was being serviced. Reynolds tuned
up his old organ, and now it was for sale.
Bobby now had the instrument that would
help shape the sound of the band, and it was
blessed by one of the founders of the style.
From the mid to late ‘60s, Bobby recruited
Bruce Martin on bass and Boots Smith on
guitar. Heller credits Martin's creativity on
bass as being the foundation of their style.
And with the addition of Boots Smith, who
was steeped in the blues and played guitar
and harmonica, the group was solidified.
While playing a show in Detroit in the early
‘70s, they met Ernest Burt who owned a
small independent record label, Magic City/
Burt Records. With Heller's mother in the
role of the band's manager, they signed
a recording contract with Burt and began
recording. They recorded a total of six tracks
that were released on three singles. Of the
three singles, one was released on Magic
City, another was released on the subsidiary
label, Burt Records, but unbeknownst to
them, Burt sold the rights to the third single
to a different record label, Westwood.
This was the first sign of trouble between
them and their record label. This rocky
relationship would cast a shadow over
their entire career.
singer in the audience could sit in for a song.
After agreeing, they were joined on stage by
Cuba Gooding, Sr. of The Main Ingredient.
During a show in Chattanooga, Tenn., bass
player Bruce Martin fell ill and had to return
to Akron. That night, Lucky Scott — who
played bass with Curtis Mayfield — sat in
for the evening. When the band played one
of Mayfield's songs, Scott tried to persuade
Boots to join Mayfield on tour. Boots decided
he couldn't leave the band and pointed to
their contract with Burt Records.
bands and re-releasing them with great
treatment and respect for the artists. That
box set, “Soul Toronados (sic) – the Complete
Recordings,” was released in 2005. The set
gained little to no press even though it sold
out and is now as collectible as the original
The lack of attention over the box set seemed
to be right in line with all that the band had
experienced in their career. However, when I
showed Heller a video of people dancing to
the Soul Toronadoes music at the Mighty Soul
Night—and with word that they have a cult
following in the UK—a new excitement has
While the members of some of the best soul
and funk bands in the nation loved the sound begun to bubble.
of the Soul Toronadoes, their singles never
Akron could be the first to see these unsung
caught on. Part of this was most likely due
local music heroes return to the spotlight.
to the rights being sold to different small
The city is experiencing a bit of a renaissance
labels that didn't have enough recognition
in music with clubs like Blu Jazz and Pub
in the industry to get them the attention
Bricco showing there is a market here for
they deserved. Another factor was that the
these types of sounds. Also, as new bands
times were changing, and it was hard for an
blaze new trails, Akron continues to have a
instrumental band to make its mark when
strong sense and respect for their artists of
most of the up-and-coming bands now
the past.
featured a lead vocalist.
When their four-year contract was up with
Burt Records, Burt exercised an overlooked
clause to pick up an additional four-year
option with the band. This was essentially
the undoing of the band. They went their
separate ways shortly thereafter.
Boots went on to work in the rubber industry
for 11 years. Martin is now playing bass in
a gospel band. Charles Heller now resides
in California and is involved in the Christian
ministry. Bobby Heller is still here in Akron,
and he's anxious to play again.
Over the time that has passed, the members
have never seen any royalties from their
records. The Burt Records catalog is now
owned by Ernest Burt's son, however there
is very little information on where the
younger Burt is operating the business. He is
still active, as some of the songs have been
licensed from the Magic City catalog. One in
particular affected the Soul Toronadoes.
When Jazzman Gerald of Jazzman Records
came to town in the early 2000s to get
the band's story for a box set his label
was releasing, Bobby thought maybe Soul
Toronadoes’ chance at a revival was near.
The Jazzman record label out of the United
Kingdom is known among record collectors
as one of the best at finding extremely rare
Maybe it is time to add the Soul Toronadoes
to that list of celebrated artists.
// El-Prezidente is the host 88.7 WJCU’s “Soul Elixer”
radio show. Roger Riddle is a record collector, DJ, and
the Chief Curator for Unbox Akron.
To experience El-Prez in his element,
check out
December 19
beginning at 8 pm with
Forrest Getem Gump and Ben Crazy too.
While their songs were being sold
to other labels for release, the band
began touring the south, winning the
admiration of many of the other artists
they were playing alongside. They
were joined on stage by soul legend
Wilson Pickett's horn section when the
band broke into a cover of Pickett's
“Funky Broadway.” One night they
were approached by an employee at a
club they were playing and asked if a
| THE Devil Strip / DECEMBER 2015 • VOL 1 • ISSUE #16
culture club >>
new / native
From down in the Valley to the University of Akron
collected by Elizabeth Tyran
students graduate and settle into their jobs here it’s
going to grow things. I think Akron will continue
growing both in the number of students and the
number of people who work here.
What do you think would be great about
raising kids in Akron?
Diversity is a beautiful thing and growing up in
Akron would help teach them that I think. The local
parks would allow them to appreciate both nature
and the architecture set within nature here.
to Chicago for a couple years and moved back
when I was twenty-one and that’s when I realized
that ya, Akron is a good place to live.
Where in Akron do you like to escape?
