Issue 20



Issue 20
15 Rita Dove, Akron’s
Nat’l Poet Laureate
27 Akron Pizza Task Force
35 Gretchen Pleuss goes
“From Birth, to Breath,
to Bone”
the weird go
to Oddmall
table of contents
6 Five Fast Questions with
Oddmall’s Andy Hopp
7 More Layoffs at UA ...
Wait, you haven’t heard?
13 Who are these Creative Devils?
The Devil Strip
12 E. Exchange Street
2nd Floor
Akron, Ohio 44308
Chris “is still hoping ‘Swass’ catches on” Horne
[email protected]
Cell phone: 330-555-NEVER-ANSWERS
Art Director:
Alesa “doesn’t sleep” Upholzer, Talented and Patient
Visuals Editor:
Svetla “The Balkan Comrade” Morrison
Copy Editor:
Jessica “My name is not Jecca” Cherok
15 Rita Dove, Akron’s Pulitzer-winning,
Nat’l Poet Laureate
18 New/Native: Roommates Edition
20 Whiskey Dick was an Akron Badass
table of contents
24 Urban Explorer in University Park
27 Introducing the Akron Pizza Task Force
31 Lady Beer Drinker Survives the
Rubber City Beer Fest
32 Crawling every bar in Akron
Sales Director:
TJ Masterson
[email protected]
38 Gretchen Pleuss
goes “From Birth, to Breath, to Bone”
The Editorial Team
Arts Section Editor:
Bronlynn “Space Kitty” Thurman
39 Standing Room:
6 Akron Bands you Should Know
Assistant Arts Editors:
Megan “Oxford comma slayer” Combs
Noor Hindi, Will Get Back to Chris about That
42 Ohio’s Amateur Comedian
Contest Finals
Community & Culture Section Editors:
M. Sophie Hamad, ambitious wordsmith and mama
Katie “Miss Scarlet in the Conservatory with
a candlestick” Jackson
45 A whole damn page of Comic Strips
Assistant Culture Club Editor:
Jessica “Spreadsheets!” Cherok
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
46 Our award-giving Urine Luck
Restroom Review
Music Editor:
Brittany “Sass Master Flash” Nader
Staff Writers, Columnists & The A/V Club:
Emily “Lady Beer Drinker” Anderson; Holly “The Wanderer”
Brown; Emily “Potty Perfectionist” Dressler and Marissa
Marangoni, Bathroom Culture Enthusiast; “Lost in an Altered
Realm” Dan Gorman & Brian Dunphy; Gabe “Softballin’” Gott;
Paul “I don’t write” Hoffman; Chris “the Film Freak” Kessinger;
Andrew “Has a mighty fine beard” Leask; Jacob Luther, the
Towny Townie Toonist; Theodore “Quieter Days” Mallison;
Mary “not so contrary, in fact, quite easy to get along with”
Menzemer; the absolutely real and totally non-fictional Georgio
Pelogrande; Roger Riddle, Wears the Purple Pants; Bronlynn
“Enemy of Avocados, Destroyer of PEEPS” Thurman; The Shane
Wynn Supremacy
Allie Angelo, Rick Bohan, Dominic Caruso, 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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The Devil Strip is published bi-monthly by Random Family, LLC. Akron
Distribution: The Devil Strip is available free of charge, limited to one
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Rane and Rosa are Shepherd / Lab mix sisters that
were born around October 2015. They currently both
weigh about 25 pounds but still have growing left
to do. Rane and Rosa arrived from a neglect case
and are extremely bonded and we are requiring they
be adopted out together. They are shy girls that are
looking for a low traffic and patient family that is
wiling to give them time to relax and get comfortable
in a new home. Once they know you, these two
energetic pups love playing with toys and getting
pets. They have potential with other dogs and would
do best in a home with older children. If you think
you have room in your home and heart for this playful
duo, stop in and visit them today!
Meet Mr. Meow! This friendly 5.5 year old guy arrived
at our shelter after being brought in by a Good
Samaritan. Mr. Meow is a pretty social cat who loves
everyone he meets! Mr. Meow enjoys gentle pets
around his head, chin and cheek area along with
snacking on tasty treats! When the mood strikes him,
Mr. Meow loves to bounce around with a fun toy! He
especially loves cat nip filled toys! If you're interested
in getting to know Mr. Meow better, please stop by
our shelter and ask to meet him today!
PAWSibilities Humane Society of Greater Akron
7996 Darrow Rd., Twinsburg, OH 44087 | 1.888.588.8436 | 330.487.0333
[email protected] | |
APRIL 2016 • VOL 2 • ISSUE #4 /
THE Devil Strip |
Just before our anniversary
party this St. Patrick’s Day,
Cristina González told me
that the idea for Not Yo
Daddy’s Hot Sauce was born
the same day our print
magazine was, March 17, 2015.
She’d struck up a conversation with Kaley
Foster, who started Urban Buzz candles, is
the force behind the Akron Sustainer project
and organizes the Akron Breakfast Club.
Somewhere in this conversation, Cristina
mentions her dad’s hot sauce recipe, which he
made for special occasions. Kaley being Kaley,
she urged her new friend to make and sell the
hot sauce, even offering to connect Cristina
with a bottler.
telling the story of who we are and who we
can become.
But community isn’t just what we do. It’s how
we do it.
Without even one full-time paid staff person,
myself included, we’ve leaned on community
to make each issue possible. Our editorial
teams and contributors meet, plan, research,
shoot, write and craft their work between their
obligations to their day jobs, families, friends
of creative folks to re-imagine these nowluxuriously odd restrooms. This motley crew of
Artspace artists and staffers, SynHak makers,
the League of Creative Interventionists, Rubber
City Print-ers and Let’s Grow Akron gardeners,
made something together that wouldn’t have
been as impressive had they done it alone.
We love our creators, makers, orgs and
businesses, but real community requires more.
For community to thrive, the audience is vital.
Our readers aren’t just eyeballs for advertisers.
challenge and the opportunity. Those who did
indulge in arts and culture events, 54 percent
did so outside of Summit County.
It’s not hard to imagine an Akron where just
The 44 Percent — or 336,000 Summit County
residents between the ages of 18-65 — were
actively patronizing our galleries, concerts,
plays, films, etc. What if we could get them
to do it more regularly? Or bring a friend? If
we do more than preach to the choir — if we
engage and activate the choir and make them
ambassadors to the unwashed heathens who
do not already prefer to spend their spare time
on arts and culture (#jokingnotjoking) —
then the economic and social impact would
be enormous.
There’s just one more thing to consider.
Pictured right: The crew hanging out at Urban Eats
Affordable, collaborative and population-dense
enough to count, Akron is already a pretty good
place for creatives and cultural entrepreneurs,
those folks whose businesses contribute
significantly to our unique sense of place. But
I don’t think we should settle for pretty good
when great is so attainable.
Today, Not Yo Daddy’s is available at fine local
joints, like Urban Eats ; used in food and drink
recipes at Jilly’s Music Room; featured in a
recent Unbox Akron shipment; and as the secret
sauce for the most addictive croutons you’ll
ever eat, sold at Sweet Mary’s Bakery and made
with the eponymous owner’s bread.
That conversation between Cristina and Kaley
happened at our launch party. We don’t
deserve any credit for that at all, but it does
illustrate what I want for The Devil Strip, to
bring cool and creative people together.
This is what makes us different from the
daily paper, other magazines, blogs and
electronic media outlets. It is why we exist at
all: Community. Our mission is not to inform
the electorate or to entertain our readers or to
make old folks suspicious that their washers
and dryers might kill them. The Devil Strip is a
nakedly pro-Akron arts and culture magazine
hellbent on building and serving community by
and other avocational interests. They rely on
a network of connections around Akron to
find, vet and tell compelling stories. And we all
depend on the subjects of these stories to put
themselves out there creatively and financially,
risking potential failure and humiliation in an
effort to do the kinds of cool things that inspire
and challenge us.
That’s what made me smile in the first floor
bathrooms at the Summit Artspace. Their
staff responded to an unflattering critique by
Urine Luck by pulling together multiple groups
We don’t need to hunt for big corporations or
change our personality to attract hipsters from
Austin and Brooklyn, but we do have to change
They’re the people who contribute and support our story where it’s most broken. It’s time to
Akron with their time, feedback and talents.
stop thinking that Akron is a place you leave, a
They show up for bathroom ribbon-cuttings,
place where no sane person would move. It is
generously apply Not Yo Daddy’s to their food,
time to believe Akron deserves good and great
dance at Jilly’s, tell their friends about Time Cat, things. When we get the BS out of the way
hoot and holler at the EP Cooker and hang
and can just be what we already are — a city
work by Jessica Lofthus in their homes.
of good and often creative people who usually
know how to get along — you’ll be surprised
Which is why I’m thinking about the Knightby what happens next.
GAR Arts Assessment again. That report says 44
Take care,
percent of Summit County respondents already
prefer to spend their spare time on arts and
culture activities. But they aren’t. There’s the
United Way
of Summit County
paThWayS OUT Of pOVERTy.
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
| THE Devil Strip / APRIL 2016 • VOL 2 • ISSUE #4
big idea
We want to help build a year-round, public
market for Akron that operates daily. Bringing
the people of Akron together, in the middle of
the city, to create and enjoy the food we love
while learning each other’s stories and building
a more vibrant and unified community.
Why pursue it? We want to help connect the
greater community of the region to the vibrant
collection of chefs, gardeners, food vendors
and craftspeople of Akron. We want to provide
an opportunity for those who grow food to
connect with those who prepare and serve.
Creating a central space where Akron's various
communities can connect with each other
would help unify the neighborhoods of Akron
through meals and shared experience.
The Market would foster collaboration and
education in the community through food: a
central component of daily life. Markets foster
neighborly feelings and pride in the cities where
they exist.
When did you know your Big Idea was
a good idea? We visited the North Market
in Columbus the day after Thanksgiving last
Name: Melissa Olson
Age: 29
Hometown: State College, PA
Home now: Kent, OH
Occupation: Graphic Designer/
Contact:; [email protected]
Name: Cory Sheldon
Age: 38
Hometown: Stow, OH
Home now: Streetsboro, OH
Occupation: Filmmaker/Professor
[email protected]
year and realized Akron would benefit from
a market of our own in downtown. We have
friends working on growing local pop-up style
marketplaces, continuing community gardening
projects and helping refugees get re-settled
in Akron.
How do you hope your Big Idea helps
Akron grow? We hope a public market
for Akron would help foster conversation
and relationship between otherwise unlikely
acquaintances. We want to increase food
awareness in Akron Public Schools, give
opportunities to entrepreneurs and refugees,
and generate increased activity in the
downtown corridor. The Akron Public Market
would be a focal point to act as a springboard
for the already happening revitalization of
Downtown Akron.
We think a market would be a great place
to bring all of these efforts (and more)
together into a central, daily marketplace. In
neighborhoods with established public markets,
there has been a proven benefit to both popup style shops as well as near-by established
businesses through an increase in foot-traffic.
Voting: Come for the Ballot...
Stay for the Sticker
by Georgio Pelogrande (@GPelogrande)
It’s an election year! How many times do I
have to tell you? In the spirit of democracy and
republicancy I will call this little article, “Take
Me To The River (To Eat Brains, That Is…)
It was announced some time ago that the
US Government, now known officially as
Obamacare, is organizing something out west
called the State Carcasses. It is supposedly a
travelling week-long celebration of all things
political and is reported to feature rock concerts
by Hillary Clinton and the P-Funk All Stars,
Colonel Bernie Sanders And His Lonely Hearts
Club Band, Donald Trumpet's Horn Review,
and of course brothers Tom and Ted Cruz and
their unique fusion of South American Jazz and
Native Canadian Indian beats.
But I'm here to warn you: it's a trap. And now
I'm going to prove it beyond a shadow of a
doubt. First, let's start by defining the words
chosen as the title for this supposed feature,
“State Carcass.” Time to check some facts:
/stāt/ • noun
used or done on ceremonial occasions;involving
the ceremony associated with a head of state
carcass /'kärkəs/ • noun
You should go check it out.
the decaying or worthless remains of a structure
The carcass of an abandoned automobile.
You’re getting me off track. Let’s get back
to the conspiracy:
So what have we learned from a simple
The states are going to lure unsuspecting
examination of the title? It looks pretty obvious concert goers with the promise of great music
to me. It's time to stop dancing around the
and outdoor restrooms overflowing with
subject. Here's what's really going on, folks:
mayonnaise-based summer salads. Once in
There are millions of dead rotten smelly voters
the venue and drunk on the sweet odor of
afloat in the nation’s public waterways and
Hellmann's, they will line everyone up and hit
they are organizing a cannibalistic zombie
them individually on the head with a shovel
smorgasbord to clean up the stinking mess,
until each person becomes a zombie. (I’m pretty
“Walking Dead”-style.
sure that’s how that works.) Then, Donald
Trumpet will lead the undead flock to the
shores of the nation’s once beautiful rivers and
/'smôrgəs,bôrd/ • noun
lakes like a modern day Pied Piper; skipping
1. a buffet meal of various hot and cold hors
shirtless with his blonde locks flowing in the
d' oeuvres, salads, casserole dishes, meats, and wind, and playing a New Orleans funk version
cheeses; 2. an extensive array or variety
of “Sweet Georgia Brown” on a glowing
saxophone emblazoned with the words "Make
I personally don't like casserole dishes. I think
America Grape Again." For showmanship, the
it's just a way to disguise gross leftovers as
path to the river will be lined with all 456,723
something new because you mix in some
current and former Radio City Music Hall
daggone noodles and bake it for a little bit.
Rockettes dressed as their favorite cinematic
I'm looking at you, mom. Anyways, my uncle
Batman. That is when a horrible feast will begin
Chaz's restaurant features a buffet that would
and the waterway restoration project will be in
at the very least rival any zombie brain feast.
full swing.
You know what they didn't think of though?
What the Hale-Bopp Comet are they going to
do with all those zombies once they're done
eating? More than likely they'll just shoot them
all in the head and throw them in the river and
the problem will repeat itself every four years.
The moral here is, don’t be a mindless horde.
Vote, and then get a free sticker. Also, don’t be
a zombie. You know what? Never mind.
I shall now leave you with my favorite quote
on political zombies. "Run! Run you stupid
morons! Ruuuuuuun! They're tearing at my
flesh! No! Not the spleen! It's my favorite
organ! Why are you still standing there, Coral?
Ruuuuuuuuu-" --Georgio Pelogrande (as
Rick Grimes in the local theater's upcoming
production of "Walking Dead, A Slight Return")
Until next time, vote or read a book. Be nicer.
Run. Thank you and you're welcome.
// BIO: You can hear Georgio give his sports, traffic and
weather reports on The Altered Realm radio
show from 8 pm to midnight every Saturday on
APRIL 2016 • VOL 2 • ISSUE #4 /
THE Devil Strip |
With Oddmall founder Andy Hopp,
the man who makes Oddmall so… odd
I know Oddmall is "part art fair,
part craft show, part comic con, part
gaming festival, part cosplay extravaganza,
part toy show, part antique show, part
vintage fashion show, part geeksplosion,
part music fest, part magic show, and part
various undefinable othernesses" but
*why* is Oddmall? How did it come
into being?
Oddmall’s roots probably start with a trip we
took to Cleveland’s Bazaar Bizarre in 2008.
This was a great show. It overflowed with
incredible art and fantastic creations by some
very talented artists and crafters. If you have
the means I highly suggest you attend (I’m
pretty sure it has evolved into Cleveland Bazaar
nowadays). The place was packed, although
the digs were intensely industrial (some sort
of post-apocalyptic abandoned factory, but
in a good way) and not very amenable to
the toddler and baby we had in our party.
Nevertheless, we were all very impressed by the
art on display and the whole sort of general
vibe of the thing.
following November. The idea was to present
the populace with a show we ourselves would
want to go to, so it had to overflow with the
sort of things we like. We dig strange and
unusual art, so that was the primary focus
(especially in the early days when our space
was more restricted), but the idea from the
beginning was to throw everything we love
into the mix (live entertainment, games, geeky
things, comics and books, toys, curiosities,
tattoos, costuming and cosplay, and everything
else fun, imaginative, unique, or wonderful).
Also, it had to be FREE (because we decided
to make the show we want to go to and we
don’t want to pay, although donations are
sincerely appreciated).
Where else has this Oddmall
weirdness spread (and how)?
Currently Oddmall: Emporium of the Weird
is happening every Spring at the Knight
Center in Akron, twice a year at the Culture
Center for the Arts in Canton (Oddmall:
Expedition Elsewhere in February and Oddmall:
Chrishanukwanzmadan in December), and
several times a year near Seattle, Washington.
My brother David runs the jazz in the
Pacific Northwest. I think he is planning on
shows in Tacoma, Washington and perhaps
Portland, Oregon soon. We also have plans
for another Ohio show this autumn (Oddmall:
Hallowondrous), possibly in Columbus or
Cleveland (but maybe in Akron). We’ll have
details available at the Akron Oddmall April
30 and May 1. Oddmall: Emporium of the
Weird (Bluegrass Edition) might also be a thing
relatively soon in Lexington, Kentucky.
We already had connections with various
venues in the region because we’d been
running Con on the Cob (
for several years by that time. So, inspired by
Bazaar Bizarre and just sort of on a whim,
we decided to give our own art show a try.
We didn’t want to simply copy a model that
was already invented, though, and we didn’t
want to compete with or take business from
other shows, so we hosted the first Oddmall:
Emporium of the Weird in May of 2009 at the
Clarion hotel in Hudson. The show was very
successful, with about 1500 attendees and 110
vendors. So successful was it, in fact (despite
What's your favorite Oddmall story or
the obvious learning curve and lessons we’ve
moment? What example exemplifies
learned along the way) that we pretty much
the experience?
immediately decided to do another Oddmall the I’m going to ask a few of the friends and peeps
How in the world do you all juggle
these events, your games, stories and
artwork, and still have a robust family life?
Heather: I loved watching the doors open that I can only answer for myself (Andy), but I do
indeed have my hands in many cookie jars.
first day at the John S Knight Center. The rush
A lot of the credit for Oddmall’s continued
of people through our first big scale opening.
success should be heaped upon my talented
I looked at them and thought, 'How do we
assistants Krystal and Greg. They do a lot of
provide and entertain all of these thousands of
people?' The answer was obvious and keeps on the grunt work so I can try to focus on the
creative aspects of the job (writing, illustration,
going: Just keep doing what we do for the art
& geek communities and they will keep coming. game design, and such). Both Oddmall and
Con on the Cob have an extremely helpful base
It's a genuine two way experience where we
of volunteers and friends who help us give
care about and help grow the community and
the illusion that things run smoothly. We are
they keep coming together with us to create a
extremely grateful for the help we get
unique experience every time.
from our friends in the community and in the
local media.
Aurora (age 7): I love wandering around
selling Oddmall stickers with my bandolier
Of course none of this would be worth doing
covered in buttons.
if it infringed upon family life. My wife Heather
and my daughters Iliana and Aurora are the
Jessica: My favorite is seeing people surprised
beans in my chili. Wait, that was a dumb
by the Zombie Massage. And hearing from
those that got a massage how much they loved metaphor. They are the vowels in my alphabet
soup. That was a little better. The raisins in my
it and hope that she's at the next OddMall!
bran? Anyway, they’re awesome, which is why
I try to keep work hours as regular as possible
Iliana (age 11): My favorite Oddmall memory
is when I entered the costume contest with my and involve them in every aspect of the jazz.
associated with Oddmall to help me answer
this question:
friends and we were all dressed as characters
from Five Night’s at Freddy’s.
Kylan: I loved seeing Steve Gonsalves from
“Ghost Hunters” come in and hear that he
came because someone told him about how
cool it was and he came to be around
his people.
Is there anything particularly Akron
or Northeast Ohio about Oddmall
and Mutha Oith?
Northeast Ohio has a consistently growing
and very exciting art scene. There are so many
talented and creative people up here. I like to
think we’re doing our part to help bring them
all together (along with our friends at Crafty
Mart, Wandering Aesthetics, Geek Watch
One, Dr. Sketchy, Summit Art Space, SynHak,
The Devil Strip, and many other artistic, geeky,
and imaginative local endeavors). There’s a
wonderful sense of openness and friendship
among Northeast Ohio’s creative community
that’s practically bereft of the stereotypical
arrogance and pretension people often
associate with artists and creative peeps.
Oddmall is proud to support and foster an
environment where openness, understanding,
acceptance, encouragement, and imagination
are cherished virtues.
About the Cover
The creature on the cover of the magazine is native to this area… kind of. Featured in the illustrated story book “Alphabeast Soup,” it’s called a Flounce
and it was born of Andy Hopp’s imagination. He’s the writer, illustrator and game designer who started Oddmall: Emporium of the Weird, which takes
over the Knight Center later this month. If you don’t already know, Oddmall is an Akron invention that’s in its seventh year and has spread as far away
as Seattle. To get a better handle on the fun, eclectic and strange you can expect at Oddmall his issue, we asked Andy to give us the story (Five Fast
Questions, pg. 6). “Alphabeast Soup” will be available at Oddmall and can be purchased online at You can learn more about
Oddmall at and more about Andy at
| THE Devil Strip / APRIL 2016 • VOL 2 • ISSUE #4
The costs of treating higher education like a business
An editorial by Chris Drabick
I lost my full-time job at the University of Akron.