Sand Run Park
Why should everyone try your favorite local
Because the owners are really Greek and it’s really
authentic Greek food. It’s Vasili’s down in the valley.
Name: Josh Gardy, 22
Hometown: Phoenix, Ariz.
Neighborhood: UA Campus Resident
Occupation: Student, studying engineering
& part-time valet
What local holiday event(s) do you look
forward to attending?
I really enjoy the ice skating at Lock 3. Christmas
is my favorite time of year and it’s great to get out
and see all the decorations around downtown.
How do you think Akron will be different in
five years?
I hope there will be more downtown living, more
small businesses and more restaurants with healthy
options. That’s really what I want to see.
Who do you wish was on more Akronites’
radar? Why?
Dr. Bob in the sense that through AA he has
brought many people out of the dark. He was a
big name a while ago I think but it seems he only
comes up now around Founders Day and I think
with the impact he’s had on people’s lives he should
be talked about and credited more often here in
Akron. His program helped both of my parents
achieve sobriety. Their disease impacted their lives
so negatively so I’m grateful that thanks to that
program I did have two sober parents growing up.
Does your job allow you to feel connected to
Akron in any special way?
Absolutely. I valet for Crave and 3 Point as well as
Dante Boccuzzi’s. It allows me to see the Artwalk,
it’s helped me get acquainted with some of the
small businesses and get to know the different
business owners and employees really well, it’s
expanded my view on the people of Akron and
shown me what’s out there.
What would you change about raising
kids in Akron? I wish there were more networks
for parents with small children and common
interests. I wish there were more groups like that.
We have a community through our school, Spring
Garden, but it’s private and I pay for it and not
everybody has that opportunity.
What is your favorite local cultural asset?
I think I would say E.J. Thomas. As a UA
student I’ve seen it bring a lot of happiness and
entertainment to Akron and it’s also brought
people in from out of town. It’s a place to meet up
with people for cool shows & great acts. It’s had an
impact on me in that sense.
What local holiday event(s) do you look
forward to attending?
We like “The Nutcracker” at The Akron Civic and
we like Tuba Christmas at E.J. Thomas. I don’t
know if they’re doing it this year because of the
changes at the university but that was always
something we liked to do.
How do you plan to play in the snow this
winter and where?
We will be sled riding at Cascade. We will be
sled riding at Kendall Hills. We will be sled riding
anywhere there’s a hill (laughing). And we’ll do ski
club at Boston Mills and probably some ice skating
at the Gorge Metropark.
Favorite local place or event for holiday
shopping? I’d have to say NOTO. It’s a women’s
clothing boutique with all kinds of cute stuff.
Where would you take family or friends from
out of town to dinner?
Our go-to is the Saffron Patch. I like to go and take
people for some good Indian food in the valley.
How do you plan to play in the snow this
winter and where? I’m a big fan of snow when
I don’t have to drive in it. The great thing about
snow is you can pretty much dive in and have fun
wherever you see it. But I always look forward to
snowboarding at Brandywine.
When did you fall for Akron?
Since I came here a couple years ago I’ve seen that
grit that everybody has here and you know, you
work for everything here in Akron and I think that’s
a beautiful thing. A lot of people lose sight of that
through entitlement. And really in the last year I’ve
seen some of the ins and outs of small businesses
and really gotten to know people who live here and
they have shown me that grit and hard work that
Name: Carrie Burchett, 34
has brought the city back to what it is.
Hometown: Akron
Neighborhood: Merriman Valley
Where in Akron do you like to escape?
Occupation: Teacher at Spring Garden
I like to go to the national parks and the gorge.
Waldorf School
Why should everyone try your favorite local
I think Crave is awesome because you come in and
you’re like what the heck, the menu is just a bunch
of jumbled words when you first look at it, but they
take your regular type of food or regular dishes and
they throw their own “spice” into it.
How do you think Akron will be different in
five years?
I think with the improvements already made to
the University of Akron campus it’s going to bring
more students in which will bring more traffic. As
Who do you wish was on more Akronites’
radar? Why?
Rudolph Steiner, the impulse behind the Waldorf
Schools and other things like biodynamic farming
and gardening.
What is your favorite local cultural asset?
It’s a tie between the library and the Countryside
Conservancy Farmers Market.
When did you fall for Akron?
Well, I was born and raised here—obviously
because I’m your “native” (laughing)—but I moved
DECEMBER 2015 • VOL 1 • ISSUE #16 /
THE Devil Strip |
culture club
How Bazaar, How Bazaar
The debut of the Akron Bazaar Night Market
by Allie Angelo
Everyone was bundled in their warmest fall clothes,
and some of the market-goers sipped small cups
of hot chocolate purchased from one of the
vendors, who lined the sides of the lot where the
market was held. A stage was set up for karaoke,
a harmonica player and a variety of popular music
played by a DJ.
That was the scene this October when a new openair night market debuted in North Hill’s historic
Temple Square between the People’s Bank and
another building on the corner of Cuyahoga Falls
Avenue and North Main Street. The idea for Akron
Bazaar was developed fairly late in the year by
North Hill Community Leaders and some of
the individuals behind this past May’s Better
Block event.
Even though the turnout was small, there was a
unique mix of local vendors. Some were selling
homemade goods and food while others sold art,
decorations, customizable jewelry, and even cute
toys and blankets. Not Yo’ Daddy’s, an Akron hot
sauce company, was offering samples on tortilla
chips. I bought two bottles of original, which
have since ended up on eggs, sandwiches, stir
fry and pasta.
A few young locals were selling homegrown
fruits and vegetables as well as some homemade
goods, such as laundry and hand soap from the
Intergalactic Soap Co. and sweet hot chocolate
from Rosey’s Refreshments. Of course, Stray
Dog Café was also there serving their signature
hot dogs, burgers, barbeque and a variety of
sandwiches. The owners of Stray Dog Café are
residents of the area and part of the North Hill
Community Leaders. Their cart can be seen at many
of North Hill’s events, including Akron Better Block.
A few artists were selling original pieces, including
Abstract.Nat, who sold prints, handmade bags,
and scarves. While I probably own too many bags
and scarves, I decided you can never have too
much art, especially local art, and ended up leaving
with one of her abstract prints. Another local
artisan was selling handmade holiday décor in the
form of jars and bottles decorated with colored
glitter, fake snow, and plastic candles. A few even
featured a winter scene, complete with a choppeddown Christmas tree tied to a car and a doe
peeking through the trees. Two jewelry vendors,
Keep Collections and Origami Owl, were offering
customizable jewelry, watches, and charms while
Premium designs had a variety of classic jewelry.
In the midst of the awesome art, homemade
goods, and unique local food, a group of Open
| THE Devil Strip / DECEMBER 2015 • VOL 1 • ISSUE #16
M volunteers huddled under a tent, handing
out pamphlets and spreading information about
their amazing organization. Open M is a churchrun charity organization dedicated to helping
residents of the Akron area who are in need. Their
services range from hot meals and Christmas gifts
for low-income families to health care and job
placement programs. As Christmas approaches,
the organization is getting ready for their annual
Christmas for the Love of Children program, which
provides food and gifts to over 800 children in the
Akron area each year.
market back in the spring and turn it into a popular
recurring event where local vendors can continue
to share their goods with the residents of North
Hill, bringing back a stronger sense of community
and vitality to the Temple Square district.
//BIO: Allie is a North Hill resident who loves
sunshine, coffee, books, and vegan pizza. She has
been writing since before she was old enough to
drive and is currently employed as a copywriter.
Though the weather was
harsh and many vendors
packed up earlier than
planned, North Hill’s first
Akron Bazaar Night Market
was a success. Local vendors
were able to showcase their
unique goods and products
for Akron residents, giving
us a taste of the great local
food, products, art, and
handcrafted items that you
can find in North Akron.
Akron Bazaar organizers
hope to bring the night
culture club
by Katie Wheeler
Think of all of the places that come to mind when
you read the words “rock climbing” and I bet
Akron doesn’t rank. In fact, I’d be willing to bet
that no place in Ohio is on your radar, but that
won’t remain true for long.
Akron was home and would continue to house the
creative process behind Rock Candy Holds. Nathan
and Liz began to explore places where they could
reignite the climbing community in Akron, and
added fellow climber Mike Ochwat to their team.
Some years ago, Liz and Nathan Yokum were
college kids who decided to build a rock climbing
wall in their garage. Climbers can tell you that the
wall isn’t usually the expensive part of that project.
The expense comes in when you have to buy all of
the hand and footholds that allow you to actually
climb on that wall. The Yokums quickly realized
this and Nathan, an art education major at the
University of Akron, decided to try to make their
own holds instead of buying them. Though they
didn’t end up saving much money, the creativity of
the process had them hooked and their company,
Rock Candy Holds, was born.
Together with their partners, the Yokums have
made another dream a reality, and they will open
Rock Mill Climbing this January. The 12,000 square
foot facility will have a state-of-the-art climbing
area, a yoga studio with multiple classes daily and
a general fitness room with weights and treadmills.
Rock Candy Holds will also be headquartered there
and Nathan and Liz will continue to work towards
creating a climbing community in Akron through
events and workshops that will be hosted at Rock
But why Akron? Both Nathan and Liz say they
wouldn’t think of taking Rock Mill anywhere else.
They want to contribute to the recent resurgence
of their city and hope to help stop the “brain
drain” of students leaving by helping give the
college demographic a community to which they
can belong.
Rock Candy eventually expanded from its humble
beginnings in the garage to a manufacturing space
in Akron. Not all of the space was being used, so
Nathan and Liz built another climbing wall. Nathan
carved the designs for Rock Candy Holds, and then
was able to experiment with the shape and form by
letting climbers use them. What the Yokums built
As Nathan points out, “We live, work, and play in
as their test space quickly turned into a local co-op Akron—and we think Akron needs more PLAY.”
for climbers. The co-op allowed them to develop
their product, but also developed a community of
If you agree, going by is a great way to show it.
Akronites who shared their love of climbing.