I am, until the end of the Spring semester, an
instructor in the Department of English, with
the job title Temporary Visiting Lecturer. The
language itself portends how precarious a
position I, and the 100 or so other TVLs, have
been in.
Ask the UA administration, and you’ll hear in secret, away from the eyes and ears of the
talk of adding academic jobs. It’s a(nother) community they ostensibly serve.
lie. In my department, there were nine
TVLs in 2015-16. They “added”
“Run it like a business.”
three new full-time Instructor
jobs. Nine minus six. Six of us
We’ve heard this a million
gone. I can’t speak for other
times. The “it” changes, but
departments. But in mine,
the mantra remains. In what
But teaching is what I do, and it is what I’m
that means adjunct faculty
business would a 30 percent
supposed to do. In anonymous evaluations of
will teach 300 more students
drop in “customers” be
my composition courses, my students have said in 2016-17. This is not to
tolerated? They love to cite
things like:
disparage adjuncts, especially
“changing demographics,” but
considering I’ll be one in the Fall.
those numbers have not hurt our
“This man is the reason I now enjoy
“competitors’” enrollment figures.
writing so much.”
Adjuncts have it rough; some work at three
or even more different campuses, teaching
Perhaps it’s the litany of bad decisions and
“I wouldn’t want my friends to miss out
half-dozen sections per semester, subsisting
short sightedness that makes us feel powerless.
on having a teacher like (him).”
on something near or below poverty wages
We know it all by heart by now: $1
with no job security, and certainly unable to
million in renovations, baseball
“He wants to help you become a better
give the sort of time and attention to student
cut for naught, $850,000 to
writer (and) see his students succeed.”
work that would benefit everyone. But the
an unproven startup (started
suggestion that the current UA administration
up by a man with a federal
On these same evaluations, I finish with an
is doing anything in the best interests of current fraud investigation over his
overall response score always above the
or future students, that they care even one
head), which now handles
department mean. And it’s not because I’m
appreciable whit about education, is erroneous the student success once
handing out A’s like candy: check me out on
in every possible regard. Ask any adjunct.
ably handled by, you know,, and you’ll find students
Student Success. One after the
commonly classify me as a “Tough Grader” (I’ve Please don’t be fooled by the administration’s
other after the other. When we
also got one of those hotness chili peppers,
flashy, hollow buzzwords, the constant
hear that the University “borrowed”
which is neither here nor there but makes me
doublespeak or outright refusal to answer
$4.1 million from its students in the form of
feel better about myself nonetheless, which has any direct question, LeBron’s smiling face and
illegal fees, it gets added to an already weighty
become increasingly important of late as you
arm around Scott Scarborough. This is a failed
list of what would have once seemed like
might imagine).
administration. They conduct their business
unbelievable nonsense.
Run it
like a
But believe it. This actually happened. Has
anyone been punished for this tangible, literal
thievery, or any of the other crimes—some real,
some figurative—that have been perpetrated
by this administration of our University, our city,
our community? What will it take for us—and
make no mistake, it is up to us—to demand
accountability, to demand immediate change?
It’s not too late to start again. But it is getting
later. And it is going to be harder. This
University, this resource, is ours. It is not theirs.
It’s doubtless that you know someone who was
directly affected by the much-covered round
of job losses last summer. It was devastating.
“Mistakes were made,” they said.
There’s no front-page ABJ coverage
of this round of job losses. But
there will be fewer fulltime instructors in many
departments at UA in the
fall. Fewer Akronites with
health benefits, a decreased
tax base, less money for
good and services, the real
trickle-down economics.
They’ve learned to keep it quiet
this round. Don’t let them.
Make some
Make some fucking noise.
APRIL 2016 • VOL 2 • ISSUE #4 /
THE Devil Strip |
Thursday, April 21 • 6:30 pm • FREE
Join NEO Geo artist Paul O’Keeffe as he leads a tour of the museum’s collection. O’Keeffe brings his point of view as a former student
of collection artist Anthony Caro.
Clockwise from top left: Gianna Commito, Court (detail), 2014; Erik Neff, Shoreline (detail), 2015; Natalie Lanese, Depthless Without You (detail), 2015;
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 |
the arts
Rita Dove is a National Medal of Arts recipient, a
Pulitzer Prize winner and a former National Poet
Laureate — but here, she’s the Pride of Akron (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images) pg. 15
APRIL 2016 • VOL 2 • ISSUE #4 /
THE Devil Strip |
the arts
The palette: April events
Our picks for arts events in April
by Bronlynn Thurman
‹ Rubber City Shakespeare
Company: The Comedy of Errors
April 1-17 at Summit Art Space
Directed by Michele McNeal, “The Comedy of
Errors” is a Shakespearean play about two sets
of identical twins who are separated at birth
and find themselves in the same city. This leads
to a variety of mix-ups and quirky mishaps as
the twins attempt to figure out what’s going
on. Tickets are $14 for adults, $12 for seniors/
students and $10 for youth.
å The Sound of Music
April 8-10 at Cuyahoga Falls High School
The classic musical “The Sound of Music” will
be hitting the Cuyahoga Falls High School stage
in April. Come out to support students as they
take you back in time. The hills are alive!
ç Dr. Sketchy’s Akron:
Z the Swashbucklin' Rum-guzzler
April 13 at Jilly’s Music Room, 7:30 pm
Dr. Sketchy’s Anti-Art School is back again with
Z, the Swashbucklin’ Rum-guzzler. Drink, eat
and win prizes as you strengthen your drawing
skills with a group of local artists. People of all
skill levels are welcome, and admission is $10.
é Akron Coffee Roasters:
Coffees Around The World
April 14 at Akron Art Museum, 5:30 pm
Do you like coffee? Art? Well, look no further
as Akron Coffee Roasters host a Coffees
Around The World tour at the Akron Art
Museum. Taste Colombian, Indonesian, Java
and others paired with West Side Bakery
sweets. Hurry and get your tickets before
they’re gone. Members pay $6.27, while nonmembers pay $11.54.
è2016 Fairlawn Spring
Avant-Garde Art & Craft Show
April 16 at St. George Fellowship Center,
10 am - 5 pm This large art and craft show will
feature local artists of all kinds. Admission is $3.
It’s sure to leave you in stitches. Tickets are $22
for adults, $20 for seniors, $10 for children and
$11 for college students that show their ID.
í Lake Effect Poetry Grand Slam
April 23 at Hivemind, 7pm
Poets Sarah Holbrook and Kisha Nicole Foster
will emcee a three-round poetry slam featuring
poets who advanced in the eight qualifying
rounds. This is their chance to join a team of
other local poets. $5 donation suggested.
ì Miles Ahead
April 27 at The Nightlight & Blu Jazz+
Local talent Theron Brown will have his film
debut as Herbie Hancock in Don Cheadle’s
(A Storytelling Performance)
April 21-23 at ACAMP, 8pm
“Miles Ahead.” The Nightlight and Blu Jazz+
Kyle Jozsa, storyteller of Wandering Aesthetics, partnered up to have a premiere and show
has a way of immersing his audience in the
package. Come see a movie and talk to the
stories he tells. For Earth Day, check out his new actors afterwards.
batch of folktales from around the world. Each
have a common thread as they explore both
‹ Oddmall:
inner and outer peace. Tickets are $15.
Emporium of the Weird
April 30 - May 1 at John S. Knight Center
Oddmall: Emporium of the Weird is back for
ë Vanya and Sonia and
another year. Come check out this two-day
Masha and Spike
April 21 - May 8 at Weathervane Playhouse event that has everything from cosplay to artists
A comedy by Christopher Durang, “Vanya and
to LARPers. Admission is free, and you’re sure
Sonia and Masha and Spike” is about siblings
to have a good time.
and their ability to drive each other crazy.
Winner of the 2013 Tony Awards’ Best Play, this
is a “sunny new play about gloomy people.”
Lock 3 Summer Arts Experience Have you
ever wanted to be an artist’s apprentice
for a summer and earn $400? Well, here is
your chance.
ê Keep The Peace
| THE Devil Strip / APRIL 2016 • VOL 2 • ISSUE #4
Lock 3 is hosting their Summer Arts
Experience which allows APS students (or
those who live within the area) from ages
14-17 to work under an experienced artist
for the summer.
Subjects of interest include: Steel drums,
fashion design, orchard fence sculpture,
painted community cans, large mural
painting and sculpture.
To apply, email, mail in or drop off the
application form at Lock 3 found at this link:
Applications are due by April 29. Find more
information at
the arts
How two local makers illuminate the dark with their creative creations
by Sarah Koester
Having long been interested in using leftover
materials for a more creative process, K
Company employee Aaron Novak has
successfully done so with friend and business
partner, Glenn Miller.
Their endeavor began six months ago when
Novak brought some ductwork home from a
job site. Alongside Miller, they drilled holes in
a piece of pipe, wired it with a generic white
extension cord and made their first lamp in
Novak’s basement. While they were happy with
the end result, they wanted feedback. They
posted pictures of the lamp online and orders
from their friends started pouring in for stock
pulley lights and for larger industrial fixtures,
complete with an upgraded brown and yellow
braided cord with a vintage plug.
As their products started to gain attention, their
friend Andrew Wells ( built a
website and created a brand for the business,
now officially called Whiskertin.
Pictured above: Whiskertin owners, their lanterns,
“Andy has been a huge part of our success,”
said Novak. “He took our idea, polished it, and
made it a real thing.”
Cuyahoga Falls, Dr. Howard Nagle Dentistry in
Hermitage, PA, and a Rust Belt-themed bar, El
Dorado, set to open in Austin, TX.
Even though Miller and Novak had more orders
than they knew what to do with, they wanted
to branch out beyond their circle of friends.
Whiskertin stock lamps are currently for sale at
Hazel Tree Interiors. For more items, check out
Whistertin’s Facebook page. The cost of stock
lamps ranges from $90 to $300.
courtesy of Aaron Novak)
After the site was completed, 118 Cocktail Bar
in Green approached Whiskertin. Impressed
with their work, they ordered multiple pulley
lights and a 7-foot light fixture. The same
day, they met with Great Lakes Brewery, who
ordered six hanging light fixtures to be made
from their kegs. They are also currently working
with Matinee and Mr. Zub’s, Salon Lift in
To see more items or make a special
order, contact Miller and Novak on their
Facebook page: or at
Imagine what Akron will be like once the 27 winners of our
first Knight Arts Challenge launch their projects
Akron Songwriters Workshop ($18,000)
Promoting the art of songwriting by hosting a
week-long summer songwriters workshop for
Akron residents.
Akron Soul Train ($150,000) Supporting the
work of grassroots artists by launching Akron
Soul Train, a series of refurbished rail cars and
shipping containers that will be turned into
housing, galleries and studio space.
Akron Street Art Project ($25,000) Enlivening
and attracting new people to downtown
through public art projects.
Akron’s Toy Marble Railways ($24,000)
Celebrating Akron as the birthplace of the
world’s first mass-produced toy – the clay
marble – with an interactive, kinetic, sculpture
garden of toy marble railways at Lock 3 Park
and other public spaces.
Art Bomb Brigade ($45,000) Creating an “Art
Bomb Brigade,” a traveling group of artists that
visits neighborhoods in need of a facelift and
engages the community in public art-making.
Bigger Than a Breadbox ($75,000) Providing
a platform for Akron’s artists through Bigger
Than a Breadbox, a quarterly vaudeville show
of local talent that will travel to different
Helping Create Awareness
of Art & Culture in
Cuyahoga Falls
by Molly Hartong and Matt Weiss
and their beards: Aaron Novak and Glenn Miller (Photo
Akron Art Library ($67,200) Introducing
new audiences to collecting art by starting an
art rental program, where any resident with a
library card can check out works to display in
their home.
Cuyahoga Falls:
An Art & Culture
Dance.r.evolution ($40,000) Engaging new
audiences by bringing together classically
trained ballet dancers with local hip-hop
dancers, graffiti artists and urban/pop musicians
to create new work.
Developing Alternatives for Women
in New Communities ($6,410) Helping
Bhutanese women who came to Northeast
Ohio as refugees improve their sewing
and craft-making abilities, and market
their products.
The Cappies ($15,000) Building the next
generation of art critics by having local
journalists train high school theater and
journalism students in writing reviews, and then
honoring the best work at an awards show.
dreamUP ($20,000) Bringing together
a diverse group of women in a series of
workshops where they will create artistic pieces
that reflect their individual life visions and goals.
The Curated Storefront ($100,000) Bringing
more art into the city by activating unused
storefronts in downtown with multimedia
art installations that showcase local and
regional artists.
The Glass Menagerie Through the Prism of
Autism ($12,000) Providing audiences with a
greater understanding of the challenges facing
people with autism with a theater experience
(continued on page 34)
After about a year and a half of conversations,
Molly Hartong, of Molly Hartong Design, and
Matt Weiss, of Right Brain Design Group, are
working on bringing awareness of the art
and culture scene in Cuyahoga Falls into the
spotlight. The conversations were consistently
about the potential in Cuyahoga Falls. Finally,
Molly reached out and connected with Nicole
Mullet from ArtsNow of Summit County, and
things started happening.
The first meeting of what is now called
COLLIDE: Cuyahoga Falls was held at the
Cuyahoga Valley Art Center and was attended
by about 25 artists and supporters of the
arts. The purpose of the meeting was to get
a general sense of what the "art scene" was
in Cuyahoga Falls, and what the attendees
would like to see in our city. A lot of terrific
discussions took place that evening. Much of
the talk helped define the purpose of COLLIDE.
For the next gathering, COLLIDE partnered up
again with Mullet and representatives from
Better Block Cuyahoga Falls. This mixer was
held at the Cashmere Cricket in the Falls and
had roughly 50 people in attendance.
After talking with other creatives in the Falls,
creating an "art district" and building an
awareness of what Cuyahoga Falls has to
offer seemed like the primary focus for this
emerging art & culture collaborative. Cuyahoga
Falls has a wealth of talented, diverse and
energetic people, and if COLLIDE can bring
that energy together, great things will happen
for the community. COLLIDE wants all forms of
art, from culinary to tattoo to performing and
visual artists to be included.
For any organization to last and thrive, young
people need to be willing and able to get
involved. So one of COLLIDE’s goals is to reach
out to the local schools and work with them
on helping develop and support the future
artists in our community.
Through partnerships with ArtsNow and other
groups in the community, COLLIDE can make
great things happen in Cuyahoga Falls.
Keep up with COLLIDE:
Cuyahoga Falls on Facebook at:
the arts
Meditation Gets a Makeover
Two Miller South students bring peace to the walls of Just Be
by Noor Hindi
In March, Miller South students and aspiring
artists Bella Zetts and Bayan Ahmad were given
the opportunity to paint a mural in Just Be
Meditation’s new studio in Green. Walking into
the studio, you’ll immediately be struck with the
beauty and detail of the artists’ work.
“I wanted this mural slap dab in our entry way
to captivate people's attention and to possibly
prompt them to consider having beauty and
art in their own homes and offices,” Just Be
Founder Eden Kozlowski said. “That one-of-akind creative works can be accessible, and it
can come from unexpected places.”
The mural, which was finished just in time for
Just Be’s grand opening on March 12, is not the
first big project the girls have completed. For
First Night in downtown Akron, both Ahmad
and Zetts completed the Lock 3 banners.
The mural in Just Be’s studio features various
symbols of peace that are accented with
a white and gray background. One of the
symbols is a dove. “That’s the dove that
stands for peace, and (Kozlowski) just wanted
something that symbolized peace, so we
decided on a dove,” Zetts said.
The project, which Ahmad said took them over
three weekends to complete, greeted over
70 visitors on opening day. Previously located
in the Kruger Shopping Plaza in Green, the
studio is now located on 1790 Town Park Blvd
in Uniontown.
Pictured above: Artists Bella Zetts and Bayan Ahmad
in front of their Peace Mural at Just Be Meditation
(PHOTO: Noor Hindi/The Devil Strip)
For more information about
upcoming classes and
community events, visit
Just Be Meditation
on Facebook:
“The bigger space (which has a large
meditation room, kitchen/gathering space
and two therapy rooms) also allows Just Be
to bring in several other colleagues whom I
deeply respect and trust to further enhance our // BIO: When she’s not freaking out about poetry, the
outreach capabilities and therapeutic offerings,” Nervous Poodle Poet enjoys getting her Namaste on at
Just Be Meditation.
Kozlowski said.
Akron Cento
National Poetry Month makes arts editor Noor Hindi want
to jump up and down with excitement and WRITE.ALL.THE.
POEMS. Not only is this month dedicated to the celebration of
all of the fabulous poems and poets who have inspired us and
made us better writers, but it’s a great time for us to flex our
poetic muscles and be the badasses that we are. Last month, we
asked fellow Akronites to send us a line of prose to be featured
in our very own Akron Cento. For those of you who aren’t
poetry experts, a cento is a poem wholly composed of verses
or passages taken from other authors. Akron, you’ve got some
poetic genius in you. Also, you really love birds and the sky.
See >>
Thanks to poets Paul Mangus, Kate Nypaver, Rachel Lenk,
Dillon McCrea, Chris Kessinger, Melanie Anderson, Marianna
Hofer, Robin Watton Stevens, Lia Pietrolungo and Twitter user
@Aayla305 for contributing a line to our poem.
I drift like an unleashed balloon through cotton skies
the intense aroma of nostalgia providing my wings
to fly. When I speak of you and I, I use the royal we.
Small birds chittered at each other as they picked
through the aster’s dried stems and flowers, picking
out seeds. I looked at my camera and realized you’re
the bird I couldn’t get a picture of. Gazing through
the winterwood in bright anticipation, the wind is
whispering to me again, the promise of adventure
and secrets kissing my skin. Maybe I just want
my blanket back, maybe I can't stop thinking about
eggs and my life is in scrambles.
That’s all the creativity I have left.
| THE Devil Strip / APRIL 2016 • VOL 2 • ISSUE #4
the arts
Creative Devils
They may not get a certificate and recognition on the
loudspeaker, but some Barberton HS kids deserve our
recognition for staying true to their art and themselves
words and photos by Mary Menzemer
Photos courtesy of: Mary Menzemer/The Devil Strip
Barberton used to get a bad rap. Let’s be honest. Lately however, it seems like all of our
previous notions about the town are doing a complete 180. In the last year or so, I have
heard only of the awesome, creative things that young people are doing to make their
town one that is more involved in the lives of its people and a more artistically fulfilling
place to live.
In order to find high school students in art classes for this piece, I contacted several
local high schools mostly in the Akron Public School district asking them if they had any
kids who were outstanding art students and if they were willing to set up a meeting
with them. Out of the six or so teachers and administrative personnel I contacted, only
one responded: Ron White, art teacher at Barberton High School.
From the art students I spoke with, to the three high school girls organizing the
Fourth Friday event, it is evident that young people in Barberton are running their own
revolution, one that is dedicated to individuality and creativity.
Xavier Adkins
Barberton High School
“I do pencil shading
because I’m colorblind.
There’s a piece
that I’m currently
working on of an angel holding a
shield. I’ve been working on it for a
week because I only have an hour a day
to work on it. I’m thinking I want to go
to college to be a marine biologist, but
keep drawing on the side as a hobby.
I like art because it helps when I get
stressed. It helps me with how I think.
I enjoy it, but it helps clear my mind
too. I’ve been ice carving a lot too.
I want to do everything with ice. My favorite
thing in the world is water. I won’t drink it, but
I like doing water things. And when everyone’s
asks, ‘Why won’t you eat fish or anything?’ I
always do the joke, ‘I don’t eat my kind.’”
Jazmin Jackson
Barberton High School
“Art is a great way to
express yourself and
put your feelings on a
piece of paper. I draw a
lot of characters, mostly Japanese animation
characters. I draw them in different mediums
and different styles; some are realistic and
some aren’t. I do want to get involved in
professional art, and I’m excited to be in high
school because I see an opportunity to get really
involved in that. I make Japanese dance videos
online with 3D animation also. I want to make
art a part of my career, whether I get into art
therapy or be an animator. I love it so much and
wouldn’t care how much I get paid for it; I just
want to do it every day.”
Opening April 15th
Directed by Franck Ekinci, Christian Desmares
the arts
Drama on
the Spectrum
A look into Akron’s newest creative school.
words by Andrew Leask
photos courtesy of the Center for Applied Drama and Autism
Like most drama teachers, Wendy Duke and
Laura Valendza, co-founders of the Center for
Applied Drama and Autism, start their classes
with warm-up exercises.
On Saturday morning in early February I sat in
on their class at the Balch Street Theatre. Duke
had her students practice their body language.
She called out instructions to the children, all
between the ages of nine and 12, from a chair
up against the wall of the auditorium.