In 2010, Rock Candy had grown enough that
the co-op had to be closed to use the space for
the business. This was an especially tough choice
for the Yokums, as they had come to love the
community that had grown there.
Thinking back on it Liz says, “We always knew we
would bring back the space for climbers. We just
didn’t know where or when.”
For more information:
After stabilizing the growth of the company, while
also growing their family, it became clear that
DECEMBER 2015 • VOL 1 • ISSUE #16 /
THE Devil Strip |
culture club
Stocking the Holiday Toy Room
How Summit Co. Children Services helps abused, neglected children during the holidays
by Katie Jackson
Each December, as thousands of children in Summit
County write out their wish lists to send to the
North Pole, there are hundreds of children in our
communities whose wish lists include something
more than toys: safety, stability, family, a home.
These are the children and families served by
Summit County Children Services (SCCS).
SCCS is an agency that provides services for abused
and neglected children in our communities. In any
given month over 585 children meet the criteria
for agency intervention. Case workers partner with
families to provide the best outcome for a child to
be reunited with their immediate family or placed
in kinship care with extended family members.
When there are no relative placement options
for a child, alternative housing in foster care or
permanent custody through adoption is the next
best substitute.
While there are many ways SCCS works to create a
sense of normalcy for children under its care, one
way the community at-large can help them create
positive memories is by donating to the Holiday Toy
Room and Adopt-A-Family programs.
The Holiday Toy Room is a place for foster parents
and kinship caregivers to “shop” for children in
their care, free of charge. Donated toys and gifts
are given a point value and sorted into age group
by infant, school-age and teen. In addition to
items that are “shopped” for, every child is given
“zero point” items such as books, puzzles, school
supplies and stocking stuffers.
Over her 26 years at SCCS, community relations
manager Sandy DeLuca has created a mission for
the Holiday Toy Room program.
“I want to ensure that every child has gifts under
their tree on Christmas morning,” says DeLuca.
“No child should ever wake up without anything
underneath their tree.”
DeLuca’s mission is making a difference. Last year
over 1,300 children were recipients of gifts from
the Holiday Toy Room, an increase of 23 percent
from 2013. Items that are in the greatest need
are toys for infants (birth to 18 months old) and
teenage boys. Toys and games for popular movies
such as “Star Wars,” “Minions,” “Frozen,” “Inside
Out” and “Avengers” are also in high demand.
SCCS also seeks donors to participate in the AdoptA-Family program for the holiday season. Each
year approximately 580 children are “adopted”
by community groups, businesses and individuals,
who are given a wish list of items that have been
requested by a specific child in the program.
Donors purchase and wrap the gifts, which are
delivered personally to the children’s home by
agency social workers.
Because the holiday programs are completely
donation-based and the need is ever growing,
SCCS never knows ahead of time whether the
demand for the season will be met.
“For the past three years we have been very
blessed with generous donors in our community,”
says DeLuca.
Donations can be dropped off seven days a week
between 9 am - 8 pm through December 18 at the
front desk of Summit County Children Services,
located at 264 S. Arlington Street in Akron.
Volunteers are also needed to sort donations
and staff the Toy Room, which is open between
December 2 - December 23.
Please contact Sandy DeLuca at sdeluca@ or 330-379-1994 for more
Donation needs:
Infants & Toddlers
Baby dolls (all ethnicities)
Baby blocks
Large size cars and trucks
New stuffed animals
Educational toys
Infant care items
Cloth or board books
School-Age Children
Dolls (all ethnicities)
Doll accessories
Action figures
Activity books
Board games
LEGOS sets
Hand-held games
Craft kits
Action figures
Tweens &Teens
Brightly colored slippers
Ear buds and flashdrives
Speakers (to connect to phones)
Electronics of any kind, under $25
(portable CD, DVD and MP3 players)
Infinity scarves
Sports jerseys (L & XL)
Gift Cards
(teen-favored stores, fast food restaurants)
| THE Devil Strip / DECEMBER 2015 • VOL 1 • ISSUE #16
culture club
The Most Akron Kids I Know
a poem by Elizabeth Tyran
A New Kind of Pop-Up
Akron Children’s Museum brings
interactive learning to Lock 3
by Daniel Whitaker
While some waited in lines on Black Friday, the
organizers of the Akron Children’s Museum
opened their doors to the public for the very first
time. Collaborating with the city of Akron and
the Summit County Historical Society, ACM has
transformed the former American Toy Marble
Museum space at Lock 3 into an interactive familyminded, learning experience. This temporary “popup” site offers educational activities to children of
all ages designed to teach life skills, science, music,
art and more, all in a playful environment.
The seed for the museum was planted in 2011
when Betsy and Ryan Hartschuh and their two
children drove through North Carolina on their
way home from a summer vacation when they
visited the Greensboro Children’s Museum. They
had a blast.
“The place was bustling with young families,”
Ryan Hartschuh says.
The couple saw a lot of similarities between
Greensboro and Akron. They believed a children’s
museum would be great for Akron. So they got
to work, laying the building blocks for a future
site in Akron. Three years later, they have the
pop-up site, a pilot run for what they hope to
be a permanent installment in the future.
Meanwhile, kids and families can still
experience the marble exhibits from the
American Toy Marble Museum and also get
the chance to take part in activities that
explore gravity, flight, art, building and other
areas of learning.
The pop-up site features activities such as a
life size Lite-Brite, jumbo building blocks, a
toddler section, a wind tube and a quake
table where kids can construct model
buildings and test how their designs hold
up against environmental forces. Kids can
experiment with the physics and participate
in Akron tradition at the DerbyTown exhibit. Every
exhibit in the museum has an educational focus,
but the lessons will be taught through play.
“It’s the brain’s favorite way to learn,” said
The pop-up museum will be open to the public
Wednesday through Sunday, from November 27
until February 15. Hours of operation are 11am 7pm Wednesday – Saturday and 11am – 5pm on
Sunday. Admission is $3 and free for infants 12
months and younger.
“Hands on Holidays: Expedition Frosty” is a
fundraising event the group is hosting to benefit
the pop-up and the future permanent museum.
Families that purchase tickets will make crafts and
explore activities similar to those found at the
pop-up museum. Tickets may be purchased
through the Akron Children’s Museum website at
When Charlotte was still very small
Which is to say not very tall
We’d take her to the nearest park
Which had no trees adorned in bark
Just grass extending soft & green
To the best local mural til then I’d seen
She’d waddle the yard and to the wall
Where colorful characters large and small
Looked at her and she at them
Til a dandelion beckoned
She pick its stem
Still a babe and starting to talk
We took her for another walk...
Around the zoo, not far from here
(to live downtown means things are near)
She walked across the bridge of rope
She pet the goats and washed with soap
She seemed to like the llamas best
And put her talking to the test when she
called them... “mamas”
When little Leo came along
Charlotte looked at him all wrong
Who is this and why’s he here
My parents seem to love him dear
Wherever they went Leo’d go
Charlotte got used to a baby bro
She’d hang with us, we’d bake, we’d play
Color, watch movies, the day to day
We lived next door so it worked well
Friends and neighbors, all was swell
We lived in an historic spot
Right next door to their mom’s shop
And every year she’d host a show
Of fashion which each year would grow
And each year Charlotte can be found
Onstage, backstage, and all around
Now when we go to the zoo
There are two
Two kids on the carousal
Woo 1 & Woo 2
Two kids plus their cousins
For hikes at Sand Run
Two kids to blast with a giant squirt gun
Two kids to go the museum and play
Inside and outside on a warm summer day
They’ve even appeared in the museum’s ads
Little Akronite cuties
Their mom’s and their dad’s
They play hide & seek in Musica
When they visit us at work
Or carve pumpkins in the cafe
And get ice cream as a perk
As years went by they moved around
The coolest spots all over town
First downtown, then Northside
The Square and the Valley
But their first home still overlooks
Musica’s alley
For every birthday they still love to go
To the Spaghetti Warehouse,
wouldn’t you know
It’s a tradition for them and their
family you see
With spaghetti & meatballs and instead of TV
They have things on the walls, things up above
Things all around as though placed there
with love
Quirky antiques with nods to this town, a train
car, a ski lift that never comes down...
You get the idea, it’s full of cool stuff
But onward, cause sometimes enough
is enough
A couple years back we took Char to Lock 3
To ice skate with ice skates so small, so petite
She stayed up quite well with us holding
her hand
Making sure if she slipped we would
pre-vent a land
Then we ate lunch at Bricco
Where they have kids grilled cheese
And some chopped fruit, a pickle, and
milk if you please
A few years ago, we sled Hawkins Hill
We had cocoa up top
To counter the chill
Next to the big fire barrel they light
Which glows and invites in the
dark winter night
Then to Luigi’s for WHITE pizza they said
When I’d thought of Luigi’s I’d always
thought red!
Last year I took Charlotte to the Civ-ic
To see the Nutcracker
& sit with Saint Nick
We sat in the front
And as Charlotte stared
It was so cute to see just how much she cared
And wanted a nutcracker of her very own
So of course she got one from me to
take home
Charlotte and Leo, great kids all-around
Products of Akron, a well-rounded town
So just like these kids, enjoy all you see
For each year in Akron is THE place to be.
Happy holidays, everyone!
DECEMBER 2015 • VOL 1 • ISSUE #16 /
THE Devil Strip |
HO, ho, ho! Pee, poo, poo! Before you resort to the famous “pee-in-Santa’s-lap” maneuver, check out one of these downtown bathrooms first.
Look at the forecast before you decide to parade downtown in a skimpy Santa outfit. Not only is this bad for your health,
but it can also lead to nature calling when the closest relief zone option is a snow drift.
Yellow Snow and
Farter Christmas
Holiday Edition
culture club
Lockview on
South Main Street
Civic Theater on
South Main Street
Summit Artspace on
East Market Street
by Marissa Marangoni
by Emily Dressler
by Marissa Marangoni
2 ¾ out of 5 toilets
(but 5/5 in the grilled cheese department)
4.5 out of 5 toilets.
Style over substance wins us over.
1.5 out of 5 toilets. 5 out of 5 art toilets.