“What does your body look like when you’re
sad,” she asked. All at once, the children hung
their heads, and their shoulders sagged. They
marched around the room, silent and forlorn.
“Freeze,” said Duke. The children stopped in
their tracks. As she scanned over the class,
she invited her students to inspect their
classmates. “We should see statues of sad
people,” she said.
Duke continued the exercise by cycling through
different emotional states for her students to
perform. They had to play angry, nervous and
suspicious. And each time, she told them to
freeze and to observe the body language of the
children around them.
At first glance, there is nothing particularly
notable about this exercise. It could be a part of
any drama class. But there is a reason why Duke
and her fellow teacher, Laura Valendza, have
chosen to use this particular exercise with this
particular set of students. Most of the children
and young adults in Duke and Valendza’s
weekly classes are on the autism spectrum.
People on the autism spectrum — a range of
related neurodevelopmental disorders — often
struggle to read body language and facial
expressions. By having their students act out
emotional states in front of their peers, Duke
and Valendza are teaching them to recognize
nonverbal social cues.
as laughter echoed across the auditorium.
But that’s part of the magic of the CADA. It
provides more than just acting classes.
“The program is probably the best thing that’s
happened to my son,” said Angie Laakso,
CADA’s Business Manager. Her 12-year-old son
attends classes there. For him, Laakso said, the
program provides a safe space where he can
just be himself. “He’s always on the defensive,”
she said. “Protecting himself from sounds, or
feelings, or anxiety, or from embarrassment, or
whatever. This is a place where he doesn’t have
to protect himself.”
None of this would be possible without the
hard work of the CADA’s volunteer teaching
assistants, who support Duke and Valendza
every week. These young people, some of
whom are on the autism spectrum themselves,
also comprise the program’s performance
troupe, Theatre on the Spectrum. Dedicated
to providing hands-on experience in theatrical
production to its members, Theatre on the
Spectrum also seeks to raise awareness of
issues important to the autism community.
This month, on April 23, they will stage an
interactive murder mystery at the AES Building
in Downtown Akron.
Indeed, the important thing to recognize is
that these students are very much a part of
the drama community in Akron. According
to Valendza, people should let the idea of
a disability go, and instead see the amazing
contributions these individuals can make. “Not
by changing them or forcing them into a certain
way,” Valendza said, “but by letting them be
who they are, which is what we do.”
“They get it,” she said. “And they are making
wonderful theatre.”
// BIO: Andrew Leask writes fiction in the company of
his wife, Amy, and their two cats, Monty and Nigella.
This is in keeping with the larger goal of the
Center for Applied Drama and Autism. Duke
and Valendza aim to nurture a passion for
drama in their students, while helping them
to develop important life skills that will serve
them long after they leave the classroom. This
was especially evident in the second class I sat
in on: The “Transitions” course for teens and
young adults. In addition to rehearsing scenes
from Shakespeare’s Macbeth, these students
took part in exercises that had them improvising
scenes based on real-life interactions, such as
waiting at a crowded bus stop.
If that sounds like work, one certainly doesn’t
get that impression from the students. At times,
the class seemed to descend into joyful chaos
Spring session classes with the Center for
Applied Drama and Autism begin April 9
in the Evans Building at 333 S Main St., in
Downtown Akron. For more information, or
to register for classes, visit
On March 15, the Center for Applied Drama and Autism was chosen as one of 27 winners of the Knight Arts Challenge.
The $12,000 awarded to the group will go toward staging Theatre on the Spectrum’s first major production, Tennessee
Williams’s The Glass Menagerie, scheduled for September. The production will include scenes and experiences designed to
give attendees a greater understanding of issues related to autism.
| THE Devil Strip / APRIL 2016 • VOL 2 • ISSUE #4
the arts
Rita Dove on Love, Race,
Family and Akron History
An interview in celebration of
National Poetry Month
by Noor Hindi
A few months ago, I picked up Rita Dove’s
Pulitzer Prize winning poetry collection
“Thomas and Beulah,” which tells the story
of Dove’s maternal grandparents. My love for
this collection was immediate and powerful.
Overwhelmed by the beauty of Dove’s work, I
reached out to see if she’d be willing to answer
a few questions about the collection and her
personal tie to Akron.
Noor Hindi: It's interesting to me that you
grew up in Akron and that your family is also
from Akron. It's also very significant that your
father was the first black chemist to work in
the tire industry, which was booming in the
mid 1900s. I am wondering how Akron's rich
history, as well as your grandparents’ and
parents’ lives, have influenced your poetry
and work?
Rita Dove: That's a book length question!
I mean, it would require an entire memoir
to explain the impact of my parents' and
grandparents' influence upon me. For instance,
the storytelling ability certainly comes from
a legion of female relatives, and the succinct
comic element would be the domain of some
of my male relatives, who could tell jokes like
nobody's business. But that doesn't get at all
of the tiny moments that influenced me – my
mother's love of literature and her penchant
for quoting Shakespeare during very domestic
moments; my father's chemical research and
his setting, by example, a scholarly rigor that
often resulted in joyous discovery; or even
Akron as a city, which in the mid 1900s was
a vibrant and essential link in the industrial
boom felt nationwide. As school children, we
felt important—Akron was on the global map
because we manufactured tires that rolled out
into that wide world; also, Quaker Oats had
made the long journey across the Atlantic to
find a home right here in our Fair City. There
was irrefutable physical proof of our presence
on the globe: the Quaker Oats silos, clustered
Pictured above: “Thomas and Beulah” photo
courtesy of Pictured left: Rita Dove
headshot courtesy of Fred Viebahn
Poetry is out to penetrate that protective
shield, our superego, and plunge us back
into emotions, and so it happens that details,
sensory details – anything that engages the
five senses -- will help create this emotional
When I was writing the poems that comprise
“Thomas and Beulah,” my surging desire was
to fill in the vacuum I had felt in life and in
art – that representation of black people up
to that point, were mostly either cardboard
cutouts or in-depth explorations of the poor
in concrete in the center of town and pictured
and angry black man, the poverty-stricken and
on boxes on our breakfast tables; the smell of
suffering black woman. Granted, those kinds
rubber on Akron’s east side and the very tires
of extremities make for dramatic reading; but
my father helped develop in his laboratory
what of the ordinary life? Daydreaming while
at Goodyear.
dusting, going to a rummage sale, sitting
down to dinner – as long as the quotidian
NH: The poems in “Thomas and Beulah” weave consciousness that defines us all as human
together complex topics such as love, race,
beings was missing, the mainstream (speak:
history, and family. I noticed how simple, yet
majority) population could easily dismiss an
extraordinarily both Thomas and Beulah are
entire minority race as caricatures, symbols of
written about in your collection. I am curious
destitution both physical and spiritual.
to know how poetry can be used to open
up a wider conversation about large subjects
In “Thomas and Beulah” and many other
through emotional storytelling and the use of
poems, I try to counter such ignorance and
average, everyday humans that are just trying
thoughtlessness through language – words
to get by.
that infuse and enlighten us, that complicate
and deepen our perceptions so that even in a
RD: It comes down to what I tell my students
stranger we can recognize echoes of ourselves.
all the time: details, details, details! We live
That’s what poetry can do; it’s a daunting,
our lives in details, while we contemplate our
exhilarating undertaking, and I wouldn’t have it
lives in the abstract. When trying to recreate
any other way.
an emotional memory, however, details are
the only way to go – for we humans do not
// BIO: For more poetic badassery, look out for the
apprehend the world in any other way but
launch of The Nervous Poodle Poet’s blog on April 15.
through our five senses; it is only when we
Until then, go write some poems, you poet, you.
want to withdraw a bit from the tumult of
life's experiences do we begin to think about
our lives rather than live them; do we try to
This interview was shortened for print.
find suitable representational extractions in our Read the full interview with Rita Dove on
language with which to contain our emotions.
Upcoming events:
April 20: Oracle card reader Billy Tyler
May: comedian Sarah Jones
June: Josh Stone from The Fifth Wheel
the arts
Excerpt of an interview with
Brian O'Donnell
writer and director of
by Christine Mayer
The Big Bang: Where Sewing and Art Connect
How Connie Bloom got her groove back
words and photos by Megan Combs
Growing up in Akron as an only child, Connie
Bloom always thought the hole she felt in her
heart was because she didn’t have any siblings.
Only later in life did she learn her missing
connection was with animals: animals that
ended up connecting her back to her art.
In her late 40s, Bloom bought a house in
Highland Square that was equipped with a
security system. When thieves still managed to
break into her garage and steal her brand new
bicycle, she felt violated. So she headed to the
local animal shelter to adopt a dog.
“I found this beautiful mutt,” she said. “I didn’t
like dogs because I had been bitten in the past,
but I knew I had room in my heart for
a creature.”
Along with being a writer, Bloom has also
always been a seamstress, sewing mostly
clothing. She didn’t start making modern day
quilt tapestries until she brought Emily home.
“You’ve heard that expression ‘my dog ate my
homework,’” Bloom asked. “Well, my
dog made me do it. She made me want to
create again.”
In her Summit Artspace third floor studio,
Bloom sits at her precious sewing machine
dubbed “Bella,” surrounded by her work.
Her tapestries are all handmade with a noncomputerized sewing machine. Every twist and
turn in every stitch is created at her hands. Her
fabric is specially dyed, not commercial. And
every piece has a story.
“I have never made a bad quilt,” Bloom said.
“I don’t like following other people’s patterns.
I love to mix them up. Everything on my quilts
is original. There are no little things from
Pat Catan’s.”
As she loads thread onto Bella, a HQSixteen
HandiQuilter sewing machine, she explains that
there are no feet on the machine to pull her
fabric through. And when she starts sewing,
she explains that any pattern or stitch she
makes just flows from her brain to her hands.
At the time, Emily, a pooch with pointy ears
and a sweet face, was about 5 or 6 years old
(pictured above). She had a beautiful light
brown coat peppered with white and darker
brown spots. Because Bloom had never had
a dog and didn’t know how to be a “dog
mom,” she asked her boss at the Akron Beacon
Journal for two weeks off. It was a different
sort of maternity leave, but maternity leave
She learned how to take care of Emily and took
her to training classes at her local PetSmart.
And the pet’s story is almost always different
than what the parents say.”
For example, the owner of a black lab wanted
Bloom to create a tapestry of her dog before
it passed away. Before meeting the dog,
Bloom was under the impression that this
dog was going to pass soon. When Bloom
met the woman and her dog at a dog park,
she described the dog as having a coat that
“shimmered,” and that it was acting like it just
couldn’t wait to get out there and play with the
other dogs.
“That dog was so far from death,” Bloom said.
“I ended up stitching him to look like an African
warrior with the warrior stripes. When I create
animal tapestries, they’ll look like your animal,
but in a way you’ve never seen.”
Bloom has her tapestries on display in her
Summit Artspace studio, and she also offers
prints of her work.
// BIO: Megan wants Connie Bloom to be her
fairy godmother.
“I riff on it,” she smiles. “I just let it go like a
guitar player. When a human makes shapes
in fabric, it’s different than a computer. As an
artist, I believe your hands should be in it.”
Bloom’s art inspirations come from nature and
animals. She’s immortalized many beloved
animals in her quilts, not only hers but other
people’s pets as well. But before she does any
sewing, she makes a personal visit to each pet
and its family.
“I have to meet everyone, especially the
creature,” Bloom said. “I ask the parents what
the pet is like, and then I ask the pet its story.
| THE Devil Strip / APRIL 2016 • VOL 2 • ISSUE #4
You can find Connie on or reach her at
[email protected]
See more of her work at
for a video with Connie Bloom
Christine Mayer: By now many people know
a bit about the film. It’s a story about young
love and loyalty to family. It just so happens
that the two young lovers of “AKRON” are
both men. And yet, the film is not about that
fact per se. It’s not about how everyone else
will react to their love or to the fact that they
are gay. It has moved beyond those themes
to a world – a world that looks a whole lot
like modern day Akron – in which both young
men are open and free and surrounded by
the support of family and friends. What were
you trying to say? Is the world of “AKRON”
reality? Utopia?
Brian O’Donnell: Yes! All of
the above. We are in a time of
change right now and I
wanted to express that. ...This
is a story that has not been
told in film, and that’s why I
wanted to tell it. Somehow I think the
existence of this option – an open, free,
supported, embraced life – is made more real
by showing it on the big screen. When fathers
see a portrayal of a father who loves his gay
son without reservation, then loving one’s gay
son without reservation can be more of a real
choice. I believe this is why people are
attracted to “AKRON” — because it allows
them to see this relationship in a way they
haven’t before, with no shame, no homophobia, no secrecy or fighting the system.
CM: Can you give me a vignette from
when we were 18 and one from now that
shows how the community of Akron has
changed for you?
BO: When I was 18, Akron was much more
conservative than it is now. I wasn’t out. I literally did not know a single openly gay person. I
moved to New York City to go to college and
to figure out who I was and who I could be.
Fast forward to 2014. I return to Akron with
a script about two openly gay, happy, healthy
college students who fall in love with the support of their family. ...The old differences that
seemed to define us just don’t loom so large
anymore. In this instance, all of that distance
was replaced by love and support.
CM: Any words of wisdom for
your hometown?
BO: Sure. Create in Akron! Tell new stories.
Tell them together. Akron seems to be in an
exciting period of redefinition, so roll up your
sleeves and be a part of that! And for sure
come out to see AKRON at the main library in
downtown Akron on April 8 at 7:00 p.m. I’ll
be talking to the audience and we’re having
an open party at The Mustard Seed in Highland Square after the screening. More info on
the film is at and tickets to
the screening are at
Get the full interview online at
culture & community
It’s time to get outside again and few
places are as lovely as the miles-long
Virginia Kendall Ledges inside the
Cuyahoga Valley National Park just
south of Happy Days Visitor Center.
(Photo by Sophie Hamad)
APRIL 2016 • VOL 2 • ISSUE #4 /
THE Devil Strip |
culture & Community
‹ Children’s Concert Society’s
Premiere of Verb Ballet’s Peter Pan
April 6-7 at Akron Civic Theater
Children's Concert Society will present
the premiere of Verb Ballets Peter Pan
choreographed by Pamela Pribisco, suggested
for grades K-3. The cost is $5 per student,
but scholarships are available for those who
cannot pay part or any of the ticket price.
Teachers and chaperones are free. CCS provides
transportation for schools in Summit County
that cannot provide their own. For more
information, call 330-972-2504.
å Happy Hour on Cascade Plaza
community events
Race at the Raffle
April 8 at Cascade Plaza, 5-8 pm
Help reimagine Cascade Plaza during a free
happy hour event featuring music, games
and more. Food and drink will be available for
purchase. Remarks from Mayor Horrigan and
Summit County Executive Russ Pry start at
5:30 pm
‹ Death and Taxes:
Strange & Ghostly Valley Tales
April 8 at Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad/
Akron Northside Station, 6:30 pm
Ben Franklin famously said that the only
certainties in life are death and taxes. With tax
season upon us, come out for a special train
ride through the valley and hear stories of
crooked ghosts, shady dealings, and lost buried
treasure. Beer, wine and other beverages will be
available in the concession car. Tickets are
$20 per person and pre-sale only. Visit for details.
ç Cleveland International Film
Festival: Knight and Day in Akron
April 8-9 at multiple locations
The Knight Foundation brings the Cleveland
International Film Festival to Akron for three
days. Friday, April 8 kicks off the event with
a 7 pm showing of AKRON: The Film at the
Akron-Summit County Public Library. Saturday
films will be showing at the Akron Art Museum
and The Nightlight all day and night, beginning
at 11:30 am. For tickets and information, visit or call 877-304-FILM.
Use discount code AKRON to get $2 off
each ticket.
é Microbusiness Center
Grand Opening
Feelin’ Lucky?
April 9th at The Tangier
Event begins at 5:30 - Races start at 6:00
Open Bar - Live & Silent Auctions
Info & Tickets at
| THE Devil Strip / APRIL 2016 • VOL 2 • ISSUE #4
April 7 at Akron-Summit County Public
Library, 4-7 pm
With the help of a Knight Foundation grant,
the Main Branch of the Akron-Summit
County Public Library has created a multi-use
space on the first floor to support emerging
entrepreneurs, maker activities, digital media
creation and community meetings. At the
Grand Opening event, light appetizers will be
served, followed by cake, tours and demos.
Please register through
Call or text Linda Hale with questions at
330-802-0839, or email [email protected]
professionals in the Akron area by connecting
minorities to leaders in Akron's growing startup
scene. For Code Akron's inaugural firechat,
their first guest will be Unbox Akron Chief
Curator, writer and DJ, Roger Riddle. Hosted
by Kevin Lockett, the focus of the talk will be
on "Targeting, Building and Maintaining Your
Audience." The discussion will weave from
Roger's life from DJ to marketer and how he
attracts, builds and maintains an audience
from the incubator to the dance floor. This
event is FREE but strictly for professionals
and college students. Please register through
è Yoga in the Galleries
April 14 at Akron Art Museum, 6:30 pm
The transformational power of yoga for
individuals, relationships, and communities
comes alive in the Akron Art Museum galleries.
Combine breath, flow and art in a beginnerfriendly series taught by a certified Nirvana
Yoga instructor. Bring your own mat. No
water bottles allowed in the galleries. Register
through Members: free;
Non-members: $10.
‹ 11th annual Girls' Nite
April 15 at Zeber-Martell Clay Studio
and Gallery, 5-8 pm
Mark your calendar for the 11th annual Girls'
Nite with NOTO and Zeber-Martell. On Friday,
April 15, this annual event returns with food,
fun and fashion.
‹ Adventures in Stamping
Workshops April 22-23 & Vendors
April 23-24 at John S. Knight Center
Adventures In Stamping is Ohio's premier
rubber stamp, scrapbook and paper craft
convention, offering the latest products and
techniques by nationally and internationally
acclaimed artists, vendors, and teachers. Get
inspired by the great exhibits, hands-on classes,
booth demonstrations. Have fun with door
prizes, make and takes, and lots of shopping.
Check out for more
information and to purchase tickets.
ê Chris Perondi's
Stunt Dog Experience
April 23 at Akron Civic Theatre, 8 pm
Perondi’s talented celebrity stunt dogs have
been rescued from pounds and shelters from
across the country. Their mission is to promote
pet adoption, responsible pet ownership,
and educate on the importance of spay and
neutering. For tickets and more information,
ë Party for the Planet
April 23 at the Akron Zoo
Join the Akron Zoo for Earth Day festivities as
they showcase the zoo’s sustainable and green
efforts through different activities, crafts and
more. Visit for details.
‹ Code Akron Q&A: Roger Riddle
(Building Your Audience)
April 13 at OSC Tech Lab, 6-8 pm
Code Akron is reaching out to the urban
culture & community
two roommates in Highland Square
We asked what they think of Akron. Here’s what they had to say.
compiled by M. Sophie Hamad
Ashley Suzelis
Age: 34
Holistic Esthetician
Hometown: Paris Township, OH
Neighborhood: Highland Square
What do you wish was more on Akronites'
radar? Where are all the late night coffee
shops?! One thing I loved about living in Los
Angeles is there are several coffee shops that
are open all night or at least until the bars close,
feature all kinds of local art, have weekly open
mics, poetry, collaboration of all kinds. But
most importantly, they are a meeting place for
creative types that don’t wanna hang out at the
bars and want to express their creativity with
others. I desperately want to see that culture
cultivated in Akron outside of people’s homes!
What is your favorite local cultural asset?
I love that Akron is becoming more of a melting
pot with North Hill being very accommodating
for non-native Americans. I also love that Akron
has a culture of its own which in essence is
healing/artistic oriented. The culture seems
to be one that is very invested in healing old
wounds and creating a more holistic future in
all areas.
there are so many gorgeous parks within five
minutes of where I live. I love to escape in
nature and connect with the Earth. Indigo Lake
is one of my favorite spots. When did you fall for Akron? I fell for
Akron several years ago when I moved back
to Ohio from California. I was living on my
family’s farm and kept finding myself in Akron,
meeting very genuine, inviting and inspiring
people. I started developing some of the most
amazing friendships I’ve experienced anywhere.
The people in Akron are quite amazing. Very
resilient, yet kind and giving. The people
definitely made me fall for Akron. Why should everyone try your favorite
local restaurant? My favorite local restaurant
is the new Mustard Seed in Highland
Square! Where else can a health conscious,
heart centered gal go and feel completely
comfortable eating anything on the menu with
the added beauty of being welcomed by friends
pretty much every time I go? “Don’t you wanna
go, where everybody knows your name?”
Where in Akron do you like to escape?
It wouldn’t be an escape if I told ya! But really,
What is your favorite local cultural asset?
The Metro Parks and the people.
Josh Estafen
Age: 35
Occupation: Director of IT at
Mustard Seed Market
Hometown: Highland Square
Neighborhood: Highland Square
What do you wish was on more
Akronites radar? Local focus, healthy
lifestyles, self-conscious thought and action,
electronic and live music, and technology.
When did you fall for Akron? Akron has
always had my heart. It’s my hometown—my
birthplace. It’s got roots in who I am. I spent
years living in Orlando as well as NYC, and I
always "fell" for Akron when I came
back home.
Where in Akron do you like to escape?
My home! Never there enough as it is!
Why should everyone try your favorite
local restaurant? I will say my favorite
restaurant changes from time to time, but right
now I'm really enjoying Sushi Asia Gourmet in
the valley. As to why: because it’s locally owned
and operated.
The food quality is great! One of the more
authentic Szechuan menus I've had since
Chinatown in Manhattan. Some of the best
dishes are only listed on the in-house menu.
It’s been great every time thus far.
吀䠀唀刀匀䐀䄀夀Ⰰ 䄀倀刀䤀䰀 ㄀㐀
䜀䄀吀䔀匀 伀倀䔀一 䄀吀 㔀 ∠ 䜀䄀䴀䔀 吀䤀䴀䔀 䄀吀 㘀㨀㌀㔀倀䴀
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嘀䤀匀䤀吀 䄀䬀刀伀一刀唀䈀䈀䔀刀䐀唀䌀䬀匀⸀䌀伀䴀 伀刀 䌀䄀䰀䰀 ⠀㌀㌀ ⤀ ㈀㔀㌀ⴀ㔀㄀㔀㄀
APRIL 2016 • VOL 2 • ISSUE #4 /
THE Devil Strip |
culture & community
Pictured left: Ernie Kiraly climbing out of Whiskey
Dick’s storage room (PHOTO: Courtesy of Ernie Kiraly)
liquor business, Percoco opened the North
Valley Grocery, where he further forged a name
for himself as a beloved community figure and
savvy business man. Percoco would run his
liquor out of the back door, down the alley, and
into a bar in another nearby building.
During a police raid in June of 1931 the Akron
police found the motherlode hidden in a back
room; roughly 90 gallons of assorted liquor
and 200 pounds of yeast were confiscated, and
Whiskey Dick was arrested once more.
North Howard Street Building Connects
“Kings of Akron” through the Generations
by Lia Pietrolungo
Upon approaching the Kiraly Fencing Academy,
you are plucked from Akron and ushered into
a medieval castle where a crackling fire greets
you from the stone hearth as Ernie Kiraly,
owner and fencing master, welcomes you into
his kingdom.
Ernie Kiraly at Kiraly Fencing Academy
At the age of twenty, Kiraly began taking karate
lessons at the first school in Akron. Seven
years later, he began taking European fencing
lessons after reading an article on the sport,
and went on to learn the Japanese forms of
swordsmanship, Kendo and Iaido. Kiraly studied
these moving art forms under Master Tetsuya
Higuchi, a Tokyo native turned Clevelander.
Kiraly teaches European Foil, épée, sabre, and
broadsword, as well as Japanese Tento, Kendo,
and Iaido.
Kiraly’s love of swordsmanship took him around
the globe to learn teaching methods from the
top fencing academies in the world, which
he adopted for his teachings at his academy.
During his “quest to see the world”, Kiraly was
able to grow his collection of antique arms and
armor, as well as his collection of prints, oil
paintings, and original medieval manuscripts.
(PHOTO: Paul Hoffman/The Devil Strip)
Resting above the fireplace is the Kiraly family
crest: a shield adorned with a lion wearing a
crown and holding a scimitar above its head – a
symbol that proclaims that the Kiraly family
defended their Hungarian motherland against
the Ottoman Empire in 1652. The last name
“Kiraly” itself translates to “king”.
Kiraly displays his art year-round for the
Akron Art Walk, and is constantly updating
his collection. Not only are the walls of the
academy lined with historical artifacts, but
the building itself stands as an historical
site once belonging to Liborio “Whiskey
Dick” Percoco, Akron’s own larger-than-life
bootlegging legend.
Kiraly, a life member of the U.S. Fencing
Association, U.S. Fencing Coaches Association,
and Académie D'Armes Internationale, has
an amicable nature and an air of calm that
breathes a personal, homey life to the stone
walls of his warehouse-turned-fencingacademy, which he runs with the help of his
assistants, Todd Seephong and Tom Murray.
As legend has it, Whiskey Dick used the
warehouse as his operations center to house
his liquor. A tunnel supposedly runs from
the building itself to a field across from the
warehouse where houses once stood, but the
homes have long since been demolished. The
tunnels have yet to be rediscovered, but Kiraly’s
unearthing of an otherwise inaccessible storage
| THE Devil Strip / APRIL 2016 • VOL 2 • ISSUE #4
room suggests that there hides a secret to
Akron’s past beneath its soil.
The storage room, built roughly ninety years
ago, was discovered accidentally by Kiraly’s
friend, who stepped on and broke an old clay
pipe that was buried in the ground. While
trying to cover up the hole, Kiraly’s foot
stomped into the hidden room.
The ten by ten room, which has long since
been caved in as a safety precaution, had no
accessible point of entry or exit, save for a
concrete slab that sealed it off from the outside
world. After sledgehammering his way into the
room, Kiraly found decades-old, rotted whiskey
barrels, presumably belonging to Whiskey Dick.
The 1931 bust was the beginning of an
investigation into Whiskey Dick and his liquor
ring. Although the case ultimately fell to
hands of the federal government, the Akron
police were credited for the initial arrests and
investigations. The bust that brought the
“liquor mob” to its knees happened in the fall
of 1931 when federal agents cracked the ring,
seizing “470 gallons of liquor and a perfectly
good automobile.”
At the end of the prohibition era in 1933,
Percoco remained in the liquor business by
providing restaurants with legal booze. Percoco
opened up his own nightclub, the Ritz, in
1934. Percoco’s most successful business postprohibition, however, was the P & C Bail and
Inland Bonding Co., which he co-owned with
Sam B. “Sammy” Comeriato.
P & C expanded Percoco’s empire to thirty-eight
states, and landed 80 percent of the bonding
business in the Akron court system. During P
& C’s forty year run, only 47 bond jumpers got
away. Percoco was the most well-known and
successful bondsman in the business.
In 1980, at the age of 83, Percoco passed away.
Kiraly’s discovery, however, is proof that Akron
has yet to see the last of the Italian immigrant
success story, Liborio “Whiskey Dick” Percoco.
// BIO: Lia is an avid cereal eater who has been
an Akronite for four years. She lives with her cat,
Heathcliff, who is an avid cereal bowl-licker. They both
favor Panda Puffs with almond milk.
As Kymberli Hagelberg, Author of “Wicked
Akron: Tales of Rumrunners, Mobsters and
Other Rubber City Rogues,” wrote, "Liborio
“Whiskey Dick” Percoco was 290 pounds of
ambition, nerve, and connections, stuffed into
his trademark trench coat like cotechini topped
with a handmade felt fedora.”
Percoco immigrated to America from Italy in
1911 at the age of fourteen. He moved to
Akron from Newark, Ohio in 1917 to marry
and settle into a factory job. When prohibition
created a lucrative demand for illegal booze,
Percoco’s horizons changed.
Dubbed the “King of Akron,” Whiskey Dick is
said to have operated a 500 gallon still during
his peak - the largest in all of Summit County and extended his distribution reach all the way
to Columbus, OH. As a front for his successful
The Kiraly Fencing Academy holds an opendoor policy to those interested in learning
more about fencing. Visitors are welcome to
sit in on classes. For more information about
classes offered and pricing, please visit
Mr. Kiraly buys, sells, and
collects art by appointment.
culture & Community
Hattie's Food Hub
Is About to Get Fresh
Non-profit brings locally-sourced produce
to Lane-Wooster food desert
words and photo by Patrick J. Worden
The northern reaches of Akron’s Lane-Wooster
neighborhood are about to go from being a
food desert to a fresh-produce oasis, thanks
to Hattie’s Food Hub. The 600 square-foot
cooperative market, located at 395 Douglas
Street, is set to 'soft open' in early April, with a
gala community grand-opening slated for June
23rd. Hattie’s Food Hub is a spin-off venture
sponsored by Hattie Larlham, the Twinsburgbased non-profit foundation that provides
services to area children and adults with
intellectual and developmental disabilities.
Since 2011, the foundation has overseen
Hattie’s Gardens, a sustainable, organic
vocational operation at several sites in
Summit County, including the Akron Zoo. As
part of community-outreach efforts in the
neighborhood around the zoo, the Hattie
Larlham team learned that the immediate area
had earned the unfortunate designation of
‘food desert,’ meaning there were no retail
outlets for fresh produce within one mile.
Already working on plans for a commercial
facility to wash, package, and process the
harvest from Hattie’s Gardens, the team
recognized this as a perfect opportunity to
benefit multiple constituencies. The idea for
Hattie’s Food Hub was born.
The recently completed, custom-built facility
includes an indoor market to be open yearround, selling fresh produce and staples such
as eggs, milk, and cheese. There is also an
education wing, which will host community
cooking classes and information seminars.
Dotty Grexa, Hattie Larlham’s Vice President
for Vocational and Enterprise Services, said
there’s an emphasis on making the educational
outreach “kid-friendly,” in order to pass on
nutritional awareness to the next generation.
While a large proportion of the fresh offerings
at Hattie’s Food Hub will be harvested from the
certified-organic grounds of Hattie’s Gardens,
the foundation is also partnering with area
farmers and other providers. The goal is for as
much of the produce as possible to be locally
sourced, preferably within a 100-mile radius.
Grexa conceded that this requirement might
be relaxed during winter months, to ensure
an uninterrupted supply of healthy food for
local shoppers.
During the warmer seasons, Hattie’s Food Hub
will also be hosting outdoor farmers’ markets,
in one of two custom-converted shipping
containers located on the property (the second
container is to be used as a neighborhood
bike-box). The schedule for the outdoor market
is yet to be determined, as the team is working
to ensure it doesn’t conflict with other farmers’
markets throughout the county.
Grexa says that Hattie Larlham sees this effort
as an investment in the community, and as
a way to meet a desperate local need while
simultaneously integrating the foundation’s
clients into the community they’re feeding.
None of that would have come about, says
Grexa, had the foundation not taken the time
to “listen to the neighborhood.”
Hattie’s Food Hub will 'quietly' open for
business by the second week of April. The June
23rd event is planned not so much as a solemn
ribbon-cutting, but more as a neighborhood
celebration. All of Akron is invited.
// BIO: Pat Worden is so Akron he was once a rubberpress operator. He's thankful not to be one anymore.
Akron farmers and gardeners
are likewise invited to share what
they grow. Think you might want to be
one of Hattie’s green-thumbed partners?
Start with a phone call to Zac,
the Hub’s produce manager, at
330-760-2876 • 18 N High St, Akron
customized T-Shirts & Hoodies • glasses & mugs • Keychains & Gifts
Music Festival
üBring Guitar
üPack Camper Van
üBring AAA Card
Hit the Road
& Rock on
culture & community
Historic Akron
Byron W. Robinson Mansion
words and photos by Katie Jackson
Tucked away near the corner of East Market
and Buchtel streets, you might notice what
appears to be an out-of-place, large, run down
structure. But what you may not know is that
it is the last remaining industrialist mansion
on the east side and the only example of a
Jacobethean Tudor Revival style home in within
the City of Akron. And if you take an
even closer look, with oak and mahogany
woodwork, stained glass windows, arched
doorways and Corinthian detail throughout,
this hidden beauty is more than just a diamond
in the rough.
The mansion was built by Byron W. Robinson,
a prominent Akron business and civic leader,
serving as the president of Robinson Clay
Products, Co., a bank president, a member
of the Chamber of Commerce, and a director
of The Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company.
Construction on the home, located on a 2.3
acre parcel at 715 E. Buchtel Avenue, was
completed in 1906.
Unfortunately Mr. Robinson only lived in the
home for two years before his death at the
young age of 48. Following his wife's death
in 1936, the Akron Kiwanis Club bought
the property and it served as the Florence
Crittendon Maternity Home, a safe haven
for unwed
mothers which
served over 3,000
women before closing in 1973. In the late
1970's, Pi Kappa Epsilon leased the home for
its Lone Star Fraternity members, but they
were evicted not long after due to damage and
abuse to the property.
In 1980, the 37-room home and carriage house
was purchased and converted into commercial
office space and portions of the mansion
were remodeled and renovated by the Junior
League of Akron and put on display for their
decorator's show house fundraiser in 1988.
However, neglect and age took it's toll and
the mansion had fallen into disrepair when it
was was purchased by businessman Ted Good
in 1990. Mr. Good and his team rescued the
home from being torn down, and the property
was nominated to the National Register of
Akron HERstory:
By Ilenia Pezzaniti
Mary A. Holmes, an African-American woman
born in Buchanan, Virginia in 1895, was a
member of the Akron community for over 65
years. She was one of the founders of the city’s
NAACP in 1918. Three years later, after working
as a stenographer and bookkeeper for a small
manufacturing company, she and two men
started the Black and White Chronicle, a weekly
newspaper covering the African-American
community in Akron.
Holmes was a reporter, but she was also the
bookkeeper and proofreader for the paper.
She was remembered by Opie Evans , a local
photographer and reporter as “everything in
that office.”
Historic Places in September 1991.
The mansion was brought back to life as
Steinway Hall, a showplace for Steinway pianos,
and was also the longtime home of the Summit
Choral Society. When Good moved Steinway
Hall to Boston Heights in 2013, the property
went up for sale and has remained vacant ever
since. Sadly, some of the beauty of this stately
red brick estate is depreciated by it's fast food
neighbors: Burger King, Rally's and Papa John's.
Although it make take a new-age industrialist
to revive this property to its glory once again,
the Byron W. Robinson residence truly is a
one-of-a-kind, underused and neglected piece
of Akron's architectural history.
Mary A. Holmes
Eventually, she went on to be the secretary of
the Colored Women’s Republican Club and
president of the Council of Negro Women,
which Mary Peavy Eagle, another prominent
African-American woman in Akron, founded
in 1932.
families, while also working at the North Akron
Neighborhood Center.
In 1978, she received the Brotherhood Action
Award by churches in the community that
acknowledged her role in the city, which
included founding Women’s Day in Akron.
Holmes died April 9, 1986.
Holmes also worked with the Summit County
Community Action Council. She was a secretary
of the Woman’s Auxiliary of the NAACP and
from 1962 to 1964, she was the president of
the Akron’s NAACP.
Pictured left to right: Stockard, Rumsey, and Mary A.
Before she retired in 1975, she was a
“housing advisor,” who helped set up the
Emergency House for displaced or evicted
// CREDITS: Endres, K.L. (2013, September 6). Akron Women’s
History. A resource of the Summit county Historical Society.
Retrieved from
Holmes sit together. Photo courtesy of the University
of Akron's Archives. • 330.835.9945
| THE Devil Strip / APRIL 2016 • VOL 2 • ISSUE #4
culture & Community
Grow Your Own:
Locally Owned Since 1891
April 2016
An Interview with Dave Daly of
Let’s Grow Akron
by Katie Jackson
Backyard urban farming is
a growing hobby that has
multiple benefits including stress
relief, pride, and of course,
fresh veggies. But what if you
don't know where to begin
with growing a garden? Or
what if you don't have the time
or space to plant one? Luckily
we live in a community with an
amazing resource that not only
supports urban farmers, but also
includes community outreach as
part of their mission. We sat down with Dave
Daly (pictured above) of Let’s Grow Akron to
get the scoop on their organization, as well as
some first time gardening tips.
KATIE JACKSON: What is the mission of Let’s Grow Akron?
DAVE DALY: Let's Grow Akron's (LGA) mission
is to overcome urban blight and alleviate
hunger in the community by teaching people
to grow, prepare and preserve their own food
while working alongside them to beautify their
KJ: What is your role with
the organization?
DD: I am the Market & Garden Coordinator. I
work in Summit Lake, University Park, and East
Akron to create and support neighborhood
farmers' markets, as well as community and
market gardens. The major focus of my work
is to help folks access fresh, nutritious foods
(mostly fruits and vegetables) in neighborhoods
where that type of access is limited or not
available at all.
KJ: How can people get involved?
DD: There are many awesome ways to get
involved with Let's Grow Akron and community
gardening in general. If you are interested
in becoming a member of a garden in your
neighborhood, one of the best ways to get
involved is to ask a gardener when you see one
out by their plots!
There are tons of events related
to growing food in and around
Akron, especially during the
growing season. Follow LGA
on Facebook/Instagram/Twitter
and you'll receive wonderful
updates on all the good stuff
we and fellow organizations
are a part of. You can also
join our email list by reaching
out to
[email protected]
KJ: Where are your community gardens
DD: All over Akron! Let's Grow Akron supports
over 75 gardens to varying degrees. Some we
manage on a regular basis, others we might
support at the very beginning of the season or
sporadically throughout. Folks can reach out via
phone or email if they are looking for a garden
to join in a particular neighborhood (330-7459700 or
[email protected]).
KJ: Are the garden plots leased, donated
or granted to LGA?
DD: We don't own any of the properties we
grow food on. Depending on the land owner,
whether public or private, we have a license
agreement worked out detailing our access,
spacial needs, etc..
A New Contest Each Week in April!
Buy Any Coca-Cola 12-Pack April
7th thru 13th to Be Entered to Win!
No Purchase Necessary. Complete Rules at
You’re Invited!
KJ: What plants do you grow?
DD: All the fruits, vegetables, flowers and
herbs we can get into the ground! Collards,
Kale, Eggplants, Tomatoes, Lettuce, Beets,
Radishes, Arugula, Potatoes, Strawberries,
Radishes, Peppers, Raspberries, among
others. Flowers and herbs include Marigolds,
Nasturtiums, Echinacea, Cosmos, Zinnias,
Chamomile, Oregano, Parsley, Sage, Basil, Mint,
Lemon Balm, Thyme, and Cilantro.
KJ: Who receives the food that is grown?
DD: It depends on where the food was grown.
In community gardens with individual plots,
(continued on page 43)
Locally Owned Since 1891
Saturday, April 9th
11am to 2pm
FREE! Sampling
FREE Slice of CAKE &
Scoop of ICE CREAM!
culture & community
Urban Explorer: University Park
words and photos by Kristina Aiad-Toss
Populated by college students and comprised of academic buildings, University Park seems to have little to offer other than
cheap housing and over priced campus food. However, this neighborhood is as diverse as the students that inhabit it and as
interesting as the subjects they study—home to some of the most unique and interesting places in the area.
Pictured right: University Park (PHOTO: Kristina Aiad-Toss/The Devil Strip)
Don Drumm Studios & Gallery
It’s a Kling Thing! House
Taste of Bangkok
Hower House
437 Crouse St.
Akron, OH 44311
(330) 253-6268
Hours: Mon-Fri 10 am-6 pm,
Sat 10 am-5 pm
403 Kling St.
Akron, OH 44311
Hours: Events posted on Facebook page
514 E Exchange St.
Akron, OH 44304
(330) 252-2270
Hours: Sun 12 pm-9 pm,
Mon-Thurs 11 am-10 pm,
Fri-Sat 5 pm-10 pm
60 Fir Hill
Akron, OH 44334
(330) 972-6909
Hours: Wed-Sat 12 pm-3:30 pm,
closed in January
Hidden amongst the student housing, five
colorful houses comprise Don Drumm Studios
& Gallery filled with handmade treasures
including jewelry, household decor, ceramics,
sculptures, glass, and many other creations.
While the Main Gallery features the elaborate
metalcasting handiwork of a local artist Don
Drumm and the work of other North American
artists, the Different Drummer store houses
many oddities and quirky items, from the
music box that plays Stairway to Heaven to a
“Jesus Toast” maker.
Part of a local underground music community
that hosts concerts, It’s a Kling Thing! House is
a venue that supports local bands by allowing
them to play without charge and giving all
proceeds directly to the performers. Forget
about those overpriced concerts, and check
out a show at this venue to feel tangible
energy of a unique show that brings you back
to the roots of how live music should truly
be experienced.
Although the exterior may be deceiving,
stepping through the doors of the Taste of
Bangkok is like walking into Thailand with the
atmosphere, food, and staff all included. With
a price that fits a college budget and service
that exceeds expectations, this restaurant is
dripping with authenticity in both its decor and
its flavorful selections, even offering a tailor
made spice level for every dish.
Reminiscent of a more elegant time in Akron’s
history, The Hower House is a shimmering
beacon of local history and jaw-dropping
architecture owned by the University of Akron.
Whether you are a history junkie or just
looking for something new to do on campus,
take a tour of this intriguing museum or
attend one of their countless special events
and exhibitions. During your visit, don’t miss
the attached Cellar Door gift shop for a
collection of exclusive Victorian
era memorabilia.