The women’s bathroom, in the back near the patio
steps, is to be expected. It was so dark in there
that I looked around for a light switch, then gave
up and said bloody mary three times. NOTHING
HAPPENED. Maybe they could add a grilled cheese
scented candle to make up for the dim lighting. Or
maybe they could just install a bulb in the one light
that is not lit. Christmas gift ideas!
Wow. There are like 85 stalls in this restroom.
Approximate count shows ~25, but this place
lends itself to hyperbole. THIS is where you should
celebrate the New Year.
The bathroom is small: just two stalls and two
sinks. But minimalism is making a comeback, so
this is okay. The vampire hipsters approve.
This bathroom has improved since its Lime Spider
days, but not drastically. There is no changing
table, but you’re probably not supposed to bring a
baby into a bar. However, babies in a grilled cheese
restaurant do seem like a perfect fit, so whatever.
This is a pretty perfect lunch spot for a downtown
shopping crowd, so maybe a changing table is
something Lockview should consider.
This seems like a place that would have surprisingly
fancy olive oil soap or something nourishing for
your skin. No such luck, it is just that boring pink
stuff. However, the brown water stain above stall
number 1 adds a little old-timey, rust belt charm
that makes Akron, Akron.
| THE Devil Strip / DECEMBER 2015 • VOL 1 • ISSUE #16
The nice folks at the Civic let us in even though
the theatre wasn't open to the public. We didn’t
even have to tell them about our super-important
status as Devil Strip Bathroom Reviewers. They
were rehearsing a show, and the energy that comes
with an imminent performance infiltrated the entire
Two stalls were out of order, but there are
chandeliers, so shut up. The glitz and glamour
of the theater certainly were considered when
designing this relief site. Maybe that’s just a part
of show biz. As wonderful as this bathroom is, it
might be starting to show its age. The stalls and
sinks are somewhat dated.
There are two bottles of soap for eight sinks, which
could be an issue on performance nights. However,
the facility is well-maintained and functional, and
there is even an interesting painting and a tasteful
chifferobe. If we knew what a chifferobe was. It’s
more of a mini-chifferobe, anyway.
Ahhh, art. Tis the season to view it and buy it.
Once you’ve perused the newest installments and
those Christmas cookies are getting a little too
heavy, you may find yourself wondering where this
quaint space hides their restrooms.
We visited the first floor facilities, and those are
located--well, just ask the desk attendant to direct
you to them. This women’s bathroom is like getting
coal in your stocking: At least it’s a gift, but you
know it could be better. The Summit Artspace
building is the old Akron Main Library, and we
should thank our lucky stars for the primetime
bathrooms in the current downtown library.
Everything in this space is green, and it reminds
us of an elementary school bathroom. Nostalgia
is always nice, but it’s not everything. We aren’t
sure how well the toilets actually function because
the overwhelming sewer stench pervading the
restroom chased us out before we got too far into
our usual toilet explorations.
Summit Art Space is a great place and supports
local artists, which, being writers, we are all for,
but you might want to check your drawers prior to
culture club
Hey baby,
I hear the bronze a-callin
Wishing Harvey Firestone a
Happy 147th Birthday
by Sarah M. Koester
ehind the Bridgestone Firestone Headquarters
on South Main sits the Harvey S. Firestone
Memorial. Harvey S. Firestone, born on
December 20, 1868, was the founder of Firestone
Tire and Rubber Company and member of the
exclusive Millionaire’s Club (alongside Henry Ford
and Thomas Edison). Firestone’s death in
1938 inspired the project that would forever
immortalize him.
Created by artist James Earle Fraser, Firestone’s
likeness was constructed out of pure bronze and
is seated looking dapper as ever, looking over
the checkered grass-and-concrete landscaping.
Behind the sculpture is an allegorical bas-relief, also
dedicated to Firestone. The memorial was to be
unveiled during Firestone’s 50th anniversary by his
five sons.
As the deadline for the unveiling was closing
in on Fraser, it was clear that the bronze statue
of Firestone would not be completed in time.
With hundreds of people expected to attend
the unveiling—including national media like Life
Magazine—Fraser, running out of time, improvised.
Firestone’s 50th anniversary celebration went off
without a hitch. On August 3, 1950 the bronze
statue of Harvey Firestone was presented and
dedicated as planned. Except for that the statue
wasn’t exactly bronze. When Fraser couldn’t
produce the bronze statue in time, he and John
Moore, the engineer that hired him, played
a creative trick on all of the spectators at the
unveiling that day.
Fraser created a plaster replica of Harvey Firestone,
painted it bronze and successfully passed it off as
the original. It remained a closely-kept secret until
former Akron Beacon Journal columnist David
Giffels cracked it wide open in 2000.
was the wiser. It is rumored that John Moore kept
the head of the plaster replica, and unfortunately
destroyed it years later.
Above: Last December on Harvey’s birthday, the
Akron2Akron group took a chilly but awesome
walking tour of Firestone Park that was organized
by Rick Stockburger and ended at an excellent dive
bar. (Photo courtesy of Dina Younis/
Eventually Fraser did complete the intended statue.