Pictured: It’s a Kling Thing! House
(PHOTO: Kristina Aiad-Toss/The Devil Strip)
Pictured: Don Drumm Studios & Gallery
(PHOTO: Kristina Aiad-Toss/The Devil Strip)
| THE Devil Strip / APRIL 2016 • VOL 2 • ISSUE #4
Pictured: Taste of Bangkok
(PHOTO: Kristina Aiad-Toss/The Devil Strip)
Pictured: Hower House
(PHOTO: Kristina Aiad-Toss/The Devil Strip)
Food & Drink
The Akron Art Museum’s 9th Annual
Art & Ale fundraiser party was
another huge success. See what our
own Lady Beer Drinker thought of the
event. (Photo by Paul Hoffman) pg. 30
APRIL 2016 • VOL 2 • ISSUE #4 /
THE Devil Strip |
food & Drink
Locavore Lovin’ from the Oven
A Chocolate Cake That Can’t Be Beet
words by Lia Pietrolungo; photos by Paul Mangus
I was never one for beets as a kid. In fact, I
wasn’t too crazy about them as an adult either
until I discovered juicing. Sweet, delicious, pain
in the ass juicing! I immediately was taken by
their earthy flavor, and I guess you could say
they took root in my heart. It totally helps that
this complex vegetable is incredibly versatile
when it comes to crossing over into baking –
my first love – too!
The eggs used in this recipe are from Brunty
Farms. The eggs specifically come from Golden
Comet chickens that are Pasture Raised and
cage-free. Their eggs are fresh, organic, and
were the perfect binding agent for the cake.
They also contributed to some darn good
scrambled eggs.
Pictured right: Honey from Greenfield Berry Farm,
Beets from Morningside Farm, Eggs from Brunty Farms
(Photo credit: Paul Mangus)
I’ve been an Akronite for a few years now,
yet it took nearly three of those years to really
discover the rich culture that it has to offer.
The Countryside Conservancy Farmer’s Markets
helped to make me feel closer to the Akron
community as well as closer to Ohio’s soil. By
using locally sourced ingredients I started to
feel more at home in my environment, which
brought even more love to my tiny kitchen.
I wanted to kick off this column with
something chocolatey, comforting, and
delicious. What better to make, then, than
a beet chocolate cake?
We had the pleasure of dining here last night. We will be back and we will be telling
everyone to (make reservations and) go! We ate at the bar without reservations. All of the
staff is excellent - whoever created the menu is truly full of love and genius wizardry. We
loved every bite we took from appetizers to desserts. Whoever did the hiring is also genius!
Three cheers and five stars! (1/17/2016)
54 East Mill St. Akron 44308
(330) 762-8000
Hours: M-Th 11-10, F 11-11, Sat 3-11
The beets that I used are from Morningside
Farms. Although beets aren’t in season, the
Morningside farmers store them at 38˚F at
80% humidity with very little airflow in the
boxes to discourage mold without drying the
roots out. The result is a fresh root that doesn’t
miss a beet when it comes to quality. When
roasted, the sugar in the beets caramelizes and
intensifies in sweetness and flavor complexity.
The honey that I used is from Greenfield Berry
Farm, where their bees are kept by blueberry
bushes. The result is a delicious, light honey
with subtle floral notes. Better than any I have
ever tasted! Greenfield Farm is a part of the
Community Supported Agriculture program.
They practice natural, sustainable farming and
work with other local farmers to contribute to
the CSA passion.
1¾ lbs
8 oz 1¼ cup ¼ cup ½ tsp 1½ tsp ¼ tsp 3 lrg 1 cup ½ cup 1 tsp 3 oz Red Beets
Unsalted Butter,
melted, plus more for the pan
All-Purpose, unbleached flour
Unsweetened Cocoa Powder,
plus more for the pan
Baking Soda
Granulated Sugar
Packed Light Brown Sugar
Real Vanilla Extract
Semisweet Chocolate, melted
8 oz Semisweet Chocolate, chopped
4 tbsp Unsalted Butter
1 tbsp Honey
Preheat the oven to 350˚F.
1. Scrub any dirt off of the beets, halve them
lengthwise, prick and wrap in foil. Bake the
beets for 50 minutes on a baking sheet, check
at 30 minute mark. When they are cool enough
to handle, rub off the skin using a paper towel.
Puree in a food processor until smooth. You’ll
need 1½ cups of puree for the cake.
food & Drink
2. Butter the bottom and sides of a 9x13inch baking pan and line the bottom with
parchment paper. Butter the paper and dust the
pan with cocoa powder.
Akron Pizza Task Force
is coming to a pizza shop near you
3. In a bowl, stir together the flour, ¼ cup
cocoa powder, the baking soda, the cardamom,
and salt.
words by Stephanie Baker, Kevin Wirth and Justin Lyons
4. In a separate bowl, using an electric mixer,
beat the eggs, both sugars, the melted butter,
and vanilla until well combined. Beat in the
pureed beets and melted chocolate. Fold in the
flour mixture until just combined.
5. Pour the batter into your prepared pan
and smooth the top. Bake for 35-40 minutes,
or until the cake just starts to pull away from
the sides of a pan. The cake is done when a
wooden toothpick or skewer inserted in the
center comes out with a few moist crumbs
Photos courtesy of: Justin Lyons/The Devil Strip
ello, Akron! We are Akron’s Pizza Task
Force. We will work tirelessly to serve
you and deploy to all the pizza places
around town to ensure you find the best Akron
has to offer. Our goal is to make you as excited
about pizza as we are. The Task Force will
evaluate pizza based on cheese, sauce, crust,
cook, price and overall experience. Let’s dive
into our first mission, Your Pizza Shop.
different shops. The cook on the cheeses looked
vastly different, with the plain pizza looking
slightly overdone and the gourmet slightly
underdone. Cooking a pizza with a “gourmet”
amount of toppings isn’t easy, especially when
delivery times are over 45 minutes.
Pictured above: Cheese Pizza from Your Pizza Shop
6. Cool in the pan on a wire rack, then run a
metal spatula around the sides and invert onto
a serving platter. You may also leave it in the
pan as I did.
Pictured right: Meatless Gourmet Pizza from Your
Pizza Shop
YOUR PIZZA SHOP was created in Massillon,
Ohio dating all the way back to 1951. That
7. To make the chocolate glaze, melt the
is 65 years in the pizza business, in case you
chocolate in a medium bowl set over a pan of
didn’t do the math. Almost 30 years later, they
simmering water. Ensure that the bowl does not turned into a franchise and, as of today, have
touch the water to avoid burning the chocolate. 11 locations spread between Ohio and Florida.
Remove from the heat and stir in the butter and
honey. Cool, stirring occasionally until the glaze We ordered from Your Pizza Shop, located on
is a spreading consistency. Spread over the
1077 W. Exchange St., which shares a lot with
cooled cake and top with toasted coconut, or
Every Blooming Thing. We’d seen this place
nothing at all.
many times, and wondered what kind of pizza
lies within. We hadn’t heard much about this
8. Eat every last bite.
shop beforehand, so we were eager to mark it
off of our list.
Thank you to all of the famers
who contributed ingredients!
Greenfield Berry Farm
2485 Major Rd, Peninsula, OH 44264
(330) 657-2924
Morningside Farm
1075 State Rd, Hinckley, OH 44233
(216) 406-6621
Brunty Farms
2470 Martin Rd, Akron, OH 44333
(330) 594-7315
Our order was a plain cheese pizza and The
Meatless Gourmet. At first glance, the pizzas
looked as if they had been cooked at two
// BIO: Lia Pietrolungo is an avid licker of bowls and
spatulas. Her cat, Heathcliff, is also an avid licker of
bowls and spatulas. Together they are the perfect pair.
The cheese pizza was browned and
shimmering. After opening the box we were
ready to demolish this pizza. The cheese itself
had an amount of grease that was to be
expected. The sauce was simple and didn’t
overpower the flavor of the cheese. The crust
was golden brown, crisp on the outside, but
a little dry on the inside. If this cheese pizza
were to fight The Meatless Gourmet it would
be over in minutes. These two pizzas were
considerably different, and it wasn’t only by
their appearance.
Overall, we found Your Pizza Shop to be good,
and at moments, even a little great. It isn’t
the kind of pizza that is a product of passion,
but it is a pizza you can pick up after a busy
day to share with friends and family and not
feel too bad. The prices were fair and for large
pizza toppings they didn’t gouge you like some
places do. If one thing could be improved, it
would be the crust. If granted a second thing, it
would be toppings not out of a bag or can.
Your Pizza Shop
The meatless gourmet had a generous coating
of small cuts of mushrooms, green peppers,
banana peppers, black olives, and red peppers.
The flavor combination wasn’t anything special
or carefully planned, but it fit the bill. Toppings
are the typical variety, canned or frozen, but of
average freshness.
Fire it
Nothing in Akron is buzzing like Chop &
Swizzle, a crafted approach to food and
cocktails by the dynamic duo of Chef
Dick Kanatzar, formerly of Vaccaro's,
and Daniel Allyn, aka Swizzle, the man
behind Mixology 216 (pictured top left).
They’ve set up shop in a historic building
originally constructed as an Akron fire
station between Highland Square and
downtown, next to St. V’s. You can find
them at 60 Maple Street in Akron. For
more information, call (330) 283-8041
or visit
The mild winter may have brought a
few more smiles to our collective faces,
but it’s cost us a beloved restaurant in
downtown Akron, the Stew Pot Kitchen.
Not only was the grub good, but it was
affordable and the small staff were
among the friendliest (and quirkiest)
in the city. More than anything, owner
Scott Malensek’s generosity of spirit
made the place special. (As did their
zombie apocalypse bathroom decor.)
When all the food finally ran out, he
posted a message of gratitude on
Facebook, ending with “And now, to
Akron Springfield
Akron Turkeyfoot
got out in true Stew Pot fashion, we’ll
say the one thing that we haven’t for 6
years: No soup for you.”
In the weeds
You know how they say that you don’t
find a book but a book finds you?
Apparently the same thing is true for
restaurants, if you’re Zack and Lisa Hirt,
owners of Nuevo Modern Mexican
(pictured bottom left). They weren’t
necessarily trying to expand their Akron
restaurant to Cleveland, but when the
opportunity to build on the waters
across from the Rock and Roll Hall of
Fame, they jumped at it. Now, they’re
trying to fill a bunch of positions in both
Akron and Cleveland as they get ready
to open up on the North Coast. To apply,
download an application in the careers
section at and write
either AKRON or CLEVELAND at the top,
depending on your preferred location.
Back of house applicants email Zack Hirt
([email protected]), would-be
front of house staff email applications to
Aaron Redmond ([email protected]
com), bar staff email Erick Hirt ([email protected] and to join the
catering crew, email your application to
Erin Kirven [email protected]
APRIL 2016 • VOL 2 • ISSUE #4 /
THE Devil Strip |
food & Drink
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
The Wanderer
Eggcellent Adventure
words and photos by Holly Brown
As my personal idol Ron Swanson (of hit sitcom
Parks and Rec) says: “You may have thought
you heard me say I wanted a lot of bacon and
eggs, but what I said was: Give me all the
bacon and eggs you have.”
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I love
breakfast food. Particularly savory breakfast and
particularly dishes of the egg variety. It had felt
like some time since I had let myself indulge in
a breakfast issue, so I flipped at the opportunity
and scrambled to narrow down which fabulous
Akron breakfast I would use this time.
Basically I have been hearing sweet nothings
about The Blue Door since moving to Akron,
let alone starting my culinary endeavors as your
most humble narrator/wanderer. Here’s the
tragedy of this story: I just never seemed to get
there though it was always on the top of my
list. Finally, one uncharacteristically beautiful
day in early March, the sun was out and the
blue sky pointed me to one place and one
place only: The Blue Door. I donned my sunhat,
spring dress, and my Ryan and to breakfast we
all went.
From left to right: Blue Door: Table full o’ food;
Blue Door: Pantone Chart Worthy Grapefruit; Sweet
Pea Cafe: The Northern Benedict; Sweet Pea Cafe:
Akron’s Home
of the All Day
featuring a
Bloody Mary
Menu, Mimosas
and much more...
Crab Meat Benedict.
The Blue Door is exactly how I always imagined
it being; behind its adorable and inviting blue
door is a clean, open, crisp interior. It is decked
in whites and neutrals, the pops of accent color
literally come from the food: the star of the
show. I walked by tables, my eyes reveling in
the color and my stomach rolling with foodinduced desire. The beautiful colors of the fresh,
local ingredients as well as the perfect plating
of each and every dish was impossible to ignore
even as we were merely shown to our seats.
much as I did. For good measure, I got a side
of greens dressed in the *perfect* amount of
balsamic and a broiled grapefruit (had to get all
of my food groups represented!). The color of
the grapefruit alone almost sent me reeling.
One week later and again I was lucky enough
to have to go out and eat eggs for breakfast.
After a long weekend of shenanigans, on
Sunday it was time to recharge, refresh, and
fuel up; The Sweet Pea Cafe is just the place
to do that. With an extensive menu offering
Ordering eggs off of the menu was no problem, everything in the egg world from frittata to
it was exactly what kind of eggs that were
omelette to quiche to benedict, this is where
going to be an issue, especially knowing that
you can get eggs any way.
the menu changes every week to incorporate
seasonal ingredients. This could be a one-time- Sweet Pea is innocuous from first glance. The
offer!! After much deliberation I finally settled
inside of the cafe is simple but upon further
on a classic: the Croque Madam (though I made inspection, one notices the hilarious chalkboard
sure that Ryan ordered the limited-time egg
signs that hang on the wall with phrases such
white frittata with mushrooms, potatoes, and a as: “Good looking people sit here,” “‘Ham and
balsamic reduction…also stellar).
Eggs’ - a day’s work for a chicken, a lifetime
commitment for a pig,” and my personal
When the food arrived, I was blown away. The
favorite “I love life but life only likes me as a
brioche just about melted in my mouth. The
friend.” As I’ve said before the menu is seriously
ham was just thick enough, hearty but never
extensive. I’ve been here a few times but I
greasy. If, like me, you get choked up by cutting always, always, always have trouble picking out
into a perfectly poached egg pillow, by seeing
what to eat. My advice is to come here with
that beautiful, delicious yellow yolk cascade
friends, because the menu is so extensive and
over ham and bread, then you would have
almost everything is made from scratch, you’re
enjoyed that first bite of Croque Madam as
(continued on page 29)
1688 W. Market St
at Westgate Plaza
in Akron
Open 7 days a week
Food & Drink
isolated communities want to improve their
standards of living, they often want to do so
without abandoning their way of life by moving
to the cities. More and more, Delahanty saw
himself working to find ways to help them stay.
with a
When Delahanty returned to Ohio in 2013, he
knew he wanted to continue what he started in
Suriname. This meant finding a way to extend
economic opportunity to the residents of the
Amazon rainforest. Though he considered
several options, inspiration eventually struck in
the form of açaí.
An Akron Startup
Makes Snacks that
Promote the Social Good
words and photos by Andrew Leask
There are a lot of considerations that go into
picking the food we eat. We ask ourselves,
is this tasty? Is it good for me? Will I be
embarrassed if someone walks into the room
while I’m stuffing my face with it?
From 2011 to 2013, Delahanty was a Peace
Corps volunteer in Suriname, a country on the
northern coast of South America. There, he
served as a Community Economic Development
Specialist, living and working closely with
residents of the Amazon rainforest. “I had a
For Evan Delahanty, founder of snack company thatched roof hut,” he recalls. “The same lack
Peaceful Fruits, there is another, more important of electricity, and running water, and toilets,
question: how can our food help to make the
and all that. Just like all my neighbors.”
world a better place?
Through his work, Delahanty learned that
It’s not surprising, considering his background.
although members of these remote, often
(continued from page 28)
going to wait but the wait is going to be worth
it. Also, bringing friends means that they order
something different than you and you get to try
it. Win, win, win.
Even more than eggs, I love smoked salmon.
LOVE. I have it with my family every Christmas
morning and I find it impossible to not order
something with smoked salmon in it when I
see it on a menu. I’ve talked about my favorite
foods before, and next to cheese smoked
salmon is my absolute top favorite. Sweet Pea
features smoked salmon on multiple dishes,
including an eggs bennie which I sampled
for this first time for this very issue! Ryan got
the special: a crabmeat benny with a bed
of spinach.
Out came my beloved benedict: an english
muffin topped with avocado, smoked salmon, a
poached egg, and dripping in hollandaise. The
Northern Benedict was everything I wanted:
salty, earthy, eggy. The hollandaise is housemade and great, not too thick as to overpower
the rest of the flavors working together but
there and just decadent enough.
And there you have it, a most eggcellent
adventure. Catch y’all on the sunny side.
Peaceful Fruits, which Delahanty founded in
2014, imports this naturally organic, wild açaí
and uses it to make nutritious fruit leathers.
Though the company combines açaí with other
fruit to produce different flavors, açaí remains
the main ingredient in its snacks, a fact which,
according to Delahanty, distinguishes the
company from all of its competitors.
For now, Peaceful Fruits snacks are available
at select stores in Northeast Ohio and through
the company’s website. But Delahanty, who
invested his own money into the startup, is
always looking toward the future, to expanding
the company. There are many possibilities,
but whatever happens, it is important to him
that the company succeed financially as well
as ethically, so that it can serve as a model for
socially responsible businesses. This means
ensuring that his business can turn a profit.
“That’s important,” says Delahanty, “because it
speaks to the sustainability.”
With a little luck, if Peaceful Fruits succeeds
in its mission, people will soon be asking
themselves, how can my food save the world?
For more information, visit
// BIO: Andrew Leask spends too much of his free time
watching cable news shows and yelling at the TV. He
writes fiction in the company of his wife, Amy, and
their two cats, Monty and Nigella.
Get to know one of
Akron's Hidden Gems
// BIO: Holly Brown loves adventures and food.
Especially adventures in breakfast.
1970 State Rd, Cuyahoga Falls
Breakfast & Lunch: Wed-Sun: 7am - 3pm
Dinner: Fri & Sat: 5pm - 9pm
117 Merz Blvd #116, Fairlawn
Everyday 7:00am - 2:30 pm
Dinner: Fri & Sat 6pm - 9pm
Açaí is the small, berry-like fruit of a species of
palm tree native to South America. Though the
fruit has long been an important food source in
the Amazon, it has recently gained popularity
in the United States due to its promotion as
a source of nutrients and antioxidants. More
importantly for Peaceful Fruits and its mission,
however, is that harvesting wild açaí provides
a source of income for rainforest communities
without drastically changing their environment
or way of life.
And Peaceful Fruits’ mission extends beyond
the Amazon rainforest. By partnering with local
nonprofit organizations like Hattie Larlham
and the Blick Clinic, Peaceful Fruits offers
employment opportunities to people with
developmental disabilities, who produce its
snacks here, in Akron.
A quality community cafe in South Akron
that brings people from different backgrounds together
Now serving homemade grits & healthy salads that will fill you up.
Visit us for breakfast or lunch
Monday through Friday • 7am to 3pm
798 Grant St., Akron, Ohio | (330) 375-1991
APRIL 2016 • VOL 2 • ISSUE #4 /
THE Devil Strip |
food & Drink
Akron Art Museum’s 9th Annual Art & Ale
by Emily Anderson
Since I’m a huge beer lover and have been
living in Akron my whole life, I can’t believe I
haven’t been to the Akron Art Museum’s Art
& Ale event until this year. The 9th annual
happening took place on Friday, March 11 and
was the first time it reached capacity – 350
tickets were sold at $50 each. I was more than
excited to be one of the lucky ones who went.
I’ve been to dozens for beer fests and tastings
in the past, but this one had a decidedly
different vibe. The first thing I noticed when
I entered the museum was the eclectic mix of
attendees. Not many people seemed overly
concerned about rushing to get beer in their
cups, but were shaking hands and greeting
friends instead. There was a DJ playing funky,
chill, electronic music on the balcony. A lot of
people were dressed up, and I was instantly
self-conscious of my t-shirt and jeans.
Food and drink could be found on long tables
lining the first floor, leaving a nice open area
in the middle to socialize, drink and eat.
Speaking of eating -- the food offered here
was outstanding. Most beer events offer some
snacks to help soak up all the beer, but these
guys went above and beyond on the food
offerings with 11 different purveyors. I didn’t
even try everything and I had sauerkraut balls
from Ascot Valley Foods, creamy pretzel dips
from Lucky Penny Farm, a pulled pork sandwich
from Old Carolina Barbeque Company, artisanal
cheeses from Mayfield Road Creamery, a taco
from Nuevo, and a handful of chocolate chip
cookies from Sweet Mary’s Bakery (don’t judge).
All the food providers had come prepared with
plenty of stock, so nobody was fighting over
the last sandwich or rushing around to try
everything before it was gone.
judges were local beer writers Marc Bona, Jon
Albrecht, and Rick Armon. For first place they
choose Hop Ju Ju, an Imperial IPA brewed by
Fat Head’s Brewery in North Olmsted. Spider
Monkey Brewing out of Westlake took second
with their new Kent Stout, and Mystic Mama
IPA from Jackie O’s Brewery in Athens came
in third. I don’t know how many beers were
included in this blind test, but I can vouch that
these three winners are truly superb beers.
All the great local food was only there to
complement the real star of the show – beer.
The beer, like the food, was plentiful and
delicious. There were over 20 unique breweries
from all over the country handing out samples.
Although it isn’t fair to try and analyze every
beer when you’re having so many in such
a short time, everyone leaves with a couple
new favorites. A few of my top picks were
Canton Brewing Company’s Cascade Pale Ale,
Crafted Artisan Meadery’s Codex Combustum,
and Ohio Brewing Company’s Double Irish
Red. I also got to try a couple brews from
Madtree Brewing, a highly regarded brewery
in Cincinnati that doesn’t yet distribute to the
Akron area.
Overall, Art & Ale was modern, fresh, local,
organized and educational. I’m already looking
forward to what they’re planning for next
year’s event. Organizations like the Akron Art
Museum, who work hard to raise cultural and
artistic awareness in our community, will always
have my support. According to their website,
Art & Ale 2016 raised over $20,000 that will go
towards the museum’s public programs. Talk
about a win-win! Cheers!
// BIO: Emily Anderson has a lot of opinions and loves
drinking beer. You can find her at the bar or on Twitter
at @ohiobeergirl
Photos courtesy of:
Emily Anderson/The Devil Strip and TJ Carroll
The museum held its own “best in show”
competition with a blind taste test. The
food & Drink
Highland Square
Friday, 4/1 • 9pm – Midnight
Underworld – Blues
Saturday, 4/16 • 9pm – Midnight
Daniel Rylander – Indie, Folk & Pop
Saturday, 4/2 • 9pm – Midnight
The Ozone –
Funk & Roll, Rock &Soul
Sunday, 4/17 • 12 – 3pm
Art & Tom –
Acoustic Classics & Originals
Sunday, 4/3 • 12 – 3pm
Sonny Moorman –
Blues Guitar &Vocals
Lady Beer Drinker
Friday, 4/8 • 9pm – Midnight
DJ Rodger Riddle – DJ
Rubber City Beer Fest
Saturday, 4/9 • 9pm – Midnight
Jazz Shepherds – Jazz
by Emily Anderson
Sunday, 4/10 • 12 – 3pm
Little Steve-O Blues Duo –
Acoustic Blues & Rock Duo
My favorite thing about the RCBF is that all the
breweries in attendance are located in Ohio. I’m
a big advocate of supporting local businesses,
especially when it involves catching a buzz.
Many of these breweries are very young/small,
and many of the beers that were offered at this
event aren’t distributed outside their breweries
at all. I was excited to see a couple breweries
I’ve been reading about and hoping to visit,
Upon entering the warehouse-like space at
such as JAFB of Wooster, Phoenix Brewing of
Lock 3 Park, my first thought was holy crap.
Mansfield, Madcap Brewing of Kent and Scenic
The room was completely packed. Live rock
Brewing of North Canton. It was amazing to
music by the Rhodes Street Rude Boys blared
see just how many talented people and creative
from the far corner. Despite the close quarters,
businesses are thriving here in Ohio, and I can’t
everyone was smiling, dancing, and having a lot wait to visit them in person after getting a taste
of fun. I was immediately comfortable and dove of their brews!
in to get some of that good stuff in my cup.
Friday, 4/29 • 9pm – Midnight
Erin Nicole Neal & The Chill Factors
– Blues, Rock, Pop, Jazz & Soul
Saturday, 4/30 • 9pm – Midnight
Steel Drum Trio – Island & Caribbean
Music of Trinidad & Tobago
Sunday, 5/1 • 12 – 3pm
Sonny Moorman –
Blues Guitar &Vocals
perience our New
ub !
Sunday, 4/24
Sausalito – Jazz & R&B
HIGHLAND SQUARE: 867 West Market Street Akron, Ohio, 44303 • 330-434-7333
A lot of drinkers here seemed to be on a
mission, and I soon found out why. Not only
was all the free merchandise disappearing
quickly, some beers were too. I tried to
go to the most popular tables first and
then wandered around to try a little bit of
everything. While mass tastings like this have
the disadvantage of wrecking your pallet,
I was still able to pinpoint a few favorites.
Saison Possum from Little Fish Brewing
of Athens kept calling me back, as did
Phoenix Brewing’s Mary Jane Chai Porter and
Willoughby Brewing’s Third Planet Pale Ale.
Friday, 4/15 • 9pm – Midnight
Zach & The Bright Lights –
Uplifting Indie Folk
Saturday, 4/23 • 9pm – Midnight
Cedric Rodgers – Americana
March 19th was the 2nd annual Rubber City
Beer Fest, organized by the home-brewing
club Society of Akron Area Zymurgists, aka
SAAZ. (Zymurgy is the study or practice of
fermentation in brewing, wine-making, or
distilling.) Turnout was twice that of 2015, and
tickets sold out after 300 people purchased $30
tickets. Luckily I was able to attend.
Friday, 4/22 • 9pm – Midnight
Soulshine – Blues & Rock
Another cool thing about RCBF is that it’s
organized by SAAZ and preceded by an annual
homebrewing competition between SAAZ
and another homebrewing club, the Society
of Northeast Ohio Brewers, or SNOBS. This
competition yields some interesting brews,
and some breweries collaborate with SAAZ
to make special beers just for this event. R.
Shea Brewing was serving SAAZ Smoked
Porter, which was pleasant and smooth, and
Cornerstone Brewpub had 3 different RCBF
beers. The celebratory nature of RCBF after
the SAAZ vs SNOBS competition draws a lot
(continued on page 34)
pub in Highland
For details visit or
804 W. Market Street, Akron, OH 44303
(at the corner of Highland Ave and W. Market St.)
by Leslie Shirley Nielsen
It’s a tough job but someone’s got to drink it
food & drink
Pictured left: The interior of Karam's Lounge.
I'm estimating that there are close to 200 bars
within this city of ours. Nobody knows for
sure, but that's about to change. For a town of
roughly 200,000 people, we’re up there with
Pittsburgh (11.8 bars per 10K people), St.Louis
(11.6 per 10K), Cleveland (11.5 per 10K) and
Cincinnati (11.5 per 10K), who are tops in the
country. It's astonishing, considering that half
the people here probably don't even go to bars.
Babies can't drive, and Grandpa only manages
to sneak out of Rockynol Retirement Home
twice a year to throw a few back at Annabelle's
Lounge. So, many of you are off the hook. I'm
talking to the rest of you drunkards! It's okay.
We are who we are here. Therefore, own it!
Embrace it! It's apparently a part of the The
Rustbelt survival guide.
Some old-timers claim that when Akron was
nearing 300,000 people in the 50's and
60's, there were more like 400-500 bars in
The Rubber City, which I hope to learn more
about in my ventures. For an area that’s not
made of money, with an average year-round
temperature of a balmy 50 degrees, coupled
with about 150 days a year of precipitation,
it's not surprising that we Akronites can find
nothing better to do. Good thing Dr. Bob and
Bill W. didn't take their talents to South Beach
to launch A.A..
No matter where you live in Akron, you're just
minutes away from a watering hole, if not
many. I’m not talking about key clubs, strip
clubs or restaurant bars. I’ll get to those later.
I’m talking about places that the general public
would go with the sole intent of tipping a few
back and committing some kind of sin that will
likely, hopefully, be forgotten by the time we
wake up.
on East Market, The Taj Mahal downtown,
Wannamakers on Perkins St. or The James
Dean Bar on Lover's Lane have been gone
for years now. Other legendary bars like The
Bucket Shop in Highland Square or Mr. Bilbo's
downtown have carried on their swilling ways
under different names (Ray's Pub and The
Lockview). Then there are some, like The
Brown St. Cafe or The Southern Tap Room, that
are still standing but are no longer in business
(and which I’ll feature in the Adopt-a-Bar
section). Just imagine sad puppy eyes on their
facade (with Sarah McLachlan music playing in
the background) and help preserve Akron's bar
history by bringing one back to life. Like Donald
Trump says, “just ask your parents for a loan.”
I encourage all of you to venture out of your
comfort zone and go across town for a change.
We’ll be having a contest soon, so take a selfie
with drink in hand whenever you go to one
Due to a lot of cab driving and bartending over
my quarter of a century in Akron, I know where
most of them are and, sadly, where a lot of
them no longer exist. Such legendary bars as
The Temple Tavern in Northhill, Katmandu
Pictured right: Inside Main St. Saloon
Andy’s in
The Park
Kevin O'Briens
Irish Pub
Main St.
Pub & Grille
1751 S. Main St.
1915 Brown St.
1543 Brown St.
1761 S. Main St.
1481 S. Main St.
411 E. Waterloo Rd.
Area in Akron
Firestone Park
Firestone Park
Firestone Park
Firestone Park
Firestone Park
Firestone Park
2014 Bar itself dates
back to the 1950s
2003 bar itself dates
back to 1958
Happy Hour
Biggest sellers
Mille Lt./Henessy
Bud Lt./Grey Goose
Bud Lt./47 bitches in a
Cadillac (47 different
kinds of liquor, Yikes!)
Craft Beer/Irish
Bud. Lt./Crown Royal
Bar Menu
Gyros. Nothing but
freaking gyros!
Full Menu
Full Menu
Full Menu
Stadium Pub
Ice Cream store
“Please tell us if
you know.”
Park Cafe
Good Question
Celebrity personality
Kevin Love meets
Kevin Hart
Zach Galifianakis
meets Karen Black
Debra Winger meets
Joe Cocker
John Daly meets
Jack Nicholson
Jesse James meets
Lita Ford
Don Ho meets
Laura Linney
Eclectic crowd
If you love hotdogs, this is
not your place.
"The 47 Bitches goes down
like soda-pop" - Patron.
The name fits well
Pee Wee Herman would
have knocked over all of the
Harleys out front.
Nice, friendly atmosphere
| THE Devil Strip / APRIL 2016 • VOL 2 • ISSUE #4
food & drink
Pictured left: The interior of Spock's Lounge.
in London,” or that it was Fight Club for
Geriatric Yachters, but similar for sure. I'll
fill you in more when I return with
a posse.
of these places. The winner/winners will be
awarded something like a t-shirt or a new liver
or something, not to mention bragging rights.
Almost everywhere I've gone so far has been
very receptive and friendly and if I don't bat a
thousand on that, you'll be
the first to know. Speaking
of which, there is this weird
fucking bar out in Portage
Lakes that claims it’s open
to the public, but I swear I
heard a record screech when
I walked in. I'm not gonna
go so far as to say it was like
The Slaughtered Lamb in the
movie “American Werewolf
When you belly up to the places I've
listed here, make sure to say The Devil
Strip sent you. They’ll hopefully say in
return, “The tree lawn sent you? That's
weird,” or “Where the hell are all these
new customers coming from?”
Cheers, and enjoy responsibly!
Leslie Shirley Nielson — The Bar Crawler
Pictured right: Inside Park
Place on Aster Ave.
Talk of The
Town Tavern
The Secret
1505 Aster Ave.
2012 S. Main St.
472 E. Wilbeth Rd.
794 Johnston St.
Firestone Park
Firestone Park
Early 70's
Bud Lt./Bombs
Bud Lt./Crown Royal
Bud Light/Fireball
Bud/Black Velvet
Pool/ Darts
Bar Menu
Bar Menu
Aster Bar 1950's
The Tally Ho
Believed to have been
an Acme
Russ & Marians.
Originally, Harry
and Louise's back in
the 50s
Todd Rundgren
meets Jim Carrey
and according to
one patron, Ernest
Hemingway. Huh?
Linda Ronstadt meets
Leonard Nimoy with a
hint of Bob Newhart
John Goodman meets
Christine McVie
Bob Seger meets
Bette Davis
I can't wait to get
shitfaced here.
Not the Starship Enterprise,
more like the place where
your really nice uncle
would go to get away from
his wife.
Wide open roadhouse
feel to it.
Most people that go here
probably live within blocks.
Little neighborhood corner
bar. Nice folks.
Firestone Park
Voted #1 Best Irish Pub
With the weather is warming up and the sun starting to shine,
you know what that means...
our outdoor stone patio is about to open up again!
Visit for more events
Live music. Great martinis. Private parties.
1503 Kenmore Blvd., Akron, Ohio • 330-745-5493
Bartender of the Month
food & Drink
Buy One Drink, Get One
10:00 p.m. until midnight
Compliments of TPH Productions
$1.75 Pint Special
$5.50 Burgers
Trivia With DJ Larry
Win Huge Prizes
(continued from page 30)
Chef Todd’s Food Specials
12oz Strip Steak $12.00
Check Out Our
Live Music Schedule
Karaoke hosted by Natalie
(Now 9:00 to 1:00)
$0.50 Wings (dine-in only)
Super Power Hour
From Open - 8:00 P.M.
$3.50 Well Drinks
$3.50 Bud Light Drafts
Monday through Friday
Until 8pm
Monday through Friday
open at 2pm
Saturday & Sunday
open at 12:30
549 W Market St, Akron
Phone: (330) 376-8307
What was you first night like? Was asked to come in on a whim and it was
Good or bad, what's the one thing that you wouldn't have known if you
weren't a bartender? That citrus oil is flammable.
Best tip you've ever gotten? I turned down a $1,000.00 Vegas poker chip that
would have required me going to Vegas with someone to cash it in. Instead $200.00
would be the biggest.
Where do you go when you're not at work? With a 60 hour work bed.
What's your signature drink/favorite drink to make? Anything I can put my
homemade bitters and fresh fruit into.
or future events, you can check out SAAZ at and SNOBS at
Overall, the RCBF was really fun and I got to
try a lot of really cool beers that I normally
would not have had access to. I got to shake
hands and chat with a dozen different brewers
and share drinks with hundreds of fellow
beer lovers. I left with a bag full of stickers,
pins, cozies, business cards, and a long list of
breweries to visit. This was one of the best beer
events I’ve ever attended and cannot wait to go
back next year.
Taco Nights
$1.50 to $3.00
Drink Specials Available
Regular Burgers
(dine-in only)
Name: Wendy Casale • H
ometown/Lives in Green, Ohio
by Leslie Shirley Nielson
(The Bar Crawler)
Jo Ann’s Lounge in South Akron
of big names in the beer world. I recognized
Ron Shea from R. Shea Brewing handing out
beer and saw Fred Karm of Hoppin’ Frog in the
crowd. If you’re interested in homebrewing
(continued from page 11)
// BIO: Emily Anderson works hard to taste all the
beers so you don't have to. See her favorites on
Twitter @ohiobeergirl
Photos courtesy of: Lindsay Amerman, Emily Anderson/
The Devil Strip and Paul Hoffman
master class workshops at BLU Jazz+ led by
top musicians.
that shows what life is like on the spectrum.
Garage Band ($7,000) Activating a space for
artists by turning the Akron Symphony’s garage
bay into a stage for local musicians to perform
in open-mic events and jam sessions.
Nepali Applause ($10,000) Celebrating the
rich history of the Nepali-American population
in North Hill with a bilingual variety show
featuring art, dance and music.
Nightlight Productions ($20,000) Improving
Girls Rock Camp Akron ($20,000) Fostering
the cinema experience by purchasing
the next generation of musicians by bringing
equipment that will allow the Nightlight to
the Girls Rock Camp summer camp, where girls create broadcast-quality content, including
10-16 write and perform songs, to Akron.
Skype-based Q&A sessions with directors and
filmmakers, high-quality pre-show content,
The Heart of Glass ($50,000) Offering creative promotional materials and more.
opportunities with a mobile glass studio that
travels to schools and events.
Northside Arts District Outdoor Gallery
($22,850) Strengthening the Northside Arts
Highland Square Film Festival ($6,650)
District by creating an outdoor art gallery with
Telling Akron stories through a film festival of
digital projections on the side of buildings
local works.
and yearlong displays of visual art mounted
Intensive Music Classes for Akron’s Very
Young ($5,000) Fostering the next generation The Optics of Memory ($37,000) Enlivening
of artists and arts advocates by taking the Ohio downtown by building a public art series
Conservatory’s intensive music class into local
based on 2011 Guggenheim Fellow Kasumi’s
classrooms and introducing 4- to 7-year-olds to exhibition “The Optics of Memory,” a
all the elements of music.
multimedia piece about the formation of
memory and collective consciousness.
Jazz Master Class ($74,500) Bringing training
to local jazz musicians through a series of
#overlooked ($5,000) Producing a series
888 Brown Street • Akron, OH 44311
The last time I was here a few years ago, the
decor still remained unchanged. It was like
your Grandpa did the decorating back in
the 70's. I miss this place. Let's keep Akron's
drinking history in tact.
of photographic portraits of a cross section
of women leaders in Akron set against the
backdrop of underused public spaces, as
a way to celebrate their accomplishments
while empowering them to improve the city’s
Rubber City Jazz and Blues Festival
($75,000) Building on Akron’s musical legacy
by launching a downtown jazz festival that
features local and national talent.
Theaster Gates ($17,500) Exploring the
role of arts in building community by bringing
Chicago-based artist Theaster Gates to speak in
Akron and meet with artists and entrepreneurs.
Traveling Stanzas ($125,000) Sharing the
voices of Akron by enabling residents to submit
a short video of an original poem, some of
which will be displayed on posters on local
buses and in public spaces.
music & entertainment
Saturday, April 16 is Record Store Day when
exclusive vinyl releases from big names — this
year includes David Bowie, Johnny Cash,
Madonna and Frank Zappa and the Mothers
of Invention — help drive folks to indie music
shops. Three of Akron’s four stores are on
Market: Time Traveler, Square Records and
Hollow Bone in Fairlawn (pictured here by
Megan Combs). DJ Forrest Getemgump’s
Calhoun Recordshop is the outlier in Firestone
Park but it gets traffic from as far away as NYC.
APRIL 2016 • VOL 2 • ISSUE #4 /
THE Devil Strip |
music & entertainment
released his most recent album, “My Stupid
Heart,” last year as a way to work through the
heartbreak of his third failed marriage. Local
favorites Hey Monea! will kick off the up-closeand-personal event with an acoustic set. Tickets
can be purchased through Ticketmaster or at
the Civic Theatre Box Office for $30.
‹ Johnnie Clampett & The
Walkers, She's Alright, Purple KniF
Photo by Scott Green
Photo courtesy of Smashing Pumpkins
è Helen Welch
The Devil’s
å The Dandy Warhols
Wednesday, April 6 at Musica, 8 pm
Noted for their early-to-mid 2000s hits “We
Used to Be Friends” and “Bohemian Like You,”
The Dandy Warhols are embarking upon a
country-wide tour to celebrate the release of
their album, “Distortland,” dropping April 8.
The Dandys make their way downtown April 6
for an all-ages show. Advanced cost $20 and
are available for purchase at Square Records,
Urban Eats Cafe or online at
‹ Peggy Coyle Trio
Wednesday, April 6 at Pub Bricco, 7:30 pm
As part of its celebrated Live Jazz Wednesdays,
Pub Bricco welcomes vocalist Peggy Coyle,
accompanied by upright bass and guitar, who
blends standard, modern and blues-inspired
jazz into her sets. Doors open at 6:30 pm, and
admission is free.
ç The Sam Blakeslee Large Group,
by the Tri-C JazzFest Prep Ensemble, featuring
special guests Nadav Remez, Dan Pugach and
Nicole Zuriatis from New York City. Blakeslee
has shared the stage with Aretha Franklin,
Wessell “Warmdaddy” Anderson and Sean
Jones, among other greats, and currently
performs with his Large Group, consisting of a
17-piece contemporary jazz orchestra. General
admission tickets cost $15.
é Blue Oyster Cult
Saturday, April 9 at Tangier, 7:30 and 9:30 pm
“Godzilla,” “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper,” “Burnin’
For You” … need we say more? The classic rock
legends — who have sold a cool 24 million
albums since the dawn of their career in the
‘70s — will drop by Tangier for two powerful
sets to kick off the first weekend in April.
Tickets for the all-ages show cost $40 and up
and can be purchased in advance at
Tri-C JazzFest Prep Ensemble
‹ Shawn Mullins
Thursday, April 7 at BLU Jazz+, 7 pm
Cleveland-based trombonist/composer Sam
Blakeslee hits the intimate BLU stage for
a special edition of the venue’s big band
residency. The performer will be accompanied
Thursday, April 14 at Akron Civic Theatre, 8 pm
The Grammy-nominated musician, best known
for his 1998 hit “Lullaby,” will bring his blend
of folk, alternative and country rock to the
Civic on its special cabaret club stage. Mullins
Friday, April 15 at Musica, 8 pm
Celebrating 35 years of performing, Johnnie
Clampett & The Walkers bring their rockabilly
stylings to Musica for a seriously special event.
Longtime crooner Becky Armstrong and guests
Marky Ray and David Loy will join the musicians
as they play a few Eddie Cochran numbers,
along with some old tunes from the back
catalog and current fan favorites. Purple kniF
will kick things off with instrumental surf rock
inspired by 20 years of playing lower east side
dives and the Coney Island boardwalk. She’s
Alright, a side project of The Numbers Band’s
Jack Kidney, Chris Butler from The Waitresses
and Half Cleveland, along with local greats John
Teagle and Bob Basone,, will also perform an
eclectic set of blues-inspired, old-school jams.