When it was finished, he covered it with a tent
and swapped out the two Firestones, and no one
DECEMBER 2015 • VOL 1 • ISSUE #16 /
THE Devil Strip |
culture club
Pictured left: This is not just a cool way of thinking, but it’s also a dope unisex shirt produced by
Neighbors Apparel, based in North Hill and available online at, along with a lot
of cool clutches, pocket squares, totes, bracelets, scarves, bow ties and more, which were handmade by
refugee women living in Akron. (photo credit: Studio KMR Photography)
Hazel Tree Interiors
143 W Market St., Akron, OH
Hours: Tues-Fri 11am-5:30pm, Sat 11am-3:00pm
Karen and Jon’s three-story studio features artwork,
home decor and furnishings from local artists,
home design services and custom framing.
Wish List Item: Firestone Tire mold mirror, $400
How to
get your
Akron on
AND knock
your holiday
list out
by Katie Jackson
very year, you run into a couple folks on your list for whom you want to get something truly
different, but it’s tough. They have everything they need and every time you start to get
something from one of the big box stores, you realize it’s mass-produced junk sold in hundreds
of places. Nothing unique or thoughtful about it. If you’re really trying to get a someone special
something special, let us help. You may have missed Crafty Mart and Small Business Saturday, but that’s
okay because we know some folks who’d be glad to help you brighten someone’s holiday.
Akron Art Museum Store
1 S. High St., Akron, OH
Hours: Wed-Sun 11am-5pm, Thurs 11am-9pm
After spending an afternoon exploring the galleries,
stop in the Museum Store to browse a range of
contemporary, international and handmade artful
objects for your home.
Wish List Item: Devo Duck, $9.95
Bomb Shelter
923 Bank St., Akron, OH
Hours: Mon-Sat 11am-5pm; Sun noon-4pm
You never know what they’ll have, but if you’ve
been to the Bomb Shelter, you know there’ll be
something cool that wants to go home with you.
Wish List Item:1974 BMW R90 with a sidecar.
| THE Devil Strip / DECEMBER 2015 • VOL 1 • ISSUE #16
Land of Plenty
339 W Market St., Akron, OH
Hours: Thurs-Sat 12pm-7pm, Sun 12pm-4pm
If you’re in the know, you know where to go.
Land of Plenty is a rising star for vintage &
antique furniture and decor, houseplants, jewelry,
contemporary art and gemstones.
Wish List Item: Air plant terrariums, $18, and
gemstone necklace, $15
Gypsy Grace & The Vintage Goat
451 W Market St., Akron, OH
Hours: Mon-Sat 10am-6pm, Sun 10am-4pm
Stop in to Akron’s newest boutique of curated
handmade, ‘vintique’, and retro housewares,
furniture and oddities. Joe and Angel’s eclectic shop
hosted a tarot card reader at their grand opening,
and they plan to present monthly art, poetry and
music events, including an alley caravan jam this
summer. Wish List Item: Vintage thermometer, $90
The Market Path
833 W Market St., Akron, OH
Hours: Mon-Sat 11am-7pm, Sun 12pm-5pm
An inviting, cheery shopping experience in
Highland Square, The Market Path offers
international, fair-trade goods including scarves,
journals, jewelry, chocolate, coffee and art.
Wish List Item: Bolivian wool scarf, hat and gloves,
$24-$28 each
Venia Antiques and Design
Allie M.
347 W Market St., Akron, OH
Hours: Wed-Thurs 1pm-4pm, Fri-Sat 1pm-6pm,
Sun 1pm-4pm
Tucked in the 300 block of West Market, Venia
features affordable vintage and antique collectibles,
furniture, art, custom merchandise and much more
with new inventory arriving weekly.
Wish List Item: Mid-century armchair, $40
Pilgrim Square
(2299 W. Market St., Akron, OH)
Hours: Mon-Sat 10am-6pm
Beloved local jewelry designer, Allie M brings
inspirational and symbolic jewelry and accessories
to her new expanded storefront featuring charm
bracelets and necklaces.
Wish List Item: Bee Happy necklace, $48
culture club
Chic ladies: this is where it’s at. Urban Lace is
the newest women’s boutique carrying one of a
kind jewelry, clothing and accessories featuring
local artisans. Wish List Item: Bird print skirt, $36
Exquisite Corpse Boutique
Out of a passion for gothic subculture, Alexander
Draven has harnessed his talent to create truly
unique handcrafted timepieces and jewelry with
Steampunk flair. Wish List Item: Engraved Brass Bar
timepiece, $257.50
Urban Buzz
Beautiful and functional, Urban Buzz creates sweetsmelling handcrafted beeswax candles using the
purest beeswax from a local apiaries.
Wish List Item: Beeswax pillar candle, $18
Don Drumm Studios & Gallery
437 Crouse St., Akron, OH
Hours: Mon-Wed 10am-6pm, Thurs 10am-8pm,
Fri 10am-6pm, Sat 10am-5pm
Akron’s iconic artisan headquarters, you can get
lost finding your way through the colorful rooms
and buildings of beautiful jewelry, glass, sculpture,
ceramics and metal craft design. Wish List Item:
Metal Christmas ornaments, $19 each
BAM! Barberton Art Market
Silver Eagle Antiques
2215 Front St., Cuyahoga Falls, OH
Hours: Tues-Sat 12pm-5:30pm
Wanna trip down memory lane to your grandma’s
attic? Step foot in Silver Eagle Antiques. A unique
nostalgia shop containing antiques, vintage sports
memorabilia, specialty collections and a toaster
museum — what?!