The show costs just $10 to attend, $12 for
those under 21.
| THE Devil Strip / APRIL 2016 • VOL 2 • ISSUE #4
Wednesday, April 20 at Pub Bricco
UK native Helen Welch performs jazz renditions
of contemporary classics, from Broadway
numbers to Beatles hits. She describes herself
as Natalie Cole meets Karen Carpenter, Ella
Fitzgerald, Harry Connick and Nancy Wilson,
marrying a wide range of styles together, while
collaborating with the Cleveland Jazz Orchestra
and other local musicians. She is set to record a
new album this month, which Akronites can get
a taste of in advance inside the intimate Jazz
Room at Pub Bricco.
ê Michale Graves (from The
Misfits), Seance, Dead Federation,
C.j. Gunn
Wednesday, April 20 at Annabell’s, 10 pm
Members of the Fiend Club will recognize
Graves as the lead singer for the 1990s reincarnation of the Misfits, as well as Marky
Ramone’s band Blitzkrieg in the later 2000s. The
punk rock vocalist now performs as a solo act,
accompanied by a backing band, and will hit
Annabell’s to do a full electric set. Also on the
bill are ambient/trance Canton-based Seance,
local horrorpunk outfit Dead Federation and
Cleveland rocker Cj Gunn. Doors open at 9 pm.
‹ Wylie, Maggie Sailer,
Cheap Sk8s
Monday, April 25 at Hive Mind, 7:30 pm
Hailing from Bloomington, Ind., pop punk band
Wylie heads to Akron’s premier DIY space,
along with singer/songwriter/ukulele sensation
Maggie Sailer and Kent-based hardcore trio
Cheap Sk8s. A donation of $5 is suggested to
experience this diverse lineup in all its glory.
‹ Girls Rock Camp
Akron Fundraiser
Thurs., April 28 at Jilly’s Music Room, 7:30 pm
Empowering girls ages 10 through 16 has been
the goal of Girls Rock Camp Akron since its
inception. After being selected as a winner of
the Knights Art Challenge, it’s safe to assume
many exciting opportunities are in store for
young women in Akron who are interested
in playing music. The organization will hold a
free, educational fundraising event at Jilly’s,
featuring live music by acoustic guitarist and
vocalist Diana Chittester. Raffle and auction
items will be available, including a guitar signed
by the Indigo Girls and many other special
items donated by Joan Jett, Chrissie Hynde and
several other ladies who rock.
ë Smashing Pumpkins, Liz Phair
Friday, April 29 at Goodyear Theater, 8 pm
Akron’s newest concert venue will kick off an
impressive band roster with a star-studded
lineup, featuring legendary alternative rockers
The Smashing Pumpkins. The musicians will
perform a special acoustic-electro set, dubbed
“In Plainsong,” a deliberately more intimate
concert experience than their usual sold-out
stadium shows. Notorious singer-songwriter
Liz Phair will open the evening for her first
U.S. tour in six years. Ticket prices range from
$49.50 to a special VIP package — which
includes a pre-show, three-song acoustic
performance and Q&A session with Billy Corgan
— for $325, available through Ticketfly.
‹ Teens Rock 2016
Saturday, April 30 at Akron-Summit County
Public Library, 6 pm
There’s a tremendous amount of musical talent
all across the Greater Akron area, and the Main
library downtown is giving an up-and-coming
demographic a chance to shine. Teen rockers
aged 11 to 19 will compete in a battle-of-thebands style event, and one group of performers
will be selected to win a grand prize. The event
starts early in the evening so audiences of all
ages can enjoy listening to their peers play loud
and proud in the otherwise quiet venue.
µ AANA Invites You to
The Shindig
The Arts Administration Networking Alliance
of The University of Akron will be hosting its
first fundraising event, The Shindig, April 23,
2016 from 3-7 pm at The Bit Factory, located
at 526 South Main Street, Suite 511. Tickets
are available for $10 at the door only. Doors
open at 3 pm. Refreshments will be available
for purchase. All proceeds will directly support
the University of Akron graduate student AANA
members and will be used toward educational
and professional development in the arts and
arts administration.
Entertainment shall include music performances
by local bands The Beyonderers, The Dreemers,
Fancy Legs, and Pizza Ghost. There will also be
a photo booth with professional photography,
talent and fun with the AANA graduate
students, and a dance floor with more surprises.
For more information on AANA, please visit
For more information on The University of
Akron Arts Administration Program visit
Puscifer (Photo courtesy of Rob Laananen)
music & entertainment
by Gabe Gott
Puscifer to Bring ‘Multimedia Experience,’
Money $hot – Round 2 Tour to Akron Civic
Puscifer will makes its way to Akron Civic
Theatre April 4 on the second round of the tour
for its third studio album, ‘Money $hot,’ which
was released Oct. 30 of last year. The band, of
course, is fronted by Northeast Ohio native
and Tool/A Perfect Circle vocalist Maynard
James Keenan.
The night before starting Round 2 of the tour,
which opened on St. Patrick’s Day in Riverside,
Calif., guitarist Mat Mitchell explained what it
was like getting started again after a
short hiatus.
“[The hiatus] seemed like it was going to be a
long time, and then, you know, walking into
rehearsal, it felt like we never left,” he says.
“We added a few new songs that weren’t on
the last set, which we’re excited to play, and
just made a few tweaks.”
Mitchell, who co-writes the songs and produces
the band’s recordings, also discusses how he
and the band go about translating, for a live
show, songs that were created with a mindset
of not worrying about how they would be
performed live.
“I think about what elements in the recordings
are going to have the most impact, and what
kinds of things are the most important elements
to be represented, and start there,” he says.
“You know, figuring out who’s going to play
those parts and how those parts are going to
be represented, and from there just kind of put
the puzzle together.”
He continues, “Some things we definitely want
them represented as they are [on the album],
and then there’s other things that are kind of
open for interpretation, and that’s where we
use the strengths of each player to kind of
reinterpret certain parts or certain sounds.”
At its shows, Puscifer not only gives its
audiences a live performance of the band’s
songs, it also gives them more of a complete
“multimedia experience.”
“Visuals are really a fun element to work with.
We work with a few people; Tamarla Vine is
kind of the video director for this show, and she
and I have been friends for a long time,” he
says. “Kind of working with her, and coming up
with ideas, between Maynard’s input and my
input and her input, [we] just kind of figure out
what it’s going to look like.”
And, he says, seeing it all put together with the
music and the lights is exciting.
In addition to Mitchell and Keenan, the
touring band includes singer/songwriter Carina
Round, who has been a key collaborator with
Puscifer since the 2011 album, ‘Conditions of
My Parole;’ drummer Jeff Friedl, keyboardist/
vocalist Mahsa Zargarian and bassist Paul Barker
round out the lineup. Friedl also plays drums
for A Perfect Circle, Zargarian is a Los Angelesbased composer and performer and Barker, the
newest member of the band, is the former bass
player of Ministry. According to Mitchell, they
all have fun performing together.
“[It’s fun] being able to reinterpret these things
and play for people, and, you know, it’s really
fun to play with this group of people. It’s fun to
get the reactions of the crowd,” he says.
While each band member does take the music
very seriously, there is also a comedic element
to their performances. Some fans have even
described them as being “part sketch comedy.”
“I love when you leave shows and there’s a
smile on your face. You know, like, I don’t think
there is anything wrong that, and I definitely
know some people are turned off by it because
they think that you have to be super serious,”
he says. "They see the show and enjoy it — or
they don’t — and, you know, I think for us, it is
really fun. It’s really refreshing.”
music & entertainment
"From Birth, to Breath, to Bone"
Gretchen Pleuss Album Review
by MacKenzie Mehrl
Gretchen Pleuss is an up-and-coming singer/
songwriter with a melodic voice that instantly
soothes the listener. She’s said to reflect
influences by Paul Simon, Shawn Colvin and
Joni Mitchell. Even to new audiences, the
local musician feels like an artist one has
listened to for years. Pleuss is known for her
recent takeover on Searchlight Songwriting
Competition and as a finalist in The Great
American Song Contest with her song,
“Foreign Car.”
With two EPs and three full albums out,
Pleuss is building her reputation as a musician
of the ages. Her recent release, “From Birth,
to Breath, to Bone” features light melodies and
whimsical vocals.
“The Unknown” is the beginning track , and
sets the project’s tone. The heavy drums paired
with a fast-paced guitar and accompanying
AKRON, OH 44308
bass allows the beat to push forward through
the song, causing your foot to bop or head to
bob. Each song from the album was written
and produced by Pleuss, in accompaniment
with Matt Schultzman on production.
Upcoming Shows:
The release contains a total of nine tracks,
each showing a different range from Pleuss.
The closing song, “Floating,” is opposite of the
opening track’s sound. “Floating” is slower,
paired with a modular synth giving it that
whimsical, dream-like feel. Pleuss coats the
beat with her euphonious vocals, and it feels
like you’re entering a new universe. Close your
eyes, and her voice will take you away to a new
land, one where you feel you may meet Lucy, in
the sky, with diamonds.
The Winery at Wolf Creek............. 6/8 @ 7-9pm
Mustard Seed Café....................... 4/9 @ 6-9pm
Musica w/ The Gage Brothers.........5/29 @ 7pm
Troutman Vineyards.................... 6/11 @ 6-8pm
Jilly’s Music Room...........................6/23 @ 7pm
(for Songwriter Circle)
Jilly’s Music Room
w/ Ben Gage, Jordan Kink.................7/1 @ 7pm
“From Birth, to Breath, to Bone” is available for purchase in CD and vinyl, as well as on iTunes.
Vinyl copies are available at Square Records in addition to the options available via:
UA Symphony Orchestra, with student
flutist Donavan Laughlin
April 7, 7:30 pm // First Congregational
Church, 292 E. Market St.
Griffes’ Poem for Flute and Orchestra, with
undergraduate Concerto Competition winner
Donavan Laughlin, flute. Also Mussorsgky’s
A Night on Bald Mountain, Borodin’s In the
Steppes of Central Asia and Husa’s Music for
Prague 1968. Guy Bordo conducts.
// Photos courtesy of Emily Speelman Photography
Akron Apex of
Spring Opera – “Divas and Gold Diggers”
April 8, 7:30pm & April 9, 3pm //
Guzetta Recital Hall
Frank Ward directs Haydn’s La Canterina,
Mozart’s The Impresario. Kulas Concert Series:
$12 general, $6 non-UA students, free for
UA students with ZipCard. 330-972-8301 or
[email protected]
UA Steel Drum Band
with guest Robert Greenidge
April 9, 8 pm // EJ Thomas Hall
One of the most successful steel drum players
in the world, Greenidge has toured with Taj
Mahal, John Lennon, Ringo Starr, Harry Nilsson,
and Brian Wilson, and has been a member of
Jimmy Buffett’s band for more than 30 years.
He is musical director Trinidad's legendary steel
band, The Desperadoes. $22 general, $20 for
seniors and UA faculty/staff, $11 all students.
Reserved seating. 330-253-2488 /
Faculty hornist Margaret Tung,
with guest hornist Elizabeth Pfaffle
April 15, 7:30 pm // Guzzetta Recital Hall
An alumna of The University of Akron, Dr.
Pfaffle received her Master of Music in horn
performance at UA’s School of Music. She is
Assistant Professor of Horn at West Chester
University of Pennsylvania.
New Music Festival
April 19, 7:30 pm // Guzzetta Recital Hall
Student composers forum.
New Music Festival – New Music Ensemble
April 20, 7:30 pm // Guzzetta Recital Hall
Dr. Guy Bordo conducts.
“Shakespeare in Song” –
A Shakespeare Celebration
April 23, 7:30 pm // Guzzetta Recital Hall
UA Choirs and Rubber City Shakespeare
Company commemorate Shakespeare’s birth
and the 400th anniversary of his death. With
faculty violinist Alan Bodman, faculty pianist
Laura Silverman and students Theron Brown
and Rob Sobnosky. Part of UA's Shakespeare
Quadricentennial Celebration. Kulas Concert
Series: $12 general, $6 non-UA students, free
for UA students with ZipCard. 330-972-8301 or
[email protected]
music & entertainment
Standing Room
Six Akron bands we think you should know
In the mid-’80s, music as we know it
was forever changed when rap and rock
performers began collaborating, adding a
heavy electric sound to poetic and streetwise
rhymes. The tradition continues with local
hip-hop artists like PFV collaborating with
metal projects to create dark, aggressive
tracks with high energy and passion. The
Akron-based rapper has released two
mixtapes since 2014, “Genocide Over
Drums” volumes one and two, filled with
raw lyricism and clever rhyme schemes. PFV,
otherwise known as Matthew A. Gisbrecht,
is featured most recently on the 2016
track, “Rise,” with Canton hard rock band
ç Stems (post-funk)
Making their rounds across the Northeast
Ohio region over the past few years, indie
rockers Justin Seeker, Joshua Weiss, Michael
Voris and Joel McAdams have matured and
polished their sound, and — lucky for us
— memorialized it on their stellar new fivesong EP, “Identity Believer.” Together, the
musicians are Stems, producing pure rock ‘n’
roll made distinct by pleasant layered vocals
and clear influences ranging from ‘80s postpunk to ‘60s grooves. The quartet can be
seen lighting up the stage at Annabell’s, The
Grog Shop, Now That’s Class and festivals in
the Akron and Kent areas.
uncontrollable pacing and snake-like slithering
across the stage. The juxtaposition draws the
crowd in and intrigues the audience while
hitting them hard (ahem) with raucous tunes.
The West Akron-based brings its vivacious lives
shows sporadically throughout the Rubber City
and beyond.
ë The Dreemers
Akron-based The Dreemers looks to channel
“The Akron Sound” on its upcoming debut
EP, “IS, IS,” continuing the legacy of bands
like DEVO and Tin Huey that defined the
local sound in the late 1970s. The members,
Benjamin Patrick, Robert Keith and Natalie
Grieshammer, are influenced by a wide variety
of music, from punk to surf and soul, and even
ê Roxxymoron
Since 2003, Akron venues have been ignited
jazz. They are in the mixing and mastering
by the incendiary heat of eight-piece ensemble process with the EP, which they recorded on an
Roxxymoron. Guitars, mandolin, vocals,
analog reel-to-reel in their east Akron studio.
cowbell, more cowbell, a healthy dose of horns The official release party for “IS, IS” will be at
and percussion give the band a rich sound
Jilly’s Music Room on May 13, but the band
that makes their cover tunes harmonious and
plans to have copies available at Square Records
distinguished. For more intimate venues, the
and other stores in time for Record Store Day
local band becomes an acoustic foursome, aptly on April 16.
called The Fourons, notably performing at the
opening of the Neo Geo exhibit at the Akron
Art Museum. The larger ensemble most recently
// Photos courtesy of the artists; Stems - Jamie Suvak;
performed at Musica in March and can be
Curtail - Dan Cromaz
followed for updates on future performances at
é Curtail
If slow, dreamy tempos, understated,
minimalist arrangements and drudgy grunge
melodies sound appealing to you, Curtail
is a must listen. The slowcore foursome
includes Jesse Sloan, Eric Sandt on drums,
bassist Dan Corby and Ben Hendricks
on vocals and various accompanying
instruments. The band most recently
shared the stage with post-punk and lo-fi
performers Florist, Small Wood House and
Key to the Mint at Mahall’s and played a
benefit show at DIY community art space
Hive Mind earlier this year. Catch the
atmospheric sounds drifting across assorted
Akron venues throughout this year.
è Hard in the Pink
With a cheeky name such as this, a show
without energy, wit, camp and gritty rock
‘n’ would be a major disappointment.
Fortunately, Colten Huffman, Donald
Alan, Nathan Sterley and Donald Swomp
make each Hard in the Pink performance
memorable with tight guitar, bass
and drums creating a jarring contrast
with vocalist Swomp’s wild gestures,
APRIL 2016 • VOL 2 • ISSUE #4 /
THE Devil Strip |
// Photos courtesy of Every Angle Photography
music & entertainment
If you don’t believe an acoustic solo
performance can fill a room with raw power,
elegance and intelligence concurrently, you
haven’t experienced Diana Chittester (pictured
above). The first time I saw Chittester perform
was a few weeks ago, as an opening act at
Jilly’s Music Room on a triple-bill Friday night. To
this day I can’t tell you who the headliner was.
I took a seat at the bar and prepared to wait for
the weekend to begin. It didn’t take long.
Her intensity hit me first. On stage was a lone
woman, fit and young, belting out a hard
but folksy original tune as she gracefully bent
around her instrument, wringing every deep,
rich drop of melody out of that guitar. It was
power and passion, driven by pure talent, in
her voice and her musicianship. I asked the
bartender her name and, that fast, became a
Diana Chittester fan.
Her style is described as “percussive multipart playing, mimicking a full band on a solo
acoustic guitar.” This is true. To be clear,
when Chittester is on stage you could easily
mistake her solo act for two or three musicians
on stage. But none of this is by chance. She
understands the acoustics of her voice, her
instruments and the rooms she plays, and
unites them like a maestro.
Raised a preacher’s daughter, Chittester learned
to play piano in third grade from her mom,
who taught her to read music and understand
theory. When she was 14, during one of her
family’s frequent moves, her dad’s old guitar
resurfaced. She picked it up and that was that.
Her dad taught her to strum chords, pick out
the rhythm, and finger pick. He taught her
“House of the Rising Sun” so she could master
the more difficult chords like A minor and F.
And he taught her easy ways to use lyrics and
rhythm to remember chord changes. Those
rhythmic exercises sparked her inner songwriter,
and by high school Chittester was performing
original music at talent shows. Rhythm and lyric
still form the heart of her art.
“The guitar directs so much of my writing,” she
says. “The guitar riff is created first. It kind of
awakens whatever emotion is there, whatever
story I need to be telling.”
When Chittester steps onto the stage her
guitars are lined up behind her, like fellow
musicians. Each is selected for its unique sound.
“To me, every guitar has a voice and it’s
perfect,” she says. She’s not just talking about
the strings. Chittester beats her guitars like
drums. “It’s not highly recommended to do that
to your guitars,” she laughs.
She likes her Gibson for finger picking, and her
Takamine for its warm, rich tone. They are both
cracked where she hits them.
One guitar is not cracked, but it is dented. It’s
called a Rain Song and it’s made of carbon
fiber. Unlike wood guitars, its neck doesn’t flex,
even with the open and alternate tunings she
uses, which can wreak havoc on a traditional
“When I’m hitting it, the sound resonates in the
body of the guitar so it sounds more like a bass
drum than any other guitar I have,” she says. In
fact, she wrote one of her most popular songs,
“Breathe Without Air,” because of her Rain
Song’s deep bass ring.
| THE Devil Strip / APRIL 2016 • VOL 2 • ISSUE #4
She credits Ani DiFranco as her biggest
influence, because of her open tuning
techniques and artistry. As for rhythmic
strumming and pulling full sound from her
guitar, Chittester has drawn inspiration from
solo artist Melissa Ferrick, who she’s opened for.
Chittester has performed solo since the
beginning, because finding core musicians
with the right energy has been difficult.
Even more important, as a solo musician, the
connection she creates with her audience
is deeply satisfying. When playing larger
venues, Chittester works hard at animating her
performances, to fill her stage and push hard
enough to touch the audience.
“A lot of times with big stages the audience
gets pushed back. They’ll have fencing even,
to keep the audience separated from the
stage,” she says. “That hurts as a solo acoustic
performer who likes to really connect with the
audience. The further back they are, the further
I have to throw my energy to get it to them.”
But throw it she does, and when she leaves a
performance exhausted, she knows she’s done
her job.
“When you boil it all down, as human beings,
that’s how we connect,” she says. “It’s some
sort of energy moving from one person to
On several levels Chittester is about keeping it
real, and in her world it’s not a cliché.
and her religious background. During recording,
it was Chittester and her guitar surrounded
by microphones. She performed several takes
of each song and the best take went onto the
“It was something I was really proud of,” she
says. “It was real and honest and flawed. That’s
what I try to represent when I’m on stage.”
She walks the talk in her personal life as well. To
maintain her endurance as a performer she runs
to stay fit, often with her big yellow lab Luke.
She’s vegan and into healthy cooking. She’s
also active in Making Waves, an organization
committed to ensuring safe water is accessible
from Cleveland to Uganda.
Born in Pittsburgh, Chittester now lives in
Lakewood with her partner and promoter
Jessica Rosenblatt. She’s played professionally
for about eight years, all but one on the
Northeast Ohio circuit, gracing the stages of E.J.
Thomas, the Music Box Supper Club, House of
Blues, Jilly’s, Musica and many festivals.
// by Jenny Conn
To buy music
or find out where
she’s performing next,
For example, her 2014 album, “Find My Way
Home,” was recorded in New Orleans and used
no layering. That project she observes how
living in the world has put distance between her
music & entertainment
Vive le Jazz!
French Singer
Gives an Encore Performance at Blu Jazz+
words by Andrew Leask; photos by Svetla Morrison
o introduce a song in her set at Blu Jazz+
on Feb. 28, French-born jazz singer
Cyrille Aimée told a story. One night,
she and her bandmate, Michael Valeanu, were
heading home to their respective apartments
in New York City after a late jam session. As
was their custom, Valeanu walked her to her
subway stop first, and because it was late,
waited for her train to come. Since the platform
announcement screen showed that the next
train would be arriving in nine minutes, Valeanu
took out a book of poetry from his pocket and
read to Aimée until her train arrived to take
her home.
Days later, Valeanu asked Aimée to help him
finish a song he had started writing. The name
of the song was “Nine More Minutes.”
When Aimée finished telling the story, the
audience at Blu Jazz+ hooted and clapped.
Valeanu — who was accompanied Aimée on
guitar — grinned and pretended to brush dirt
off his shoulder. It was Aimée’s second time
performing in Akron, and it was clear that the
crowd, many of whom had seen her show last
year, loved her.
Then again, listen to her sing, and it becomes
clear that Aimée is a master at threading
needles. From the bluesy shuffle of her
rendition of Stephen Sondheim’s “Live Alone
and Like It” to the gypsy swing of “Three Little
Words;” singing in English, French and Spanish;
Aimée makes the music her own, even as she
demonstrates an impressive stylistic range.
Speaking with me after her performance,
Aimée attributed her stylistic range to her
upbringing. Aimée, who is half French and half
Dominican, grew up in a small town on the
outskirts of Paris which hosts a yearly gypsy jazz
festival in honor of Django Reinhardt.
“Each of these styles, they’re all in me,” she
said. “So, I just try to be honest, and that’s
what comes out.”
We Get You ...
Yet, Aimée was not ready to say she is finished
finding her sound. “I’m still looking for it,” she
said. “And I’ll be looking for it forever, because
it will always change.”
In the meantime, Aimée continues to tour,
sharing her unique voice and talent with music
fans throughout the world. In her travels, she
It’s easy to see why. Rich, but buoyant; airy,
has witnessed the growing popularity of jazz
but profound, Aimée’s voice lilts along to the
music abroad, where performers are greeted
rhythm of her four-piece backing band in a
by young and enthusiastic audiences. It is
way that makes you just want to get into the
something she would like to see more of in
groove, man. Before you know it, your head is
the United States, where jazz music was born,
bobbing and your fingers are snapping along to but has over time become a niche genre with a
the music. It helps that Aimée’s attitude, like her dwindling audience.
music, is infectious. It’s cute, but not cloyingly
(continued on page 46)
so — a difficult needle to thread, but she does
it with ease.
Pictured below: Cyrille Aimée performing
with her bandmates. Photos courtesy of Svetla
Morrison fotografy.
© Sigrid Olsson / Alamy
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// PHOTO CREDIT: Pete Barakat
music & entertainment
I said, ‘Look, you lied to her. Always try to be
interested in what she’s interested in, and never
let her out of the basement.’”
According to Barakat, most won’t make it in
the comedy world, but everyone is welcome
to try. Comics come to the club from about a
50-mile radius, and he will get around 10 to 20
performers for the Amateur Night Finals.
Ross appreciates Barakat’s honest feedback,
which, he says, helps him grow into a better
“Pete up at The Funny Stop is probably the
most supportive of new comedians there is in
the business. And I’m talking about from LA, to
Florida, all the way to New York, he is known as
one of the most generous club owners there is.
He will give anybody a chance,” Ross says.
The Funny Stop comedy club in Cuyahoga
Falls will host the 2016 Ohio’s Best Amateur
Comedian Contest Finals on April 19. Each
finalist will have to perform five minutes of
clean material for a panel of judges. The
winner will get to host several shows at
the club, which means performing 10 to
15 minutes of material and introducing the
featured and headlining acts.
By Gabe Gott
Ohio's Amateur Comedian Contest Finals
Make ‘Em Laugh
“The first time I hosted for him, um, I did not
do well because I really, I was nervous. But he
was like, ‘Look, I know it was your first time,
but you did this wrong, you did this wrong, and
next time you’ll do better,’” Ross says. “Now
I’ve hosted a bunch of times, and I’m much
more confident, and I’ve learned from him. He
didn’t just say, ‘Well that’s it, you’re no good.’”
According to Funny Stop owner Pete Barakat,
who has been running Tuesday Amateur Night
for the past 20 years or so, everyone starts out
as an amateur at some point — even veteran
comedians like Steve Harvey, who at one time
performed at the club. The list goes on of those
who started their careers at the small venue or
performed there early in their careers. National
headlining acts Jeff Blanchard and Mike Conley,
as well as local favorites like Mike Polk Jr., Chad
Zumock and Bill Squier, all performed at the
club in their early years.
This reputation is why amateur performers from
all over the area try to get started at The Funny
Stop. One such up-and-coming comedian is
Akron native Chris Harvey, who has only been
doing comedy for a year and a half and won
last year’s Finals.
“My long-term goal is to be the best comedian
in the world because I’m cocky,” he laughs.
“But I plan on doing big things. I definitely
would like to become a headliner one day
and be someone that my local club knows as
a headliner or a local favorite, and I’ve been
working on that at The Funny Stop.”
Since winning last year’s competition, Harvey
has hosted for such headlining acts as Dave
Landau (of “Last Comic Standing” fame) and
the Disgruntled Clown, who is an underground
| THE Devil Strip / APRIL 2016 • VOL 2 • ISSUE #4
favorite. For Harvey, winning was also a sign of
his personal growth.
“I dropped out of school, so I never really
achieved anything,” he says. “I’ve never had
a job more than nine months, so actually
doing something over a year, and actually
accomplishing something, meant a lot.”
This year, he will attend the competition,
though, as a previous winner, he is not eligible
to compete. He will be there to open the
show so new comedians will have a chance to
see how a more seasoned performer — and
someone who was once in their shoes —
does it.
Kevin Ross of Fairview Park is one of this
year’s finalists, but it is not his first time doing
comedy. He first performed stand up from
about 1991 to 1994, until he married and
moved to Atlanta and stopped performing —
until about four years ago.
“I was also on Playboy Radio for a little while,
on a relationship advice thing [called] ‘Head
Games.’ it’s no longer [on air], but, um, it’s
funny, because I got that job right after my 18year marriage dissolved. So, I’m not sure why
they hired me,” Ross laughs. “But I was always
very sarcastic and silly and funny, and the host,
Maya Jordan, it was just spectacular working
with her. “
Hosting the Internet radio show gave Ross the
opportunity to show off his wit and comedic
timing off of the stand-up comedy circuit while
dispensing relationship advice — for better or
worse — to callers around the country.
“I am very spontaneous. I really am silly. Like
really,” he says. “I think one guy called in, and
Ross hopes to continue getting more stage
time and is focusing this year on getting his
promotional materials together, including
building a website and getting headshots.
He hopes to grow into becoming a featuring
act soon.
“I think [the Northeast Ohio comedy scene]
is one of the best for cultivating new talent. I
mean, in terms of New York and LA, you will
stand in line forever. You’ll possibly get five
minutes, if they pull your name from a hat,
or if you can bring 10 people,” Ross says.
“And then, even then, I think, the real caliber
of comics that are in those cities are just so
overrated, and I think a lot of it is that there’s
just so many of them, they don’t get the stage
time that we do here. And that’s why I think
we’re better than all of those places.”
“I mean, I think Chicago is a great scene,” he
continues. “But I don’t know of a better place
to get your start than Cleveland, and The Funny
Stop with Pete... he cultivates true talent like
nobody else.”
Harvey, who Barakat has let perform as much as
25 minutes of material, is also getting ready for
the next step in his comedy career.
“It’s OK to be cocky, and you can only go as
far as your hopes and dreams, as far as you
push yourself, and that’s what I plan on doing,”
Harvey says. “And The Funny Stop is awesome,
I’m going to add that. (Laughs).”
For more information on Ohio’s Best Amateur
Comedian Contest Finals, or any other
upcoming show, check out:
music & entertainment
LGA gardens
to check out around town
•John Brown Intergenerational
Community Garden located behind
the John Brown House at Copley/
Diagonal Rd.
•The Pump House Agricultural
Center in Summit Lake along the
towpath, 411 Ira Ave
•Beck Community Garden with
individual and communal plots on
Beck Ave fairly close to Exchange St.
•Peter Maurin Center Garden (used
for several communal lunch meals)
1096 S Main St, Akron, OH 44301
(continued from page 23)
those assigned to each plot grow and take
home what they produce. They might share it
with friends and neighbors, or donate it. Some
gardens are communal in the sense that folks
work and harvest from the same large space.
Other gardens are specifically for food donation
programs. The Peter Maurin Center on S.
Main Street has a garden they grow produce
in specifically for their free community meals,
served several times a week. The Salvation
Army on Maple also has a community garden
they harvest produce from for their daily
lunch program.
want to do is go weed for an hour or more in
your garden!
A Community Garden may be the way to go
in terms of supplies, planting knowledge, and
camaraderie . Generally, more established
community gardens have equipment to share
amongst members, access to free or affordable
seeds, and leaders who can help novice
growers as they progress through their first
growing season. Never forget to look to
Let's Grow Akron for trainings, garden tours,
and other events throughout the growing
We also have market gardens, which we use
to grow produce for various farmers' markets
we participate in around Akron, including the
Summit Lake Neighborhood Farmers' Market.
Sometimes, we eat some of the food we
grow too!
KJ: Where would you recommend a
first-time, backyard urban gardener start?
(Supplies needed, what to plant, when to
plant, etc.)
DD: Start small! Whether in your own backyard
or a community garden, don't overburden
yourself! A 4' x 8' plot can produce quite a bit
of harvest, and will take at least an hour
of maintenance a week through the growing
season. That doesn't sound like a lot now, but
when it's pushing 90 degrees out and you just
got home from work, the last thing you might
KJ: What is the most challenging part
about urban farming?
DD: City soils can be less than ideal for growing
purposes. In some instances they can be toxic,
high in heavy metals like lead. Other soils might
be depleted in nutrients and will need some
sort of remediation. Before choosing a site,
always take a soil sample and have it tested!
Come by Hollow Bone Records
on Saturday April 16th
for Record Store Day 2016.
A Huge selection of RSD Releases!
RSD hours 9:30am - 8pm.
We use the University Of Massachusetts for
all our soil samples. They are comprehensive,
inexpensive, and the turnaround time for results
is about two weeks, relatively quick for lab
work. (
KJ: What do you enjoy most out of working with LGA?
DD: I love working with people and
vegetables! Sharing experiences with folks
related to growing, preparing, and eating fresh
foods is definitely the best part of my job!
KJ: What is your favorite vegetable?
DD: I love all vegetables, but based on usage....
Chile Peppers! Tiburon and Red Flame are great
hot peppers that can be grown for fresh use,
hot sauces, or to dry and store for soups and
stir fries.
KJ: How did you become interested
in gardening?
DD: I think it all started riding around on my
Great Uncle Freddy's tractor in Maine back
when I was a youngster. He had a couple acres
of cultivated land and always took my sister and
I out for rides. Almost 20 years later I ended up
working on a semester long Agriculture project
for a sustainability class. I ended up transferring
schools and changing my major to Agriculture!
I've been growing food and working outdoors
ever since!
// All photos courtesy of Dave Daly
2721 W. Market Street
Fairlawn, OH 44333
In Fairlawn Towne Plaza
Live Performance by Run Thomas Run
@ 7pm
APRIL 2016 • VOL 2 • ISSUE #4 /
THE Devil Strip |
music & entertainment
by Chris Kessinger (The Film Freak)
Academy Award nominee Jake Gyllenhaal has
taken a long road to gain the kind of notoriety
that he receives today. From early appearances
in films like “City Slickers” and “October Sky,”
Gyllenhaal created a calling card for passionate
dedication to every role he accepted. This
month may be the biggest dramatic spin that
Gyllenhaal's career has ever taken. In the
latest picture by director Jean Marc-Vallee's
(of Dallas Buyers Club), due in theaters April
8th, Gyllenhaal plays a widowed, successful
investment banker who struggles after losing
his wife in a brutal car accident. With each
reflection back into his past, he reveals secrets
from decisions that shaped him into the man
he is today.
It took a lot of extreme decisions to shape
Gyllenhaal into the actor he is today, and one
of those is a film that I always wanted to check
out, but didn't think would offer anything of
substance. Boy was I wrong.
“Highway” (2002)
Set in April of 1994, just days after the painful
suicide of Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain,
Jack (Jared Leto) and Pilot (Gyllenhaal) are the
best of long-time friends. Jack is caught with
the wife of his employer, a powerful Vegas
thug who sends his goons after Jack. After
convincing Pilot to flee with him, they head
for Seattle, with dreams of Pilot hooking
up with a loving crush. The goons learn
| THE Devil Strip / APRIL 2016 • VOL 2 • ISSUE #4
from Pilot's drug source where the youths are
headed, and they follow, hell-bent on breaking
Jack's feet. On the road, Jack and Pilot give a
ride to Cassie (Selma Blair), a distressed young
woman. Together, the three head to Seattle on
a pavement of drug-induced madness that has
them running from their tortured pasts.
What I found so original about director
James Cox's script is that this is punk music
filmmaking at its finest, but there's a lot of
heart beneath the rough exteriors of the
characters in this film. Besides the grungedominated soundtrack, the opening five
minutes offer no dialogue, but the backstories
of Jack and Pilot are presented with some
grainy, edited-in scenes from their childhoods.
What this does is communicate to the audience
visually, instead of vocally, some of their most
meaningful of moments. I've always believed
in a show-and-don't-tell philosophy when it
comes to storytelling, and Cox is master of an
original style. The film also uses this editing trick
in communicating some of the real cause-andeffects from rapid drug use. Several longwinded dialogue scenes overlap each other to
give a point of view from our protagonists that
translates their altered states.
Leto is his usual sexy rockstar self, but
Gyllenhaal's performance offers a side of him
that we have never seen. It's quite a treat to
watch a young, charismatic, prominent actor
like him presented in such a rage of fire.
Writer Scott Rosenberg makes the most of his
transition, supplying Pilot with many quotable
one-liners, as well as a loser's story that you
can truly root for. The world feels very easy to a
man like Pilot, and watching his eyes opening
to the realization that there are bigger problems
out there humbles his character in a way that
is almost heartbreaking to the viewers. The
friendship between the two main protagonists
is communicated so effortlessly because their
on-screen chemistry goes leaps and bounds
(continued on page 46)
April Comics
back of the book
Lock 3 and
Fairlawn Aldi
This bathroom is decorated in muted browns,
darker browns, and lighter browns. Most doors
have a small yellow sign asking women to
please not flush feminine hygiene products.
Lock 3 is obviously adjacent to the canal, and
my extensive plumbing knowledge indicates
that the toilets empty into the canals, so I bet all
those pads and tampons were mucking things
up. Each stall has a trashcan for un-flushables.
Lock 3 and Pee
word and photo by Emily Dressler
The walls in each stall extend from ceiling
to ground to create a personal fortress. A
beige cinder-block embrace. It also provides
somewhere to lean your purse against, since
there was no purse hook in the stall I visited.
The bathroom features one handicappedaccessible stall, a sink, and one electric hand
dryer. It’s a bare-bones basic facility, but the
tiling and coloring add a little visual interest.
If there is ever more than one patron in need
of a toilet, however, the set-up might be
problematic. I’m not a fan of electric hand
dryers, but there’s a nice sign above the one
installed about saving trees. I like trees as much
as the next person, so I used the germ-blower
with only minimal cringing.
Cruisin' and Usin' the Big A:
Aldi in Fairlawn
word and photo by Marissa Marangoni
With all the events at Lock 3, it’s time to step
up the bathroom game. The Lock 3 building
is in the basement of the State Street Parking
Deck. I shouldn’t expect too much from a
parking deck, but one that is built on top of the
former American Marble & Toy Manufacturing
Company should have a little more personality.
To find the Lock 3 bathrooms, walk through the
main entrance and turn right at the end of that
hallway. A large red sign proudly announces
“RESTROOMS” in white letters with an arrow
pointing to the left. The sign is hanging from a
portable security gate at the end of the short
but imposing hallway, and it might as well say
GREAT I PROMISE” but with a weird,
gritted-teeth smile.
It’s apparent that in the era of downtown
renovations, this bathroom is The Land that
Time Forgot. To Lock 3’s credit, there are a lot
of stalls. A row of sinks, two hand dryers, and
a large gray trash can in the corner complete
the look.
(continued from page 44)
above the sometimes hollow directions that
the film can take. With anyone else, this film
could fail, but it's in the forbidden territory for
Gyllenhaal that gives the movie the substance
that it needs to keep going.
The film takes a strange turn during the second
act when a character with an unusual look is
introduced. It does feel like a negative turn,
since it changes the mood that was set for this
film in the opening act, but there is a bigger
picture. Rosenberg's script supplies just the
right amount of room for emotional leverage
with the audience, so they can pick up on
the hints that the movie offers for its moral
compass. Pilot in particular transforms the
most during this act because he doesn't quite
see the world as shallow as some of the other
characters do. His intentions are noble, and it
only confirms that this is the right character for
The diaper changing station was clean and
accessible, so that’s one point for Lock 3.
The ratio of sinks to hand dryers is imbalanced.
If each sink were in use at the same time there
would be a traffic jam at the hand dryers. The
faucets are the kind you have to push down
so the water can run for ten seconds. Did you
know you’re supposed to rub the soap in for 20
seconds? You can sing the Happy Birthday song
if you can’t count that high.
This bathroom is serviceable, but it is not
keeping up with the coolness of the rest of
the city.
Contrary to its popular pronunciation in
Northeast Ohio as “Aldi’s,” Aldi in Fairlawn
does not claim possession of anything--except
its bathroom game, of course.
There’s big talk about the ways the popular
budget-friendly grocery store is currently
working to compete with health food grocery
stores. It’s doing pretty well. Don’t want to
spend $95 on a bag of four organic apples and
two small chicken breasts? Take the same hardearned dollars--cash, debit, OR (now) credit--to
Aldi and come out with the same things times
twenty. Your cart will be full, and so will
your heart.
Lock 3
200 S. Main St.
Akron, OH 44308
For hours and events information,
One might expect a bathroom experience akin
to that of Marc’s at Aldi, but this place really
works to be customer-friendly on all fronts (or
maybe I should say “backs”). The women’s
bathroom is located at the far end of the store
in front of the registers. It isn’t the easiest place
to get to without checking out first if you’re
cruising the big A solo (or with small children).
a majority of 96-minute screen time.
(continued from page 41)
“Jazz has a connotation,” she said. “It’s
changed so much, and it’s different. The young
people would love it, but they’re not exposed
to it enough, so they don’t even know that they
could love it.”
“Highway” offers some unorthodox methods
to the way it draws its audience in. But with
a perfect blend of bizarre direction, as well as
artistic originality, this film cements that no
Gyllenhaal library will be complete without
his most rebellious of roles. Gyllenhaal would
go on to portray a wide array of characters,
with film roles in “Nightcrawler,” “Donnie
Darko,” and “Prisoners.” With over 25 years
of screen credits, he has cemented his place as
Hollywood's dramatic chameleon.
“Highway” is available on in its
entirety. You can find more of The Film Freak's
reviews at
| THE Devil Strip / APRIL 2016 • VOL 2 • ISSUE #4
Fortunately, Akronites have Blu Jazz+. In the
little more than a year since it opened, the jazz
club has attracted national attention, and it
continues to regularly sell out shows and draw
talent from across the country. As I spoke with
Aimée, we were frequently interrupted by fans
who wanted to thank her for sharing her music
with them. They exchanged hugs, asked Aimée
to sign CDs and told her they hoped she would
return soon. Without a doubt, jazz is still alive
in Akron.
// BIO: Andrew Leask spends his spare time plucking
ineptly at his electric guitar, while his wife, Amy, and
their two cats cover their ears.
Sure, Aldi doesn’t feature a sitting room,
fireplace, or informational pamphlets in its
bathroom. There’s no gold lining the walls,
but a toilet doesn’t need special features to
serve the needs of its people. And serve them,
it does.
Aldi’s power-to-the-people poop station,
coupled with a wide selection of off-brand
cleaning products, sales on bedding and
laundry baskets, and grapes of both the organic
and chemical-laden variety depending on the
preferred price point, gets a toilet rating
from me.
Aldi in Fairlawn
120 S. Cleveland Massillon Rd.
Akron, OH 44313
(844) 955-2534
Hours: 9 AM-8 PM Mon.-Sat.; 9 AM-7 PM Sun.
Cyrille Aimée’s latest album,
Let’s Get Lost
is available on CD or as a digital download.
For more information,
or to purchase an autographed copy,
visit her website at
more coverage
WKSU 89.7 has you covered with more engaging NPR programs and
in-depth reporting in more of Northeast Ohio (22 counties to be precise).
Celebrating 65 years
Congratulations to
the winners of the
Knight Arts Challenge!
Have an idea for the arts? The challenge is
accepting submissions now through May 2!
Photo: Challenge winner the Wandering Aesthetics by Shane Wynn
Find out about their ideas
to engage and enrich
Akron through the arts at

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