Wish List Item: Vintage tricycle, $150
Akron Centre (76 S. Main St., Akron, OH)
A teeny hidden treasure in the heart of downtown
is a true fashion destination! NOTO is a muststop for contemporary women’s clothing, local
accessories and inspirational style ideas.
Wish List Item: Plaid wool wrap, $28
Nine Muses Gallery
(584 W Tuscarawas Ave., Barberton, OH)
December 12-13 • 11am-4pm
The Social Dept.
Sports? Check. Beer? Check. Humor? Check.
Design skill? Double check. The Social Department
is THE place to find the most creative tees with
regional themes. For fans of sports, hometown
pride, and graphic design. Wish List Item: Akron
Survival Kit and Ohio Native tee, $25 each
BAM! is Barberton’s premier art and craft show,
featuring fine art, jewelry, crafts, and live music.
Then walk the strip to check out what’s poppin’ at
Real Gone Daddy, StuffGenie, Alter’d Relics,
Snowball Books and other cool shops in their
surprisingly hip downtown retail district.
We Get You ...
Sarah’s Vineyard
Rubber City Clothing Company
18 N High St., Akron, OH
Hours: Mon-Wed 11am-6pm,
Thurs-Sat 11am-7pm, Sun 12pm-5pm
Akron represent! RCCC has claim to all the best
Akron gear. They feature custom screen printed
Akron-centric clothing and accessories for all your
Rubber City needs. Wish List Item: Blimp belt
buckle, $54.99
1204 W Steels Corners Rd., Cuyahoga Falls, OH
Hours: Wed 11am-10pm, Thurs 11am-9pm, Fri-Sat
11am-11pm, Sun 12pm-7pm
Combine date night and shopping while enjoying a
wood fired pizza and glass of vino in the comfort of
an art gallery barn featuring blown glass, jewelry,
photography and watercolors, in addition to eight
locally sourced and produced wines.
Wish List Item: Cuyahoga Valley Reserve, $20 bottle
© Sigrid Olsson / Alamy
• Where you want to go with TripTik® Travel Planner
maps and directions
• What you want to know with hotel, discount and gas
price information
• Help along the way -
with easy road service request
Saint Augustine and Suds
Urban Lace
119 Portage Trail, Cuyahoga Falls, OH
Hours: Tues 11am-6pm, Wed-Thurs 11am-7pm,
Fri-Sat 11am-6pm, Sun 11am-4pm
Ahhhh. Need to relax? Look no further. Saint
Augustine will pamper you with delightfully
scented organic soaps, soaks, candles and more.
Wish List Item: Cypress, Fir & Lavender bath bar, $6
Our apps keep you mobile.
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DECEMBER 2015 • VOL 1 • ISSUE #16 /
THE Devil Strip |
culture club
The Next Small Thing
TinyCircuits launches TinyArcade Kickstarter
They’re Akron’s little company than can, specializing in small, stackable arduinos that
makers use to tackle fun projects. But now TinyCircuits is broadening its horizons and
this latest Kickstarter project is part of that. The first two crowdfunded efforts helped
get founder Ken Burns and company going, giving them a global customer base and the
money to buy needed equipment. Even as much as the maker movement is growing, Ken
realizes there’s a bigger audience they can tap into who currently don’t want to have to
build the cool things they get. With TinyArcade, they can get their wee playable arcade
game in a kit or already assembled. Heck, maybe it’ll even be the gateway drug that gets
them into hard core maker-stuffs. Either way, it’s just part of a move to help the Canal
Place-based operation grow. Another is a partnership with the EPA to develop technology
that would help monitor waterways, which could mean Akron-made gadgets floating in
every state all over the country. If that’s too heady or boring, you can still get in on the
TinyArcade action by supporting their Kickstarter by December 17 at
For more, visit
| THE Devil Strip / DECEMBER 2015 • VOL 1 • ISSUE #16
of Health
WKSU News will air a 7-part health series about
healthcare as an economic driver, focusing on:
• Competition created among Northeast Ohio
health providers
• Magnet for entrepreneurs and innovation
• Responsiveness of health education to
the marketplace
• Finances of healthcare
Listen every Tuesday during Morning Edition, between 5am – 9am
December 8th – January 19th
Listen at 89.7 or
Live music, outdoor recreation, art shows, drama, sports, fairs and festivals,
nightlife — no matter what your idea of fun is, Summit County is full of
doors you can open and events you can enjoy. And now, with the launch of, there’s an easy, one-stop way to find something cool
to do tonight, tomorrow, this weekend or next. Check it out today.
Because there’s always something going on in Summit County, and you
don’t want to miss it!
Check it and see where you want to be.
ArtS, CuLture, Fun, every DAy.